Carrie found herself complaining about how the guy at the Red Horse Market never sliced the smoked salmon thin enough. Then Mr. Big would tell a story about how he’d refused to buy a six-dollar pound of butter at Thieves and Bitches.
Occasionally, she stopped herself from calling him “dad.” As in, “Yes, Dad, I will take out the garbage. Yes, Dad, I will drive carefully.”
He wouldn’t get it. He wouldn’t be able to help himself: He would feel compelled to point the finger. Because a girl who would wear pajamas to the Candy Kitchen wouldn’t be the kind of girl who would go to breakfast with him. He’d get revenge in print.
So it wasn’t strange when Nico Barone called Carrie sometime in the beginning of May. Ostensibly for advice on what to do about the reporter.
“I’ll take care of it,” Carrie said.
She called the reporter. “The story’s premature,” she said. “Right now, there is no story.”
So it wasn’t strange that shortly after that she and Nico began talking on the phone again. Even though they hadn’t been in touch for eight years. Even though they’d both been in New York all along.”
And it also made sense that when one of the telltale incidents took place, Nico Barone was there.
It must have been early June, in Manhattan. According to their usual daily morning routine, Carrie and Mr. Big discussed what they were doing that evening.
“I have something. I don’t know what,” he said.
“O.K.,” Carrie said. By then she’d been beaten down enough and learned to be cautious when he didn’t want to divulge information. Even though he had his daily schedule in his hand—a schedule that his secretary printed out every evening detailing the next day’s activities. Even though he was in the middle of the golf deal.
Don’t ask questions.
Thank you for making Mr. Big a nicer guy.
“What are you doing?” he asked.
“O.K.,” he said. “So, either way, we’ll meet back here around 11.”
That afternoon, when they spoke, he said he was having dinner with Keemi Tailon, the banker from Goldman.
At 8, Carrie walked into La Goulue and saw Keemi Tailon having dinner with his girlfriend. Nico Barone was sitting outside. There was a man with her, holding her hand. It was the good-looking, formerly drug-addicted son of a U.S. Ambassador, who now worked as a lawyer for one of the telecommunications moguls.
“I know who you are,” he said to Carrie.
“He wanted to meet you,” Nico said.
“I know who you are,” he said, and he put his elbow on the table. “I’ve read your stuff.”
“That’s great,” Carrie said.
“She probably told you about me,” he said, indicating Nico.
“No,” Carrie said. “Not a word.”
“I thought you wanted to keep it a secret,” Nico said. According to him, the telecommunications mogul was in love with Nico. And jealous. According to him, the telecommunications mogul might or might not be having her followed.
According to Nico, they were both crazy.
There was an uncomfortable moment when Keemi Tailon came to the table to say hello after the formerly drug-addicted son of the U.S. Ambassador had left. He stood next to the table and put his shoe on the rung of a chair. “I just wanted to tell you,” he said. “I just remembered Mr. Big is having dinner downtown. With some people from the golf company.”
“Thank you,” Carrie said.
“It doesn’t matter. It’s not important. It’s a setup,” Nico said when he had left.
Later, when Carrie arrived at Mr. Big’s apartment, there was a message on the machine. She played it, although she hadn’t played his messages for a long time, because the last time she had, he’d gotten angry. “O.K., O.K.,” she’d said. “I won’t play your damn messages. I won’t answer the phone when you’re not here.”