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Authors: Debbie Viggiano

Lipstick and Lies (29 page)

BOOK: Lipstick and Lies
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Morag stuck her head around the curtain.
‘How are you doing?
Oh yes
!
V
ery glam Cass.
What a transformation.
A good dollop of slap and you’ll look like a celebrity when you walk into the
Oxo
Tower
tonight.’

I beamed with pleasure.

And I see you’ve found something too,’ I nodded at the sparkly fabric adorning Morag’s shoulder.
‘Let me see the rest of
it
.’

Morag
swished the curtain all the way back
,
and
joined me in my
changing cubicle.

‘Not too short is it?’
she
twirled this way
and that, admiring
her reflection
in
the
mirror.

‘Wow,’ I sucked in my breath.
The hemline seemed to be just
below
Morag’s
bust.
‘Are you sure it’s not a top?’

Morag
continued to
twist left
and right.
‘No,
definitely a dress.’

‘I don’t think it does you justice,’
I said carefully
.

‘You’re right.
I think I’ll try on the purple bandage dress I saw on the Whistles rail.
Won’t be a mo.’

Several hours later, having
finally
exhausted our cash, we beetled back along the motorway
,
and in no time at all were at the stables.
I transferred my shopping bags into the back of the Muck Truck, found Jamie and Eddie and, after another very quick coffee with Matt and Morag, we gathered the rest of th
e children up and headed home.

But
as we drew close to
Lilac Lodge
, the
driveway
was
blocked by a transporter.
P
erched askance, in all its ramshackle glory, was a boat.
Although from thi
s angle it looked more like an ocean liner
.
E
dna and Arthur
stood
on the driveway
, feet planted wide.
Arthur gave the driver the thumbs up as the vehicle cleared the gatepost by a millimetre
.

‘Bloody hell,’ I muttered.

‘I don’t think that’s going to fit into th
e garage,’ Jamie said faintly.

I slid out of the car.
‘I’ll leave you to assist them darling.
I must
crack on and
get the kids fed
.
I want time to get ready for this evening
.’
 

And so it was that a couple of hours later I found myself once again slipping into Jamie’s BMW X5
,
and heading towards
Greenwich
.
We were to leave our car in Ethan’s underground car park
,
and then transfer to a taxi which would take us to the South Bank of the River Thames.
For once I was pleased with my appearance.
The cat
’s
claw marks on my scalp and forehead had healed enough for a coating of foundation
.
My skin actually looked
flawless.
My recently highlighted hair fell like a waterfall over my shoulders
.
A
nd, thanks to a dress that had cost an eye-watering amount of money, I appeared
to have a bootylicious figure.

‘By the way,’ said Jamie interrupting my thoughts, ‘I just want to say that I’d like you to wear that dress all the time.
Morn
ing, noon and night.’

‘Why’s that?’

‘Because you look so da
mn good in it,’ Jamie grinned.

‘It wouldn’t last five minutes with Eddie on my hip.
I hope Edna doesn’t feel too put upon with all this exte
nded babysitting she’s doing.’

‘Of course she doesn’t,’ Jamie
said
dismiss
ively
.

‘I’m not so sure.
She looked like she was itching to roll up her sleeves and s
tart on the boat restoration.’

‘Ah yes.
The boat.
I didn’t realise Mum and Arthur had got themselves a scaled d
own version of HMY Britannia.’

I giggled.
‘It’s a good thing our garage is th
e size of an aircraft hangar.’

‘You’re not kidding.
Here we are,’ Jamie slowed down and indicated right.
An oncoming car gave way and flashed him to proceed.
Suddenly the X5 was purring into the
familiar u
nderground car park.
As if on cue, Ethan and Selina appeared from the lift and strolled over.
I realised that a private taxi was already parked and waiting for us.
After initial greetings – reserved on Ethan’s part and overly enthusiastic on Selina’s – we settled into a Mercedes.
Ethan plumped for the front passenger seat.
I found myself wedged between Selina and Jamie in the back.
It wasn’t a comfortable ride.
In more ways than one.

 

Chapter Thirteen

 

I was glad to leave the confines of the Mercedes.
Selina had been wearing a cloying perfume that had intoxicated my senses
,
but not in a pleasant way.
It reminded me of a fragrance from long ago.
Poison.
The irony
of the name wasn’t lost on me.

We took the scenic lift
– a mix of mirror and glass – to
the restaurant.
As it slowly crept up
the iconic art-
deco tower, I caught my breath at the view of the City
spread
below.
The Capital’s lights twinkled warmly.
Up on the eighth floor,
the restaurant was packed
.
Three white walls showcased one that was entirely of glass.
For miles, diners could see the banks of the River Thames, and historical landmarks like Big Ben,
Saint Paul
’s Cathedral and the immense London Eye.
A team of waiters
,
dressed in black trousers and blue shirts
,
were working flat out.
Conversation was buzzy
,
and everybody seemed to be having a good time.
I hoped our party of four would loosen up a little
,
because
conversation in the taxi had been stilted.
A waiter sho
wed us to our table.
It was set with white linen, silver cutlery and a
centrepiece
candle.
Throughout the restaurant a blue light pervaded, lending ambience to the atmosphere.
The waiter
pulled out blue leather chair
s
, and
we
sat down.

Ethan picked up a wine list.
I ran my eye over it and nearly fell off
the
chair
.
T
he dessert wine wouldn’t give much change from a
hundred pounds.


Champagne
?’
Ethan looked around the table.

‘Definitely,’ said Selina.
‘I like my fizz.’

I didn’t dare look at the price.
‘Lovely,’ I smiled.
Personally I would have preferred to hoover up a gin and tonic
.
B
ut then again
,
this wasn’t our local pub
serving chicken in a basket on a
ring-stained table.

A minion handed out menus with much bowing and scraping
,
before hastening off to fetch the bubbly.
Ethan cleared his throat.

‘I’d just like to say thank you Cass for inviting Lena over for kitchen supper while I was in
America
.
I really appreciated you looking after her
,
and ext
ending such warm hospitality.’

‘Not at all,’ I inclined
my head graciously, jaw rigid.

The waiter reappeared with the champagne, popped the cork and – to dutiful oohs and aahs
– filled long-stemmed flutes.

‘Cheers,’ Ethan raised his glass
.

A
toast to a triumphant business move – and
here’s to
many more successes.’
We all clinked glasses
,
and there was a pause while we sipped.
‘Although it’s nice to be home,’ Ethan turned to Selina, ‘and be with my beautiful fiancée again.
Did you miss me darling?’

‘Of course
,
hunny-bunny,’ Selina pouted.

‘Poor
Lena
hates her own company,’ Ethan
took another sip of champagne.


Make the most of it
,’ I smiled and picked up the menu, ‘
before the children come along
.

The champagne was
delicious
.
Obscured by the
carte du jour
,
I took a few more nifty glugs.


Lena
was so lonely the night before I came home
,
she stayed overnight with a friend,’ s
aid Ethan, ‘didn’t you angel?’


Yes.
Laura.’

I frowned.
That wasn’t right.
The night before Ethan returned to the
UK
was when Stevie had driven Selina back to
Greenwich
.
‘Really?’ I asked.

‘Yes,’
Selina said again
.
‘After a little while I couldn’t bear the four walls of the apartment.
So
I took a taxi round to
an old school friend’s place.’

‘Given the lateness of the hour
,
that
must have been
one very accommodating school friend,’ I
murmured
.

‘She is,’ Selina
gave me a level look.
Was it my imagination
,
or was she pissed off?

‘Well at least you managed to ditch Stevie without any trouble
,’ said Jamie.

I was half expecting him to do a number on you,’
my husband
guffawed with laughter.
Nobody else joined in.

‘Who’s Stevie?’ asked Ethan.
The question was said in a mild enough tone, but there was an undercurrent of surprise that an unknown male h
ad escorted his fiancée home.

‘My ex-husband,’ I informed Ethan helpfully.
‘He turned up
without warning
while Selina was with us.
He said it would be no trouble t
o pop Selina home afterwards.’

An expression of relief passed across Ethan’s face.
‘Then you must thank him for me Cass.
Lives local to
Greenwich
does he?’

‘No,’ I smiled cheerfully
,
and disappeared
behind my menu.
In my peripheral vision I was aware of Selina giving me a murderous look.
Good.
Serve you right
after
inviting yourself into my home, sucking up to my kids, flirting with my mother-in-law and cuckolding your kind fiancée while you bonked my
love rat
of an ex-husband.
I was aware the champagne was
now
hitting its spot very nicely.
I’d better watch my consumption.
It was all very well making Selina edgy
,
but I didn’t want my mouth giving me away.
Jamie had no idea about Stevie ringing
Matt’s
stables for a horsy day out with Selina tomorrow, or later cancelling it to go riding elsewhere.
Nor did Selina know that she’d been rumbled by Detectives Harding and Mackerel.
I put my glass down
,
and pretended to study the menu.
Selina leant across the table to inspect the cocktail list.
Her wrist caught the end of my champagne flut
e and it wobbled precariously.

BOOK: Lipstick and Lies
2.15Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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