My Personal Assistant, Rosie, is there to greet me as the elevator doors open.

“I have a surprise for you, Charity,” she says with a big smile.

But I don’t smile back. Nor do I ask what Rosie’s surprise is. I employ a PA to keep my schedule running smoothly – not to spring surprises on me!

And I am not in a good mood. I have just had a frustrating two-hour meeting with the modelling agency. What is it with these idiots? I specifically told them I need ultra-tall girls. They want to fob me off with short ones. Do they think I’m blind? Or stupid?

And the pressure is on – big time! The Spring Collection Awards are only six weeks off. I have been working like a dog. My prelim sketches are finished. The best designs I have ever created, I reckon. Except, on the wrong shaped models, they will look horrendous. Total eyesores. And the only person celebrating will be Polelo Jaba – my nemesis! Who is also taking part in the Spring Collection Awards.

“Don’t call me ‘Charity’!” I growl at Rosie.

“Sorry,” she says – not looking sorry at all. She bounces cheerfully beside me as we head down the corridor towards our offices. I swear: she must be the worst PA in the city. Maybe the country!

My mother named me ‘Charity’.

I suppose Mama hoped I would grow up to be kind and loving and compassionate and charitable and soppy, like she is. No chance! I was driven and determined and geared for success from the moment I stepped out of my nappies. The first kid at pre-school to draw a proper person instead of a stick figure!

‘Charity’ is not part of my make-up. My friends and family all know better than to call me by that name.

“Call me Tee, or don’t call me at all!” I warned them long ago. Mostly they do as they’re told. Except Rosie, who keeps slipping up. On purpose, I bet. But Rosie has always believed the rules don’t apply to her.

One day, she will get a big shock when I finally get round to firing her butt!

And I don’t have time for her silly surprises either.

I have my desk covered with my Spring designs. Downstairs the seamstresses have their sewing machines powered up, ready and waiting for me to decide on final specs and measurements. And now this foul-up with the models!

“What time is Wame coming with the swatches?” I demand. “I hope she accessed the aubergine velvet.”

“Ten-thirty,” says Rosie at once. At least she is reliable when it comes to office admin. “Plenty of time for you to enjoy your surprise. Come on, Tee, take a break from this high-powered businesswoman-of-the-year stuff. Relax and live in the moment for a few moments.”

She stops to give me a hug – getting sprinkles of her talcum powder all over my pristine, navy suit. Good grief!

But still, I hug her back, much as she drives me nuts! She is still the person who helped me build up my fashion empire from modest beginnings, there in my bedroom, with an old foot-pedal Singer sewing machine. And cheap off-cuts that we begged from the local material factory.

And besides, she is my sister.


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