Home > Rachel's Holiday (Walsh Family #2)(10)

Rachel's Holiday (Walsh Family #2)(10)
Marian Keyes

As Brigit and I were both a hundred per cent Irish, how could we possibly compete? On a regular basis we despaired of our looks. Especially because we were both tall and big-boned. All we really had going for us was our hair; mine was long and dark and hers was long and blonde. Some of hers was even natural.

What we did have in our favour, however, was that most of the New York girls were completely neurotic. We weren’t.

We were only mildly neurotic. (Pathological fear of goats and an obsession with potatoes cooked in any way wasn’t as bad as begging to be beaten about the face and neck with a broken bottle during sexual intercourse.)

Anyway, despite our lack of ethnic diversity, on the night in question we thought we looked pretty hot. As I remember, Brigit’s exact words when we surveyed each other before the off were ‘Not bad for a pair of heifers.’ I agreed, and all without any self-esteem-enhancing snow in our systems! Of course, we would have loved some but it was two days from Brigit’s payday and we barely had enough money to feed ourselves.

I had a pair of beautiful new shoes on their maiden voyage. With my size feet, it was impossible to get nice shoes to fit me. Even in New York where they’re used to dealing with freaks. But I was befriended by the season. It was summer and the shoes were mules. Lime-green, not-too-high mules. So it didn’t matter that they were two sizes too small for me, because my toes could stick out the front and my heels out the back. Excruciating to walk in, of course, but who cared. Beauty is pain.

So along to the Rickshaw Rooms for ourselves! Where they were holding a launch party for a new television series. Brigit had heard about it through her job and apparently it would have a couple of famous, good-looking men, enough free drink to sink a battleship and, hopefully, countless people with a cocaine habit who might be willing to share their stash.

We didn’t have an invitation but we got in because Brigit offered to not have sex with the bouncer.

That’s what she actually said. ‘My friend and I don’t have invitations but, if you let us in, you needn’t sleep with either of us.’

And, as Brigit had promised me, we certainly had his attention after that.

‘You see,’ Brigit explained to his bemused face, ‘in your line of work, you must have hundreds of gorgeous women saying “If you let me in, I’ll let you in,” if you follow me?’ She gave him a leery wink that involved every muscle in her body, just in case he didn’t.

‘You must be sick of it,’ she told him firmly.

The bouncer, a young, not-unattractive Italian man, nodded, as if in a daze.

‘My friend and I here,’ Brigit went on, ‘our unique selling point is that we’re not gorgeous, so we thought we’d make the most of it. Can we come in?’

‘Of course,’ he mumbled. He looked puzzled and confused.

‘But wait,’ he called after us. ‘You’ll need these.’ And he pressed two invitations upon us, just as we were about to break into a run for the lift.

When we got upstairs we had to run the gauntlet of a second set of bouncers but by then we had invitations.

And in we swept. We tried not to look too overwhelmed. The beautiful art deco room! The fabulous view! The vast quantities of strong drink!

Seconds after we arrived, laughing and buoyed up by our success, Brigit froze and grabbed me.

‘Look,’ she hissed, ‘it’s the Time Warp Boys.’

I looked and sure enough, there, in a proliferation of hair and red Levi’s tabs, were Gaz, Joey, Johnno, Shake and Luke. As usual, they were accessorized by a couple of blonde girls with legs so skinny they looked as if they had rickets.

‘What are the Real Men doing here?’ I demanded. Suddenly our victory over the bouncer became meaningless, all the good went out of it. They were obviously letting any old eejit in.

Luke was earnestly distributing their drinks. ‘Joey, man, JD straight up, there you go.’

‘Thanks, Luke, man.’

‘Johnno, man, JD on the rocks, that’s yours.’

‘Good one, Luke, man.’

‘Gaz, where are you, man? Oh right, here’s your tequila, salt and lemon.’

‘Nice one, Luke, man.’

‘Melinda, babe, no pink champagne, but they had some ordinary stuff and they put some Ribena in it, nice guy that barman.’

‘Thanks, Luke.’

‘Tamara, babe, JD straight up, sorry, babe, no umbrellas.’

‘Thanks, Luke.’

Am I painting a clear enough picture here? Yes, that’s right, they did call each other ‘man’, they did call women ‘babe’, they did drink Jack Daniels almost incessantly, and naturally, of course, they abbreviated ‘Jack Daniels’ to ‘JD’. I won’t malign the boys by saying that whenever they met, they highfived each other, but at times, I’d say it was touch and go.

‘Who’s wearing the timeshare trousers tonight?’ asked Brigit. Which put paid to the next five minutes as we held each other and laughed.

Finally, I managed to look at them.

‘It’s Luke,’ I said. I must have said it louder than I had intended because Luke looked up. He stared at us both, and then, while we watched in disbelief, he winked at us. Brigit and I looked blankly at each other for a moment, before exploding again. ‘The state of him,’ I whimpered, through tears of mirth.

‘Who does he think he is?’ Brigit guffawed.

Then, to my horror, I saw Luke detach himself from the others and, with the same loose-limbed insouciance with which he usually perambulated himself, made his way in our direction.

‘Oh God,’ I snorted, ‘he’s coming over.’

Before Brigit could answer Luke was standing in front of us. He was all smiles and eager, puppy-like friendliness.

‘It’s Rachel, right?’

I nodded because if I opened my mouth I would have laughed all over him. Vaguely I registered that I had to tilt my head back to see him. Something tickled inside me.

‘And Brigit?’

Brigit nodded mutely.

‘I’m Luke,’ he said and stuck out his hand. Dumbly, Brigit and I shook it.

‘I’ve seen the pair of you around a lot,’ he said. ‘You’re always laughing, it’s great!’

I searched his face for a trace of irony, but there didn’t seem to be any. Then again, I hadn’t taken any of them to be Einstein.

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