Shopaholic Takes Manhattan

Page 36

“Erm… I can’t remember,” I say vaguely. “Maybe… fifty quid?”

This is not quite true. It was actually more like… Well, anyway, quite a lot. Still, it was worth it.

“So, where’s Luke?” says Mum, popping my hat back on my head. “Parking the car?”

“Yes, where’s Luke?” says my father, looking up, and gives a jocular laugh. “We’ve been looking forward to meeting this young man of yours at last.”

“Luke’s coming separately,” I say — and flinch slightly as I see their faces fall.

“Separately?” says Mum at last. “Why’s that?”

“He’s flying back from Zurich this morning,” I explain. “He had to go there for business. But he’ll be here, I promise.”

“He does know the service starts at twelve?” says Mum anxiously. “And you’ve told him where the church is?”

“Yes!” I say. “Honestly, he’ll be here.”

I’m aware that I sound slightly snappy, but I can’t help it. To be honest, I’m a bit stressed out myself about where Luke’s got to. He was supposed to be ringing me when he landed at the airport — and that was supposed to be half an hour ago. But so far I haven’t heard anything.

Still. He said he’d be here.

“Can I do anything to help?” I ask, to change the subject.

“Be a darling, and take these upstairs for me,” says Mum, cutting the sandwiches briskly into triangles. “I’ve got to pack away the patio cushions.”

“Who’s upstairs?” I say, picking up the plate.

“Maureen’s come over to blow-dry Janice’s hair,” says Mum. “They wanted to keep out of Lucy’s way. You know, while she’s getting ready.”

“Have you seen her yet?” I ask interestedly. “Has she got a nice dress?”

“I haven’t seen it,” says Mum, and lowers her voice. “But apparently it cost £3,000. And that’s not including the veil!”

“Wow,” I say, impressed. And for a second I feel ever so slightly envious. A £3,000 dress. And a party… and loads of presents… I mean, people who get married have it all.

As I go up the stairs, there’s the sound of blow-drying coming from Mum and Dad’s bedroom — and as I go in, I see Janice sitting on the dressing-room stool, wearing a dressing gown, holding a sherry glass, and dabbing at her eyes with a hanky. Maureen, who’s been doing Mum’s and Janice’s hair for years now, is brandishing a hair dryer at her, and a woman I don’t recognize with a mahogany tan, dyed blond curly hair, and a lilac silk suit is sitting on the window seat.

“Hello, Janice,” I say, going over and giving her a hug. “How are you feeling?”

“I’m fine, dear,” she says, and gives a sniff. “A little wobbly. You know. To think of Tom getting married!”

“I know,” I say sympathetically. “It doesn’t seem like yesterday that we were kids, riding our bikes together!”

“Have another sherry, Janice,” says Maureen comfortably, and sloshes a deep brown liquid into her glass. “It’ll help you relax.”

“Oh, Becky,” says Janice, and squeezes my hand. “This must be a hard day for you, too.”

I knew it. She does still think I fancy Tom, doesn’t she? Why do all mothers think their sons are irresistible?

“Not really!” I say, as brightly as I can. “I mean, I’m just pleased for Tom. And Lucy, of course…”

“Becky?” The woman on the window seat turns toward me, eyes narrowed suspiciously. “This is Becky?”

And there’s not an ounce of friendliness in her face. Oh God, don’t say she thinks I’m after Tom, too.

“Erm… yes.” I smile at her. “I’m Rebecca Bloomwood. And you must be Lucy’s mother?”

“Yes,” says the woman, still staring at me. “I’m Angela Harrison. Mother of the bride,” she adds, emphasizing “the bride” as though I don’t understand English.

“You must be very excited,” I say politely. “Your daughter getting married.”

“Yes, well, of course, Tom is devoted to Lucy,” she says aggressively. “Utterly devoted. Never looks in any other direction.” She gives me a sharp glance and I smile feebly back.

Honestly, what am I supposed to do? Throw up all over Tom or something? Tell him he’s the ugliest man I’ve ever known? They’d all still just say I was jealous. They’d say I was in denial.

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