Shopaholic Takes Manhattan

Page 53

“Let me see that,” says Luke, and plucks the paper from my hand before I can stop him.


“You do slightly have to read between the lines…” I add quickly.

“I see,” he says, gazing down at the horoscope page with a smile. “Yes, that would explain it. So, do you want to hear yours?”

“I’ve already—”

“ ‘Spend today exploring new surroundings,’ ” says Luke, as though reading. “ ‘Remember to hold your bag tightly to you and that over here it’s called a purse. Have a nice day — but don’t feel obliged to tell complete strangers to have one.’ ”

He smiles at me and I laugh. As he puts away the paper I take a sip of coffee and glance around the dining room at all the smart businessmen and groomed women sitting on luxurious striped chairs. Piano music is tinkling discreetly and I feel like I’m at the hub of some cosmopolitan, civilized world. At a nearby table a woman in black is talking about the First Lady’s wardrobe, and I listen eagerly until she gives me a look.

The First Lady. I mean, it sounds so much more impressive than “prime minister’s wife.”

“God, just think, Luke,” I say dreamily. “In a few weeks’ time, this will be our home city. We’ll be real New Yorkers!”

I’ll have to buy a few more black things before then, I find myself thinking. Everyone here seems to wear black…

“Becky—” says Luke. He puts down his paper — and suddenly he looks rather grave. “There’s something I’ve been meaning to say to you. Everything’s been such a rush, I haven’t had a chance — but it’s something I really think you need to hear.”

“OK,” I say apprehensively. “What is it?”

“It’s a big step, moving to a new city, especially a city as extreme as New York. It’s not the same as London…”

“I know,” I nod. “You have to have your nails done.”

Luke gives a puzzled frown before carrying on: “I’ve been here many times — and even I find it overwhelming at times. The sheer pressure and pace of life here is, frankly, on another level from London.”

“Right. So — what are you saying?”

“I’m saying I think you should take it slow. Don’t expect to fit in straight away. You may well find it a bit of a shock to begin with.”

I stare at him, discomfited.

“Don’t you think I’ll be able to stand the pace?”

“I’m not saying that,” says Luke. “I’m just saying — get to know the city gradually. Get the feel of it; see if you can really see yourself living here. You may hate it! You may decide you can’t possibly move here. Of course, I very much hope you don’t — but it’s worth keeping an open mind.”

“Right,” I say slowly. “I see.”

“So just see how today goes — and we’ll talk some more this evening. OK?”

“OK,” I say, and drain my coffee thoughtfully.

I’ll show Luke I can fit into this city. I’ll show him I can be a true New Yorker. I’ll go to the gym, and then I’ll eat a bagel, and then I’ll… shoot someone, maybe?

Or maybe just the gym will be enough.

I’m actually quite looking forward to doing a workout, because I bought this fab DKNY exercise outfit in the sales last year, and this is the first time I’ve had the chance to wear it! I did mean to join a gym, in fact I even went and got a registration pack from Holmes Place in Fulham. But then I read this really interesting article which said you could lose loads of weight just by fidgeting. Just by twitching your fingers and stuff! So I thought I’d go for that method instead, and spend the money I saved on a new dress.

But it’s not that I don’t like exercise or anything. And if I’m going to live in New York, I’ll have to go to the gym every day. I mean, it’s the law or something. So this is a good way to acclimatize.

As I reach the entrance to the fitness center I glance at my reflection — and I’m secretly quite impressed. They say people in New York are all pencil thin and fit, don’t they? But I reckon I look much fitter than some of these characters. I mean, look at that balding guy over there in the gray T-shirt. He looks like he’s never been near a gym in his life!

“Hi there,” says a voice. I look up and see a muscular guy in trendy black Lycra coming toward me. “I’m Tony. How are you today?”

“I’m fine, thanks,” I say, and casually do a little hamstring stretch. (At least, I think it’s my hamstring. The one in your leg.) “Just here for a workout.”

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