“I don’t think they do that,” says Zelda, wrinkling her brow. “They’ve got ham salad…”
“Then a bagel. Cream cheese and lox. And a soda.”
“Soda water, do you mean?” says Zelda.
“What’s lox?” says Emma puzzledly — and I pretend I haven’t heard. I’m not actually sure what lox is — but everyone eats it in New York, so it’s got to be delicious.
“Whatever it is,” says the sandwich man, “I ’aven’t got it. You can ’ave cheese and tomato and a nice packet of Hula Hoops.”
“OK,” I say reluctantly, and reach for my purse. As I do so, a pile of post that I picked up this morning falls out of my bag, onto the floor. Shit. Hastily, I gather all the letters up, and shove them into my Conran Shop carrier bag, hoping no one spotted them. But bloody Rory was looking straight at me.
“Hey, Becky,” he says, giving a guffawing laugh. “Was that a red bill I saw there?”
“No!” I say at once. “Of course not! It’s a… a birthday card. A joke birthday card. For my accountant. Anyway, I must run. Ciao!”
OK, so that wasn’t quite true. It was a red bill. To be honest, there have been quite a few red bills arriving for me over the last few days, which I’m completely intending to get round to paying off when I’ve got the cash. But I mean, I’ve got more important things happening in my life than a few crappy final demands. In a few months’ time, I’m going to be living on the other side of the Atlantic. I’m going to be an American television star!
Luke says I’ll probably earn twice in the States what I do here. If not more! So a few crummy bills won’t exactly matter then, will they? A few outstanding pounds won’t exactly ruin my sleep when I’m a household name and living in a Park Avenue penthouse.
God, and that’ll completely suss that horrible John Gavin. Just imagine his face when I march in and tell him I’m going to be the new anchorwoman on CNN, on a salary six times what he earns. That’ll teach him to be so nasty. I finally got round to opening his latest letter this morning, and it actually quite upset me. What does he mean, “excessive level of debt”? What does he mean, “special status”? You know, Derek Smeath would never have been so rude to me, not in a million years.
Luke’s in a meeting when I arrive, but that’s OK, because I don’t mind hanging around. I love visiting the Brandon Communications offices — in fact, I pop in there quite a lot, just for the atmosphere. It’s such a cool place — all blond-wood floors and spotlights and trendy sofas, and people rushing around being really busy and dynamic. Everyone stays really late every night, even though they don’t have to — and at about seven o’clock someone always opens a bottle of wine and passes it around.
I’ve got a present to give his assistant Mel for her birthday, which was yesterday. I’m quite pleased with it actually — it’s a gorgeous pair of cushions from the Conran Shop — and as I hand over the carrier bag, I actually hear her gasp, “Oh, Becky! You shouldn’t have!”
“I wanted to!” I beam, and perch companionably on her desk as she admires them. “So — what’s the latest?’’
Ooh, you can’t beat a good gossip. Mel puts down the carrier bag and gets out a box of toffees, and we have a lovely old natter. I hear all about her terrible date with an awful guy her mother’s been trying to set her up with, and she hears all about Tom’s wedding. And then she lowers her voice and starts filling me in on all the office gossip.
She tells me all about the two receptionists who haven’t been speaking ever since they came to work in the same Next jacket and both refused to take it off — and the girl in accounts who has just come back from maternity leave and is throwing up every morning but won’t admit anything.
“And here’s a really juicy one!” she says, handing me the box of toffees. “I reckon Alicia’s having an affair in the office.”
“No!” I stare at her in amazement. “Really? With who?”
“With Ben Bridges.”
I screw up my face, trying to place the name.
“That new guy who used to be at Coupland Foster Bright.”
“Him?” I stare at Mel. “Really?”
I have to say I’m surprised. He’s very sweet, but quite short and pushy. Not what I would have said was Alicia’s type.
“I keep seeing them together, kind of whispering. And the other day Alicia said she was going to the dentist — but I went into Ratchetts and there they were, having a secret lunch—”