Summer Lies Bleeding

Summer Lies Bleeding by Nuala Casey Read Free Book Online

Book: Summer Lies Bleeding by Nuala Casey Read Free Book Online
Authors: Nuala Casey
deadpan as she reclaims her rehearsed lines. ‘It just takes a couple of minutes to fill in your contact details and then we can let you know the latest news.’
    Kerstin is becoming increasingly agitated. It feels like the tainted purse and the time ticking on her watch are burning into her skin like acid as she stands waiting.
    â€˜No, thank you, I would not. I just want to buy this purse,’ she says in a loud, firm voice.
    â€˜Right,’ says the woman, with equal firmness and she places the credit card into the slot. ‘If you could just type in your pin number.’ She holds the machine towards Kerstin.
    Kerstin looks at the buttons on the machine and for a moment she thinks she can see the sweat from the woman’s fingers glistening on the numbers. She cannot touch it; she cannot taint herself any further.
    â€˜Would you mind putting it down on the counter?’ she asksthe woman. The assistant frowns and makes a clicking noise with her tongue as she puts the machine down.
    â€˜Thank you,’ says Kerstin, as she pulls the sleeve of her silk blouse over her index finger and gently taps in the pin number.
    The assistant shakes her head and picks up the machine. After a long pause, the machine whirrs and the assistant rips out the sales docket, removes the card from the slot then smiles weakly at Kerstin.
    â€˜That’s all gone through.’
    She hands the card back to Kerstin, who receives it with her sleeve still stretched safely over her hand. Then, grabbing the new purse, she rips off the price tag. The woman looks at her with a horrified expression, but Kerstin doesn’t notice. She takes the old purse and starts to empty its contents onto the gleaming counter: her ID card for work; her debit card; her Sainsbury’s loyalty card; four twenty-pound notes. Then she unzips the middle section and pours a pile of loose change out.
    â€˜What are you doing?’ asks the woman.
    â€˜I need to get rid of this purse,’ says Kerstin as she slots the cards and notes into their new home. ‘Would you mind putting it in your bin?’ She puts the damaged purse onto the counter. The woman looks at it in horror, like she is being handed a dead fish.
    â€˜Put it in the bin?’ she says, her expression one of utter bewilderment.
    Yes,’ says Kerstin, as she scoops up the coins and drops them into her new purse. ‘It’s ripped.’
    â€˜Oh,’ says the girl, taking it from the counter. ‘But this is a Prada wallet.’ Her eyes light up as she touches the golden lettering. ‘Are you sure you want to get rid of it. It’s not a huge rip.’
    â€˜Yes, I’m sure,’ says Kerstin, tucking the new purse safely into the left hand pocket of her bag. ‘Thank you.’
    She walks away, leaving the woman holding the Prada purse like it’s an abandoned child. As she steps out onto New Bond Street she takes a deep breath. The purse and the counting must surely have rectified it all. If she keeps calm, she can still get the report finished by Wednesday and redeem herself. Her mind falls silent as she walks back to St James’s Street.
    *
    Seb smiles to himself as he walks across Albert Bridge, Cosima’s voice still ringing in his ears: ‘Bye, Daddy. Don’t work too late!’
    He has safely deposited her with Yasmine’s mother, Maggie, in her tiny, cluttered maisonette on Battersea Bridge Road; the flat his wife grew up in. It is difficult to imagine a family of four sharing such a cramped space for so many years. Even now, with her children grown up and left and her husband dead, Maggie fills every last square inch of the space, though so tiny herself. Yet, the happiness and loving disorder that permeate that flat is hard to resist; there is always something delicious being cooked in the kitchen and Magic FM is a constant in thebackground, creating a kind of easy-listening aural soup that you have to swim through

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