Derek Smeath.

I promised to be there. I promised. And here I am, with half an hour to go, all the way over at the Ritz. Oh God. What am I going to do?

I switch off the TV, bury my head in my hands, and try to think calmly and rationally. OK, if I got going straight away, I might make it. If I got dressed as quickly as possible, and ran downstairs and jumped in a taxi — I might just make it. Fulham’s not that far away. And I could be a quarter of an hour late, couldn’t I? We could still have the meeting. It could still happen.

In theory, it could still happen.

“Hi,” says Luke, putting his head round the bathroom door. He’s got a white towel wrapped round his body, and a few drops of water are glistening on his shoulders. I never even noticed his shoulders last night, I think, staring at them. God, they’re bloody sexy. In fact, all in all, he’s pretty damn. .

“Rebecca? Is everything OK?”

“Oh,” I say, starting slightly. “Yes, everything’s great. Lovely! Oh, and guess what? I just bought the most wonderful. .”

And then for some reason I stop myself midstream.

I’m not exactly sure why.

“Just. . having breakfast,” I say instead, and gesture to the room-service tray. “Delicious.”

A faintly puzzled look passes over Luke’s face, and he disappears back into the bathroom. OK, quick, I tell myself. What am I doing to do? Am I going to get dressed and go? Am I going to make the meeting?

But my hand’s already reaching for my bag as though it’s got a will of its own; I’m pulling out a business card and punching a number into the phone.

Because, I mean, we don’t actually need to have a meeting, do we? I’m going to send him a nice big check.

And I’d probably never make it in time, anyway.

And he probably won’t even mind. He’s probably got loads of other stuff he’d prefer to be doing instead.

“Hello?” I say into the phone, and feel a tingle of pleasure as Luke comes up behind me and begins to nuzzle my ear. “Hello, yes. I’d. . I’d like to leave a message for Mr. Smeath.”

FINE FRAMES LTD.

The happy home working family

230A Burnside Road, Leeds L6 4ST

Ms. Rebecca Bloomwood

Flat 24 Burney Rd.London SW6 8FD

7 April 2000

Dear Rebecca: I write to acknowledge receipt of 136 completed Fine Frames (“Sherborne” style — blue). Thank you very much for your fine work. A check for £272 is enclosed, together with an application form for your next frame-making pack.Our quality control manager, Mrs. Sandra Rowbotham, has asked me to inform you that she was extremely impressed with the quality of your first batch. Novices rarely come up to the exacting standards of the Fine Frames Quality Promise — it is clear you have a natural gift for frame-making.I would therefore like to invite you to come and demonstrate your technique at our next Framemakers’ Convention, to be held in Wilmslow on June 21. This is an occasion when all the members of the Fine Frames homeworking family gather under one roof, with a chance to exchange frame-making tips and anecdotes. It’s a lot of fun, believe me!We very much look forward to hearing from you.Happy frame-making!Malcolm Headley Managing Director

P.S. Are you the same Rebecca Bloomwood who gives advice on Morning Coffee?

ENDWICH BANK

FULHAM BRANCH 3 Fulham Road

London SW6 9JH

Ms. Rebecca Bloomwood

Flat 24 Burney Rd.London SW6 8FD

10 April 2000

Dear Ms. Bloomwood: Thank you for your recent deposit of £1,000.Bearing in mind the relatively healthy state of your current account at the present time, I suggest that we might postpone our meeting for the moment.However, be assured that I shall be keeping a close eye on the situation and will be in touch, should matters change in any way.With best wishes.Yours sincerely, Derek Smeath Manager

P.S. I look forward to your next performance on Morning Coffee.

ENDWICH — BECAUSE WE CARE

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