The Guest List by Lucy Foley Read Online (FREE)
The wedding party is clustered around them. The four ushers, grinning away, patting Will on the back … and I wonder: have any of them glimpsed his true nature? Do they not care? Then there’s Charlie, doing a pretty good impression – and I’m certain it’s just that – of looking sober and in control of his faculties. Nearby stand Jules’s parents and Will’s, smiling on proudly. Then Olivia, looking as miserable as she has all day.
I move a little closer. I don’t know what to do with this feeling, this energy that is crackling through me, as though my veins have been fed with an electric current. When I put out a hand I see my fingers tremble with it. It frightens me and excites me at the same time. I feel that if I were to test it out, right now, I’d find that I have a new, unnatural strength.
Aoife steps forward. She passes a knife to Jules and Will. It’s a big knife, with a long, sharp blade. There is a mother-of-pearl handle to it, as though to make the whole thing look softer, to conceal its sharpness, as though to say: this is a knife for cutting a wedding cake, nothing more sinister than that.
Will puts his hand over Jules’s. Jules smiles at us all. Her teeth gleam.
I move closer still. I’m nearly at the front.
They cut down, together, her knuckles white around the handle, his hand resting upon hers. The cake cleaves away, exposing its dark red centre. Jules and Will smile, smile, smile into the phone cameras around them. The knife is placed back on the table. The blade gleams. It is right there. It is within reach.
And then Jules leans down and picks up a huge handful of cake. Whilst smiling for the cameras, quick as a flash, she smashes it into Will’s face. It looks as violent as a slap, a punch. Will staggers away from her, gaping through the mess at her as chunks of sponge and icing fall, landing on his immaculate suit. Jules’s expression is unreadable.
There is a moment of appalled silence as everyone waits to see what will happen. Then Will puts a hand to his chest, does an ‘I’ve been hit’ pantomime, and grins. ‘I better go and wash this off,’ he says.
Everyone whoops and cheers and shrieks and forgets the strangeness of what they just saw. It is all a part of the ceremony.
But Jules, I notice, is not smiling.
Will walks from the marquee, in the direction of the Folly. The guests have resumed their chatter, their laughter. Perhaps I am the only one who turns to watch him go.
The band begins to play again. Everyone spills towards the dance floor. I stand here rooted to the spot.
And then the lights go out.
He was right. I’m never going to tell Jules now.
I think about how he twisted it all around. How he made me feel it was my fault, somehow, everything that happened. He played on the shame he made me feel: the same shame I have felt ever since I saw him walk through the door with Jules. He has made me feel small, unloved, ugly, stupid, worthless. He has made me hate myself and he has driven a wedge between me and everyone else, even my own family – especially my own family – because of this horrible secret.