Today's Reading

"There's Taittinger in our mini fridge."

"Will Barb care?" asks Frankie.

"Only when she wants it and sees that it's gone." I find the champagne and pop the cork while Frankie gets plastic cups from the stockroom.

When I take the love seat, Evelyn jumps next to me, sloshing our drinks. "Do you have Sonos? I'm putting on my playlist!" Her knees bump compatibly against mine. Like we've done this a hundred times before. It's strange but not unpleasant.

Frankie gives Evelyn the Wi-Fi network and password, and now Lana del Rey intros soulfully through the speakers. Evelyn nudges in closer. I let it happen.

"To Ferretti? Versace?" Frankie raises his cup as our eyes trade another woo boy. Even if Evelyn purchases a fraction of what she likes, we've made our entire week.

"To me, of course!" sings Evelyn. "Your rock star-Viking goddess!"

We laugh and tap cups, and over the next hour, Frankie and I are a captive audience to whatever Evelyn wants to talk about next; it's her money, of course, that gives her permission to have the most to say. We learn that she's thirty-five years old, an only child who grew up all over, but mostly at her family home in Tennessee, before attending boarding school in New Hampshire—"for some spit and polish"—followed by a single semester at UC Santa Cruz, where she met Jurgen, a Swiss DJ who soon became the father of her son, Xander. She has her scuba diving license, she's been to Base Camp One and Timbuktu, and she would have been part of the U.S. National Equestrian team if she hadn't taken a fall that fractured her collarbone; one of her most heartfelt cause Celebes, she tells us somberly, is the care and rehabilitation of retired racehorses. She cochairs the annual Frick Young Fellows Gala in the fall and the Watermill Center's Summer Benefit. She's six years married to an artist named Henry, and they live downtown.

She shows us photos of Xander, whose sprinkling disruption of eighth-grade acne can't hide that he is beautiful like his mom. "You were twenty-one when you had a baby?" I ask carefully.

"A new twenty-two. Xander was the last thing I thought I wanted." Evelyn puts away her phone. "And prepare to be shocked, but it turns out DJs don't make the most exemplary parents. Thank goodness I've got Henry. He's such a great big hug of a stepdaddy."

"That's so lovely," is what I intend to say, but what comes out is "That's so lucky."

"We are," says Evelyn. "We're a real cozy little family."

"I was asked to be in a threesome at my friend's bachelorette party," says Frankie, with a quick glance at me, as he deftly shifts us to sex anecdotes for the reward of Evelyn's laughter. We're all getting tipsy, which is probably why Frankie and Evelyn now decide to recreate some TikTok dances. On Evelyn's urging, I recite a few stanzas of "Way to Find Me" before she's suddenly on her feet in a bounce. She pulls her phone from where it fell into the velvet cushions. "My bottom buzzed me! It's my driver. My flight's leaving—quick, pack it all up. I want everything."

"Everything, what?" I laugh. "You're kidding."

"Aw, Spelling Bee, I'm not sure that's a winning sales strategy," says Evelyn. "Yes, every last thing."

"Will you come back for alterations?" Frankie looks stunned.

"I have my own tailor. My driver's almost here. Point me to the ladies'?"

We can barely keep our cool, and as soon as Evelyn vanishes to the bathroom downstairs, Frankie and I grab each other's hands and start spinning.

"When did we ever do a sales number like this?"

"The lady with the Q-tip hair? Who bought all the dragonfly stickpins?"

"Nora, I'm pretty sure this is bigger than our whole June!"

It's such a rush, all this money. I'm already imagining how I'll tell the story to Jacob.

"And the books," says Evelyn as she reappears. "Are they worth a lot?" 

"The books?" I shake my head. "The books aren't for sale."

"Why not?"

"Because they..." Because they're mementos from Jacob's and my road trips. Crackerjack prizes pried from flea markets and swap meets. I pick up The Alice B. Toklas Cookbook. "This copy is water damaged, see? I got it for her hash fudge recipe."

Evelyn's breath is on my cheek. "How much?"

"They're not—"

"Two K for all of them," calls out Frankie, but he doesn't even sound serious; we both know the books couldn't be worth more than fifty dollars.

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