'Excellent, my dear, I wish you both the best. Love what you've done with your hair!'
'My hair? I haven't done anything with my hair!'
'Exactly!' replied Flakk quickly. 'It's so incredibly you.'
She did a twirl.
'What do you think of the outfit?'
'One's attention is drawn straight to it,' I replied ambiguously.
'This is 1985,' she explained, 'bright colours are the future. I'll let you loose in my wardrobe one day.'
'I think I've got some pink socks of my own somewhere.'
'It's a start, my dear. Listen, you've been a star about all this publicity work; I'm very grateful and so is SpecOps.'
'Grateful enough to post me somewhere other than the Literary Detectives?'
'Well,' murmured Cordelia reflectively, 'first things first. As soon as you've done the Lush interview your transfer application will be aggressively considered, you have my word on that.'
It didn't sound terribly promising. Despite the successes at work, I still wanted to move up within the Network. Cordelia took my arm and steered me towards the waiting area.
'Spot of bother in Auckland?'
'Bronte Federation offshoot caused a bit of trouble,' I explained.
'They didn't like the new ending of Jane Eyre.'
'There'll always be a few malcontents,' observed Flakk. 'Milk?'
'Oh,' she said, staring at the milk jug, 'this milk's off. No matter. Listen,' she went on quietly, 'I'd love to stay and watch but some SpecOps 17 clot in Penzance staked a Goth by mistake; it's going to be PR hell on earth down there.'
SO-17 were the vampire and werewolf disposal squad. Despite a new 'three-point' confirmation procedure, a jumpy cadet with a sharpened stake could still spell big trouble.
From Lost In A Good Book by Jasper Fforde. Copyright Jasper Fforde 2003. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form without written permission from the publisher, Penguin USA.
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Southern Gothic fantasy with a contemporary flare set in Savannah
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