Shopaholic Takes Manhattan

Page 20

“So — what’s your deal about?” I ask hurriedly, to change the subject. “Something exciting?”

“It’s… pretty big,” says Luke after a pause. He holds up a pair of silk ties. “Which one will bring me luck?”

“The red one,” I say after a little consideration. “It matches your eyes.”

“It matches my eyes?” Luke starts to laugh. “Do I look that rough?”

“It goes with your eyes. You know what I mean.”

“No, you were right first time,” says Luke, peering into the mirror. “It matches my eyes perfectly.” He glances at me. “You’d almost think I’d had no sleep last night.”

“No sleep?” I raise my eyebrows. “Before an important meeting? Surely that’s not the way Luke Brandon behaves.”

“Very irresponsible,” agrees Luke, putting the tie round his neck. “Must be thinking of someone else.”

I watch as he knots the tie with brisk, efficient movements. “So come on — tell me about this deal. Is it a big new client?”

But Luke smiles and shakes his head.

“Is it Nat West? I know, Lloyds Bank!”

“Let’s just say… it’s something I want very much,” Luke says eventually. “Something I’ve always wanted. But this is all very boring,” he adds in a different tone.

“No, it’s not!”

“Very dull indeed. Now — what are you going to do today? Will you be all right?” And now he sounds like he’s changing the subject.

Actually, I think Luke’s a bit sensitive about boring me with his work. Don’t get me wrong, I think his business is really fascinating. But there was this one occasion when it was really late at night, and he was telling me about a new range of technical products he was going to represent and I kind of… fell asleep.

I think he took it to heart, because recently he’s hardly talked about work at all.

“Have you heard the pool is closed this morning?” he says.

“I know,” I say, reaching for my blusher. “But that doesn’t matter. I’ll easily amuse myself.”

There’s silence and I look up to see Luke surveying me doubtfully.

“Would you like me to order you a taxi to take you to the shops? Bath is quite near here—”

“No,” I say indignantly. “I don’t want to go shopping!”

Which is true. When Suze found out how much those clementine sandals were, she got all worried that she hadn’t been strict enough with me, so I promised not to do any shopping this weekend. She made me cross my heart and swear on — well, on my clementine sandals, actually. And I’m going to make a real effort to keep to it.

I mean, I should be able to last forty-eight hours.

“I’m going to do all lovely rural things,” I say, snapping my blusher closed.


“Like look at the scenery… and maybe go to a farm and watch them milking the cows, or something…”

“I see.”

“What?” I say suspiciously. “What’s that supposed to mean?”

“You’re just going to pitch up at a farm, are you, and ask if you can milk the cows?”

“I didn’t say I was going to milk the cows,” I say with dignity. “I said I was going to watch the cows. And anyway, I might not go to a farm, I might go and look at some local attractions.” I reach for a pile of leaflets on the dressing table. “Like… this tractor exhibition. Or… St. Winifred’s Convent with its famous Bevington Triptych.”

“A convent,” echoes Luke after a pause.

“Yes, a convent!” I give him an indignant look. “Why shouldn’t I visit a convent? I’m actually a very spiritual person.”

“I’m sure you are, my darling,” says Luke, giving me a quizzical look. “You might want to put on more than a T-shirt before you go…”

“It’s a dress!” I say indignantly, pulling the T-shirt down over my bum. “And anyway, spirituality has nothing to do with clothes. ‘Consider the lilies of the field.’ ” I shoot him a satisfied glance.

“Fair enough.” Luke grins. “Well, enjoy yourself.” He gives me a kiss. “And Becky, I really am sorry about all this. This wasn’t the way I wanted our first weekend away to be.”

“Yeah, well,” I say, and give him a little poke in the chest. “You just make sure this mysterious deal is worth it.”

And I’m expecting Luke to laugh, or at least smile — but he just gives me a tiny nod, picks up his briefcase, and heads for the door.

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