“So the writer looks at the detective, all excited, and says, ‘My agent called?’”
I held back my sigh of annoyance and, instead, threw my head back and laughed my best fake laugh. “Ah, that’s a good one.”
I wanted to tell him I was a manager who was interested in the well-being of my clients, unlike most agents I’d worked with over the years who were mostly concerned with making the most lucrative deal, but in today’s entertainment business, the lines between the two were blurring so much that most people didn’t even know the two jobs weren’t one and the same.
The senior partner at my dad’s firm laughed at his joke, then moved on to the next group of unsuspecting victims. It was times like these I wondered how my parents had kept their sanity by continuing to uphold their tradition of inviting anyone and everyone who didn’t have a place to be on Thanksgiving to their house for dinner and laughter.
The man standing next to me laid a hand on my shoulder and squeezed. “Well that was a joke none of us had heard before. Between you and me, if I have to listen to Warren tell me what a hot shot you are behind the scenes of the culinary world one more time, I may just have to accidentally throw my racquet at him during our next court time at the club.”
I didn’t embarrass easily, but I felt my cheeks warm from Mr. Slater’s compliment. “Thanks, but feel free to kick my dad’s ass at racquetball anytime you want. You don’t have to wait for him to brag on his spoiled brat of a son to do it.”
“Warren will be happy to know it didn’t take me whining much for you to throw him under the bus. Speaking of, I’m off to find your old man to squeeze another glass of his Macallan from him.” He chuckled softly as he scanned the room to find my dad. “He’s had that damn scotch for too long and it’s time he enjoyed it.”
I caught my dad’s eye across the room and nodded. “I’d join you but I’m headed out too. However, I’ll let you in on a little secret.” I leaned in closer and whispered, “Dad purchased a bottle of Highland Park at auction a few years ago. If you think the Macallan is good, you’re in for a treat with the fifty year-old single malt he’s got stashed away. Top left corner of the antique liquor cabinet in his study.”
Mr. Slater’s deep laugh had never failed to make me smile growing up and being the one to get that reaction from him was a nice treat after doing the family thing today. “I see you’re still a troublemaker. Take care of yourself and don’t be a stranger. Your dad and I may be too old farts, but I bet we can still take you on the court.”
“I’ll happily take you up on that bet,” I snorted and gave him a hug. Once I was alone again, I took a sip of my wine as I watched him walk over to my dad.
Franklin Slater and my dad, Warren Anderson Pratt, had grown up together in upstate New York and roomed together during their days at UT—my dad in in the school of advertising and Mr. Slater in the school of architecture. It had taken some time to establish themselves once they’d graduated and moved back home, but the real estate boom of the 80s helped each of them to make a solid name for themselves in New York society. At least half of Midtown’s Upper East Side bore Mr. Slater’s mark in one way or another and my dad cleaned up by gaining the right connections both in entertainment and business to market their name to the public. Almost forty years later, both men had amassed small fortunes and were at the top of the food chain in their fields. My mom and Mrs. Slater often joked about their close friendship, feigning jealousy that their two husbands never missed their beloved racquetball match, unless one of them was out of town and physically incapable of making it to the club.
“It means a lot to your dad that you’re here tonight. We missed you last year.”
I turned to face my mother, whose smile widened as she watched Mr. Slater drag my dad out of the formal dining room waving his empty crystal tumbler in my dad’s face. Before the turned the corner, Mr. Slater looked across the room to find my eyes and winked, a very self-satisfied expression prominent on his face.
“Wait until Dad finds out I let it spill that he just might have a seventeen thousand dollar bottle of scotch in his study that needs opening. He might just cut me from the guest list for the next family get together.”
My mom’s surprised laughter was followed up by a gentle swat on my arm. “Your dad is going to kill you.”
“Nah. If it was anyone other than his second wife hinting that he open it, he would. But we both he can never refuse Mr. Slater anything.”
“God, those two really do act like an old married couple. Don’t they?”
I smiled at my mom, still as beautiful as she was in her wedding picture. At age fifty-six, Margaret Windsor Pratt—Maggie, to my dad and her closest friends—still turned heads when she and my dad went out on the town. Daughter of a investment broker, my mom had grown up in New York’s elite society, but had always worked hard not to let her family’s money and status make her one of the “obnoxious socialites” she’d grown up with. My dad and mom both happened to attend a social gala that Mr. Slater’s company hosted, talked all night and into the morning, both freely admitting to this day it had been love at first sight. It was a disgustingly romantic story I’d heard hundreds of times over the years, and I secretly envied them.
She looked around the crowded room and sighed. “You know, I keep thinking one year we’ll have a small family Thanksgiving dinner with just the three of us. Maybe invite your Uncle Thomas and his family. But your dad can’t quite seem to give this up.”
I shook my head as I looked around my parents crowded living room. Their townhouse, only a few blocks away from Central Park, was anything but small. However, the large crowd of extended “family” my parents had chosen to invite to this year’s Thanksgiving meal made it feel that way at the moment. “You both have been doing this for so long, it would be weird with just the three of us.” I shuddered wondering how any of us would deal with the lack of noise.
“Weird, but nice. Maybe next year.” My mom paused and then laughed as she pointed to my dad and Mr. Slater reentering the living room with fresh—and halfway full—crystal tumblers.
She playfully swatted my arm, still laughing. “That’s all your fault, you know?”
“I have no idea what you’re talking about. Dad needed a reason to open that scotch. I just provided an excuse for him.”
“You’re just lucky your father has a partner in crime to get into trouble with. Speaking of? How is Jamie?”
I couldn’t help it. I flinched. What was even worse? My mom noticed it.