Today it is my stop on the blog tour for The Ex Factor by Eva Woods and I am sharing an extract from the book...
Marnie swirled her glass of ‘Brigitte Bardot’s Knickers’ (it being against the law to have non-ironic cocktail names in London), a concoction of Campari, gin, and Fanta, and looked at Ani and Helen. ‘Hmmm. What about you two, any romance?’
When Marnie wasn’t there, Ani was too pessimistic to discuss her love life, Helen just didn’t date (because: reasons), and Rosa had been happily married until a few months ago. So at the question, a silence fell over them. Helen cleared her throat. ‘Ani got asked out by her client,’ she said.
Ani rolled her eyes. ‘Mr “I had sex with my kids’ auntie under the Christmas tree”, yeah, great. If I’m lucky he still has his Santa suit.
Otherwise, no, still nothing that sticks. Mum and Dad are starting to despair of me, I think.’
‘And you, Helz?’
She went for an ironic shrug and ended up spattering chipotle mayonnaise on her chin. ‘Do Dr Derek Shepherd and Walter White, crack dealer, count as men? Because I’ve been spending a lot of time with them.’
‘No, box sets do not count.’
Helen squirmed. Marnie couldn’t know the real reason.
Helen hadn’t dated in two years. ‘Ach, it’s such a lot of hassle and heartache—tell her about your last date, Ani.’
‘The one where he took out his contacts and said, “You could be anyone now!”, then his cat bit me on the foot? I still have the scar.’
‘Not him, the other one.’
‘The one who took off his trousers and he was wearing Superman pants? Or the one who didn’t even have a bedroom? Honestly, he was living in an actual airing cupboard.’
‘I was thinking of Blubbing Ben, actually.’
‘Oh God, yes. Wait till you hear this, Marn.’ Ani launched into a story of a date she’d had recently, the punchline of which was ‘and then he spent the whole evening crying on my shoulder, and the worst bit was, it was a dry-clean-only top’.
Rosa shook her head over her ‘Brighton Rock and Roll’—peach schnapps, vodka, cream soda, a stick of actual rock to stir it. ‘I don’t know why you can’t just date someone nice, Ani.’
‘You sound like my mum. I’m trying to find someone nice—I date all the time. You guys don’t know what it’s like. I don’t want to put you off, Rosa, but if you decide to jump back into the water, well, online dating is like deliberately swimming into a big shoal of sharks.’
Marnie was nodding. ‘My friend Caty, do you remember her? The one who does reiki healing and has that weird little sausage dog? She was seeing this guy she met online, and it was all going really well, except he wouldn’t invite her to his place. He said his flatmates were always there, the place was a mess, he needed to clean up, blah blah. Then one day he says, fine, come round. So she goes, and it’s lovely. Like a really nice clean grown-up place. And the next morning they’re making waffles in the kitchen, and she’s in his shirt, just like in a romcom.’
‘With yoghurt?’ said Helen, transfixed despite herself by the image.
‘Yep. They are totally eating yoghurt. Probably he’s dabbed some on her chin and licked it off. Anyway, you can see where this is going.’
‘Oh no.’ Rosa buried her head in her hands.
‘Oh yes. So the door goes and it’s his wife. That’s right, she’s home early from her holiday. With the kids. So that’s internet dating,’ said Marnie grimly. ‘Every time you think it can’t get worse, you hit another rock bottom. A new low standard every time.’
The Ex Factor is OUT NOW!