Just look at it. It’s delicious. It’s the most darling shoe I’ve ever seen. Oh God.
But I don’t need a pair of clementine shoes. I don’t need them.
Come on, Becky. Just. Say. No.
“Actually…” I swallow hard, trying to get control of my voice. “Actually…” I can hardly say it. “I’ll just take the lilac ones today,” I manage eventually. “Thank you.”
“OK…” The girl punches a code into the till. “That’ll be £89, then. How would you like to pay?”
“Er… VISA, please,” I say. I sign the slip, take my bag, and leave the shop, feeling slightly numb.
I did it! I did it! I completely controlled my desires! I only needed one pair of shoes — and I only bought one. In and out of the shop, completely according to plan. You see, this is what I can do when I really want to. This is the new Becky Bloomwood.
Having been so good, I deserve a little reward, so I go to a coffee shop and sit down outside in the sun with a cappuccino.
I want those clementine shoes, pops into my head as I take the first sip.
Stop. Stop it. Think about… something else. Luke. The holiday. Our first ever holiday together. God, I can’t wait.
I’ve been wanting to suggest a holiday ever since Luke and I started going out, but he works so hard, it would be like asking the prime minister to give up running the country for a bit. (Except come to think of it, he does that every summer, doesn’t he? So why can’t Luke?)
Luke’s so busy, he hasn’t even met my parents yet, which I’m a bit upset about. They asked him over for Sunday lunch a few weeks ago, and Mum spent ages cooking — or at least, she bought apricot-stuffed loin of pork from Sainsbury’s and a really posh chocolate meringue pudding. But at the last minute he had to cancel because there was a crisis with one of his clients in the Sunday papers. So I had to go on my own — and it was all rather miserable, to be honest. You could tell Mum was really disappointed, but she kept saying brightly, “Oh well, it was only a casual arrangement,” which it wasn’t. He sent her a huge bouquet of flowers the next day to apologize (or at least, Mel, his assistant, did), but it’s not the same, is it?
The worst bit was that our next-door neighbors, Janice and Martin, popped in for a glass of sherry “to meet the famous Luke,” as they put it, and when they found out he wasn’t there, they kept giving me all these pitying looks tinged with smugness, because their son Tom is getting married to his girlfriend Lucy next week. And I have a horrible suspicion that they think I have a crush on him. (Which I don’t — in fact, quite the reverse. I actually turned him down when we were teenagers. But once people believe something like that, it’s completely impossible to convince them otherwise. Hideous.)
When I got upset with Luke, he pointed out that I’ve never met his parents, either. But I have once — although very briefly. And anyway it’s not the same thing, because his family lives miles away, and it’s all much more complicated.
To be honest, I find Luke’s family setup just a tad weird. He’s got a dad and a stepmum in Britain who brought him up with his two half-sisters, and whom he calls Mum and Dad. And then he’s got his real mum, Elinor, who left his dad when he was little, married some rich American, and left Luke behind. Then she left the rich American and married another, even richer American and then… was there another one? Anyway, the point is, she lives in New York. So of course I haven’t met her. And the rest of his family is in Devon, not exactly handy for a quick Sunday lunch.
I said all this to Luke and I think he got my point. And at least he’s making the effort to come on this little holiday. It was Mel, actually, who suggested the weekend idea. She told me Luke hadn’t had a proper holiday for three years — and maybe he had to warm up to the idea. So I stopped talking about holidays and started talking about weekends away — and that did the trick! All of a sudden Luke told me to set aside this weekend. He booked the hotel himself and everything. I’m so looking forward to it. We’ll just do nothing but relax and take it easy — and actually spend some time with each other for a change. Lovely.
I want those clementine shoes.
I take another sip of coffee, lean back, and force myself to survey the bustling street. People are striding along, holding bags and chatting, and there’s a girl crossing the road with nice trousers on, which I think come from Nicole Farhi and… Oh God.
A middle-aged man in a dark suit is coming along the road toward me, and I recognize him. It’s Derek Smeath, my bank manager.