Roses Are Red - Miranda Rijks Page 0,1

seems to have a spring in their step.

I turn the car into the industrial estate and drive slowly towards our car park. Most mornings, I’m on autopilot and I don’t look. Not properly look, anyway. I’m normally in a hurry, having dropped the kids at school and eager to get behind my desk to come up with some exciting marketing strategy or try out a new piece of crafting kit. But today I’m in no hurry, despite the fact our board meeting should have started five minutes ago. I glance up at our nondescript red-brick building with its white PVC windows and door and notice that the r in the company’s name has slipped. The result of the storm, no doubt. It reads Cacking Crafts rather than Cracking Crafts.

Bloody hell. It’s exactly how I feel. Shit.

I snigger.

I park my black Porsche Cayenne in my allocated space, in front of the sign that reads ‘Sales & Marketing Director’, wedged between Ajay’s dark red Mercedes on the left and Adam’s navy Bentley on the right. A row of ostentatious, ridiculously expensive cars that demonstrates to the world just how far we have come. Adam bought my Cayenne. I returned home one March day two years ago to find it and the Bentley parked at the front of the house. I wanted to send them both back. There was absolutely nothing wrong with my Skoda estate. Adam threw a hissy fit, and back then I was still trying to be the pacifist, so after he reassured me we could afford a fleet of the things, I accepted the car. It would be churlish to say I don’t enjoy driving it. I do.

I walk in through the front door, clutching my files, my stilettos clip-clopping on the vinyl floor, past the open-plan office towards the boardroom. Nicky pirouettes before me and I jump. She has flawless ebony skin and large white teeth that have a wide gap between them. She’s the organiser of my diary and she keeps me focused.

‘They’re waiting for you,’ she whispers. ‘Is everything ok?’

‘Other than the fact we’re now Cacking Crafts and not Cracking Crafts, it’s all hunky-dory!’ It’s not fair of me to be sarcastic with Nicky, but I can’t help it.

‘I know. Unfortunate. Rod will fix the sign this morning. Would you like a coffee? Everyone else has got one.’

‘I’m fine. Thanks, Nicky. Better get going.’

My lovely assistant nods and lets me go. I tug down my navy linen skirt and straighten my jacket, then open the door. I still can’t get used to wearing formal clothes. Another edict from Adam. I dress up for meetings, and the rest of the time I’m in jeans and hand-knitted jumpers.

‘Good morning and sorry I’m late,’ I say as I walk into the boardroom. I had hoped that Ajay might have shifted the chairs around, but no. We’re in our normal places, and Adam and I have to face each other across the table. It’s our monthly management meeting, where our eight most senior executives report on the previous month and share their outline plans for the forthcoming month.

‘Morning, Lydia,’ they reply in their varying pitches and accents. Adam doesn’t look up.

‘Right. As we’re all here, let’s get started on the agenda,’ Ajay says. ‘Number one: last month’s sales. Adam, can you talk us through the figures, please?’

I zone out.

Yes, we have come a very long way.

We set up Cracking Crafts nineteen years ago. Cassie, my best friend, and I took a Greyhound bus holiday along the west coast of America. I was blown away by all the homespun crafts and the hobbyists attempting to make a living from their passions. With her startling blue hair, everyone thought Cassie was the one into crafts; but it was me. When we returned to England, I declared that I was going to set up a shop selling new crafting gizmos from all over the world. My ambitions were modest, just the desire to indulge in my knitting and card-making hobbies (which were seriously uncool back then) and hopefully meet other like-minded folk. Although I had the idea, with a mediocre degree in textiles from a low-ranking college and parents who had zero business experience, I had no clue how to go about making my shop a reality.

One night, shortly after we got back from our grand tour, Cassie and I were out with friends. Ajay sat down next to me. He had recently got together with Marianne. They seemed like an unlikely couple.