Sam watched Will finish tying the black bow at his collar as she slipped a hammered gold cuff around her wrist.
The doorman had buzzed them only a moment ago. Mr. Dryer? The car is here.
Ed’s New York apartment perched over Fifth Avenue. When they’d arrived, the blush-tipped leaves and fading green were spread out beneath it like a quilt. Now, with night fallen, the Park was a glowing trail map, the city reflected in the reservoir. Will moved through the rooms as easily as he did his cabin on Left of Paradise. Sam resisted the urge to tuck a stray curl behind her ear and beg out of the party.
“Ready?” Will asked. Sam nodded.
The car sped them downtown; Sam watched the lights fly by with her cheek pressed to the cool window like a child.
“Explain this event to me again?” she asked.
“Ed is permanently loaning part of his collection of Joseph Cornell boxes to the New York Academy of Art,” Will began.
“You came to Vermont to buy one,” she said.
“Very nearly a year ago,” he answered, taking her free hand on the seat between them. “The one I bought that week is going to be on display tonight.”
“I loved that,” she said, shifting to face him.
“So, I’m representing his estate, since he’s too ill to travel,” Will finished. “I’m the face of E. Atkinson, Inc.”
He shot her a toothy smile. She couldn’t help laughing.
“I have no idea why I’m here,” she said as the giggles subsided.
“I want you here,” he said. “I asked. You said yes.”
He squeezed her hand.
“It’s very simple, really.”
The car stopped outside the NYAA building. The driver opened her door and helped her out of the car. She tried to be subtle about shimmying her cocoa shantung shift into place. Marnie had dressed her, and she still felt a little like an impostor in the dress and Marnie’s gold gladiator sandals. Taking in the clusters of beautiful people loitering outside, Sam silently thanked her best friend. At least her clothes would fit in.
“You’re beautiful,” Will whispered in her ear, dropping a pink and gold chinoiserie wrap over her shoulders.
She shot him a grateful glance and took his hand.
“You know, I never could do the whole bed-head, up-do thing very well.” The voice was smoothly venomous behind them. Will’s grip on her hand tightened; he turned first.
“Will,” she said. “What a pleasure.”
Sam turned to face Lucy. Ed’s daughter was all bronze skin and golden hair and scarlet satin in the street lamp’s pool.
“You look surprised,” Lucy said to them. “I’m his daughter. I have every right to be here.”
“That you do, Lucy,” Will nodded.
A tall man came around the corner, whistling O Susanna and tossing a set of car keys with one hand. Sam dropped Will’s hand. The air around her seemed to thicken and pulse in time with her heart.
Lucy reached for the man’s arm as he joined them in the light. Dark hair and emerald eyes.
“Where are my manners? Samantha, I believe you two are fairly well acquainted.” Lucy asked, lips curving into a vicious smile. “Will, this is my date, Craig Honoré.”