Number 31, reads the caption. Age 32. Estimated wealth: £10 million. Scarily intelligent entrepreneur. Lives in Chelsea; currently dating Sacha de Bonneville, daughter of the French billionaire.
I don’t want to know this. Why would I be interested in who Luke Brandon is dating? Not remotely interested.
Sacha. Sacha, with her million-pound suitcase and perfect figure and whole wardrobe full of Prada. She’ll have immaculate nails, won’t she? Of course she will. And hair that never goes wrong. And some really sexy French accent, and incredibly long legs. .
Anyway, I’m not interested. Savagely I flip the page backward and start reading about Number 17, who sounds much nicer.
Dave Kington. Age 28. Estimated wealth: £20 million. Former striker for Manchester United, now management guru and sportswear entrepreneur. Lives in Hertfordshire, recently split from girlfriend, model Cherisse.
And anyway, Luke Brandon’s boring. Everyone says so. All he does is work. Obsessed with money, probably.
Number 16, Ernest Flight. Age 52. Estimated wealth: £22 million. Chairman and major shareholder of the Flight Foods Corporation. Lives in Nottinghamshire, recently divorced from third wife Susan.
I don’t even think he’s that good-looking. Too tall. And he probably doesn’t go to the gym or anything. Too busy. He’s probably hideous underneath his clothes.
Number 15, Tarquin Cleath-Stuart. Age 26. Estimated wealth: £25 million. Landowner since inheriting family estate at age 19. V. publicity-shy. Lives in Perthshire and London with old nanny; currently single.
Anyway, what kind of man buys luggage as a present? I mean, a suitcase, for God’s sake, when he had the whole of Harrods to choose from. He could have bought his girlfriend a necklace, or some clothes. Or he could have. . He could have. .
Hang on a moment, what was that?
What was that?
No. That can’t be— Surely that’s not—
And suddenly, I can’t breathe. I can’t move. My entire frame is concentrated on the blurry picture in front of me. Tarquin Cleath-Stuart? Tarquin Suze’s-Cousin? Tarquin?
Tarquin. . has. . twenty-five. . million. . pounds?
I think I’m going to pass out, if I can ever ungrip my hand from this page. I’m staring at the fifteenth richest bachelor in Britain — and I know him.
Not only do I know him, I’m having dinner with him tomorrow night.
oh. my. god.
I’m going to be a millionairess. A multimillionairess. I knew it. Didn’t I know it? I knew it. Tarquin’s going to fall in love with me and ask me to marry him and we’ll get married in a gorgeous Scottish castle just like in Four Weddings (except with nobody dying on us).
Of course, I’ll love him, too. By then.
I know I haven’t exactly been attracted to him in the past. . but it’s all a matter of willpower, isn’t it? I bet that’s what most long-term successful couples would say counts in a relationship. Willpower and a desire to make it work. Both of which I absolutely have. You know what? I actually fancy him more already. Well, not exactly fancy. . but just the thought of him makes me feel all excited, which must mean something, mustn’t it?
It’s going to happen. I’m going to be Mrs. Tarquin Cleath-Stuart and have £25 million.
And what will Derek Smeath say then? Hah!
“D’you want a cup of tea?” says Suze, putting down the phone. “Charlie’s such a poppet. He’s going to feature me in Britain’s Up-and-Coming-Talent.”
“Excellent,” I say vaguely, and clear my throat. “Just. . just looking at Tarquin here.”
I have to check. I have to check there isn’t some other Tarquin Cleath-Stuart. Please God, please let me be going out with the rich one.
“Oh yes,” says Suze casually. “He’s always in those things.” She runs her eyes down the text and shakes her head. “God, they always exaggerate everything. Twenty-five million pounds!”
My heart stops.
“Hasn’t he got £25 million, then?” I says carelessly.
“Oh, no!” She laughs as though the idea’s ridiculous. “The estate’s worth about. . Oh, I don’t know, £18 million.”
Eighteen million pounds. Well, that’ll do. That’ll do nicely.
“These magazines!” I say, and roll my eyes sympathetically.
“Earl Grey?” says Suze, getting up. “Or normal?”
“Earl Grey,” I say, even though I actually prefer Typhoo. Because I’d better start acting posh, hadn’t I, if I’m going to be the girlfriend of someone called Tarquin Cleath-Stuart.