Weight Till Christmas

By: Ruth Saberton

Chapter 1

OK Ellie, don’t panic. You can do this. Of course you can. It’s just a car and all you have to do is sell it. It’s not like you don’t do this every day of the week. Just ignore the fact you’ve never been near the sports cars before and only sell the little shoppers. So what if it’s a brand new Mazda MX5 with all the flashy gadgets and toys? It still has wheels and an engine, doesn’t it? This is your big chance to show the boss what you can really do. Get this one right and it’s goodbye lady cars, pink seats and boots that fit the shopping, and hello supercars! Your dream of being promoted to sell the sports cars could be only seconds away from coming true! If you make this sale, surely the boss will see that you’re more than capable of being promoted.

I glance around the showroom. It’s noon on a sunny autumnal day and everybody else has pushed off for lunch, leaving me alone to man the showroom of Broom! Broom!, Ickenham’s premier car dealership.

While a young couple circle the car and whisper excitedly, I break a chunk off my Dairy Milk and chomp thoughtfully. I’ve been working towards a promotion for months, putting in all the overtime and doing my best to prove that I’m more than capable. I’ve sold loads of little shoppers and I’ve helped the team reach our sales target. Stick insect Vicky, the other junior sales woman, is adamant that she’s going to be promoted and never misses an opportunity to put me down. Why she has to be such a cow I really have no idea.

Sam, the Broom! Broom! mechanic, childhood friend and my partner in Krispy Kreme runs, says it’s because she’s rubbish at her job and I’m not, but I’m not convinced. What does it matter whether Sticky Vicky is good at selling cars or not when she’s skinny and blonde? I might pull in more sales but I’m a size sixteen on a good day, wearing control pants and with the wind behind me, which renders me invisible to Drake and practically the rest of the male species. I’m no threat to Vicky. Other women, usually the middle-aged or those with several kids in tow, are more than happy to chat to me over the Fiestas and Micras, which is probably why I sell so many. But I know that deep down inside me is a thin Ferrari-driving Ellie Summers just screaming to get out – or rather she would be if I didn’t keep shutting her up with huge mouthfuls of Dairy Milk.

To be honest, I’m not sure when this chocolate habit really took hold. Maybe about the same time Dad died? Or perhaps a few months after, when Luke had enough of a girlfriend who spent more time with her mother than she did at home with him, and moved out? I’m sure a shrink would have all sorts of fun making connections and figuring it out and good luck to them. All I know is that when things are grim there’s nothing quite like a Snickers.

I hide my chocolate underneath my paperwork. Firstly, it’s melting and, secondly, if Sam comes by he’ll pinch it. I cast another cursory glance around the Broom! Broom! showroom. It’s still empty. The young couple are looking at a Micra now, but she isn’t interested, I can tell. Her partner looks enthusiastic but she keeps glancing back towards the Mazda. I won’t approach them just yet. They need to talk so she can persuade him that a sexy sporty car is far preferable to a practical little shopper. Car sales are all about timing and tact; if I go over and wade in like a bull rampaging through a china shop they’ll leave before you can say Mazda. Seriously, I know how these things go. That’s why I’m good at my job.

While I give them a couple more minutes, I click the mouse on my computer and bring up my favourite web page. Up it pops, all pinks and lilacs and flowing italic script intertwined with white ribbons and green ivy. Emily Rose Design: New to Selfridges! the web page declares proudly. I glance across at the couple, still deep in conversation, and return my attention to the screen, scrolling through until I arrive at the item I’ve been admiring for the last few days. There it is, my dream dress. Cut on the bias and from the smoothest, softest fabric imaginable, it falls in elegant folds from two diamond clips on the shoulders. The front is a deep V, designed to show off the collarbones and cleavage, while the back is draped towards the small of the back.