Ten Weeks to Target is my latest novella to make it into kindle. Actually it’s my first Della Galton novella to make it into kindle. If you have ever set foot inside a slimming club it may appeal to you. In fact, if you have ever tried to lose a few pounds it may also appeal to you. It’s a light hearted romantic comedy – and I thought you might like a taster – so to speak! So here is the first chapter to read at your leisure 🙂
“Why don’t you just get a bigger size, Mum?”
Very good question, Janine thought as she struggled to get the zip done up on her jeans. Everything was so simple when you were fourteen, going on twenty-five, and could eat whatever you wanted without putting on a pound. She glanced at Kelly, who was sitting on the bed, her dark hair gelled into hedgehog spikes and her blue eyes impatient.
“Because I don’t want a bigger size,” she said patiently. “I want to fit into this size.” Especially as your Aunt Alison will be looking like she’s just stepped off a catwalk, she could have added, but didn’t in case she sounded like a cow.
Alison was her sister in law. Alison was perfect. Well, she was in the looks department anyway. She had the sort of cheekbones photographers raved about, not a trace of a laughter line despite being in her mid forties – blond hair that always looked effortlessly styled and – most enviably of all in Janine’s book right now – she was a size ten.
“If you’re getting all done up for Aunt Ali’s benefit then I shouldn’t bother,” Kelly went on with irritating perception. “She’s far more interested in discussing the ‘wedding of the year’ than in what you look like.”
“Yes, but that isn’t the point,” Janine said, forcing the button into place. It would be all right if she didn’t sit down. And if she wore a long top then maybe she could leave the button undone. With a bit of luck Ali would be in too much of a rush to stop long.
“What do you think?” she said, spinning round in front of her daughter. “Do I look fat?”
“No-oo,” Kelly said, spinning out the O in the way she did when she was trying to think of something diplomatic to say. “But you do look – er – uncomfortable.”
Uncomfortable was the understatement of the year, Janine thought wryly, and she hadn’t dared breathe out yet. Maybe it would be more sensible to wear her black trousers. At least they fitted properly. The trouble was, her sister in law was going to think she didn’t have any other trousers.
And then the doorbell rang and it was suddenly too late. She checked her hair in the mirror. She always seemed to be too busy ferrying Kelly around to have time to worry about such things as hair appointments. Her shoulder length brown frizz was in dire need of a cut and grey was coming through at the sides. She was sure it hadn’t been there yesterday. Why did it always have to come through just at the wrong time?
“Shall I let her in?” Kelly asked, standing up in one careless, graceful movement.
“Yes. No, I’ll do it.” Janine reached for her scent, at least she’d smell nice, but as she stretched forward, her jeans finally gave up the battle and tore along the crotch.
The bell rang again and Kelly hesitated in the bedroom doorway. “Oops, have they ripped?” she said sympathetically. “Why don’t you wear your nice black ones instead.”
Sometimes, Janine thought, swallowing the urge to scream, she could have sworn that Kelly was the pacifying adult and she the child.
“I’ll let Aunt Ali in,” Kelly added and disappeared.
Janine ripped off the ruined jeans and rifled frantically through her wardrobe. No black trousers. Suddenly remembering they were in the wash, she tore into the bathroom and found them screwed up in the bottom of the linen basket.
They’d pass if she ironed them, but the iron was downstairs and by now that’s where Alison would be too – sitting slim and elegant in her kitchen. She must have something else that fitted. A frantic further search of her wardrobe told her different. It would have to be her tracksuit bottoms. She hauled them off the hanger, remembering belatedly that the last time she’d worn them had been to emulsion the spare room, which wasn’t quite finished. They were paint spattered, but at least they fitted. She raced across the landing and put her head around the spare room door. A tray of paint brushes was laid out neatly on some newspaper. She grabbed one and went downstairs slowly.
Alison and Kelly were sitting at the kitchen table, bent over a wedding magazine. Janine put on her brightest smile.
“Hi, Ali, sorry I forgot you were coming, I was just – er – doing a bit of decorating.” With a bit of luck she could pass off the grey in her hair as paint.
“Oh, don’t let me stop you.” Alison glanced up. She looked breathtaking as usual in a navy and white suit. Positively nautical, Janine thought, which was perhaps why she felt a bit sick. Or perhaps that was because she was afraid that Kelly would give the game away and she’d have to confess that she had simply outgrown her wardrobe. All of it, without even noticing.
But all her darling daughter did was to raise her eyebrows and shake her head slightly. “I’ll put the kettle on while you two talk weddings,” she said, sliding off her chair and coming across the kitchen. She took the dry paintbrush out of Janine’s hand. “And I’ll put this in some white spirit, shall I, Mum, save it going all stiff and hard.”
Fortunately Alison didn’t seem too interested in the decorating. “I thought you’d like to see the place cards we finally decided on,” she murmured, barely glancing at Janine. “What do you think? Gorgeous, aren’t they?”
“Lovely,” Janine agreed dutifully, looking at the pink and blue edged cards.
“They’ll go in little gold place holders,” Alison went on. “Mia thought you might like to see the seating layout, too. I think we’ve finally thrashed it out. You’re going to be here.” She pointed a pale pink fingernail. “Next to Mia’s uncle Martin, remember him – he’s just split up with his wife, too. Poor man was devastated.”
Great, Janine thought. A table of discarded aunts and uncles, neatly packaged away by the fire exit by the look of it.
“It’ll cheer him up sitting with you,” Alison went on brightly. “Have you decided what you’re going to wear yet?”
“Er no, I haven’t had much time to think about it. What with the decorating.”
“Well, chop chop, it’s only ten weeks away now, you know. I’ve had my outfit for a year.”
Janine nodded miserably and resisted the urge to confess that if she’d had her outfit for a year, she’d have had to let it out by at least three sizes by now. Some women gave up eating when they were unhappy, but unfortunately she’d never been one of them. Since she and Jonathan had separated she’d piled on weight like there was no tomorrow. Well, chocolate was so much more comforting than salad, wasn’t it. But she felt quite unable to say any of this to Alison, who actually looked as if she’d lost weight lately.
“Mind you, I’ll have to get it taken in,” Alison muttered, flapping the waistband of her skirt. “What with all this running about I’m losing weight by the bucket load.”
“What a nuisance,” Janine said, hoping she didn’t sound too bitter and twisted and reaching absently for the plate of chocolate hobnobs that Kelly had put out. “Have one of these?”
“Ugh, no thanks. Far too much on my mind to eat. Anyway, Janine dear, I’ll leave you to your decorating. You’re obviously up to your eyes in it. And, don’t take this the wrong way, will you, but …” She hesitated. “I thought you might like to get your hair done before the wedding at my salon. Ritchie’s an absolute marvel. My treat of course.”
“That’s very sweet of you,” Janine said through gritted teeth.
“I’ll see myself out,” Alison trilled, gathering up her place settings and slipping them into her slimline, designer handbag.
Janine was very tempted to slam the door behind her. Hard, so that it rattled the foundations of the house. Hard enough to get rid of some of the simmering frustration that threatened to burst out of her as tears.
“She means well,” Kelly said, reading her mother’s face as they came back into the kitchen. “And you’ll look great whatever you wear.”
“Thank you, darling.” She treated her daughter to a hug, breathing in the mix of hair gel and apple shampoo and feeling a mixture of despair that she was a fat and frumpy forty year old, and relief that she had such a gorgeous, sweet daughter. “But we both know that’s not true. Anyway, at least one of us will look beautiful.”
“Mia’s too young to get married,” Kelly went on blithely. “I’m never getting married. Especially not to a dork like Carl Baker – I don’t know what she sees in him.”
Janine frowned. Privately, she agreed that nineteen was very young to take such a big step, but then Mia had always been mature for her age. She was a lovely girl, shy and sensible. She’d seen a lot her when she was younger, but they’d hardly spoken lately. Poor Mia was probably rushed off her feet with wedding plans.
“I expect she loves him,” she told Kelly. That’s the usual reason to get married, isn’t it.”
“Didn’t help much with you and Dad, did it?”
Ouch, Janine thought, changing her mind about Kelly being gorgeous and sweet. Mentions of her ex-husband still hurt far more than she wanted to admit. She wasn’t looking forward to seeing him at the wedding with his new girlfriend, who was thin – naturally.
Blimey, she was going to have to lose some weight before then. Perhaps she could get a padlock for the biscuit tin and the fridge, and she could have a ceremonial burning of all the take-away menus in the house.
They were on their way to school the next day when Kelly said hesitantly. “You could always try a slimming club. Sharon Tate’s mum lost three stone at hers.”
“Bet it took more than ten weeks,” Janine muttered, slowing for a red light.
“Yes, but you don’t need to lose three stone. A stone wouldn’t take long, would it?”
“I’m not a slimming club type of person, though, darling. I can’t think of anything worse than sitting in a room with a load of women discussing diets.”
“It’s not just women who go these days. There are three men inSharon’s Mum’s group.”
“That sounds even worse,” Janine said, and then felt guilty at her daughter’s pained expression. “All right, I’ll think about it,” she said, as they pulled up at the school gates. “Have a good day, pet.”
She still wasn’t quite sure how on earth she’d let herself be talked into it when she walked into the “New You” Slimming Club the following Tuesday evening. As she stood at the end of a queue of chattering women she very nearly lost her nerve and ran. It was only the fact that she’d promised Kelly that stopped her. The class was being held at a primary school about two miles from where she lived, and there was a board at the entrance that said, ‘Come on in, you have nothing to lose, but weight.’
She could think of a lot of other things she had to lose. Dignity being the main one. The last time she’d been to a slimming club, the group leader had thought it motivating to tell everyone in the room how much you weighed. Mind you, that had been several years ago. She closed her eyes and prayed things had changed…
If you enjoyed chapter one and would like to read the rest you can buy it on Amazon for a very reasonable £1.53 by clicking here. It’s also available in large print format.