“Luggage,” I explain. “It’s not an area I’ve put a lot of time into. I should have done, I know, but. .”
“Well. . never mind,” says Luke, his mouth twisting into a smile. “As a nonexpert, which one would you choose?”
Well, that’s different.
“Hmm,” I say, and get to my feet in a businesslike manner. “Well, let’s have a closer look.”
God, we have fun. We line up eight suitcases in a row, and give them marks for looks, heaviness, quality of lining, number of interior pockets, and efficiency of wheels. (I test this by striding the length of the department, pulling the case behind me. By this time, the assistant has just given up and left us to it.) Then we look to see if they have a matching holdall and give that marks, too.
The prices don’t seem to matter to Luke. Which is a bloody good thing, because they’re astronomical — and at first sight, so scary, they make me want to run away. But it’s amazing how quickly £1,000 can start to seem like a very reasonable sum for a suitcase — especially since the Louis Vuitton monogrammed trunk costs about ten times as much. In fact, after a while I find myself thinking quite seriously that I too should really invest in a quality suitcase, instead of my battered old canvas bag.
But today is Luke’s shopping trip, not mine. And, strangely enough, it’s almost more fun choosing for someone else than for yourself. In the end, we narrow it down to a dark green leather case, which has wonderful trundly wheels, or the palest beige calfskin case, which is a bit heavier, but has a stunning silk lining and is so soft, I can’t stop running my fingers over it. And it has a matching holdall and vanity case — and they’re just as beautiful. God, if it were me, I’d. .
But then, it’s not up to me, is it? It’s Luke who’s buying the case. He’s the one who’s got to choose. We sit down on the floor, side by side, and look at them.
“The green one would be more practical,” says Luke eventually.
“Mmm,” I say noncommittally. “I suppose it would.”
“It’s lighter — and the wheels are better.”
“And that pale calfskin would probably scuff in a matter of minutes. Green’s a more sensible color.”
“Mmm,” I say, trying to sound as though I agree with him.
He gives me a quizzical look and says, “Right, well, I think we’ve made our choice, don’t you?” And, still sitting on the floor, he calls over the assistant.
“Yes, sir?” says the assistant, and Luke nods at him.
“I’d like to buy one of these pale beige suitcases, please.”
“Oh!” I say, and I can’t stop a smile of delight spreading over my face. “You’re getting the one I liked best!”
“Rule of life,” says Luke, getting to his feet and brushing down his trousers. “If you bother to ask someone’s advice, then bother to listen to it.”
“But I didn’t say which one. .”
“You didn’t have to,” says Luke, reaching out a hand to pull me to my feet. “Your mmms gave it all away.”
His hand is surprisingly strong round mine, and as he pulls me up, I feel a slight swooping in my stomach. He smells nice, too. Some expensive aftershave, which I don’t recognize. For a moment, neither of us says anything.
“Right,” says Luke at last. “Well, I’d better pay for it, I suppose.”
“Yes,” I say, suddenly feeling ridiculously nervous. “Yes, I suppose you had.”
He walks off to the checkout and starts talking to the assistant, and I perch next to a display of leather suit-carriers, suddenly feeling a bit awkward. I mean, what happens next?
Well, we’ll just say good-bye politely, won’t we? Luke’ll probably have to get back to the office. He can’t hang around shopping all day. And if he asks me what I’m doing next, I tell myself, I really will say I’m busy. I’ll pretend I’ve got some important meeting arranged or something.
“All sorted out,” he says, coming back. “Rebecca, I’m incredibly grateful to you for your help.”
“Great!” I say brightly. “Well, I must be on my—”
“So I was wondering,” says Luke, before I can continue. “Would you like some lunch?”
This is turning into my perfect day. Shopping at Harrods, and lunch at Harvey Nichols. I mean, what could be better than that? We go straight up to the Fifth Floor restaurant, and Luke orders a bottle of chilled white wine and raises his glass in a toast.
“To luggage,” he says, and smiles.