Three Wishes(9)


by Liane Moriarty

“Sorry.” He rolled onto his back with a sigh and reached across to the bedside table for a glass of water. “No need for me to pick up stray women in bars.”

“Michael!”

“Just letting you know you’re safe with me, sweetheart.”

“Well, thanks, you big chauvinist pig.”

He put down his glass of water and settled back down into bed, making contented purring sounds as he pulled up the quilt and curled his body around Lyn’s back.

He was always so chipper after sex.

“Cat is devastated,” said Lyn.

“Hmmm.”

“You’re not very sympathetic.”

“Your sweet sister can be a real bitch.”

“So can I.”

“No you can’t.

“We’re identical. Remember?”

“No. You’re my lovely little Lynnie.”

Efficiently, he bundled her hair to the side so it wouldn’t tickle his face, kissed her shoulder blade, and within seconds began to snore into the back of her neck.

Sex with husband. Check.

I absolutely did not think that, she thought.

She shouldn’t have let Michael call Cat a bitch. She wasn’t, for one thing, but more important, Cat never let anyone say a bad word about her sisters. Oh, she could say plenty of bad words about them but nobody else—not even Dan, Lyn would bet, in the privacy of their own bedroom. Cat’s loyalty was fierce and staunch.

In their school days, Cat was their own personal hit man, their hired thug. When they were seven, for example, Josh Desouza spread a vicious rumor about Gemma. The rumor was that she’d shown him her underpants. (The rumor was true. He tricked her by accusing her of not wearing any. “But I am!” cried Gemma, devastated. “Prove it,” he said.) When Cat heard about it, her face went bright red. She walked straight up to Josh in the middle of the playground and head-butted him. Head-butting hurt a lot, she confided to them afterward, but she didn’t cry, well, only a little bit, when she got home and saw the red mark on her forehead.

Now they were in their thirties, Cat was still ready to spring to their defense, often unnecessarily. Just the other day she and Lyn went out to lunch. “Didn’t you ask for a salad?” Cat said to Lyn. “Excuse me! My sister hasn’t got her salad!”

“I am actually capable of asking myself,” said Lyn.

“My sister.” Cat said it with such unconscious pride. Even after she’d just been telling you what a complete loser you were for ordering a bocconcini salad, when everyone knew bocconcini was a conspiracy to make you eat rubber.

“I’ve got something to tell you,” she said to them in the pub, as if they didn’t already know that the moment they saw her face from the other side of the room.

Lyn fell suddenly, very deeply asleep.

The voice was teeth-jarringly sweet. “Lyn! Georgina! How are you?” Lyn’s stomach muscles tightened in anticipation. She tucked the portable phone under her ear. “Hello, Georgina. How are you?”

She was in the middle of trying to undress Maddie for an unscheduled bath. Maddie had just spent five pleasurable minutes smearing herself with sticky black Vegemite and didn’t want her handiwork removed.

There was only one person capable of leaving an open Vegemite jar sitting in the middle of the living room floor: Georgina’s daughter Kara.

“To be honest, Lyn, I’m rather annoyed.”

Maddie sensed her mother’s attention slip and squirmed free. She escaped from the bathroom, chortling with wicked glee.

“What’s wrong?”

Lyn turned off the bath taps and followed Maddie out into the hallway. Her sisters told her that she had well and truly paid her penance for breaking up Georgina’s marriage by practically bringing up her daughter, leaving her free to lead a life of leisure. They also reminded her that not only had Georgina blissfully remarried some guy who looked like Brad Pitt and seemed bizarrely quite nice, but that she was a vindictive bitch from hell who deserved to have her husband stolen from under her nose.

But still, Lyn was always conscious of Georgina being the wronged party. And so she played her part in these terribly civilized, grown-up-about-it conversations and didn’t even attempt to apply one of the four key techniques for dealing effectively with passive-aggressive behavior.

“Kara is very upset,” said Georgina. “I’m surprised Michael allowed it, I really am. With respect, Lyn, I’m rather surprised at you!”

“I have no idea what you’re talking about.” Lyn watched Maddie pick up Kara’s favorite T-shirt from the floor and hug it adoringly to her Vegemited body. There was really nothing she could do to stop her.

“I’m talking about the article in She,” said Georgina. “Kara says you didn’t even ask her permission to use her name! She’s a sensitive child, Lyn. We all need to be a little careful with her feelings.”

“I haven’t seen the article.” Lyn took a deep stress-management breath through her nostrils. She tried not to think of Kara’s ten-year-old face crumpling each time Georgina called to cancel a day out. A little careful of her feelings, indeed.

“I understand of course. Your public profile is important to you,” said Georgina. “Just be careful in future, won’t you? How’s that little ruffian of yours by the way? Kara seems to spend a lot of time looking after her for you. That must be a real help! Wish I had some help when Kara was little. Well, must fly!”

Lyn momentarily considered throwing the portable phone against the wall.

“Bitch,” she said.

“Bitch,” repeated Maddie, who had an unerring ear for inappropriate new words to add her to vocabulary. She applauded with chubby joyful hands. “Bitch, bitch, bitch!”

LOVE. KIDS. CAREER. WOMEN WHO STRIKE THE “TRIPLE” JACKPOT!!!

While most of us find it incredibly difficult to juggle career and family, some women seem to have hit up upon that elusive magical formula.

At just thirty-three years of age, Lyn Kettle is the founder and managing director of the hugely successful business Gourmet Brekkie Bus.

Brekkie Bus specializes in mouthwatering Sunday morning breakfasts delivered straight to your door. As every Gourmet Brekkie Bus fan knows (this reporter is one of them!), these breakfasts are to die for. Flaky croissants, eggs Benedict, freshly squeezed juice—and of course, those incredible pastries!