Chapter 2 : Changes
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I was screwed.
My sister, Christine, looked at me from across the table. I was sitting in her 500-galleon per week flat sipping milk out of Babbity-Rabbity beaker. She just kept on staring me at me, like she knew I knew I’d done something wrong.
(Even though I still maintain it was his fault; like why would you say something like that?)
“Cassia,” my sister said sternly.
I avoided her gaze and looked into my beaker.
She repeated my name three times before I looked up. “Yeah?” I said, trying to sound nonchalant.
“I know it’s difficult,” she began. “I know James leaving is got to be hard, I mean it was only this morning. But you have to be brave about this. People leave and boys lie. Life sucks.”
My sister is not an unsympathetic character. But, she’s always been the lucky one. She’s the one with the pretty genes and the massive brain. She’s the one with all the money and the fortune and I’m just here, freshly dumped with no qualifications after my NEWTs and very little brain power. And I’m not saying I’m unattractive; I’m just saying that Christine is far more attractive than me. And I’m not saying I’m stupid; I’m just saying Christine is way smarter than me.
I guess my parents had me because when Christine was thirteen she was already top in her year at Hogwarts, she had a million and one friends, she was unbelievably pretty ... they clearly thought nothing could go wrong and decided to have another kid, thirteen years after their first. Clearly, they were wrong, because I got my dad’s hair colour and his bushy eyebrows, yet I got my mum’s chubby arms and big ears. And people wonder why I’m bitter.
“It hasn’t really sunk in yet,” I muttered to Christine. “I mean ... it’s like, he was there, and now he’s not and I’m not really sure ... how I feel.”
Christine looked at me for what seemed like a year and three days. “You’ll meet someone else.”
She patted me on the shoulder (she wasn’t one for hugging) and left the room, and I thought about men, and why women always seemed to think that life wasn’t good unless they had a boyfriend. Why did I need to meet someone else? What kind of guy would want me? Why did I even need a man? I could go after a woman, if I wanted.
I was doing that thing again, where I overthink everything ever. I needed a break.
I used to go running with James. It felt funny running alone, almost wrong. When James was here, we would run through the park in the evening, when the sun was setting. He wasn’t as good at running as me, and I would lag behind to make him feel better. It was a small thing, but I always thought it would make him love me. I thought, if I gave him everything I could, he would want to be with me forever. I loved him. I still did. How could I not? On my birthday, he would always be so creative and thoughtful with his gifts. I met his parents and they were so wonderful. He talked me up like crazy; I was so happy that he thought that way of me. He said I was beautiful even when I looked like hell, and when he kissed me, when he held me ... it wasn’t fair. How could he just change his mind? How could he just get up one day and think ‘oh, I’ll leave my fiancé today’?
As I thought, I ran, faster and faster. I could feel my feet thudding on the ground and I wanted to run and run and run and leave it all behind, leave James behind, leave the paparazzi behind, leave my broken twisted mangled heart behind. I wanted to rid myself of my skin. I sped up until I was sprinting; I wasn’t even seeing where I was going and it didn’t matter because I was invincible and I could run and nothing would ever catch me and –
Fucking hell. Fucking pond. Oh, yes, hello paparazzi.
I let them take their photographs. I literally could not get more pathetic. James was gone, I was alone and no one fucking cared.
“Why are you home early from work?” Katrina asked me, peering at my rumpled clothing and messy hair. “You don’t get off until 5.”
“They let me go,” I huffed, and threw myself onto the sofa and buried my head in a cushion.
There was a pause and I could feel Kat staring at me. “Er, why?”
“They said my job performance had become increasingly poor, and why didn’t I take a break and find a job that wasn’t so taxing,” I mumbled into the cushion.
(Just to be clear, the hardest task I have ever undertaken in that job was taking a tray of tea and coffee up to the top floor by stairs.)
Katrina is like my sister – tactless and always very unsure of what to say. “Wow, you lasted long. Nine months, was it?”
“Shut up, Kat.”
“You need to find another job if you’re going to keep the rent on this place.”
I peeked out from the cushion and looked at my best friend.
I’d met Kat while trying to fend of paps a couple of months ago. They were still bothering me and she’d stepped in to tell them to go away. Katrina Sanskort is a high-profile reporter for the Salem Times. Very cool, very laidback. She was the best person to comfort me while I was still in mourning, and she also helped me find another flat that wasn’t filled with memories. It was a lot nicer than the old place, but it was bloody expensive. Christine had paid for the first month’s rent, but it was up to me now. I was already behind on December rent, and it was nearly Christmas. I didn’t have nearly enough money to pay for the bloody holiday – presents and decorations and food. For Merlin’s sake!
“No jobs will be going this close to Christmas,” I grumbled. To be honest, I wasn’t that bothered about being fired; Bitchy Sandra was the biggest arsehole in the world and I was tired of wearing this shitty uniform. But it was just being fired that really sucked.
Two dumpings in three months – nope. Can’t think about that. Will not think about that.
“I know a receptionist job for a Wizarding publishing company that’s open,” Kat said. “I mean, I know it’s similar to what you were doing but at least you’ll have your own desk.”
I sighed. “How do I get an interview?”
Kat smiled and said “I’ll put you in touch.”
She waved her fingers at me and left my flat. As soon as I heard the door slam, I groaned and put my head in my hands.
I was over James. Honestly, I was. He’d been in the papers himself and for the first month, it had been the most difficult thing to see him there. A numerous amount of his relatives had called me up and been all ‘Oh, it’s such a shame about you two!’ but they hadn’t really said much else.
I was over it, I wasn’t even sad anymore. I mean, if I thought about it too long, yeah, I got sad because I wouldn’t have been human if I just looked at it like ‘oh yeah, that happened.’ He was the best thing in my life. I knew everything about him. But you can’t waste your time thinking about someone who doesn’t love you anymore.
I hadn’t even received a Christmas card from him. I’d sent him one; I’d sent a load in bulk, but I wanted him to know that I didn’t intend to forget he ever existed. I thought we could handle this like grownups. I thought maybe that was the right thing to do.
The publishing house, WonderWorks Ltd., was a big Gothic building, with big pointed archways and carvings into the walls. A few people were milling around the lobby where I was standing, not all of them in suits. I myself was wearing a pair of black jeans and a dark red shirt – Kat had told me not to dress up too much, WonderWorks was a very casual kind of place. And I guess she was right; random bits of paper were flitting around and darting into different doors, mops were doing their own cleaning instead of people actually doing it
I’d put myself in an optimistic frame of mind for the interview. If I got it, great! If I didn’t, I had nothing to lose. So everything I was doing, I was trying to do positively.
I hesitantly approached a smart-looking woman standing by the entrance and cleared my throat, putting on a winning smile. She looked up from staring absent-mindedly at nothing. “Can I help you?”
“Yeah, um, I’m looking for ... Rhea Boot?” I said. Grin grin grin.
Rhea Boot was the editor of WonderWorks – she chose all the books that got published. She was apparently renowned in the industry for hand-choosing some of the best-selling books in the Wizarding World, including the Helga Penne adventures, a series of novels about a witch named Helga who discovers she’s actually a muggle.
I don’t know. I never got into them.
She pointed up a stairway to her left. “Up there, down the hall, turn right, third door on your left.”
Okay. That sounded simple enough!
I thanked her (big smile) and turned around.
Up there, down the hall, turn left, third door on my right.
There was no plaque on the door to indicate it was Rhea Boot’s office, but maybe there was something about it to make it obvious. Maybe Rhea Boot was so famous in the office that you just knew it was her office; she didn’t need a sign.
I knocked and a male voice drifted through ‘Come on in.’
Rhea Boot has her own secretary? That’s so cool!
I opened the door quietly to a large, spacy room. Brightly lit with a lovely red carpet. Oh, Rhea Boot’s working quarters were gorgeous.
That said, I couldn't actually see a Rhea Boot – or any woman, for that matter, anywhere. Instead, what I could see was a slender young man (mid-twenties, I’d guess?) sitting at a big, ornate oak desk, and looking up at me. He had this reddish-blonde hair and bright blue eyes. He was very wow, I guess, and looked kind of familiar.
“Uh ... I’m looking for Rhea Boot?” I said. Don’t ask me why it came out as a question.
He stared at me, and I could sense the smirk starting. “Wrong place, I think. You were meant to go up the stairs, down the hall, turn right and it was the third door on your left.”
Oo-oh. Ah. Right. Well, this was sufficiently embarrassing.
“I see,” I said carefully. “This isn’t her office.”
“Nope, it’s mine,” he gestured to the wooden block at the front of his desk: ‘L. Delacour.’
He peered at me. “Hey, I know you,” he said.
Oh Merlin, no. “I-I’m sure you don’t!” I said, retrieving my winning smile, though I imagine it kind of just looked like I was in pain.
“Yeah, yeah, no I do,” he insisted, standing up and coming closer to me. “That’s right, you’re James’ ex, Cassia Walker, aren’t you?”
I sighed. “Um, yeah.”
He grinned, but then seemed to rethink his expression and it became sympathetic. “God, I’m sorry. You must be gutted.” He put a large hand on my shoulder.
I waved off his sympathies. “Ha! Nah, I’m over it. Completely. 100 percent.”
He nodded at me. There was a pause and then something clicked. Delacour ... Weasley Delacour ... this must be Louis. I thought he worked in editing. He noticed my recognition and winked. “Remember me?”
I’d only met Louis like three times and each time he’d pretty much ignored me.
I giggled. What the hell?! I didn’t giggle. “Vaguely, yeah.”
He winked again. “So, you need to see Rhea? Well, I’d hurry up. She’s a busy woman. You must be after that receptionist job downstairs, right?”
I simply nodded. Gosh, he was good-looking.
“Off you go then.”
I nodded again and turned to leave. He darted out in front of me to get the door. I smiled my thanks; for some ridiculous reason, I didn’t trust myself to say anything intelligent. I mean, I say ‘ridiculous reason’. We’re talking about the girl who managed to screw up two simple directions.
“Oh, and Cassia?”
I turned around on the spot. I wish I could say it was a graceful kind of turn, but alas, it was more like my school gameskeeper Hagrid’s version of a pirouette: fucking terrifying and had the potential to take out two innocent bystanders and the exhange student from Thailand.
Louis didn’t seem to notice, though. He held out a card and grinned at me. “If you ever, ah, need anything, or whatever ... give me a call.”
I took the card silently. A number was printed on it, under the name ‘Louis Arthur Delacour’ and the title ‘WonderWorks Co-Editor-in-Chief’.
Weird-ass day, man.
Hope you enjoyed this chapter! You finally meet one of our lead guys, huh? A review would be scrummy ! :) Mazz X