Such A Perfect Sister

`A witty novel about tangled relationships’ – Hello magazine

The idea for Such A Perfect Sister came from a hen night. The bride-to-be was stop – a – man – in – his – tracks – at – fifty – paces gorgeous. She was also selfish, demanding and nightmarishly neurotic but strangely the men didn’t seem to notice that…On the hen night I met her sister. She was sweet, shy, pretty – and completely invisible beside her stunning sister. What must it be like, I wondered, growing up in the shadow of someone like that? Hence self-centred Alex and long-suffering Phoebe were born.

Always the bridesmaid, never the bride. That’s how Phoebe feels when it comes to her sister Alex. Alex is beautiful, sexy, confident and hugely adored – especially by Luke, the man Phoebe secretly worships from afar. She’s devastated when Luke proposes to Alex, especially as she suspects Alex doesn’t really love him. But it seems she’s not the only one to be let down in love. One night, into the bar where she works walks jilted bridegroom Will. Is he the one to help Phoebe get over her broken heart, or will Alex get there first?

Extract

It wasn’t the most stylish entrance Phoebe Redmond had ever made, but it was the most memorable.
Her pink crinoline had been designed with a Daimler in mind. But due to a mix-up with the bookings, one of the wedding cars hadn’t turned up. And since the bride’s mother refused to travel in anything less than her promised Bentley, it was left to Phoebe to compromise. As usual.

Which was how she and several hundred metres of frosted tulle came to be jammed into the back seat of her Uncle Terry’s Vauxhall Astra.

‘All right, love?’ He gave her a cheery wink in the rear view mirror. Phoebe gritted her teeth. The truth was, she felt hot, uncomfortable and just about ready to faint inside the rib-crushing satin bodice. Something had gone horribly wrong, she decided. Either the dressmaker had got her measurements confused with those of Naomi Campbell, or she’d been seriously overdoing the Hobnobs lately.

She looked out of the window at the gloomy April day.
After two weeks of sunshine, the heavens were threatening to open. Clouds piled up like wet towels overhead. Her hair, sensing rain, had already begun to rebel. Despite a massive application of industrial-strength Frizz Ease, her dark curls were reasserting themselves. By the time they got to church she’d look like Jimi Hendrix in a rosebud tiara.

Exiting gracefully from the back seat of the Astra was like trying to squeeze an elephant out of a telephone box. The official photographer, bored with waiting for the bride to turn up, was pointing his zoom lens down Phoebe’s ample cleavage.

‘I thought there were supposed to be two of you. Where’s the other one?’

Good question. Phoebe looked around the churchyard. There was no sign of her sister Alex.

This wasn’t promising. The last time Phoebe saw her, she’d been buried under the duvet, sleeping off a late night. She’d mumbled something about meeting her at the church. At the time Phoebe had been in such a rush to get to the bride’s house she didn’t stop to argue. Now she wished she had.

She looked up at the clock tower. The wedding was due to start in five minutes. Alex was cutting it fine, even by her standards.

‘Phoebe!’ Auntie Brenda, the bride’s mother, hurried towards her, heels slipping on the gravel. ‘There you are. Where’s your sister? ’

‘She – um – er – ’ They were distracted by the bride’s car drawing up. The ushers started to herd the stragglers towards the church.

‘Oh dear, there’s Bryony. I’m going to have to go in. But you can tell Alexandra from me that I’m not very happy with her.’ With a last, severe look at Phoebe she followed the others into the church.

As if she ever listens to me, Phoebe thought. Alex might be two years older, but everyone treated them as if Phoebe was the one in charge.
She crunched down to the gate to meet her cousin Bryony, who was standing with her father. She looked serene and beautiful, but her bouquet was shaking so hard the lilies were threatening to shed their petals all over the path.

‘You look stunning,’ Phoebe said.
‘I feel awful. We had to stop the car twice because I thought I was going to throw up.’ She looked around. ‘Where’s Alex?’
‘She’s – er – on her way.’

‘You mean she’s not here? Oh my God, where is she?’
‘I don’t know. I’m sure she’ll turn up,’ Phoebe added lamely.

‘I knew it! This whole day’s turning out to be a disaster. How could she do this to me?’
Her face crumpled behind her veil. Phoebe exchanged worried looks with the bride’s father, Uncle Maurice. ‘She’ll be here. Please don’t get upset – ’
‘Upset? UPSET? One of my bridesmaids has gone AWOL and you tell me not to get upset? You just wait until she ruins your wedding and then you’ll know what it feels like – ’
She was drowned out by the wail of sirens. A brace of police cars screeched to a halt outside the church gates, blue lights flashing. Between them, Phoebe caught sight of a familiar metallic green Mazda.

She, Bryony and Uncle Maurice watched, speechless, as an office jumped out of the front car and rushed to open the Mazda’s door. Alex stepped out serenely. She worse the same frosted pink nightmare as Phoebe, but somehow on her supermodel figure it looked like a catwalk creation. She said something briefly to the policeman, then kissed him on the cheek and made her way over to them, smiling.

‘Sorry I’m late. I got stopped for speeding.’ She adjusted her headdress on top of her sleek blonde head. ‘But when I told them where I was going, they offered to help me. Isn’t that sweet?’

Phoebe shook her head. Only her sister could have charmed her way out of a speeding ticket and into a police escort.