Fourteen Days Later was shortlisted for the Harry Bowling Prize 2008 and Highly Commended by the Yeovil Literary Prize 2009. It is a romantic comedy with a unique infusion of British and Turkish Cypriot culture. Written in a similar style to Sophie Kinsella and Marian Keyes, it is My Big Fat Greek Wedding meets Bridget Jones

Here's a random excerpt...

We squeezed through the horde of irate shoppers and stood in the long queue at the till in front of the harassed and grumpy shop assistants. After handing over our hard-earned cash, we pushed our way out of the door – and just then a loud ringing noise erupted.

‘Come on.’ I dragged her off down the road. ‘These security things are always going off for no reason.’  

Suddenly, I felt an almighty bang on my shoulder as someone grabbed me from behind, and I thought I was being mugged.

‘Aaarghhh!’ I screamed, turning round to see a couple of beefy looking security guards frowning at us.

‘Right, come on miss. You’re coming with me,’ Beefy Number One grunted, very a la Grant Mitchell style.

‘What’s going on?’ Ayshe gasped as Beefy Number Two tried to pull her back into the shop.

‘Security. You match the description of a couple of shoplifters in the area and the alarm’s gone off,’ Beefy Number One said.

‘But we’ve paid for these!’ I tried to look in my bag for the receipt but Beefy Number One attempted to pull it off me.

‘Oi, get off!’ Ayshe yelled as Beefy Number Two yanked her bag off her shoulder. ‘You just touched my boob!’

‘No, I didn’t!’ Beefy Number Two looked astonished.

‘Yes you did. Help, help, he just touched my boob,’ Ayshe told everyone milling around in the street who were all staring.

‘I didn’t,’ he protested to the onlookers.

‘Hey, did he just molest you?’ a fat American woman called out. She looked like a Greenham Common, ban-the-bomb type, wearing a giant flowery poncho.

‘Yes!’ Ayshe yelled as the Beefies started getting agitated.

‘That’s sexual harassment,’ Fat Woman cried. One of her eyes was slightly skew-whiff, so it wasn’t clear which one of the Beefies she was actually looking at. ‘Little Hitlers. Think you can do whatever you want.’ She kicked Beefy Number Two in the leg.

I was having a frantic tug of war as I tried to grab my shopping bag from Beefy Number One’s pudgy little hands. ‘I’ve got a receipt!’

Beefy Number One tugged it back. ‘You’ll have to show us that inside.’ And then he cried out in pain, ‘Ow!’ as Fat Woman punched him in the back.

‘I know your sort – any excuse to start touching up women,’ Fat Woman growled.

‘I didn’t do anything, I’m married!’ Beefy Number Two said.

‘Who’d marry you? You’re nothing but a woman-hater, you big brute,’ Fat Woman exclaimed in a loud voice.

A few of the Japanese tourists started doing a David Bailey impression: snapping away with their cameras, eyes bright, jabbering away in Japanese. This was probably the best thing they’d seen all day.

‘If you don’t come quietly, we’re going to do a citizen’s arrest,’ Beefy Number Two growled at us.  ‘We’ve done it before and it wasn’t a pretty sight.’

I could well believe it.

‘He’s done it again: get off my boob!’ Ayshe gave Beefy Number Two an angry glare.

‘It wasn’t me.’ He lifted his hands off her. ‘Look, no hands.’ He held his hands up, turning round to show the crowd. This initiated loud gasps from the Japanese tourists who went into Nikon overdrive.

‘Pervert!’ I growled at him.

‘Animal!’ Fat woman shouted.

‘Boob-molester!’ Ayshe yelled.

‘How do we know you’re a real security guard and not just a woman toucher-upper who’s rented a security guard outfit?’ Fat woman said to the Beefies.

‘Yeah,’ Ayshe agreed.

‘Let me see your ID,’ I shouted.

The crowd looked at us all with bewilderment as the Beefies pulled out their work identification cards with much reluctance.

Beefy Number One flashed me his card.

‘Eunace.’ I read. ‘Is that your real name?’

‘Yeah, what’s wrong with that?’ he grunted.

‘More like Eunuch!’ Fat Woman scoffed.

‘Let’s have a look at yours,’ Ayshe asked Beefy Number Two who pulled his card out and showed it to us.

‘Satisfied?’

‘Come on,’ they said in unison, as they dragged us off kicking and screaming to the security office.

Did they rehearse their lines beforehand? I wondered.

Eunace grabbed our bags and deposited them on a desk while Beefy Number Two pushed us roughly into some wooden chairs and then stood guard in front of the door with legs akimbo and arms folded, just in case we made a quick getaway.

‘Right, then, let’s have a look in here.’ Eunace tipped the contents of my handbag out and onto the desk in front of him. ‘Half-eaten packet of extra strong mints, a purse with sundry items – what’s this?’ He peered at the Tampax and read the wrapper with interest. ‘One big, fat Tampax, a mobile phone, lipstick and…a prawn.’ He turned the bag upside down, giving it a vigorous shake.

He frowned as a little white tablet plopped onto the desk. ‘And what’s this?

I glanced at it impatiently. It was a painkiller which had fallen out of its blister pack and had wormed its way to the bottom of my bag.

‘Neurofen tablet.’ I curled my lip, simmering away with frustration.

He held it up to Beefy Number Two. ‘Do you think it’s drugs?’

‘Oh, don’t be ridiculous!’ I’d reached boiling point now.

‘Shall we call the Drugs Squad?’ Beefy Number Two looked at Eunace.

‘It’s a bloody painkiller,’ Ayshe snapped.

‘Have you ladies been in trouble before?’ Eunace grabbed Ayshe’s bag and started on hers.

‘No! And this is an invasion of privacy. Haven’t you ever heard of the Human Rights Act?’ she asked.

‘Empty crisp packet; two mobiles, wallet in the name of Atila But, three and a half toothpicks, and an empty sandwich wrapper.’ He picked up the phones and wallet and glared at her. ‘Did you steal these?’

Ayshe rolled her eyes. ‘No, they’re my fiancée’s.’

My phone, which was now resting on the table, burst into a telephone version of Donna Summer’s Bad Girls. I lunged for it, but Eunace was deceptively quick for a Mr. Blobby look-a-like and got it first.  

‘Hello,’ he said in a gruff voice, and then paused, listening to the voice on the other end. ‘Who were you trying to ring? I’m trying to ascertain if this mobile is stolen.’ He nodded. ‘Mmm, hmm.’ He handed it to me. ‘Someone called Nick.’

‘Hi, how are you?’ I stood up, walking to the corner of the room for a bit of privacy.

‘I’m good, thanks. Who was that?’ Nick asked. ‘Are you OK? You’re not in trouble, are you?

‘No, it’s no one.’ I let out a nervous giggle. ‘Just a little misunderstanding.’

‘Oh, right. I got your message. I’ve been a bit flat-out with the plumbing, otherwise I would have called you before. How are you?’

‘I’m pretty good.’ I shot Eunace an angry look.

‘I’m just phoning to say that I can get round to look at your dishwasher tomorrow, about eleven if that’s OK?’

I smiled to myself, then caught Eunace looking at me, so I glared at him. ‘Yeah, that sounds great.’

‘Oh, I’m glad you said that. Where do you live?’

I gave him my address.

‘Great. I’ll see you tomorrow, then.’

‘OK.’ I hung up.

I slumped back down into the chair, rested my mobile on the desk and looked at Eunace with cool detachment. He glared back until my phone went again, and he grabbed it at rocket-launching speed before I could even jump out of my seat.

‘Hello.’ He puffed up his chest, full of self-importance. ‘Oh, the Fraud Department, is it?’ He threw me an I-knew-you-were-a-thief kind of a glare. I held back the urge to stick my tongue out. It was pretty hard, though.

Why was the Fraud Department after me? I tried to snatch the phone off him, but he swung it out of reach, leaving me frustrated, so I stamped on his foot and he let go of it, fast.

‘Hello?’ I said.

‘Hello, Ms Grey, I’m calling from Barclays Bank Fraud Department. There’s been some unusual activity on your account, and we need to make sure everything is all right,’ an efficient-sounding woman told me.

‘What sort of activity?’ Maybe someone had got hold of my credit card details after all.

‘Well, we have a payment here to Adrian Ponsonby for £500. Can you confirm if that is a valid purchase?’

I cringed. ‘Unfortunately, yes.’

‘And we have ten items yesterday for one hundred and nine pounds and ninety-eight pence each.’ I could hear her tapping away on her keyboard. ‘Strangely, they’re all for the same payee, The Coffee Bean. Can you confirm if that is also a valid purchase?’

I sighed. ‘Sort of. It was a mistake actually – well so was the £500 one – but…’ I wandered into the corner of the room, put my hand round the phone, whispering. The Beefies’ eyes followed me round the room like one of those creepy paintings that stare back at you from every angle.

‘Well…I had a problem with the internet. What actually happened was: I was buying a present for a friend – I only wanted one – and the internet went a bit funny on me, and I ordered ten instead. Can you do anything?’

The Beefies snorted at this little revelation and then tried to turn it into a cough when I glowered at them.

‘Well, if they are valid purchases, I’m afraid not. You’ll need to contact the supplier and ask them to refund you. Sorry we can’t be of any assistance, but if it is a mistake, they should be able to return the money via your card.’

Damn.

I grimaced. ‘OK, then, thanks for phoning.’ I flipped my phone shut. This time I held on to it tight. There was no way Eunace was getting his chubby paws on it again.

Everyone turned round as the door swung open, nearly knocking Beefy Number Two off his enormous feet. A petite woman walked in and stood behind the desk next to Eunace. I read the name badge pinned on her jacket. Eleanor Jones, General Manager, it said.

 ‘OK boys, I’ve just looked at the CCTV footage, and I can’t see anything suspicious. ‘Hello Ladies.’ She smiled at us. ‘Let me have a look in the carrier bags to see the merchandise, please.’

Eunace handed her the bags, and she rummaged around, pulling out the items we had bought.

‘Hmm.’ She pulled out the receipts, studying them with care. ‘Looks like this is the culprit.’ She pointed to the security tags which were still left on the clothes. ‘I’m dreadfully sorry for this misunderstanding. We’ve got a new till assistant today, and it looks like she’s forgotten to take the tags off.’

The Beefies looked uncomfortable, giving each other shifty glances.

‘Well, we won’t be shopping here again.’ Ayshe stood up. I followed suit, shoveling our belongings back into our handbags.

‘The least I can do is offer you a store voucher to spend as a token of our apology.’ Eleanor handed us back our purchases.

‘Well, um, OK. It would be nice to have some compensation for all the inconvenience.’ I brightened up.

Eleanor reached into the desk drawer and pulled out a couple of vouchers and passed them to us.

‘Once again, I would like to say how sorry I am. We don’t need to tell anyone about this little misunderstanding, do we?’ she asked.

I contemplated the fifty pound voucher, raising my eyebrows with interest. ‘I don’t think so, do we?’ I looked at Ayshe for confirmation. Quickly thinking I could buy the cute slinky top I’d checked out when we’d first gone into the shop.

‘No.’ Ayshe studied her voucher and nodded her head in agreement.

‘Good, then I’ll escort you both downstairs.’ Eleanor flashed her pristine white enamels at us.

As we swept out of the room, I leaned over towards the Beefies, who were hovering by the door, looking very ashamed of themselves.

‘Neanderthals!’ I hissed at them.

‘Boob-groper!’ Ayshe spat.


 Copyright © Sibel Hodge 2009


Fourteen Days Later is available from:

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For reviews and previews of all my novels and further retail outlets, please check out more details on my home page.

Thanks for sampling!


Sibel XX