Rebecca had arrived back in London with a newfound determination to make her business a success. She would put Dylan out of her mind and concentrate entirely on plans for the opening of her new Kings Road branch. The task had proved to be not that simple but she had always found work to be a successful antidote to painful introspection. She threw herself into the planning of the new boutique.
The Kings Road Palmerstone would reflect exactly the brand of the Wimbledon shop but in other ways it would be unique to the catchment area it would serve. Rebecca had bought higher end labels to compliment her existing stable. There were many successful city types living in the area often with wives or girlfriends, sometimes both, who had time and money to burn. She needed to cater for a party lifestyle for the Chelsea set where the wives and girlfriends were often part of the display of career success and personal wealth. The trophy wife and the Sloane Ranger were both terms coined to describe the types of women that Rebecca wanted to seduce into her new shop.
The shop fittings were sleeker than in the Wimbledon shop reflecting the additional available budget. The floors were of polished oak and rails and shelves were fitted around the walls in blocks so that clothing could be broken up with displays of bags, shoes, folded tees, jeans and jumpers. Rebecca had learned from the shops she had visited on the Via Condotti in Rome. The space was kept very clean and minimal so that it was easy to rifle through the collections for those who liked to shop independently. Of course all the new staff had been trained in the Palmerstone way of attention to detail and absolute commitment to customer service. The shop was due to open in the middle of February with the Spring Summer Collections interspersed with some pieces more suitable to the English winter climate sourced from the Wimbledon shop. Careful merchandising made the older stock look fresh and inviting as well as wearable. Rebecca intended to manage the new store herself to begin with leaving Carole to manage Wimbledon.
The opening was scheduled for Thursday evening. The invitations had been sent out, many of them with the help of Caitlin’s extensive address book. Champagne was laid on and the staff from both Palmerstone shops standing by. The evening was a great success with the till ringing merrily throughout the evening.
Caitlin came in with a couple of her Sloan Ranger friends in tow and between them seemed to buy up half of the store. Rebecca gestured her thanks and love to Caitlin too busy to spend any real time with her. Caitlin was going on to an opening night so didn’t stay long. However she did take her laden carrier bags with her and took care to mention the new store to a society photographer who took a snap of her entering the gallery. The next day featured a small piece in the Evening Standard linking Palmerstone with the Chelsea set; Rebecca was so excited that she called Caitlin immediately to thank her for her unstinting support.
‘Hey that’s what friends are for’ was all she elicited from Caitlin. Rebecca wondered if Caitlin had heard anything from Mario who she knew had made an impact on her friend but decided not to ask, as she knew that Caitlin would respond with an inquiry about Dylan. She had not heard from him.
With the new shop up and running Rebecca was busier than ever. She was finding it difficult to travel between the stores on public transport, as she often needed to switch stock around from place to place. Examining her bank account was a revelation. The first shop had been doing very well and she had made a decent profit. But having two shops made a huge difference. Her account was in sufficient credit for her to be able to buy a vehicle to travel between the shops; even a new car would be possible. With a car of her own she would be able to visit home more easily too, a visit which was long overdue. Rebecca scoured The Evening Standard looking for a suitable vehicle and decided that she would invest in a brand new Mini. She called the car dealer the very next morning and ordered her Mini in glossy black with caramel leather seats.
Shortly after she had made the call she started to feel extremely sick and had to run to the bathroom to throw up. She looked at herself in the mirror after she had washed her face and brushed her teeth. She found it hard to recognise the old Rebecca in the haunted eyes and gaunt face that looked back at her.
She tried for a moment to think that she had been sick with apprehension at spending so much money but the truth was already fixed in her mind. She knew that she was pregnant.