“Hello, Rebecca,” says Lucy pleasantly — and I can just tell, she’s congratulating herself on being so polite to the loony girl who nearly wrecked her wedding.
“Hi,” I say. “Listen, I’m really sorry about the service. I honestly didn’t mean to…”
“That doesn’t matter,” says Lucy, and gives me a tight smile. “After all, Tom and I are married. That’s the main thing.” And she gives her wedding-ringed hand a satisfied glance.
“Absolutely!” I say. “Congratulations. Are you going on—”
“We were just wondering,” interrupts Lucy pleasantly. “Is Luke here yet?”
My heart sinks.
“Oh,” I say, playing for time. “Well…”
“It’s only that Mummy said you told her he was half an hour away. But no sign of him! Which seems a bit strange, don’t you think?” She raises her eyebrows innocently, and her bridesmaid gives a half-snort of laughter. I glance over Lucy’s shoulder and see Angela Harrison standing with Tom, a few yards away, watching with gimlet, triumphant eyes. God, they’re enjoying this, aren’t they?
“After all, that was, oh, a good two hours ago now,” Lucy’s saying. “At least! So if he isn’t here, it does seem a teeny bit peculiar.” She gives me a mock-concerned look. “Or maybe he’s had an accident? Maybe he’s got held up in… Zurich, was it?”
I stare at her smug, mocking face, and something violent rushes to my head.
“He’s here,” I say before I can stop myself.
There’s a stunned silence. Lucy and her bridesmaid glance at each other, while I take a deep gulp of champagne.
“He’s here?” says Lucy at last. “You mean, here at the wedding?”
“Absolutely!” I say. “He’s… he’s been here a while, actually.”
“But where? Where is he?”
“Well… he was here just a few moments ago…” I gesture to the chair next to me. “Didn’t you see him?”
“No!” says Lucy, with wide eyes. “Where is he now?” And she starts to look around the marquee.
“Just there,” I say, pointing vaguely through the crowd. “He’s wearing a morning coat…”
“And? What else?”
“And he’s… he’s holding a glass of champagne…”
Thank God all men look alike at weddings.
“Which one!” says Lucy impatiently.
“The dark one,” I say, and take another gulp of champagne. “Look, he’s waving at me.” I lift my hand and give a little wave. “Hi, Luke!”
“Where?” exclaims Lucy, peering into the crowd. “Kate, can you see him?”
“No!” says the bridesmaid hopelessly. “What does he look like?”
“He’s… actually, he’s just disappeared,” I say. “He must be getting me a drink or something.”
Lucy turns to me again.
“So — how come he wasn’t at the service?”
“He didn’t want to interrupt,” I say after a pause, and force myself to smile naturally. “Well — I won’t keep you. You must want to mingle with your guests!”
“Yes,” says Lucy after a pause. “Yes, I will.”
Giving me another suspicious look, she rustles off toward her mother, and they all start hobnobbing in a little group, shooting glances at me every so often. Then one of the bridesmaids rushes off to another group of guests, and they all start giving me glances, too. And then one runs off to another group. It’s like seeing a bushfire begin.
A few moments later, Janice comes up, all flushed and teary looking, with a flowery hat perched lopsidedly on her head.
“Becky!” she says. “Becky, we’ve just heard that Luke’s here!”
And my heart plummets. Putting down the bride from hell was one thing. But I can’t bring myself to lie to Janice. I just can’t do it. So I quickly take a gulp of champagne, and wave my glass at her in a vague manner that could mean anything.
“Oh, Becky…” Janice clasps her hands. “Becky, I feel absolutely… Have your parents met him yet? I know your mother will be over the moon!”
Suddenly I feel a bit sick. My parents. I didn’t think of that.
“Janice, I’ve just got to go and… and powder my nose,” I say, and get hastily to my feet. “See you later.”
“And Luke!” she says.
“And Luke, of course!” I say, and give a shrill little laugh.