The Call Of The City – Episode 28

daily serial the call of the city the people's friend

“So you’re Grace! Juliet has told me so much about you.”

Grace smiled at the elegantly attired woman in her fifties who was one of her aunt’s friends.

It was the night of her party, and as lovely as it all was, she couldn’t help feeling a bit out of place.

Juliet had hired caterers to do the canapés and hand out champagne, and friends from the magazine where she worked mingled and chatted with effortless Manhattan style.

The only friend Grace had been brave enough to invite was Lewis, and he hadn’t arrived yet.

“Are you enjoying Juilliard?” the woman asked. “My niece went there on scholarship. She’s playing with the Philharmonic now.”

“Wow.” Grace was as impressed as she knew she was meant to be. “That’s amazing. And yes, I am enjoying it.”

She took a big glug of champagne even though she didn’t particularly like the stuff, wishing she didn’t feel so young and gauche.

Aunt Juliet’s friends were all so worldly wise and glamorous.

The doorbell rang and, murmuring her apologies to the guest she’d been chatting with, Grace hurried to answer the door.

“Lewis!” She dragged him in, unable to hide her relief at seeing him. “I’m so glad you’re here.”

“Are you?” He smiled, and Grace realised how she’d sounded.

“Yes, because I’m so out of my depth,” she said quickly. “I’ve never had to make so much small talk before, and everyone here is so terribly sophisticated.”

Lewis glanced in the living-room, filled with guests, clinking glasses and sparkling conversation.

“Looks a swish crowd.”

“It is.”

“How about we escape to the kitchen?”

Grace nodded.

“Wonderful, but just for a bit. I don’t want to disappoint my aunt.”

The kitchen was an oasis of peace, with the door shut to the living-room giving them both privacy and quiet.

Grace tried not to feel guilty that she was hiding from her aunt’s party, and one that was meant for her. But she needed time with her own friend, away from the social pressure.

“So, has it been fun?” Lewis asked.

“It’s been overwhelming,” Grace admitted. “I feel like such a country bumpkin.”

“You don’t look or sound like one.”

Grace’s heart turned over. Lewis looked intent; as if he might kiss her.

“Have you decided about the audition?” he asked, and she released a shaky, pent-up breath. No, of course he hadn’t been about to kiss her.

“I suppose I’ll give it a go, but I doubt I’ll be chosen.”

“Don’t sell yourself short, Grace.”

She shrugged.

“I’m just trying to be realistic.”

“Says every pessimist ever.”

“I’m not a pessimist!”

Grace playfully hit him on the shoulder.

Lewis caught her hand in his, and her breath hitched as she saw the look in his eyes.

“Grace,” he murmured, and began to dip his head – just as the door to the living-room swung open.

“Oh!” The woman who had been hired to do the catering stopped in surprise at the sight of them standing so close together. “Sorry, was I interrupting something?”

Grace jumped away from Lewis, fighting a flush.

“No, of course not,” she mumbled, and with an apologetic glance at Lewis, she hurried into the living-room.

To be continued . . .