Shopaholic Takes Manhattan

Page 48

“You’ll… you’ll come and visit lots,” I said, my voice trembling slightly.

“Of course we will, darling! All the time!”

She squeezed my hand and looked away — and then we went out into the sitting room, and didn’t say much more about it.

But the next morning, when we came down for breakfast, she and Dad were poring over an ad in the Sunday Times for holiday properties in Florida, which they claimed they had been thinking about anyway. As we left that afternoon, they were arguing vigorously over whether the Disneyland in Florida was better than the one in California — even though I happen to know neither of them has ever set foot near Disneyland in their lives.

“Becky, I have to get on,” says Luke, interrupting my thoughts. “Scottish Prime’s new fund launch is tomorrow, and I’ve got a lot to do.” He picks up the phone and dials a number. “I’ll see you this evening, OK?”

“OK,” I say, still loitering by the window. Then, suddenly remembering, I turn round. “Hey, have you heard about Alicia?”

“What about her?” Luke frowns at the receiver and puts it down.

“Mel reckons she’s having an affair! With Ben Bridges! Can you believe it?”

“No, frankly,” says Luke, tapping at his keyboard. “I can’t.”

“So what do you think’s going on?” I perch on his desk and look excitedly at him.

“My sweet—” says Luke patiently. “I really do have to get on.”

“Aren’t you interested?”

“No. As long as they’re doing their jobs.”

“People are more than just their jobs,” I say reprovingly. But Luke isn’t even listening. He’s got that faraway, cutoff look which comes over him when he’s concentrating on business.

“Oh well,” I say, and roll my eyes. “See you later.”

As I come out, Mel is not at her desk — but Alicia is standing there in a smart black suit, staring at some papers. Her face seems more flushed than usual, and I wonder with an inward giggle if she’s just been canoodling with Ben.

“Hi, Alicia,” I say politely. “How are you?”

Alicia jumps, and she quickly gathers up whatever it is she’s reading — then looks at me with a strange expression, as though horns have sprouted from my head.

“Becky,” she says slowly. “Well, I never. The financial expert herself. The money guru!”

What is it about Alicia? Why does everything she say sound like she’s playing some stupid game?

“Yes,” I say. “It’s me. Where’s Mel gone?”

As I approach Mel’s desk, I feel sure I left something on it. But I can’t quite think what. Did I have an umbrella?

“She’s gone to lunch,” says Alicia. “She showed me the present you bought her. Very stylish.”

“Thanks,” I say shortly.

“So.” She gives a faint smile. “I gather you’re tagging along with Luke to New York. Must be nice to have a rich boyfriend.”

God, she’s a cow! She’d never say that in front of Luke.

“I’m not ‘tagging along,’ actually,” I retort pleasantly. “I’ve got lots of meetings with television executives. It’s a completely independent trip.”

“But…” Alicia frowns thoughtfully. “Your flight’s on the company, is it?”

“No! I paid for it myself!”

“Just wondering!” Alicia lifts her hands apologetically. “Well, have a great time, won’t you?” She gathers up some folders and pops them into her briefcase, then snaps it shut. “I must run. Ciao.”

“See you later,” I say, and watch as she walks briskly off to the lifts.

I stand there by Mel’s desk for a few seconds longer, still wondering what on earth it was that I put down. Oh, I don’t suppose it can be important.

I get home to find Suze in the hall, talking on the phone. Her face is all red and shiny and her voice is trembling, and at once I’m seized by the terror that something awful has happened. Fearfully, I raise my eyebrows at her — and she nods frantically back, in between saying “Yes,” and “I see,” and “When would that be?”

I sink onto a chair, feeling weak with worry. What’s she talking about? A funeral? A brain operation? As soon as I decide to go away — this happens.

“Guess what’s happened?” she says shakily as she puts down the phone, and I leap up.

“Suze, I won’t go to New York,” I say, and impulsively take her hands. “I’ll stay here and help you get through whatever it is. Has someone… died?”

Tip: You can use left and right keyboard keys to browse between pages.