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Anne was restless.
Just behind her, hothouse orchids festooned the curved mahogany banister. As she wandered outside onto the Cords' terrace, she saw a trio of musicians playing Haydn, their foreheads glistening beneath Japanese lanterns. On the lawn by the pool, four long tables, draped in Irish linen, were laden with gourmet fare. Oysters, raw. Sautéed frogs' legs. Crackers heaped with Russian caviar. The little black blobs were mounded high, Anne noted wryly. A bit of caviar denied the true taste; a mound delivered the appropriate experience. Tuxedoed waiters circulated between house and yard bearing trays of champagne in hollow-stemmed glasses. Anne considered dryly that Loretta Cord's “only a simple Sunday barbecue, darling” had been rather an understatement.
She shouldn't have come, Anne told herself as she went back into the house. Many nights she might have enjoyed the Cords' gala, but tonight wasn't one of them. Tonight she was in a strange mood; she felt like taking a midnight walk in her bare feet when the rain was pelting down, for instance. Knowing she wasn't the walk-in-the-rain type made her feel even more irritable. And because she was rarely so out of sorts, she felt triply annoyed with herself.
She knew why Loretta had invited her. Oh, Linkthe sweethearthad undoubtedly been the one to propose her name for the guest list, but subject, of course, to his wife's approval. And Loretta, naturally, had approved. Yes, Loretta Cord knew that a banker is a wonderful friend to have when one's mink isn't paid for. Actually, Loretta's mink had been paid for, but the lady always covered her bets.
Others at the party had not been so clever through the recession. Certain pairs of eyes shifted from Anne's as she wandered from room to room. It always happened. As a trust officer, Anne really didn't know or care whether anyone regularly overdrew his or her checking account, but people assumed she was privy to all their financial transactions and reacted instinctively. When one saw a police car in the rearview mirror, one slowed down to the legal speed. When a priest wandered by, one stopped screaming at Jimmy and kissed the little monster. And when a banker ambled into the vicinity, one miraculously remembered every financial misdemeanor of one's life.