Shopaholic Ties the Knot (Shopaholic #3)


by Sophie Kinsella

One

OK. DON’T PANIC. The answer will come to me any minute. I just have to think hard about what marriage is all about. It’s about love, obviously. And companionship, and mutual support. And… soup?

My eye rests on a huge antique silver tureen, complete with ladle. Now, that would make a perfect wedding gift. I can just see it: Suze and Tarquin sitting by the fire, ladling soup into each other’s bowls. It’ll be all lovely and domestic and heartwarming, and every time they drink soup they’ll think of me.

Perhaps I could even have it engraved. “To my best friends Suze and Tarquin on their wedding day with love and affection from Becky.” And a little poem, maybe.

Mind you, engraving is quite expensive. I’d better check how much it would all come to.

“Excuse me, how much is this soup tureen?” I say, turning to Arthur Graham, who is the owner of Graham’s Antiques. This shop has to be one of my favorites in the West Village. It’s small and intimate like someone’s home, and everywhere you turn, there’s something you might want. Like that fantastic carved chair, and a hand-painted velvet throw, and that amazing grandfather clock over in the corner…

“The tureen?” Arthur comes over, dapper in his jacket and tie. “This is very special. Eighteenth-century silver. Exquisite craftsmanship. You see this detail on the rim?”

“Beautiful!” I look obediently.

“And it’s priced at…” He consults a little book. “Four thousand dollars.”

“Oh, right.” My smile falters, and I carefully put the ladle back. “Thanks. I’ll… keep looking.”

So maybe marriage isn’t about soup. Maybe it’s about… chess? I run my hand over a beautiful old chess set, all set up as though a game’s in progress. But I’m not sure Suze knows how to play chess.

A clock? No.

A… an antique barometer?

Oh God, I’m really clutching at straws here. I can’t believe it’s Suze’s wedding in two days and I still haven’t got her and Tarquin a present. Or at least, not one I can actually give them. Months ago I bought them this gorgeous picnic hamper, filled with picnicware, a champagne cooler, really cool knives and forks, and even a rug. It took me ages to choose all the stuff, and I was so pleased with it. But Suze phoned last night to check what time we’d be arriving, and told me her aunt had just given her a fantastic present — a picnic hamper filled with Conran tableware!

Well, no way am I giving Suze the same present as someone else. So here I am in the only place I can think of where I’ll find something unique. Except… what? She hasn’t registered for gifts, because she says she hates the idea of asking people for things. And anyway, I’d never just get her some boring set of plates off a list. Suze is my best friend, and I’m going to be her bridesmaid, and my present has to be something really special.

I can feel myself starting to get anxious. OK, just think laterally. What do Suze and Tarquin enjoy doing?

“Do you have any horse saddles?” I ask in sudden inspiration. “Or… bridles?”

“Not at the moment.”

Oh well. Anyway, I’d have to get two, wouldn’t I? And they probably wouldn’t even fit the horses properly…

A carved music stand? Except how would I get it home on the plane? And anyway, neither of them plays an instrument. A marble bust of Abraham Lincoln? A picture of…

Hang on a minute. I push the bust of Lincoln aside and look carefully at the old trunk he’s been resting on. Now that’s rather nice. In fact it’s very nice. I undo the straps and gently lift the lid, inhaling the smell of old leather.

Wow. This is stunning. All pale silk and leather straps, and a mirror, and little compartments to put your cuff links in. Suze will adore this, I know she will. She can use it to keep jumpers in and when she and Tarquin go on a cruise a porter can wheel it up the ramp for her and she’ll look all glamorous and film-star-like.

And the point is, even if someone else gives them a suitcase or something, one of my great maxims of life is: you can never have too much luggage.

“How much is this trunk?” I ask Arthur Graham a little nervously. Please don’t let it be $10,000—

“We’ve had that awhile.” He frowns at it. “I could let you have it for… three hundred.”

“Perfect.” I breathe a sigh of relief. “I’ll take it.”

Mission accomplished! I’ve got Suze’s wedding present! Thank goodness for that. Now all I need is my bridesmaid’s dress, and I’m there.

“It’s Miss Bloomwood, isn’t it?” says Arthur, opening a large leather-bound notebook. “I’m sure we have your address… And yes. Here it is.” He smiles at me. “Is that all for today?”

I don’t need anything else. I don’t even need to look around the rest of the shop.

“Um… Well.” Idly I glance around again. It’s always a good idea to have your eyes open when you’re in antique shops, because there are some really good bargains out there. And it’s all a good investment. I mean, this is how some people make their money.

Through the door to the back room I see the corner of a lace shawl, and feel a tug of desire. Antique shawls are so in at the moment. And since I’m buying the trunk, it occurs to me, Arthur might give it to me for half price. Or maybe even for free!

Oh, come on. I’ll just have a quick look. But only at very small things, because I’ve promised Luke no more furniture.

“I’ll have a bit of a browse.” I smile back at Arthur. “Thanks.”

I head happily into the back room and reach for the lace shawl, but close up it looks a bit ragged. I put it down again and pick up a cocktail shaker. This is nice. Maybe I should get it for Suze as well.

“This is cool!” I beam at Arthur, who has followed me in.

“It’s fun, isn’t it?” he agrees. “It goes with the 1930s cocktail cabinet.”

“Cocktail cabinet?” I echo, feeling prickles of interest. “I didn’t see a—”

“Here.” He walks over to what I thought was a cupboard, unhooks the front flap, and displays the mirrored Art Deco fittings inside. “You see, here’s where your bottles go… here are your highballs…”

I gaze at it, completely smitten. A real, genuine, 1930s cocktail cabinet. I’ve always wanted a cocktail cabinet.