Read Miracle at the Museum of Broken Hearts Online

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 (10 page)

BOOK: Miracle at the Museum of Broken Hearts
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Well.” His smile widens to a grin. “Not everything.” His voice has a soft lilt to it, different from Peter’s crisp accent.


Come sit down.” I motion to the leather chairs. “We’ll go through the consultation form together.”

It’s not normal practice – usually I just give the Botox Wannabes the paperwork, then watch to see if they can actually grip a pen with their talon-like nails. But this guy couldn’t be further from our usual clientele if he tried, and there’s something about him that makes me want to help.


So.” I give him my best competent-receptionist smile and position the pen over the first question. “Name?”


Jeremy Ritchie.”

I scribble it down with my big, loopy letters that never seem to stay on the line. “Age?”


Twenty-eight.”


Kind of young for cosmetic surgery, isn’t it?” I ask, before I can stop myself. I should know better – we’ve had women as young as twenty in here for their first bout of Botox. Purely preventative, of course, as Peter would say.

Jeremy shakes his head. “Look at me. I’m a fucking mess.” He glances my way. “Sorry, but it’s true.”


You’re hardly a mess.” I have to say that, but honestly he
is
a bit of a mess. Still, he doesn’t need surgery to fix that. A new haircut over at the Aveda on Marylebone High Street, some clothes that fit properly, and he’d be fine. And – if he lost that extra twenty pounds or so – quite cute.

Jeremy sighs. “If that’s really true, why can’t I find a girlfriend? Someone who wants to stick around; who likes
me
?”

I reach out and touch his arm, feeling sorry for the guy. “Maybe if you just exercise?” I bite my lip, hoping I haven’t gone too far. Peter’s always telling me Americans are way too direct.


It’s not enough.” He shakes his head determinedly. “No. This is it. I mean, I’ve got the money. I just need the looks. So why not use my money to buy them?”

It’s hard to refute his logic, but it just seems . . . wrong. I don’t know quite what to say, though, so I carry on with the consultation. “Let’s start from the top. Rhinoplasty?”


Is that the nose?”

I nod.


Oh, yes. Definitely.”


Blepharoplasty? That’s eye bag removal,” I explain quickly. No one ever knows that one.


Yeah.”

Half an hour later, we’ve only made it as far as the neck. My sheet is full of checkmarks, and Jeremy’s perking up more and more as we go through it. I can’t help noticing the gleam in his gorgeous green eyes.

I’ve seen this so many times I can almost predict it. It’s like when you go to IKEA, and suddenly you realise how much you’ve been missing; how many wonderful possibilities exist for your home. Before you know it, that horrible blue shopping bag they give you is cutting into your shoulder, filled to the brim with ten thousand tea-lights you’ll never use and muffin tins you don’t need.

This consultation form is IKEA for the face, and women who start off wanting just a squirt of Botox end up like a pin cushion.


All finished?” Someone clears their throat and we both swing around to see Peter standing in the corridor.


This is a new patient, Jeremy Ritchie,” I say. “Give me five minutes and I’ll have his consultation form completed for you, Doctor.”

Peter peers over my shoulder at the paperwork, his eyes lighting up when he sees all the checks.


No, no, that’s okay, Serenity.” He shakes Jeremy’s hand. “Nice to meet you, Jeremy. Come on through. We’ll finish your form together.”

Jeremy smiles back at me and the pair heads into the consulting room. The door closes behind them and silence descends. I climb up on the stool, kicking off my high heels. Evil things! Nine-thirty and already I can feel a blister forming on my heel.

I click back to
Gawker
and try to focus on Lady Gaga's latest crazy outfit, but Jeremy’s face keeps floating through my mind. By the looks of his consultation form, he really
does
want to be a new man. All to make himself more attractive to women? I shake my head. Then again, look what women do to attract men. I’ve seen it first-hand, courtesy of Mrs Lipenstein's new rack.

Talk about turning a cliché on its head. Men, going to extremes to get with women, rather than the other way around.

Hmm, might make a good pitch – even better than the Portobello one.

I tap my bare foot against the cold metal rungs of the stool. How many other men out there have had cosmetic surgery? Of course male celebs certainly have. But what about normal men? Men like Jeremy?

My foot taps faster. Jeremy could be a source. I could do an exclusive interview!

I click open a new Word document and start typing.

 

Every day, hundreds of women in Britain go under the knife, looking for transformation through cosmetic surgery. Now, men across the nation are flocking to clinics, too.

 

I’m not exactly sure men are ‘flocking’ to clinics, but it needs to sound dramatic. If the impossible happens and I do get this commission, I’ll just throw in some stats from Google. You can find anything on there if you look hard enough.

 

In my article
Man Up
, I’ll interview a man about to undergo multiple surgical procedures, desperate to make himself more attractive to women
.

 

I’m sure Jeremy won’t mind if I ask him a couple questions. I quickly type a few more lines, add that I’m a receptionist in a cosmetic surgery clinic for that ‘inside scoop’
intrigue, then skim it for typos. (I learned the importance of proofreading the hard way: just last month I sent out a pitch on how I could infiltrate Britain’s biggest
pubic
relations firm to see if that world really was as sleazy as everyone suspected. It was the one time I actually got a response – the editor at
Snap!
was interested in learning more about
pubic
relations. Was it a new trend? D’oh.)

I scan my email contacts list. Who should I send this to?
The Sun
? Maybe even
Metro
? My heart jumps as I spot the name Leza Larke, the health and beauty editor at
The Daily Planet
, Britain’s biggest tabloid.

Do I dare? I’ve never pitched
The Daily Planet
before – it seemed too far up there, way beyond even my
Metro
aspirations. But I know Leza’s interested in cosmetic surgery. Earlier this year she was a judge on
Botox or Bust
,
the hit TV show where contestants had to choose between boob jobs or Botox injections, then parade topless in a beauty pageant. This is right up her alley.

Worst she can say is no, right? And even then, my
Metro
dream is still intact. I double-click on her name and hit ‘Send’, watching as the email flies off into outer space.


Serenity will set you up with an appointment for the injections.” Peter’s voice drifts toward me as the door to the consulting room opens.

I sit up on the stool and hastily switch the Word window back to the appointment screen. I wonder what Jeremy’s decided on? I don’t want him to do
too
much, of course; he doesn’t really need it. But the more procedures he has, the stronger my article will be. Already I’m picturing Jeremy’s dramatic before and after shots, along with a little photo of reporter Serenity Holland inset . . .


Serenity.” Peter’s voice jerks me back to reality.

My head snaps up. “Yes?”


Book Jeremy an appointment for Botox next week, please.” Peter turns to Jeremy and claps him on the back. “We’ll discuss the other procedures and set a schedule when you’re in next. In the meantime, have a look through the patient leaflets and give us a call if you have any questions, all right?”

Jeremy nods. “Thanks, Doctor.” He puts a stack of papers on the desk and smiles at me. Already his face looks brighter and more hopeful – and he hasn’t even had the Botox yet.


So what did you decide?” I nod toward the brochures.


Botox next week, to start off,” he says.

I hold my breath. I need more than that to make my story good.


And then” – he jabs at the bags under his eyes – “I’ll get rid of these, have a new nose, and maybe some chin liposuction.”

Good, good. “And?” I don’t mean to prompt him, but if he really wants to transform himself, he should go all the way, right?

Jeremy looks at me uncertainly.


I don’t know,” he says, thumbing through the leaflets. “There’s so much information here. Maybe a bit of liposuction on my stomach, too?” He pats his belly. “I’ve always wanted one of those six-packs. Women like that, don’t they?”


Of course.” I mean, not me
personally
– I prefer a bit of a cushion when I rest my head on a man’s tummy – but most women love it.


So definitely that, then.” We smile at each other over the desk. “I need to have a think about the other stuff.”

I book him into an appointment for Botox next week and say goodbye as he walks out of the clinic. Taking a deep breath, I flash a look at my inbox. Nothing from Leza – yet. But inside, my heart is pumping. I have a good feeling about this.

Watch out, tabloid world. I’m on my way.

 

CHAPTER TWO

 

 


Crikey, what a day. I’m exhausted.” Peter comes into the reception area a few hours later, loosening his tie. “Ready to go?”

I nod and shut down the computer after checking my inbox for the millionth time. Still nothing. It’s only been three hours, I tell myself. Leza’s probably busy getting the lowdown on aging rocker Zip Johnson's hip replacement, this week’s hottest story.


Kirsty and Tim invited us out for a drink. The Prince Regent.” I lock the cash drawer and slide down off the stool, looking forward to seeing my best friend from back home in Maine. We’d been joined at the hip since primary school, so when she got a swanky job in London, I was determined to go, too. It was the perfect place for someone with my tabloid ambitions. Along with soccer and cricket, humiliating celebrities is a national sport.

Peter shakes his head. “I’m knackered, Smitty needs to be fed and have his meds, and you know I like to eat promptly at seven. You go on, though.”


Okay, I think I will. Just for a quick one.” With all the nerves and excitement juddering around inside me right now, if I don’t do something to take my mind off Leza Larke, I’m going to scream. And that something is
not
cooking plain chicken fillet and green leaves for dinner, while our anxiety-prone kitten dines on a trillion-dollar combo of organic pet food and the feline equivalent of Prozac.

My mind drifts back to the first time I met Peter, a few weeks after landing in London. I’d sent out hundreds of résumés to everyone and their dog, desperate for a job to get me started on my new life here; a temporary post before revving up for tabloid stardom. After spotting Peter’s advert in
Metro
(where else?), I’d emailed over my rather sparse CV. Shockingly, Peter had rung a few minutes later, and since the clinic was so close to where I’d been crashing at Kirsty’s, I’d rushed over for an interview during his lunch break. His receptionist had resigned without notice, he’d said, and he needed someone immediately.

I remember sitting across from Peter, in awe of the perfectly fitting suit and expensive-looking tie. He’d been so pulled together, so efficient and ambitious . . . so different from the bumbling boys back home who smelled of fertiliser, not Hugo Boss. This is the kind of man I want to be with, I’d thought. Funny, I’d never imagined that man actually would be Peter.

We leave the office and head into the little mews, me struggling to keep pace with Peter’s giant steps. The shrieking sirens and rumbling buses are music to my ears after the tomb-like quiet of the clinic. God, it’s good to be out of there.


Any news on your writing lark today?” Peter asks as we turn onto New Cavendish Street. I clamp down on the irritation inside. He asks me the same question every day, and he always calls it ‘your writing lark’, as if he can’t seriously believe an English Literature graduate would strive for publication in
Metro.


No, no news today,” I chirp, trying to sound as upbeat as possible. I learned the hard way not to let Peter know about my pitches: whenever one ended in rejection, he’d pounce with his ‘maybe you should think about’ speech. As in, maybe you should think about giving up on tabloids and getting a real job, at something respectable like
Rheumatics R Us
or
Beer Matt Collectors of the UK
.

BOOK: Miracle at the Museum of Broken Hearts
10.83Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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