The Way We Lied

Sarah suddenly swatted a fly on the wall above the cooker and snapped, “I think you should go and take a look at her so-called sculptures. It’s all tits – literally! I can’t see a giant pair of tits enhancing your classy development, can you?”
Nick pressed the cold bottle to his forehead and sighed again. “Maybe she’ll do something else for us. She seemed very interested in the idea.”
Sarah stood with her back to the stove, her arms folded over her striped apron. “She’s been interested in a lot of things lately.”
“What do you mean?”
“Oh nothing. I’ve just heard her name mentioned a few times, that’s all.”
“More school gate gossip?”
Sarah began spinning the salad with great vigour. “The school was thinking of asking her to talk to the girls, but they’ve thought better of it now.”
“That doesn’t mean anything. Honestly Sarah, you don’t half take against people sometimes.”
“Oh really?” Sarah tossed the leaves into the salad bowl. “You should hear how she’s got her claws into Helen. Supposed to be mentoring her. Meddling more like.”
Nick raised an eyebrow and smiled. “Not like you then?”
“I give advice where it’s wanted.”
“Course you do. Only when it’s wanted.”
Sarah turned to face him and stood with her hands on her hips. “That’s right Nick. When it’s wanted. When it’s needed. And if I was you, I’d forget about this Mary Reid . Someone needs to tell her she’s not as wonderful as she thinks she is.”
Nick smiled. “I’ll bear that in mind my love. I’ll tell her when I see her.”
A week later, he arrived at Dover Court in a buoyant mood. The early summer sunshine was warm and bright and although the development was far from finished, the area around the show home and the marketing office was neat and filled with tubs of glowing geraniums. He stood in the sun, surveying the central courtyard.
The plan was for each town house to have a private patio area overlooking a communal landscaped garden with flower beds, grass and trees. Although he had not yet finally approved the design for the garden, he could visualise a sculpture as the centrepiece and was excited at the prospect. He already felt confident that Mary would be impressed with the architecture and would jump at the chance of working with him.
He wandered along to the show home, humming a happy tune. This was going to be a good day. He could feel it. Inside, the atmosphere was calm, the cream sofas were uncreased and the cushions were plump. Michelle, his sales assistant at Dover Court, had already made fresh coffee and its scent mingled with the lemony freesias that filled the vase on the sideboard.
Nick sat down to wait for his guest and flicked through a recent copy of Country Life. The property pages were his greatest interest, but he hovered over the section devoted to art galleries and auctions. He really should get to know more about this stuff, he thought, then decided to leave the magazine open at these pages as a signal to Mary that he was indeed a genuine and knowledgeable art lover.
Just as he was rearranging the magazines on the coffee table, Michelle knocked at the door and showed Mary in. She looked just as she had the previous week. In fact, she might not have changed her clothes at all in the meantime, they were so similar to how she had been dressed at the conference. And yet, Nick thought, there was something earthy and basic about her style. She had no need of tight skirts or sharp heels.
He poured coffee for both of them and they sat opposite each other while he talked about his projects and specifically about the progress at Dover Court. When he broached the idea of incorporating a sculpture, Mary glanced down at the prominently displayed magazine.

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