11 Ladysmile Lane – Episode 46

Amy clapped her hands at the sight of the dress.

“So it’s sufficiently, er, post-punk deconstructed romantic?” Georgia asked with a smile.

“Deffo!” Amy said, also with a grin.

They’d had their usual French lesson. It had gone well. Though Amy insisted she wasn’t academic, she tried hard and Georgia was pleased with her.

She was never in a rush to depart after the lesson, seeming happy to linger and gossip with Georgia, who by now felt she knew most of Amy’s friends quite well, even though she’d still never met even one of them!

This evening, though, there was another reason for her staying on. Georgia wanted to do some initial fitting of the dress.

“I won’t keep you long,” she said, rather indistinctly because, not having three hands, she’d had to resort temporarily to holding a tape-measure between her teeth.

“I don’t care if it’s midnight,” Amy replied. “My dad’s a pain at the moment. Really grumpy.”

“He’d be even grumpier if I had you coming home at midnight,” Georgia replied, more clearly since she’d now removed the tape-measure.

She wondered if the atmosphere between her and Alex was getting to him to the extent that he was being bad-tempered at home. This surprised her in such a patient man.

There was a knock at the door then. Georgia went to answer it.

It was Jason, the young bookseller who had saddened Georgia with his intention to leave.

“I bring good news,” he said, his smile even brighter than his spiky orange hair as she joined him out in the corridor. “I’m giving my old books business a bit longer to get off the ground, so I won’t be leaving after all.”

“Great! What persuaded you?” Georgia herself had tried and failed.

“When Eloise read my tea leaves – you know, at my little birthday party here – she said she saw a butterfly.”

“Right.” Georgia tried to sound serious, because Jason’s own face now was. But it wasn’t easy when she could hear Amy, who had a jaundiced view of feng shui expert Eloise’s crystals, potions and ability to predict the future, giggling away inside the office.

“A butterfly would be important to me, she said. And when I was sorting through some of my remaining stock which, quite honestly, I thought was just all rubbish, I came upon a book in a dust-jacket with –” Jason broke off for dramatic effect “– a butterfly on the front!”

“Oh.” It was getting harder not to laugh as more giggles sounded from her office.

“So I took the jacket off, and underneath it wasn’t the book that it said on the jacket. The book’s not a first edition of something extra rare, or anything like that. But it is, nonetheless, quite valuable.”

“That’s wonderful!” Georgia was delighted.

Amy, she noticed, had stopped laughing now and Georgia knew she’d be every bit as pleased.

“Well, it’ll pay for a few more months’ rent.” Jason grinned.

“I told you not to worry about that. I could wait for the money.”

“I know, and that was kind. But this . . . it’s given me the will to carry on, Georgia. Like an omen that I should.”

“An omen?” Amy repeated when Jason had departed and Georgia was back in her office. “It’s just coincidence, nothing more. Eloise is . . . well, I told you about the horoscope she did for me! Nothing came true.”

“All that matters,” Georgia interrupted, “is things have improved for Jase. Now, stand still if you don’t want these pins stuck in you!”

Abigail Phillips

Abbie is the newest member of the fiction team at the "Friend." She loves how varied the role is - every day is different and there is always a new story to read. She is keen to work closely with established writers and discover new writers, too.