It had been Maeve who’d insisted Katie deliver the invitations. She thought hand-delivering invitations beneath her, Katie knew, though it had been Maeve who’d promised 8 Pechey Terrace’s residents—when she’d been persuading them of the merits of her garden terrace—that they’d be invited to the launch.
‘It’s your party, Kirsty,’ she’d said, ‘I think it’s best if you deliver them.’
It’s not my party, Katie had grumbled to herself. Maeve had agreed to the carnival theme, but had assumed control of everything else, heedless of Katie’s objections.
She climbed three flights of stairs, stack of invitations in hand, starting at the top and working her way down. She left for last the flat she still thought of as home. She intended to put the invitation through the letterbox, rather than ring the doorbell—she didn’t want to see Angel—but as she crossed the landing, the door opened, and a girl she didn’t recognise came out.
‘Can I help you?’
‘I’ve got something for Angel,’ Katie stuttered. The girl had startled her.
‘I’m her flatmate,’ the girl said. ‘I can take it.’
Katie gave her the invitation. ‘I didn’t know she had a new flatmate,’ she said, but the girl was already halfway down the stairs.
‘I shouldn’t have listened to you,’ Holly complained. She was staring at the pile of papers Jemma’s solicitor had sent. They’d been sitting on the coffee table for two days.
‘I don’t see what the problem is,’ Aidan said, as he scrolled through his phone, half-listening. ‘You wanted to make sure she wasn’t on the birth certificate, didn’t you? Mission accomplished.’
‘I didn’t want to be accused of adultery!’
‘You have to give a reason to divorce. She probably couldn’t fit “I sold my wife’s pregnancy to the highest bidder without telling her” on the form.’ He’d wanted to lighten the mood, but Holly didn’t laugh.
‘She must have known,’ she said. ‘When I met her on Monday, she must have known I was about to get these, and she didn’t say anything.’
Aidan wanted to stop talking about it. It was making him uncomfortable. ‘She probably didn’t want to upset you,’ he said, just as he scrolled to something that would upset her. A photo of Jemma, her arm around Fiona, with a string of heart emojis and the caption: when friends fall in love.
Someone in the Menswear department hadn’t shown up for their shift, and so Angel had been sent to help. She was folding a pile of t-shirts when one of the Menswear assistants rushed up to her, touched her shoulder, said, ‘Can you take a medium in one of those to the fitting rooms?’ and rushed off.
When she got to the fitting rooms, there was no one in sight. ‘Was someone looking for a t-shirt?’ she called out.
‘Me,’ came the reply. One of the cubicle doors opened, and Angel saw abs. Abs and chest and shoulders and arms. Only after a good long look did she see a face. A familiar face. It was Ryan, her Ryan, stripped to the waist and smiling.
‘Hello,’ he said.
‘Hello,’ Angel replied. ‘Here,’ she said, handing him the t-shirt.
‘I didn’t know you worked here.’
Angel nodded. ‘I’m usually in Womenswear.’
Ryan shrugged the t-shirt on. ‘What do you think?’
‘I think it looks good,’ Angel smiled. ‘But I’m working on commission.’
‘I see,’ Ryan laughed. ‘In that case, you can help me take it off.’
Ibrahim had taken time off work to care for Naila. She’d woken, after her first night in the armchair, to find him asleep on the couch. He hadn’t wanted her to be alone, he’d said, and he’d slept on the couch for another three nights, until Naila was able to get comfortable in bed. Now, a week after breaking her rib, the pain had eased, and Ibrahim had gone back to work. Naila was managing to work from home, but it was a long day, alone in the flat, and when Ibrahim got back from his shift, she’d said, ‘I missed you’ before she could stop herself.
She’d been working standing up, at the kitchen counter, because it was more comfortable than sitting down. Ibrahim came towards her. ‘How are you feeling?’
‘Better,’ she said. ‘Much better.’
‘Good,’ Ibrahim said. He was standing very close, Naila noticed. Close enough to kiss her, she thought, just as he did, taking her face in his hands. When he pulled away, he was smiling. ‘I’ve been wanting to do that for a long time,’ he said.
A Quick Note:
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