Act Your Age, Eve Brown by Talia Hibbert

Chapter One


Eve Brown didn’t keep a diary. She kept a journal. There was a difference.

Diaries were horribly organized and awfully prescriptive. They involved dates and plans and regular entries and the suffocating weight of commitment. Journals, on the other hand, were deliciously wild and lawless things. One could abandon a journal for weeks, then crack it open one Saturday evening under the influence of wine and marshmallows without an ounce of guilt. A woman might journal about last night’s dream, or her growing anxieties around the lack of direction in her life, or her resentment toward the author of thrilling AO3 fanfic Tasting Captain America, who hadn’t uploaded a new chapter since the great titty-fucking cliffhanger of December 2017. For example.

In short, journaling was, by its very nature, impossible to fail at. Eve had many journals. She rather liked them.

So, what better way to spend a lovely, lazy Sunday morning in August than journaling about the stunning rise and decisive fall of her latest career?

She sat up with a stretch, clambered off her queen-sized bed, and drew back the velvet curtains covering her floor-to-ceiling windows. As bright summer light flooded the room, Eve tossed aside her silk headscarf, kicked off the shea butter foot mask socks she’d slept in, and grabbed her journal from her bedside table, leafing through gold-edged pages. Settling back into bed, she began.

Good morning, darling,

—The journal, of course, was darling.

It’s been eight days since Cecelia’s wedding. I’m sorry I didn’t write sooner, but you are an inanimate object, so it doesn’t really matter.

I regret to report that things didn’t go 100 percent to plan. There was a bit of a fuss about Cecelia’s corset being eggshell instead of ivory, but I resolved that issue by encouraging her to take a Xanax from Gigi. Then there was a slight palaver with the doves—they were supposed to be released over Cecelia and Gareth for the photographs, but I discovered just before the ceremony that their handler (that is to say, the doves’ handler, not Cece and Gareth’s (I was their handler, to be frank)) hadn’t fed them for two days (!!!) so they wouldn’t shit all over the guests. But really, when one wishes to work with the wonders of the animal kingdom, one must respect their ways and resign oneself to the odd sprinkle of shit. One certainly must not starve the poor creatures to avoid said sprinkle of shit. Any sensible person knows this.

So I may have lost my temper and released them all. The doves, I mean. Clearly, they were born to be free—hence the wings, et cetera. Unfortunately, the handler demanded I pay for them, which I suppose was fair enough. It turns out doves are very expensive, so I have had to request an advance on my monthly payment from the trust fund. Hopefully Mother won’t notice.

Anyway, darling, here is my point: Cecelia and I have sadly fallen out. It seems she was very attached to the idea of the aforementioned doves, and perhaps her tongue had been loosened by the Xanax, but she called me a selfish jealous cow, so I called her an ungrateful waste of space and ripped the train off her Vera Wang. By accident, obviously. I did fix it—after a fashion—in time for the actual ceremony, so I don’t entirely see the issue.

But knowing the lovely Cecelia as I do, I’m sure she’ll spend her Fiji honeymoon bad-mouthing my services on various bridezilla forums in order to destroy my dream career. Obviously, the joke is on her, because I have no dream career and I have already erased Eve Antonia Weddings from the face of the earth. And Chloe says I lack efficiency!

Hah.

Eve finished her entry and closed the journal with a satisfied smile—or else, a smile that should be satisfied, but instead felt a little bit sad and slightly nauseous.

She’d known Cecelia since their schooldays. Had always felt somewhat nervous around her, the way Eve often did around—well, humanity in general. As if she were walking a cliff’s edge between being the easy, entertaining friend people kept around, and the irritating mess people kicked off the ledge.

Now she’d leapt off that ledge with Cecelia, and it turned her stomach to a gently writhing pit.

Clearly, Eve was in a mood. Perhaps she should go back to sleep, or binge-read a romance novel, or—

No. No moping. Mood or not, she had responsibilities to fulfil. Someone needed to feed Gigi’s exotic fish, even if Gigi rarely forgot to do so these days and the fish were getting quite fat now. Someone needed to . . .

Hmm. Eve was sure she did other useful things, too, but none were coming to mind.

Shrugging off her funk, she chose her song for the day—“Don’t Rain on My Parade,” to cheer her up—hit Repeat, and popped in one of her AirPods. Soundtrack established, she got up, got dressed, and headed down to the family home’s vast marble-and-chrome kitchen, where she found both her parents in grim residence.

“Oh dear,” Eve murmured, and stopped short in the doorway.

Mum was pacing broodily by the toaster. Her pale blue suit made her amber skin glow and really highlighted the fiery rage in her hazel eyes. Dad stood stoic and grave by the Swiss coffee machine, sunlight beaming through the French windows to bathe his bald, brown head.

“Good morning, Evie-Bean,” he said. Then his solemn expression wavered, a hint of his usual smile coming through. “That’s a nice T-shirt.”

Eve looked down at her T-shirt, which was a lovely orange color, with the words SORRY, BORED NOW written across her chest in turquoise. “Thanks, Dad.”