Home > Meet Me at the Cupcake Café (At the Cupcake Café #1)(10)

Meet Me at the Cupcake Café (At the Cupcake Café #1)(10)
Jenny Colgan

‘Updating my CV,’ he said. ‘This place is feeneeshed.’

Issy swallowed and picked up another cake. Just as she did so, she heard a ping.

Dear Miss Issy Randall

We are sorry to inform you that due to a

downturn in economic progress and with no

improvement in our forecasts for the growth of

commercial property uptake in the City of London

this year, the directors of Kalinga Deniki CP

are making redundant the post of Office Manager

Grade 4 London Office, with immediate effect.

Please go to Conference Room C at 11am to

discuss your ongoing options with your line

manager Graeme Denton.

Yours sincerely

Jaap Van de Bier

Human Resources, Kalinga Deniki

‘It was,’ as Issy said later, ‘the way they had obviously created some kind of macro to drop all the details in. Nobody could even be bothered to write a personal message. Everyone got the same note, all over the world. So you were like losing your job and your whole life, but they put less thought into it than that thing you get to remind you to go for a dental check-up.’ She thought about it. ‘And I need a dental check-up.’

‘Well, it’s free now you’re unemployed,’ Helena had said, kindly.

The open-plan office was the cruellest way of working ever invented, thought Issy suddenly. Because clearly everyone was on show all the time and had been making a point of looking happy and jolly and fine, when obviously the company wasn’t happy and jolly and fine and maybe if a few more people had been in offices with doors they could have broken down and wept and then maybe done something about fixing it rather than pretending everything was absolutely fine until twenty-five per cent of the staff had to be let go. All around the office came gasps, or cheers; someone punched the air and shouted, ‘Yes!’ before glancing around in a panic and whispering, ‘Sorry, sorry … it’s just my mother’s in a care home and …’ before tailing off awkwardly. Someone burst into tears.

‘Well fick me,’ said François, and stopped updating his CV. Issy was frozen. She just stared at the screen, resisting the temptation to refresh it one last time, as if that could possibly bring a different result. It wasn’t just the job – well it was, of course, the job; to lose your job was the most upsetting, depressing thing ever. But to know that Graeme … to realize that he had had sex with her, let her cook him dinner, all the time knowing … knowing that this was going to happen. What … what was he thinking? What was he thinking?

Without pausing to think – if she had, she’d almost certainly have let her natural timidity stop her – Issy jumped out of her seat and approached the boardroom. Fuck waiting till eleven o’clock. She wanted to know about this now. She almost knocked on the door but instead boldly walked straight in. Graeme glanced up at her, not entirely surprised. But she’d understand his position, surely.

Issy was furious.

‘Issy. I’m so sorry.’

She gritted her teeth.

‘You’re sorry? You’re blooming sorry! Why didn’t you tell me?’

He looked surprised.

‘Well, of course I couldn’t tell you. Company confidentiality. They could have sued me.’

‘I wouldn’t have told them it was you!’ Issy was stricken that he didn’t even trust her that much. ‘But I could have had some warning; some time to prepare myself, get myself together a bit.’

‘But it wouldn’t have been fair for you to have that advantage,’ said Graeme. ‘Everyone else would have liked the same.’

‘But it’s not the same,’ shouted Issy. ‘For them it’s just a job. For me it’s a job and it’s not getting to hear it from you.’

She became aware of a large group of people behind her, listening in through the open door. She turned round furiously.

‘Yes. That’s right. Me and Graeme have been having a secret affair. That we’ve been keeping from the office.’

There were some murmurs but not, Issy noticed in her heightened emotional state, the surprised gasps she’d been expecting.

‘Well yes, everyone know that,’ said François.

Issy stared at him. ‘What do you mean, everyone?’

The rest of the office looked slightly sheepish.

‘Everyone knew?’ She turned back to Graeme. ‘Did you know that everyone knew?’

To her horror, Graeme was also looking sheepish.

‘Well, you know, I still don’t think it’s good for morale to have people flaunting personal relationships at work.’

‘You knew?!’

‘It’s my job to know what my staff are talking about,’ said Graeme primly. ‘I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t.’

Issy gazed at him, speechless. If everyone knew, why all the creeping around and the secrecy?

‘But … but …’

‘Issy, would you like to sit down so we can start the meeting?’

Issy became aware of five other devastated-looking people inching their way into the boardroom. François was not among them, but Bob from Marketing was. He was scratching what looked like a new patch of psoriasis on the side of his head, and suddenly Issy hated the firm … Graeme, her colleagues, property management and the whole damn capitalist system. She turned on her heel and stormed straight out of the office, catching her box of cakes with her hip as she went, and scattering them everywhere.

Issy needed a friendly ear, and pronto. And Helena was only ten minutes away. She wouldn’t mind.

Helena was stitching up a young man’s head, none too gently.

‘Oww,’ he was saying.

‘I thought you did stitches with glue nowadays,’ said Issy, once she’d stopped snivelling.

‘We do,’ said Helena grimly, pulling the needle tight, ‘except when some people sniff glue then think they can fly over barbed-wire fences. Then they don’t get any glue.’

‘It wasn’t glue, it was lighter fluid,’ said the pasty-looking young man.

‘That’s not going to make me give you any glue,’ said Helena.

‘No,’ said the man sadly.

‘I just can’t believe it, Len,’ said Issy. ‘I can’t believe that bastard would let me walk into work in the rain knowing all the time that, one, he was going to fire me, and two, everyone knew we were going out together. They must all think he’s a bell end too.’

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