Shopaholic takes manhattan – part 16

I DON’T DECIDE straight away. It takes me about two weeks of pacing around the flat, drinking
Endless cups of coffee, talking to my parents, Suze, Michael, my old boss Philip, this new television agent
Cassandra. . . basically everyone I can think of. But in the end I know. I know in my heart what I really
Want to do.
Luke hasn’t called – and to be honest, I shouldn’t think I’ll ever speak to him again. Michael says he’s
Working about seventeen hours a day – trying simultaneously to salvage Brandon Communications and
Keep interest open in the States – and is very stressed indeed. Apparently he still hasn’t got over the
Shock of discovering that Alicia was plotting against him – and that Bank of London was still considering
Moving with her. The shock of discovering he wasn’t “immune to shit,” as Michael so poetically put it.
“That’s the trouble

with having the whole world love you,” he said to me the other day. “One day, you
Wake up and it’s flirting with your best friend instead. And you don’t know what to do. You’re thrown.”
“So – has Luke been thrown by all this?” I asked, twisting my fingers into a knot.
“Thrown?” exclaimed Michael. “He’s been hurled across the paddock and trampled on by a herd of
Wild boar.”
Several times I’ve picked up the phone with a sudden longing to speak to him. But then I’ve always
Taken a deep breath and put it down again. That’s his life now. I’ve got to get on with mine. My whole
New life.
There’s a sound at the door, and I look round. Suze is standing in the doorway, staring into my empty
Room.
“Oh, Bex,” she says miserably. “I don’t like it. Put it all back. Make it messy again.”
“At least it’s all feng shui now,” I say, attempting a smile. “It’ll probably bring you loads of luck.”
She comes in and walks across the empty carpet to the window, then turns round.
“It seems smaller,” she says slowly. “It should look bigger without all your clutter, shouldn’t it? But
Somehow. . . it doesn’t work like that. It looks like a nasty bare little box.”
There’s silence for a while as I watch a tiny spider climbing up the windowpane.
“Have you decided what you’re going to do with it?” I say at last. “Are you going to get a new
Flatmate?”
“I don’t think so,” says Suze. “I mean, there’s no rush, is there. Tarkie said why not just have it as my
Office for a while.”
“Did he?” I turn to look at her with raised eyebrows. “That reminds me. Did I hear Tarquin here again
Last night? And creeping out this morning?”
“No,” says Suze, looking flustered. “I mean – yes.” She catches my eye and blushes. “But it was
Completely the last ever time. Ever.”
“You make such a lovely couple,” I say, grinning at her.
“Don’t say that!” she exclaims in horror. “We’re not a couple.”
“OK,” I say, relenting. “Whatever.” I look at my watch. “You know, we ought to be going.”
“Yes. I suppose so. Oh, Bex – “
I look at Suze – and her eyes are suddenly full of tears.
“I know.” I squeeze her hand tightly and for a moment neither of us says anything. Then I reach for my
Coat. “Come on.”

We walk along to the King George pub at the end of the road. We make our way through the bar and
Up a flight of wooden stairs to a large private room furnished with red velvet curtains, a bar, and lots of
Trestle tables set up on both sides.



Shopaholic takes manhattan – part 16