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The Guest List by Lucy Foley Read Online (FREE)

After a little while – because she had her important schedule, I suppose – Jules came upstairs. ‘Olivia,’ she said, ‘we need to go off for lunch now. Of course, I’d love you to join us, but if you’re not feeling well enough then, well, I suppose that’s fine.’ I could hear that it wasn’t fine, not at all, but that was the least of my worries.

Somehow I managed to find my voice. ‘I – I can’t come,’ I said, through the door. ‘I’m … ill.’ It seemed the easiest thing to do, right then, to go along with what she’d said. And anyway, I wasn’t feeling well – I was sick to my stomach, like I’d swallowed something poisonous.

I’ve thought about it since, though. What if right then I’d had the balls to open that door and tell her the truth, right then and there to her face? Rather than waiting and hiding, until it was way too late?

‘OK,’ she said. ‘Fine, then. I’m very sorry you can’t come.’ She didn’t sound in the least bit sorry. ‘I’m not going to make a big deal out of this now, Olivia. Maybe you really are ill. I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt. But I’d really like your support in this. Mum told me you’ve had a tough time lately, and I’m sorry for that. But for once, I’d like you to try and be happy for me.’

I slumped down against the bathroom door and tried to keeping breathing.

He covered it so quickly, his own reaction. When he walked in through Mum’s door, that first time we ‘met’, there was maybe a split second of shock. One that maybe only I would have noticed. The flicker of an eyelid, a slight tightening of the jaw. Nothing more than that. He covered it up so well, he was so smooth.

So you see, I can’t think of him as Will. To me he’ll always be Steven. I hadn’t thought of that, when I renamed myself for the dating app. I hadn’t thought that he might have lied too.

At their engagement drinks, I decided I wouldn’t run away and hide like before. I’d spent the couple of months in between thinking of all the ways I could have reacted that would have been so much better, so much less pathetic, than scarpering and throwing up. I hadn’t done anything wrong, after all. This time I’d confront him. He was the one that had all the explaining to do, to me, to Jules. He was the one who should be feeling pretty fucking sick. I had let him win that first one. This time, I was going to show him.

He threw me off at the beginning. When I arrived he gave me a big grin. ‘Olivia!’ he said. ‘I hope you’re feeling better. It was such a shame we didn’t get to meet properly, last time.’

I was so shocked I couldn’t say anything. He was pretending we’d never met, right to my face. It made me even start to doubt myself. Was it really him? But I knew it was. There was no doubt about it. Closer up I could see how the skin around his eyes creased the same, how he had these two moles on his neck, below the jaw. And I remembered, so clearly, that split second’s reaction, when he’d first seen me.