Shopaholic Takes Manhattan

Page 14

When I first knew Luke, I only ever saw him businesslike and polite, or scarily angry, or — very occasionally — amused. Even after we started seeing each other, it was a long time before he really let his guard down. In fact, the first time he really, really laughed, I was so surprised, I snorted lemonade through my nose.

Even now, whenever I see his face creasing into a real smile, I feel a bit of a lift inside. Because I know he’s not like that with everyone. He’s smiling like that because it’s me. For me.

“I’m really sorry I took so long,” I say. “I was just…”

“I know,” says Luke, closing his paper and standing up. “You were talking to Enid.” He gives me a kiss and squeezes my arm. “I saw the last couple of calls. Good for you.”

“You just won’t believe what her husband’s like!” I say as we go through the swing doors and out into the car park. “No wonder she wants to keep working!”

“I can imagine.”

“He just thinks she’s there to give him an easy life.” I shake my head fiercely. “You know, I’m never going to just… stay at home and cook your supper. Never in a million years.”

There’s a short silence, and I look up to see Luke’s amused expression.

“Or… you know,” I add hastily. “Anyone’s supper.”

“I’m glad to hear it,” says Luke mildly. “I’m especially glad if you’re never going to cook me Moroccan couscous surprise.”

“You know what I mean,” I say, flushing slightly. “And you promised you weren’t going to talk about that anymore.”

My famous Moroccan evening was quite soon after we started going out. I really wanted to show Luke that I could cook — and I’d seen this program about Moroccan cooking which made it look really easy and impressive. Plus there was some gorgeous Moroccan tableware on sale in Debenhams, so it should have all been perfect.

But that soggy couscous. It was the most revolting stuff I’ve ever seen in my life. Even after I tried Suze’s suggestion of stir-frying it with mango chutney. And there was so much of it, all swelling up in bowls everywhere…

Anyway. Never mind. We had quite a nice pizza in the end.

We’re approaching Luke’s convertible in the corner of the car park, and he bleeps it open.

“You got my message, did you?” he says. “About luggage?”

“Yes, I did. Here it is.”

I hand him the dinkiest little suitcase in the world, which I got from a children’s gift shop in Guildford. It’s white canvas with red hearts stenciled round it, and I use it as a vanity case.

“Is that it?” says Luke, looking astonished, and I stifle a giggle. Ha! This’ll show him who can pack light.

All I’ve got in this case is my makeup and shampoo — but Luke doesn’t need to know that, does he?

“Yes, that’s it,” I say, raising my eyebrows slightly. “You did say, ‘pack light.’ ”

“So I did,” says Luke. “But this—” He gestures at the case. “I’m impressed.”

As he opens the boot, I get into the driving seat and adjust the seat forward so I can reach the pedals. I’ve always wanted to drive a convertible!

The boot slams behind me, and Luke comes round, a quizzical look on his face.

“You’re driving, are you?”

“Part of the way, I thought,” I say carelessly. “Just to take the pressure off you. You know, it’s very dangerous to drive for too long.”

“You can drive, can you, in those shoes?” He’s looking down at my clementine sandals — and I have to admit, the heel is a bit high for pedaling. But I’m not going to let him know that. “They’re new, aren’t they?” he adds, looking more closely at them.

And I’m about to say yes, when I remember that the last time I saw him, I had new shoes on — and the time before that, too. Which is really weird and must be one of those random cluster things.

“No!” I reply instead. “Actually, I’ve had them for ages. Actually…” I clear my throat. “They’re my driving shoes.”

“Your driving shoes,” echoes Luke skeptically.

“Yes!” I say, and start the engine before he can say any more. God, this car is amazing! It makes a fantastic roaring sound, and a kind of screech as I move it into gear.


“I’m fine!” I say, and slowly move off across the car park into the street. Oh, this is such a fantastic moment. I wonder if anybody’s watching me. I wonder if Emma and Rory are looking out the window. And that sound guy who thinks he’s so cool with his motorbike. He hasn’t got a convertible, has he? Accidentally on purpose, I lean on the horn, and as the sound echoes round the car park I see at least three people turning to look. Ha! Look at me! Ha-ha-ha…

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