It was a throw away line. The girls were around and the champagne had been flowing. Becky wasn’t the only one who was more than tipsy and the conversation was getting excited. But it still took him by surprise. Her voice in a lull in the din. ‘Oh, he’s just not the romantic type.’

She couldn’t mean him. Could she? But who else? Gerard thought back. He wasn’t shy about saying how he felt. He bought flowers whenever he should—birthdays and anniversaries or just when she was feeling low. Last Christmas he’d designed a brooch that a friend who was a silversmith had made. It had seemed to go down well. He’d even written poetry for her. What more should he be doing?

There was a knock at the door. When he answered Stella swished through. He offered to take her coat.

‘Don’t be stupid,’ she said. ‘A coat like this needs to be seen, not tossed onto a pile in the spare room.’ And she kissed him as if he were a little brother who’d just said something naïve but cute.

‘No worries.’

Stella opened the door. The room went quiet. Then someone whistled and the girls erupted.

‘Genuine Dior,’ said Stella. ‘Darius picked it up in Paris.’

‘See, that’s what I mean’ said Becky. ‘Now that’s romantic.’

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