With only two days to go until 2011, here’s a whisper from the very recent past, The Temptation of the Night Jasmine, which came out in January of 2009. The first book I wrote after I left the practice of the law, Night Jasmine was also the first to hit the New York Times Bestseller list.
Although Charlotte, our historical heroine, is the heroine to whom I feel closest, my favorite bit from this book is an Eloise section. Without further ado, here’s my favorite Night Jasmine excerpt.
Worried that Colin might have a secret career as 007.5, Eloise decides to call her friend Pammy for advice and gets far more than she bargained for.
Scrolling down through my contacts, I hit the first name to come up in the P’s. If anyone could whip away the cobwebs, it would be Pammy. I had no intention of confiding my embarrassing double-oh-seven suspicions to her, but, if nothing else, at least she would be a distraction. And she had the added benefit of having gone to school with Colin’s sister Serena in London for two years. They didn’t move in entirely the same circles these days, but if anyone knew what Colin did for a living, it would be Pammy. The woman has the instincts of a bloodhound and the scruples of a Chihuahua.
Pammy doesn’t believe in outmoded social mundanities like “Hello.” Instead, she started right in with, “You’re at Selwick Hall, aren’t you!”
“Pammy! Hi! How are you?” I have the social mundanities on auto-pilot. They just come out, whether I mean them to or not. “It’s me, Eloise.”
Pammy made a noise that would have sounded suspiciously like “Duh!” if “duh” hadn’t gone out several years ago. Pammy is nothing if not au courant. “Who else would be calling from your mobile?”
“Good point,” I admitted.
“So?” piped Pammy. “How is it? Which flavor is he?”
As I so often do with Pammy, I removed the phone from my ear, looked at it, and put it back. It never helps. “Huh?” I said.
“Which flavor ice cream is he? It’s the latest thing. You compare every man you know to his corresponding ice cream flavor. Vanilla is your standard City bloke, presentable, but bland. Vanilla bean has a bit more potential, but it’s still no chocolate chip…. You get the idea.”
Hmm. I decided to try this out. “What’s moose tracks?”
Pammy answered without missing a beat. “Vaguely outdoorsy, from the mid-West in the States or the Midlands here, on the shaggy side.”
“Strawberry?” I asked.
“Super WASP-y, always wears pink Brooks Brothers shirts, on the border line of gay.”
“Definitely gay. So what’s Colin?”
“Mint chip,” I said, without even having to think about it. Cool on the outside but with all sorts of dark depths. “Listen, Pams, do you ever remember Serena saying anything about what Colin does for a living?”
“Something in the City,” Pammy said promptly. In the background, I could hear the whirr of an espresso machine. It takes a lot of coffee to maintain that level of constant exuberance.
“That’s what he used to do. Any idea what he does now?”
There was a long, happy exhalation of steam in the background as the espresso maker did its thing. “Shouldn’t you be asking him?”
“It seems kind of tacky,” I hedged. “And I feel like I should know already.” At least that much was true.
I could hear Pammy thinking—and texting on one of her three other phones, but I chose to ignore that bit. Pammy texts even in her sleep; her phones are so much a part of her fingers that they have no impact on her other activities or on her brain.
“I have this friend”—Uh-oh. Pammy always had these friends. Which was this one going to be? The astrologist? The feng shui expert? The Color-Me-Beautiful woman?—“who has an agency called Man-Trackers.”
“Man-Trackers,” I repeated flatly. I had an image of Xena, Warrior Princess stalking her man through the streets of London’s financial district. It was straight out of Monty Python. Did they bring back scalps, or just suit jackets?
“They run check-ups on new boyfriends, you know, like due diligence, making sure they are what they said and all that.”
“Well, just think about it, Ellie,” said Pammy, as though it were all perfectly reasonable and I just a little bit slow, “you wouldn’t buy a flat or a business without first having it professionally checked out, so why expend less care on picking out a man? It never hurts to do your homework.”
“That’s not homework; that’s stalking.”
“Don’t be silly, sweetie. Stalking is when you do it yourself.”