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The Guest List by Lucy Foley Read Online (FREE)

When I got back to the school building, I felt like I’d been reborn. Fuck the teachers who told me I’d never amount to much. Like they’d ever survived a night like that. I felt like I was invincible. Like I could do anything.

‘Johnno,’ Will says, ‘I was saying I reckon it’s time to get your whisky out. Give it a sample.’ He jumps up from the table, and goes and gets one of the bottles.

‘Oh,’ Hannah says, ‘can I look?’ She takes it from Will. ‘This is such a cool design, Johnno. Did you work with someone on it?’

‘Yeah,’ I say. ‘I’ve got a mate in London who’s a graphic designer. He’s done a good job, hasn’t he?’

‘He really has,’ she says, nodding, tracing the type with her finger. ‘That’s what I do,’ she says. ‘I’m an illustrator, by trade. But it feels like a million years ago now. I’m on permanent maternity leave.’

‘Can I have a look?’ Charlie says. He takes it from her and reads the label, frowning. ‘You must have had to partner with a distillery? Because it says here it’s been aged twelve years.’

‘Yeah,’ I say, feeling like I’m being interviewed, or doing a test. Like he’s trying to catch me out. Maybe it’s the whole schoolteacher thing. ‘I did.’

‘Well,’ says Will, opening the bottle with a flourish. ‘The acid test!’ He calls into the kitchen, ‘Aoife … Freddy. Could we have some glasses for whisky please?’

Aoife carries some in on a tray.

‘Get one for yourself too,’ Will says, like he’s lord of the manor, ‘and for Freddy. We’ll all try it!’ Then, as Aoife tries to shake her head: ‘I insist!’

Freddy shuffles in to stand next to his wife. He keeps his eyes down and fiddles with the cord of his apron as they both stand there awkwardly. Fucking weirdo, Duncan mouths at the rest of us. It’s probably a good thing the bloke’s looking at the floor.

I check Aoife out. She’s not as old as I thought at first: maybe only forty or so. She just dresses older. She’s good-looking, too – in a refined kind of way. I wonder what she’s doing with such a wet blanket of a husband.

Will pours out the rest of the whisky. Jules asks for a couple of drops: ‘I’ve never been much of a whisky drinker, I’m afraid.’ She takes a sip and I see her wince, before she has time to cover it by putting her hand over her mouth. But the hand only draws attention to it. Which maybe, come to think of it, she meant it to do. It’s pretty clear she’s not my biggest fan.

‘It’s good, mate,’ Duncan says. ‘It kind of reminds me of a Laphroaig, you know?’

‘Yeah,’ I say. ‘I guess so.’ Trust Duncan to know his whiskies.

Aoife and Freddy down theirs as quickly as possible and hightail it back to the kitchen. I get that. My mum used to work at the local country club – the sort of place Angus and Duncan’s parents probably had memberships to. She said the golfers sometimes tried to buy her a drink, thinking they were being so generous, but it only made her feel awkward.