“Can you believe these people eat like this?” Brisbane grabbed another pâté appetizer and began to eye the risotto with mascarpone.
“They don’t,” she answered, eyeing the guests,”it’s a party. They pulled out the big guns. And could you at least try to look like you came for a reason besides the food?”
“You know I did,” he said, wiping his hands on a cloth napkin and slapping her behind, “I’m just starving.”
“Can we just get this over with?” she checked her watch, “Every minute I spend in this house I become more pretentious through osmosis.”
“Calm down. Don’t you want to look like you came here for other reasons than to show your face?” he smiled.
“You know I did,” she looked up at him.
“Dahling!” an older woman interrupted, approaching them, kissing each sides of Brisbane's face but barely touching him with her hands, “oh, don’t you look rough? How was building the mission in Thailand? Was it dirty?”
Brisbane looked confused, “I’m not sure…”
“Certainly you bestowed good values on those ruffians! I wouldn’t expect anything different from you, David!” her head shook every time she spoke, as if the vibrations from her voice were barely tolerated by her vertebrae.
“My name isn’t David,” Brisbane said, unapologetically tossing two shrimps in his mouth at once, “I’m with her,” he gestured brusquely at his date and walked towards the buffet.
“Oh!” the woman looked about to respond but Brisbane’s departure was too abrupt, “My mistake. And you are, dear?”
“Donovan. Miss,” she shook the woman’s hand, “I’m daughter to Kyle and Christina Donovan.”
“The graphic artists?” the woman’s eyes widened, impressed.
“No, the Donovans. As in Donovan Energy.”
Certainly this little woman with her mauve evening gown and gracefully coiffed hair didn’t realize how her mouth was gaping open. Little blurts of sound began to escape from the back of her throat but she never managed to form an actual word. Before downing her entire glass of champagne in one effort, Ms. Donovan reached over and put two fingers under the woman’s chin, helping her close her chops. It was her turn to walk away.
“I love it when they do that,” Brisbane was chuckling to himself and pouring two more glasses of champagne, “it’s like you’re the Sultan.”
“Yeah,” she said sorrowfully, “well, now you have a time limit on your little project. Once they know who I am one of two things happen; I get stuck answering questions about ma and pa all night or I get shunned from afar. I don’t think this is a Q&A kind of crowd.”
“Yeah, yeah. Two more bottles of champagne first,” he snickered.
A tap on her shoulder and she turned around to face the little woman again, “I’m sorry I didn’t properly introduce myself. My name is Carol Lambert. I’m the head of the annual AGH Convention and the ceremonial TXN Association…”
Ms. Donovan was nodding her head, “I’m not here to hire-“
“Well I was just wondering, what kinds of new innovations your parents might be rolling out next. If you don’t mind my asking,” Carol’s eyes were glistening with anticipation.
Ms. Donovan couldn’t help but let a touch of regret creep into her countenance. This situation was sorely familiar.
“I actually don’t work for my parents,” she answered.
Carol’s eyes widened again in shock, “Why not?”
Carol’s date approached the ladies while at the same time Brisbane tucked a muscular arm around Ms. Donovan.
“I’m sorry,” the date said, “are you Kyle Donovan’s daughter?”
Ms. Donovan nodded.
“Yes,” he said, “Well we’ve been asked not to speak to you. I’m so sorry. Enjoy the party.”
He scooped his date under an arm and brought her back inside the mansion towards the majority of the guests. Ms. Donovan noticed now that several couples were staring at her and whispering to each other. Some even pointed.
“Sorry, love,” she felt the warmth of Brisbane’s chest against her back, “that’s a new one, eh?”
She turned away from the crowd and began inhaling huge breaths of chilly air, fighting back the sting in the back of her nose, “Can you just do your deal so we can leave?”
“Of course,” he answered, kissing her behind an ear, “be right back. Enjoy the veal.”
She heard him skip away behind her, headed for the hidden entrance to the house.