March 30, 2006

Of course, I pretended to be innocent, but Taffy and I have known each other for several years. For me to fool her, she'd have to be deaf, blind and drugged out of her senses. The only other defense was to busy myself with the mineral water.

"Is Pellegrino okay, dear heart?" I smiled as sweetly as I could as I pulled the bottle from the refrigerator.

Taffy glared at me. "Cut the crap. That stuff tastes like nail polish remover, anyway."

"It does?" I asked, taken aback.

"It does to me," Taffy said, pointing to her belly. "Baby doesn't like the ritzy stuff. But that's not the point. Hon, this matchmaking could get us all into big trouble. What about Suzette's feelings? Or, what if Karl goes home to Atlanta and gets us all on the shit-list of the head honchos? Do you really want to risk that? For what, your own entertainment?"

Taffy's accusation shocked me, and I had to work to keep my voice under control. "Actually, I wasn't planning on risking anything for mere entertainment. I was trying to help Suzette. Zut alors! What do you take me for?"

"I take you for a meddler. You mean well, but meddling is meddling," Taffy said, as her jaw clenched. "Suzette is a grown woman, and she's fully capable of finding her own…beau." Taffy almost spit the last word out. The tension in the kitchen had built up to an unbearable pitch.

"I know that, Taffy. Of course I know that. But, I don't think you should jump all over me just because I'm throwing a simple dinner party."

"Oh, Karl!" Taffy gushed in a mocking, swooping tone. "What perfume should Suzette wear?"

I hissed, "Keep your voice down!"

And quelle horror, Karl entered the kitchen at that moment. "Ladies," he said with a little nod. "I thought I would get some mineral water as well."

"Certainly." I stretched my mouth into a smile, but all the while, I was watching Taffy out of the corner of my eye. I thought that pregnancy was driving her a little crazy.

Taffy was smiling at Karl, too, or perhaps the expression would be classified as closer to a grimace. "Would you both please excuse me?" And, unceremoniously, she left the room.

I poured Karl a glass of mineral water and he continued to look at me gravely as he took it.

"The beginning of a new life is an incredible thing," mused Karl as his glance turned toward Taffy.

"True, true," I said. "But it's certainly not easy for anyone else."

"That is something I know nothing about," Karl admitted. He didn’t move from the counter.

"Is everything okay, Karl?" I asked. I couldn't help but wonder how much of Taffy's and my conversation he had heard.

"I was going to ask you the same question," he replied.

I tried to brush the comment away and chuckled, "Oh, you know, hostess jitters."

"You have nothing to feel jittery about. Everything is delicious," Karl said. "But why does that Frederick fellow hate me so?"

This Week, Mrs. Filthy's Reading:

Ahab's Wife, or The Stargazer by Sena Jeter Naslund