Evie twirled a little in the middle of her morning sitting room. Everything perfect, not a rare hand painted object d’art out of place. Oh, and the feel of the new carpet beneath her stockinged feet was of clouds topped with angels.
She soared into the kitchen where Julian was spooning hand roasted Guatemalan beans into the grinder.
‘Within a fortnight, you mark my words,’ Evie said.
Marjorie at her bouffant best, a faint cloud of perfume topped with golden tresses and robed beneath blue and gold silks. Morning coffee between friends but it was ever thus when one of them had a “little surprise” waiting.
‘The dining room?’ Marjorie murmured. ‘This is something new.’
Not the only thing, but it could wait. Let the tension grow, feed it on small talk until Marjorie was fit to burst and only then make the idle suggestion, let’s slip through to the lounge, but oh, let’s take our shoes off first, shall we?
The look on Marjorie’s face, the way her lips formed a perfect round O. Evie glowed from the inside to the out.
Marjorie said, ‘But it’s not Arabian lamb’s wool, is it?’
It was a Cumberland blend, five hundred thread count, almost the very finest.
Evie’s heart sinking as they crossed the cul-de-sac to Marjorie’s ever so slightly bigger house, up the steps and in through the front door flanked by stone lions in a manner reminiscent of Evie’s stone elephants.
In the hallway Marjorie’s husband was coming down the stairs, light silk dressing gown belted loosely around the waist.
Marjorie stopped abruptly. ‘Oh, finished with Lizbeth?’
‘Dicey moment with a ketchup bottle,’ Victor said. ‘So I took a shower, just in case, because…’ He smiled, and nodded to the lounge.
‘You’re a darling,’ Marjorie said, and ushered Evie forward.
Marjorie said, ‘Elizabeth is another one of his pHD students.’
It was Evie’s turn to close her eyes and slip off her shoes. The feel in the lounge was as though the angels themselves had lain down on the floor beneath her feet.
‘Arabian lamb’s wool,’ Marjorie said. ‘The very finest hand woven deep shag pile carpet available across Europe.’
Evie waded deeper into the lounge.
‘Look,’ Marjorie said. ‘Footprints!’
She twirled in the middle of the room and skipped back to Evie.
‘That’s the sign of a decent shag – the marks stay for hours! Now then. Tea?’
Evie left a sad trail of footprints as she trudged towards the striped Parker Knoll four seater that trumped even her hand stitched Italian leather. Ever the trendsetter, but no one in their circle of friends kept a diary of who was first.
The other side of the solid oak table were some curious marks, round dimples in pairs, close together. Not just footprints in this carpet, hand prints too, a pair of wide flat palms and in between these were marks from a daintier set.
Evie sat on the sofa and she began to smile.