Envy (Luxe Series #3)by Anna Godbersen
Jealous whispers. Old rivalries. New betrayals.
Two months after Elizabeth Holland's dramatic homecoming, Manhattan eagerly awaits her return to the pinnacle of society. However, when she refuses to rejoin her sister Diana's side, those watching New York's favorite family begin to whisper that all is not as it seems behind the stately doors of No. 17 Gramercy… See more details below
Jealous whispers. Old rivalries. New betrayals.
Two months after Elizabeth Holland's dramatic homecoming, Manhattan eagerly awaits her return to the pinnacle of society. However, when she refuses to rejoin her sister Diana's side, those watching New York's favorite family begin to whisper that all is not as it seems behind the stately doors of No. 17 Gramercy Park.
In this thrilling installment of Anna Godbersen's bestselling Luxe series, Manhattan's most envied residents appear to have everything they desire: Wealth. Beauty. Happiness. But sometimes the most practiced smiles hide the most scandalous secrets. . . .
Read an Excerpt
Envy: A Luxe Novel
By Anna Godbersen
HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.
Copyright © 2009
All right reserved.
Mr. Leland Bouchard
requests the pleasure of your company
at a ball to be given in honor of
the members of The New York Automobilist Club
on Thursday evening
February 8, 1980, at Nine O'Clock
18 East 63rd Street
"Surely a girl as lovely as you, a girl who personifies loveliness itself, should not be hidden away on a night like this, on a night when everyone wants to see a fine figure and starry eyes, and where yours are the starriest of all."
Diana Holland looked up innocently from the comb-crested silk sofa in the library and met the eyes of her friend, who leaned against the polished mahogany doorframe, having characteristically used twice as many words as were strictly necessary. His name was Davis Barnard, and though he wrote his gossip column under a pseudonym, he was the only famous writer Diana knew.
Diana glanced to her left, where the eyelashes of her chaperone, Aunt Edith, were just touching down on that lady's high cheekbones. In Edith's face Diana could see the future of her own features, for the small, rounded mouth, the subtle nose, and the dark eyes perfectly spaced under a generous forehead were very like hers, albeit with the thinning and etching of age. Edith exhaled a sleepy, contented breath, and then Diana looked backat Barnard. Over his black tuxedocovered shoulder were the trilling sounds and electric lights of the Bouchard ball.
"You flatter me too much," she said as she stood, adding a knowing wink for emphasis. She was terribly knowing these days.
The long black chiffon skirt of her gown trailed behind her as she approached the entrance, and she batted her fan open to modestly cover her face. She always did this when Barnard escorted her, because they discussed everyone in detail, and so it was prudent to obscure the view of her mouth from any chance lip-readers. Her hair was drawn into a bun in the back, and her curls descended diagonally on either side of her forehead toward her ears. A black leather belt marked the narrowness of her waist, and at the middle point of her princess neckline was a flower made of ivory lace petals. The gown was new, and she had paid for it herself. She glanced back once, to be sure that no one had noticed her slipping away from her chaperone, and allowed herself to be drawn across the creamy marble floor of the second-story mezzanine.
"Quite a showing," Barnard remarked as they crossed onto the richly gleaming parquet floor of Leland Bouchard's music room. It had been constructed with acoustics in mind, although the music room was rarely used for its titular purpose. Music rooms were for people who held musicales, and Leland Bouchard, who had built the house for himself at twenty, from money that he had earned off his own investments, was known for never sitting still. The walls were paneled with murals, and a gigantic Kentia palm festooned with tiny lights scraped the twenty-five-foot ceiling.
Her vision swept the rectangular room with its high, vaulted ceiling and met the gaze of Isaac Phillips Buck, who quickly looked away, as though he had been watching her. He was large in every way one might imagine, and the soft fleshiness of his face made his age impossible to determine. He was Penelope Hayes's lackey, Diana knew that much, but she couldn't imagine why he would have any interest in her. Next, Diana's gaze fell on her sister's old friend Agnes Jones, who was resting on the arm of a well-kempt gentleman. She tried to make her eyes widen in a cordial manner, though she still had trouble appearing to like people she did not, which Barnard had admonished as an unfortunate characteristic in both a lady of society and a peddler of secrets.
"Everyone is here," Barnard went on as they watched Teddy Cutting cross the room with Gemma Newbold, who wore a diamond tiara nestled in her reddish curls and was well known to be Mrs. Cutting's choice for her only son. There was a time when everyone had thought Teddy would marry Elizabeth Holland, but that was before she became rather publicly engaged to his best friend, and then very privately married to her true love. Like their mother, she had been widowed; both those ladies were home together tonight. That was among the reasons her younger sister tried to be seen in her place as much as possible, though it was hardly cause for Buck to spy on her.
"Nobody doesn't love Leland," she replied, shaking off the feeling of Buck's swinelike eyes on her.
"It would be difficult not to." Barnard paused to accept a glass of champagne from a passing waiter. "Although I must confess to getting a mystery headache whenever I am in his company too long. He talks too fast, and he is always excited about everything. Me, I am never excited about anything between the hour when I wake up and five o'clock."
Diana smiled subtly at this, for she knew what five o'clock signified to her friend; of course, she had also known him to take whiskey in his coffee at decidedly earlier hours.
"That is a very gaudy gown on Eleanor Wetmore," Diana observed, fixing her sight on the array of custom-made dresses and painted faces before them.
Barnard paused and looked. "Indeed."
"I would imagine she is on quite the search for a husband, now that her younger sister is engaged to Reginald Newbold. That will sting for her, to be twenty-six and a maid instead of a matron of honor at the wedding. I suppose she needs the attention any way she can get it."
"That would make a nice item." Barnard finished his champagne and left the glass on the magnificent carved wood mantel, which had been transported from a grand Florentine house, as Barnard himself had reported in his "Gamesome Gallant" column.
"Why don't you write it?"
Excerpted from Envy: A Luxe Novel by Anna Godbersen Copyright © 2009 by Anna Godbersen. Excerpted by permission.
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Meet the Author
Anna Godbersen was born in Berkeley, California, and educated at Barnard College. She currently lives in Brooklyn, New York, where she is at work on the sequel to The Lucky Ones.
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