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This Charming Man

Chapter One


Day zero. Monday, August 25, 2:25 P.M.

The worst day of my life. When the first wave of shock released me from its fiendish grip, I couldn't help but notice that Paddy hadn't called me. Ominous. I was his girlfriend, the media was going wild that he was getting married to another woman, and he hadn't called me. Bad sign.

Called his private mobile. Not his ordinary private one, but the private private one that only I and his personal trainer have. It rang four times, then went to message; then I knew it was true.

End of world.

Called his office, called his home, kept ringing his mobile, left fifty-one messages for him ––– counted.

6:01 P.M.

Phone rang ––– it was him!

He said, "You've seen the evening papers?"

"Online," I said, "I never read the papers." (Not relevant, but people say the oddest things when in shock.)

"Sorry you had to find out in such a brutal way. Wanted to tell you myself but some journalist ––– "

"What? So it's true?" I cried.

"I'm sorry, Lola, I didn't think you'd take us so seriously. We were just a bit of fun."

"Fun?" Fun?

"Yes, only a few months."

"Few?! Sixteen of them. Sixteen months, Paddy. That's a long time. Are you really marrying this woman?"


"Why? Do you love her?"

"Of course. Wouldn't be marrying her if I didn't."

"But I thought you loved me."

In a sad voice, he said, "Never made you any promises, Lola. But you are a great, great girl. One in a million. Be good to yourself."

"Wait, don't go! I have to see you, Paddy, please, just for five minutes." (No dignity, but couldn't help myself. Was badly distraught.)

"Try not to think badly of me," he said. "I'll always think fondly of you and our time together. And remember..."

"Yes?" I gasped, desperate to hear something to take edge off the terrible, unbearable pain.

"Don't talk to the press."

6:05 P.M. to midnight

Rang everyone. Including him. Lost count of number of times, but many. Can be certain of that. Double, possibly triple figures.

Phone was also red-hot with incoming calls. Bridie, Treese, and Jem ––– genuine friends ––– offered much comfort even though they didn't like Paddy. (Never admitted it to me, but I knew.) Also many fake friends ––– rubberneckers! ––– ringing to gloat. General gist ––– "Is it true that Paddy de Courcy is getting married and not to you? Poor you. Is terrible. Is really, really terrible for you. Is so humiliating. Is so mortifying. Is so shaming! Is so ––– "

Kept my dignity. Said, "Thank you for kind wishes. Must go now."

Bridie came to see me in person. "You were never cut out to be a politician's wife," she said. "Your clothes are too cool and you have purple highlights."

"Molichino, please!" I cried. "Purple makes me sound like a...a teenager."

"He was too controlling," she said. "We never got to see you. Especially in the last few months."

"We were in love! You know what it's like to be in love."

Bridie had got married last year, but Bridie is unsentimental. "Love, yes, very nice, but no need to live in each other's pockets. You were always canceling on us."

"Paddy's time is precious! He's a busy man! I had to take what I could get!"

"Also," Bridie said, "you never read the papers, you know nothing of current affairs."

"I could have learned," I said. "I could have changed!"

Tuesday, August 26

Feel the whole country is looking at me, pointing and laughing. Had boasted to all friends and many clients about Paddy and now they know he is marrying someone else.

My equilibrium destroyed. On a photo shoot in the Wicklow Hills for Harvey Nichols Christmas catalog, I ironed oyster-colored silk bias-cut Chloe evening dress (you know the one I mean?) at too high a heat and burned it! Scorch mark in the shape of the iron on the crotch of iconic dress worth 2,035 euro (retail). Destroyed. Dress was intended to be the pivot of the shoot. Was lucky they didn't charge me (i.e., bill me, not have me arrested, but could be either, actually, now that I think about it).

Nkechi insisted on taking control ––– she is an excellent assistant, so excellent that everyone thinks she is my boss ––– because my hands were trembling, my concentration was in ribbons, and I kept having to go to portaloo to vomit.

And worse. Bowels like jelly. Will spare you the details.

8:30 A.M. to 12:34 A.M.

Bridie and Treese visited me at home and physically restrained me from driving round to Paddy's apartment and demanding audience with him.

3:00 A.M.

I woke up and thought, "Now, will go!" Then noticed Treese was in bed beside me. Worse, was awake and prepared to wrestle.

Wednesday, August 27, 11:05 A.M.

Constant loop in my head, He is marrying another woman, he is marrying another woman, he is marrying another woman. Then every few hours I think, What?! What do you mean, he is marrying another woman?! As if discovering it for the first time, and simply cannot believe it. Then am compelled to ring him, to try to change his mind, but he never picks up.

Then the loop starts again, then the surprise, then I have to ring him, then I get no answer ––– again and again and again.

Saw picture of this so-called Alicia Thornton. (At the newsstand buying a Crunchie when I saw it on the front page of the Independent.) Photographer had caught her coming out of her Ballsbridge offices. Hard to be certain but looked like she was wearing Louise Kennedy. Said it all. Safe. Elegant but safe.

Realized I recognized Alicia Thornton ––– she had been photographed four times with Paddy in glossy society pages over last few months. Caption had always read, "Paddy de Courcy and companion." When photo number three had appeared, I had felt emboldened enough to question him about her. He accused me of not trusting him and said she was a family friend. I believed him. But what family? He has no family!

This Charming Man
by by Marian Keyes

  • Genres: Fiction
  • hardcover: 576 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow
  • ISBN-10: 0061124028
  • ISBN-13: 9780061124020