Authors: Talli Roland
Tags: #Literature & Fiction, #Short Stories & Anthologies, #Short Stories, #Romance, #Contemporary, #Holidays, #Romantic Comedy, #Two Hours or More (65-100 Pages), #Contemporary Fiction, #Single Authors
MIRACLE AT THE MUSEUM OF BROKEN HEARTS
PRAISE FOR TALLI ROLAND
Talli Roland is rapidly running up my ladder of favorite authors . . . If you haven't read anything yet from Roland, get her on your list!
Chick Lit Plus
All of Talli's books are funny, romantic and easy to read, and you find yourself constantly turning the pages, becoming involved in the story and wanting to find out more.
Kim the Bookworm
Talli’s writing is fresh, lively and different. Her words carry you along and her characters make you care what happens to them.
She's a fantastic story-teller and I really can't wait to see what's next as she has the potential to become a huge chick lit star.
Chick Lit Reviews
is also the author of
Build A Man
The Hating Game
Watching Willow Watts
Her novels have been shortlisted for industry awards and placed on
Book of the Year
lists by review websites Chick Lit Reviews and Trashionista. A former journalist, Talli is now a full-time author and lives in central London, UK, with her husband (who she’s still trying to convince to buy her a cat!).
You can’t be serious.’ My best friend Mel shoved up her glasses, peering at the newspaper ad I’d handed her. ‘A Museum of Broken Hearts?
working there?’ She snorted, and a crumb of cranberry muffin flew out from between pursed lips, landing on the small table in front of us. ‘You might as well stick Gandhi in a war museum.’
I shook my head and grabbed the ad. ‘No, it’s perfect. It’s in my field of expertise, and it’s a great chance for me to get involved in a project right from the get-go.
Exciting new opportunity for assistant curator at London’s newest attraction
,’ I read aloud, my excited voice echoing around the tiny coffee shop. ‘
The ideal candidate will have a degree in sociology or anthropology, with experience coordinating and organising display materials.
’ God, it really was ideal. ‘See?’
sipped her espresso. ‘Sure, you’ve got the right degree and experience. But aren’t you forgetting something?’ Leaning back, she raised an eyebrow.
What? Oh, the notice period at my job?’ I made a face. ‘I wouldn’t worry about that. I could walk out tomorrow and no one would know.’ Stuck in a dusty room in the basement of the British Museum, I was more used to seeing arrowheads and fern fossils than actual human beings. I’d even started talking to Ernie, an ancient skull in the corner, for a bit of company. It was definitely time to move on.
o.’ Mel waved a hand in the air. ‘You, Rose, are the living, breathing definition of an incurable romantic. A poster child for happy endings. A—’
Okay!’ I interrupted. ‘I get the picture.’
or goodness’ sake, you almost didn’t pass your thesis defence because you didn’t want to downgrade the importance of romance in relationships.’
, you’ve made your point.’ For once, I wished my friend didn’t feel the need to be so bloody direct all the time. My cheeks coloured as I recalled my thesis advisor’s words that while my paper was certainly one of the most
they’d seen at the University College London, a little thing called biology undermined my theory that humans partnered primarily for romance. I’d barely scraped by, only just managing to graduate and land my horrendous job at the British Museum. Two years later, and I was still there. This position at a new museum could be my chance to escape Ernie and the arrowheads. Sure, I believed in happy endings. And yes, I thought romance was highly underrated. But so what? You didn’t have to believe in, um . . . the Berlin Wall to work at the Checkpoint Charlie museum, now, did you?
I downed my cappuccino and pushed back my chair. ‘I’m going to apply.’
sighed. ‘Fine. Just don’t come crying to me when you run across a broken heart that can’t be fixed.’
A few hours later, on the Tube back to the tiny flat I’d shared with Gareth, I turned Mel’s words over in my head while trying to avoid breathing through my nose – something you never wanted to do in the sweaty rush-hour confines of the Central Line. In my educated opinion (and after six years of university and two degrees, I was nothing if not educated), no broken heart or relationship was beyond fixing.
so my parents were still divorced. Dad was currently shacked up with a twenty-year-old hippie in a housing co-op (i.e., squat) after “tuning in, turning on, and dropping out” of the corporate rat race. Mum couldn’t even bear to utter his name. But I knew one day, Dad would miss his old life and return to the spacious home in the affluent London suburb of Virginia Water, where Mum still lived. She’d drop the defensive act, throw her arms around him, and that would be that. All it needed was a bit more time. All right, loads more time.
en had to have their own little rebellious phase before truly settling down, didn’t they? Just look at me and Gareth. There we were, sailing along for almost three years in a wonderful relationship chock-full of flowers and chocolate. Well, the first year was chock-full of flowers and chocolate. The second was pretty much just chocolate, and by the third, I was lucky to get a half-eaten Gummi Bear. But that was simply the normal transition phase from romantic love to solid, unshakeable love – or so I’d thought. Turned out that for Gareth, it had been a transition from London straight to Vietnam, where he’d been inspired to build a community school and teach for the past year.
Despite the besuited man
beside me pressing his willy against my leg, I couldn’t help a tiny smile as I thought of Gareth’s latest postcard, picturing a village in the midst of lush vegetation. Although it hadn’t said much (or anything, besides “Hiya”), Gareth had signed it “lots of love”, and even strewn a whole row of x’s under his name. Obviously he was starting to miss me; about time. Even though he’d stuck me with all the rent and bills – not to mention taking off without a proper goodbye – I knew that when he returned, our relationship would be back in that heady romantic phase once again. The two of us were a perfect match, despite Mel’s constant admonition that I’d be a fool to let “that bloody tosser” back into my life.
The Tube rattled into Queensway station. I unglued myself from Willy Man (really, if you
feel the urge to shove your groin against someone, at least have the decency to ensure it was a respectable size) and pushed through the packed carriage toward the exit. Out on the street, I drew in a deep breath of diesel-scented air, then dodged the tourists and souvenir stands for home. It was already seven, and Beano had probably ripped the sofa to shreds by now in retaliation for his late dinner. As much as I loved to complain about the ginger cat Gareth had also ditched me with, secretly I was glad for the company. I’d never admit it – I kept up a brave face, even with Mel – but that first month after Gareth leaving had been sheer torture. Eventually, my optimism had kicked in, but only Beano’s presence in our silent, echoey flat had kept me from going to pieces.
I turned the key in the lock and swung open the door to o
ur one-bedroom, first-floor abode, with large sash windows overlooking the tree-lined street. I loved this part of the city. Even though the main drag was full of greasy Chinese restaurants, shops selling scarves for one pound, and dingy hotels, after turning onto any side street you’d be worlds away. Neat white Victorian terraces marched down the quiet leafy road, and lanterns cast a soft glow against the late November sky.
Hey, Beano.’ I kicked off my shoes, leaning down to give my kitty a quick scratch on the sweet spot under his neck. After pouring some food in his bowl, I cracked open the laptop and pulled up my résumé. A few tweaks and a spell check later, and it was ready to go. Holding my breath, I typed in the address from the newspaper ad and hit “send”. I didn’t want to get too excited, but I knew I was perfect for the position. Just
Right, now what to do? There was only one thing for it. I shoved
An Affair to Remember
into the DVD player, flopped onto the sofa, and let the sweet sounds of romance carry me away.
weeks later, I’d almost given up hope on the new job. At Mel’s insistence, I’d even emailed to follow-up and make sure my résumé had been received. Instead of an enthusiastic “we never dreamed we’d get a candidate as qualified as you” response, though, I got
. Well, unless you counted several emails in my spam box offering to elongate my nonexistent penis.
I was just slurping my soup (all I could afford, what with covering Gareth’s half of the bills) with Ernie the Skull when my mobile started ringing. After rummaging in my handbag, I pulled out the phone, squinting at the unfamiliar number on the screen.
Hello?’ A dribble of liquid ran down my chin and I swiped at it impatiently.
The voice was deep and smooth –
and undeniably sexy. The hairs on my arms lifted and I patted them back down again. God, it
been a while! As soon as Gareth got through the door (and hopefully it wouldn’t be much longer), I was going to jump his bones. Not that he was really the “jumping” kind – more of a tender, thoughtful, “making love” kind of bloke. I got lucky there.
Yes, this is she.’ My voice came out all prim and proper.
This is Heath Rowan, calling from the Museum of Broken Hearts, about the résumé you submitted.’
Oh! Yes, hello.
’ My heart started thumping.
I’d like to have you in for an interview, if you’re still interested in the position. Does this afternoon at four suit?’
I bit my lip, glancing down at my clothes. Working in a basement, there was never any need to dress up, and today I’d thrown on a crumpled pair of jeans and an old, soft sweater that was a cast-off of Mum’s. Timing wasn’t an issue – I could nip out of here whenever I liked, as long as the work was done – but no way could I rock up to an interview looking as if I’d escaped from The Museum of Derelict Clothes. If I wanted to get there by four, though, I wouldn’t have time to change.
It’s fine,’ I said finally. ‘But I have to warn you, my work attire is very casual.
’ “Casual” being an understatement. More like fit for the rubbish heap, as Mum would say.
Don’t worry,’ Heath answered
. ‘I’m not interested in what you look like. I’m interested in your skills. So I’ll see you at four, then. Take the Tube to Liverpool Street station, then follow the signs to Spitalfields Market and turn right onto Brushfield. That will take you close to Fournier Street, and we’re at number sixteen.’
Okay, brilliant. I’ll see you at four.’ East London – full of bohemian artists, independent shops, and little cafes – was the perfect location for a quirky new museum. Excitement whirled inside me and I took a deep breath to calm down.
hat did this Heath bloke looked like, I wondered? From his voice, he sounded maybe early thirties, tall, dangerously handsome . . . Right, no time for daydreaming if I wanted to leave here early.