Home > Shopaholic to the Rescue (Shopaholic #8)

Shopaholic to the Rescue (Shopaholic #8)
Author: Sophie Kinsella

Prologue

From: [email protected]

To: Brandon, Rebecca

Subject: A “request”

Dear Mrs. Brandon,

It has been a long time since I saw you last. I hope you and your family are flourishing.

As for myself, I am enjoying a life of retirement but find my mind often casting back fondly to episodes from my professional life at Endwich Bank. I have therefore decided to embark upon an “autobiography” or “memoir,” provisionally entitled: Good and Bad Debts: The Ups and Downs of a Patient (and Not So Patient!) Fulham Bank Manager.

I have written two chapters already, which were well received by members of my local horticultural club; several present even expressed the opinion: “They should put it on TV!” Well, I don’t know about that!!

I might say, Mrs. Brandon, that you were always one of my more “colorful” customers and had a “unique” approach to your finances. (I heartily hope and believe that you have mended your ways with maturity.) We crossed swords many a time, but I trust we reached some sort of “entente cordiale” by the time of my retirement?

I therefore wonder if I might interview you for my book at a time convenient to yourself? I await your reply with pleasure.

Yours sincerely,

Derek Smeath

Bank Manager (Retd.)

From: [email protected]

To: Brandon, Rebecca

Subject: Re: Re: A “request”

Dear Mrs. Brandon,

I write in disappointment. I approached you in good faith, as a fellow professional, or even, dare I say, friend. I hoped to be treated as “such.”

If you do not wish to be interviewed for my “memoir,” then that is your choice. However, I am saddened that you felt the need to concoct an elaborate lie. Clearly this ridiculous, convoluted story about “racing after your father towards Las Vegas” to “uncover some mystery” and make sure “poor Tarkie isn’t being brainwashed” is entirely fictitious.

How many times, Mrs. Brandon, have I held missives from you in which you have claimed to have “broken your leg,” “suffered from glandular fever,” or told me that your (imaginary) dog has died? I had hoped that as a mature, married mother, you might have grown up a little. However, I find myself sadly disappointed.

Yours sincerely,

Derek Smeath

From: [email protected]

To: Brandon, Rebecca

Subject: Re: Re: Re: Re: A “request”

Dear Mrs. Brandon,

To say I was astonished by your most recent email would be an understatement. Thank you very much for the series of photographs.

I can indeed see that you are standing on the edge of a desert. I see the RV that you are pointing at and the close-up of the map of California. I also observe your friend Lady Cleath-Stuart in one picture, although whether it is “totally obvious from her tortured expression that her husband has gone missing” is not for me to say.

May I please ask you to clarify: Your father has gone missing and so has your friend’s husband? Both at once?

Yours sincerely,

Derek Smeath

From: [email protected]

To: Brandon, Rebecca

Subject: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: A “request”

Dear Mrs. Brandon,

My goodness, what a story! Your email was a little garbled, if I may say—would these be the correct facts?

—Your father came to visit you in Los Angeles because he discovered some news regarding an old friend, Brent, whom he had not seen for many years.

—He then disappeared on a mission, leaving only a note in which he referred to “putting something right.”

—He has enlisted the help of Lord Cleath-Stuart (“Tarkie”), who has been through a difficult time lately and is in a “vulnerable state.”

—He has also co-opted a chap named “Bryce.” (Strange names they have in California.)

—Now you are following the three to Las Vegas in the fear that Bryce is a nefarious character who may wish to extract money from Lord Cleath-Stuart.

In answer to your query, I’m afraid I do not have any “blinding insights” with which to help you, nor did anything similar ever happen while I was at the bank. Although we did once have a rather “shady” client who attempted to deposit a bin bag full of £20 notes, whereupon I phoned the financial authorities. I will be recounting that “tale” in my book, believe me!!

I wish you every success in tracking down the missing three, and if I can be of any help whatsoever, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Yours sincerely,

Derek Smeath

ONE

“OK,” says Luke calmly. “Don’t panic.”

Don’t panic? Luke is saying “don’t panic”? No. Noooo. This is all wrong. My husband never says “Don’t panic.” If he’s saying “Don’t panic,” then what he really means is: There’s every good reason to panic.

God, now I’m panicking.

Lights are flashing and the police siren is still sounding. All I can think are wild random thoughts like, Do handcuffs hurt? and Who shall I call from my jail cell? and Are the jumpsuits all orange?

A policeman is heading toward our hired Class C twenty-six-foot motor home. (Blue gingham drapes, flowered upholstery, six beds, although “bed” is an exaggeration—try “six skinny mattresses plonked on planks of wood.”) He’s one of those cool-looking American policemen with mirror shades and a tan, and he’s very scary. My heart starts to thump and I automatically start searching around for a hiding place.

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