Shopaholic Takes Manhattan

Page 26

“And your real mother, of course.” Casual, Becky. Casual. “I’ve always thought she sounds really interesting.”

“She’s a truly inspiring person,” says Luke, his face lighting up. “So elegant… you’ve seen the picture of her?”

“She looks beautiful,” I nod encouragingly. “And where is it she lives again?” I wrinkle my brow as though I can’t quite remember.

“New York,” says Luke, and takes a swig of his drink.

There’s a taut silence. Luke stares ahead, frowning slightly, and I watch him, my heart thumping. Then he turns to me, and I feel a spasm of fright. What’s he going to say? Is he going to tell me he’s moving thousands of miles away?


“Yes?” I say, my voice half-strangled by nerves.

“I really think you and my mother would love each other. Next time she’s in London, I’ll be sure to introduce you.”

“Oh… right,” I say. “That would be really great.” And morosely, I drain my glass.


Fulham Branch

3 Fulham Road

London SW6 9JH

Ms. Rebecca Bloomwood

Flat 2

4 Burney Rd.

London SW6 8FD

8 September 2000

Dear Ms. Bloomwood:

Thank you for your letter of 4 September, addressed to Sweetie Smeathie, in which you ask him to rush through an extension of your overdraft “before the new guy arrives.”

I am the new guy.

I am currently reviewing all customer files and will be in touch regarding your request.

Yours sincerely,

John Gavin

Overdraft Facilities Director


WE ARRIVE BACK in London the next day — and Luke still hasn’t mentioned his deal or New York, or anything. And I know I should just ask him outright. I should casually say, “So what’s this I hear about New York, Luke?” and wait and see what he says. But somehow I can’t bring myself to do it.

I mean, for a start, he’s made it plain enough that he doesn’t want to talk about it. If I confront him, he might think I’ve been trying to find out stuff behind his back. And for another start, Alicia might have got it wrong — or even be making it up. (She’s quite capable of it, believe me. When I was a financial journalist she once sent me to the completely wrong room for a press conference — and I’m sure it was deliberate.) So until I’m absolutely certain of my facts, there’s no point saying anything.

At least, this is what I tell myself. But I suppose if I’m really honest, the reason is that I just can’t bear the idea of Luke turning to me and giving me a kind look and saying, “Rebecca, we’ve had a lot of fun, but…”

So I end up saying nothing and smiling a lot — even though inside, I feel more and more miserable. As we arrive back outside my flat, I want to turn to him and wail, “Are you going to New York? Are you?”

But instead, I give him a kiss, and say lightly, “You will be OK for Saturday, won’t you?”

It turns out Luke’s got to fly off to Zurich tomorrow and have lots of meetings with finance people. Which of course is very important and I completely understand that. But Saturday is Tom and Lucy’s wedding at home, and that’s even more important. He just has to be there.

“I’ll make it,” he says. “I promise.” He squeezes my hand and I get out of the car and he says he has to shoot off. And then he’s gone.

Disconsolately, I open the door to our flat, and a moment later Suze comes out of the door of her room, dragging a full black bin liner along the ground.

“Hi!” she says. “You’re back!”

“Yes!” I reply, trying to sound cheerful. “I’m back!”

Suze disappears out of our door, and I hear her lugging her black bag down the stairs and out of the main front door — then bounding up to our flat again.

“So, how was it?” she says breathlessly, closing the door behind her.

“It was fine,” I say, walking into my bedroom. “It was… nice.”

“Nice?” Suze’s eyes narrow and she follows me in. “Only nice?”

“It was… good.”

“Good? Bex, what’s wrong? Didn’t you have a lovely time?”

I wasn’t really planning to say anything to Suze, because after all, I don’t know the facts yet. Plus I read in a magazine recently that couples should try to sort their problems out alone, without recourse to others. But as I look at her warm, friendly face, I just can’t help it, I hear myself blurting out, “Luke’s moving to New York.”

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