The Guest List by Lucy Foley Read Online (FREE)
A smart couple in their sixties get off the final boat. I somehow know even before they come over and introduce themselves that they are the groom’s parents. He must get his looks from his mother and probably his colouring, too, though her hair is grey now. But she doesn’t have anything like the groom’s easy confidence. She gives the impression of someone trying to hide herself away, even within her own clothes.
The groom’s father’s features are sharper, harder. You’d never call a man like that good-looking, but I suppose you could imagine seeing a profile like his on the bust of a Roman emperor: the high, arched eyebrows, the hooked nose, the firm, slightly cruel thin-lipped mouth. He has a very strong handshake, I feel the small bones of my hand crushing into one another as he squeezes it. And he has an air of importance about him, like a politician or diplomat. ‘You must be the wedding planner,’ he says, with a smile. But his eyes are watchful, assessing.
‘I am,’ I say.
‘Good, good,’ he says. ‘Got us a seat at the front of the chapel, I hope?’ On his son’s wedding day it is to be expected. But I think this man would expect a seat at the front of any event.
‘Of course,’ I tell him. ‘I’ll take you up there now.’
‘You know,’ he says, as we walk up towards the chapel, ‘it’s a funny thing. I’m a headmaster, at a boy’s school. And about a quarter of these guests used to go there, to Trevellyan’s. Odd, seeing them all grown up.’
I smile, show polite interest: ‘Do you recognise all of them?’
‘Most. But not all, not all. Mainly the larger-than-life characters, as I think you’d call them.’ He chuckles. ‘I’ve seen some of them do a double-take already, seeing me. I have a reputation as a bit of a disciplinarian.’ He seems proud of this. ‘It’s probably put the fear of God in them, catching sight of me here.’
I’m sure it has, I think. I feel as though I know this man, though I have never met him before. Instinctively, I do not like him.
Afterwards, I go and thank Mattie, who’s captained the last boat over.
‘Well done,’ I say. ‘That all went very smoothly. You’ve done a great job synchronising it all.’
‘And you’ve done a fine job getting someone to hold their wedding here. He’s famous, isn’t he?’
‘And she has a profile too.’ I doubt Mattie’s up to date on women’s online magazines, though. ‘We offered a big discount in the end, but it’ll be worth it for the write-up.’
He nods. ‘Put this place on the map, sure it will.’ He looks out over the water, squinting into the sunlight. ‘It was easy sailing this morning,’ he says. ‘But it will be different later on, to be sure.’
‘I’ve been keeping an eye on the forecast,’ I say. It’s hard to imagine the weather turning, with the blustery sunshine we’ve got now.