"Hello, Jimmy," Evie had come up behind and put her hands over his eyes. He doesn’t move. He looks through her long slender fingers and he can smell her perfume.
"Dammit, Evie. I don’t have much time." (Reminding her of whom she is dealing with. Winnie would approve.)
"Deadline?" Evie asks (smartly, he thinks).
"I’m always on deadline," he says. "It’s about responsibility. Something you’re not familiar with."
"Gee, thanks," Evie says. She is a little bit crushed, he can tell. But he has to crush her. (He can’t let her flirt with him. Winnie said that Evie must learn about boundaries. Become a healthy member of society.)
"Let’s make this quick then," Evie says. She smiles. "I’ve got a deadline, too, I wanted it to be a surprise. I got that assignment from The New York Times! Oh, Jimmy," she says, "You’re going to have to help me. I’m going to be calling you every day."
"How’d you do that?" James asks. Evie doesn’t deserve to get an assignment from The New York Times. She’s never written a piece in her life. He wants to scream (as he so often wants to scream these days), What is the
world coming to?
"Well, good for you," he says.
Evie picks out a bunch of shoes. All high-heeled sandals. "Fuck me" shoes, Winnie would call them, without affection. He watches as Evie’s foot, with its perfectly painted toenails, slides into the shoe. She has good legs. Great legs.
"Jimmy," she says, turning her foot this way and that, watching James watch her, "I really want you to be happy for me. I’m trying to make something out of my life. Can you and Winnie be supportive, for a change?"
"We are," James says, lying.
Evie puts her hand on his shoulder as he leans down to unstrap the shoe. She looks at him suggestively, and for the first time, he looks back at her suggestively. If she can break the rules, he thinks, maybe he can too.
He spends four hours shoe shopping with Evie. They go to Barneys. Bergdorf Goodman. Saks. They go to lunch (Gino’s). Evie drinks red wine, even though it’s summer (Winnie would frown) and he does, too. (He objects at first, ordering mineral
He and Evie part on the street corner. "I’m going to call you tomorrow," she says. "So we can discuss my article."
"It’s a piece, Evie, a piece. Not an article," he says.
He walks away. The alcohol is wearing off and he feels queasy, like a thing that’s been left out in the elements for too long. What has he done? He hails a cab. For the first time in his marriage, he wishes he didn’t have to go home.
Winnie still considers it her job to be the good-looking one in the marriage. It’s part of mastering the world. It’s part of being perfect. She is 5 feet 7 inches tall and weighs 112 pounds. If she let herself go, let her body reach its natural weight, she’d probably weight more around 125 or 130, but she won’t let herself. Control. She runs at 7 A.M. She is very against magazines using skinny young models, she think it’s an affront to women, but she would never be fat herself. She would never even be two pounds overweight.
But there are limits. She will not wear lingerie. She will not wear overly short skirts. See-through blouses. And ridiculous shoes.