“God, Bette, I’m sorry,” Eleanor said woefully and sat down.
Bette lifted her eyes from the paper. “Nothing to apologize for.”
“Thank you, then.” The maid came and poured Eleanor a cup of strong coffee, and she took it up gratefully.
Bette went back to her paper.
After a few moments of weighing a question, Eleanor finally decided to ask it. “Bette—” Bette looked up again. “We have been avoiding each other for months. Why did you dance with me last night?”
“Liz Vielle was looking at you last night as if she were a cat and you were a broken-winged bird,” Bette said. “If I had not brought you here, you would doubtless be waking up in her bed this morning. I thought perhaps you would rather make that decision with a clear head.”
“Indeed.” Eleanor lit a cigarette. “What led you to have such pity on me?”
“You aren’t yourself these days—since Eden left. Liz wasn’t being fair.”
Eleanor tapped the ash off the end of her cigarette and finished her coffee. “I’ll go home now. Thank you. Again.” She held her hand out to the other woman, who didn’t rise, but took it and nodded silently.
That afternoon, a bunch of violets arrived at Bette’s door. The maid brought them in and handed Bette a note.
Please allow me to take you to dinner to show my gratitude for your kindness last night. If you consent, I will collect you at eight tomorrow.