No idea what magnum opus actually means (Wikipedia says – Magnum opus (plural: magna opera, also opus magnum / opera magna), from the Latin meaning “great work”,[1] refers to the largest, and perhaps the best, greatest, most popular, or most renowned achievement of a writer, artist, composer or craftsman.)

But anyway, I like the word ‘fourpus’ because it sounds cute, like a cat with four heads, or some kind of sponge cake with raspberry cream and a chocolate fan.

So, here’s a little bit of my novel ‘Prior Engagements’ which is coming out on the 21st. (Apologies for lack of paragraphs, wordpress does not like my formatting).pe cover 2

I showed up at work on Monday with a reluctance heretofore reserved only for pelvic examinations and anything involving my mother. I was exhausted, having just experienced a whirlwind wedding and (I had to admit) a pretty energetic honeymoon. I could have happily stayed at home with some Desperate Housewives, and had eight-plus cups of tea with Malteaser croutons and a side of Mars Bars.

But no – Raspberry Bereft called. Oh yeah, the name, not my idea. Actually, I thought it was the stupidest name anyone had ever given an eatery, and I’d spent a year getting my lunch at Bagels Ahoy!, so that was saying something. Will defended the name, saying it was logical, because we never served anything with raspberries in. This was because Will was ‘allergic’. I, however, maintained that not eating a fruit just because you think it looks like a nipple and that ‘freaks you out’ did not constitute an allergy.

“Late,” Will boomed, as I reluctantly shunted open the door. I winced as the bell trembled over my head. The bright pink walls assaulted my brain, as did the radio, which blared Ke$ha.  It was Monday, and so it was Will’s turn to pick the music.

“Always,” I said, without my usual vigour. As a rule, you go into Raspberry Bs ready to fight, or you go down in flames, at least if you’re an employee. Will loved to take all kinds of ‘the piss’.

A host of waitresses, cooks and busboys had run screaming from Will’s management skills (taking choice pieces of our décor with them, in lieu of compensational therapy). At present, our staff consisted of me (too stubborn to leave – besides, Will was my friend) and ‘Water’ the gangly teen of indeterminate gender, who did the washing-up.

Will swore that Water had turned up to the interview wearing a suit and claiming to be ‘Walter’. But on the first day of work, ‘he’ had shown up in a skirt, with lilac dreads, and had introduced ‘himself’ to me as ‘Wilma’.

Out of awkwardness, we had started to mutter ‘his’ name and avoid all pronouns. The name ‘Water’ had just become a thing, and Water never complained.

Will ignored me after our initial exchange, and went back to wrestling with the cappuccino machine. I swept into the back and put on my apron, scrunching my hair up into an almost-ponytail. My rings caught in my hair, and once I’d freed them, I wondered if I should slip them off and put them into my pocket.

“Come on! Milk’s turning faster than you’re working.”

I stalked back out into the café, prepared to snap at him, but I got distracted by his hair, which had changed colour again. The last time I’d worked a shift, Will’s hair had been bright pink, but today it was the lime green of the counter tops.

I groaned, loudly and disparagingly.

Will lovingly petted his Mohawk and batted his eyelashes, which were smothered in mascara to match. “Gorgeous, aren’t I?”

“Like Courtney Love’s surgical runoff,” I simpered.

He threw an old coffee filter at me. “Pick that up.”

“Up yours, you cockatoo.”

He rolled his eyes and bowled me a bagel for breakfast. Salmon and paprika cream cheese, my favourite.

“Wass’at?” I asked, face stuffed with bagel, pointing at the monstrosity on the far wall.

“It’s a new painting, your highness,” Will drawled, swiping at the bagel crumbs I’d left in my wake.

“From a skip?”

“….maybe.”

I sighed.

“And what’s that?” Will retorted, pointing at my hand.

I winced inwardly, I’d planned to wait until things were a bit more settled between Dorian and I before I started telling people. But, Will was my best-friend, and I always told him everything (even when he had absolutely no interest in the matter whatsoever. That’s just what friends do).

Besides, it was better to get the piss-taking over with.

“I got married.”

Will sniffed. “And I got knighted.”

“I’m serious.”

He looked at me, harder and harder, like he was trying to force me to stop bullshitting him.

“Will, I got married, on Saturday, to a man I met at work.”

“How long have you known him?” Will looked gobsmacked. “Why didn’t you invite me?”

“Because I’ve only known him since Saturday.”

Will blinked. “…Two days ago Saturday?”

“Yes,” I said, waiting for the inevitable backlash.

“Are you CRAZY?”

“Says the man with the nuclear hairdo.”

“Annie, I mean it, you married a man you’ve only just met? Where, for Christ’s sake?”

“I met him in BHS, but I married him in Vegas.”

“You flew to VEGAS with him?!” Will’s eyes practically skewered me to the floor. I hadn’t really thought about it at the time (thank you wine) but in the harsh light of the Day-Glo café I realised just how badly the whole thing could have gone. People got abducted or murdered, sold into the sex trade or ground down into burger meat, strangers would stab you soon as look at you. I read about it in the Daily Mail.

Like hell was I going to admit that to Will though.

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