“We should never have told her about that,” she murmurs, rubbing her brow. “We should
“Lara, darling.” Mum sighs. “That was very different; we’d been together three years, we were engaged-”
“I know!” I say defensively. “I know it was different. I’m just saying, people do sometimes get back together. It does
“Lara, you’ve always been a romantic soul-” begins Dad.
“I’m not romantic!” I exclaim, as though this is a deadly insult. I’m staring at the carpet, rubbing the pile with my toe, but in my peripheral vision I can see Mum and Dad, each mouthing vigorously at the other to speak next. Mum’s shaking her head and pointing at Dad as though to say, “You go!”
“When you break up with someone,” Dad starts again in an awkward rush, “it’s easy to look backward and think life would be perfect if you got back together. But-”
He’s going to tell me how life is an escalator. I have to head him off, quick.
“Dad. Listen. Please.” Somehow I muster my calmest tones. “You’ve got it all wrong. I don’t want to get back together with Josh.” I try to sound as if this is a ridiculous idea. “That’s not why I texted him. I just wanted
Mum and Dad are surreptitiously mouthing at each other again. I should put them out of their misery.
“Anyway, you mustn’t worry about me,” I say hastily. “Because I have moved on. I mean, OK, maybe I haven’t moved on
My smile is pasted on my face. I feel like I’m chanting the mantra of some wacky cult. I should be wearing robes and banging a tambourine.
Dad and Mum exchange looks. I have no idea whether they believe me, but at least I’ve given us all a way out of this sticky conversation.
“That’s the spirit!” Dad says, looking relieved. “Well done, Lara, I knew you’d get there. And you’ve got the business with Natalie to focus on, which is obviously going tremendously well…”
My smile becomes even more cultlike.
With a resentful sigh I get to my feet and drag myself into my bedroom. It’s a beautiful sunshiny day. And I get to spend it at a hideous family occasion involving a dead 105-year-old person. Sometimes life really sucks.
As we pull up in the drab little car park of the Potters Bar Funeral Center, I notice a small crowd of people outside a side door. Then I see the glint of a TV camera and a fluffy microphone bobbing above people’s heads.
“What’s going on?” I peer out the car window. “Something to do with Uncle Bill?”
“Probably.” Dad nods.
“I think someone’s doing a documentary about him,” Mum puts in. “Trudy mentioned it. For his book.”
This is what happens when one of your relations is a celebrity. You get used to TV cameras being around. And people saying, when you introduce yourself, “Lington? Any relation to Lingtons Coffee, ha ha?” and them being gobsmacked when you say, “Yes.”
My uncle Bill is
Two Little Coins
Of course, I’ve read it from cover to cover. It’s all about how he was down to his last twenty pence and bought a coffee and it tasted so terrible it gave him the idea to run coffee shops. So he opened one and started a chain, and now he pretty much owns the world. His nickname is “The Alchemist,” and according to some article last year, the entire business world would like to know the secrets of his success.
That’s why he started his Two Little Coins seminars. I secretly went to one a few months ago. Just in case I could get some tips on running a brand-new business. There were two hundred people there, all lapping up every word, and at the end we had to hold two coins up in the air and say, “This is my beginning.” It was totally cheesy and embarrassing, but everyone around me seemed really inspired. Personally speaking, I was listening hard all the way through and I
But she calmed down when I explained I was going into partnership with my best friend, Natalie. And that Natalie was a top executive headhunter and would be fronting the business at first while I did the admin and marketing and learned the skills of headhunting myself. And that we already had several contracts lined up and would pay off the bank loan in no time.