Mimi stood in line at the baggage check at London’s Heathrow airport. It was heaving. There were people everywhere, moving in different directions like hordes of little ants. She checked her wristwatch, her flight to Sydney left in just under two hours. Plenty of time to relax with a much-needed G&T (or two) before boarding.
After a month of living in hotels and out of suitcases, it felt good to be going home.
“Byeee sweetie,” screeched a voice from behind. “Pwomise you’ll stay in touch?”
Mimi turned around. A large-breasted blonde in a dangerously low-cut top jumped up and down and waved to someone who’d already gone through the check-in. Mimi didn’t see anyone wave back. She frowned at the woman. Could she be more stereotypical? Any moment now and her boobs would bounce straight out of her top.
“Bye luvvie,” the blonde called again, blowing frantic kisses from fuchsia lips. A security guard escorted her away from the check-in counter.
Mimi turned back to the queue, her mind already on other things. It was bizarre to think that just a month ago she was at the end of her tether, her singing career in tatters, and her heart broken into a million little pieces.
Now she’d been given a second chance. She had a new-found family, more money than she knew what to do with, but most of all, she had her mojo back.
Her heart was still in a million little pieces, but she could live with that, because now she had faith. Faith in herself and in her ability. It had taken finding out who she truly was, to mend her self-esteem.
Watch out world, here I come, Mimi thought, as she piled her clear-plastic cosmetic bags and phone into the provided trays and walked through the x-ray machine.
“I think I’ve lost my belt,” an Aussie voice said from behind her. A well-dressed man with a tanned, chiselled face pointed at her tray. “Could that be it?” Somehow his belt had found its way onto it.
Mimi picked it up and handed it over. “Here you are.” She checked him out. His navy blue trousers fit him perfectly – he didn’t really need the belt. A white shirt covered by a pale blue jumper and a lightweight blazer completed the outfit. This was a man who knew how to dress. At the same time though, he didn’t come across as trying too hard. His look was effortlessly stylish, and well-financed, judging by the shiny leather brogues and Burberry holdall. “Can’t have your trousers falling down during the flight.”
“Not unless it’s for a good cause.” He gave her one of the naughtiest grins she’d ever seen.
Unable to resist, she smiled back. He was cute – for a preppy yuppie. For a fleeting moment she wondered if the buxom blonde had been with him?
She gathered up her things as he threaded the belt through his trousers, and with a breathy, “See ya,” made her way along the corridor to the airside area.
Duty Free was bustling. Tourists and travellers filled their baskets with perfume, booze and cigarettes, either to take home or to enjoy on holiday. Mimi wasn’t interested. Now that she was on her way home, her focus was on other things. Her singing career, for one. The first thing she was going to do when she got back was hire herself the best singing coach money could buy. Her voice was good, but it needed depth. The new song she’d written required an extensive vocal range. Her plan was to become Australia’s next big pop sensation.
Now, about that drink… Mimi made her way to the business class lounge. Yes, she was splurging, but after the month she’d had, she figured if anyone deserved a treat, she did. It wasn’t every day you found out you’re adopted and your real mother is a world-renown opera singer.
The bar was at the back, dimly lit with ceiling spot lights and lamps that threw a soft glow onto the mahogany counter. “Double gin and tonic,” she said to the waiting barman.
“That bad, huh?”
She spun around, embarrassed to be caught indulging. “You could say that,” she murmured. It was Mr. Abercrombie & Fitch.
“Do you mind if I join you?”
She nodded. Why not? He was cute and it would pass the time.
“A whiskey and soda,” he said, then he turned to her. “So are you going home or just visiting?”
“Going home,” she replied, “How about you?”
“Same. I’ve been in London doing a business deal.”
“Are you in fashion?” she asked, pointedly looking at his attire. Maybe a buyer, or in sales.
He laughed, showing white, even teeth. “No, hotels. We have several in Australia and a new one in London. The Brompton in Kensington. You may have heard of it?”
Mimi shook her head.
“Oh well, never mind.” He looked a bit put out she didn’t know it. He was very self-assured and far too confident for his own good. Mimi decided it wouldn’t hurt to knock him down a few pegs.
“So what do you do?” He studied her through cobalt blue eyes rimmed with long dark lashes.
The words to ‘I never knew the devil’s eyes were blue,’ popped into her head.
“I’m a singer,” she said, dropping her gaze. Backing singer more like, and a disgraced one at that. The memory of being booed off stage at her last gig was still painfully fresh in her mind.
So, she wasn’t famous yet, but she would be. It was just a matter of time.
“Mm…” His eyes crinkled up. “You do look vaguely familiar. Well, you must be a pretty good one to be travelling business class. These seats don’t come cheap.”
Mimi shrugged. Let him think what he liked.
“Did you come here to give a concert or something?” He was probing. Mimi changed the subject.
“Actually, I came for a funeral. My mother passed away last month.”
“I’m sorry to hear it.” He pursed his lips. They were nice and full. Kissable lips.
She tossed her fringe out of her face. “Oh, don’t be. I never knew her. In fact, I’ve lived in Sydney my whole life. The first time I learned about my birth mother was when she died.”
“Now that sounds like a good story,” he grinned, and gestured to the couch. “Why don’t we sit down and you can tell me all about it.”
They sat and while he sipped his whiskey and soda, Mimi found herself telling him who her birth mother was.
“No way!” He gave her a sideways glance as if he didn’t quite believe her. “You’re serious, aren’t you?”
Mimi cocked her head. “Perfectly serious.”
“But Dame Serena Levanté is one of the world’s best known opera singers. Even I’ve heard of her and I don’t even like opera.”
“And a complete diva if the papers are anything to go by.”
“Oh, I can vouch for that. I never met her, but my sister, Floria, tells me she was a nightmare.”
Wild parties, countless lovers, too much booze, and above all, total unaccountability. All the trappings of fame and fortune – that’s what Floria had said.
“And you had no idea she was your mother?”
“None whatsoever. My adoptive parents never mentioned her.” She paused, wondering if she was over-sharing. What the hell, she’d never see this guy again, and it felt good to unload. “In fact, I didn’t even know I was adopted until recently.”
Just saying that out loud made her grit her teeth. To say she was furious with her adoptive mother for lying to her all these years was an understatement. How different her life might have been if she’d only been told the truth?
It made sense when she thought about it. She was so different to her parents. Her mother was meek and mild-natured and her father, who died last year, had always been a stickler for the rules. No wonder they’d clashed.
Mimi – always the wild one, always in trouble, always mixing with the wrong crowd.
Becoming a backing singer for Toxic Phonics had been the final insult. Her father was mortified and refused to speak to her. Her mother questioned whether this was the best way to express herself. They didn’t understand. No one did.
No one except Kyle. He was an artist, like herself. He cared. He understood what it was like to be different, to not fit in and somehow he made it seem okay, cool even.
They had intense discussions about music and life, and self-expression. His dark sensuality and unpredictable spontaneity attracted her like a moth to a flame. It was a cliché, but it was true. Mimi was powerless to resist him. The first time they’d made love it was like a torrent of emotion had been released inside of her. She’d cried in his arms.
Kyle… She hadn’t thought about him for at least three hours. That was an improvement.
“Wow, well, that is the most interesting thing I’ve heard all day,” Rob was saying, his eyes sparkling like Coogee Bay on a summer’s day. “I’m very pleased to meet you, miss Levanté. I’m Rob, by the way.” He put down his drink and held out his hand.
“Mimi.” She shook it. It was cold from the ice in his glass, but he had nice long fingers that wrapped right round her hand.
She pushed Kyle into the back of her mind. “So tell me something about you, Rob. I’ve done all the talking so far.”
“Not much to tell, really. My life’s nowhere near as exciting as yours.” He paused, briefly, then said, “I’m an only child, born and bred in Australia. I’m from an outback town called Alice Springs. It’s far away from every coast and every major city in Australia – basically in the middle of nowhere. When my parents split up I went to boarding school in Sydney. Been there ever since.”
He fidgeted. “My parents’ divorce was so messy that my mother had a nervous breakdown. I was sent to boarding school because she couldn’t look after me.”
“I’m sorry,” Mimi said, studying his face. The sparkling blue eyes had clouded over. “That’s tough.”
He shrugged. “Everyone has their issues, right?”
She nodded. It was true. Everyone had their drama, although she seemed to attract more of it than most.
Rob shook his head as if trying to clear the memories and forced a smile. The clouds disappeared. “I could do with another. How about it?”
“Sure, why not? We’ve got the whole flight to sleep it off, right?”
He grinned and fetched them two more of the same. Mimi studied him as he brought the glasses back.
She supposed he was good-looking in a traditional, tall, muscular kind of way. Not her type, though, she didn’t go for anything conventional. All of her dismally few past relationships had been with arty, angsty types, usually actors or musicians.
“Can I ask you a question?” she said when he’d sat down.
“Sure.” He looked wary.
“Was that blonde woman with you earlier? The one screeching goodbye?”
His face relaxed. “Bambi, yes. I’m afraid so. We met at the races last week. She’s a whole lot of fun.”
“She looks it.” Mimi took a sip of her gin and tonic.
“Be nice.” Rob chuckled and nudged her in the ribs.
Mimi couldn’t help but grin. Rob was so friendly that he cut through her normal reserve. “I’m not judging,” she retaliated. “Just observing.”
“I suppose she was hard to miss. Anyway, onwards and upwards, isn’t that what they say?” He waved a hand dismissively.
Easy come. Easy go, thought Mimi. That’s the kind of guy he is.
If you loved the first chapter of Mimi and would like to read more, download the book from Amazon. (It’s free for Kindle Unlimited users).
Mimi (Book 2: The Levanté Sisters Series)
Available from Amazon
After her humiliating public break-up with lead singer, Kyle, Mimi’s career – and her heart – is in tatters. Booed off stage and labelled a brat, she doubts she’ll ever work as a backing singer again. Then shocking news takes her to London, where she discovers she’s the illegitimate daughter of Dame Serena Levanté, one of the world’s best known opera singers. Buoyed up by the revelation that she comes from a talented musical family, and armed with her substantial inheritance, Mimi is determined to make it as a pop star in her own right. She’s been given a second chance, and she’s not going to waste it, so when the delectable Rob comes into her life, Mimi is determined to keep him at an arm’s length. The last thing she needs is another unsuitable male to distract her from her career goals. Except, like everything else in Mimi’s life, things have a knack of getting complicated.