Shopaholic Takes Manhattan

Page 100

“People,” says Suze confidently. “I’m her people.” She looks around the room. “Do you have any sherry?”

“No,” says John Gavin, looking at her as though she’s subnormal. “I don’t have any sherry. Now what’s this about?”

“OK, first of all,” I say nervously, “I’ve brought you something.” I reach into my bag and hand him another Kate’s Paperie envelope.

It was my own idea to bring him a little something to break the ice. After all, it’s only good manners. And in Japan, this is how business is done all the time.

“Is this a check?” says John Gavin.

“Erm… no,” I say, coloring slightly. “It’s a… a handmade card.”

John Gavin gives me a look, then rips the envelope open and pulls out a card printed in silver, with pink feathers glued to the corners.

Now that I look at it, maybe I should have chosen a less girly one.

Or not brought one at all. But it seemed so perfect for the occasion.

Friend — I know I’ve made mistakes, but can we start over?

John Gavin reads incredulously. He turns it over, as though suspecting a joke. “Did you buy this?”

“It’s nice, isn’t it!” says Suze. “You get them in New York.”

“I see. I’ll bear that in mind.” He puts it up on the table and we all look at it. “Miss Bloomwood, why exactly are you here?”

“Right!” I say. “Well. As my greeting card states, I’m aware that I have…” I swallow. “Perhaps not been the perfect… ideal customer. However, I’m confident that we can work together as a team, and achieve harmony.”

So far so good. I learned that bit off by heart.

“Which means?” says John Gavin.

I clear my throat. “Um… due to circumstances beyond my control, I have recently found myself in a slight financial… situation. So I was wondering whether you could perhaps temporarily…”

“Very kindly…” puts in Suze.

“Very kindly… perhaps extend my overdraft a little further, on a… a short-term…”

“Goodwill…” interjects Suze.

“Goodwill… temporary… short-term basis. Obviously to be paid back as soon as is feasibly and humanly possible.” I stop, and draw breath.

“Have you finished?” says John Gavin, folding his arms.

“Erm… yes.” I look to Suze for confirmation. “Yes, we have.”

There’s silence while John Gavin drums his Biro on the table. Then he looks up and says, “No.”

“No?” I look at him puzzledly. “Is that just… no?”

“Just no.” He pushes back his chair. “So if you’ll excuse me—”

“What do you mean, no?” says Suze. “You can’t just say no! You have to weigh up the pros and cons!”

“I have weighed up the pros and the cons,” says John Gavin. “There are no pros.”

“But this is one of your most valued customers!” Suze’s voice rises in dismay. “This is Becky Bloomwood of TV fame, who has a huge, glittering career in front of her!”

“This is Becky Bloomwood who has had her overdraft limit extended six times in the last year,” says John Gavin in a rather nasty voice. “And who each time has failed to keep within those limits. This is Becky Bloomwood who has consistently lied, who has consistently avoided meetings, who has treated bank staff with little or no respect, and who seems to think we’re all here solely to fund her appetite for shoes. I’ve looked at your file, Miss Bloomwood. I know the picture.”

There’s a subdued little silence. I can feel my cheeks getting hotter and hotter and I’ve got a horrible feeling I might cry.

“I don’t think you should be so mean!” says Suze in a burst. “Becky’s just had a really awful time! Would you like to be in the tabloids? Would you like to have someone stalking you?”

“Oh, I see!” His voice glints with sarcasm. “You expect me to feel sorry for you!”

“Yes!” I say. “No. Not exactly. But I think you should give me a chance.”

“You think I should give you another chance. And what have you done to merit another chance?” He shakes his head, and there’s silence.

“I just… I thought if I explained it all to you…” I tail off feebly and shoot Suze a hopeless look to say, “Let’s just forget it.”

“Hey, is it hot in here?” says Suze in a sudden husky voice. She takes off her jacket, shakes back her hair, and runs one hand down her cheek. “I’m feeling really… hot. Are you feeling hot, John?”

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