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Authors: Jenny Colgan

Amanda's Wedding (25 page)

BOOK: Amanda's Wedding
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‘All of it.'

‘Which weekend?'

‘The one before Christmas,' she explained patiently.

Oh. Speak in sentences, you dozy cow.

‘OK. OK, fine.'

That was the weekend of the wedding, so I supposed we'd be away anyway, somehow or other. But what on earth was Linda up to? Her actually doing something threatened the stability of my already fragile view of the universe.

‘What are you up to?' I asked her.

She stared at me, stood up abruptly from the table and walked out. Great.

I couldn't face washing up the scrambled egg pan, so I left it and limped into work.

‘Ey up, snoots.' I bumped into Steve coming in. ‘You been in the wars, then?'

I groaned. ‘You should see the other guy. And he was a Cockney.'

‘Yeah, right. You'd be dead.'

‘Actually, now I think about it, that's true. I'd rather kill myself than have physical contact with a Cockney.'

I walked into the office, and got a huge sense of
déjà vu
. Sitting on my desk was another cheap bouquet; and there was another crying jag from my next-door neighbour.

‘What's the matter now?' I said brusquely, dumping the flowers in the bin.

‘I thought they were for me.'

‘Do you want them?' I looked at them in the bin, now covered in banana skin and old plastic coffee cups.

‘No. Aren't you even going to read the card?'

‘I can predict the card.' Nonetheless, I took a quick peek.

‘Sorry about your ankle, pumpkin. Can I see you tonight? I'll pick you up,' it said.

‘Fuck off,' I said sourly, and plumped myself down on the stool. The phone rang.

‘Fuck off,' I said again, and picked up all the unopened post that was spilling over my in-tray.

The phone rang fourteen times that morning. Each time I swore at it and concentrated on what I was doing instead. Finally, Janie leaned over and said quietly, ‘You know, you could put that on voice mail, then you wouldn't even have to hear it ring.'

It pissed me off that that was such an eminently reasonable suggestion, so I just said ‘huh,' and went back to being in a big sulk.

At lunch time the receptionist put her head round the open-plan office door.

‘Melanie Pepper!' she shrieked.

I tentatively put my hand up.

‘You're not answering your phone!'

Stop shrieking at me! I stood up carefully.

‘There's someone here to see you in reception.'

Jesus. ‘Is it a man?'

‘It sure is.'

‘Can you … tell him I'm on a business trip?'

‘You ain't on no business trip!'

‘No, but could you tell him that?'

‘You can come right upstairs and tell him yourself.'

‘How can I …? Oh, forget it, never mind.'

The receptionist had already retreated up the stairs. I followed slowly, trying to figure out a strategy. The bastard. He was going to pay, the selfish bastard.

Fraser stood nervously at the top of the stairs, pretending to admire our annual report. He looked tense. If it were an earlier age, he'd have been playing with his top hat and gloves.

I stood looking at him for a second, then crept up behind him.

‘Don't tell me: you're a masochist,' I said suddenly. Startled, he turned round, then smiled shyly.


‘What are you doing here?'

‘Well, Angus gave me your work address …'

‘You spoke to Angus? What did he say?'

‘I'll tell you in a minute. Would you like to go to lunch? I work quite near here. Anyway, there's a little Italian around the corner …'

‘I know it,' I said. ‘Yes, please.'

Steve was crossing the reception area.

‘Hey, Steve, can you tell Flavi I've gone out for lunch?'

‘Blow it out your arse.'


Fraser looked quizzical. ‘One of those informal offices?'

‘Something like that.'

The Italian was busy and smelled wonderful. I remembered that I hadn't had any dinner the night before, and the scrambled eggs were a few hours
away, so I ordered spaghetti carbonara. And some garlic bread. With cheese. And minestrone soup. And a glass of wine.

‘How's the ankle? Angus told me.'

‘Much better, thanks. So, what happened between you two? Tell me everything.'

Fraser eyed me munching my way through the garlic bread. ‘Well, you seem in good shape.'

I grimaced. ‘Did you come over to see if I was still a snivelling wretch or not?'

‘Something like that. Angus asked me to pop in and see if you were OK. He was worried about you, and he knew I worked nearby – you know the Xyler building?'

‘The big pinky-coloured one? Yes, I know it, that's just across the road. Huh! And I thought you'd flown in to whisk me off to some glamorous lunch.'

‘This isn't glamorous?'

We heard two of the waiters having a loud disagreement in Italian through the multicoloured plastic strips of door covering.

‘Well, you know, for those of us more used to the delights of Quagli's …'

‘Ha ha.'

He took some bread and mopped up the remnants of my soup with it.

‘So, tell me,' I said, agog to know how they'd managed to make it up.

‘Really, it was nothing. The Gustard and I fight all the time.'

‘That's not what he said.'

‘Oh yes, sure,
Star Wars
figures and, you know, all the usual stuff.'

‘Girls?' I asked him mischievously.

He grinned.

‘You're feeling better, all right. No, we don't usually fight about girls.'

‘Except this one.'

He misunderstood.

‘Who, you?'

‘Ehm, no … Amanda.'

‘Oh, right, I see what you mean.'

Momentarily embarrassed, we looked around in a flurry for our waiter.

A steaming plate of pasta was put in front of me, and I inhaled greedily.

‘So, what did you say?' I urged.

‘We made up. You're never going to eat all that.'

‘Watch me, skinny boy.'

‘He came round late last night after you'd gone, and apologized. Actually, I think he was more worried about you than me.'

‘That was just a cover. Boy thing.'

‘Hmm. Anyway, he took it all back, blah blah blah, promised not to mention the wedding any more, etcetera, etcetera.'

‘Right.' I felt perversely disappointed.

‘You're pissed off with him, aren't you?'


‘It's OK, you know.' He smiled. ‘I don't mind if you don't want me to get married.'

‘It's not that,' I protested, lying. ‘I just don't want
you to get married to her.'

‘Ah, so you admit it.'

‘Of course I admit it. I'm sorry. Please don't hate me.'

‘I don't hate you. I told you already. And, anyway, I listened to the rest of the tape.'

‘Oh shit, did you?'

‘Don't worry, I forgive you for what you said about my castle.'

‘Your big pile of rocks.'


I toyed with my pasta.

‘Don't marry her, Frase. It's only money.'

I realized I'd said the wrong thing again, but he took it all right.

‘God, if it's not one thing it's the other with you two. Now suddenly, I'm the bastard. She's fine and I'm a money-grabbing bastard, marrying for the wrong reasons.'

‘I'm sorry! I always say the wrong thing.'

‘Forget it. I'm boring myself to death with this damn wedding business. Mel, please, we've been friends for a long time. Can you promise to stop going on at me, like Angus did?'

I thought about it. ‘What, just because it's none of my business?'

He nodded.

‘OK. Seeing as it's you. And we've been friends for such a long time. Apart from the five years in the middle when we lost touch.'

He held out his hands. ‘You vanished. One moment
you were being a bit pissed at Graduation, next thing you phone up out of the blue five years later.'

I never had been able to say goodbye.

‘OK then. I promise.'

Having finished his lasagne, he launched into my spaghetti.

‘Don't you get fed at home?'

‘Not really. Less than five milligrams of fat a week until the wedding.'

‘See, you started it! Less than two seconds that lasted! Wedding, wedding, wedding. Here, help yourself.'

He smiled sadly, and I felt awful. I mean, what did we think we were playing at, with tape recorders and all that shit? This was someone's life we were fucking around with.

Whenever I get into one of those arguments about nature over nurture – which isn't that often, to be honest, as I don't seem to see my genetical ethicist biology friends so much these days – I always bring up my overwhelming desire to feed people I feel a bit sorry for, despite my absolute lack of culinary ability, and think about my mother.

‘Do you want to come round to dinner?' I asked him. Damn genes.

Fraser of course has known me for a while and looked up from my plate, where he was gulping down pasta.

‘Are you feeling sorry for me?'

‘No, definitely not. Definitely, definitely not. In fact, I've been planning it for ages.'

‘Really? Who were you thinking of inviting?'

‘Well …' – fuck! – ‘you're guest of honour, you choose.'

‘God. How amazing. You're having a big dinner party?'


‘With all of us?'

‘Who's us?'

‘You, me, Amanda and Angus.'

‘I'm not sure about that definition of “us”. But yes, why not?'

‘Oh, can I bring Nash? He'll be down. McLachlan … kind of resigned as my best man, so I'm asking him instead.'

‘Wow. Yes, sure.'

‘And Amanda will want to bring one of her bridesmaids.'

‘Don't push it.'

‘I'm sorry, I thought you were doing a big thing.'

‘I am. Ehm, can you make it be Mookie then?'

‘I cannot for the life of me tell them apart. Why that one?'

‘No reason.'

‘Is she the one on the end of the tape who sounds like Bagpuss?'


‘I thought so.'

He looked at me and smiled.

‘Are you sure you want to put yourself to all this trouble?'

‘What, just shopping, cooking, serving and washing up for six? How hard can it be? I made scrambled
eggs this morning.'

‘Well – what a nice surprise! Thank you. It's really kind.'

I beamed.

‘Ehm, can I ask you something?'

Uh oh. Not another one of those.

‘Just out of interest …' he leaned over the table, ‘what exactly is going on between you and my wee brother?'

I was genuinely shocked.


‘That's what he says. Which means one of you must be lying.'

‘Thank you, Socrates.'

‘Aw, go on. Tell me.'

‘There's precisely nothing going on. I'm seeing someone.'

‘Angus says he's a bastard.'

‘Angus seems to think he has the last word on everyone's relationships around here.'

Fraser smiled. ‘Well, yes. But do you like him?'

‘Your wee brother?'


‘Why, what's he said?'


‘Fine. I'm not saying anything either.'

‘So you do.'

‘Piss off, piss off, piss off!'

‘Oh my God. You really like him.'

‘Look, shut up,' I said. ‘Truthfully, I don't know who or what I like at the moment. Everything is so
fucked up. Everyone goes out with the wrong people. Everything's so mixed up at the moment. Alex is driving me crazy, but what's the difference between that and your brother driving me crazy? So, maybe you were right just now when you said that maybe we should all keep our heads in our own affairs.'

BOOK: Amanda's Wedding
9.02Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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