The Gods’ tears fell in streams, bouncing of the street and soaking my boots. Even the short distance from the taxi to the front door of the large Georgian house left their leather dull and wet. I was glad I’d worn them and had my court shoes in my bag. The door was answered almost as I banged the huge brass knocker shaped like a ship’s anchor. Gina opened it. ‘My God, Emma, what a night. Come on in before you drown.’ I was late, as always. Gina was celebrating her fortieth birthday with a large group of friends; workmates, members of her amateur players group for whom I occasionally wrote pieces and others. The invitation had read “posh frocks and dinner jackets – let’s sparkle!” I wore a long, gunmetal grey dress with a tight waist and tiny straps. It was, of course, silk and lined with more. My chestnut hair was loose under the hood of my long waterproof which I shed and Gina hung for me. ‘I need to get these boots off,’ I smiled at her and then we kissed each other, once on each cheek. ‘Leave them in the loo, darling, and come and join the throng.’ She pushed my hair back behind my ear. ‘You look good.’ I didn’t feel it at that moment. I felt decidedly bedraggled but hastened to the toilet and slipped off my boots and replaced them with the three-inch heels that meant I could let my dress fall to its natural length without tripping me up. Its skirt was full and swayed, I thought, rather nicely, from my hips. I straightened my hair, touched up the lippy and made my way through to join the fellow celebrants. They did glitter. The women were all in evening dresses of a variety of hues and styles but all expensive, far more expensive than my charity shop Anadolu Yakası Escort find. I wondered if any of the other guests would look at me and think that was the dress they’d given to Oxfam. As if I care. Well, perhaps a little, I do care but too late now. The men were all in black tie and all looked smart, even the least attractive who happened to be Gina’s boss. Her law firm is large and she is senior. I thought they probably paid their secretaries more than I earned from researching and writing travel pieces for the regional newspaper. At least, though, I got to travel at the rag’s expense rather than my own. Familiar faces smiled and said hello as I passed through the crowd of perhaps forty people. People had formed into smaller groups, all holding glasses and talking, exchanging gossip about work and neighbours. I poured myself a glass of champagne and wandered over to a group of the amateur thespians whom I knew best. Glen, the director, turned to me as I approached, kissed me on the cheek and welcomed me, easing aside to let me join them. He introduced me to those I did not know and they were, as amateur actors always are, welcoming and friendly. The room was warm but not oppressively so and I enjoyed the conversations. I found myself, after about an hour, standing beside the tallest woman in the room. She didn’t exactly tower over me but she was a clear half a head above me. Her short, ash blonde hair was cut tight to her scalp and her eyes were blue and bright, the white’s clear. She had what I call lazy eyelids, the sort that make a woman look sultry. She wore little makeup, and a long, pale blue dress Anadolu Yakası Escort Bayan that covered one shoulder and fell like a sheath down over her slender frame with a slit up the left hand side. I barely noticed her. Okay, to be fair I found it hard to take my eyes off her but with my entirely unreliable ‘gaydar’ I was not going to make the same mistake that I had often made in the past. ‘Keep sober, keep your hands to yourself and no social gaffes, Emma,’ I told myself firmly. She looked down at me. ‘I’m afraid I don’t know your name. I’m Lana.’ ‘I’m Emma.’ ‘What’s your connection with this lot? I work with Gina and she told me to get to know the drama queens, as she calls them, because she knows I’ve done a bit of acting and they need all the help they can get.’ Her eyes smiled mischievously. Lana was, it transpired, new to Gina’s firm and the city of Bath, my hometown. She had come from London where she’d tired of the hectic and pressured life of a city solicitor. She’d bought herself the house next to Gina’s and loved the city and her new job. ‘I write but never, ever act. I have the acting ability of a brick.’ She laughed at my small joke. I don’t know if you’ve ever experienced anything like this but I became utterly unaware of anything or anyone else. I was captivated by her and decided after a while that I ought to break away from her before I made an ass of myself. I told her I needed to get a drink and she emptied her own glass hastily and asked me if I’d get one for her too. My plan thus scuppered I walked away to the bar and poured two drinks, rather slowly and then made my way back Escort Anadolu Yakası to her, stopping to talk to a few people on my way. She was talking to Gina when I got back to her so without interrupting them, I handed her the glass and moved to step away but she restrained me by putting her hand on my shoulder although her eyes never left Gina as she did so. There was something peremptory about the gesture and I had a moment’s sense of indignation which passed as her hand made a sort of gentle caress of my shoulder. Gina touched my arm. ‘Don’t you think Lana would love the players?’ ‘I think the players will love her.’ Lana said she needed the loo and asked me to hold her glass. I obliged and watched her as she walked to the door. ‘Down, girl,’ said Gina with a huge smile on her face. We had been friends forever and she knew me all too well. ‘Don’t worry, Gina. I’m not going to spoil your party by making a fool of myself and getting my face slapped.’ ‘I’m not sure that would spoil it,’ she smiled. ‘I think Lana would probably not slap your face though.’ ‘She’s another lawyer. She’d probably sue me.’ ‘I doubt it, darling, she’d probably appreciate it.’ I looked at her with a question in my eyes. ‘Gay as a carnival darling. And makes no attempt to hide it.’ Unknown to me Lana had returned and was standing behind me. The first I knew was when her hand touched mine and took her glass from me. ‘Don’t take any notice of Gina, Emma. I may be gay but I don’t wear it like a badge.’ Gina laughed. ‘The first words she said to me when she joined the office was that they’d hired her as the token dyke!’ ‘I may have said something like that. I always find it’s best to get that out and over with before speculation starts, don’t you?’ I looked at Gina who said, ‘I have said nothing!’ ‘She didn’t need to. But if I’d thought she had I wouldn’t care, would you?’ The subject was dropped and I managed to get away from her for a while because her senior partner had dragged her away to discuss something or other.