“This city,” he says, shaking his head. “It’s a demanding place. Like… skiing down the edge of a precipice. If you make one mistake — that’s it. You fall.”
“But if you don’t make any mistakes?”
“You win,” says Luke. “You win it all.”
“You’re going to win,” I say confidently. “You’re going to wow them all tomorrow.”
“And you’re going to wow them at your screen test,” says Luke, as a waiter appears at our table with our first course — the most amazing sculptures made out of seafood, presented on hexagonal plates. He pours our wine, and Luke lifts his glass in a toast.
“To you, Becky. You’re going to be a huge success.”
“No, you’re going to be a huge success,” I reply, feeling a glow of pleasure all around me. “We’re both going to be huge successes!”
Maybe it’s the Bellini, going to my head — but suddenly I feel again exactly as I did in Barneys. I’m not the old Becky — I’m someone new and sparkling. Surreptitiously I glance at myself in a nearby mirror, and feel a twinge of delight. I mean, just look at me! All poised and groomed, in a New York restaurant, wearing a thousands-of-dollars dress, with my wonderful, successful boyfriend — and a screen test tomorrow for American television!
I feel completely intoxicated with happiness. This expensive, glossy world is where I’ve been heading all along. Limos and flowers; waxed eyebrows and designer clothes from Barneys; a purse stuffed with business cards of TV executives. These are my people; this is where I’m meant to be. My old life seems a million, zillion miles away, like a tiny dot on the horizon. Mum and Dad and Suze… my untidy room in Fulham… EastEnders with a pizza… I mean, let’s face it. That was never really me, was it?
We end up staying out for hours. We dance to the jazz band, eat passion fruit sorbet, and talk about everything in the world but work. Luke asks the band to play “These Foolish Things,” which is a song I completely love — and then sings along as we dance (very out of tune, but I don’t say anything). When we get back to the hotel we’re both laughing, and tripping slightly as we walk, and Luke’s hand is making its way deftly inside my dress.
“Miss Bloomwood?” says the concierge as we pass the desk. “There’s a message for you to call a Susan Cleath-Stuart, in London. Whatever time you get in. Apparently it’s urgent.”
“Oh God,” I say, rolling my eyes. “She’ll just be calling to lecture me about how much I spent on my new dress. ‘How much? Oh Bex, you shouldn’t have…’ ”
“It’s a fantastic dress,” says Luke, running his hands appreciatively up and down it. “Although there’s far too much of it. You could lose this bit here… and this bit…”
“Would you like the number?” says the concierge, holding out a piece of paper.
“No, thanks,” I say, waving my hand. “I’ll call her tomorrow.”
“And please,” adds Luke, “hold all calls to our room, until further notice.”
“Very well,” says the concierge with a twinkle. “Good night, sir. Good night, ma’am.”
We travel up in the lift, grinning stupidly at each other in the mirrors — and as we arrive at our room, I realize that I’m really feeling quite drunk. My only consolation is, Luke looks completely plastered, too.
“That,” I say, as the door closes behind us, “was the best night of my life. The very best.”
“It isn’t over yet,” says Luke, coming toward me with a meaningful gleam in his eye. “I feel I need to reward you for your most insightful comments, Miss Bloomwood. You were right. All work and no play…” He starts to pull my Vera Wang straps gently down off my shoulders. “Makes Jack…” he murmurs against my skin. “A very…”
And suddenly we’re tumbling down onto the bed together, and his mouth is on mine, and my mind is wheeling with alcohol and delight. As he’s pulling off his shirt, I catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror. I stare at my intoxicated, happy self for an instant, and hear a voice inside saying: remember this moment forever. Remember this moment, Becky, because right now, life is perfect.
The rest is a haze of drunken, blurry pleasure, drifting into oblivion. The last thing I remember is Luke kissing me on the eyelids and telling me to sleep well and that he loves me. That’s the last thing.
And then, like a car crash, it happens.
AT FIRST, I don’t realize anything is wrong. I wake up feeling extremely bleary — to see Luke handing me a cup of tea.