A Beautiful Day for a Wedding Read online





  A division of HarperCollins Publishers

  www.harpercollins.co.uk

  HarperImpulse

  an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers Ltd

  1 London Bridge Street

  London SE1 9GF

  www.harpercollins.co.uk

  First published in Great Britain by HarperImpulse 2018

  Copyright © Charlotte Butterfield 2018

  Cover illustration © Shutterstock.com

  Cover design © HarperCollinsPublishers 2018

  Charlotte Butterfield asserts the moral right to be identified as the author of this work.

  A catalogue copy of this book is available from the British Library.

  This novel is entirely a work of fiction. The names, characters and incidents portrayed in it are the work of the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events or localities is entirely coincidental.

  All rights reserved under International and Pan-American Copyright Conventions. By payment of the required fees, you have been granted the non-exclusive, non-transferable right to access and read the text of this e-book on screen. No part of this text may be reproduced, transmitted, down-loaded, decompiled, reverse engineered, or stored in or introduced into any information storage and retrieval system, in any form or by any means, whether electronic or mechanical, now known or hereinafter invented, without the express written permission of HarperCollins.

  Source ISBN: 9780008302719

  Ebook Edition © May 2018 ISBN: 9780008302702

  Version: 2018-04-18

  Table of Contents

  Cover

  Title Page

  Copyright

  Dedication

  Prologue

  Chapter 1

  Chapter 2

  Chapter 3

  Chapter 4

  Chapter 5

  Chapter 6

  Chapter 7

  Chapter 8

  Chapter 9

  Chapter 10

  Chapter 11

  Chapter 12

  Chapter 13

  Chapter 14

  Chapter 15

  Chapter 16

  Chapter 17

  Chapter 18

  Chapter 19

  Chapter 20

  Chapter 21

  Chapter 22

  Chapter 23

  Chapter 24

  Chapter 25

  Chapter 26

  Chapter 27

  Chapter 28

  Chapter 29

  Chapter 30

  Chapter 31

  Chapter 32

  Chapter 33

  Chapter 34

  Chapter 35

  Chapter 36

  Chapter 37

  Acknowledgements

  Also by Charlotte Butterfield

  About the Author

  About HarperImpulse

  About the Publisher

  To Team P: Ed, Amélie, Rafe and Theo

  Prologue

  How to be the perfect bridesmaid. Rule number one: Start mourning the friend you love, because once she becomes entangled in wedding planning, she doesn’t exist anymore.

  Gone are the easy chats about life, love and the universe, and in its place are endless one-sided monologues about whether it would be unreasonable to ask all the bridesmaids to pierce their ears so they can wear matching earrings (answer: yes). Evenings will be spent pondering the question of whether tulips are too cheap, orchids too expensive or peonies too try-hard. Who cares? They’ll either end up swept up with the confetti by an Eastern European cleaner on minimum wage in the morning, or carefully preserved in an airing cupboard by the groom’s granny. You know the friend that’s always been very supportive about your extra curves? Well, as soon as that sparkly solitaire gets slipped on her finger she’ll ‘accidentally’ order your bridesmaid dress a size too small forcing you to eat blended kale for a month before the wedding.

  Let’s talk hen dos for just a moment. What a wonderful opportunity for some sisterhood solidarity, where dignity and self-consciousness are checked in with your coat at the door and the order of the day is friendship and fun. Wrong. Don’t even think about surprising the bride with an activity, theme or outfit she hasn’t approved. In writing. She may say that you have the power of attorney on this weekend, but she doesn’t mean it, she’s lying through her newly-whitened teeth – which brings me onto the subject of beauty. The role of a bridesmaid is to be pretty, but not too much. Save those fake eyelashes for another occasion, because God forbid you should have longer lash-action than the woman in white. By all means brush your hair, possibly even add a bit of bounce, but do not consider having an up-do that takes more than two minutes to construct. That’s her arena. The only part of your grooming routine you shouldn’t scrimp on is deodorant. You’ll need at least half a can sprayed into your armpits at all times to counteract the iron-woman training that you’ll be forced to do in the week before the big day. Fill your car with petrol, top up your oyster card, stash your heels for another day, and flex those limbs because good God are you going to be using them. Unless you are already a PA to the president of a small country, never before will you have been faced with a To Do List of the gargantuan proportions that you will soon be handed. And the best part is, you have to smile like Mary Poppins while cheerily crossing each item off. Hem curtains? Check. Polish floors? Check. Dog-sit for a fortnight? Che— Fuck. Fuck fuck fuckity fuck.

  Eve had no idea that her legs could even move that fast. Weaving in and out of office workers, shoving tourists out of the way, hurdling over open drains, and banging on the sides of open-top buses, she finally made it to the front of her friend Tanya’s apartment block. Steadying herself on the gate for a moment to let the burning sensation in her lungs subside, she silently offered up a little prayer that she wasn’t about to walk into the rotting carcass of a pedigree pug.

  The stench hit her before the key was fully turned in the lock. Covering her mouth with her sleeve and trying not to retch, Eve slowly pushed open the door and braced herself for whatever sight she might find. The flat was still. Silent. Too still and silent for an apartment with a dog in it.

  ‘Coco, here girl, there’s a good girl.’ Eve wandered quickly from room to room, giving a small gasp at the doorway of each one at the carnage that assaulted her eyes. The thought crossed her mind that perhaps Tanya had been burgled, the flat ransacked and the dog stolen. It would certainly make explaining this slightly easier. But robbers wouldn’t chew the sides of sofas until their filling spilled out, or wee on the expensive dhurrie rug from Peshawar. The ridiculous thing was, Eve was actually a little heartened to see the mess that Coco had made, as it meant that at some point over the last three days she’d had enough energy to create this bloodbath, rather than spend her final hours festering into a pile of bones.

  The door to the bedroom was ajar, and, not having fully shaken away her intruder theory, Eve approached it cautiously. ‘Coco? Coco?’ A shoebox lay open at the foot of the bed, its lid chewed off. The distinctive red soles of Tanya’s prized black patent Louboutin heels were thankfully unmarked by tiny teeth marks, but instead, they’d been used as a portaloo. ‘Oh, sweet Jesus.’

  At the sound of her voice, a sleeping Coco eagerly jumped up from the satin pillows she’d been snoozing on and gave a yelp of sheer joy. Flinging herself at Eve, in all her stinky glory, she covered her with slobbery kisses, which Eve couldn’t help but tearfully return. ‘Oh God Coco, I’m so sorry, please don’t tell anyone,’ she picked her up, snuggling her face into her fur. ‘It’ll be our secret.’

  After giving her some water and filling her bowl with dried pellets that promised they contained organic chicken, she grabbed her lead from th