Tripping on LoveBy: Carrie Stone
I would like to dedicate this book to a very special and influential person, Kathleen.
Thank you for being my inspiration and support.
Love always, Carrie
'So, can you tell me why you want to work for RJ Travel?' His voice startled me, bringing me back to the present moment.
My focus settled on the overweight, balding man sitting opposite me. His neatly pinned name badge read Ronnie Johnson, Managing Director of the low budget Travel Experience Company in which I was currently seated.
Smiling at me, he folded his arms across his protruding chest as he waited for my answer. I fought with myself to squash a sudden urge to empty the content of my plastic water cup over his smug head. Was it not enough that I had already answered an endless stream of pointless questions?
He was extremely deluded if he assumed that I genuinely wanted to work in an office that smelt of fried onions, and was on par in decorative terms, with its kebab shop neighbour. I had seen more glamour in a charity shop. Furthermore, he was very mistaken if he thought I would allow him ample opportunity to sneak sly glances at my cleavage on a daily basis.
My best friend Mel broke into my thoughts. The Mel who had been paying my half of the rent for the past three months, whilst I had sat and watched countless re-runs of daytime TV, feeling thankful that I hadn’t gotten pregnant at thirteen or run off with my mother’s boyfriend.
I had promised Mel I would give this interview my best shot. I couldn’t let her down. It wouldn’t be fair to expect her to pay a fourth month’s rent on my behalf. Besides, I hadn't exactly been inundated with countless interview opportunities since getting fired. Beggars couldn’t be choosers. I sighed inwardly.
'Well Ronnie' I began slowly, giving myself time to think of something convincing to say.
'To me, RJ Travel is synonymous with the ultimate travel experience, be it an African safari' I replied with as much enthusiasm as I could muster 'or discovering the lost cities of the Inca trail. Even sailing around the Mediterranean on the QE2 in a fabulous bathing costume, perhaps whilst sipping a Mojito.'
Ronnie held up his hand, interrupting my flow. I hadn't even gotten to the part about skiing in St Moritz yet.
'If I may stop you there, I’d like to point out that we do not deal with bookings for the QE2 as it no longer operates a service' he said raising a questioning eyebrow in my direction.
I felt my face flush slightly, as my pulse quickened with anxiety. Why had I chosen to mention the QE2? Of all the cruise operators, I had chosen the one that had been retired from service. Feeling my optimism fast fading, I nodded knowingly at his comment with an apologetic shrug of my shoulders.
Ignoring my oversight, Ronnie continued speaking.
'As you correctly suggested, we do deal with requests for cruises.' He pointed towards a large range of holiday brochures propped up on a stand behind him.
'Only this morning we took a call from regular clients, thanking us for booking them onto a Big Blue Beauty cruise' his face beamed at the recollection. 'They said it was a holiday to remember.'
I grimaced. Personally, it sounded like they had been booked onto a porn excursion. Still, I wasn’t one to say such a thing aloud. I was known for my tact.
The haphazardly fitted clock on the wall above Ronnie's head, let out a sudden high pitched noise indicating it was one o’clock. This interview was taking far longer than I had anticipated. If he didn’t get a move on, I was going to be very late for my lunch with Stella and she definitely wasn't one to be kept waiting.
I noticed his eyes once again flick down towards my barely there cleavage and I gritted my teeth, not trusting myself to say anything further, instead allowing a tight smile in his direction. Ronnie stood up abruptly; glancing over his shoulder at the clock.
'Well Lizzie, I think that sums things up' he said straightening his tie, seemingly unaware that it hosted a large, crusty translucent stain. 'I feel you’re exactly what this company is looking for - you’re dynamic, you’re forward thinking and you’re charismatic.’
Was this a joke? I looked at him quizzically.
'You're offering me the position?' I asked holding my breath, waiting for his answer.
Taking a swift glance around the poky office, with its cheap furniture and lack of ventilation, I felt a strong resistance towards hearing his decision. I couldn't possibly be expected to work in such an environment, could I?