Escape for the Summer

By: Ruth Saberton

Chapter 1


You have insufficient funds to complete this transaction

Please contact your branch



The neon letters dancing across the cashpoint screen couldn’t have looked more complacent if they’d been flicking V-signs and pulling moonies. Although it was a sweltering June day, the kind when Londoners go mad picnicking in Hyde Park, Andi Evans was glacier cold. As the man queuing behind her cleared his throat irritably and the hot sunshine beat down, she stared at the screen in disbelief, her blood freezing from her insides out and spreading a chill of dread to the tips of her fingers and toes.

Insufficient funds? How on earth could there be insufficient funds in her personal account? Andi was always in credit and, unlike her sister Angel (who was probably single-handedly to blame for the economic downturn), she was never overdrawn. Not even as a student and certainly not now as a fully paid-up member of the adult world with rent and bills to pay, as well as supporting an actor boyfriend who rested so frequently he could double for Sleeping Beauty. No, Andi Evans always kept on top of her finances. She had to.

So what on earth was going on?

Fearfully she glanced back at the screen just in case she had been mistaken. Maybe the pressure of work and an evil boss was getting to her more than she’d realised? That must be it. The strain of working so hard and this morning’s big row with her boyfriend, Tom, had all been too much. She was seeing things.

Whipping off her sunglasses, Andi gave her eyes a quick rub – but when she returned her attention to the screen the message was still there, a baleful lime rebuke that made her feel sick.

You have insufficient funds to complete this transaction

Andi shook her head. There was no way she could possibly be overdrawn. Today was payday and her salary, together with the five-hundred-pound buffer she always kept in the account, meant that she had more than enough cash. Add to this a thousand-pound over-draft facility and it was impossible that she didn’t have any money. What was going on?

With a growing sensation of dread she pressed the balance only key and, seconds later, had to clutch the ATM for support.

Over two grand in the red?

WTF?

Andi’s every cell was paralysed with disbelief. Had somebody cloned her card? Or hacked into her account? Maybe the cashpoint had made a mistake? Even machines were allowed off days, weren’t they?

“Excuse me, love, but some of us would actually like to use that machine before we die of old age.”

The impatient words snatched her back to the present. Mistake or not, she couldn’t spend the next hour staring at the ATM. Apart from the fact that this wouldn’t explain the mystery of her missing money, Andi only had thirty minutes before she was due back at her desk and slaving over the latest bunch of recalcitrant figures. She didn’t dare be so much as a nanosecond late back either, because then Zoe, her boss from hell, would have even more of an excuse to make her day a misery. There was no way Andi wanted to give her any extra ammunition. She wasn’t sure what she’d done to make her new boss hate her so much, but from the first day Zoe had tottered into the office on her skyscraper heels and with her Cheddar Gorge cleavage on display, she’d gone out of her way to make Andi’s life a misery. Fortunately Andi enjoyed her job, which made it bearable; accounting might sound dull to most people, but there was a simplicity and beauty to balancing figures that she found hugely satisfying. The other thing keeping her sane was the fun email friendship that she’d struck up with one of her latest clients. She’d been dealing with the finances for the flotation of the Internet security company he worked for, so they’d been in touch regularly. She didn’t know his real name only his title at the firm, which was Project Manager B. Similarly he only knew her as AE, but it didn’t matter though; Andi enjoyed chatting with him online and PMB’s funny emails just about compensated for the endless sarcastic comments from her boss. It was rather sad that talking online to a total stranger was the highlight of her day, but Andi preferred not to dwell on that thought too much.

“Quit,” was always Angel’s answer whenever the topic of Andi’s unhappiness with her boss was raised. “Tell the silly old cow to stick it up her bum, and do something else. Take a chance.”

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