Alexander Nikanorovich Novoskoltev knew what it was like at Beaufetheringstone House, I see.
It occurs to me that we’ve never actually given readers a look at the post-party action at Beaufetheringstone House. Get ready, y’all, because it’s pretty intense.
If, that is, your definition of intense includes (as mine does), a lot of lolling about on haphazardly placed chairs and finishing the ratafia. I mean, we’ve had two giant parties recently. As if it weren’t enough that Katherine returnee after her months abroad, Tessa’s Any Duchess Will Do (how awesome is that title?! Seriously?!) launched last week and we had to celebrate her awesome showing on the USA Today bestseller list! How better to both welcome and fete than with a raucous party?
“Precisely, Albert. A bacchanal. How do you know that word anyway.”
“Lady B hires tutors for you? Even I find that unlikely.”
Albert has the grace to look chagrined.
“And I’m immensely gullible.”
Now that, I believe.
So, suffice to say, tonight we’re all a bit…
“Miss MacLean, are you soused?”
“Never!” I protest, straightening on the fainting couch that I’ve been using as a general resting-and-post-bacchanal-recovering-couch and passing the bottle of ratafia back to Tessa. “We were just…” -hic!- “Reminiscing.”
Lady B raises a brow at me, and turns her attention to Tessa. “And you, Miss Dare?”
Trapped like a wallflower in headlights, Tessa tosses the bottle of ratafia over her shoulder. We both wince as it shatters on Lady B’s marble ballroom floor and bless her heart, the USA Bestseller soldiers on. “Defunitely…er…definitelier…uhm. No.” She shakes her head with impressive conviction. “Not drunk.”
I shake my head. “Authoresses never get drunk. We’re too…you know…”
“Authory!” Katharine fills in from her place on a nearby chair, where she’s settled in with some leftover crab patties and Albert. “Aren’t we, Alberthegreat?” That last bit is slurred. Not that any of us can hear it, and Albert is too busy munching on shellfish to care.
Lady B looks unconvinced. “Where is Miss Neville? She may be counted on for decorum.”
As if on cue, the doors leading to the gardens open and Miranda wanders in, followed by three handsome men. “I’ve returned!” she announces, waving her glass in the air. “And it seems my glass has emptied itself!”
“Good lord,” Kate says, eyeing Miranda’s escorts. “Where’d you find them?”
“Hmm?” Miranda asks before seeming to remember her companions. “Oh! In the gardens!”
Tessa leans over the back of the couch and squints out a window. “Are they just out there? In droves?”
“Growing on trees?” I add, pulling a leaf from Miranda’s fascinator.
Miranda turns to consider one of the large, unspeaking men. “Well, I found this one against a tree.”
“I bet you did,” Kate says in one of those whispers that is no kind of whisper and carries down the entire ballroom.
“I should like to find one like him against a tree myself,” I say.
“Miss MacLean!” Lady B barks.
The woman has a remarkable ear for double entendre. (Though I suppose that was pretty much single entendre.)
“Well, I would,” I mumble.
“Not if I get there first,” Tessa says sotto-voce.
“It’s too late to irritate Lady B,” Sabrina pops into the conversation from her potted-ferned nook.
I myself have never had difficulty irritating Lady B, but it’s Katharine and Tessa’s night, so I’m feeling magnanimous. “You know what we need?”
Tessa looks at me. “Snacks.”
I nod. “Doughnuts.”
“Who-whats?” Lady B says.
“Oooh,” Kate says. “Doughnuts.”
“I repeat, who-whats?”
It occurs to me that the doughnut is probably not a Regency thing…but what else is new?
“They’re lovely, Lady B. Little round fried Os of heaven, dipped in sugar. Or filled with cream.”
“Or jelly,” Tessa says.
“Or chocolate,” Katharine has lost interest in the plate of lobster in the way only one post-bacchanal and tempted by something new, can.
I nod. “And in Brooklyn, you can get a dozen of the things delivered to you whenever you like. Fresh from the Donut Shop on Seventh Avenue.”
“I should like one of these Dough-nutties.”
I pull my iPhone out of my reticule, ready to save the day, when I realize that Verizon has terrible service in Regency London. Rats. “I can’t get them.”
Tessa sits up, wide-eyed. “We should make them!”
Everyone agrees this is an excellent idea. It the way only those post-bacchanal and tempted by something new, can. That is, not one of us considers the fact that frying balls of dough in a Regency townhouse kitchen might be a terrible idea.
Miranda steps in. “I’ve seen them made on Top Chef.”
She is obviously our team leader in this, our doughnut challenge.
“I have a top chef, you know. We brought him in from France,” Lady B points out. “Chef Ripert.”
Miranda turns to her. “Eric Ripert?”
“No, Claude Ripert.”
We will not be deflated.
“To the kitchens!” I announce. “For welcome home and congratulatory late-night munchies!”
“Huzzah!” the others reply.
We might well burn the place down, y’all. Send a fire brigade if we’re not here on Monday.
I almost forgot to ask my question! What’s your late night, post-bacchanal weakness?