“I’m sure he did,” says Michael. “And I very much hope they are. All I’m saying is—”
He stops as a uniformed concierge stops by our table.
“Miss Bloomwood,” he says. “I have a message for you.”
“Thanks!” I say in surprise.
I open the envelope he gives me, and pull out the sheets of paper — and it’s a message from Kent Garland at HLBC.
“Well!” I say, unable to stop a smile of triumph. “It looks like HLBC wasn’t just talking big. It looks like they mean business.” I give the piece of paper to Michael Ellis, wanting to add, “So there!”
“ ‘Please call Kent’s assistant to arrange a screen test,’ ” reads Michael aloud. “Well, looks like I’m wrong,” he says, smiling. “And I’m very glad about it.” He lifts his coffee cup toward me. “So here’s to a successful screen test.”
OK. What am I going to wear tomorrow? What am I going to wear? I mean, this is the most important moment of my life, a screen test for American television. My outfit has to be sharp, flattering, photogenic, immaculate… I mean, I’ve got nothing. Nothing.
I leaf through all my clothes for the millionth time, and flop back down on the bed, exhausted. I can’t believe I’ve come all this way without one single screen-test outfit.
Well, there’s nothing for it. I’ve got no choice.
I pick up my bag and check that I’ve got my wallet — and I’m just reaching for my coat when the phone rings.
“Hello?” I say into the receiver, hoping it might be Luke.
“Bex!” comes Suze’s voice, all tinny and distant.
“Suze!” I say in delight. “Hi!”
“How’s it going?”
“It’s going really well!” I say. “I’ve had loads of meetings, and everyone’s being really positive! It’s just brilliant!”
“Bex! That’s great.”
“How about you?” I frown slightly at her voice. “Is everything OK?”
“Oh yes!” says Suze. “Everything’s fine. Except…” She hesitates. “I just thought you should know, a man phoned up this morning about some money you owe a shop. La Rosa, in Hampstead.”
“Really?” I pull a face. “Them again?”
“Yes. He asked me when you were going to be out of the artificial limb unit.”
“Oh,” I say after a pause. “Right. So — what did you say?”
“Bex, why did he think you were in the artificial limb unit?”
“I don’t know,” I say evasively. “Maybe he heard something. Or… or I may possibly have written him the odd little letter…”
“Bex,” interrupts Suze, and her voice is quivering slightly. “You told me you’d taken care of all those bills. You promised!”
“I have taken care of them!” I reach for my hairbrush and begin to brush my hair.
“By telling them your parachute didn’t open in time?” cries Suze. “I mean, honestly, Bex—”
“Look, don’t stress. I’ll sort it all out as soon as I come home.”
“He said he was going to have to take extreme action! He said he was very sorry, but enough allowances had been made, and—”
“They always say that,” I say soothingly. “Suze, you really don’t have to worry. I’m going to earn loads over here. I’ll be loaded! And I’ll be able to pay everything off, and everything will be fine.”
There’s silence, and I imagine Suze sitting on the floor of the sitting room, winding her hair tightly round her fingers.
“Really?” she says at last. “Is it all going well, then?”
“Yes! I’ve got a screen test tomorrow, and this guy wants to give me my own show, and they’re even talking about Hollywood!”
“Hollywood?” breathes Suze. “That’s amazing.”
“I know!” I beam at my own reflection. “Isn’t it great? I’m hot! That’s what the guy from Blue River Productions said.”
“So — what are you going to wear for your screen test?”
“I’m just off to Barneys,” I say happily. “Choose a new outfit!”
“Barneys?” exclaims Suze in horror. “Bex, you promised me you weren’t going to go overboard! You completely promised me you were going to stick to a budget.”
“I have! I’ve completely stuck to it! It’s all written out and everything! And anyway, this is a business expense. I’m investing in my career.”