Love or Nearest Offer by Adèle Geras
Whenever Iris met her friends for a meal, she was always the first person to arrive at the restaurant. She was punctual by
nature, but working for Robinson & Tyler had made her even anxious not to keep anyone waiting. Bruce had been clear
on that part of her job: ‘You’ve got to be there before the client,’ he’d told her on her first day at work. ‘If you’re late, even by a
minute or two, you risk them running away, getting fed up orjust not forming the best impression of you.’
Iris’s friends, Penny, Marilynne and Anne – the four had been a gang ever since their schooldays – would have cut her some
slack but she was still punctual and still able to watch them come in one by one. Marilynne was the first to join her. She was tall,
redheaded and quite bossy, and since they were fourteen had behaved as though she were the leader of the group. And we fell
in with that, Iris thought, as she got up to greet her. Anne and Penny arrived a few moments later. Anne was dark, with very
pale skin and blue eyes. She was, by common agreement, the sensible one, and Penny was small and fair, like Iris but prettier.
She was the one they all regarded as completely incapable of malice; the good one. Iris was the dreamer, the creative one, on the
basis of some talent in domestic science and sewing lessons. No one had ever allocated them these descriptions, but Iris knew
that the invisible labels were there.
She was ready for tonight. It had been a couple of weeks since she and Neil had split up and her single state, announced to the
others by email, would be the main topic of conversation. The four of them used to meet all the time: in bars and restaurants
after work. They went to the seaside together on weekends; donkey’s years ago they’d done Ibiza together. They’d known
one another so long that they never had to watch what they said when they were together.
Lately, though, things had changed. The other three had married and had children, and though they came out for a curry
from time to time and invited Iris to their houses constantly, she was aware of not being in the married/maternal/primary
school loop. They tried to include her and, of course, she took an interest. She had been a bridesmaid three times. She’d bought
presents for babies. She’d cooed and admired. But she noticed that the occasions when they did get together, just the four of
them without husbands and babies, were fewer and further between, and not only that, but while they were eating or drinking,
there were always texts going back and forth to the person left holding the baby at home. Their phones were on the table
next to their plates and they couldn’t resist glancing at them occasionally. Checking.
Thanks to the lovely people at Quercus I have a copy of Love, or Nearest Offer to up for grabs for residents of the UK and Ireland.
The giveaway ends of 20th June 2016. To enter click HERE to be taken to the rafflecopter entry form.
A huge thank you to Alainna to Quercus for having me on board the blog tour.