The conversation hadn't even required the ten minutes Mr Sethargis had allowed. Jemima had completely flipped out at the idea that Patricia would even consider it.
''You'd be rubbish at it anyway. And what are you gonna do without me around? Where do they think I'm gonna go anyway? Heartless sods. I hate 'em. You don't wanna work for people like that.''
''Maybe we should try and find our mums and ask them what to do...'' Patricia ventured, with the tiniest, half-hearted giggle.
''Don't be so stupid. We obviously don't exist in this... dimension or whatever you wanna call it. If we ever did, maybe we both died at birth or in a horrendous playground accident or whatever.'' Patricia's face paled at this suggestion.
''Even if we did manage to find them, IF they exist, which they probably don't ANYWAY, they're hardly gonna be interested in what two strange girls who they don't know from Adam have to say, never mind help you with YOUR little problem.'' Patricia had picked up one of the Telecom Burgers paper napkins and was dabbing at her eyes, but Jemima was undeterred.
''And yes, it's YOUR problem, not mine. It's your fault anyway that we ended up in this situation, trusting that Charlie bloke. I knew there was something WELL dodgy about him. You're too easily led, Patricia Thompson. Always have been.''
''OK I'll turn it down then.'', Patricia said, a little quiver in her voice. She knew if she tried to say how she really felt it would all come out wrong and she'd just end up sobbing.
''Yeah, but hang on a minute here. You THOUGHT about it, Patricia. Even though you knew it would mean us splitting up.''
Jemima was on a roll now, and she knew how to twist the knife in the wound she'd inflicted on her people-pleasing friend. She put her thumb and forefinger together, with a millimetre gap between the two, and held it up to Patricia's face.
''That much, you thought of our friendship. THAT MUCH!. You do what you like. I never wanna see you again. EVER!'' And with that she stood up, turned on her heel and barged out of the fast-food restaurant.
Of course, Patricia immediately stood up to follow her, just as Jemima had known she would. Jemima waited outside, knowing that the next thing that would happen would be Patricia rushing up to her and apologising over and over. Then maybe an hour or so later, after the requisite period of sulking, and making Patricia suffer, Jemima would start talking to her again and then they could carry on the way they always had.
But Jemima was wrong, this time. She didn't see Patricia's exit being blocked by Mr Sethargis. She didn't see him whispering in Patricia's ear. She didn't hear or see Patricia laughing nervously and then following him.
Patricia looked round her new little flat, to which Marc had driven her himself two hours earlier. She looked at the 3-DVD boxed set which Marc had advised her to watch as soon as she had a chance. It didn't matter if she didn't manage to see the whole thing tonight - she'd be supernumerary,and shadowing someone for the first few days. She could just watch the first DVD to get the gist of how things worked in the BT Complaints Department.
She went into the kitchen and looked in all the cupboards: plenty of food and drink, and all everything else she'd need. She poured herself a glass of cola and went into the bedroom.
Sitting on the bed, she thought about Jemima again. Marc had said she'd be fine, and he was very persuasive. If she tried really, really hard, she could block out that niggly feeling of gulit and doubt. She leaned over to the TV/DVD combi unit and popped the first DVD in the slot. The now-familiar strains of Haydn's Serenade accompanied the opening titles...
''Patricia. Welcome.'' said the woman sitting at the reception desk of the BT Complaints Department. ''Mr Sephargis told us to expect you. If you take a seat for a moment, I'll tell Bo you're here.''
''Bo?'' asked Patricia, laughing nervously at the funny name. ''Who's she?''
The receptionist laughed in reply. ''Actually, Bo's a man. He's been assigned to be your mentor. You'll be shadowing him this week.''
Patricia took a seat. She looked at the pile of BT World magazines on a glass, trimphone-shaped coffee table in front of her, then picked one up and started thumbing through it. She was just getting engrossed in an article about SMS versus MMS messaging when a shadow fell over her.
''Patricia Thompson?'' said a deep voice.
Flustered, she stood up rapidly, in embarrassment, then looked up at the towering figure. Her legs turned to jelly and almost gave way.
His blond hair gleamed in the morning sunlight shining through the window. His blue eyes twinkled at her. He was slimmer and less awkward looking, in this dimension, but there was no doubting it was him.
''I'm Bo Johnson.'' he said, offering his hand. ''Looking forward to working with you, Patricia.''
Patricia laughed and shook his hand. She felt giddy,and very nervous, and, for the first time since yesterday afternoon, she completely forgot to wonder what had become of Jemima.