His cheeks went red. Baby, that’s just to help me talk to you about girl things. And I’m obviously not very good at it. I just wanted to do it right. To be what you needed. I know I’m not. I’m not your mom. She would’ve done it better.
‘The thing is, Polly, I’m not.’Polly put down her eyeliner. She reached for the cigarette she’d left burning on the side of the sink and took a puff from it. ‘You’re not coming out with me? Then why did you say—’
‘I need you to cover for me.’‘Cover for you?’‘You don’t have to say anything if you don’t want. I’ve already told Mum and Dad and Christopher. You don’t even have to agree. We’ll go out together, and I’ll call a cab to pick me up on the corner.’
‘Em, why do you have to—’ Understanding dawned in Polly’s eyes. ‘Oh no, you’re not seeing him, are you?’Emily didn’t reply. But her cheeks flushed bright red.
‘You can’t. You can’t! He’s . . . what about Christopher?’
‘Christopher will never know,’ she whispered. ‘You can’t tell him. It would make him very upset.’They didn’t answer, only exchanged a long glance.
‘Part of what?’ she repeated. ‘Mum, you kicked Robbie out of the house for no reason. He’s at the Royal Oak wondering what on earth he did wrong. I understand that you didn’t want me to get engaged to him, but this is . . . inexplicable. You don’t even know him.’‘I do,’ said her mother, quietly. ‘I do know him.’
‘Emily, you’d better sit down,’ said her father.She perched on the chintz armchair. For the first time, she noticed that her mother held a long white envelope. Emily stared at it.