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There is a long running TV show in the UK called ‘Homes under the Hammer’. For those readers who are not aware of this programme, people buy properties at auction and then renovate them.
This story is inspired by one of those shows. A couple bought a house and the first time we met them the man came over as a bit of a nerd and the woman was quiet and dowdy. But it seemed it was not only the house that got the makeover.
When the camera’s returned a few weeks later she was gorgeous. What a transformation. Her hair and makeup were perfect and her tighter fitting clothes revealed she had a fit body.
I was inspired.
She is Ellie.
* * * * * * * * * * * *
For Ellie Robinson, it was a day that began like any other working day.
She left home at the usual time to make the six mile drive to work, arriving at the town centre car park at precisely twenty minutes to nine. After leaving her car in her designated parking bay, a brisk walk had her unlocking the office door at precisely fifteen minutes to nine.
After disarming the security alarm and locking the door behind her the first order of business was to brew a pot of coffee. This one was just for her. Her boss Hugo Jordan rarely made it in much before eleven am.
At precisely nine o’clock she switched on all the office lights and unlocked the door. They were open for business. Right on cue, the office phone began to ring. It was the same opening routine every day, Ellie fielding the calls in between opening the post and dealing with the emails.
It was around ten thirty in the morning when her mobile phone rang to herald the news that was about to turn her nice, quiet, safe little world upside down.
* * *
“You’ve got to be kidding me!” Ellie sat down hard on her office chair, her mobile phone now pressed firmly to her ear to make sure she didn’t miss a word. “Really … I’ve won?”
She stared straight ahead, a look of sheer incredulity etched on her face as the person on the other end of the phone line repeated their message to her.
“I don’t believe it,” she said with a shake of her head, “I… I can’t have won, I never win anything!”
Thankfully the woman on the other end of the phone was obviously used to raving idiots like Ellie shouting down the phone at her. In a calm, measured voice she assured her yet again that she had indeed won first prize and that was the reason for the phone call.
Ellie was amazed. It was such a long time ago she could barely recall the details. It must have been the time she’d been leaving the local supermarket after her weekly shop. She vaguely remembered being accosted in the foyer by a man and woman selling tickets for yet another worthy local cause.
Of course she’d bought the tickets; she always did. Even though money was tight she liked to support the local charities as much as possible. But as usual she’d paid no attention to what the prizes were. It didn’t concern or bother her. After all, she never won anyway, so what did it matter. She was just happy to do her bit to help.
Her surprise therefore was even greater when she realized she had no idea which charity she had supported and certainly didn’t know what her prize was.
“So what have I won,” she babbled excitedly down the phone, “I’ve never won anything before … what happens now … how does it all work?”
Ellie grabbed a pen as the person on the other end of the phone line patiently began to explain the details to her. She confirmed again that it was the first prize Ellie had won and it was a voucher, which she could redeem at the business that donated the prize. The voucher was only valid for a period of six months and it was Ellie’s responsibility to claim her prize.
“Okay, okay, I understand,” Ellie said impatiently, “So what is it, what have I actually won?” She waited expectantly, pen poised. The woman on the other end of the phone began to rattle off the details. It was difficult for Ellie to keep up as she hastily scribbled notes in her secretarial notebook.
“I see … I see … mmm … huh huh … okay … erm … just out of interest, what were the other prizes? Yep … yep … okay … huh huh … I see … okay … yes … okay, thank you for ringing. Yes, you too.” Ellie ended the call and looked down at her notes. She was somewhat deflated and surprisingly underwhelmed.
The office phone began to ring, making her jump, a timely reminder that it was a working day and that her raffle prize was absolute nonsense. It was work that paid the bills. Putting the list to one side Ellie answered the phone and then forgot all about it.
The day flew by. Her boss, Hugo Jordan made a brief appearance, leaving some papers on her desk that he needed to be processed before he rushed off. He barely said a word to her. She didn’t mind. It was a regular occurrence, she knew he was busy.
It was nearly five o’clock when Ellie picked up the list again as she started to tidy up before leaving for the day. Pursing her lips she güvenilir bahis scanned over her notes.
“Fourth prize – now that would have been a prize worth winning,” she muttered to herself.
She exhaled loudly before chastising herself mentally that most people win nothing so she should at least be a bit more excited as well as grateful about her good fortune. But even so, a hundred pounds to spend on groceries would have been a godsend given her tight household budget.
She looked back at her notebook. Her first task was to give some semblance of order to her rough scribblings. As a secretary in the financial services sector, attention to detail was key and because of this she was extremely methodical in her work.
She looked at her first note, written in capital letters.
She drew a rectangular box around it and then numbered the bullet points for the rest of the hastily scribbled information, adding notes to the items which puzzled her.
(3) make over – complete
(4) local Bromptons store
(5) new hairstyle
(6) makeup demo – me – model?? – WHY???
(8) Fashion buyer?? – WHAT???
(9) new clothes – designs – new season
(10) keep clothes & shoes – WHY??
Ellie shook her head as she scanned over her revised list. There were more questions than answers. She could barely comprehend what this would mean. Why did she need such a prize? What possible reason could she have to make use of any of these services and why would they want to give her the clothes and shoes? Surely there was a catch to it.
She took her yellow marker pen and used it to highlight items 6, 8 and 10. She took a long, hard look at the list as her methodical mind began to tick off the reasons in her head. Yep, there was definitely a catch! Maybe they were going to get her to pay for the clothes and the shoes and even the new hairstyle. Well if that was the case they could get lost. She had no money available for those types of luxury items!
She shook her head again before glancing up and catching sight of the clock on the wall. Even though it was past closing time she needed to finish clearing her desk. She would never leave the office with her desk in an untidy state. It just wouldn’t do. Tidy desk, tidy mind was a mantra that had been hammered into her at college by her austere tutor, Ms Hopkins.
Her thoughts wandered again. ‘A makeover’. She’d seen shows on television about makeovers and grudgingly acknowledged that the dowdy women usually looked fabulous when the experts were finished with them.
But she didn’t need a makeover. There was nothing wrong with her. So what if she didn’t buy the latest fashions. She couldn’t really afford to keep up to date with them anyway. Besides Andrew must like her the way she was. He never questioned the choice of clothes she bought or the fact that she hadn’t had her hair styled differently for ages, not that she went to the hairdressers that often.
Taking a final look around the office, Ellie clicked the lights off and exited the door, punching in the code for the alarm system as she went. It bleeped encouragingly as it set correctly. A light rain began to fall as she scurried off to retrieve her car from the car park up the street.
The drive home took longer than usual as the light rain quickly turned into a torrential downpour and by the time she arrived at her house it was still raining heavily. Despite running from the car to her front door she still managed to get soaked. Finding the house empty she assumed Andrew must be out on a call. She pondered on this for a few seconds. He hadn’t told her he was going to be out tonight but then again he didn’t seem to talk to her much about anything these days.
Quickly putting the whereabouts of her husband out of her mind, Ellie switched on the television for some background noise before she went upstairs to change out of her wet clothes.
* * * * *
Ellie wasn’t her given name, it was actually Eleanor but from the very beginning no-one had ever used that name. She was always baby Ellie and then little Ellie. There hadn’t been a lot of love shown towards her by her parents when growing up, in fact it had been quite an austere upbringing. Her parents weren’t poor, it was just that they chose to be extremely careful with their money. “It pays to save for a rainy day,” Ellie’s father used to say regularly.
Due to their frugality, clothes for Ellie’s parents and their children were either hand me downs or bought at charity clothes shops. This lifestyle was all Ellie knew and this was the main reason she dressed accordingly even to this day. It never occurred to her that they looked like clothes her grandmother would have worn in the nineteen seventies.
She stood in front of the mirror in her bedroom and removed her comfortable chunky knit cardigan followed by her blouse and skirt. The blouse was a fairly old fashioned design from the nineteen türkçe bahis eighties, buttoning up high on her neck. Her billowing pleated skirt was conservative and came down well below her knees, covering most of her legs.
‘People must think I look frumpy’ she thought ruefully as she hung up her clothes to dry. She began to rifle through the wardrobe clad in just her plain white bra and white cotton briefs searching for her casual clothes. Even her underwear was functional. She didn’t have anything lacy or even coloured for that matter. Plain white was much cheaper to buy.
‘At last’, she grunted to herself as she found what she was looking for. She pulled out a pair of old jogging bottoms and a grey sweatshirt and put them on. Today was the day for cleaning both the kitchen and the downstairs toilet. She had a weekly rota that was strictly adhered to for all the household cleaning.
Prior to going back downstairs she stood in front of the mirror and as she put her hair into a loose ponytail she took stock of her appearance. ‘I look okay’ she thought to herself as she examined her face a little closer. The face looking back at her was oval in shape. Her lips were not full and pouty but neither were they thin. She’d always considered her eyes to be her best feature. They were a deep blue, flecked with grey. Her dull, dark brown hair however was a mess. With no wave or curl or kink, it hung lankly to rest on her shoulders and was cut with a fringe, a style that hadn’t changed since her school days, nearly twenty years ago.
It wasn’t that Ellie didn’t know anything about fashion. She read the magazines and watched the shows on television and whilst part of her yearned to be more adventurous and wear those clothes and have that hairstyle, she always held back, unsure of how to change and always, always mindful of the cost.
She had just turned thirty one and had been married to Andrew for nearly ten years. They had no children and she felt her biological clock had ticked past her best time but it wasn’t as if they’d been trying much for most of their married life anyway.
Sex just wasn’t high on either of their agendas. He’d been her only boyfriend and she’d been his only girlfriend. It had been very uncomfortable the first time they’d attempted to have sex. Andrew couldn’t get hard enough to penetrate Ellie’s extremely tight pussy. It took him several attempts before they did eventually manage to consummate their relationship and looking back she thought she’d had an orgasm but she wasn’t really sure.
But she loved him. Well she thought she must, otherwise why would they still be together? He was quiet and kind and sometimes attentive. He worked for himself as a computer programmer and if truth be told was a bit of a geek. These days he didn’t seem to be as busy as he should be but they seemed to be getting by okay.
So that was another reason why she didn’t spend money on herself for clothes and hairdo’s. To her it was an unnecessary expense that they couldn’t afford. They didn’t have much money left over at the end of each month and if it wasn’t for Ellie’s small wage they would definitely be in a financial mess.
And another contributing factor was down to Ellie’s nature. She was quiet, due mainly to her introverted nature but if she managed to overcome her inhibitions and shyness she actually had a personality and a keen sense of humour. Sadly no-one ever seemed to see this side of her except maybe her boss Hugo Jordan and even then it was only a rare occurrence.
She’d been working for Hugo for eight years. He was an independent financial adviser and mortgage broker and although allied to a bigger organisation, he worked out of a small office as a one man band. Ellie was his secretary and personal assistant. She was also his cleaner, tea lady, filing clerk and all round dogsbody. You could say she was his girl Friday and there was certainly nothing she wouldn’t do for him. But he was kind to her, treated her with respect and seemed to really appreciate the things she did for him. She adored him but not in a sexual way. That certainly wouldn’t be right. For one thing he was way out of her league and besides, he’d never shown the slightest bit of interest in her anyway.
It didn’t take Ellie long to discover that Hugo had a reputation as a ladies man. One day, shortly after she started working for him, his wife Veronica turned up at the office. Even though she had met Ellie briefly before, today she blatantly ignored her and went directly into Hugo’s office. Half an hour went by and Ellie went to ask Veronica if she would like a drink. It was clear that Veronica was on the phone talking to a friend. And it soon became apparent that she was talking about Ellie.
She didn’t deliberately eavesdrop but she couldn’t help but overhear Veronica telling her friend that it had all been her idea that Hugo employ Ellie. She said that as soon as she clapped eyes on her she knew immediately Ellie was never going to attract his wandering eye. At the time Ellie güvenilir bahis siteleri didn’t understand what she could possibly mean and quite frankly she didn’t care. She was just grateful that she had a job.
Veronica’s strident tones were hard to ignore and blissfully unaware that Ellie was in the vicinity she just carried on with her conversation. Ellie began to colour up with embarrassment as Veronica began to dissect her.
“Oh yes,” Veronica had said, “I don’t think he would have the slightest thoughts about Ellie apart from her skills as his secretary. If she has a nice body, he’s never going to see it with those hideous clothes she wears.” She began to laugh. “and her hair … well … what a rats tail of a mess!” She shrieked with laughter this time before continuing, “I’ve never seen anybody look so frumpy. She certainly does nothing with her general appearance to warrant a first look, never mind a second!”
She paused and then laughed in response to something her friend had uttered.
“Yes that’s true,” she’d said, “I know Hugo would love to have some attractive big breasted bimbo fronting his business for him but there’s no way I’m going to allow that to happen. You know how he can be sometimes.”
Ellie quickly and quietly moved away. She’d heard enough.
* * *
When Ellie told Andrew about her prize the next day he congratulated her. He wasn’t bothered what the prize was, just that she had won and for that he was pleased for her.
When she told her parents of her good fortune her mother’s dismissive reaction was sadly predictable. “What do you need a makeover for?” she had said, “don’t you think you’re fine as you are?”
Ellie had just shrugged her shoulders and meekly replied, “I suppose so.”
It was her best friend Caroline who showed the most enthusiasm. “Oh Ellie, you are sooo lucky. I’d have loved to have won that. I can’t believe it … a full makeover. Right then; when are you going to do it?” She was more excited than her friend.
“Oh I don’t know,” Ellie replied nervously, “my mother doesn’t see the need for me to go really …” she tailed off.
“Nonsense!” Caroline retorted, “of course you must go. What’s the point of entering if you don’t want the prize when you win.”
Ellie smiled to herself. She suspected that Caroline didn’t really understand that her reason for buying a ticket was to support the charitable cause rather than wanting to win a prize.
It took Caroline three days of continual badgering before Ellie finally caved in.
“Okay, okay, I’ll call the store and book myself in,” she said. “Jeez you really are a pushy person, you know that don’t you!”
“Yeah, I know,” Caroline grinned as she hugged her best friend.
* * *
Ellie had booked time off work as a holiday day and when she arrived for her makeover it seemed the store had really pushed the boat out. No expense had been spared and it was over coffee that she first met the managers from the different departments covered by her prize.
She was given a time-table for visiting each one and noted thankfully there was a lunch-break included. She was delighted when she was informed that the cost of her meal was also part of her day. She began to relax as she realised that perhaps everything WAS free and that the store actually didn’t have a hidden agenda.
Her first port of call was to the hair salon. Franco, the stylist chosen by the store tutted loudly several times as he ran his expert fingers through her hair.
“No … no … this will not do! Look at this … NO … NO it’s a disgrace!” He tutted loudly again. “My dear … look … your hair … it is dry … it is lifeless … it is … uugghh … YUK!” He lifted a few strands with his fingertips before dropping them with evident distaste.
Ellie was horrified. She thought her hair was okay. She conditioned it once every three months or so. She’d read somewhere that using conditioner regularly would strip out the essential oils and that was a bad thing.
She informed Franco of this nugget of information, thinking she was being helpful. He exploded with rage.
Ellie jumped at his outburst. She was about to say something when he stopped her. “Say nothing more until I have finished!”
Out of the corner of her eye she saw the manager of the hair salon roll her eyes in frustration. Evidently Franco was high maintenance. She wondered why they tolerated his behaviour.
In the end, as he put the finishing touches to his work, Ellie could see why. The man was clearly a magician. His cut had removed her old straight fringe and given her an off centre parting. Her hair framed her face in a casual soft wave, coming to rest just above her shoulders and it shone with a healthy vitality she had never seen before.
“Franco … that’s … that’s …” She shook her head, mesmerised by the movement this caused to her hair.
“Yes I know!” France replied smugly. “Right you can go now.” He eased her out of the chair and shooed her away. “Off you go … go…”
Ellie took her time leaving the salon. There were just so many mirrors in the place, each one seeming to give her a fresh perspective of her new hairstyle. Finally the salon manager took her by the arm.
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