Sleeping Arrangements

Sleeping Arrangements by Madeleine Wickham Page B

Book: Sleeping Arrangements by Madeleine Wickham Read Free Book Online
Authors: Madeleine Wickham
she'd ignored the entire family as much as possible. But every time he'd moved she had seen it; every time he'd glanced at her, she'd known it. Over the hours, her sensitivity had gradually heightened until the entire horizon had seemed to shrink to herself and him: watching each other but not watching each other. Feeding on a mutual, appalled fascination.
    Looking at him had been like viewing a cinefilm of the past. The voiceless movements, the dazzling light and shadows, the painful, jumbled nostalgia. She'd watched him rub his wife's skin with sun cream, and her own back had tingled in response. She knew that hand, she knew that touch. He had looked up and met her eye, and she had felt a lurch, deep within her.
    She had said nothing. Silence had become the barrier against which her emotions reared and pressed. The stronger the desire to speak, the more staunchly she resisted it, taking pleasure in her self-control. Hugh Stratton had left her more raw than she would ever admit to anyone. But she wouldn't let him see it. She wouldn't let him see anything, except mild, uninterested contempt. She would acknowledge to no-one—not even herself—that her heart had begun a fast, quiet thudding when she first glimpsed his face outside the villa. That it continued to thud even now.
    She paused outside the bedroom door and took a few deep breaths, adjusting her thoughts, bringing herself back to the moment. Then she pushed it open. Philip was standing by the window, gazing out over the garden. A long, white, translucent curtain billowed gently by his side. He turned round, and for a moment they gazed at each other in a suspended, limbo-like silence. Then Chloe moved forward and put her bag down on the bed.
    'You came in,' she said, and smiled. 'Too hot?'
    'Bit of a headache.' He turned back to the window and she noticed that he had a drink in his hand.
    'Starting early,' she said lightly. 'That won't do your headache any good.'
    'I suppose not.' His words were distracted; he didn't look round. Chloe felt a rush of frustration. She wanted a greeting to match her own hot, raised emotions. A kiss, a smile; even a spark of anger.
    'Right,' she said after a pause. 'Well . . . I'll take a shower, then.'

    'Fine,' said Philip, and took a swig of whisky. 'What time's supper?'
    'Eight.'
    'Do the boys know?'
    'They're not eating with us,' said Chloe curtly. She still felt very irritated with Sam and Nat.
    After she'd gone out of her way to arrange places for them at the adult dinner table, after she'd told Amanda how grown-up they were, they had both argued passionately to be allowed to eat junk food in front of a movie on cable television instead. 'We're on holiday,' they had kept repeating, stuffing taco chips into their months and slurping cans of Coke until she felt like screaming at them.
    In the end she had given up the attempt to force them. There was no point frog-marching a bolshy Sam to the table and expecting the evening to remain adult and civilized. At least this way she wouldn't have to worry about their table manners.
    Chloe walked into the bathroom and turned on the shower. She was about to step in when she remembered her shampoo, still in its duty-free plastic bag next to her suitcase. Without bothering to turn off the shower, she walked out of the bathroom door and stopped in surprise. Philip was on the telephone. He was facing away, so he couldn't see her, and he was talking in a low voice. As the words began to make sense, she felt a disproportionate, white-hot anger rise inside her.
    'So what did he say?' Philip was saying. 'I bet he was. That department has no bloody idea.' He paused. 'So you're saying we just sit and wait.' He shook his head. 'The fuckers.
    Yes, well. I'll try. You've got my number. Thanks, Chris. I'd better go.'
    Philip put the receiver down, picked up his drink and turned round. At the sight of Chloe he gave a start of surprise.
    'Hi,' he said warily. 'I thought you were . . .' He gestured towards the

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