Seduce Me

By: Georgia Le Carre

Both Billie and I assure her that she is not late, we have only just arrived ourselves. While she settles Sorab into a high chair and ties some highly colored toys to it and Billie is fussing over the child, I surreptitiously watch her over my menu. In truth I am shocked.

I had expected designer gear, Manolo Blahniks and diamonds, but she is dressed simply in a beige cashmere jumper that comes to her hips, black drainpipe jeans and a pair of those unfussy, flat-heeled riding boots you see in equestrian magazines. They look like nothing but cost the earth.

‘Are you guys ready to order?’ she asks, opening her menu, and the massive rock in her engagement ring blinds me.

‘Goodness!’ I exclaim. ‘How many carats is that?’

Lana looks embarrassed. ‘Ten.’

‘Wow! Can I see it?’

She holds her hand out to me and I take it. Her fingers are finely boned and elegant, the skin soft and unblemished. I feel ashamed of mine. My stubby digits are scratched by rose thorns, and the knuckles scarred and grazed from forcing my fingers down my throat to induce vomiting. Suddenly even my beautiful pink nails look garish and brazen.

Under the spotlights of the restaurant the stone—an oval cut pink diamond—is so dazzling it is almost impossible to look away from its brilliance. To show off the vividly pink flawless stone it has been mounted on a plain band without any fuss or embellishments. I recognize the design. I have seen it before.

‘It’s a Repossi, isn’t it?’

Lana looks surprised and impressed. ‘Yes. How did you know?’

‘I saw it in a magazine.’

‘How observant you are, Jules? It is custom, but the setting is from a collection called Tell Me Yes.

‘It’s very, very beautiful.’

‘Thank you.’

I release her hand, the ancient envy stirring, stretching, in a foul mood.

The waitress comes around and Lana orders green tea. Immediately, I wish I had ordered that. It sounds far more exclusive than plain old Chinese tea. I make a note to order that in future.

We order a selection of dishes and the menus are taken away.

‘I thought your wedding card was really nice.’

Lana smiles. ‘Good. I’m glad you like it. I wanted Sorab to be included.’

‘Personally, I think you should have done a badass zombie invite. Not even death will do us part sort of thing,’ Billie says.

‘You can do that when you get married,’ Lana retorts.

‘I’m never getting married. I need the government to charge me to say I do like I need a fucking hole in the head.’

‘Really? You never want to get married?’ I ask.

‘If I do marry it’ll be barefoot on a beach with not a single official ‘vested’ with the authority to marry people in sight. No wedding dress, no cake, no guests. Just the sun, the sea, the sand, the coconut trees and an obliging bartender.’

Lana laughs.

‘So how are the wedding plans coming along?’ I ask.

‘Well, to be perfectly honest, I have no idea. Blake has forbidden me to do anything. He says it’s only six hours of our life, and no way is he going to let me ruin four months of our life getting stressed out with preparations. So, I have been confined to choosing the venue, contributing to the guest list, and everything to do with my dress.’

She beams at us, totally unaware of my animosity towards her.

‘Ah, so it was you who picked a small church in Woburn and the reception at Wardown Towers.’

‘Yes.’ She smiles softly.

‘Why? Why not somewhere glamorous like the Savoy or the Ritz?’

Lana touches her son’s cheek and smiles at him before turning to me. ‘Wardown Towers is an amazing place. It is surrounded by a hundred and ninety acre park teaming with deer, forests, lakes and meadows.’ She stops and looks again at Sorab. ‘But the real reason is that I wanted Blake’s sister to be not only present but comfortable. She is in her twenties, but she has the mental age of a child. Since Wardown is where she lives it seemed the perfect location. Besides, I always dreamed of a reception in a beautiful spring garden.’

I wonder about this spastic sister that my search on the Internet did not uncover. Who is she? And why is Lana bending backwards to accommodate her? But all I say is. ‘That’s nice of you.’

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