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Authors: Ilana Fox

All That Glitters

BOOK: All That Glitters
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For my father, Peter, with all my love.

Contents

Cover

Dedication

Title Page

Acknowledgements

Epigraph

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve

Chapter Thirteen

Chapter Fourteen

Chapter Fifteen

Chapter Sixteen

Chapter Seventeen

Chapter Eighteen

Chapter Nineteen

Chapter Twenty

Chapter Twenty-One

Chapter Twenty-Two

Chapter Twenty-Three

Chapter Twenty-Four

About the Author

Also by Ilana Fox

Copyright

Acknowledgements

As ever, enormous love and thanks to Michael Sissons and Fiona Petheram at PFD – I am very grateful that you represent me and I hope my entertainment value makes up for my laziness. Also thank you to Jemma Pascoe.

At Orion Books, thank you ever so much to Kate Mills for being such a sensational editor. I don’t say how grateful I am often enough. But I am. Also thank you to Lisa Milton, Gaby Young and Jemima Forrester.

My family is amazing; Harry and Nan, Peter and Magda, Naomi and Christian, Abi and Ben, Sue and Craig, George and Isabella, and Goldie, Marla and the rest of my family in the States. Thank you for being the best.

I literally couldn’t have written this book as factually as I have (and I have! I did loads of research!) without the help of two former colleagues: Jim Munro at the
Sun
and Adam Cannon at the
Telegraph
. Thank you. I’m also grateful to the football players and girlfriends who shared their stories with me, and for those who put me in touch with them. You know who you are.

Additionally, lots of my newspaper mates helped with my
Sun
-pun headlines and assisted in naming characters when my brain got stuck. Thank you: Nadia Mendoza, Karen Brown, Marc Webber, Marcus Barnes, Luke Bishop, Kevin O’Conner, Seamus McCauley, and Ian Strachan. I promised I’d thank you at the front and I have.

And finally, my friends – it sounds ridiculous to say there are too many to name, but it’s true. I’m very lucky. Thank you to Hannah Weimers and Andre Litwin for painstakingly reading every first draft I ever write, and Justin Myers, Jenna Good, Lindsey Kelk, Ronnie Henry and Natalie Wall for the hand-holding. And because they’ve entertained me so much during the last year (and because having cameos in Paul Carr books is old news), thanks to Julie Allen, Robert Loch, Jamie Klingler, Tom Boardman, Simon Prockter, and Milo Yiannopoulos. All roads to ruin begin with you.

‘Fairy tales are more than true; not because they
tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us
that dragons can be beaten’

G. K. CHESTERSON

Chapter One

Ella Aldridge hadn’t known happiness like it – she felt like she was going to burst. Finally, after years of kissing frogs, she’d met the most perfect man in the world, and she was about to have her happy ever after.

‘You look beautiful,’ Stacey remarked wistfully as she gazed at her step-sister in her wedding dress, and Ella caught her eye. She knew what she was thinking: when they’d been growing up Stacey had always been the pretty one, the one the boys asked out first. But in the last year or so, something had changed. Ella had blossomed – become popular and beautiful and fashionable and sexy – and no matter how much Stacey wanted to hang out with her step-sister, or how much Ella tried to include her, Stacey had got left behind.

Even in her wildest dreams, Ella never could have imagined this whirlwind transformation of her life was possible. Her life had flowered into a glamorous, busy, fun wonderland, and it was all because of Danny. Okay, she’d hit rock bottom when she’d found out Fin had cheated on her, but what nobody had expected – least of all Ella, as she used to be so cynical about happy endings – was that in taking herself off to Thailand, Ella would meet Danny Riding on a beach, and he’d slowly mend her broken heart. In that one moment, everything changed . . . and it kept on changing, right up to when Danny got down on one knee and presented her with a pink diamond solitaire from De Beers. It didn’t matter that Ella hadn’t known Danny for that long. She knew he was the one; he was her Prince Charming.

‘Do you remember when we went to that bridal shop last year, when we thought Jay was going to propose to you?’ Ella asked Stacey as she lightly sprayed her wrists with a custom blend of rose, iris and orange blossom. Danny had insisted she create her own signature scent, and if things went to plan – which they would; why wouldn’t they? – a less expensive, more synthetic version of it would appear up and down the high street the following year. It would still be classy, still be perfect, but it would be obtainable. People could buy a tiny slice of Ella’s lucky magic.

‘Yeah. We tried on those dresses that cost over a grand,’ Stacey said as she pushed her flaming red hair behind her ears and struggled not to sound jealous. ‘Who’d have thought that you’d be the one getting married first? And that you’d be doing it in couture Vivienne Westwood?’

Ella stood before Stacey in a dress so exquisite, so perfect, that she looked like a princess in a fairytale. The bodice was made from antique Chantilly lace speckled with hand-sewn pearls, and it glimmered over the swell of Ella’s small breasts and hugged her lithe, perfect body like a second skin. The boning of the bodice made her waist appear tiny as it clung and dipped in all the right places, and layer upon layer of creamy satin and lace fluted from her hip. Ella couldn’t help spinning around again and again, and when she did the crystals and semi-precious stones glittered as they cascaded down the chapel train.

Neither Ella nor Stacey could ever have imagined wearing a dress like this. Being Danny Riding’s fiancée definitely had perks.

‘And who’d have thought that I wouldn’t be a bridesmaid at your wedding,’ Stacey continued, now unable to keep the bitterness from her voice.

Ella swallowed hard. She’d known this was coming – God, she’d feel the same way if Stacey and Jay were getting married and they excluded her from the ceremony – but she’d hoped Stacey wouldn’t make a big deal about it. She’d campaigned relentlessly for Stacey to be her bridesmaid, but in the end Danny’s manager and agent was having none of it. What Aaron Kohle wanted – and he wanted the bridesmaids to be celebrities, C-list and up – Aaron Kohle got. It was why he was the most powerful football manager in the country . . . and partly why Danny was doing so well. She couldn’t go against his wishes; she just couldn’t. Not when he’d been so good to her.

Ella reached for her step-sister’s hand.

‘Look, you know that you’d be my first choice of bridesmaid if it were down to me,’ Ella said softly, hoping that her eyes wouldn’t fill with tears. She hated letting people down – especially Stacey. ‘But it wasn’t my decision to make. You
know
it wasn’t.’

Her violet, mesmerising eyes pleaded with Stacey’s, and Stacey knew she had two choices. She could tell Ella exactly what she thought of
that
– who agreed to a wedding where she couldn’t choose her own bridesmaids? – or she could accept it for what it was. Ella was teetering on the brink of becoming one of the biggest footballers’ wives going – up there with Victoria, Alex and Coleen – and Stacey knew she had to let her step-sister go.

‘I know,’ Stacey said eventually. She caught sight of herself in the mirror and had to look away. She’d got a multi-coloured dress from a department store that had looked amazing in the shop, but next to Ella she looked cheap and tired. It just wasn’t fair. ‘Look,’ Stacey continued, ‘are you sure you want to go through with this?’ Her voice was light, but Ella heard steel behind it, and she felt her good mood start to deflate. ‘This is going to change your life for ever, and, well, you don’t seem like the right sort of person to marry Danny.’

Ella frowned. ‘What do you mean?’ she asked.

‘Well, it’s normally pretty girls who don’t have much in the way of brain power who end up marrying footballers.’

Ella concentrated on her dress again. ‘That’s a stereotype, and you know it,’ she said dismissively.

‘Okay, but have you really thought this through? Ever since I’ve known you you’ve wanted to run your own business, to take the world by storm . . . and you’ve given it all up to be with this man.’

Ella shrugged. ‘People change,’ she said lightly, and she tried not to think about how her cupcake company had gone under. Everything had started so well – she’d hired the perfect kitchen premises, got her health and safety organised, hired an accountant and had ensured her cakes were divine – but something went wrong. Demand for her cakes wasn’t there, the profit margins were too small, and after two years of working her ass off her business went under. Less than a month later Fin broke her heart. It hadn’t been the best time of her life.

‘Running Sweet Dreams took up all my time, and I’m still exhausted just thinking about it. Danny says I don’t have to work if I don’t want to, and at the moment I don’t; I just want to take a break and be the best wife I can be.’

Stacey bit her lip. ‘But you’re not being true to yourself—’

Ella cut her off. ‘Danny loves me for who I am, not for what I can achieve,’ she said simply, and as she said it her eyes shone. ‘And I love him. Okay, so Danny’s a famous footballer. But that doesn’t mean he wants some bimbo, or someone who pretends to be dumb when she’s not. He wants
me
– he wants me to be his wife – and that’s what I’m going to become.’

Ella’s voice was calm but Stacey knew her well enough to know when she was getting angry. She knew it was inappropriate to bring up her concerns on a day like this, but she felt like she’d hardly seen Ella since she’d met Danny, and she couldn’t
not
say how she felt. She just couldn’t.

‘I’m sure you’ve thought about this, and that you’re making the right decision,’ Stacey said eventually, and she forced a bright, fake smile that Ella returned with equal sincerity. ‘I’m sure you’re going to be happy, but don’t forget me when you’re rich and famous, okay? You’re my best friend. And you always will be.’

‘We’re best friends now, you know,’ Chastity smiled delightedly, as they waited outside the Baron’s Hall for the signal that it was time for the ceremony to start. She was talking, chewing gum, and applying an orangey-pink lipstick all at the same time, and Ella wondered how she did it. Even though she was standing still, energy radiated off her. She hoped Chastity wasn’t on drugs.

‘I’m really glad you could be one of my bridesmaids,’ Ella said politely, as she took in Chastity’s dress. The cocktail-length nu-georgette strapless dress was demure enough, but somehow Chastity managed to make it look, well, slutty. Her large breasts strained against the empire-line bodice, and the colour – a firecracker pinky-orange that everyone had insisted she choose because it was apparently ‘the bridesmaid colour of next season’ – clashed terribly with her deep tan. ‘You look great,’ she lied.

BOOK: All That Glitters
3.76Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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