Shopaholic Takes Manhattan

Page 128

“Well… uh…” Her face is all shiny and excited, for some reason. “Uh… here he is.”

“Thank you very much,” comes a deep male voice.

A deep male British voice.

Oh my God.

I freeze like a rabbit, still holding the Richard Tyler dress, as Luke walks into the room.

“Hello,” he says with a small smile. “Miss Bloomwood. I’ve heard you’re the best shopper in town.”

I open my mouth and close it again. Thoughts are whizzing round my mind like fireworks. I’m trying to feel surprised, trying to feel as shocked as I know I should. Two months of absolutely nothing — and now here he is. I should be completely thrown.

But somehow — I don’t feel thrown at all.

Subconsciously, I realize, I’ve been expecting him.

“What are you doing here?” I say, trying to sound as composed as I can.

“As I said, I’ve heard you’re the best shopper in town.” He gives me a quizzical look. “I thought perhaps you could help me buy a suit. This one is looking rather tired.”

He gestures to his immaculate Jermyn Street suit, which I happen to know he’s only had for three months, and I hide a smile.

“You want a suit.”

“I want a suit.”


Playing for time, I put the dress back on a hanger, turn away, and place it carefully on the rail. Luke’s here.

He’s here. I want to laugh, or dance, or cry, or something. But instead I reach for my notepad and, without rushing, turn round.

“What I normally do before anything else is ask my clients to tell me a little about themselves.” My voice is a little jumpy and I take a deep breath. “Perhaps you could… do the same?”

“Right. That sounds like a good idea.” Luke thinks for a moment. “I’m a British businessman. I’m based in London.” He meets my eyes. “But I’ve recently opened an office in New York. So I’m going to be spending quite a bit of time over here.”

“Really?” I feel a jolt of surprise, which I try to conceal. “You’ve opened in New York? That’s… that’s very interesting. Because I had the impression that certain British businessmen were finding it tough to do deals with New York investors. Just… something I heard.”

“They were.” Luke nods. “They were finding it tough. But then they downscaled their plans. They decided to open on a much smaller scale.”

“A smaller scale?” I stare at him. “And they didn’t mind that?”

“Perhaps,” says Luke after a pause, “they realized that they’d been overambitious the first time round. Perhaps they realized that they’d become obsessed to the point where they’d let everything else suffer. Perhaps they realized they needed to swallow their pride and put away their grand plans — and slow down a little.”

“That… that makes a lot of sense,” I say.

“So they put together a new proposal, found a backer who agreed with them, and this time nothing stood in the way. They’re already up and running.”

His face is gleaming with a suppressed delight, and I find myself beaming back.

“That’s great!” I say. “I mean…” I clear my throat. “Right. I see.” I scribble some nonsense in my notepad. “So — how much time are you going to be spending in New York, exactly?” I add in a businesslike manner. “For my notes, you understand.”

“Absolutely,” says Luke, matching my tone. “Well, I’ll be wanting to keep a significant presence in Britain. So I’ll be here for two weeks a month. At least, that’s the idea at the moment. It may be more, it may be less.” There’s a long pause and his dark eyes meet mine. “It all depends.”

“On… on what?” I say, scarcely able to breathe.

“On… various things.”

There’s a still silence between us.

“You seem very settled, Becky,” says Luke quietly. “Very… together.”

“I’m enjoying it, yes.”

“You look as though you’re flourishing.” He looks around with a little smile. “This environment suits you. Which I suppose comes as no great surprise…”

“Do you think I took this job just because I like shopping?” I say, raising my eyebrows. “Do you think this is just about… shoes and nice clothes? Because if that’s really what you think, then I’m afraid you’re sadly misguided.”

“That’s not what I—”

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