Shopaholic Takes Manhattan

Page 115

“And immigration?”

“I’ve got a lawyer.” I bite my lip. “I’m not sure he exactly likes me very much…”

“I have contacts in immigration,” says Michael reassuringly. “I’m sure we can sort something out.” He leans back and takes a sip of coffee. “Washington isn’t New York. But it’s a fun place to be, too. Politics is a fascinating arena. I have a feeling you’d take to it. And the salary… Well. It won’t be what CNN might have offered you. But as a ballpark…” He scribbles a figure on a piece of paper and pushes it across the table.

And I don’t believe it. It’s about twice what I’d get for any of those crappy journalism jobs.

Washington. An advertising agency. A whole new career.

America. Without Luke. On my own terms.

I can’t quite get my head round all of this.

“Why are you offering this to me?” I manage at last.

“I’ve been very impressed by you, Becky,” says Michael seriously. “You’re smart. You’re intuitive. I took your advice about my friend, by the way,” he adds with a twinkle. “He paid up the next day.”

“Really?” I say in delight.

“You have a good head on your shoulders — and you’re someone who gets things done.” I stare at him, feeling an embarrassed color come to my cheeks. “And maybe I figured you deserve a break,” he adds kindly. “Now, you don’t have to decide at once. I’m over here for a few more days, so if you want to, we can talk again about it. But, Becky—”


“I’m serious now. Whether you decide to take up my offer or not, don’t fall into anything else.” He shakes his head. “You’re too young to settle. Look into your heart — and go after what you really want.”


I DON’T DECIDE straight away. It takes me about two weeks of pacing around the flat, drinking endless cups of coffee, talking to my parents, Suze, Michael, my old boss Philip, this new television agent Cassandra… basically everyone I can think of. But in the end I know. I know in my heart what I really want to do.

Luke hasn’t called — and to be honest, I shouldn’t think I’ll ever speak to him again. Michael says he’s working about seventeen hours a day — trying simultaneously to salvage Brandon Communications and keep interest open in the States — and is very stressed indeed. Apparently he still hasn’t got over the shock of discovering that Alicia was plotting against him — and that Bank of London was still considering moving with her. The shock of discovering he wasn’t “immune to shit,” as Michael so poetically put it. “That’s the trouble with having the whole world love you,” he said to me the other day. “One day, you wake up and it’s flirting with your best friend instead. And you don’t know what to do. You’re thrown.”

“So — has Luke been thrown by all this?” I asked, twisting my fingers into a knot.

“Thrown?” exclaimed Michael. “He’s been hurled across the paddock and trampled on by a herd of wild boar.”

Several times I’ve picked up the phone with a sudden longing to speak to him. But then I’ve always taken a deep breath and put it down again. That’s his life now. I’ve got to get on with mine. My whole new life.

There’s a sound at the door, and I look round. Suze is standing in the doorway, staring into my empty room.

“Oh, Bex,” she says miserably. “I don’t like it. Put it all back. Make it messy again.”

“At least it’s all feng shui now,” I say, attempting a smile. “It’ll probably bring you loads of luck.”

She comes in and walks across the empty carpet to the window, then turns round.

“It seems smaller,” she says slowly. “It should look bigger without all your clutter, shouldn’t it? But somehow… it doesn’t work like that. It looks like a nasty bare little box.”

There’s silence for a while as I watch a tiny spider climbing up the windowpane.

“Have you decided what you’re going to do with it?” I say at last. “Are you going to get a new flatmate?”

“I don’t think so,” says Suze. “I mean, there’s no rush, is there. Tarkie said why not just have it as my office for a while.”

“Did he?” I turn to look at her with raised eyebrows. “That reminds me. Did I hear Tarquin here again last night? And creeping out this morning?”

“No,” says Suze, looking flustered. “I mean — yes.” She catches my eye and blushes. “But it was completely the last ever time. Ever.”

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