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Authors: Debbie Viggiano

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BOOK: Lipstick and Lies
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‘Well!’ I heard Nell puffing out her cheeks.
‘How do you feel about it
Cass?’

‘Truthfully?’

‘Of course.’

‘Peed off.
I’m absolutely dreading our paths cross–’

Just at that moment
,
Eddie let out a
screech
.
He’d finished his rusk.
A dribbly mess trailed down the front of his sleep
suit.
Why hadn’t I put a bib on him?
His fingers, covered in gunge, were now travelling over his head.
D
owny hair was sticking up all over the place.
He look
ed like an irritable duckling.

‘Nell
,
I’m going to have to go.
My darling boy has made the most stupendous mess.
You wouldn’t believe what one
little rusk can do.’

‘Well I pretty much remember from the first time around with Dylan.
Although granted that was
now
several years ago.
However, I can’t wait to go through
it all again,’ Nell chuckled.

‘You
won’t say that
six months down the line
.
You’ll be
knackered, up to your armpits in endless baby laundry, and
have
Ben
complaining about a
non-existent
sex life
.’

Eddie’s sticky fingers tangled in his hair.
His face registered pain
,
and then crumpled.
The prev
ious squawk turned into a howl.

‘Go see to Eddie,’ Nell shouted over the din.
‘L
ove to Jamie.’


And l
ove to
Ben and Dylan,’ I yelled back.

Hanging up quickly, I picked
up
Eddie and clasped him to me.
I was back in my uniform – yet another pair of Smart Price joggers and matching t-shirt in Regulation Grey.
As Eddie snuggled into my chest, I felt as if we’d morphed into a human sandwich, the congealed rusk ac
ting as the butter between us.

‘There
,
my darling.
Hush.’
I patted Eddie’s back rhythmically.
Bit by bit
,
his cries subsided.
‘I think we’d better clean you up.
And then Mummy will pop you into another romper suit.’
My son, like his mother, had his own scaled
-
down uniform
.
B
ut in various shades of blue.

By the time I’d changed Eddie, administered Calpol for sore gums and spooned a jar of
Mr Heinz
into him, it was mid-afternoon.
W
ith a baby,
time
went nowhere.
I strapped my son into his rocker chair, and turned my attention to stacking the dishwasher.
Minutes later, Eddie had zonked out.
Laying a crib blanket over him, I moved the rocker
into the lounge
.
Resisting the
temptation to curl up on a nearby sofa
, I
went
back
out to the kitchen to start on
a
tottering pagoda of ironing.

I’d barely set up the ironing board
,
when the cat flap
opened
.
A black feline head poked through.
It was Wallace.
His green eyes were the only distinction between him and his yellow-eyed brother, Gromit.
He minced into the kitchen.
I ignored him and continued running a hot iron over a pair of jodhpurs.
With four pony-mad kids in the house, they went through riding breeches almost as quickly as Eddie did romper suits.
Wallace weaved around
my ankles, yowling pitifully.

‘Oh for goodness sake,’ I banged down the iron.
‘If it isn’t kids demanding attention, it’s cats.
I suppose you want feeding?’
Wallace regarded me adoringly
, purr box bursting into life.

C
ouldn’t you have picked something
up
on the go?
A mouse?
Or a bird?’
I opened the cupboard under the sink
.
Hunkering down, I peered
amongst dusters and paraphernalia for cat food.
Wallace head
-
butted my elbow
with impatience
.
There was a noise behind me.
I turned
just in time to see
Gromit leap
through the cat flap
.
‘Ah.
Heard
your brother demanding food,
did you?
Another lazybones who can’t catch his own din–’

The words died on my lips.
I had an overwhelming urge to climb into the cupboard
.
A
nd shut the door.
Sandwiched between Wallace’s jaws
was a huge blackbird.
As
Wallace
meowed a greeting
,
the bird fell to the floor.
But instead of keeling over, claws up, it found its feet and regarded me with beady eyes.
Jesus.
It was still alive.
I had to get it out
.
B
efore it took flight
inside the
house
– where, no doubt,
every internal door was
wide
open.
I paled
at the thought
.
At that precise moment
both cats
, in perfect synchronisation, pounced.
The blackbird, shocked but still capable, launched itself upwards.
Wallace and Gromit
promptly head
-
banged each other.
Livid, they fluffed up like porcupines.
As I went to stand up
,
my foot connected with
one
furry tail.
Gromit
’s
.
Screeching with pain
,
he twisted his body and raked
his
claws down my
legs.
Sharp needles stabbed through the thin material of my
joggers.
I yelped in agony.
There was a moment of pandemonium as
both
feline and human limbs
en
tangled
, and then
both cats sprang after the bird.
I stumbled awkwardly.
As the floor rushed up to greet me
,
I st
r
uck out
with
one
wrist
.
Unfortunately this
connected with the ironing board’s legs.
I looked up fearfully.
A hot iron, imitating the cats with its hissing and spitting,
rocked precariously
.
Before I had even registered that the iron was about to
topple
, my reflexes kicked in.
In a nano-second my arms had propelled my body away
.
The iron
slammed down to the floor, cable looping around the ironing board.
Moments later there was a second crash as metal hit marble.
The noise was deafening.
From the lounge,
Eddie let out a startled cry.

‘It’s okay darling,’ I croaked.
‘Mu
mmy’s just being a bit noisy.’

Gingerly, I picked myself up.
Nothing broken.
Apart from the iron.
I unplugged it
,
and picked up
a
bit of plastic.
Directly overhead were some ominous t
humpity-thumps
.
Clearly Wallace and
Gromit
were charging about in
Petra
’s bedroom.
I collapsed the ironing board and leant it against the wall.
Eddie was grizzling now.

‘Coming darling,’ I hobbled into the lounge.
S
ound
s
of mad scrabbling persisted.
It was getting closer.
I had a mental vision of Wallace and Gromit skidding on two legs around the banisters.
I bent down
, unstrapped Eddie and scooped him up
just as the terrified blackbird flapped into the room
.
Both
cats
were
in hot pursuit.
I screeched
, ducked, and flung one hand
over my head.
The bird landed on an overhead
light fitting
a
nd
instantly
let forth a volley of crap.
Blobs of gunk landed in the space
s
between my fingers.
Eddie’s grizzling changed to squeals of delight.
The cats had leapt onto a cabinet, intent on
hurling themselves at
the light fitting.
Both sofas were pebble-dashed
with
bird shit.

‘You
bloody
cats,’ I screeched.

My shouting only served to further unnerve the bird.
It spread its wings and took off from the light-fitting – straight toward the cabinet.
Wallace, practically hanging off by his tail, swiped front paws th
r
ough the air.
His aim was spot on.
Suddenly the
room
was filled with
feathers and
flying fur
as
both bird
and cat crashed to the ground.

Out in the kitchen, a voice could be heard.
Who was that?

‘Cassandra?’

‘Help!
I’m in
argh
–’

I let out a bloodcurdling cry as Gromit – unsure how to get off the cabinet –
leapt straight onto my head.
Scrabbling wildly, claws
impaled
into my
scalp and
forehead.
Desperate to protect Eddie, I held my son
out
at arm’s length.
Eddie wasn’t at all perturbed.
Indeed he was clearly thrilled to bits
to see
Mummy wearing a cat on her head and pulling funny faces.
As Gromit swayed about, Eddie
gurgled with laughter.

‘Help!’ I screeched again, as claws dug perilously close to my eyes.
I charged towards the kitchen, baby aloft, cat akimbo, straight into my mother-in-law.
Of all the hero rescuers in the world, why did mine have to be a pint-
sized version of Nanny McPhee?

Edna instantly assessed the situation and took charge.
Grabbing
Eddie
, she
whipped him over to the
playpen
and
out of harm’s way.
Seconds later a tea towel landed on my head
.
Gromit was swaddled and removed.
At that moment Wallace, bird in mouth, strolled into the kitchen.
He gazed at Edna.
Recognising a superior being, he placed the bird reverently at her feet.
She bent down, palm open.
The bird,
moth-eaten
but still alive, hopped onto her hand.
Edna opened the kitchen door
,
and
the bird flew off to freedom.
Just like that.

She went to th
e sink and scrubbed her hands.

‘Forgive me for letting myself in Cassandra
dear
, but Jamie
telephoned
me.
He wants me to babysit
again
.
T
onight.
He said Ethan Fareham
has invited
both of
you to have dinner with him and his f
iancée.’

I stared at Edna stupidly.

Fiancée?
Ethan’s
proposed to Selina
?’

‘Sit down Cassandra.
You look very pale.
And those scratches are nasty.
Quite swollen.
Let me find some antiseptic.’

‘I can’t possibly go out to dinner,’ I said.
But I was talking to thin air.
Edna had taken herself off to
the bathroom medicine cabinet.

BOOK: Lipstick and Lies
12.12Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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