How Bitter the Moonlight

Debra Fran Baker

dfbaker@panix.com


"So, how was the latest society soiree, Wes?" Cordelia looked up from her computer, brushing her hair back over her shoulders, revealing yet another too-tight, too-short and altogether too low-cut tanktop. Sometimes I wonder exactly why she dresses like that. "You're back a little early. The fogeymusic was bad?"

I loosened my bowtie. "The first half of the concert was quite pleasant, actually. Not up to the standards of the London Philharmonic, perhaps, but enjoyable nonetheless. However, Virginia didn't agree."

"So she made you leave? Even though you *liked* it?"

"Oh, no. She was quite insistent that I stay. But, I must say that the concert lost its charm when she departed with the, um. Parking valet." I opened my collar, and took out the first couple of studs, putting them into my tuxedo jacket.

Her eyes widened. "Oh, poor baby! She dumped you!" Her lips thinned. I could almost hear the laughter behind them.

"Oh, go on, Cordelia. It *is* amusing." I ran my hands through my hair and sat heavily on one of the lobby sofas.

"Then why aren't *you* laughing, happyboy?" She walked over and sat next to me, all giggling gone.

"Because such things cease to be amusing after the third or fourth time." I could feel my fingernails digging into my palms. "Much less the ninth or tenth."

Cordelia said something under her breath, too low for me to truly catch it but it sounded to my ears as "witch" or "rich." "Why do you go out with her if she treats you that way? I'd be like, 'so long, honey.'"

"Because it's good for the agency. We've gotten a number of excellent client because of my social activities. And...umm. When she doesn't, as you say, 'dump' me, Virginia is...well." I could feel my cheeks burn.

"TMI! TMI!" Cordelia practically ran to the other side of the lobby. "I do *not* want to hear about your sex life with that...that...rich bitch."

"Have no fear, Cordelia. I wasn't about to tell you about it." I surreptitiously pulled my cuffs over my wrists. Virginia had gotten imaginative a few days earlier. A trifle too imaginative, actually.

"Well...good. Why don't you make yourself some...some tea or something - whatever you English guys do to get over a bad relationship." She went back to her computer.

"Excellent idea." I went to fix myself a good, strong cup. As I did, I looked over my shoulder at Cordelia. "Although, it really isn't over. We have a charity gala two nights from now. That should give me just time to get this dry cleaned."

"You are *joking*." I heard her laptop slam shut. "You are letting that...that...*girl* use you, Wes. I thought you had *some* backbone."

"Well. I rather thought I was using her, actually. Since she can clearly get any man she pleases, she has no need of me. Anyway, what do *you* care, Cordelia? My personal life is my business, is it not?" I stirred milk into my tea, and turned to face her.

She rolled her eyes and tossed her hair. "Oh, the *both* of you! Try to show a little *caring*, a little *interest* in your lives, and look what it gets me. You're dating the 'ho from Hell, and Mr. Moody is still mooning over the...the other one. The one who used to get *paid* for it. You know he's only come downstairs *once* tonight? He got his blood and went back to his lair. *You* party every night. Wha