Remember Me?


by Sophie Kinsella

Prologue

Of all the crap, crap, crappy nights I've ever had in the whole of my crap life. On a scale of one to ten we're talking... a minus six. And it's not like I even have very high standards. Rain spatters down my collar as I shift from one blistered foot to the other. I'm holding my denim jacket over my head as a makeshift umbrella, but it's not exactly waterproof. I just want to find a taxi, get home, kick off these stupid boots, and run a nice hot bath. But we've been waiting here for ten minutes and there's no sign of a cab. My toes are agony. I'm never buying shoes from Cut-​Price Fashion again. I bought these boots last week in the sale (flat black patent; I only ever wear flats). They were half a size too small, but the girl said they would stretch and that they made my legs look really long. And I believed her. Honestly, I'm the world's biggest sucker.

We're all standing together on the corner of some street in southwest London that I've never been to 2 before, with music pounding faintly from the club below our feet. Carolyn's sister is a promoter and got us discounted entry, so that's why we schlepped all the way here. Only now we have to get home, and I'm the only one even looking for a cab.

Fi has commandeered the only nearby doorway and has her tongue down the throat of the guy she chatted up earlier at the bar. He's cute, despite the weird little mustache. Also, he's shorter than Fibut then, a lot of guys are, given she's nearly six feet tall. She has long dark hair and a wide mouth, and an oversized laugh to match. “When Fi is really tickled by something, she brings the whole office to a standstill. A few feet away, Carolyn and Debs are sheltering underneath a newspaper arm in arm, caterwauling ”It's Raining Men“ as if they're still on the karaoke stage. ”Lexi!“ Debs yells, extending an arm for me to join in. ”It's raining men!“ Her long blond hair is all ratty in the rain, but she's still bright-​faced. Debs's two favorite hobbies are karaoke and jewelry makingin fact, I'm wearing a pair of earrings she made me for my birthday: teeny silver Ls with dangling seed pearls. ”It isn't bloody raining men!“ I call back morosely. ”It's just raining!" I normally love karaoke too. But I'm not in a singing mood tonight. I feel all sore inside, like I want to curl up away from everyone else. If only Loser Dave had turned up like he promised. After all those luv u Lexi texts; after vowing faithfully to be here at ten. I sat waiting all that time, watching the door, even when the other girls told me to give up on him. Now I feel like a sappy moron. Loser Dave works in car telesales and has been my boyfriend since we got together at Carolyn's friend's barbe 3 cue last summer. I don't call him Loser Dave to insult him it's just his nickname. No one remembers how he got it and he won't tell; in fact, he's always trying to make people call him something else. He started referring to himself as Butch a while ago, because he reckons he looks like Bruce Willis in Pulp Fiction. He has a buzz cut, I supposebut the resemblance ends there. Anyway, it didn't catch on. To his workmates he just is Loser Dave, the way I'm Snaggletooth. I've been called that since I was eleven. And sometimes Snagglehair. To be fair, my hair is pretty frizzy. And my teeth are kind of crooked. But I always say they give my face character.

(Actually, that's a lie. It's Fi who says they give my face character. Personally, I'm planning to fix them, as soon as I've got the cash and can psych myself up to having braces in my mouthi.e., probably never.)

A taxi comes into sight and I immediately stick out my handbut some people ahead flag it down first. Great. I shove my hands in my pockets and miserably scan the rainy road for another yellow light.

It's not just Loser Dave standing me up that's bothering me: it's the bonuses. Today was the end of the financial year at work. Everyone was given paper slips saying how much they'd got and started jumping about with excitement, because it turns out the company's 2003-2004 sales were better than anyone expected. It was like Christmas came ten months early. Everyone was gabbing all afternoon about how they were going to spend the money. Carolyn started planning a holiday to New York with her boyfriend, Matt. Debs booked highlights at Nicky Clarkeshe's always wanted to go there. Fi called Harvey Nichols and reserved herself a new cool bag called a Paddington or something. And then there was me. With nada. Not because I haven't 4 worked hard, not because I didn't meet my targets, but because to get a bonus you have to have worked for the company for a year, and I missed qualifying by a week. One week. It's so unfair. It's so penny-​pinching. I'm telling you, if they asked me what I thought about it Anyway. Like Simon Johnson would ever ask the opinion of an associate junior sales manager (flooring). That's the other thing: I have the worst job title ever. It's embarrassing. It hardly even fits on my business card. The longer the title, I've decided, the crappier the job. They think they'll blind you with words and you won't notice you've been stuck in the corner of the office with the lousy accounts no one else wants to work on. A car splashes through a puddle near the pavement and I jump back, but not before a shower of water hits me in the face. From the doorway I can hear Fi hotting things up, murmuring into the ear of the cute guy. I catch a few familiar words and, despite my mood, have to clamp my lips together so I don't laugh. Months ago, we had a girls' night in, and ended up confessing all our dirty-​talk secrets. Fi said she uses the same line each time and it works a treat: “I think my underwear's melting off.” I mean. Would any guy fall for that?

Well, I guess, by Fi's record, they do. Debs confessed that the only word she can use without cracking up during sex is hot. So all she ever says is “I'm hot.” “You're so hot.” “This is really hot.” Mind you, when you're as stunning as Debs, I wouldn't think you'd need much of a repertoire. Carolyn has been with Matt for a million years and declared she never talks in bed at all except to say “ow” or “higher,” or once, as he was about to come, “Oh crap, I left my hair straighteners on.“ I don't know if she really meant it; she's got a pretty quirky sense of humor, just like Matt. They're both superbrightalmost geekybut cool with it. When we're all out together the two of them throw so many insults at each other, it's hard to know if they're ever serious. I'm not sure even they know. Then it was my turn, and I told the truth, which is that I compliment the guy. Like, with Loser Dave, I always say ”You have beautiful shoulders“ and ”You have such beautiful eyes.“ I didn't admit that I say these things because I'm always secretly hoping to hear back from a guy that I'm beautiful too. Nor did I admit that it's never yet happened. Anyway. Whatever. ”Hey, Lexi.“ I look up to see that Fi has unsuckered herself from the cute guy. She ducks under my denim jacket and gets out a lipstick. ”Hi,“ I say, blinking rainwater off my lashes. ”Where's lover boy gone?“ ”To tell the girl he came with that he's leaving.”