The Anti-Ageing of Harmony Richards
What would you do if you discovered the real reason for your husband’s proposal…and she was younger than you, prettier than you and out to get him back?
Harmony Richards is forty-five, swallowed whole by a marriage she’s insecure in and a chore-ridden motherhood she can’t escape from, and dismayed that her looks are beginning to fade. If all that isn’t bad enough, she finds out her husband of twelve years has a Lost Love. A one that got away. Except she’s not away; she’s back. And her arrival makes Harmony feel her life is in faster free-fall than her face.
Surely stalking the lost love, flirting with a man young enough to know better and taking on an unexpected new challenge can’t possibly make things worse?
In Melissa’s fragrant wake, Harmony was left reeling. Melissa was back, from Singapore, if she’d been there that long, or wherever else, and was in Camford. At the gym.
At Harmony’s gym. Harmony had that horrible floating feeling again. Melissa was here. She showered and dressed in a daze. Glancing in the mirror on her way out she noted that her hair looked awful and her face was tomato red with all its make-up worn off. Hardly up to Melissa’s post-workout standard. Still, perhaps Melissa was off somewhere glamorous. She was sure to have a glamorous life, looking like that. Harmony was getting straight in her car and going home to clean the windows.
She walked out of the changing room and immediately bumped into Legs. He was holding a blue clipboard, which clonked her on the nose.
‘Ah, so sorry. Are you okay?’ said a deep, rumbling voice with an Australian accent.
Harmony glanced up from rubbing her nose and found herself confronted with an outstandingly beautiful man. Close-up, he looked amazing. He had very dark brown eyes with ridiculously long eyelashes and looked Mediterranean, with that glorious, thick hair pushed back. She knew without question that if she was his age, and single, and had met him in a club she’d have snogged him within twenty minutes. The thought made her redden a deeper shade of ketchup.
‘Yes. I’m fine,’ she said. ‘Probably my fault. I never look where I’m going. Sorry.’
‘No, hey, it’s definitely my fault,’ said Legs. ‘It’s me who’s got the clipboard. Is your nose okay?’
‘Yes,’ she said, giving it a bit of a prod. ‘I think it’ll live.’
‘I’m just toting this around.’ He gestured to the clipboard that had an official looking form clamped to it. ‘We’ve got a new initiative. A well-being package?’ His sentence went up at the end, like a question. She usually found it irritating. Lily sometimes did it: it was obviously some new ‘yoof’ thing. On him it was cute. ‘For an extra ten pounds a month you can have two sessions with a personal trainer and a health MOT,’ he continued. ‘Would you like to sign up?’
‘Er... Okay,’ said Harmony. She’d been gazing at his mouth as he talked. She probably would have agreed to anything he’d said. Like, ‘Get your knickers off,’ or ‘Drive to the airport — we’re flying to Barbados.’
He walked towards the reception desk and she trotted behind him, stunned by his legs in motion. Before she knew it, she had signed up for two personal training sessions with him on consecutive Tuesdays, starting next week, and a health MOT with him on Monday.
‘My name’s Blake by the way,’ said Blake. He locked his eyes onto hers and she wanted to climb up a ladder and dive right in. They were like chocolate swimming pools. The eyes as pools thing was a cliché, she knew, but what wasn’t already totally clichéd? He was a hot, young Australian personal trainer. She was an embarrassing middle-aged woman. It was about as clichéd as it could get.
‘As in Carrington?’ she said. And there it was. Her flirting reflex had instantly kicked in. It seemed it was innate.
‘Blake Carrington. From Dynasty. Blue Rinse Blake?’ Oh dear. Show your age, dear, why don’t you? thought Harmony.
‘Nah, doesn’t ring any bells,’ said Blake. He looked amused. He pushed back his thick luscious hair with one hand. Bloody hell, he was sublime.
‘Oh never mind,’ said Harmony, trying to resist the urge to shake her own hair out of its sweaty pony tail. ‘Okay, well, I’ll see on Monday at ten, then, for the MOT thing.’
‘See you then,’ said Blake. ‘I’ll look forward to it.’ And he winked.
She could feel his eyes on her as she walked towards the revolving door at the exit of the lobby. Don’t look back. Don’t look back, she told herself.
She looked back. He was leaning against a pillar with his arms folded, amusement dancing in those heart-stopping eyes as he blatantly appraised her from top to bottom. Cheeky so-and-so, she thought. But she was grinning as she walked to her car.
As she did up her seatbelt, Harmony made the terrible mistake of looking at herself in the mirror. Silly cow! she thought. How deluded! Did she actually think he was flirting with her? That he might fancy her? She was hideous: he was clearly taking the piss. She really must make a point of remembering how old she was, especially when talking to ridiculously handsome young men who were young enough to be her offspring. Harmony pulled a face at the thought and drove out of the car park.
The only good thing, thought Harmony, was that Blake had provided her with a fifteen minute distraction from Melissa. It was Melissa who occupied her brain for the drive home, via the Tesco Metro to pick up some dishwasher tablets, and made her turn the radio down so she could think. Two big, clunking questions whirled round her head like satellites: why was Melissa back in town? And now she was, would she want anything from Tom?