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Alphabet Weekends
     

Alphabet Weekends

3.0 1
by Elizabeth Noble
 

Natalie and Tom have been best friends forever, but Tom wants them to be much more. When Natalie's longtime boyfriend walks out on her just when she thinks he's going to propose, Tom offers her a different and wildly romantic proposition. He suggests that they spend twenty-six weekends together, indulging in twenty-six different activities from A to Z, and at the

Overview

Natalie and Tom have been best friends forever, but Tom wants them to be much more. When Natalie's longtime boyfriend walks out on her just when she thinks he's going to propose, Tom offers her a different and wildly romantic proposition. He suggests that they spend twenty-six weekends together, indulging in twenty-six different activities from A to Z, and at the end of that time Tom's convinced they'll be madly in love. Natalie, however, is not so sure.

As Natalie's touring the alphabet with Tom, her mother's going through her own romantic crisis—while Tom's unhappily married sister-in-law, Lucy, struggles with temptation. And over the course of six amazing months, three generations of passionate dreamers are going to discover that, no matter how clever they are, love—and life—is never as easy as A, B, C . . .

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780141044729
Publisher:
Viking Penguin
Publication date:
02/28/2010
Pages:
471
Product dimensions:
5.00(w) x 7.70(h) x 1.20(d)

Related Subjects

Read an Excerpt

Alphabet Weekends

Chapter One

Natalie heard Tom's car horn at seven p.m. on the dot. He was never late. But Simon always had been. Not for patients, just for her. She was still on Simon time.

At seven ten he hooted again.

'All right, you bugger,' Natalie shouted, to the empty room behind her, as she slammed the flat door.

At least she had something to pack an overnight bag for, even if it was only Tom. Natalie liked packing overnight bags. She hoarded those little bottles you could buy at Superdrug, and sachets that came in magazines, and kept them in an Anya Hindmarch bag Susannah had been given once when she was upgraded on a British Airways flight. Ever ready. It made her feel glamorous—the thought that she could head off at a moment's notice to Babington House or Gleneagles. Now it was in her holdall (fake Mulberry, M & 5), nestled alongside a travel hairdryer and two sets of matching underwear. Underwear always matched in an overnight bag.

If he'd booked one room he could think again. She wanted six feet of Frette linen all to herself, thank you very much. Thank goodness he had a bit of money. He might want to dress up the cheering-her-up process as this stupid alphabet game, but she knew they were both in it for a laugh. She was looking forward to a bit of pampering. Maybe there'd even be a spa ...

Tom had opened the boot and was leaning against the passenger door. 'Come on.'

'Da-dah!' Natalie spread her arms and gave a little twirl. 'I'm ready for A. Or should I say, I'm Available for A, I'm Able to A, I'm Amenable—'

'You're L for late.'

She ignored him. 'Come on,then. Where are we going? Don't keep me in suspense!'

'We're going abseiling.'

'You have got to be kidding me.'

'Nope. Kit's in the car.'

'Kit?'

'Sleeping-bag, boots—you're a size five, if the shoes I read last week were telling the truth, Rescue Remedy, ingredients for packed lunch—'

'But you're kidding really, right?'

'I am totally serious. We're booked into a bunkhouse on Dartmoor tonight, and it's going to take hours to get there, so could you close your big guppy mouth and get into the car? We had a deal.'

'I don't remember any deal where I agreed to something life-threatening.'

Tom smiled. 'You'll be as safe as houses. Trust me.'

'Yes, well, that doesn't sound very likely, does it? Trusting you has ended me up here.'

Tom started the car, and pulled out into the traffic.

Natalie watched him. His brow was furrowed in concentration, one eyebrow—the one with the tiny scar from when he had fallen off a diving-board when he was fourteen—a little higher than the other. 'Abseiling? Really?' she said.

'Really.'

'In January? Really?'

'Really.'

An hour later, on the MS, she still didn't believe him. Maybe Exeter, somewhere like that. Topsham. There must be lots of hotels around there, the ones with linen sheets, posh shampoo and spas. He couldn't be serious.

And if he was, it would prove what she had said all along, ever since that stupid conversation in the pub on New Year's Eve. He so wasn't the right man for her.

She woke herself up with her own snore, head snapping forward, and realised the car had stopped. And that it was almost pitch dark. Driving rain smudged the view of what was clearly the only building for miles around, illuminated by pale lights through tiny windows.

'We're here.' Tom stretched beside her, his forearms flat against the top of the car. 'Thanks for the marvellous company.'

'I was tired.'

'Just as well, actually. I dare say you're going to get all princess-and-the-pea-ish about the bunkhouse.'

'Very probably.'

The smell of wet neoprene hit them as they opened the door. A drying room was immediately to their left, full of dripping wetsuits swinging like carcasses in an abattoir. To their right, the living room was occupied by a couple of mouldy-looking sofas, some Formica tables and chairs, and a family in perfectly co-ordinating fleeces, engrossed in a game of Scrabble. Everywhere signs advised them to 'switch lights out', 'behave with consideration' and 'deal responsibly with litter'.

Tom was watching Natalie.

'Brownie-camp flashback. What the hell have you done, Tom?'

'You'll be fine. Let's go and find our room.'

'Our room?' She trudged after him, up the stairs.

She was about to call him presumptuous, but then she saw the bunks. You'd need to be a contortionist, let alone presumptuous. The mattress was about two feet wide, with no sides, and, it appeared, no ladder to the top. Blimey.

Natalie stood in the corner while Tom busied himself unrolling their sleeping-bags and laying them out. 'D'you want to go on top?' His eyebrows waggled suggestively at her. She was too horrified even to take the bait, and shrugged.

'So, do you fancy the pub, or a microwave meal with Mr and Mrs the Family Who Plays Together Stays Together down there?'

'Pub.'

'Are you planning to speak in whole sentences at all this weekend, or are these monosyllabic utterances the best I can hope for?'

'If you want a whole sentence you'd better feed me, then drive me home.'

He was pushing her down the stairs.

The pub helped a little. An open fire and a big bowl of chilli. Several whisky macs.

'So,' she asked, 'have you ever done this abseiling thing, then?'

'Nah. Bungee-jumped once when I was in Australia. Do you remember?'

Tom's year off. Her finals. He'd rung her at three a.m. once, off his face in some bar in Queensland, to wish her good luck in an exam. She nodded.

'I figure this can't be harder than that.'

'But you're about fifteen years older now,' she said.

'True. But I hardly consider myself to be over the hill. What about you?'

Alphabet Weekends. Copyright � by Elizabeth Noble. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

Meet the Author

Elizabeth Noble is the author of the internationally bestselling novels The Reading Group, The Friendship Test, and Alphabet Weekends. She lives with her husband and their two daughters in New York City.

Brief Biography

Hometown:
Wonersh, Guildford, Surrey, England
Date of Birth:
December 22, 1968
Place of Birth:
High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, England
Education:
B.A., St. Edmund Hall, Oxford University, 1990
Website:
http://www.elizabethnoblebooks.com

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