Authors: Lucy Diamond
Tags: #Fiction, #General
Lucy Diamond lives in Bath with her husband and their three children.
is her third novel.
By the same author
Any Way You Want Me
First published 2009 by Pan Books
This electronic edition published 2009 by Pan Books
an imprint of Pan Macmillan Ltd
Pan Macmillan, 20 New Wharf Rd, London N1 9RR
Basingstoke and Oxford
Associated companies throughout the world
ISBN 978-0-330-51494-1 in Adobe Reader format
ISBN 978-0-330-51492-7 in Adobe Digital Editions format
ISBN 978-0-330-51495-8 in Mobipocket format
Copyright © Lucy Diamond 2009
The right of Lucy Diamond to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted by her in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.
You may not copy, store, distribute, transmit, reproduce or otherwise make available this publication (or any part of it) in any form, or by any means (electronic, digital, optical, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise), without the prior written permission of the publisher. Any person who does any unauthorized act in relation to this publication may be liable to criminal prosecution and civil claims for damages.
A CIP catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library.
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For all my hens: Ellie, Hayley, Jo, Jude, Marns and Rachel, as well as Fiona, Kate, Fran, Saba and Nicky. Cheers, girls!
2008 was the year I (finally!) got married and had my own hen night, so it was a very fitting year in which to write this novel. I’d like to thank the following people who all helped in various ways:
Imogen Taylor, Jenny Geras, Trisha Jackson and everyone at Pan Macmillan for their editorial input and all-round loveliness, plus Simon Trewin, Ariella Feiner and all at United Agents, for sound advice and support. Victoria Walker, Kate Harrison and Milly Johnson for feedback and encouragement during writing. The witty and talented members of BWBD and the Novel Racers who keep me writing week in, week out. My parents, Kate and Adrian Mongredien, for their love and support, and my children, Hannah, Tom and Holly Powell, who are just fabulous in every way. Huge thanks also to everyone who’s taken the time to write or email to say they enjoyed my first two novels – I really appreciate it (and you!). As for you, Martin, husband extraordinaire . . . you’re the best.
Katie’s Hen Night
‘Cheers to the hens!’
Katie Taylor picked up her champagne flute and thrust it into the air. Seven flushed faces beamed back at her along the length of the restaurant table. Her best friends, Alice and Georgia; her younger sisters, Charlotte and Laura; two friends from work, and, down at the far end of the table, her future sister-in-law, Nicki.
‘Cheers!’ the chorus came back as they all lifted their glasses and clinked them against each other. ‘Yay!’ added Alice, her apple cheeks shining in the candlelight. ‘Cheers to the blushing bride, too!’
Katie adjusted the plastic silvery tiara on her head – it had slipped over one ear again – and slugged back a large mouthful of bubbly. ‘Well, I don’t know about
she said, cocking an eyebrow saucily, and everyone laughed. ‘Seriously, though,’ she said, suddenly feeling a lump in her throat, ‘it’s so great that you’re all here for my hen night.’ Tears pricked her eyes as she gazed at them, friends and family out together in the new T.G.I. Friday’s off the ring road. She thought for a moment she was going to start blubbing all over her chicken-in-a-basket, and dabbed at her eyes with the paper serviette. ‘Thanks, Alice and Georgia, for organizing everything,’ she went on, her voice wobbling slightly as she raised her glass to each of them in turn. ‘You’re the best hens and bridesmaids a girl could ask for.’
‘You haven’t seen the strippergram yet,’ Georgia teased, tossing her dark hair over one shoulder so that it fell down her back in a sleek, shining mass. She arched a perfectly plucked eyebrow. ‘You might not be saying that later . . .’
Alice grinned. ‘She’s only winding you up,’ she told Katie, dipping one of her fries in ketchup and swallowing it whole.
‘Yeah, I’m only joking,’ Georgia said, and winked. ‘It’s a gorillagram really. Big, butch and hairy, just the way you like them, Katie.’
Everyone giggled. ‘
, Georgia?’ asked Charlotte, Katie’s youngest sister, who was only fifteen and thought Georgia the most glamorous creature ever to be seen in Wiltshire. ‘Is there
going to be a gorillagram?’ She stared around eagerly, eyes wide, hoping for a glimpse of some male dangly bits to brag about to her friends at school. What with the alcopop she’d tried for the first time in her life AND the electric-blue mascara that Laura had let her borrow, this was turning out to be the most exciting night she’d ever had.
Georgia pursed her blood-red lips. ‘You never know,’ she said, tapping her nose confidingly.
‘Big butch hairy men aside,’ Alice said, raising her glass in Katie’s direction, ‘here’s to you, Mrs Watkinson.’
‘Oi, not yet,’ Katie retorted, laughing. ‘I’ve got one week left of being Katie Taylor before I’m a Mrs anything.’ She allowed herself a secret shiver of excitement at the thought of the wedding next Saturday. Mrs Watkinson. Mrs Neil Watkinson! It sounded so married. So grown up! She glanced down at her engagement ring, the gold glinting under the bright restaurant spotlights, and felt goosebumps breaking out along her arms. ‘I mean it, though. I’m having a fab night tonight. And I just know the wedding is going to be the best one ever!’
Two hours later, Katie was feeling decidedly ratted as she swung around the dance floor to Chaka Demus and Pliers. Georgia was shaking it up nearby with a bloke wearing stupid rapper trousers, and Alice was making Charlotte drink pints of water at the side, after some Pernod-and-black-related vomiting incident in the loos. Oh, it was so brilliant having Alice and Georgia here, Katie was really chuffed they’d come all the way from London for tonight. She’d missed them, more than she’d expected to. It had all been a whirlwind, meeting Neil, leaving London, making plans for the wedding and a whole new future . . .
The song changed and suddenly Georgia was at her side. ‘You’re Lulu, I’m Robbie,’ she said, spinning around on the spot. ‘Alice! Over here! You’re Gary Barlow!’
Alice left her Charlotte-tending duties at once and ran onto the dance floor. ‘I’m Mark Owen,’ she bellowed over the pounding music, wiggling her hips. She wasn’t really a confident dancer, Alice, always too self-conscious about how her body looked (unlike Georgia, who was going for it big-style with her routine, punching the air and singing into a pretend microphone), but the first time the three of them had ever been out together to the Friday club night at the student union, they’d all had such a laugh dancing to ‘Could It Be Magic’ that, since then, hitting the dance floor for Take That had become something of a ritual.
‘Cos I neeeeeeeeed your love!’ Georgia screamed, grabbing Katie’s hand and spinning her round.
Katie laughed uncontrollably as she saw the looks her workmates, Beth and Andrea, were giving her. They both knew Katie as the rather quiet, sensible new girl in the office, helping with the accounts, mucking in with the tea- and coffee-making. They probably hadn’t realized they worked with a disco diva who had such mad Robbie Williams-impersonating friends. Oh, who cared what they thought anyway? It was only a stop-gap job until she sorted out another college course. And she hadn’t had a proper dance for ages – too long.
She made a hand into a pretend microphone of her own and went for it.
By two o’clock the next morning when the music stopped and the club lights suddenly went horribly bright, Charlotte was asleep on a velour banquette with Laura trying to shake her awake, Beth and Andrea had long gone, and Nicki had been picked up by her fella for a lift home. ‘See you at the wedding,’ she’d said, kissing Katie goodbye.
‘That was an ace hen night,’ Alice said, as the cab dropped them back at Katie’s mum’s house. Her fair hair was plastered to her head and someone had spilled a pint of lager down her side, but her eyes were sparkly with happiness.
‘I loved it,’ Georgia agreed, linking an arm through Katie’s as they walked up the front path. ‘What a laugh – my face aches from smiling all night. It’s not been the same without you, Kate, our Friday nights. Are you sure you can’t persuade Neil to move to London?’