Shopaholic Takes Manhattan

Page 15

“My petal,” says Luke beside me. “You’re causing a traffic jam.”

I glance into my rear mirror — and there are three cars creeping along behind me. Which is ridiculous, because I’m not going that slowly.

“Try moving it up a notch,” suggests Luke. “Ten miles an hour, say?”

“I am,” I say crossly. “You can’t expect me just to whiz off at a million miles an hour! There is a speed limit, you know.”

I reach the exit, smile nonchalantly at the porter at the gate, who gives me a surprised look, and pull out into the road. I signal left and take a last glance back to check if anyone I know has just come out and is watching me admiringly. Then, as a car behind me starts to beep, I carefully pull in at the pavement.

“There we are,” I say. “Your turn.”

“My turn?” Luke stares at me. “Already?”

“I have to do my nails now,” I explain. “And anyway, I know you think I can’t drive. I don’t want to have you pulling faces at me all the way down to Somerset.”

“I do not think you can’t drive,” protests Luke, half-laughing. “When have I ever said that?”

“You don’t need to say it. I can see it coming out of your head in a thought bubble: ‘Becky Bloomwood cannot drive.’ ”

“Well, that’s where you’re wrong,” retorts Luke. “The bubble actually reads: ‘Becky Bloomwood cannot drive in her new orange shoes because the heels are too high and pointy.’ ”

He raises his eyebrows, and I feel myself flush slightly.

“They’re my driving shoes,” I mutter, shifting over to the passenger seat. “And I’ve had them for years.”

As I reach into my bag for my nail file, Luke gets into the driver’s seat, leans over, and gives me a kiss.

“Thank you for doing that stint, anyway,” he says. “I’m sure it’ll lessen my risk of fatigue on the motorway.”

“Well, good!” I say, starting on my nails. “You need to conserve your energy for all those long country walks we’re going to go on tomorrow.”

There’s silence, and after a while I look up.

“Yes,” says Luke — and he isn’t smiling anymore. “Becky… I was going to talk to you about tomorrow.” He pauses and I stare at him, feeling my own smile fade slightly.

“What is it?” I say, trying not to sound anxious.

Luke exhales sharply. “Here’s the thing. A business opportunity has arisen which I really would like to… to take advantage of. And there are some people over from the States who I need to talk to. Urgently.”

“Oh,” I say, a little uncertainly. “Well — that’s OK. If you’ve got your phone with you…”

“Not by phone.” He looks straight at me. “I’ve scheduled a meeting for tomorrow.”

“Tomorrow?” I echo, and give a little laugh. “But you can’t have a meeting. We’ll be at the hotel.”

“So will the people I need to talk to,” says Luke. “I’ve invited them down.”

I stare at him in shock.

“You’ve invited businesspeople down on our holiday?”

“Purely for the meeting,” says Luke. “The rest of the time it’ll just be the two of us.”

“And how long will the meeting go on?” I exclaim. “Don’t tell me! All day!”

I just can’t believe it. After waiting all this time, after getting all excited, after all my packing…

“Becky, it won’t be as bad as that…”

“You promised me you’d take time off! You said we’d have a lovely romantic time.”

“We will have a lovely romantic time.”

“With all your business friends. With all your horrible contacts, networking away like… like maggots!”

“They won’t be networking with us,” says Luke with a grin. “Becky—” He reaches for my hand, but I pull it away.

“To be honest, I don’t see any point in my coming if it’s just you doing business!” I say miserably. “I might as well just stay at home. In fact—” I open the car door. “In fact, I think I’ll go home right now. I’ll call a taxi from the studio.”

I slam the car door and begin to stride off along the street, my clementine sandals making a click-clack sound against the hot pavement. And I’ve almost got to the studio gate before I hear his voice, raised so loud that several people turn to look.

“Becky! Wait there!”

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