The irresistible new standalone from Sophie Kinsella is a story of love, empowerment and an IOU that changes everything . . .when a handsome stranger in a coffee shop asks Fixie Farr to watch his laptop for a moment, she not only agrees, she ends up saving it from certain disaster. To thank her, the computer’s owner, Sebastian, scribbles her an IOU – but of course Fixie never intends to call in the favour. That is, until her teenage crush, Ryan, comes back into her life and needs her help – and Fixie turns to Seb.
Soon the pair are caught up in a series of IOUs – from small favours to life-changing debts – and Fixie is torn between the past she’s used to and the future she deserves.
Here is an excerpt from chapter three of Sophie Kinsella’s new book, I Owe You, where she talks about Ryan Chalker!
I don’t know how many times a heart can be broken, but mine’s been shattered again and again, and every single time by Ryan Chalker.
Not that he’d know it. I’ve been pretty good at concealing my feelings. (I think.) But the truth is, I’ve been in love with Ryan pretty much solidly since I was ten years old and he was fifteen and I came across him and Jake with a group of boys in Burger King. I was instantly fixated by him. How could you not be fixated by him, with that blond hair, that profile, that glow?
By the time I joined secondary school, Ryan and Jake were best friends and Ryan used to hang around our house every weekend, cracking jokes and flirting with Mum. Unlike every other boy in that year, he had flawless skin. He knew how to style his hair. He could make our school uniform look sexy, that’s how hot he was.
He had money, too. Everyone whispered about it. Some relative had left him a small fortune. He always hosted parties and he got a car for his seventeenth birthday. A convertible. I’m twenty-seven years old and I’m sure I’ll never own a convertible. Ryan and Jake used to drive around London in it, roof down, music blaring, like a couple of rock stars. In fact, it was Ryan who introduced Jake to that posh, flash, hard-partying set. The pair of them used to get into the kind of clubs that you read about in tabloids, and would boast about it at our house the next day. When I was old enough, Mum let me go out with Jake and Ryan sometimes, and I felt like I’d won the lottery. There was such a buzz around them, and suddenly I was part of it too.
Ryan could be genuinely kind as well. I’ll always remember one evening when we went to the cinema. I’d just broken up with a boy called Jason, and a bunch of his friends were behind us. They started to laugh at me and jeer, and Ryan whipped round before anyone else could, and lashed into them. People heard about it at school the next day, and everyone was saying, ‘Ryan loves Fixie!’
Of course I laughed along. I treated it like a joke. But inside I was smitten. I felt as if we were connected now. I kept thinking, ‘Surely we’ll end up together? Surely it’s meant to be?’
There were so many moments over the years when I thought I had a chance. The time in Pizza Express when he kissed me lingeringly on greeting me. The time he squeezed my thigh. The time he asked if I was single at the moment. Dad’s funeral, when he sat with me for a while at the reception and let me talk endlessly about Dad. At my twenty-first birthday party he sang a karaoke version of ‘Don’t Want To Miss A Thing’ straight to me, while my heart fluttered like a manic butterfly and I thought, ‘Yes, yes, this is it . . .’ But that night he got off with a girl called Tamara. Over the years I watched and secretly wept as he dated what seemed like every girl in West London and never looked my way.
Then, five years ago, he moved to LA to be a movie producer. An actual movie producer. You couldn’t pick a more glamorous or unattainable job. I’ve still got the business card he gave me before he left, with an abstract logo and an address on Wilshire Boulevard.
It would have been easier to forget him if he’d disappeared for ever – but he didn’t. He flew back to London all the time and he always came to see Jake, in a blast of light and excitement. His wavy blond hair was permanently sun- bleached. He had endless stories of celebrities. He’d casually say ‘Tom’ and I’d think, ‘Tom? Who does he mean, Tom?’ And then I’d suddenly realize he meant Tom Cruise and my heart would be gripped and I’d think, ‘Oh my God, I know someone who knows Tom Cruise ?’