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The Guest List by Lucy Foley Read Online (FREE)

‘It’s beautiful,’ I say. ‘So romantic.’ All the right things. And I suppose it is beautiful, in a stark way. Charlie and I got married in the local registry office. Definitely not beautiful: a poky municipal room, a bit scuffed and cramped. Jules was there too, of course, looking rather out of place in her designer outfit. The whole thing was over in what felt like twenty minutes, we met the next couple coming in on our way out.

But I wouldn’t have wanted to get married in a place like the chapel. It is beautiful, yes, but there’s definitely something tragic about its beauty, even slightly macabre. It stands out against the sky like a twisted, long-fingered hand, reaching up from the ground. There’s a haunted look about it.

I watch Will and Jules as we follow them. I would never have had Jules down as a very tactile person but her hands are all over him, it’s as if she can’t not touch him. You can tell they are having sex. A lot of it. It’s hard to watch as her hand slides into the back pocket of his jeans, or up beneath the fabric of his T-shirt. I bet Charlie’s noticed, too. I won’t mention it, though. That would only draw attention to the lack of sex we’re having. We used to have really good, adventurous sex. But these days we’re so knackered all the time. And I find myself wondering whether, since kids, I feel different to Charlie, or whether he fancies me as much now my boobs are not the same boobs they were before breastfeeding, now I have all this strange slack skin on my belly. I know I shouldn’t ask, because my body has performed a miracle; two, in fact. And yet it is important for a couple to still desire each other, isn’t it?

Jules has never really had a lasting relationship in all the time Charlie and I have been together. I always sensed she didn’t have time for anything serious, so focused was she on The Download. Charlie liked predicting how long they would last: ‘Three months, tops.’ Or, ‘This one’s already past its expiry date, if you ask me.’ And he was always the one she called when she did break up with them. Part of me wonders how he feels now, seeing her settled at last. I’d guess not entirely happy. My suspicions about the two of them threaten to surface. I push them back down.

As we near the building a big cackle of laughter erupts from somewhere above. I glance up and see a group of men on top of the Folly’s battlements, looking down at us. There’s a mocking note to the laughter and I’m suddenly very aware of the state of my clothes and hair. I’m convinced that we’re the butt of their joke.

 

OLIVIA
The Bridesmaid
Seeing Charlie again reminds me of how I used to moon about after him. It was only a few years ago, really, but I was a kid then. It’s embarrassing, thinking of the girl I used to be. But it also makes me kind of sad.