Scene: A holiday office party at a Golf Club near Woodhaven. Libby and Oliver are already there, and Libby has just seen her nemesis, Melissa, arrive, wearing an identical dress to her own.
Melissa: This dress is kinda tight and I have to suck in my belly because even two pairs of Spanx aren’t doing it for me. And when you suck in your belly, everything else rises and spills over the top, so I have to keep pushing it back in while no one is looking.
The dress looked awesome when I tried it in Macy’s three weeks ago, but that was before Mom force-fed me pumpkin cheesecake last weekend. I was like, “Mom, you know I don’t eat dairy,” but she got all snotty, asking if I was on another of my fad diets, and wouldn’t it be easier just to cut out the daily pack of Oreos.
Like, that’s so not fair. I don’t eat a pack of Oreos every day. Not usually, anyways. Only when I’m stressed, and I guess I’m kinda stressed right now, what with the divorce and all, so yeah, the Oreo intake has gone up. But I figure if I cut out dairy, that should compensate.
I didn’t want to come to this party tonight. Between you and I, I’d rather chew my own arm off than go to these god-awful office events. Given the choice between socializing with people I work with and spending an evening watching bad TV, I’d rather stay home and zombie out in front of Downtown Abbey or whatever it’s called. You’d need to be out of social options before you watched that, right? But Terry said if I didn’t come tonight, it would look suspicious, that people would think I have something to hide.
Personally, I don’t care much what people think. It’s not my problem now I’m nearly divorced. But I said I’d come, as long as he paid for a new dress.
“You have to come to create a diversion,” he said. “Turn on the charm with Oliver. Make everyone think you’ve only got eyes for him. If he’s not going to play ball, he will have to live with the consequences.”
Terry offered Oliver a promotion a few weeks ago, a kind of bribe to not say anything about me and Terry to Caroline, Terry’s wife. Only Oliver didn’t take the promotion, and now Terry’s afraid Oliver might rat him out to Caroline, so if I pay a lot of attention to Oliver, Terry thinks I will create a — what did he call it? — a smokestack.
Or something like that. Whatever.
Actually, it should be a lot of fun, flirting with Oliver under Libby’s nose. Irregardless of my dress being a little tight, I’m looking hot tonight. Not bad for forty-, I mean, thirty-two. Better than Libby, who’s had three kids and, judging by the last time I saw her, has let herself go.
Except Libby doesn’t seem to be here, which is a shame because if she’s not here, making eyes at Oliver isn’t as much fun.
I can see Oliver over on the other side of the room, near the fireplace with the stuffed moose’s head, talking with Sam’s wife Anita, and a pretty blonde woman in a red dress a bit like mine.
Identical to mine, in fact.
I can only see the back of her, but she’s thinner than me. She mustn’t have had kids. You’re only that skinny when you’ve not had kids.
I wonder who she is? And — ha! — more to the point, I wonder if Libby Patrick knows who she is?
I push my way sideways across the room, trying not to spill my Chardonnay everywhere.
Oliver’s still talking to the blonde and Anita, and from my position behind them, I can see his hand go round the blonde’s waist. Then he moves his hand down and squeezes her butt.
I’m kinda shocked, you know? All this time I’ve been throwing myself at him at the office, and he never takes the bait, but here he is in full view of everyone at the party, groping a woman who clearly isn’t his wife.
It’s almost enough to make me drive back to Woodhaven and tattle to Libby. Almost, but not quite. Not after she changed the locks and accused me of stalking her husband.
No. This is — what’s it called? — pathetic justice.
“Oliver!” I say, and bat my eyelashes at him, which turns out to be a mistake because I overdid it on the lash-building mascara earlier and now my left eyelids are stuck together.
He turns. “Melissa,” he says, and nods, then bends down and murmurs something in the blonde’s ear.
Kinda rude, I think, but these Brits have no manners.
The blonde turns round, resting her head on Oliver’s shoulder, and I feel my mouth droop open a little.
“Melissa,” she says, looking me up and down as if I’m something her goddamned dog walked into the house. “Long time no see.”
Holy shit. When did Libby Patrick turn into Drew Barrymore?
She smirks a little, and leans over to say something to me.
“You might want to visit the restroom,” she whispers. “You’re losing your dress.”
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