It’s the dream Christmas: snow, mountains… and, er, an ex-boyfriend. But can Zoe still find love in the Alps?
Dumped on Christmas Eve by her long-term boyfriend, it’s been a rough year for Zoe Lumsley. But then she gets an invitation she can’t refuse: an all expenses paid skiing holiday with old university friends.
The bad news: her ex, Grant, will be there with his new girlfriend. But so will her former flatmate Billy, the organiser, and in the meantime he’s done rather well for himself. As Christmas in the Alps approaches, it’ll be great to see the old gang. Some more than others…
Next day at work, Zoë was too busy to spend much time thinking about the invitation to Austria, but she had done more than enough worrying overnight. In fact, although she had finally drifted off to sleep in the small hours, she had tossed and turned for ages first. Of course Juliet was right. It was time she got on with the rest of her life, but the idea of not only seeing Grant again but being cooped up with him in a hotel for a week was both intimidating and infuriating.
His announcement last Christmas that he had found another woman and was leaving had come as a bolt from the blue – or as near as made no difference. Yes, there had probably been a few little doubts in her mind, but nothing she could put her finger on. Considering she was a journalist, it rankled with her that she had been so blind to what was going on. Of course, she had been aware that her workload meant she had been seeing less and less of him over the last few years of their relationship. And his business trips away – often involving weekends as well – had been getting more frequent, but she had never seriously thought he might have somebody else. The tragic fact of the matter was that she had loved him in spite of everything, and losing him really had broken her heart. Beneath the anger she still felt towards him was bitter grief. How would she feel about seeing him again?
Then, sometime in the small hours, she had suddenly sat bolt upright in bed, eyes wide open, at the thought that he would almost certainly turn up in Austria with his new woman. The idea of meeting her was immensely unpalatable. With that thought lodged in her mind, it had been a long night.
Consequently, she wasn’t feeling at her chirpiest the next morning as she shared a taxi with Ron the photographer en route to an interview with a B-list movie actor hungry for publicity. Her lack of enthusiasm, however, was more than compensated for by her companion. Ron was positively bouncy.
‘Like the new jacket, sweetheart?’
She hadn’t noticed. She turned her head and took a look. It was a brown leather bomber jacket and it looked pretty good on him. He wasn’t a bad-looking man, as long as you didn’t concentrate too much on what he was like underneath the skin. As far as she was concerned, Ron was an acquired taste – rather like creosote or silage. She nodded her head and told him what he wanted to hear.
‘Very nice. Expensive?’
‘Five hundred quid.’
‘Blimey, Ron, did you win the lottery?’
He shook his head. ‘No, I’m doing a bit of work on the side. And it pays well.’
‘No, very different. Here, take a look.’
He pulled out his phone and scrolled through a whole heap of photos until he found the one he wanted.
‘What do you think of that, sweetheart? Good, eh?’
Zoë took the phone from him and squinted at it. With the taxi weaving in and out of the traffic in the streets of east London, it wasn’t easy. She held the phone closer to her eyes. It took a few more seconds before she suddenly realised what she was looking at.
‘For God’s sake, Ron, that’s disgusting.’
She almost threw the phone back at him and rubbed her hands on her coat in an attempt to remove the contagion. He looked not only unapologetic but positively buoyed, by her comment. There was a broad lascivious grin on his face.
‘These folk pay me well, and they pay the girls well too. If you ever want to supplement your wages, just say the word. With your face and figure, I’m sure it could be a nice little earner for you.’
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