Shopaholic Takes Manhattan

Page 95

“Hi!” I call. “Anyone in? I’m back.”

There’s a pause — then Suze appears at her door in a dressing gown. “Bex?” she exclaims. “I didn’t expect you back so early! Are you all right?” She comes nearer, pulling her dressing gown around her, and peers worriedly at my face. “Oh, Bex.” She bites her lip. “I don’t know what to say.”

“It’s fine,” I say. “I’m fine. Honestly.”


“Really. I’m fine.” I turn away before the sight of Suze’s anxious face reduces me to tears, and scrabble in my bag. “So anyway… I got you that Clinique stuff you asked for… and the special face stuff for your mum…” I hand the bottles to her and begin to root roughly around again. “There’s some more stuff for you in here somewhere…”

“Bex — don’t worry about it. Just come and sit down, or something.” Suze clutches the Clinique bottles to her and peers at me uncertainly. “Would you like a drink or something?”

“No!” I make myself smile. “I’m all right, Suze! I’ve decided the best thing is just to get on, and not think about what’s happened. In fact — I’d rather we didn’t talk about it at all.”

“Really?” says Suze. “Well… OK. If you’re sure that’s what you want.”

“That’s what I want.” I take a deep breath. “Really. I’m fine. So, how are you?”

“I’m OK,” says Suze, and gives me another anxious look. “Bex, you look really pale. Have you eaten anything?”

“Airplane food. You know.” I take off my coat with trembling fingers and hang it on a peg.

“Was the… the flight OK?” says Suze.

“It was great!” I say with a forced brightness. “They were showing the new Billy Crystal film.”

“Billy Crystal!” says Suze. She gives me a hesitant glance, as though I’m some psychotic patient who has to be handled carefully. “Was it a… a good film? I love Billy Crystal.”

“Yes, it was. It was a good film. I was really enjoying it, actually.” I swallow hard. “Until my earphones stopped working in the middle.”

“Oh dear!” says Suze.

“It was a really crucial bit. Everyone else on the plane was laughing away — and I couldn’t hear anything.” My voice starts to wobble treacherously. “So I… I asked this stewardess if I could have some new earphones. But she didn’t understand what I meant, and she got really ratty with me because she was trying to serve drinks… And then I didn’t want to ask her again. So I don’t quite know how the film finished. But apart from that, it was really good…” Suddenly I give a huge sob. “And you know, I can always rent it on video or something…”

“Bex!” Suze’s face crumples in dismay and she drops the Clinique bottles on the floor. “Oh God, Bex. Come here.” She envelops me in a hug, and I bury my head in her shoulder.

“Oh, it’s all awful,” I weep. “It was just so humiliating, Suze. Luke was so cross… and they canceled my screen test… and suddenly it was like… like I had some infectious disease or something. And now nobody wants to know me, and I’m not going to move to New York after all…”

I look up, wiping my eyes — and Suze’s face is all pink and distressed.

“Bex, I feel so bad,” she exclaims.

“You feel bad? Why should you feel bad?”

“It’s all my fault. I was such a moron! I let that girl from the paper in here, and she probably poked about when I was making her cup of stupid coffee. I mean, why did I have to offer her coffee? It’s all my stupid fault.”

“Of course it’s not!”

“Will you ever forgive me?”

“Will I ever forgive you?” I stare at her, my face quivering. “Suze… I should be asking you to forgive me! You tried to keep tabs on me. You tried to warn me, but I didn’t even bother to call you back… I was just so… stupid, so thoughtless…”

“No, you weren’t!”

“I was.” I give another huge sob. “I just don’t know what happened to me in New York. I went mad. Just… the shops… all these meetings… I was going to be this huge star and earn loads of money… And then it all just disappeared.”

“Oh, Bex!” Suze is practically crying herself. “I feel so terrible!”

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