Read Face Value Online

Authors: Kathleen Baird-Murray

Face Value (36 page)

BOOK: Face Value
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“I was thinking about firing her, and promoting Cynthia. What do you think?”
london
beauty note:
Dress:
Zac Posen mini. Matching underwear (just in case) by Agent Provocateur. Shoes: Roger Vivier.
Stomach
: Cream for emergency tummy firming, Bliss Love Handler.
Complexion:
SheerinO’kho First Class Flight moisturizer boosted after visit to airplane toilets (that light!) with Chanel Beauté Initial Spray Serum, enhanced with Estée Lauder DayWear Plus Multi Protection Tinted Moisturizer SPF 15.
Eyes:
Revlon Bedroom Eyes eyeliner and Benefit BADgal Lash mascara in black.
Cheeks:
Nars blush in Orgasm.
Lips:
Lipstick Queen lipstick in Nude Sinner.
Fragrance:
Jean Patou, Joy.
thirty-two
It was all going according to plan, or at least, her plane had landed on time. Flying economy hadn’t been so bad. Especially with the guilt-fueled business-class upgrade Lizbet had arranged, as soon as she’d heard Kate was insisting on flying back on her own terms and not on the company’s credit card. She’d left it open-ended with Alexis, grateful to have discovered yet another new professional term she’d been unfamiliar with up until now. “Sabbatical” was added to the lexicon along with last week’s newcomer, “gardening leave.” A sabbatical was almost as good as gardening leave—you didn’t get the big salary, but then neither did you get the pressure of the shadow of alleged bad behavior hanging over you. You could take a month off, six, a year in some cases, then come back and start where you left off. She hadn’t told Lise yet. She had plenty more to tell Lise.
She collected her baggage from the carousel and made her way through Customs. Lizbet had graciously agreed to send the rest of her stuff over, as soon as she’d made up her mind, so she’d been able to keep her same overnight bag and leave the rest behind. They would continue to pay the rent on her flat until the end of the month and the next, so there was no hurry to pack up her effects. She’d called Jean-Paul, or John Sutch, as he was now known, but he’d cut her short, something about a meeting with Jay Jopling, as he was thinking about targeting the London art world. He’d been charming about it, but she understood. No decisions. No commitments, for either of them, at least for the short term. It more than suited her.
As she rounded the bend into Arrivals, the usual coterie of white name placards and, no doubt, misspelled names met her. She wondered how JK was feeling right now, how he would feel when he saw her face eventually. She remembered how nice it had been that one time in New York when Jean-Paul, correction, John Sutch had been at the airport for her. She watched a twentysomething woman with two kids heave one of her suitcases back on the trolley, as it tried to roll wonkily away.
She felt so excited she had to force herself to walk slowly, calmly. In the newsagent’s opposite, the front pages screamed out headlines that had ceased meaning anything to her recently, but for now, for the short term at least, would start to mean things again. She picked up a copy of the
Sun
and a copy of the
Guardian
and paid for them at the till, even though she knew she wouldn’t have the level of concentration required to get through even the headlines of the broadsheet. She wasn’t going to try to work out time differences anymore. Two flights. Three flights? In the last week or so. Too much.
Over at Starbucks, she ordered a latte with a shot of caramel and sat down at the bar-style round table nearest to the entrance.
If he was coming at all, he would be here in the next fifteen minutes.
She hadn’t made much of a contingency plan. What if her flight had been late? What if his flight was late? But he had her number, she supposed, so he could always call if he needed to.
She flicked through the
Sun.
Keeley, the topless model on page 3, was hoping the soldiers in Afghanistan would restore order to the country soon so that women there could return to their jobs and schools.
She felt . . . what did she feel? Nervous, most definitely. It didn’t matter too much if it all went wrong, but if it all went right, how much better would that be? But most of all, she felt loved. She felt blessed. She felt blessed that Alexis had given her chances and opportunities she had only dreamed of, and that when she’d messed up, she’d been given more. She felt she’d discovered her family and friends again, fallen in love with them again, in a way that this time around she knew they would be there for her no matter what. She felt that in John Sutch, she’d found she could have fun in a way that was not about her career, fun like women her age were meant to have. She felt benevolent toward Trish, who, after all, was just Trish at the end of the day, and who would always be the same and (it had to be said) who had given her plenty of money—ten grand!—to help her carry out the next stage of her plan. She felt happy to see her mum blossom and move in a direction she would never have envisaged for her had she not gone to New York. And with JK she felt . . .
“Hey, gorgeous girl, is this seat taken?” An American accent, from behind her, an accent that made her rocket out of her seat and turn around, all pistons firing.
“You came!”
John Kingsley III stood in front of her. Tall, handsome, blond. With the squiffy nose she’d come to find attractive. She jumped up and hugged him impetuously, before realizing that she’d never actually hugged him before. She didn’t know how to behave, now that he was the goody and not the baddy she’d had him down as. She pulled her arms off him quickly and stood up straight, trying to look composed.
“How could I refuse?” He laughed. It was no good. She had to touch him again. She grabbed his hands and pulled at him to sit down.
“I’m so, so grateful, and I’m so sorry. You saw the tape of the TV show, then. Oh, you must have done, otherwise I guess you wouldn’t be here, so you know that I’m sorry, don’t you, really sorry, and I’m so grateful that you’re here, I really am!”
“Kate . . . please . . . it’s okay.”
“I almost forgot, I’ve got the money for it, you know! I’m not expecting you to do this for free or anything!” She pulled up her handbag from the floor and went to find her purse, which had disappeared somewhere in the voids of linings, rivets, key fobs, and other handbag paraphernalia.
“Kate . . . Kate . . . you’re not going to insult me by offering money, are you?”
“Well, I—” She stopped fumbling and looked into his eyes. “I found out how much you would normally charge for a boob job, sorry, I mean a breast reconstruction, and then I . . .” She noticed a frown starting to form on his face, coupled with a smile.
“Look, it’s sweet of you; but if it makes you feel better, give my fee, or even what you can, to the children’s charity.”
“All right!”
“Well, let’s go then! I hope you don’t mind, I booked a driver already to take us to . . . Maidfair?”
“It’s Maid
stone
! County town of Kent, you know! My hometown, so don’t knock it!”
“As if.”
He put his arm through hers and raised his other hand toward a gray-capped man standing by the entrance to Starbucks, who strode over efficiently and picked up their bags.
People stared at them. Kate realized the whole point of L.A. gorgeousness was to transport it elsewhere, show it off in gray, rain-soaked London, where just one drop shimmered like the truest Hollywood star.
“Come on then! Let’s go meet your friend Lise, shall we?”
She halted abruptly, and looked directly at him, then said, gravely, “I haven’t told her yet.”
“You haven’t? Well, that’s okay, it’ll be a surprise. I guess quite a big surprise.” He narrowed his eyes a little, working it all out. “And don’t worry, if it’s not, you know, medically convenient, I can come back and do it another time. The important thing is I get to meet her, you know.”
"Thanks, JK.” Kate couldn’t help herself from squeezing his hand. She was relieved beyond belief that he had accepted her olive branch, risen to the challenge. He’d been a good man, all that time, with a good skill. She thought of how much Lise would love him; how happy she’d be when she found out he was there to create breasts for her that would do justice to the beauty of her own natural original ones.
“Oh, and you may have to persuade her those big inflatable ones are no longer in fashion.”
“You’re the boss.”
They got into the car. He gripped her hand tightly. Surgeon’s fingers, she smiled to herself. The driver started the engine and pulled off, another car quickly taking their precious parking spot.
“By the way . . . did I tell you how gorgeous you look on TV?”
Kate blushed. The car entered a tunnel. As their eyes adjusted in the darkness he reached over and gently placed a strand of her hair behind her ear that had fallen over her mouth. His fingers brushed over her lips.
She sighed. “No, you didn’t. But we have a good couple of hours’ journey ahead of us.”
BOOK: Face Value
12.42Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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