In the Rich Man's World(3)

By: Carol Marinelli

Head into the high street while still mulling over article.

Drop off dry cleaning.

Stop for a café latté—extra-strength with full-cream milk and three sugars.

Head for home.

Finish article, adding said commas and exclamation marks.

Take phone off the hook and run bath.

Finally hit ‘send’ and, as her work drifted into cyberspace, dive into the awaiting aromatic bath, allowing the fragrance to soothe. Lavender was supposedly fabulous for stress headaches, and for the past six months, come Friday at four p.m., a stress headache was exactly what she’d had.

Okay, her article would still make the deadline if she sent it at five, but she needed that hour. Needed to lie in her fabulous bubbly bath as the blood, sweat and tears she’d shed over the past seven days wafted through cyberspace and into her editor Paul’s in-box. Needed that hour wallowing in the bath forgetting the horrors she’d been through the past week.

Sure, interviewing celebrities, eating out at fabulous restaurants and actually being paid to write about it sounded like most people’s dream job come true. But for Amelia it was merely a means to an end. Contracted on a freelance basis to cover a nine-month maternity leave position, Amelia had taken the job with the sole intention of making a name for herself, networking with the right people, and hopefully—hopefully—landing a more permanent position in the offices on the second floor, the hallowed ground of the business reporters. There she would be writing not about the rise and fall of celebrities’ bustlines or their latest off-on romances, but about the far more intriguing effect of rises and falls on world stock markets, or the impact of the US dollar on trading in Australia, and hopefully one day she’d get an inside scoop on a major business deal which would surely seal her arrival as a heavyweight. And maybe would even win her father’s approval!

But so far nothing had happened. Sure, her editor, Paul, had made all the right noises—insisted he was talking to people behind the scenes as he handed Amelia her latest task for the week. But still nothing had happened, and with Maria’s maternity leave galloping into the final run Amelia was starting to feel more than a touch anxious. Not just because of the lack of movement in the business side of things, but because she’d grown rather used to having a regular wage in the fickle world of journalism. She also had to admit it was because she’d be leaving a job she’d started to love…

Closing her eyes, Amelia let out the breath she’d been inadvertently holding, half expecting that if she opened her eyes she’d see her father’s appalled expression at the fact that the daughter of Grant Jacobs, esteemed political reporter, could possibly like writing such articles, could actually enjoy interviewing celebrities, confirming or denying salacious rumours and feeding the never-ending quest for insight into Australia’s most beautiful.

He’d never call it news!

With the soapy water now licking the edges of her claw-foot bath, Amelia twisted off the taps, ran into the lounge, which tripled as a dining room and study, and turned on her favorite CD. She listened as the decadent, fabulous voice of Robbie told her that once he found her he’d never let her go, and finally she did relax.

The phone was off the hook—as it always was when she’d finished a piece—her horoscope was waiting to be read, and a glass of chilled white wine was by the bath.

Routine firmly in place, she took a deep breath and, with her hand over the send key, closed her eyes and pressed it. Then, as she did every Friday, she ran like the wind into her tiny cramped bathroom, stripped off in record time, and winced as she submerged herself into too-hot water. She waited for her body to acclimatize and her over-sized boobs to waft up onto the surface, waiting for their owner to pluck up the guts to sink fully into the water. She would massage that deep heated conditioner that promised miracles into her hair, then lie back and read her horoscope just as she always did.

A fabulous period supposedly lay ahead. Virgos should be ready to embrace changes, throw caution to the wind and take up crazy offers, arming themselves for opportunity, getting ready to expect the unexpected and let a little romance shine into their lives.

For once Louis the astrologer had got it wrong.

Turning to the front of the magazine, Amelia stared at the scowling face of Taylor Dean, every inch the popstar, walking out of a chic restaurant, the requisite beautiful woman firmly entrenched on his arm. She was scarcely able to comprehend that six months ago it had been she, Amelia, on that arm.

Perhaps Louis had misplaced his notes—accidentally repeated her July horoscope in the middle of January—because six months ago today a fabulous period really had lain ahead. The crazy offer of a date with Taylor had literally fallen into her lap, and she’d been foolish enough to accept—stupid and naive enough to throw caution to the wind and let a little romance into her life. Only where had it got her?