Authors: Sarah Belle
Magic realism mixes with romantic comedy in this new novel from Sarah Belle about the dangers of internet shopping – and using magic to solve real world problems
Lou’s life is perfect. She loves her job, her renovated house, and most of all, her gorgeous fiancé, Aidan. But when her old flame and Aidan’s school yard nemesis turn out to be the same person, Hunter Wincott, Lou’s life is blown apart. She must divulge her secret past, or have Hunter give it away. Either way, she runs the real risk of losing Aidan.
In desperation, she turns to Google. A quick search turns up Majique, the Internet Witch, and a spell that will delete herself from Hunter’s memory. But something goes wrong in the casting process, and Lou deletes much more than just a memory. She deletes herself from her life completely.
Luckily, there’s a one-week window for Lou to get back to the life she loved. One week to win back Aidan, before he walks down the aisle with the wrong woman, and damns everyone to a lifetime of misery. It would be easy, if only Aidan had any idea who Lou actually is.
Sarah Belle started her professional life in the hospitality industry, working in rough hotels in Melbourne in the late 1980s, surrounded by drug dealers, prostitutes, pimps, and undercover police. Tiring of the inherent dangers of her working environment, Sarah completed a business degree and then worked in the world of admin and recruitment. She met and married the man of her dreams, Blackhawk pilot Jason. They have four gorgeous young sons and live on the beautiful Queensland coast, where Sarah’s days are spent being a frazzled mum, writer, Bikram yoga devotee and the only woman in a house of five males. Sarah’s debut novel,
, was released in 2013 via Escape Publishing.
To the wonderful Kate Cuthbert and the team at Escape Publishing, thank you again for your belief in me and my story. Your awesomeness knows no bounds. I am so thrilled to be part of the Escape family. Also, a very big thank you to Una Cruickshank, editor extraordinaire, who worked on both
Déjà Vu Lou
Thank you to Romance Writers of Australia and Queensland Writer’s Centre, for creating such dynamic organisations that celebrate and nurture Australian talent and in particular to my fellow
Year of the Edit
students and our teacher, Kari. Your instruction and feedback were invaluable in moulding
into a manuscript worthy of submitting. To all my friends in the writing community, thank you for your support and encouragement.
To my gorgeous husband Jason and our four little men, Ethan, Rylan, Lachlan and Callum – my fingers may belong to the keyboard, but my heart and soul always belong to you. Thank you for your never-ending love, support and inspiration.
To my friends and family, thank you for your understanding that I am more of a writer than a social creature.
To my Mum, thank you for shoving endless piles of books under my nose when I was a kid and insisting that I not only read them, but love them and find them fascinating. It worked.
To my Mum, Joy: my best friend. I love you to the sky and back again, forever and always
There’s a new number one on my ‘List of Dumb’. The list is not just run-of-the-mill dumb things, like walking into a glass door because a nice set of biceps has caught my attention, or trying to open the garage door with a tampon packet instead of a remote. No. The new number one is something so incredibly dumb that I should be taken out of the gene pool so as not to pass my genes onto my offspring. Here’s the Lou Mercer top three list of dumb things so far:
Number Three: inadvertently forcing a confession of adultery from a student’s Dad, in a supermarket, after telling him that he was the father of one of my kids (my school kids — as a grade two teacher I call the entire class ‘my kids’).
Number Two: contracting vaginal pneumonia after using an old tissue from my handbag when the loo paper ran out in a deserted public toilet.
And new at the top of the list is buying a magic spell off the internet in order to erase the memory of me from the mind of my long ago ex-boyfriend.
Number Three would have been easy to laugh off, albeit uncomfortably, had the man’s wife not been standing next to him when he made the confession. Clearly the guilt of his infidelity was killing him, but apparently they have worked through their marital issues with the help of her new credit card and diamond bracelet.
Number Two was quickly fixed with a short course of antibiotics, after medical students were brought in to discuss, in detail, just how a woman might catch pneumonia of the vagina. Never one for the centre of attention, I prayed to the Universe to take me away when one of the interns queried if my vagina would be kind enough to cough for him.
And Number One? Well, it didn’t quite work out as planned. Like most things that appear brilliant in theory but are failures of cosmic proportions in practice, the impact of this is still unknown. It’s probably better to start at the beginning…
* * *
One week ago: Hairloom Hairdressing Salon
‘Do you want a little bit of spray, love?’ Mum asks. ‘Being a special occasion and all, you might need a bit of staying power tonight. Can’t have you wilting,’ she says as she poufs my pixie crop into a halo of blondness.
Mum can’t do hairspray in ‘little bits’. It’s against her religion, which was formed in the 1980’s when hair was big and highly flammable, eyeshadow was blue, blusher was fairy floss pink and clothes were tighter than skin.
‘No thanks, Mum. I’ll just work a bit of serum through it,’ I say, smoothing my hair back down and into a less retro style.
Mum has been doing my hair since birth, 30 years ago, and our family photo album is full of pictures of me sporting a variety of tragic hairstyles and colours, courtesy of Mum and her salon, Hairloom. There were the Baby Spice pigtails, held in place with fluoro scrunchies and covered in tiny butterfly clips. Then there was the ‘more volume than an amplifier’ hair that Cindy Crawford made infamous, the Nicole Kidman-inspired spiral perm that twisted itself into tiny knots constantly, and of course, the ‘Rachel’.
If it was bad for me, it must have been near unliveable for my twin brother, Ben, who was unlucky enough to be picked on at school not only for his superior intellect, but his assortment of haircuts and colours.
‘What’s the special occasion, Dee?’ asks Maureen, an elderly regular waiting for her poodle perm to set.
A crash and a bang announces Dad’s emergence from the store room. He’s a builder and is in charge of the maintenance work around the salon.
‘Our girl’s probably going to get engaged tonight, Maureen,’ Mum says, making no attempt to keep my innermost wish to herself.
‘Muuuum! It may not happen, don’t jinx me.’
‘Oh jeez, Dee. Are you still rabitting on about that?’ says Dad. ‘Leave the poor girl alone. You’ve convinced her that Aiden’s going to propose tonight, but what if he doesn’t?’
‘You and I got engaged on our first anniversary, Rodney,’ says Mum, with a nod.
‘That’s because you were four months pregnant and your father gave me an ultimatum.’
‘Oh Rodney! We would have married anyway, darls. You were smitten with me. We couldn’t keep our hands off each other.’
‘As evidenced by the fact that you were already four months pregnant,’ I say quietly. Dad smirks and turns a nice shade of red.
Mum giggles and bats her eyelashes at him. As sweet as their affection for one another is, it can get pretty sickening at times. Like, get-a-room sickening.
‘That’s lovely news, Lou! That nice Aiden boy, is it?’ Maureen asks, placing her copy of
down on the bench in front of her.
It’s no surprise that Maureen knows about Aiden. Everyone knows about Aiden because Hairloom is the epicentre of gossip in the area and the size of Mum’s mouth is only outdone by the size of her heart.
‘Yes, such a nice young man,’ Mum says, clearly bursting with pride. ‘From a very good family, too. They live in Toorak you know, one of the fancy streets.’
‘Ooohh,’ Maureen coos. ‘La-di-da! You marrying posh are you, Lou?’
To the residents of Brownsville, any of the inner suburbs to the east can be termed ‘posh’. In comparison, the suburbs to the west are the only ones in the entire city that could call Brownsville posh. It’s a social-demographic fact.
‘So will you retire from teaching after you get married? You know, spend your days shopping and attending charity luncheons, like all the swanky ladies?’ Maureen asks.
‘Oh God no!’ I can feel my face twist and contort in distaste. ‘My kids mean everything to me. I love them all too much to leave.’
‘Lou could never leave teaching, Maurs. She’s a natural,’ Mum says. ‘Aiden actually wanted to be a teacher too, but was pressured into working in the finance industry because…why was that again, Lou?’
‘Because his entire family for the last four generations have worked in the industry. It’s expected of him,’ I say.
It’s true. Aiden bows to the pressure of his family. It’s the one thing I would change about him if it were possible.
Dad starts to hammer a picture rail into the wall.
‘Aiden went to Geelong Grammar school and then to Melbourne University,’ Mum says, raising her voice above the hammering. ‘Rodney! Must you make all that noise? Can’t you hammer quietly?’
Dad crinkles his eyebrows together, almost forming a question mark on his forehead.
‘Geelong Grammar? Isn’t that where Prince Charles went when he was out here? They didn’t go there at the same time, did they?’ Maureen asks as she clutches at her chest. ‘Oh, love, you’re not marrying some old fart with one foot in the grave, are you?’
‘No Maureen, he’s only 34,’ Mum says. ‘He’s a big wig at an investment bank and he’s crazy in love with our Lou,’ she beams. ‘Tonight is their first anniversary and it’s likely he’s going to get down on one knee and ask for her hand in marriage.’
‘Mu-um!’ I sound like a petulant teenager. ‘It’s our one year anniversary, Maureen, that’s all. Mum’s just getting ahead of herself.’
I don’t want to admit publicly that my greatest wish is for him to propose, that way if it doesn’t happen I won’t have to dodge sympathy smiles and comments from all of Mum’s clients.
‘What do you think about all this, Rodney? Does your future son-in-law shape up to the Mercer family standards?’ Maureen asks.
Dad stops hammering and removes the nails from between his lips. ‘He’s a good bloke, nice kid. I‘d give my blessing if he asked for it.’
‘Ooh! That’s quite a recommendation, coming from you,’ says Maureen with a smile. My smile is even bigger. I know how much my parents love Aiden, but it’s still nice to hear it every now and then.
‘He’s part of the family now, Maurs. Makes a cuppa for everyone, does the dishes and even goes to the footy with Rodney,’ says Mum.
‘Very nice. So what are the in-laws like, Dee?’ Maureen asks.
‘Ahh…well they haven’t had a chance to meet yet,’ I interrupt.
Aiden’s family are…unappreciative of the cultural and economic diversity on the other side of the Yarra.
‘You know how young people are nowadays Maureen. Parents usually don’t meet until the wedding day, not like it was in our time. We’ll all get together to celebrate the pending nuptials, no doubt,’ she smiles at me, but the hurt in her eyes is clear.