An extract from From Notting Hill to New York . . . Actually
‘Scarlett, can you get me another glass of juice, please?’
I close the lid of my laptop and sigh, getting up from the chair in the study to go across the hall and through to the living room where a sorrowful pair of blue eyes looks up at me from the sofa.
‘Sure, what do you want this time, orange or apple?’
‘Apple, please.’ Sean holds out his empty glass. He manages a weak smile.
‘All right, you don’t have to lay it on so thick,’ I admonish. ‘I thought you were feeling better this morning.’
‘I am, but I still feel a bit wobbly when I try to get up.’
‘OK, I’ll get your juice. You just stay right where you are watching . . . ’ I glance at the TV screen, and it doesn’t surprise me in the slightest to see cars racing around a track, as per usual. ‘Let me guess – it wouldn’t happen to be Top Gear, would it?’
Sean nods absent-mindedly, his attention already lost to the petrol-head world of Clarkson, The Stig and their ridiculously priced cars.
I wander through to the kitchen and fill Sean’s glass with juice. He’d been off sick for a few days now, and I’d been doing my best nursing act, when I’d been at home, looking after him. I didn’t mind, even though I was just beginning to think he was pushing his luck a bit with the ‘I’m so ill’ looks when he wanted something. But when I’d had an extremely nasty dose of the flu last December and could barely get out of bed, let alone walk to our kitchen, for over a week, Sean had taken time off work – unheard of for him – and had waited on me hand and foot. He’d even carried me to the bathroom on one occasion when I was too weak to get there myself. So I really couldn’t complain about a few glasses of juice and a sandwich here and there.
I stand for a moment, admiring our new kitchen. I’d spent many a happy hour poring over designer-kitchen catalogues with my friend, Oscar, choosing just the right oven and fridge to go with the newly installed granite covered worktops and pale wood units. Sean couldn’t understand why, when I first moved in here with him, I’d wanted to refit what he considered to be a perfectly ad - equate kitchen. But I told him that if I was going to move into his house in Notting Hill, I would at least want to put my own stamp on the place, and as always Sean had just let me get on with it. He was very easy-going like that.
Smiling to myself, I stare out of the kitchen window into our small, recently renovated back garden. Neither Sean nor I were really into gardening, so we’d gone for the minimal amount of planting and maximum amount of ‘garden architecture’ as our landscaper, Murray, had called it when we’d hired him to help us out last autumn when deciding what to do with the patch of land at the back of the house. Now we have the perfect area to sit outside in on a summer’s evening, with a glass of chilled wine, chatting over the day’s events with each other. Except, I realise as I stand here now, we’ve only ever done that once, and the person I sit out there with most often is Oscar, when we’re discussing the lives of the contestants in the newest reality TV show, or the latest salacious plot twist in our favourite soap opera.
I lift the glass from the counter and head back to Sean. ‘Here you go,’ I say, handing him the glass. ‘One juice.’
‘Thanks, Scarlett. You’ve been great at looking after me while it’s been my turn for the flu.’
I look sceptically at him. I hardly think this is anything like what I had in December: his is more of a bad cold. What I’m seeing in front of me, I think, is the common phenomenon known as ‘man flu’.
‘So when do you think you’ll be well enough to go back to work?’ I ask, slipping onto the sofa next to him. I lift up yet more car and sport magazines and drop the on the ever-growing pile on the floor.
‘Maybe tomorrow,’ Sean says, turning his attention from the TV for a moment. ‘But definitely by Thursday. I have to fly to Brussels for a meeting.’
‘Again?’ I ask in astonishment. Sean takes so many business trips abroad he might as well be a bird. His ratio of air-to-ground time is certainly enough to qualify him as one of our feathered friends.
‘Yes. Come on, not this again, Red?’ he raises a sandy-coloured eyebrow at me. ‘I thought we’d been over all that. You knew when you met me that my business means I have to be away a lot.’
I shrug and stare at the TV screen. Sean’s right; I did know he had to travel for meetings and stay away often – that was one of the drawbacks of running your own very successful company. But it didn’t mean I had to like it.