Me and Mr Darcy

Me and Mr Darcy by Alexandra Potter Read Free Book Online

Book: Me and Mr Darcy by Alexandra Potter Read Free Book Online
Authors: Alexandra Potter
bicep.
    I laugh and, pushing down the little handle on the suitcase, leave it on the asphalt and clamber eagerly up the stairs.
    ‘It’s a full house, so I’m afraid there’s only a couple of seats left,’ chimes my tour guide. ‘There seems to be a space next to Maeve.’
    I smile happily. I am so pleased I didn’t listen to Stella. I knew this would be a great trip.
    I turn to head down the bus.
    Which is when my smile freezes.
    In front of me is a sea of curly grey heads. A whole vista of them. Stretching out as far as the eye can see, all the way to the horizon that is the luxury bathroom. It’s like being on a senior citizens’ outing.
    All of a sudden someone presses ‘play’ on my cerebral tape recorder and Stella’s voice begins replaying in my head: Kooks and old people. Kooks and old people . . .
    ‘Over here . . .’
    An Irish accent interrupts my thoughts and I look up to see an arm near the back of the bus waving at me above the headrests. Still reeling, I smile dazedly and walk the plank to my seat.
    ‘Excuse the ploughman’s . . .’
    Almost hidden behind the seat is a small woman with short, grey hair and oversized reading glasses. Tucking her pleated polyester skirt underneath her legs, she pauses from eating a hunk of cheese and smiles up at me timidly. ‘They didn’t have anything to eat on the flight over from Dublin,’ she adds apologetically, trying to cover her mouth with her napkin while standing up at the same time and spilling crumbs everywhere. ‘Oh, now look what I’ve done . . . Look at the mess I’m making . . . Sorry . . .’
    I stare at her blankly. I’m experiencing a moment of sheer panic. Oh, shit. What have I done? What am I going to do? For a whole week. With a bunch of senior citizens?
    As she fusses around me I shuffle past her and into my seat.
    ‘What about you? Where did you fly in from?’
    ‘New York,’ I reply, trying not to think of the buzzing metropolis I’ve left behind in favour of this.
    I catch myself. Oh, for Godsakes, Emily, pull yourself together. It’s going to be just fine. You’re not going clubbing with them, you’re going on a book tour.
    ‘Oooh, the Big Apple?’ There’s a lot of murmuring and several curly grey heads appear in the aisle to look at me.
    ‘So you’re an American?’ asks one.
    ‘Yes, that’s right.’ I nod.
    ‘How exciting,’ smiles another. ‘ An American. ’ She says it as if I’m a species from outer space.
    Lots of knowing glances fly around me.
    ‘Overpaid, oversexed and over here,’ booms a large, striking woman, her head popping above the parapet of the headrest in front of me. Unlike the others, she has dyed black hair, cut into a strikingly severe Cleopatra bob and is wearing a lot of dark-red lipstick. It suits her, despite her seventy-something years.
    ‘Excuse me?’
    ‘That’s what they used to say about the Yanks during the war,’ she remarks, her dark, inquisitive eyes shining brightly beneath her fake eyelashes and painted-on eyebrows. ‘And I should know, I married one.’
    Hoots of laughter fly around the coach.
    She extends a plump hand laden down with diamonds the size of knuckle-dusters. ‘Rose Bierman.’
    ‘Emily Albright.’
    Her handshake is firm and unwavering, and I get the distinct impression she’s sizing me up. How funny, and there was I thinking I was the one sizing her up.
    Ten minutes later we still haven’t moved. There’s one empty seat left and we’re waiting for the last person to arrive. Apparently, they’re travelling from Central London so they should be here any minute.
    A hum of chatter fills the air, which is already heavy with a cloying cocktail of perfumes. Impatiently I glance at my watch – how much longer? I glance around me, expecting a coach full of discontent, but everyone else seems happy sharing packets of cookies called, strangely, ‘custard creams’, whatever they are, swapping photos of grandchildren and comparing

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