Imagine the worst thing a friend could ever do.
This is worse.
When Mel receives an unexpected email from her oldest friend Abi, it brings back memories she thought she had buried forever. Their friendship belonged in the past. To those carefree days at university.
But Abi is in trouble and needs Mel’s help, and she wants a place to stay. Just for a few days, while she sorts things out. It’s the least Mel can do.
After all, friends look out for each other, don’t they?
I Invited Her In is a blistering tale of wanting what you can’t have, jealousy and revenge from Sunday Times bestseller Adele Parks.
I have loads to do today even though I’m not working. My at-home days are far busier than the ones in the shop. Even though I have two full-time members of staff and three part-timers reporting to me in a thriving store, it’s never as much work as being at home.
However, I find that as I am cleaning the kitchen floor, loading and unloading the washing machine and scrubbing the hard water marks off the shower door, I can’t get Abi out of my mind. I have thought of her often enough over the years, but usually when I’ve done so, I’ve deliberately pushed thoughts of her away. She is intrinsically linked with such a difficult time. No matter how fabulous the result of that time is (and Liam really is a fabulous son), it isn’t easy thinking about being pregnant and having to leave university. I’ve never wanted to think about her. Her path was so different to mine, I just found it easier not to dwell on what might have been.
But everything is different now.
Throughout the day, I keep checking my phone to see if she’s responded to my email at the same time as telling myself she absolutely won’t have. A shiver of excitement skitters through my body when I see her name once again in my inbox and I feel jubilant when I read her reply.
I’d love to visit! Send me your address. I’ll be with you on 22Feb.
All love, A
A. Just A. I remember that’s how she’d sign off her notes when we were at uni. Assumptive and intimate all at once. The twenty-second. Thursday. Just three days away.
Wow, I’m flattered and excited. She’s coming to see me more or less straight away. A pit stop in London and then up to see me. I can hardly believe it. Thursday isn’t an ideal evening to have guests—the girls have ballet. Oh well, I suppose they can skip a week.
My eyes dart around the hallway where I happened to be standing when I checked my phone for emails. There is a jumble of boots, shoes, sandals and wellingtons tumbling out of an overfull wicker basket in the corner; they look as though they’re making a bid for freedom. We have five coat hooks on the wall, one each. There are about five coats hung and slung on and over each hook.
The light grey carpet was a mistake. Who chooses light anything for a family hallway? Well, I did because I saw it in a lifestyle mag and it looked amazing. In all the time we’ve lived here, we’ve never had the carpets cleaned. That’s probably a mistake, too. The paintwork could also do with a freshen-up. We’ve got cats—they rub against the walls, which over time leaves grubby marks. In fact, because of grimy handprints or general wear and tear, most of our rooms look like they’ve been stippled, an effect that hasn’t been popular since the 1980s—and with good reason.
I’d better get to work.
Abigail was always honest with herself. She’d had enough life experience and counselling to understand and appreciate the value of developing a high level of self-awareness. It was essential to be completely truthful with herself because there was no one else with whom she could ever be completely so. She found people were less enamoured with the truth than they believed themselves to be.
So, as she packed her suitcases, she had to admit he had never lied to her or misled her. Not about the baby thing. He’d always been very clear, laid out his stall. No babies. Not then, not ever. She’d accepted as much, even told herself it was what she wanted, too. She decided to work hard at her career instead. That was fulfilling. Very much so. For a time. Quite some time. But that hadn’t panned out exactly as she’d thought it would. How she deserved it to. A gap had opened up in her life.
She caught sight of her reflection in the mirror, puffy eyed, gaunt. She really needed to pull herself together, put some makeup on. She was likely to be recognised at the airport. She was a face. Someone.
Maybe not a name—people didn’t always remember her name—but certainly a face.
Adele Parks was born in Teesside, NE England. She studied English Language and Literature, at Leicester University. She published her first novel, Playing Away, in 2000; that year the Evening Standard identified Adele as one of London’s ‘Twenty Faces to Watch.’ Indeed Playing Away was the debut bestseller of 2000.
Prolific, Adele has published nine novels in nine years, including Game Over, Tell Me Something and Love Lies, all nine of her novels have been bestsellers. She’s sold over a million copies of her work in the UK but also sells throughout the world. Two of her novels (Husbands and Still Thinking of You) are currently being developed as movie scripts. Young Wives’ Tales was short listed for the Romantic Novelist Association Award 2008. She has written numerous articles and short stories for many magazines and newspapers and often appears on radio and TV talking about her work.
Since 2006 Adele has been an official spokeswoman for World Book Day and wrote a Quick Read, Happy Families as part of the celebrations of World Book Day, 2008.
Adele has spent her adult life in Italy, Botswana and London, up until two years ago when she moved to Guildford, where she now lives with her husband and son.