Hannah Heartss

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Chasing the Stars by Virginie Grimaldi | Blog Tour

I'm excited to be reading an extract from Chasing the Stars, a book that I cannot wait to read soon! The cover is gorgeous and I haven't read anything from this author but this book sounded so up my street! I hope you enjoy the following extract from chapter one. 
Anna
‘Anna, can you come and see me when you finish your shift? I need a word.’
   I tie my apron round my waist and do one last check of the tables before the first customer arrives. I know what Tony’s going to say; I overheard him talking to someone yesterday. It’s high time.
   In the last three months L’Auberge Blanche has worked its way up to the top of the ratings for restaurants in Toulouse. We were busy enough already; now, it’s packed. I
barely have time to clear a table before someone else sits down. I’m the only waitress and Tony can’t help out unless he has nothing else to do.
   Last Monday I was just taking a crême brûlée to table six when my head began to spin, my eyesight went foggy and my legs turned to jelly. The dessert landed on the customer’s head and I landed up in my boss’s office.
   At first he just shouted. I’m used to it – it meant he was worried. He once confided that he has situs inversus : he said his heart is on the left side of his body and his liver on the right. His communication skills are obviously the wrong way round, too.
   ‘What the bloody hell were you doing?’
   ‘Bloody fainting, that’s what.’
   ‘Well, why would you do that?’
   ‘To liven things up a bit – what a question! I mean, it is a bit quiet this evening, isn’t it?’
   He relinquished his anger with a great sigh then moved on to the empathetic phase.
   ‘Right, are you okay?’
   ‘I’m a bit better. I’ll go back out.’
   ‘No, leave it, I’ll take care of things this evening. But you’re back on tomorrow, okay?’
   ‘Have I ever missed a single shift?’
   He smiled. This was my moment.
   ‘I’m tired, Tony. I’m about to turn forty – I can’t keep this up. It would be great if you took on someone else.’
   ‘I know, I know, you’ve said that before. I’ll see what I can do.’
He picked up his phone and called Estelle, his mistress, to tell her he’d like to be inside her knickers right now. I deduced that our conversation was over. My neighbour Paul says I should change jobs. He’s taken over his daddy’s chain of shops and obviously thinks jobs are delivered by storks who’ve gone in a new direction since the baby market was nabbed by gooseberry bushes.
  The truth is, there’s nothing else I can do. I did go to college, though; I’ve got an accountancy and management diploma. I found out I was pregnant on the last day
of exams, Mathias was earning a decent living, so we decided I’d stay at home with Chloe. When she started nursery school three years later, I applied for dozens of jobs in accounts and admin. I got only one interview, during the course of which I realised everything about
me was wrong: I had no experience, I’d given myself three years off to play with a baby and I had the impertinence to answer ‘no’ to the question ‘Is there someone to look after your child in an emergency?’ I couldn’t compete with the countless seasoned, uber- qualified applicants whose priorities hadn’t come out of their wombs. 
So I accepted an offer of work from Tony, a friend of Mathias’s who runs a restaurant. For the first seven years I just did the lunchtime shift, which meant I could spend time with my daughters. Until I had no choice but to do evenings as well.
   I’ve just wound down the metal shutters when Tony shouts for me. I go back in and sit down opposite him.
   ‘You know I really like you, Anna.’
   Situs inversus. This isn’t looking good.
   ‘How long have you been working here? Ten years?’
   ‘Fourteen.’
   ‘Fourteen! Time does fly. I still remember your interview, you were so—’
   ‘Cut to the chase, Tony.’
   He rubs his temples with the tips of his fingers and sighs.
   ‘Estelle’s been made redundant and I want to take her on.’ 
   ‘Ah! That’s a relief, I thought you were going to give me bad news. I have to say, I’m not sure it’s the brainwave of the century as far as your wife’s concerned, but, well, that’s your problem. When’s she starting?’
   He shakes his head.
   ‘I want to take her on instead of you, Anna.’
   The information takes several seconds to wend its way to my brain.
   ‘What do you mean, instead of me ? You can’t do that!’
   ‘I know I don’t have any reason to fire you. Mind you, there’s always something if you look hard enough, but I wouldn’t do that to you – you don’t deserve it. I’ve got a
proposal for you: let’s do this amicably, come to an agreement. I’ll give you a little envelope
as a thank- you.’
   I don’t know how long I sit there not reacting. Long enough to think about all the bills I already can’t pay. And to picture the fridge even emptier than it already is. And to realise there’ll be more visits from the bailiffs. And to imagine the look on my daughters’ faces when I tell them their mum’s lost her job.
   ‘So what do you say?’
   I push back my chair and stand up.

   ‘Go fuck yourself, Tony.’

Chasing the Stars is out on the 31st of October 2019 - HERE


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