“Really?” says Suze, missing the point. “Fantastic! God, I love New York. I went there three years ago, and—”
“Suze, he’s moving to New York — but he hasn’t told me.”
“Oh,” says Suze, looking taken aback. “Oh, right.”
“And I don’t want to bring it up, because I’m not supposed to know, but I keep thinking, why hasn’t he told me? Is he just going to… go?” My voice is rising in distress. “Will I just get a postcard from the Empire State Building saying, ‘Hi, I live in New York now, love Luke’?”
“No!” says Suze at once. “Of course not! He wouldn’t do that!”
“No. Definitely not.” Suze folds her arms and thinks for a few moments — then looks up. “Are you absolutely sure he hasn’t told you? Like, maybe when you were half asleep or daydreaming or something?”
She looks at me expectantly and for a few moments I think hard, wondering if she could be right. Maybe he told me in the car and I just wasn’t listening. Or last night, while I was eyeing up that girl’s Lulu Guinness handbag in the bar… But then I shake my head.
“No. I’m sure I’d remember if he’d mentioned New York.” I sink down miserably onto the bed. “He’s just not telling me because he’s going to chuck me.”
“No, he’s not!” retorts Suze. “Honestly, Bex, men never mention things. That’s just what they’re like.” She picks her way over a pile of CDs and sits cross-legged on the bed beside me. “My brother never mentioned when he got done for drugs. We had to find it out from the paper! And my father once bought a whole island without telling my mother.”
“Oh yes! And then he forgot about it, too. And he only remembered when he got this letter out of the blue inviting him to roll the pig in the barrel.”
“To do what?”
“Oh, this ancient ceremony thing,” says Suze vaguely. “My dad gets to roll the first pig, because he owns the island.” Her eyes suddenly brighten. “In fact, he’s always looking for people to do it instead of him. I don’t suppose you fancy doing it this year, do you? You get to wear this funny hat, and you have to learn a poem in Gaelic, but it’s quite easy…”
“Maybe not,” says Suze hurriedly. “Sorry.” She leans back on my pillow and chews a fingernail thoughtfully. Then suddenly she looks up. “Hang on a minute. Who told you about New York? If it wasn’t Luke?”
“Alicia,” I say gloomily. “She knew all about it.”
“Alicia?” Suze stares at me. “Alicia Bitch Longlegs? Oh, for goodness’ sake. She’s probably making it up. Honestly, Bex, I’m surprised you even listened!”
And she sounds so sure that I feel my heart giving a joyful leap. Of course. That must be the answer. Didn’t I suspect it myself? Didn’t I tell you what Alicia was like?
The only thing — tiny niggle — is I’m not sure Suze is completely 100 percent unbiased here. There’s a bit of history between Suze and Alicia, which is that they both started working at Brandon Communications at the same time — but Suze got the sack after three weeks and Alicia went on to have a high-flying career. Not that Suze really wanted to be a PR girl, but still.
“I don’t know,” I say doubtfully. “Would Alicia really do that?”
“Of course she would!” says Suze. “She’s just trying to wind you up. Come on, Bex, who do you trust more? Alicia or Luke?”
“Luke,” I say after a pause. “Luke, of course.”
“You’re right,” I say, suddenly feeling more cheerful. “You’re right! I should just trust him, shouldn’t I? I shouldn’t listen to gossip and rumors!”
“Exactly. Here are your letters. And your messages.”
“Ooh, thanks!” I say, and take the bundle with a little pang of excited hope. Because you never know, do you, what might have happened while you’re away? Maybe one of these envelopes is a letter from a long-lost friend, or an exciting job offer, or news that I’ve won a holiday!
But of course, they aren’t. It’s just one boring old bill after another, which I leaf through dismissively before dropping the whole lot to the floor without even opening them.
You know, this always happens. Whenever I go away, I always think I’ll come back to mountains of exciting post, with parcels and telegrams and letters full of scintillating news — and I’m always disappointed. In fact, I really think someone should set up a company called holidaypost.com which you would pay to write you loads of exciting letters, just so you had something to look forward to when you got home.