I just can’t stop smiling about it. I’ve been floating along ever since they told me. So the point is, I’ll easily be able to pay all these bills off now. My VISA bill, and my Octagon bill, and the money I owe Suze — and everything! Finally, finally my life is going to be sorted.
“So, why did you just disappear like that?” asks Suze, coming back out of the kitchen and making me jump. “What was wrong?”
“I don’t really know,” I say with a sigh, putting the letters back down on the hall table. “I just had to get away and think. I was all confused.”
“Because of Tarquin?” says Suze at once, and I feel myself stiffen apprehensively.
“Partly,” I say after a pause, and swallow. “Why? Has he—”
“I know you’re not that keen on Tarkie,” says Suze wistfully, “but I think he still really likes you. He came round a couple of nights ago and left you this letter.”
She gestures to a cream envelope stuck in the mirror. With slightly trembling hands I take it. Oh God, what’s he going to say? I hesitate, then rip it open, and a ticket falls onto the floor.
“The opera!” says Suze, picking it up. “Day after tomorrow.” She looks up. “God, it’s lucky you came back, Bex.” My dear Rebecca, I’m reading incredulously. Forgive my reticence in contacting you before. But the more I think about it, the more I realize how much I enjoyed our evening together and how much I would like to repeat it.I enclose a ticket for Die Meistersinger at the Opera House. I shall be attending in any case and if you were able to join me, I would be delighted.Yours very sincerely,Tarquin Cleath-Stuart.
“Oh, Bex, you must go!” says Suze, reading over my shoulder. “You’ve got to go. He’ll be devastated if you don’t. I really think he likes you.”
I look at the ticket, for two nights’ time. “Gala Performance,” it says, and I feel a sudden excitement. I’ve never been to an opera gala! I could wear that divine Ghost dress which I’ve never had a chance to wear, and I could put my hair up, and meet lots of amazing people. .
And then, abruptly, I stop. However much fun it would be — it wouldn’t be fair or honest to go. I’ve hurt Tarquin enough.
“I can’t go, Suze,” I say, thrusting the letter down. “I’ve. . I’ve got plans that night.”
“But what about poor Tarkie?” says Suze, crestfallen. “He’s so keen on you. .”
“I know,” I say, and take a deep breath. “But I’m not keen on him. I’m really sorry, Suze. . but that’s the truth. If I could change the way I felt. .”
There’s a short silence.
“Oh well,” says Suze at last. “Never mind. You can’t help it.” She disappears into the kitchen and emerges a minute later with two mugs of coffee. “So,” she says, handing me one, “what are you up to tonight? Shall we go out together?”
“Sorry, I can’t,” I say, and clear my throat. “I’ve got a business meeting.”
“Really?” Suze pulls a face. “What a bummer!” She sips at her coffee and leans against the door frame. “Who on earth has business meetings in the evening, anyway?”
“It’s. . it’s with Luke Brandon,” I say, trying to sound unconcerned. But it’s no good, I can feel myself starting to blush.
“Luke Brandon?” says Suze puzzledly. “But what—” She stares at me, and her expression slowly changes. “Oh no. Bex! Don’t tell me. .”
“It’s just a business meeting,” I say, avoiding her eye. “That’s all. Two businesspeople meeting up and talking about business. In a. . in a business situation. That’s all.”
And I hurry off to my room.
Business meeting. Clothes for a business meeting. OK, let’s have a look.
I pull all my outfits out of the wardrobe and lay them on the bed. Blue suit, black suit, pink suit. Hopeless. Pinstriped suit? Hmm. Maybe overdoing it. Cream suit. . too weddingy. Green suit. . isn’t that bad luck or something?
“So what are you going to wear?” says Suze, looking in through my open bedroom door. “Are you going to buy something new?” Her face lights up. “Hey, shall we go shopping?”
“Shopping?” I say distractedly. “Ahm. . maybe.”
Somehow today. . Oh, I don’t know. I almost feel too tense to go shopping. Too keyed up. I don’t think I’d be able to give it my full attention.
“Bex, did you hear me?” says Suze in surprise. “I said, shall we go shopping?”