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Helena appeared, they all kissed hello, and then Bette took Tina’s hand as they walked through into the main living area. It was vast, around three thousand square feet, with twenty-foot-high windows affording the most spectacular views. At this height, Manhattan was a grey-blue circuitboard studded with yellow and amber against a wash of violet and fuchsia sky. Up close, a dense geometry of identikit office blocks; in the distance, the soaring, timeless beauty of the Chrysler Building.
‘Looseners on the terrace,’ Peggy continued. ‘Ever had a Sidecar?’
‘Not for many years,’ said Bette.
‘Well, let’s fix that. And you’re going to love who I’ve got out here.’ She linked arms with them both. ‘You’re not driving, of course?’
‘We took my car service,’ said Tina.
‘Babysitter staying the night?’
‘Yes,’ Bette laughed. ‘But we still have to get home.’
Peggy fixed her with a saucy look. ‘How did you become so domesticated?’
But before Bette could even recover from her blush, they’d reached the entrance to the terrace and her mouth slackened in surprise. Tina exhaled a tiny Oh my God without moving her lips.
Peggy beamed with delight as her other guests all turned to greet the new arrivals. Well, all but one, who was standing off to one side, smoking.
‘Fran!’ Peggy called. ‘For God’s sake, put that filthy thing out and come and meet my goddaughters – well, not officially, but I am grandmother to their children, so let’s not stand on ceremony. Fran Lebowitz, this is Bette and Tina.’
Peggy’s other guests were hardly less noteworthy. A fashion designer, a playwright, a fisherman, someone who was rewilding a chunk of Connecticut . . . These were people Tina would normally have to be torn away from, and yet tonight she found it hard to concentrate. A part of her, as it had been all week, was somewhere else.
‘. . . and then I opened my legs and monkeys flew out of my bum,’ said Helena.
‘Mhmm,’ said Tina, staring at the candlelight glowing ruby-red in her almost-full wine glass.
She felt a tap her on the hand. ‘Terrace,’ said Helena. ‘Now.’
Tina looked around, like she’d just awoken, but Helena had already picked up their drinks and gone outside. Tina glanced around again. Everyone else, including Bette, was deep in conversation. She decided to follow Helena.