The Last Word- A.L. Michael
Meet Tabitha Riley…
Tabby Riley’s online life was a roaring success. Her blog had hundreds of followers, and legions of young fans ardently awaited her every Tweet. Her real life was a bit more of a disappointment. Living in a shared flat in North London, scratching a living writing magazine articles on ‘How To Please Your Man in Bed’ wasn’t where she thought she’d be at twenty-six – especially when there was a serious lack of action in her own bedroom.
Although that might all be about to change when she’s offered a position at online newspaper The Type as a real journalist – and gains a sexy new editor, Harry Shulman, to work with. Harry’s confident, smooth talking, and completely aware that he drives Tabby mad. Which is fine, because Tabby’s dated an editor before, and it’s never happening again. Ever. But as her reputation at the paper grows, Tabby has to wonder: is it time to get out from behind the screen and live her life in the real world?
Praise for The Last Word
‘I had to stop myself giggling,’ Amazon reviewer
‘Snarky Chick Lit with heart’ Amazon reviewer
‘I know it’s a good book when at the end I shut the kindle cover and sigh with contentment. The Last Word totally did it for me.’ Calliope, Random Book Muses
This cannot be my life, Tabby Riley thought as she finished her latest article. Four hundred words on the dire consequences of plucking outside your brow line. She needed ice cream.
Rhi was sitting in her usual spot in the middle of the living room floor, and Tabby had to skip over the sea of papers and books surrounding her to get into the kitchen. She retrieved the Ben and Jerry’s and a spoon, then stood in the doorway, watching her housemate.
‘Do you think I’m a bad feminist?’ Tabby asked, recalling the last few articles on weight-loss, decoding male body language, and how to dress like a manic pixie dream girl.
‘Yes,’ Rhi didn’t look up, ‘but I think you’re an excellent person. So could you hold out on whatever crisis you’re about to have until I finish this chapter? Please?’
It was hard to refuse when Rhi said ‘please’. It happened so rarely.
‘Sure, it was nothing,’ Tabby picked at the chocolate chips, suddenly not so in the mood for ice-cream, ‘I just get so bloody tired of myself sometimes.’
‘Well, luckily I never do. Be a love and put the kettle on? I’ll be done in ten minutes, warn the biscuit tin!’
And then Rhi was back in her zone, craned over, picking a pencil out of her blond dreadlocked bun. She flicked down her blue-rimmed glasses, and suddenly Tabby didn’t exist anymore. Rhi’s ability to go from zero to study in under ten seconds was something that had driven Tabby crazy when they were at university, but seeing as Rhi went to her job at the library and then came home to work on her Masters degree, whilst Tabby wrote articles in her pyjamas all day, it just seemed unfair. Everyone else was going somewhere. And Tabby couldn’t remember the last time she’d had to wear real clothes.
She clicked on the kettle, made herself a cup of tea, knowing it would be at least half an hour until Rhi would finish. She unlocked the back door and padded out into the poor little concrete excuse for a garden, hoping to see a little of the fading daylight.
Last year she’d tried to plant herbs as one of her article-inspired kicks, then promptly forgot about them. Their sad, weedy little skeletons drooped over the ceramic pot.Two previously-white deck chairs and a plastic table they’d found in a nearby skip sat there like survivors of war. Tabby once again considered how maybe if she got the outward look of her life together, then maybe the real stuff would come along with it. In fact, she was pretty sure she’d written an article on that. She roughly wiped down one of the chairs, and stuck the mug of tea on the table. It wobbled precariously. Next door, the teen boys who thought starting a band called ‘Dyspraxic’ was a cool idea practised their guitar solos. Five months on and they weren’t any better.
Tabby rolled herself a cigarette, cheerfully finding not only all the components in her dressing gown pockets, but a lighter in her pyjama bottoms. Score.
‘Hey,’ Rhi stepped outside, stretching in that feline way she had, ‘no tea for me?’
‘Thought you wouldn’t be done for ages,’ Tabby shrugged.
‘Give me a toke on that, then.’ She held out her hand, ‘Why are you smoking anyway?’
Tabby tucked a dark curl behind her ear, then reached around and found an earring caught in the back of her hair. She threw it on the table and grimaced, ‘I feel like I’m falling apart.’
Rhi sat on the doorstep and pulled her jumper around her, ‘We all do. What’s wrong exactly? The articles? I thought they were being well-received?’
‘Yeah, but they’re…well, let’s be honest, they’re shit.’
‘Yeah, but it’s shit people want to read. Well-written shit, obviously.’ Rhi hurriedly added, reaching over to take a gulp of Tabby’s tea, then making a face when she realised there was no sugar.
‘Yeah,’ Tabby sighed, looking up at the few spindly tree tops they could see from the real gardens around them. Tabby loved London, loved their shitty little house in Tufnell Park. Loved red buses and tube stations and all night kebab shops. She loved her home town in the way most people love their parents-for making you who you are. But sometimes she would give anything to see a bit of greenery, to be out on a farm or sitting by the sea. The constant greyness of London before the spring arrived could be a little hard to bear.
‘Tabs,’ Rhi was easily exasperated, but that was okay, because Tabby was sick of her herself too, ‘there’s only so many times I can say this. If you don’t like what you do, don’t do it! Do something else, anything else. Go back to interning at newspapers, or retrain as a teacher or something. Just stop moaning about it.’
At least Rhi was honest. Tabby couldn’t imagine herself saying that to anyone, even if it was true. She felt her shoulders slump as she visualised herself as a teacher, with the little shits throwing apples at her head. She tried as a copy editor, but couldn’t even imagine what she’d wear to work in an office. The only thing that made any sense was ranting and raving about useless things on websites, her blog and Twitter. Things like whether a Jaffa Cake was a cake or biscuit (clearly a cake, it was all in the name and the chocolate-to-base-thickness ratio) or how to trick your body into exercising without it realising. This was her life, as the latest cheque that arrived in the post from her mother reminded her. It would at least keep in her in red wine and chocolate buttons for a few more weeks.
And her followers loved her, that was true. These young girls who respected her opinions on fashion and music, LOL’d her jokes and ‘Liked’ her updates. Retweeting with the words ‘SO TRUE’ before things she’d written. She was a truth-sayer, bringing snarkiness and sarcasm to the masses of girls who felt too smart to be loveable. That was something, right?
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