There were security guards at the door of Abramo’s. Angel, Holly and Aidan showed their invitations, and stepped inside, finding the restaurant transformed: flowers, feathers, speakers, steel drums. A carnival theme, Angel realised, just as she’d suggested, though it was missing the sights and sounds and smells of the real thing.
The party was crowded, and loud, and among the flashily-dressed grown-ups, Angel couldn’t see anyone she recognised as Katie’s friend.
She hardly recognised Katie herself. She was in a booth, with a dark-haired man. Angel waved. Katie saw her, smirked, and turned away.
‘Daniella, you look gorgeous,’ Maeve said. She’d been near the door when Mateo led Daniella into the party, dashing any hope he had of keeping his wives apart.
‘Thank you,’ Daniella replied. ‘You look…’
‘Like a hideous crone, compared to you? I know, I know…’
‘You don’t look like a crone,’ Mateo said, before he could stop himself. There was admiration in his tone, and Maeve smiled.
‘Thank you,’ she said. ‘Now, there’s someone I have to say hello to. Go and get yourselves a cocktail.’ She walked away, pausing, after a few steps, to glance at Mateo over her shoulder.
You look gorgeous, Mateo thought. Daniella scowled.
Aidan had gone to the bar, and Holly had gone to the toilet, so Angel was alone, wondering what to make of Katie smirking at her. She’d never seen Katie smirk before.
‘Angel!’ Sergio called to her from the restaurant door, as a security guard barred his way. ‘Angel! Tell them you know me, tell them I’m Mateo’s son.’ The security guard looked at Angel. She nodded, and he let Sergio come in. ‘Thank you,’ Sergio said, rushing towards her. ‘I don’t know why…’
‘I don’t care, Sergio,’ Angel said cutting him off. She’d decided to go and talk to Katie.
‘You look incredible,’ Tamsin said. ‘So thin.’ Katie had lost count of how many people had complimented her weight loss. And Robbie—Robbie, who hadn’t wanted ‘the whole restaurant’ to know about them—hadn’t left her side, had kept a proprietorial hand on her waist. There were press photographers circling, and faces Katie recognised from TV, at her party. I wonder what Angel makes of this, she thought, just as a familiar curly-haired head came through the crowd.
‘I hardly recognised you,’ Angel said, as she got close. ‘You look…’—Katie smiled, waiting for the compliment she was sure was coming—‘…not well,’ Angel finished.
‘I am well,’ Katie insisted, feeling her face flush. ‘I’m…’
‘I’m going to the bar,’ Robbie interrupted. ‘You don’t want another, do you? Lot of calories in those cocktails.’
Angel frowned. ‘Who’s he?’ she asked, when Robbie was gone.
‘He’s my… boyfriend,’ Katie ventured, the first time she’d used that word to describe Robbie.
‘Does he always talk to you like that?’
Tamsin was listening, so Katie ignored the question. ‘What do you think of the party? Does it compare to the real thing?’
‘The real thing has fewer white people,’ Angel shrugged. ‘Katie, you’re so thin. Are you sure you’re alright?’
‘Of course I’m alright.’
‘Hello, darling,’ Maeve said, when Sergio approached her. ‘I didn’t know you were coming.’ She was with a woman Sergio recognised as her agent, and the hardness behind her smile warned him not to make a scene.
‘I wasn’t planning to,’ Sergio said. ‘But I wanted to talk to Dad. Is he here?’
‘He’s here somewhere,’ Maeve said, waving a hand. ‘But perhaps now isn’t the time.’
‘Now is the time,’ Sergio insisted.
Erin found Colin and Jen out on the terrace. ‘Erin!’ Jen called. ‘You came!’ She kissed Erin’s cheek. ‘Did you come from work?’ she asked, looking at Erin’s clothes.
‘I’ll go to the bar,’ Colin said. ‘Glass of wine?’
‘No,’ Erin said. ‘No, thank you.’ Colin and Jen looked at each other, disturbed by Erin’s seriousness. ‘Let’s find somewhere quiet,’ she said. ‘I need to tell you something.’
‘You could speak to him for me,’ Sergio said, his voice high and whining.
‘You can speak to him yourself,’ Katie replied. She’d been waiting for Robbie to come back from the bar when Sergio found her.
‘What are you doing here, Serg?’ Robbie slipped into the booth. ‘Didn’t think you were invited.’
‘He wasn’t,’ Katie hissed.
‘Run along, then,’ Robbie said, shooing Sergio. He put his arm around Katie. ‘Who was that girl you were talking to?’
‘A friend.’ She shrugged his arm off. ‘I’m hungry,’ she said. ‘I need to eat something.’
Holly had lost Aidan to the dancefloor, and she wondered if he’d notice if she went home. As she tried to spot him in the crowd, she spotted Jemma. With Fiona.
Of course they would be at a party like this, Holly thought. Arms around each other’s waists, laughing, snapping a selfie. Jemma kissed Fiona’s cheek as she took the photo.
Holly had thought it would hurt, to see them together. It had hurt to see them in photos. But seeing them in real life, seemingly so happy, Holly felt fine. Surprisingly fine. She headed for the door.
Sergio found his father by the bar, with Daniella. It looked like they were arguing, and Sergio hung back, not sure whether to approach. But Mateo saw him. His face turned black.
‘What are you doing here?’
‘I wanted to talk to you,’ Sergio said, stepping closer. ‘I wanted to say sorry…’
‘Sorry? Sorry? You think you can just say sorry and that’ll be the end of it?’
‘Get out,’ Mateo said, grabbing Sergio by the arm and marching him to the door. ‘Get out, and don’t come back.’
Sergio leant against the wall, in the lane beside the restaurant, and lit a cigarette. His father had thrown him out onto the street, and told the security guards not to let him back in. He was trying to decide what to do—appeal to his mother, maybe, or his grandfather—when a shadow came between him and the streetlight. He looked up to find Kanal snarling at him.
‘Young Mr. Agresta,’ he said. ‘We meet again.’
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