Title: The Joy of Comfort Eating
Author: Suzanne Jefferies
Series: The Joy of Series (#1)
Genre: Chick Lit/Romance /Contemporary
Publisher: Fire Quill Publishing
Release Date: Nov 17
Edition/Formats: eBook & Print
It’s the worst day of Charlie Everson’s life. Not only can she no longer fit into her clothes—disaster for any public relations director—but also her first love, the sexy super-successful Brian Tendai, is her new CEO, the last person she ever expected to run into. Seeing him again tumbles Charlie back into her past. There are still so many unanswered questions: he’s convinced she left him, she’s convinced he left her. Charlie minimizes the ‘ex’ factor. Tell that to her emotions that are running wild.
But Brian’s not there to rekindle their romance. He’s overseeing Queenswood Communications’ recent merger after a hostile takeover. Guess whose name is at the top of the list?
They agree to one night together, just the one, then it’s back to business as normal. Or is it?
The Joy of Comfort Eating is a contemporary romance novel set in cosmopolitan Johannesburg.
~ * ~
Welcome to the worst day of my life. What the hell do I wear?
CHARLIE EVERSON SURVEYED HER CLOTHES CLOSET—a three-sided cubicle—with two sections of hanging space, and row upon row of wooden shelves harboring multi-colored garments.
The wrong size.
Or were once the right size. Back then. But that was then. Now her clothes needed to be bigger, roomier, like marshmallows blown up in the microwave. One size up. No, two sizes up. Even three sizes. Sizes less revealing of the flesh that lay beneath.
It’s not like he’d remember her. Besides, plenty of people were called Brian Tendai. Weren’t they? It was probably a coincidence.
Charlie rooted through a pile of casual shirts slumped against the side of the closet. They smelled of wet wood and Angel by Thierry Mugler. Extracting a crumpled, black tank top with white deodorant marks staining the underarms, she sniffed the fabric before throwing it onto her bed. Then, from another pile that had given up the fight, she found a matching black short sweater—wrinkled. The sweater landed on the tank top with a soft plop, not unlike the sound of a soft serve vanilla, molding into a sugar cone.
Fate wouldn’t drag him back to her in the form of her new boss, now would it? No one had such a sick sense of humor.
Charlie groaned as she spotted her rounded body, a reflection of white flesh sculpted into vase-like curves. For a split second, her eyes registered the slackness of her stomach. She slammed the image shut, tugging her gray panties up around her ass. No wonder James didn’t come around as much as he used to. Who’d blame him?
Scuttling over to her purse, she yanked out a Snickers bar, took a bite, replaced the wrapper, and stuffed it back into the purse.
And, if it was the same Brian, he was probably married with two-point-four children by now. And had a beer belly. And had aged about forty years or so. Though he’d only be thirty now, give or take.
Out came the Snickers bar. One more bite.
Put it back, Everson, put it back.
The Snickers bar retreated.
Besides, that Brian Tendai was there to slice and dice his way through the Queenswood staff. It could not possibly be her Brian. Well, just Brian now. Not hers, not anymore.
Dragging the tank top off the bed, she pulled it over her hair. She then tossed on the black sweater, tugged at a loose thread, and surveyed herself in the mirror when she noticed the nametag hanging out. Off went the sweater, before she put it on the correct way around.
Maybe I should wear a suit. Look professional?
James always pointed out that she could probably do a bit more toward addressing her corporate image. James would. He looked as though he’d been born with a collar and tie.
Her suit hung, pin-striped and pressed. Best she look professional. Pin-striped, pressed and tiny. Far too tiny.
She checked her phone. Still no missed calls. No WhatsApp messages. No nothing. James hadn’t called all weekend. It was so over with him. Just as soon as she worked up the guts to actually tell him.
Charlie tugged again at the loose thread on the sweater, this time managing to snap it off causing the material to pucker at the cuff.
Out came the Snickers bar. Nibble, nibble, picking the chocolate off the top. Then, one, two, three, she devoured the whole thing. Charlie checked the empty wrapper for any renegade chocolate dregs before stuffing it into the far depths of her purse.
With her fingers, she snapped at her pantie elastic. Then, flicking through the Rolodex of skinny person pants hanging in her closet, she wondered about wearing jeans.
Shouldn’t have eaten that. This is no doubt why James hasn’t called or WhatsAppe’d.
Hadn’t he mentioned just the other day that it might be an idea for her to actually use her gym membership?
Charlie turned to her pile of folded skirts, passing the hanging rail of skirts altogether, choosing a denim patchwork skirt. Like the folds of a hot air balloon, it curved up at the waist and fell to calf-length. Perfect.
Wriggling and wiggling, the zip refused to budge. Sliding around on her unmade bed, sinking into the feathery duvet, she heaved in her stomach, tucking her flesh under the folds of the skirt.
A straight jacket of denim.
Row upon row of shoes rose up from the dusty wood floor. Red stilettos, gold gladiator sandals with a beaded finish, black velvet lace-ups with blue satin bows, red suede knee-length riding boots, and pale pink flip-flops—like prawn cocktail spooned into clam shells.
Charlie picked out one of her few pairs of flat shoes; black, shiny patent, backless brothel creepers that slap-clacked on the floor.
“Anytime you’re ready,” called a voice from downstairs. Shelley. Housemate.
After a quick rifle through the jewelry box for the requisite gold hoops, she glanced in the mirror. A fat stranger looked back. Dragging her wet towel off the floor, she hurled it over the mirror.
Her tongue swept over her mouth, the chocolate taste lingering between her teeth.
Shelley’s voice was a whip crack. “Charlie, if we don’t leave, we’re going to hit the damn Jo’burg traffic.”
Shelley stood in the kitchen, a pristine vision in a whiter-than-white pressed shirt, and black pants ironed into submission, tapping her neatly clad shoe on the floor as she rapped out her passive resentment.
“I was ready ages ago,” Shelley replied, dragging the word out whilst pouring the remainder of her undrunk coffee down the sink, watching as the steady flow of liquid dribbled away. “Do you mind if we stop at Woolworths on our way?”
Charlie eyed up a crème egg that sat next to the microwave.
“And, Charlie, remember today’s an important day,” said Shelley, following Charlie’s gaze.
“I hadn’t forgotten,” said Charlie, lifting an apple from the fruit bowl.
“It’s so exciting, all the changes with the merger.”
“Gripping. Let’s go, then,” Charlie muttered, finding her car keys and making for the door.
“And what do you think our new CEO, Brian Tendai’s, like?”
His name on her lips.
Suzanne Jefferies loves to write contemporary romance and paranormal fiction. She believes in happily-ever-afters, in fiction. As a member of ROSA (Romance Writers of South Africa), she knows that she’s not the only believer in romantic tension and emotional power smacks to keep the romance reader hooked. A movie fanatic, she spends most of her time writing scripts, fielding production for short films, and trying again. Working in communication, she has done more than her fair share of corporate and investor PR, and now lectures in between editorial jobs for big, glossy company magazines. The Joy of Comfort Eating is her first contemporary romance novel.