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فصل 04

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  • زمان مطالعه 6 دقیقه
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CHAPTER FOUR

Just this once

The dinner party was a great success. Kate had made the reservation at a quiet restaurant by the river Thames. It was one of those restaurants which almost smelled of money. The lights were low, with candles and bowls of spring flowers on the tables. There were plain white tablecloths with real silver knives and forks, crystal wine glasses and large expensive white plates. The walls were decorated with old pictures of the river and glass cases containing stuffed fish. In one corner a wood fire was burning. The waiters wore black bow ties, with spotless white shirts and black suits. No-one spoke loudly.

Apart from Kate and Hugh, there were only four guests: Costas Clerides and his wife Melpa, with dark flashing eyes and a low-cut silk dress, and Hari Mazumdar and his wife Shantha, looking wonderful in a red sari and gold jewellery. Clerides was Greek, and owned oil tankers and container ships. Mazumdar had made his money out of call centers in India. Both men were seriously rich.

The food and wine were not only expensive, but delicious and perfectly matched. Soon everyone was relaxed and chatting comfortably. Towards the end of the meal, the men moved to one end of the table and were soon deep in discussion about Hugh’s new investment fund. The women sat together and talked about fashion, books, films and holidays. Kate thought she noticed Melpa looking towards Hugh quite a lot. But maybe it was just her imagination.

They left the restaurant quite late, so it was midnight by the time Kate and Hugh got home. He immediately headed to the drinks cupboard and poured himself a large glass of his favourite malt whisky.

‘Haven’t you had enough to drink, darling?’ asked Kate.

‘I’m celebrating my success,’ said Hugh. ‘They both want to come in with me. If this investment fund works out, I’ll be so rich I’ll never have to work again!’

‘Well done, darling,’ said Kate, though her voice didn’t sound as though she meant it. ‘But you should be careful. I’ve noticed you seem to be drinking more these days. It’s not good for your health, you know.’

‘Don’t worry about me. I know when I’ve had enough, darling,’ said Hugh, and took a large sip from his glass.

‘Do you know them well?’ asked Kate. ‘I mean, have you met them with their wives before?’

‘We’ve had lunch in London a few times, but they only brought their wives tonight. Why do you ask?’

‘Oh, I don’t know. I thought they were both very attractive, didn’t you? Especially Melpa.’

There was a pause before Hugh answered, then he said, ‘I suppose so. It was the men I was concentrating on.’

‘Anyway, well done darling,’ said Kate again. There was another pause.

She was wondering if this was the right moment to talk about Jan’s idea, when Hugh asked her, ‘How did you get on at your sister’s today? I hope it wasn’t too boring.’

She decided that this was the right time to mention it.

‘Not boring, but a bit awkward.’

‘What do you mean?’ asked Hugh, sipping his drink.

‘Well, Jan thinks we should do more to help with Mother.’

‘What sort of help? I hope she doesn’t think we’re going to pay for everything?’

‘We did talk about that and I told her we couldn’t. But she really does need some help. We talked about having Mother here for a few days… just as a temporary thing-‘

‘What? Have you gone mad? How could we possibly have your mother here?’

‘It would only be for a few days. She could sleep in Caroline’s old room, and Corrie could make sure she’s OK.’

‘But you never know what she might do. You told me yourself that she forgets where she is and does crazy things. She might set fire to the house or leave the taps running in the bath. Who knows what she might do?’

‘Darling, in a week’s time you’re going away on a business trip. She could come then. And I’ll make sure Corrie keeps a close watch on her.’

Hugh finished the last few drops of his whisky and put down the glass.

‘All right then, let her stay while I’m in the States. But for goodness sake make sure she doesn’t do anything crazy. And Kate, this is just for a week, right? And just this once… no ideas about her living with us?’

‘Of course, darling… it’s just this once. I’ll call Jan tomorrow and I’ll talk to Corrie. Now, are you coming to bed? It’s Monday tomorrow.’

‘No, no, you go up, darling. I need to think about how I’m going to move this investment fund ahead now I’ve caught the two biggest fish. Goodnight, darling.’

Kate bent down to give Hugh a quick kiss and went upstairs. As she looked back she saw Hugh pouring himself another large glass of whisky.

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