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Authors: Jackie Collins
table would be a few minutes, so they sat at the bar. Claudia greeted several people. David was relieved to see no one he knew.
    A girl came up to them, dragging a weedy-looking young man behind her. She was thin and suntanned, and quite pretty. ‘Gorgeous!’ she said to Claudia. ‘You look fabulous! Where
you been, haven’t seen you for ages!’ She dragged the young man alongside her. ‘
remember Jeremy.’
    Jeremy blushed and stuttered, ‘Hello.’
    ‘We’re engaged! Can you imagine!’ She giggled and gave Jeremy a playful poke in the ribs. He looked acutely embarrassed.
    ‘Shirley!’ exclaimed Claudia. ‘How marvellous!’ She turned to David. ‘Shirl, darling, this is David Cooper, a very old friend of mine.’
    Shirley extended a small suntanned hand, and David shook it briefly.
    Claudia continued, ‘And, David, I’d like you to meet Shirley’s fiancé, the Honourable Jeremy Francis.’
    Jeremy edged forward. ‘Jolly glad to meet you, old boy.’ He had sandy-coloured skin, liberally dotted with angry red acne.
    ‘Sit down and have a drink,’ said Claudia. ‘We must celebrate!’
    They found extra chairs and sat down. The girls immediately went into a huddle about the dresses they were wearing. The Honourable Jeremy sat uncomfortably on the edge of his chair. He was extremely tall, and his knees bumped David’s under the table.
    ‘We’re going to have an
wedding,’ Shirley was now saying. ‘It will be simply marvellous. Jeremy’s parents know absolutely everyone!’ She flashed a large emerald-and-diamond ring at Claudia. ‘Look!’ she said dramatically. ‘Asprey’s!’
    Claudia said, ‘It’s divine. I love it. I’m so happy for you both.’
    ‘And now, what about
questioned Shirley, shooting a meaningful look at David.
    Claudia laughed. ‘You know how
feel about marriage. It’s not for me, Shirl baby.
like being single. Anyway,
met Jeremy first!’
    Jeremy blushed and looked suitably flattered.
    David stood up. ‘I think our table’s ready.’
    ‘Did you
said Shirley wistfully. ‘We forgot, and now we’ve got to wait simply ages for a table, and I’m
She hesitated for a second or two and then continued, ‘I say, why don’t we all have dinner together? I haven’t seen you in
ages, Claudia, and it would be great fun!’
    ‘We have a table for two,’ said David grimly.
    ‘We don’t mind being a bit cramped, do we, Jeremy?’
    Jeremy nodded blankly.
    ‘What do you say?’ Shirley turned to Claudia.
    Claudia looked hopelessly at David. ‘Fine, we’d love it.’
    They followed the waiter to their table, Shirley waving and smiling to several people on the way.
    ‘I think this is a simply marvellous place,’ she said to Claudia as they reached their table. ‘I’m sure if one sat here for a week one would see absolutely everyone one ever knew pass by, sort of like London airport!’ She giggled loudly.
    David sat through the dinner in sullen silence, and Jeremy didn’t have much to say, so it was Shirley who did all the talking, with Claudia occasionally joining in. Shirley was an avid reader of
magazine, especially the society pages, and her main topics of conversation were who had been seen with whom, and what good parties were going on. Jeremy apparently was asked to most of them, and Shirley went into minute details about the most boring items. For example, Lady Clarissa Colt wearing the same dress to two different parties, and the Honourable Amanda Lawrence having a coming-out party where they ran out of champagne. ‘It was too awful,’ wailed Shirley. ‘One just
should run short of champers! Too embarrassing!’
    Eventually, when they reached dessert, Jeremy took her off to the small dance floor where they clung limply together.
    ‘Let’s get out of here,’ said David. ‘I’ve heard just as much as I can take from the stupid, snotty cow.’
    ‘I’m sorry, baby,’ replied Claudia

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