Authors: Lauren Weisberger
“Miranda, I'm in L.A., and I can'tâ”
“Monday, then. You'll fly first. Or I can get Michael Eisner to give you a lift. That's fine.”
“I'm so sorry, I would love to help, but I've accepted a client who's going to require quite a bit of hand-holding. I wouldn't be able to give you what you need for the Met right now. What you
There was an icy pause. “And here I had heard your business wasn't exactly, how shall we put it?
Emily's stomach dropped. “Is that so?” Word had reached Miranda Priestlyâwho concerned herself with nothing she deemed beneath her? That little punk Rizzo was probably telling everyone and their mother that he had flown her all the way from Los Angeles in the middle of the night just to tell her she was fired before she was hired. Or maybe it had been Kim Kelly, who had been yapping to everyone that Emily didn't
know how to Snapchat. Like it was crucial to know how to turn a selfie into a rainbow-puking piglet. Because
how crises were remedied and celebrity achieved. Perhaps Olivia Belle had something to do with it? Who could ever be sure?
“Allow me to remind you, Emily, although I shouldn't have to: celebrities are fickle and oftentimes stupid. It's a terrible combination and not one that ensures job security. Heading the Met Ball, however? That's the job a million girls would die for.”
Everything Miranda said was true, but Emily couldn't return to
. No matter how many girls would die for the job. Not after all these years. She'd practically saved Kevin Bacon and Kyra Sedgwick from bankruptcy during the whole Madoff drama and had most certainly saved Ryan Phillipe from complete irrelevance. Dealing with Amanda Seyfried's leaked nude photos? Handling the public outcry after Robin Thicke was accused of child abuse? The brilliant way Bruce transitioned publicly to Caitlyn? All Emily. But Emily had enough firsthand Miranda experience to know she should try to smooth things over.
“It's a wonderful opportunity, Miranda. No one knows that more than I. But sadly, I'm not in a place where I can accept it.”
“Emily.” Miranda's voice was tight but barely controlled. “You'll work with all the top people, but you'll answer only to me. You can hand out business cards on the red carpet for all I care. But I need your organizational genius, that Emily thing you do.”
Emily smiled. She knew Miranda must be desperate if she was
her. “I'd be happy to recommend a few other people whoâ”
Click. The phone went dead. Emily was under no illusion that they'd been accidentally disconnected. But the nice thing about being thirty-six years old and accountable to no one was that it no longer left her with that sick feeling in the pit of her stomach.
Finishing off the last of her vitaminwater, Emily grabbed her laptop from the kitchen island and brought it to the couch. She tried to
FaceTime Andy Sachs to tell her how Miranda had just hung up on her midsentence, but it came up as unavailable. Emily texted her instead.
WTF? Just tried FaceTiming you and negged. Don't pretend you have a life. I know better.
The response came back immediately.
Never claiming I have a life, but can't FaceTime. I'm mystery reader at Clementine's school right now.
Sorry I asked. Just had loveliest convo w/ MP. A peach as always.
Is she still begging you to go back? It's funny, she never begs me.
Emily couldn't help smiling.
Wants me to oversee the Met. G knocked up w/ baby #4. MP called it “vile.”
And you said no??? Liar! Hold on, back to you in a sec
Emily waited, staring at the screen, but Andy never came back. Not even Andy Sachs had time for her anymore! If that wasn't pathetic, Emily wasn't sure what was. Andy, whose new life was the very definition of dreadful, and yet Emily was the one sitting alone on her couch, patiently waiting for Andy to return from gathering eggs or something. If there had ever been any question that Andy was the worst possible fit in the history of
magazine, her purchase with Alex of a working farm in Quechee, Vermont, had sealed the deal. Milking cows, collecting chicken eggs, and taking the goats out to free-range was disgusting and smelly and all around about as appealing as a natural childbirth. Emily and Andy hadn't seen much of each otherâsurprise, surprise, Emily sure as hell wasn't going to
but she was shocked that Andy didn't call back about Miranda instantly. Times had changed.
Emily opened Facebook (after reading that only old people in their thirties, like her, ever even used it, she'd been trying to wean herself off) and nearly sprained her thumb madly scrolling past all the photos of babies, babies, babies. Babies sporting those annoying hospital-hat bows and in their coming-home outfits and with cake smashed on their faces as though turning one were some sort of massive accomplishment. Babies in onesies and tutus and swaddle blankets and sucking hilarious fake-mustache pacis and wearing cheeky slogan T-shirts that always referenced
. Even when they
weren't crying next to her on planes or stealing all of her friends' senses of humor, they were still making her life miserable.
Miriam's manic friend Ashley from the baby shower had requested Emily as a friend; before Emily hit “delete,” she saw that next to Ashley's psychotically grinning head shot was a photo of the guy from the train a couple weeks earlier. Alistair. Emily quickly clicked on his profile and was irritated to see that he kept it private. Besides his profile picture, which was nothing more than a professional head shot in a less wrinkled Brioni suit, she couldn't access anythingânot the About Me, not any photos of his ex-wife or his kids, nothing he might have been unknowingly tagged in years earlier by some nonfriend. Nothing. But it did provide his last name. And when she typed it into Google, she hit the golden trifecta: work bio on his company's page, wedding announcement in the
, and a handful of thumbnail-size party pictures from Patrick McMullan's website. It was amazing how much you could tell about people from those miniature images. A few quick glances and you got everyone's names and faces; the types of parties he'd been invited to and had agreed to attend; and the necessary basics like what he was wearing and how he was described (“socialite,” “son of,” “heir to,” “legendary party boy,” or her favorite, “plus one”) in the captions. It seemed Mr. Alistair Grosvenor accumulated degrees from Eton and Cambridge and Brown and had an affinity for keeping his hair roguishly long but his suits impeccably tailored. His mother was titled in Englandâsomething Emily could never quite figure outâand his father was long dead. And the ex-wife was, unsurprisingly, beautiful. Thin to the point of possible starvation, but Emily wouldn't judge her there: if anything, she admired the commitment. Long-legged and graceful, with straight black hair skimming her angular shoulders, she was nearly always draped in something muted and just stylish enough.
Like a modern-day Carolyn Bessette
. This was not a woman to underestimate. If Emily were single, Alistair's ex-wife would have made for a very worthy adversary.
“Who's that?” Miles boomed from behind her, and Emily nearly jumped out of her seat.
“Why the hell are you sneaking up on me like that?”
He had a towel wrapped around his waist. “I'm not sneaking! I walked in here like a completely normal person to see if you wanted to come take a shower.”
“You moved like a puma.”
“You're just ogling him so intently you didn't notice me.” Miles said this lightly, without the least bit of jealousy.
“I wasn't ogling anyone. He's a friend of a friend.”
“Whatever. Are you coming or not?”
“No, go without me,” she murmured.
He shrugged and walked back into the bedroom.
She was ready for him to go back to Hong Kong and oddly excited to get back to Greenwich, although gun to her head, she wouldn't admit that to anyone. The sheer amount of money, time, and energy those women could pool among them was astonishing: if they focused their attention to it, Emily had no doubt the town moms could end world hunger or eliminate religious persecution. Just turn those Greenwich mommies loose with their two-hundred-dollar yoga leggings and their Prada checkbooks and their trainer-toned bodies, and there was nothing they couldn't accomplish. The place had a good energy, bizarrely, and she was eager to get started with Karolina. She'd been advising Karolina to lie low, but that was about to end. It was time to fight back.
She group-texted Miriam and Karolina:
Chins up, betches! I'm coming your way tomorrow! And Aunt Emily is going to change your lives forever.
aybe let's try Zara?” Miriam asked, hoping Emily would agree. Everything else on Main Street in Greenwich was an absolute fortune.
It was one of those bitterly freezing February days that required arctic-wear: snow boots, the heaviest and longest down coat in your closet, and the full collection of hat, gloves, and scarf. The only skin Miriam had exposed to the cold were the three inches between her bottom lip and her eyebrows, and still she thought she might die. Yet somehow super-human Emily appeared not even to feel the whipping winds or icy air. She wore only a cute cropped leather jacket and ripped jeans. Miriam had long underwear beneath her full-length jeansâcomplete with wool socks and knee-high sheepskin-lined bootsâand Emily was wearing flats. Barefoot. And she didn't even seem to notice.
“Stop it,” Emily said, taking her by the arm and leading her toward Saks. “I took time off from Operation Karolina for this. You don't buy your birthday dress at Zara. Come with me.”
Miriam tried to keep up with Emily, who was booking down the sidewalk. “So, how is Karolina'sÂ .Â .Â . case?” she asked.
“You make it sound like an STD.”
“Well, I don't know how to ask! And to be perfectly honest, it doesn't seem like much is happening.”
Emily turned and glared at her. “I can't help Karolina until she wants to help herself. Trip and Graham are playing power games with Harry, and she's not mad enough yet to take action. She's still in denial.”
Miriam nodded. She couldn't disagree. “I'll talk to her,” she said. And then, because she couldn't stop staring at Emily's exposed skin, “Aren't you cold?” She followed through the store's front doors and directly down the staircase to the contemporary section.
“What are you, eighty? How much can one person talk about the weather? Here, let's start with DVF.” Emily plucked two dresses from the racks and examined each one.
“May I help you?” A saleslady in all black approached them.
Miriam murmured that they were just browsing, but Emily barked a “Yes” over her. “We're looking for a great dress that she can wear for a night out in the city with her husband. It has to be something versatile. I'm thinking DVF.”
The saleslady ran her eyes up and down Miriam's snowsuit in disapproval. “Would you mind unzipping, honey? I can't tell what size you are.”
Embarrassed, Miriam unzipped her parka to reveal a Patagonia wool sweater, which, layered with one of those Uniqlo heat shirts, was the warmest thing she owned.
“Mmmm,” the woman murmured, unable to hide her distaste for either the sweater or Miriam's size or both. “I'd guess a ten?”
“I'm an eight,” Miriam snapped, lying. She was totally a ten. Formerly a six.
“Ah, yes, of course. I want to show you this great romper I just got in from Alice and Olivia. Oh, and I think you'll love this MILLY skirt I have in mind. We could pair it with a silky tank from Helmut Lang, and it would make a fantastic city outfit.”
“Romper?” Miriam said, but neither Emily nor the woman was listening. Each had moved to her own rack and was wildly grabbing hangers like in some frantic episode of designer
A few minutes later, the three women were in the largest dressing room with a mini-stage and a trifold mirror.
“I'm, uh, maybe you guys should wait outside? I'll come out and show you everything once it's on,” Miriam stammered.
“Oh, come on!” Emily said. “No need to be shyâwe've all seen those Dove ads featuring âreal women.' Strip.”
Miriam glared. “Okay, but don't say I didn't warn youÂ .Â .Â .” She pulled her sweater and undershirt over her head. Then, without making eye contact with Emily or the saleswoman, she unzipped her jeans, took off her long underwear, and stood, feeling horribly exposed and unattractive, in only her bra and underwear. Thank God she was wearing a pair of cute enough lacy bikinis in anticipation of the night ahead, but the bra was a horror show: nude-colored, full-coverage, and easily something a bosomy eighty-year-old would wear without complaint. Angry red lines from her waistband crisscrossed her pale stomach, and bits of lint stuck in her belly button.
Miriam covered her breasts with her hands. “I wasn't expecting to get undressed in front of an audience,” she said.
“Nonsense,” the saleswoman said, apropos of nothing. “Here, let's try this one first.”
It took forty-five minutes of cramming herself into terrible things to stumble on the perfect dress. It was ChloÃ©, which was way more than Miriam would usually spend.
“This one is sixty percent off. In that size,” the saleswoman felt compelled to add. Plain black silk with an asymmetrical hemline and
a beautiful forgiving drape. It made her boobs look human-size and her waist nearly petite and could easily be worn at the theater or a cool downtown restaurant; plus, she already had great heels to wear with it, and she would definitely wear it again to something else. She felt a pang of panic when she shoved her Amex into the chip reader, and Emily read her mind.