only person in the Coca-Cola-drinking world who wasn’t aware that not only could Jonah Sinclair convincingly act his way out of a paper bag, but he was also the highest-grossing box-office actor. Ever. “Now, I was thinking we could go to this restaurant called Manna. They do great vegetarian.” Years of being a total dog automatically stopped him from adding
so my wife tells me
at the end of such sentences.
“Vegetables?” Mirri scowled.
“You love animals, right?” Jonah looked down at Bébé, from whom he’d carefully stood as far away as possible.
“And I love to eat them.” Mirri looked at Jonah and wished he’d behave as carelessly as his clothing; she wasn’t in the mood for an overly solicitous man tonight. She’d hoped from his “nice arse” remark that he’d be rougher than he now seemed. She groaned to herself. She usually made a point of not dating actors for this very reason. You thought you were getting one thing and ended up with whatever it was they thought you wanted, rather than what you really wanted. She decided to nip the niceties in the bud.
“We’ll go to Lemonia and then maybe we’ll fuck,” Mirri decided. And Jonah, after a second of openmouthed shock, relaxed visibly.
“Cool.” He smiled and began to swagger a bit. “So do we take the cat, too, or do you want to drop it off home first?”
“The owner of the restaurant will look after him for me. She’s very nice. Well, she was twenty years ago, I suppose things are still the same. That’s the thing about England,
plus ça change.
You can go away for twenty years and when you come back all is just the same as when you left.”
Mirri smiled for the first time, pleased that Jonah had relaxed enough to drape his arm around her neck and brush her face with stubble as he muttered, “I meant what I said about your arse, y’know? But your tits are fucking unbelievable, too.”
“So what about you and Jake?” Leonard was laying out wineglasses on the pale yellow linen tablecloth in his orangery. The old glass-and-stone room was one of Kate’s favorite parts of Leonard’s amazing house, but thanks to the generally useless nature of the English weather it was only a viable place to be for about three weeks of the year—on a clear, crisp, warm summer’s night. The rest of the time it was damp, smelled of mold, and was freezing cold. But this evening it had the air of a favorite old dress that had been brought out of mothballs and tissue paper for a special occasion—the mossy bricks were warmed from a day of sun, the light of the sunset cast an apricot glow over the flaking paint, and the Victorian pineapple tree, the palms, and the cascading ferns lent a smell of dewy greenness to the air. Kate bunched her damp, newly washed hair into a ponytail and helped Leonard lay the silver out next to the place mats.
“Oh, I think possibly it was a red herring,” she said, not giving away the black depths of disappointment she felt in the pit of her stomach about Jake not having called. “It was his birthday. I thought things had changed . . .” She responded to Leonard’s gentle look of disbelief by adding, “He told me that he loved me, Leonard. He’d never done that before. That’s why I thought it was different this time . . .” Kate needlessly rearranged the already perfect flowers on the table. “Anyway, it was obviously a one-off. I won’t call him. I promise.”
“Darling, as you know, you can do whatever you wish. But just be careful. Jake is a very charming and alluring man . . . but he is also what I would call a cad. And for want of a more original expression, a leopard doesn’t change his spots.”
“I know, I know. But no harm done, hey? I’m still in one piece.” Kate shook back her ponytail and smiled, to prove her bravery to Leonard. But really she knew that this wasn’t the end of it. Sure, she’d pretend to the others—to Tanya and Leonard—that she’d washed her hands of him, but