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How to Bake a New Beginning by Lucy Knott (1)

Beans on Toast




Heinz baked beans (Always stock up when you go to Target)

What to do:

Toast bread and heat up beans in a saucepan or microwave. (Never tell Amanda you use the microwave.)

Butter toast and drizzle beans over the top. (Doesn’t taste quite like home, but it will do, I suppose. Don’t get sad, you’re living your dream and don’t be ungrateful, the boys are awesome, and you’ve worked so hard to get to this point. Mmm beans, I wonder what Levi is up to? Why does England have to be six hours ahead when you’re spending another night alone and could do with a sister chat? Just eat your beans.)

Sabrina realized that she had been mindlessly shuffling paper for the past fifteen minutes. It was gone five in the afternoon and she needed to go home and pack. Yet, she was sitting at her desk, eyes wide, staring at the mini chandelier that hung from the ceiling. The crystals bounced light off the walls and led to the dreamy state Sabrina found herself in as she daydreamed about the day that Levi first burst into her office.

Why did she always do this to herself? Every Christmas for the past two years she couldn’t get him out of her head. Was she really that lonely? Couldn’t she fantasize about men who weren’t off limits? Better yet, couldn’t she stop fantasizing altogether and venture into the real world and meet a non-rock-star man who wasn’t way out of her league? She huffed to herself as her phone rang, startling her. Seeing that it was her baby sister, Louisa, she put on an enthusiastic smile and answered with the cheeriest hello she could muster.

‘Are you all packed? Do you have everything ready for tomorrow?’ her not-quite-as-cheerful-sounding sister asked abruptly.

Sabrina blinked away the dancing crystals of the chandelier that were starting to give her a headache and went back to shuffling papers as she answered her sister’s questions. ‘Yes, yes, of course, Lou. I have everything organized – you know me, what am I if not organized?’ She felt a twinge of guilt for her white lie, but she didn’t want her sister to worry. Normally, she was the queen of packing, but with the band’s new release approaching and her brain often getting distracted by a certain drummer, she hadn’t quite been herself lately.

‘OK, so you will be on that flight tomorrow?’ Louisa asked, her voice a little imperious.

All Sabrina’s attempts at bubbliness evaporated. She snatched the band’s schedule from the desk and made her way to the door to head to the photocopier room. She was too tired to deal with Louisa’s sceptical, patronizing tone.

‘Lou, please. It’s Grandpa’s ninety-sixth birthday; of course I will be on that flight tomorrow. I am going to be there,’ she said with force. Her heels echoed along the deserted corridor. The cool office interior, bland cream walls and stark white furniture personified elegance and a modern flair in Lydia’s eyes, but at this time in the evening when most of the staff had gone home, it screamed cold to Sabrina. It lacked vibrancy in her mind and could do with some fresh flowers and a pop of colour.

‘Well, I’m just checking. It’s not going to be some glam, flashy party,’ Louisa added, a hardness to her voice that stung Sabrina and caused anger to bubble in her stomach.

‘I know it’s not going to be a bloody glamorous affair and I don’t bloody care. You know how much Nanna and Grandpa mean to me. I wouldn’t miss this for the world. I miss them, and I miss you all and I will be on that plane tomorrow, so please, give it a rest.’ She practically punched the copier to life and let out a frustrated sigh. She was growing tired of her sister’s guilt trips over missing family affairs, especially when Louisa knew how hard she worked, and especially as Louisa knew she was busting her butt for their big sister Amanda’s best friend and not just some random pop act.

Sabrina made a mental note to start adding pictures of the piles of paperwork and late-night sessions to her Instagram, to break up the once in a blue moon flashy press events – maybe this would appease Louisa.

‘We all miss you too and can’t wait to see you,’ Louisa whispered after a minute or two.

Sabrina collected the photocopies and decided to call it a day. She picked up her pace, wanting to get back to her office and get home to pack. It had been months since she had been home and though she felt nervous about leaving her boys, she could do with the break.

‘Look, I’m sorry for getting snappy with you but I’ll be there, and it would be nice if you believed me, for once,’ she said, softer now. As she walked past Lydia’s office she noticed the light was on. It hadn’t been on earlier. She had thought Lydia had gone home for the day. Squinting her eyes and sending a quizzical look through the glass, she noticed Lydia was not alone and her breath caught.

‘Is everything OK, Brina? I’m going to head to bed now – it’s pretty late here,’ Louisa said.

Sabrina tiptoed into her office as quickly and quietly as she could and gently closed the door behind her. She steadied her breath to answer Louisa: ‘Erm, sorry, yes, Lou. I’m fine and gosh, yes, please get some sleep. It’s already morning there. I love you and I’ll text you tomorrow.’

‘OK, love you, Brina,’ Louisa said before putting the phone down.

Sabrina placed her phone in her bag and shook her head. She needed to pull herself together; she was being ridiculous. Tears pricked her eyes as she gathered her belongings and dashed out of her office. Without glancing back at Lydia’s window, she took the lift to the ground floor. When the doors opened she marched to the huge glass doors and swung them open with force, letting the cool LA breeze graze her warm cheeks.

She felt ashamed for her dramatic performance and scolded herself for allowing Lydia to get to her so much, but this had been the final straw. Lydia could boss her around, criticize every move she made and talk down to her all she wanted – it was business; it was work – but to mess with her heart in this way was beyond ruthless.

How could she work for such a horrible woman? It was Lydia who had warned Sabrina to stay clear of dating clients. The company didn’t tolerate it and Sabrina was asked to promise that she would not date any member of San Francisco Beat. This rule, however, had only come into play after Lydia had heard that Levi and Sabrina had got rather close at the band’s album launch party two years ago. Sabrina had never heard of it prior to the event. And Sabrina hadn’t intended to be unprofessional, but it just sort of happened.

Naturally, she had pulled away from Levi, worried about being taken seriously, scared that she would get in trouble, that she was breaking rules. How silly had she been to throw away what she and Levi had – and for what? There hadn’t been any rules then, but now Lydia had gone and created and enforced those stupid rules. And she’d made it abundantly clear that when one of the boys dated it should be with a fellow star – a model, an actress, someone who could raise their profile, someone who was definitely not Sabrina.

She dragged her feet along the sidewalk towards her apartment. How could she have been so naive? Of course, Lydia had only been jealous – she had wanted Levi for herself. Sabrina realized this, but it was too late. The image from moments ago now burned in her brain: Lydia with her arms wrapped around Levi’s neck, falling with him onto the couch in her office.

Sabrina shuddered. She didn’t know what hurt more: the fact that this woman hated her so much or that she had thought Levi had felt the same way she had that night they kissed. Who was she kidding? What guy waited two years for someone? She didn’t live in a fairy tale; this was real life and in real life she had chosen work. She had stomped on the book of love without turning another page, and in doing so had well and truly placed Levi in the friend zone.

She didn’t have a right to be sad. It had worked out well for everyone. The band were doing fantastic and she had progressed tenfold with her job in spite of Lydia. Yet here she was, with another Christmas upon her, daydreaming of Levi. Whether she had the right to or not, she did indeed feel sad. She needed her grandpa’s pizza and she needed it now.