It was the tenth text that morning. And it was still only 9am.
Anna had cycled through the park and into the university with her phone vibrating repeatedly in her jeans’ pocket. She had ignored it buzzing while she was locking her bike up against the stack of dismembered frames at the foot of the tower block and, once again, as she climbed the three long flights of stairs to the Media department (the lifts never worked). But now, as she fished blindly in her handbag to find her office key, it was buzzing yet again.
‘Ok, ok, let me get in first!”
Not that she was in any rush to read them. She knew full well the messages were only going to be spam, a reminder about her bill, or some stranger suggesting she should get compensation for an accident she hadn’t had. No one else texted her at this time in the morning.
‘God, unless it’s the school?’ But surely even Charlie couldn’t have got into trouble this early?
She eventually found the key (in her pocket), opened the door and was able to drop the heavy bag of books off her shoulder and onto the desk. Finally her arms were free enough to pull the phone out of her jeans and scroll through the messages quickly. None from the school. Thank God for that. But how odd that so many people had chosen to text her this morning.
Unbuttoning her jacket with one hand, she opened a message at random. It was from Rob:
‘Hey honey. Why didn’t you tell me?! You OK?’
‘Tell you what?’ she wondered, but then Rob was always a bit of a drama queen, so it was probably nothing vital.
The next was from Lisa: ‘Anna! I can’t believe it. I wish you’d told me. Tied up in shoot all day, but will call ASAP. Hope you’re OK xx.’
‘What?’ What had she neglected to tell everyone? And why was everyone asking if she was ok?
The next message was from Molly. Now, Molly never texted at this time of day; her early mornings were a helter skelter of school runs and board meetings. In fact she rarely texted at all because it ruined her manicure.
“Just seen the Daily Mail! You dark horse! Call me.”
The Daily Mail? Anna felt a sudden tightness in her stomach and, with the growing sense that something very, very bad was about to happen, she sat down at her desk, flipped open the laptop, typed ‘Daily Mail’ into Google, and took a deep breath.
It was only as the overloaded laptop struggled to crank itself into action, that Anna realised how pointless her search was. She didn’t know what she was looking for, or even which section of the paper she should start to look in. But just as she was about to shut it down again, her laptop lurched into life, the Daily Mail’s home page opened up in front of her - and it became clear that Anna needn’t have worried. Well, worried about where to look for the story anyway. That was now the least of her concerns.
Smiling brightly at her from the centre of the page was the Duchess of Cambridge at some charity do but, just to the right of the Duchess, below a snap of an A-lister flaunting her new boobs and above another of a C-lister revealing her cellulite, there was someone a lot more familiar.
It was her.
Anna squinted at the screen for a couple of seconds to absorb the full horror of what she was looking at, scanned down the growing number of comments from the public, then put her head in her hands and groaned.
“What have I done? What the hell have I done?”And then her phone started to ring, and ring, and ring.
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