Heading over to the bank of windows that overlooked the front of the mansion, she pulled back the lacy privacy curtain and waited. A moment later, Axwelle emerged from the grand entrance, marching off down the slate walkway.
She shook her head. ‘I tell you what, Issy, I hope Louis turns out like him.’Issy sighed. And she hadn’t even told them about Austin’s job yet. She watched Louis patting the Advent calendar. ‘I wish your chocolate comes back one day,’ he was whispering to it. You were never supposed to want to swap worries with anyone, but for once she felt she could make an exception.
In fact, although she’d tried to make light of it, Issy had been close to tears by the time they’d got home the previous evening. She knew it was ridiculous – Darny’s outburst had nothing to do with her, and he was completely unfazed anyway – but it hurt that he didn’t even mind that she was upset with him. Everything she had ever told herself about not interfering in Darny’s life, not caring about him well, she did care about him. Of course she did. So it was galling to see that he didn’t feel the same way about her – why would he, some girlfriend of his stupid big brother?‘Well,’ said Caroline, bustling off to tidy up, ‘I don’t have time to explain it to you now. In fact, why don’t you go to the States and find out?’‘And cilantro,’ Pearl called to her retreating back. ‘What’s cilantro, Caroline?’
Pearl and Issy shared a smile, but it didn’t help Issy’s problem. The bell tinged as Doti came in, without Maya today.‘Where’s your glamorous assistant?’ said Pearl, far too quickly, in Issy’s opinion, for someone who was meant to be making a go of it with someone else and wasn’t at all interested in the postman. Even Doti looked surprised.
‘Oh, she’s doing so well I’ve let her take some of the run on her own,’ he said, unleashing a block of cards wrapped up in a small red elastic band, and a large box.
‘Hurrah,’ said Issy. She had been completely surprised when people had started sending Christmas cards to the shop – it would never have occurred to her to do so. But they’d had one from Tom and Carly; Tobes and Trinida; from the students, Lauren and Joaquim, who had looked longingly at each other across the smallest, cheapest cappuccinos for months on end before finally plucking up the courage to talk to one another and were now madly in love, which was fantastic for them, but a bit of a loss of income; from Mrs Hanowitz, even though she didn’t celebrate Christmas, who thought Louis might like a picture of a polar bear wearing a hat (he did); and even from Des, the estate agent who’d rented them the property in the first place. And as Issy had strung the cards up around the shop (Pearl grumbling about dust), more and more people had joined in, and now they had a lot. So Issy had thought about it and decided as a marketing cost (she said this to placate Pearl and Austin) to get some printed up. She’d enlisted her printer friend Zac, and Louis’ artistic talents, and now they’d come back and they looked lovely.Now, his tone got more serious. You’ve got your virtue to protect.
My virtue, my problem. Not yours.Craeg let out a hrrumph. I’m calling you at seven again tomorrow. Answer your damn phone.
Paradise had to laugh. Has anyone ever told you you’re dominant.No, because I never listen to what people say to me.