One Plus OneJojo Moyes
ALSO BY JOJO MOYES
The Girl You Left Behind
Me Before You
The Last Letter from Your Lover
Published by the Penguin Group Penguin Group (USA) LLC
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A Pamela Dorman Book / Viking First published in Great Britain by Michael Joseph, an imprint of Penguin Books Ltd.
LIBRARY OF CONGRESS CATALOGING-IN-PUBLICATION DATA Moyes, Jojo, date.
One Plus One : a Novel / Jojo Moyes.
1. Single mothers--Fiction. 2. Love stories. I. Title.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, businesses, companies, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
Thank you as ever to my amazing Penguin teams on both sides of the Atlantic. At Penguin UK I am in particular indebted to Louise Moore, Clare Bowron, Francesca Russell, and Elizabeth Smith, as well as Mari Evans and Viviane Basset. In the United States, thank you to Pamela Dorman, Kiki Koroshetz, Louise Braverman, Rebecca Lang, Annie Harris, and Carolyn Coleburn. Thank you, too, to all the lovely media escorts--Cindy Hamel Sellers, Carolyn Kretzer, Debb Flynn Hanrahan, Esther Levine, Larry Lewis, and Mary Gielow--who have spent so much time with me over there this year. In Germany, thank you to Katharina Dornhofer, Marcus Gaertner, and Grusche Junker and all the team at Rowohlt for your wonderful work.
At Curtis Brown, thank you yet again to my indefatigable agent Sheila Crowley, and to Rebecca Ritchie, Katie McGowan, Sophie Harris, Rachel Clements, and Alice Lutyens, as well as Jessica Cooper, Kat Buckle, Sven van Damme, and of course Jonny Geller.
Thank you to Robin Oliver and Jane Foran for advice on insider-trading law. I have had to skew the legal procedure slightly to fit the plot, so any errors or anomalies are entirely my own.
More generally, thank you to Pia Printz, Damian Barr, Alex Heminsley, Polly Samson, David Gilmour, Cathy Runciman, Jess Ruston, and Emma Freud, as well as the gang at Writersblock, for excellent narrative interruptions. Also for excessive levels of help, advice, and general loveliness, Ol Parker and Jonathan Harvey--thank you.
Thanks nearer home to Jackie Tearne, Chris Luckley, Claire Roweth, Vanessa Hollis, and Sue Donovan, without whom I couldn't have fit in the actual writing.
Thank you to Kieron and Sharon Smith and their daughter Tanzie, after whom the main character in this book was named in appreciation of their generous bid in a charity auction in aid of the Stepping Stones Down Syndrome Support Group.
And thanks to my parents--Jim Moyes, Lizzie and Brian Sanders--and, most important, Charles, Saskia, Harry, and Lockie, for being the point of it all.
ALSO BY JOJO MOYES
CHAPTER ONE: Jess
CHAPTER TWO: Tanzie
CHAPTER THREE: Ed
CHAPTER FOUR: Jess
CHAPTER FIVE: Nicky
CHAPTER SIX: Jess
CHAPTER SEVEN: Jess
CHAPTER EIGHT: Ed
CHAPTER NINE: Tanzie
CHAPTER TEN: Jess
CHAPTER ELEVEN: Ed
CHAPTER TWELVE: Jess
CHAPTER THIRTEEN: Ed
CHAPTER FOURTEEN: Tanzie
CHAPTER FIFTEEN: Nicky
CHAPTER SIXTEEN: Tanzie
CHAPTER SEVENTEEN: Jess
CHAPTER EIGHTEEN: Ed
CHAPTER NINETEEN: Jess
CHAPTER TWENTY: Ed
CHAPTER TWENTY-ONE: Nicky
CHAPTER TWENTY-TWO: Jess
CHAPTER TWENTY-THREE: Ed
CHAPTER TWENTY-FOUR: Nicky
CHAPTER TWENTY-FIVE: Jess
CHAPTER TWENTY-SIX: Tanzie
CHAPTER TWENTY-SEVEN: Jess
CHAPTER TWENTY-EIGHT: Nicky
CHAPTER TWENTY-NINE: Tanzie
CHAPTER THIRTY: Jess
CHAPTER THIRTY-ONE: Tanzie
CHAPTER THIRTY-TWO: Ed
CHAPTER THIRTY-THREE: Jess
CHAPTER THIRTY-FOUR: Nicky
CHAPTER THIRTY-FIVE: Jess
CHAPTER THIRTY-SIX: Nicky
CHAPTER THIRTY-SEVEN: Jess
CHAPTER THIRTY-EIGHT: Ed
CHAPTER THIRTY-NINE: Ed
CHAPTER FORTY: Jess
CHAPTER FORTY-ONE: Tanzie
Ed Nicholls was in the creatives' room drinking coffee with Ronan when Sidney walked in. A man he vaguely recognized stood behind him, another of the Suits.
"We've been looking for you," Sidney said.
"Well, you found us," Ed said.
"Not Ronan, you."
Ed studied them for a minute, then threw a red foam ball at the ceiling and caught it. He glanced sideways at Ronan. Investacorp had bought half shares in the company a full eighteen months ago, but Ed and Ronan still thought of them as the Suits. It was one of the kinder things they called them in private.
"Do you know a woman called Deanna Lewis?"
"Did you give her any information about the launch of the new software?"
"It's a simple question."
Ed looked from one Suit to the other. The atmosphere was strangely charged. His stomach, a packed elevator, began a slow descent toward his feet. "We may have chatted about work. No specifics that I remember."
"Deanna Lewis?" said Ronan.
"You need to be clear about this, Ed. Did you give her any information about the launch of SFAX?"
"No. Maybe. What is this?"
"The police are downstairs searching your office, with two goons from the Financial Services Authority. Her brother has been arrested for insider trading. On the basis of information that you gave them about the launch of the software."
"Deanna Lewis? Our Deanna Lewis?" Ronan began to wipe his spectacles, a thing he did when he was feeling anxious.
"Her brother's hedge fund made two point six million dollars on the first day of trading. She alone cleared a hundred and ninety thousand on her personal account."
"Her brother's hedge fund?"
"I don't understand," Ronan said.
"I'll spell it out. Deanna Lewis is on record talking to her brother about the launch of SFAX. She says Ed here said it was going to be enormous. And guess what? Two days later her brother's fund is among the biggest purchasers of shares. What exactly did you tell her?"
Ronan stared at him. Ed struggled to gather his thoughts. When he swallowed, it was shamefully audible. Across the office the development team was peering over the tops of their cubicles. "I didn't tell her anything." He blinked. "I don't know. I might have said something. It's not like it was a state secret."
"It was a fucking state secret, Ed," Sidney said. "It's called insider trading. She told him you gave her dates, times. You told her the company was going to make a fortune."
"Then she's lying! Shooting her mouth off. We were just . . . having a thing."
"You wanted to bone the girl, so you shot your mouth off to impress her?"
"It wasn't like that."
"You had sex with Deanna Lewis?" Ed could feel Ronan's myopic gaze burning into him.
Sidney lifted his hands. "You need to call your lawyer."
"How can I be in trouble?" Ed asked. "It's not like I got any benefit from it. I didn't even know her brother had a hedge fund."
Sidney glanced behind him. The faces suddenly found something interesting to look at on their desks. He lowered his voice. "You have to go now. They want to interview you at the police station."
"What? This is nuts. I've got a software meeting in twenty minutes. I'm not going to any police station."
"And obviously we're suspending you until we've got to the bottom of this."
Ed half laughed. "Are you kidding me? You can't suspend me. It's my company." He threw the foam ball up in the air and caught it, turning away from them. Nobody moved. "I'm not going. This is our company. Tell them, Ronan."
He looked at Ronan, but Ronan was staring fixedly at something on the floor. Ed looked at Sidney, who shook his head. Then he looked up at the two uniformed men who had appeared behind him, at his secretary, whose hand was covering her mouth, at the carpet path already opening up between him and the door, and the foam ball dropped silently onto the floor between his feet.
Jess Thomas and Nathalie Benson slumped in the seats of their van, which was parked far enough away from Nathalie's house that they couldn't be seen from inside. Nathalie was smoking. She had given it up for the fourth time six weeks ago.
"Eighty pounds a week, guaranteed. And holiday pay." Nathalie let out a scream. "Bloody hell. I actually want to find the tart who left that earring and thump her for losing us our best job."
"Maybe she didn't know he was married."
"Oh, she knew." Before she'd met Dean, Nathalie had spent two years with a man who turned out to have not one but two families on the other side of Southampton. "No single man keeps color-coordinated scatter cushions on his bed."
"Neil Brewster does," Jess said.
"Neil Brewster's music collection is sixty-seven percent Judy Garland, thirty-three percent Pet Shop Boys."
They had cleaned together every weekday for four years, since back when the Beachfront Holiday Park was part paradise, part building site. Back when the developers promised local families access to the swimming pool and assured everyone that a large upmarket development would bring benefits to their little seaside town, instead of sucking out what remained of its life. The faded moniker, BENSON & THOMAS CLEANING, was stenciled on the side of their white van. Nathalie had added underneath: A BIT DIRTY? CAN WE HELP? until Jess pointed out that for two whole months half the calls they had received had nothing to do with cleaning.
Nearly all their jobs were in the Beachfront development now. Hardly anybody in town had the money--or the inclination--to hire a cleaner, except for the doctors, the solicitor, and the odd client like Mrs. Humphrey, whose arthritis had stopped her from doing it herself. It was a good job on the one hand. You could work for yourself, organize your own hours, pick and choose your clients for the most part. The downside, weirdly, was not the crappy clients (and there always was at least one crappy client) or that scrubbing someone else's toilet somehow left you feeling like you were one step lower on a ladder than you had planned to be. Jess didn't mind pulling lumps of hair out of other people's plugholes or the fact that most people who rented holiday homes seemed to feel obliged to live like pigs for a week.
What she didn't like was that you ended up finding out much more about other people's lives than you really wanted to.
Jess could have told you about Mrs. Eldridge's secret shopping habit: the designer shoe receipts she stuffed into the bathroom bin, and the bags of unworn clothes in her wardrobe, the tags still firmly attached. She could tell you that Lena Thompson had been trying for a baby for four years and used two pregnancy tests a month (rumor had it she left her tights on). She could tell you that Mr. Mitchell in the big house behind the church earned a six-figure salary (he left his pay slips on the hall table; Nathalie swore he did it deliberately) and that his daughter smoked secretly in the bathroom.
If she was so inclined, Jess could have named the women who went out looking immaculate--hair faultless, nails polished, lightly spritzed with expensive scent--who thought nothing of leaving soiled knickers in full view on the floor. Or the teenage boys whose stiff towels she didn't want to pick up without a pair of tongs. There were the couples who spent every night in separate beds, the wives insisting brightly when they asked her to change the spare-room sheets that they'd had an "awful lot of guests lately," the lavatories that required a gas mask and a HAZCHEM warning.
And then every once in a while you got a nice client like Lisa Ritter and popped over to vacuum her floors and came away with a diamond earring and a whole load of knowledge you could really have done without.
"It's probably my daughter's, from when she came home last time," Lisa Ritter had said, her voice quivering slightly with the effort as she held it in her hand. "She's got a pair just like it."
"Of course," Jess said. "It probably got kicked into your bedroom. Or carried in on someone's shoe. We knew it would be something like that. I'm sorry. If I had known it wasn't yours, I would never have bothered you with it." And she knew right then, as Mrs. Ritter turned away from her, that that would be it. People didn't thank you for bringing bad news to their doors.
At the end of the road a padded toddler toppled gently onto the ground like a felled tree and, after a brief silence, started wailing. Its mother, her two armloads of shopping bags perfectly balanced, stood and stared in mute dismay.
"Look, you heard what she said the other week--Lisa Ritter would get rid of her hairdresser before she'd get rid of us."
Nathalie made the face that said Jess would look on the bright side of a nuclear apocalypse. "Before she got rid of 'the cleaners.' That's different. She won't care whether it's us or Speedicleanz or Maids with Mops." Nathalie shook her head. "Nope. To her, from now on, we'll always be the cleaners who know the truth about her cheating husband. It matters to women like her. They're all about appearances, aren't they?"
The mother put down her bags and stooped to pick up the toddler. Jess put her bare feet up on the dashboard and let her face fall into her hands. "Bugger it. How are we going to make up that money, Nat?"
"That house was immaculate. It was basically a twice-a-week polishing job." Nathalie stared out the window.
"And she always paid on time."
Jess kept seeing that diamond earring. Why hadn't they just ignored it? It would have actually been better if one of them had simply stolen it. "Okay, so she's going to cancel us. Let's change the subject, Nat. I can't afford to cry before my pub shift."
"So, did Marty ring this week?"
"I didn't mean change the subject to that."
"Well, did he?"
Jess sighed. "Yup."
"Did he say why he didn't ring the week before?" Nathalie shoved Jess's feet off the dashboard.
"Nope." Jess could feel her staring. "And no, he didn't send any money."
"Oh, come on. You've got to get the Child Support Agency onto him. You can't carry on like this. He should send money for his own kids."
It was an old argument. "He's . . . he's still not right," Jess said. "I can't put more pressure on him. He hasn't got a job yet."
"Well, you're going to need that money now. Until we get another job like Lisa Ritter's. How's Nicky?"
"I went round to Jason Fisher's house to talk to his mum."
"You're joking. She scares the pants off me. Did
she say she'd get him to leave Nicky alone?"
"Something like that."
Nathalie kept her eyes on Jess and dropped her chin two inches.
"She told me if I set foot on her doorstep once more she'd batter me halfway to next Wednesday. Me and my . . . what was it? . . . me and my 'freakazoid kids.'" Jess pulled down the passenger mirror and checked her hair, pulling it back into a ponytail. "Oh, and then she told me her Jason wouldn't hurt a fly."
"It's fine. I had Norman with me. And, bless him, he took an enormous dump next to their Toyota and somehow I forgot I had a plastic bag in my pocket."
Jess put her feet back up.
Nathalie pushed them down again and mopped the dashboard with a wet wipe. "Seriously, though, Jess. How long has Marty been gone? Two years? You're young. You can't wait around for him to sort himself out. You've got to get back on the horse," Nathalie said with a grimace.
"Get back on the horse. Nice."
"Liam Stubbs fancies you. You could totally ride that."
"Any certified pair of X chromosomes could ride Liam Stubbs." Jess closed the window. "I'm better off reading a book. Besides, I think the kids have had enough upheaval in their lives without playing Meet Your New Uncle. Right?" She looked up, wrinkled her nose at the sky. "I've got to get the tea on, and then I've got to get ready for the pub. I'll do a quick ring-round before I go, see if any of the clients want any extras doing. And you never know, she might not cancel us."
Nathalie lowered her window and blew out a long trail of smoke. "Sure, Dorothy. And our next job is going to be cleaning the Emerald City at the end of the Yellow Brick Road."
Number 14 Seacole Avenue was filled with the sound of distant explosions. Tanzie had calculated recently that, since he'd turned sixteen, Nicky had spent 88 percent of his spare time in his bedroom. Jess could hardly blame him.
Jess dropped her cleaning crate in the hall, hung up her jacket, made her way upstairs, feeling the familiar faint dismay at the threadbare state of the carpet, and pushed at his door. He was wearing a set of headphones and shooting somebody; the smell of weed was strong enough to make her reel.
"Nicky," she said, and someone exploded in a hail of bullets. "Nicky." She walked over to him and pulled his headphones off, so that he turned, his expression briefly bemused, like someone hauled from sleep. "Hard at work, then?"