Shopaholic Takes Manhattan

Page 120

There’s an interested murmuring around the room, and people who had been chatting at the bar all turn toward the auction floor again.

“One hundred and fifty pounds,” says Caspar. “I am bid £150 for Lot 126, a Denny and George scarf.”

“That’s more than I paid for it!” I whisper to Suze.

“Bidding rests with the telephone buyer. At £150. One hundred and fifty pounds, ladies and gentlemen.”

There’s a tense silence — and suddenly I realize I’m digging my nails into the flesh of my hands.

“Two hundred,” says the girl in pink defiantly, and there’s a gasp around the room. “And tell your so-called anonymous bidder, Miss Miggy Sloane, that whatever she bids, I can bid.”

Everyone turns to look at the girl in black, who mutters something into the receiver, then nods her head.

“My bidder withdraws,” she says, looking up. I feel an inexplicable pang of disappointment, and quickly smile to cover it.

“Two hundred pounds!” I say to Suze. “That’s pretty good!”

“Going… going… gone,” says Caspar, and raps his gavel. “To the lady in pink.”

There’s a round of applause, and Caspar beams happily around. He picks up the scarf, and is about to hand it to Fenella, when I stop him.

“Wait,” I say. “I’d like to give it to her. If that’s all right.”

I take the scarf from Caspar and hold it quite still for a few moments, feeling its familiar gossamer texture. I can still smell my scent on it. I can feel Luke tying it round my neck.

The Girl in the Denny and George Scarf.

Then I take a deep breath and walk down, off the platform, toward the girl in pink. I smile at her and hand it over to her.

“Enjoy it,” I say. “It’s quite special.”

“Oh, I know,” she says quietly. “I know it is.” And just for a moment, as we look at each other, I think she understands completely. Then she turns and lifts it high into the air in triumph, like a trophy. “Sucks to you, Miggy!”

I turn away and walk back to the platform, where Caspar is sitting down, looking exhausted.

“Well done,” I say, sitting down next to him. “And thank you so much again. You did a fantastic job.”

“Not at all!” says Caspar. “I enjoyed it, actually. Bit of a change from early German porcelain.” He gestures to his notes. “I think we raised a fair bit, too.”

“You did brilliantly!” says Suze, coming to sit down too, and handing Caspar a beer. “Honestly, Bex, you’ll be completely out of the woods now.” She gives an admiring sigh. “You know, it just shows, you were right all along. Shopping is an investment. I mean, like, how much did you make on your Denny and George scarf?”

“Erm…” I close my eyes, trying to work it out. “About… 60 percent?”

“Sixty percent return! In less than a year! You see? That’s better than the crummy old stock market!” She takes out a cigarette and lights it. “You know, I think I might sell all my stuff, too.”

“You haven’t got any stuff,” I point out. “You decluttered it all.”

“Oh yeah.” Suze’s face falls. “God, why did I do that?”

I lean back on my elbow and close my eyes. Suddenly, for no real reason, I feel absolutely exhausted.

“So you’re off tomorrow,” says Caspar, taking a swig of beer.

“I’m off tomorrow,” I echo, staring up at the ceiling. Tomorrow I’m leaving England and flying off to America to live. Leaving everything behind and starting again. Somehow, it just doesn’t feel real.

“Not one of these crack-of-dawn flights, I hope?” he says, glancing at his watch.

“No, thank God. I’m not flying until about five.”

“That’s good,” says Caspar, nodding. “Gives you plenty of time.”

“Oh yes.” I sit up and glance at Suze, who grins back. “Plenty of time for just a couple of little things I’ve got to do.”

“Becky! We’re so glad you changed your mind!” cries Zelda as soon as she sees me. I get up from the sofa where I’ve been sitting in reception, and give her a quick smile. “Everyone’s so thrilled you’re coming on! What made you decide?”

“Oh, I’m not sure,” I say pleasantly. “Just… one of those things.”

“Well, let me take you straight up to makeup… we’re completely chaotic, as usual, so we’ve brought your slot forward slightly…”

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