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The Guest List by Lucy Foley Read Online (FREE)

‘It was the kick of it,’ Femi says, ‘back at school, at Trevs. That’s what it was. Knowing we could get caught.’

‘Jesus,’ Will says. ‘Do we really have to talk about Trevs? It’s bad enough that I have to hear my dad talking about the place.’ He says it with a grin, but I can see he’s got this slightly pinched look, as if his Guinness has gone down the wrong way. I always felt sorry for Will having a dad like his. No wonder he felt he had to prove himself. I know he’d prefer to forget his whole time at that place. I would too.

‘Those years at school seemed so grim at the time,’ Angus says, ‘but now, looking back – and Christ knows what this says about me – I think in some ways they feel like the most important of my life. I mean, I definitely wouldn’t send my own kids there – no offence to your dad, Will – but it wasn’t all bad. Was it?’

‘I dunno,’ Femi says doubtfully. ‘I got singled out a lot by the teachers. Fucking racists.’ He says it in an offhand way but I know it wasn’t always easy for him, being one of the only black kids there.

‘I loved it,’ Duncan says, and when the rest of us look at him, he adds: ‘honest! Now I look back on it I realise how important it was, you know? Wouldn’t have had it any other way. It bonded us.’

‘Anyway,’ says Will, ‘back to the present. I’d say things are pretty good now for all of us, wouldn’t you?’

They’re definitely good for him.  The other blokes have done all right for themselves too. Femi’s a surgeon, Angus works for his dad’s development firm, Duncan’s a venture capitalist – whatever that means – and Pete’s in advertising, which probably doesn’t help his coke habit.

‘So what are you up to these days, Johnno?’ Pete asks, turning to me. ‘You were doing that climbing instructor stuff right?’

I nod. ‘The adventure centre,’ I say. ‘Not just climbing. Bushcraft, building camps—’

‘Yeah,’ Duncan says, cutting me off, ‘you know, I was thinking of a team-bonding day – was going to talk to you about it. Cut me some mates’ rates?’

‘I’d love to,’ I say, thinking someone as minted as Duncan doesn’t need to ask for mates’ rates. ‘But I’m not doing it any more.’

‘Oh?’

‘Nah. I’ve set up a whisky business. It’ll be coming out pretty soon. Maybe in the next six months or so.’

‘And you’ve got stockists?’ Angus asks. He sounds rather put out. I suppose it doesn’t fit with his image of big, stupid Johnno. I’ve somehow managed to avoid the boring office job and come out on top.

‘I have,’ I say, nodding. ‘I have.’

‘Waitrose?’ Duncan asks. ‘Sainsbury’s?’

‘And the rest.’

‘There’s a lot of competition out there,’ Angus says.

‘Yeah,’ I say. ‘Lots of big old names, celebrity brands – even that UFC fighter, Connor MacGregor. But we wanted to go for a more, I dunno, artisanal feel. Like those new gins.’