Victoria Cooke shares the prologue of her new novel, Who Needs Men Anyway?
Valentine’s Day Last Year
I’m Charlotte, and I have a wonderful life.
The house, the cars, the clothes, and the man. What more could I want?
My husband, James, is quite the catch: successful, good-looking, and loved by everyone, he’s the type of man other women tell me they dream of marrying. James and I were university sweethearts and married at the tender age of twenty-four – ten years ago today, in a lavish ceremony on a frosty February the fourteenth, so Valentine’s Day has always been a day of celebration.
This morning, I woke up to find a single rose lying at the foot of the bed with a little note that read:
I love you more than life itself.
Happy anniversary, my darling valentine.
A smile spread across my face as I sniffed the rose. ‘James?’ I shouted, and he emerged from the steamy en suite with a white towel tied around his waist, showing off his toned stomach, still tanned from our recent trip to Mexico.
‘You’re awake?’ He pulled me into a hug.
‘I am, thank you for the rose,’ I said, kissing him. ‘And the note.’
‘You deserve it, Charlotte. I love you. Come here.’ He pulled me in tight once again, nibbling my lip. ‘I’ll see you tonight. I have a special dinner planned – at that new French restaurant on the high street – but I’ll be working late so meet me there at seven?’
‘Sounds perfect. Now sit down, I’ve got something for you.’
He sat waiting dutifully as I skipped into the walk-in wardrobe and opened my small, hidden drawer, sliding out the yellow box. It had challenged me to keep the gift a secret. The excited rush I’d felt when buying it two weeks ago was so strong it almost forced me to give it to him as soon as he’d walked in that day, especially since he’d looked so tired and in need of cheering up. I’d had to take myself off to hot yoga every night to avoid caving in to temptation and spoiling the surprise. But I’d triumphed! I made it to our anniversary, to Valentine’s Day morning, without spilling the beans.
‘Close your eyes,’ I said, hovering in the doorway.
Once he did, I walked over and placed the box on his knee, jumping on the bed to sit beside him. My insides squeezed with excitement. ‘Okay, you can open them!’
‘Oh my God! Charlotte!’ He gasped. Taking in the embossed wings logo on the yellow box, he hastily opened the lid to reveal a smaller, glossy-black box inside. It was like the Russian doll of watch boxes. I could barely contain myself as he peered inside and grinned. ‘I love it.’ Of course he did; I knew he would – it was the Breitling Navitimer watch he’d had his eye on for months. He kissed me before pulling away. ‘And I love you too. I’ve got you a little something as well but it’s at work because I was saving it to give you at dinner.’
What a wonderful man.
Don’t get mad, get even…
Thirty-something Charlotte’s Emsworth’s life is a sickeningly perfect round of charity events, hot yoga, and romantic gestures for sexy lawyer husband James. But, patiently waiting to get pregnant, Charlotte is bored. And when she’s bored, she has a tendency to meddle…
First, it’s her personal trainer Megan’s cheating fiance, then the gardener Sam’s wife’s ‘late nights at the office’. But soon the meddling, however well-intentioned, lands Charlotte in way over her head, and all the time spent ‘managing’ other people’s lives makes her blind to the cracks appearing in her own…
Getting even is one thing, but what about getting happy?
Victoria Cooke grew up in the city of Manchester before crossing the Pennines in pursuit of a career in education. She now lives in Huddersfield with her husband and two young daughters and when she’s not at home writing by the fire with a cup of coffee in hand, she loves working out in the gym and travelling. Victoria was first published at the tender age of eight by her classroom teacher who saw potential in a six-page story about an invisible man. Since then she’s always had a passion for reading and writing, undertaking several writers’ courses before completing her first novel, The Secret to Falling in Love, in 2016.