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The Guest List by Lucy Foley Read Online (FREE)

‘The seaweed was supposedly a little joke last night,’ I say. ‘And that wasn’t very bloody funny. And now this? And that speech – what did he mean by all of that? What was all that about the past? About keeping secrets from each other … what secrets did he mean?’

‘Oh,’ Will says, ‘I don’t know, Jules. It’s only Johnno messing around. It’s nothing.’

We turn a slow circle about the floor. I have an impression of beaming faces, hands clapping.

‘But it didn’t sound like nothing,’ I say. ‘It sounded very much like something. Will, what sort of hold does he have over you?’

‘Oh for God’s sake, Jules,’ he says sharply. ‘I said: it’s nothing. Drop it. Please.’

I stare at him. It’s not the words themselves so much as the way he said them – that and the way he has tightened his hold on my arm. It feels like as strong a corroboration as one could ask for that whatever it is it’s very much not nothing.

‘You’re hurting me,’ I say, pulling my arm out of his grip.

He is immediately contrite. ‘Jules – look, I’m sorry.’ His voice is totally different now – any hint of hostility immediately gone. ‘I didn’t mean to snap at you. Look, it’s been a long day. A wonderful day, of course, but a long one. Forgive me?’ And he gives me a smile, the same smile I haven’t been able to resist since I saw it that night at the V&A museum. And yet it doesn’t have the same effect it normally does. If anything, it makes me feel more uneasy, because of the speed of the change. It’s as though he’s pulled on a mask.

‘We’re a married couple, now,’ I say. ‘We are meant to be able to share things with one another. To confide in each other.’

Will spins me away under his arm, and towards him again. The crowd cheer this flourish.

Then, when we’re facing one another once more, he takes a deep breath. ‘Look,’ he says. ‘Johnno has got this bee in his bonnet about this thing that he says happened in the past, when we were young. He’s obsessed by it. But he’s a fantasist. I’ve felt sorry for him, all these years. That’s where I went wrong. Feeling I should pander to him, because my life has worked out, and his hasn’t. Now he’s envious: of everything I have, we have. He thinks that I owe him.’

‘Oh for God’s sake,’ I say. ‘What could you possibly owe him? He’s the one that’s clearly been hanging on your coattails for too long.’

He doesn’t answer this. Instead he pulls me close, as the song comes to its crescendo. A cheer goes up from the crowd. But they sound suddenly far away. ‘After tonight, that’s it,’ Will says firmly, into my hair. ‘I’ll cut him from my life – our life. I promise. I’m done with him. Trust me. I’ll sort it out.’