Shopaholic Takes Manhattan

Page 10

I stare at her, unable to speak.

“Maybe Peter is his baptismal name,” suggests the shop owner, and gestures to me. “This is his godmother.”

“Oh, you’re the godmother!” exclaims the woman. “Yes, I’ve heard all about you.”

This isn’t happening.

“Now, perhaps you can tell me.” The woman comes forward and lowers her voice confidentially. “Did Tim accept Maud’s offer?”

I look around the silent shop. Everyone is waiting for my answer.

“Erm… yes, he did! Actually, I think I’ll pay by cash.” I fumble in my purse, and plonk £50 on the counter. “Keep the change.”

“What about your scented candle?” says the shop owner. “You can choose from vanilla, sandalwood—”

“Never mind,” I say, hurrying toward the door.

“Wait!” calls the woman urgently. “What happened to Ivan?”

“He… he emigrated to Australia,” I say, and slam the door behind me.

God, that was a bit close. I think I’d better go home.

As I reach the corner of our road, I pause and do a little rearranging of my bags. Which is to say, I put them all in one LK Bennett carrier, and push them down until you can’t see them. But it’s not that I’m hiding them or anything.

I’m kind of hoping I’ll be able to scuttle into my room without Suze seeing me, but as I open the front door, she’s sitting on the floor of the hall, parceling something up.

“Hi!” she says. “Did you get the shoes?”

“Yes,” I say brightly. “Absolutely. Right size, and everything.”

“Let’s have a look then!”

“I’ll just… unpack them,” I say casually, and head toward my room, trying to keep relaxed. But I know I look guilty. I’m even walking guiltily.

“Bex,” she says suddenly. “What else is in that bag? That’s not just one pair of shoes.”

“Bag?” I turn as though in surprise. “Oh, this bag. Erm… just a few… bits and pieces. You know… odds and ends…”

I tail away guiltily as Suze folds her arms, looking as stern as she can.

“Show me.”

“OK, listen,” I say in a rush. “I know I said only one pair. But before you get angry, just look.” I reach into my second LK Bennett bag, slip open the box, and slowly pull out one of the clementine sandals. “Just… look at that.”

“Oh my God,” breathes Suze, staring at it. “That’s absolutely… stunning.” She takes it from me and strokes the soft leather gently — then suddenly her stern expression returns. “But did you need them?”

“Yes!” I say defensively. “Or at least… I was just stocking up for the future. You know, like a kind of… investment.”

“An investment?”

“Yes. And in a way, it’s saving money — because now I’ve got these, I won’t need to spend any money on shoes next year. None!”

“Really?” says Suze suspiciously. “None at all?”

“Absolutely! Honestly, Suze, I’m going to live in these shoes. I won’t need to buy any more for at least a year. Probably two!”

Suze is silent and I bite my lip, waiting for her to tell me to take them back to the shop. But she’s looking down at the sandal again, and touching the little clementine.

“Put them on,” she says suddenly. “Let me see!”

With a small thrill I pull out the other sandal and slip them on — and they’re just perfect. My perfect clementine slippers, just like Cinderella.

“Oh, Bex,” says Suze — and she doesn’t have to say anything else. It’s all there in her eyes.

Honestly, sometimes I wish I could marry Suze.

After I’ve paraded back and forth a few times, Suze gives a contented sigh, then reaches inside the big carrier for the Gifts and Goodies bag. “So — what did you get from here?” she says interestedly. The wooden letters spill out, and she begins to arrange them on the carpet.

“P-E-T-E-R. You got a present for Peter!”

“Erm… yes,” I say vaguely, grabbing for the Gifts and Goodies bag before she can spot her own frame in there. (She once caught me buying one in Fancy Free and got all cross, and said she would always make me one if I wanted it.) “Who’s Peter?”

“My machinist!” says Suze. “But you’ve never met him!”

“Well… you know. He sounds nice on the phone… anyway, I’d better go and get ready for tomorrow.”

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