Can You Keep a Secret?
“This is perhaps my ultimate ‘What if’ book. What if a stranger knew all your embarrassing secrets? What if that stranger turned out to be your boss?
The heroine, Emma, is sitting on a turbulent plane. She’s always been a very nervous flyer and really thinks that this could be her last moment. So, naturally enough, she starts telling the man sitting next to her – quite a gorgeous American, but she’s too frightened to notice – all her innermost secrets. How she lies about her size. How she’s not sure if she has a G-spot, and whether her boyfriend could find it anyway. How the coffee at work is horrible… how she once threw a troublesome client file in the bin… If ever there was a bare soul, it’s hers. She survives the flight, of course, and the next morning the famous founding boss of the mega corporation she works for is coming to look at the UK branch. As he walks around, Emma looks up and realises…
It’s the man from the plane. And he recognizes her. And it’s soon clear that he remembers everything she said.
What will he do with her secrets? He knows them all – but she doesn’t know a single one of his. Or… does she?”
Meet Emma Corrigan, a young woman with a huge heart, an irrepressible spirit, and a few little secrets. Secrets from her boyfriend: I’ve always thought Connor looks a bit like Ken. As in Barbie and Ken. Secrets from her mother: I lost my virginity in the spare bedroom with Danny Nussbaum while Mum and Dad were downstairs watching Ben-Hur. Secrets she wouldn’t share with anyone in the world: I have no idea what NATO stands for. Or even what it is. Until she spills them all to a handsome stranger on a plane. At least, she thought he was a stranger.…Until Emma comes face-to-face with Jack Harper, the company’s elusive CEO, a man who knows every single humiliating detail about her…
Of course I have secrets.
Of course I do. Everyone has a few secrets. It’s completely normal. I’m sure I don’t have any more than anybody else.
I’m not talking about big, earth-shattering secrets. Not the-president-is-planning-to-bomb-Japan-and-only-Will-Smith-can-save-the-world type secrets. Just normal, everyday little secrets.
Like for example, here are a few random secrets of mine, off the top of my head:
1. My Kate Spade bag is a fake.
2. I love sweet sherry, the least cool drink in the universe.
3. I have no idea what NATO stands for. Or even what it is.
4. I weigh 9 stone 3. Not 8 stone 3, like my boyfriend Connor thinks. (Although in my defence, I was planning to go on a diet when I told him that. And to be fair, it is only one number different.)
5 I’ve always thought Connor looks a bit like Ken. As in Barbie and Ken.
6. Sometimes, when we’re right in the middle of passionate sex, I suddenly want to laugh.
7. I lost my virginity in the spare bedroom with Danny Nussbaum, while Mum and Dad were downstairs watching Ben Hur.
8. I’ve already drunk the wine that Dad told me to lay down for twenty years.
9. Sammy the goldfish at home isn’t the same goldfish that Mum and Dad gave me to look after when they went to Egypt.
10. When my colleague Artemis really annoys me, I feed her plant orange juice. (Which is pretty much every day.)
11. I once had this weird lesbian dream about my flatmate Lissy.
12. My G-string is hurting me.
13. I’ve always had this deep down conviction that I’m not like everybody else, and there’s an amazingly exciting new life waiting for me just around the corner.
14. I have no idea what this guy in the grey suit is going on about.
15. Plus I’ve already forgotten his name.
And I only met him ten minutes ago.
‘We believe in logistical formative alliances,’ he’s saying in a nasal, droning voice, ‘both above and below the line.’
‘Absolutely!’ I reply brightly, as though to say: Doesn’t everybody?
Logistical. What does that mean, again?
Oh God. What if they ask me?
Don’t be stupid, Emma. They won’t suddenly demand, ‘What does logistical mean?’ I’m a fellow marketing professional, aren’t I? Obviously I know these things.
And anyway, if they mention it again I’ll change the subject. Or I’ll say I’m post-logistical or something.
The important thing is to keep confident and businesslike. I can do this. This is my big chance and I’m not going to screw it up.
I’m sitting in the offices of Glen Oil’s headquarters in Glasgow, and as I glance at my reflection in the window, I look just like a top businesswoman. My hair is straightened, I’m wearing discreet earrings like they tell you to in How-to-win-that-job articles, and I’ve got on my smart new Jigsaw suit. (At least, it’s practically new. I got it from the Cancer Research shop and sewed on a button to replace the missing one, and you can hardly tell.)
I’m here representing the Panther Corporation, which is where I work. The meeting is to finalize a promotional arrangement between the new cranberry-flavoured Panther Prime sports drink and Glen Oil, and I flew up this morning from London, especially. (The company paid, and everything!)
When I arrived, the Glen Oil marketing guys started on this long, show-offy ‘who’s-travelled-the-most?’ conversation about airmiles and the red-eye to Washington – and I think I bluffed pretty convincingly. (Except when I said I’d flown Concorde to Ottawa, and it turns out Concorde doesn’t go to Ottawa.) But the truth is, this is the first time I’ve ever had to travel for a deal.
OK. The real truth is, this is the first deal I’ve ever done, full stop. I’ve been at the Panther Corporation for eleven months as a marketing assistant, and until now all I’ve been allowed to do is type out copy, arrange meetings for other people, get the sandwiches and pick up my boss’s dry-cleaning.
So this is kind of my big break. And I’ve got this secret little hope that if I do this well, maybe I’ll get promoted. The ad for my job said ‘possibility of promotion after a year’, and on Monday I’m having my yearly appraisal meeting with my boss, Paul. I looked up ‘Appraisals’ in the staff induction book, and it said they are ‘an ideal opportunity to discuss possibilities for career advancement’.
Career advancement! At the thought, I feel a familiar stab of longing in my chest. It would just show Dad I’m not a complete loser. And Mum. And Kerry. If I could go home and casually say, ‘By the way, I’ve been promoted to Marketing Executive.’
Emma Corrigan, Marketing Executive.
Emma Corrigan, Senior Vice-President (Marketing.)
As long as everything goes well today. Paul said the deal was done and dusted and all I had to do was nod and shake their hands, and even I should be able to manage that. And so far, I reckon it’s going really well.
OK, so I don’t understand about 90 per cent of what they’re saying.
But then I didn’t understand much of my GCSE French Oral either, and I still got a B. ‘Rebranding . . . analysis . . . cost-effective . . .’
The man in the grey suit is still droning on about something or other. As casually as possible, I extend my hand and inch his business card towards me so I can read it.
Doug Hamilton. That’s right. OK, I can remember this. Doug. Dug. Easy. I’ll picture a shovel. Together with a ham. Which . . . which looks ill . . . and . . .
OK, forget this. I’ll just write it down.
I write down ‘rebranding’ and ‘Doug Hamilton’ on my notepad and give an awkward little wriggle. God, my knickers really are uncomfortable. I mean, G-strings are never that comfortable at the best of times, in my opinion, but these are particularly bad. Which could be because they’re two sizes too small.
Which could possibly be because Connor bought them for me, and told the lingerie assistant I weighed eight stone three. Whereupon she told him I must be size eight. Size eight! (Frankly, I think she was just being mean. She must have known I was fibbing.)
“Romantic but refreshingly witty”
The Sunday Mirror
"An insanely chatty, fast-paced romantic comedy."
"Fluently written, extremely entertaining, Can You Keep A Secret? is an impressive follow up to Kinsella’s previous bestsellers."
"An insightful and funny take on the pitfalls and pleasures of telling the truth."
"A light, frothy and thoroughly entertaining novel."