A night at the Ballet
Chapter 7: A night at the Ballet
Friday afternoon arrived quickly. Dawn was given permission to come home from school several hours early. Simon drove Joyce and Dawn to LA, the Volvo’s trunk full of lady’s apparel. Dawn fell asleep ten minutes into the drive, a good thing since she would be up much later than usual.
Buffy and Willow would remain and guard the house. Buffy was a touch disappointed and just a teensy bit jealous that Dawn was going, but she did not care for ballet and she figured that Simon would find a similarly gratifying gift for her. And the look of anticipation on Dawn’s face had been wonderful to see.
Joyce was a bit surprised when Simon drew up his car in front of an elderly hotel, the Grand Alcazar. An immaculate doorman opened the door for her and Dawn and a porter loaded the boxes and her hard shell airline suitcase and Dawn’s flowered suitcase and Simon’s ancient leather luggage onto a luggage cart. A parking valet drove the car away with all the reverence of a man driving a Bugatti instead of an elderly Volvo.
The doorman led them into the genteel lobby, great leather club seats surrounding small tables, mostly elderly guests being served coffee, well aged wooden paneling, dark red carpeting and a few shining mirrors and lots of polished brass. It felt like an old gentleman’s club. Simon walked up to the reception, Dawn closely in his wake. “Good afternoon Dr. Meier. Your usual suite has been reserved.”
“Thank you Mr. Yardley.” He signed the book, as did Joyce and a rather ecstatic Dawn, who had never done that before. The porter carted the luggage to the elevator and led them to a set of double doors, which he opened, handing the key to Simon. The suite was large, having one master bed room, two smaller bedrooms, a large seating area, a small dining area and a private terrace filled with flowering plants in pots. Simon very firmly steered Joyce to the master bedroom. Joyce took in the beautiful American art deco interior and began to understand why Simon preferred this hotel over more modern ones.
They ate a light dinner in the suite’s common room and then went to their rooms to get ready.
The bathroom was sinfully luxurious. She decided she did not have time for a bath before the ballet and took a shower. She was rather surprised when there was a knock at her door. Dawn would not knock and Simon was far too much the gentleman to knock on a lady’s door while she was dressing. At least until they were sharing the room. “Come in?”
A woman of about forty, but a well preserved forty entered. “Ms Summers? I’m Alice Lyman, your personal maid for tonight.”
Dr Meier assumed you would want to be helped with dressing, make up and hair…”
Joyce smiled. “Did he now.”
Alice smiled back. “Unless you prefer he zip you into that dress?”
Joyce laughed. “Well it has been a long time since I last was helped dressing. Will you be able to assist me in coifing Dawn as well?”
“But certainly. She has lovely hair. She saw me coming in.”
Joyce smiled. Alice proceeded to powder her, adjusting her garters and helping her into the dress and then proceeding to gently dress Joyce’s hair. “Your hair has marvelous colour and texture, a bit short for elaborate hairdressing, but very lovely.”
“Do you want to put the jewels on before or after I fetch Miss Dawn?”
“Dr Meier deposited some jewelry in the hotel vault for your use, which has been brought up.”
Joyce bit her lip. “Before.” Alice smiled indulgently and went into the other room, returning with a safety deposit box from which she took several jewelry boxes.
Joyce opened the boxes and ran an expert’s eye over them. “I really should pack my jeweler’s glass when I travel with Simon… Hmm, star sapphires set in platinum. Early twenties. Cartier, definite art deco influences.” Her auctioneer’s mind started ticking over. *It can’t be… The Stella sapphires? I’ve not seen this many Star sapphires in one place together ever!*
Alice gave her a look and Joyce shrugged. “It used to be my job. The box and markings are a dead give away.” The necklace was draped around her neck and the earrings and bracelets soon graced her ears and wrists, Joyce chose to forego the tiara and the hat hoping Hubert de Givenchy would forgive her.
She stood up after Alice slipped on her shoes and waited for her youngest daughter to appear.
Dawn was dressed in a blue ensemble, a dark blue dress, covering her shoulders but leaving a bit of back bare, hanging to mid calf , with a same colour blue jacket for when it got cold, both appliquéd with darker blue lace. It was a stylish ensemble for an nine year old. Dark blue satin ballet flats completed the set.
Dawn froze mouth agape as she saw her mother in full splendour and then walked slowly around her. “Mom, you look beautiful!”
Alice nodded approvingly and settled Dawn before the mirror. “Indeed Miss Dawn. But now it is time to do your hair.” She set about braiding, piling and curling Dawn’s hair until it was a cascading mass of soft curls down her left shoulder, with a light bun at the back. Dawn looked stunned by her appearance.
Alice looked approvingly at the result in the mirror. “Very nice. Now we need just a touch of powder and rouge.” The maid very lightly applied the articles in question. Dawn rose, looking a touch awed. “Wow.” She beamed at Alice. “Thank you!”
“Not quite finished yet. Dr. Meier thought you might want to borrow these for the night.” She took a smaller jewelry box from the deposit box and extracted a single strand necklace of lustrous blue and white pearls from which a net of golden wires hung in which a huge, two inch white pearl was delicately encased. Joyce’s eyes widened. She held out a hand and Alice handed the pearls over. Joyce very carefully fastened them around Dawn’s neck.
Dawn squealed. ”Oh! It’s lovely! Thank you!”
“You are most welcome. But you should thank Dr. Meier. He should be finished.”
Joyce nodded and led Dawn into the sitting area. Simon was reading, rising as soon as the ladies entered. He was wearing a tuxedo of excellent quality and bowed. “Ladies. Your beauty far surpasses my ability to express in mere words.”
Dawn smiled. “Thanks. And thanks for letting me wear the necklace. Sorry I can’t hug you, but I’m afraid it’d mess up my hair.” She touched it to make sure it was still looking good.
“They may be the most beautiful fruit of the sea, but they pale in comparison to the rosy fingered beauty of your Dawn.” Dawn blushed.
Joyce gave him look. “Flatterer. “
“I have found it safer to always praise ladies. Will you accompany me downstairs? The car should be waiting” Alice held the light cloak out for Joyce and she slipped it on, Simon picking up his cane, opera cloak and hat. He extended an arm to Joyce, glancing apologetically at Dawn who did not notice and merely walked in stately fashion to the suite door. Alice opened it for them, whispering a few words to Dawn who nodded and smiled. They proceeded to the elevator and into the lobby. A large, long bonneted old fashioned car drove up as they exited the door.
Joyce gave her escort an amused look. “A Duesenburg J? Really Simon.”
Simon shrugged. “Denton reminded me that we still had one down here. My father drove it while he was ‘out in the hicks.’ And with drove I mean his chauffeur did. The gear box was replaced by Rolls Royce, my grandfather insisted. Always practical, grandfather.”
“It’s yours? Not rented?” Joyce looked startled.
Simon nodded. “Been in the family since it was new. Evening, Denton.” He nodded at the grey haired driver who opened the rear door of the car for them as he carefully mustered Joyce and Dawn and gave Simon himself a raking glance.
“Good evening Ms. Summers, Miss Summers, Dr. Meier. May I suggest Ms. Summers retie your tie sir, it is slightly more crooked than I think Miller would condone.”
Simon rolled his eyes. “Yes, Denton.” Dawn giggled as the chauffeur carefully gave her his hand to climb into the high car. “Thank you, Mr. Denton. I’m sure Mom has him well in hand.”
Denton shot the girl an amused look. “I suppose she has at that Miss Dawn.”
Simon sat in the rear and suffered in silence as Joyce retied his white bowtie. Dawn chattered at him, asking about the seats. “So where are they, exactly?”
“I have honestly no idea Dawn, I haven’t been there since the place opened.”
“You haven’t?” She looked surprised. “Why not?”
Simon shrugged. “The few times I go to social functions I do it in New York or foreign countries. I only came here the first time, instead of my father.”
“If I had seats here I’d go as often as I could.” She looked wistful.
“I can imagine.” Dawn fell silent for a few minutes and then started looking out of the window. Joyce leaned into Simon, whispering into his ear as if sharing sweet nothings. “Simon… When the Medici sold their jewelry…who did they sell it to?”
He groaned before he whispered back. “I should have known you would recognize the necklace.”
“The Medici Pearls are hanging around my nine year old daughter’s neck Simon.”
“Are you insane? What if someone tries to steal them? Kidnaps her?” She was trying to keep her temper in check. Sweet nothings should not be shrieked and she did not want to worry Dawn. What had possessed her to actually put them on Dawn herself?
“Would you believe that anyone would send their nine year old daughter out wearing it?”
“If anything happens to her Simon…”
“I’d die first.”
She blinked at him. “You mean that, you really would.”
She was silent for a bit, thinking deeply. “Simon, when you said their daughter…” She stressed the possessive.
“I may have been a bit presumptuous.” He said it defensively.
“Simon, I don’t mind. I think I rather like the idea actually. I think Dawn isn’t completely against it either.”
He gave a relieved chuckle. “Thank you.”
“I do want to see the collection Simon. All of it.” She ran a hand up his chest and turned his face toward herself, lightly touching his lips with hers. Before she could deepen the kiss or he raise his hand to her head Dawn spoke up.
“You can’t do that.”
Joyce and Simon blinked at her. Dawn had been quite placid about their physical contact, unlike Buffy who seemed to be verging on the hysterical if they went beyond holding hands. And gritted her teeth even at that.
“Why not?” Simon asked pointedly and Joyce’s look did the same.
“Alice said I was not to let you muss Mom until after the ballet.” She gave a triumphant smirk and looked out of the window again.
Joyce started laughing, Simon joining in a few seconds later.
The car pulled up before the Dorothy Buffum Chandler Pavilion and Denton opened the door, Simon exiting first and holding out his hand for Joyce and then Dawn. A couple of visitors stood gawping as the great car drove off. A man in a black tie tuxedo exited the doors as it did and bowed slightly.
“Dr Meier? Ms. Summers? Miss Summers? I’m Adrian Leavitt, your usher for this evening.”
“Good evening. I assume there is an aperitif before the Ballet begins?”
“Indeed, Dr Meier. This way please.” The usher led them into the great glass foyer of the Pavilion and towards the area reserved for the Founder’s. There was a clear path through the crush of people and admiring glances were cast at them. Simon cloaked his hat and cloak and Joyce hers as well, but he kept his cane. Joyce leaned into him and asked. “Why do you always carry that cane?”
He gave her a smile. “Self defense, I’ll show you later.” Joyce blinked in surprise, but nodded.
Joyce sighed as he looked around the great foyer. “I named Buffy after her, you know.”
“Beg pardon?” Simon asked, surprised at the non sequitur.
“Buffy Chandler. I named Buffy after her. A strong woman, a rolemodel.”
“Ah. I thought it was a nickname for Elizabeth?” He ventured it carefully.
“No, just Buffy Ann. I must admit that Elizabeth might have been better, but Hank hated the name. He wanted to call her Josephine, after his mother.”
“I see. I somehow cannot imagine Buffy as a Josephine.”
“Neither can I.” Joyce smiled.
The Founder’s Foyer was filled with famous and not so famous faces and several people looked thoughtfully at them as they passed. Simon nodded at Leavitt, who left to take up his position by the door once more. Simon looked round, and then led Joyce and Dawn to a quiet corner. An old lady was sitting on a settee, alone, looking at the milling crowd with satisfaction, an ivory handled cane in her hands. She had a strong, broad face with heavy eyebrows over deep grey eyes. Her short curly hair was thinning and she was far too thin, with skin hanging off her, showing that she had once been far fuller bodied. Her dark blue-grey dress was of simple cut, if of fine material, she wore flat comfortable looking shoes and the other guests seemed content to leave her alone. She looked up as she saw the three approaching, her eyebrows rising. “Well now…this is a surprise. Come to visit the uncultured masses in the boondocks West?”
Simon bowed, far deeper than Joyce had ever seen him do, lifting one of the strong gnarled hands and kissing it lightly. “Now, now. We had agreed to leave my father’s unfortunate phrase in peace.”
The old lady snorted. “You agreed, I did nothing of the sort. I’ve had far too much fun with it over the years.”
Her eyes raked Joyce and Dawn. “Is that a De Givenchy? I don’t know who designed your dress young lady, but it is very becoming.” She said the last words to Dawn.
Simon smiled. “Your eye is as good as ever. May I introduce you to Ms. Joyce Summers and her daughter Miss Dawn Summers? Joyce, Dawn, this is Mrs. Dorothy Chandler.”
The lady leaned forward, beckoning the woman and the girl. “Don’t just stand there dears. Come closer. I’m not as spry as I used to be and don’t intend to rise until I have to.”
Simon clasped Joyce’s gloved hand in his and settled her on the settee next to Mrs. Chandler. Joyce looked at her, eyes very wide and visibly swallowed. The older woman gave her a shrewd look. “You just passed an assortment of movie stars, magnates and millionaires and seemed singularly unimpressed. Yet you sit by me and you flutter like a frightened bird. Call me Buffy. Any woman that Simon introduces to me can call me Buffy, especially if she brings such a charming daughter with her.”
Dawn looked at her with a surprised look. “Buffy? My sister ’s called Buffy.”
Buffy Chandler smiled. “Well that’s nice. I’ve always liked the name. You can call me Buffy too, or Mrs. Chandler, whatever you prefer.” She leaned forward and stage whispered. “I
prefer you call me Buffy.”
“I named my daughter after you!” Joyce blurted it out before she realized it.
There was an ‘Ah’ of comprehension from Mrs. Chandler. “Well that explains the frightened bird fluttering. Don’t worry dear; it’s not a trademarked name. I won’t sue you.” She winked at Joyce who gave a tentative and still wide eyed smile.
The older Buffy turned around and looked at Simon who was looking at Joyce with a bemused expression. “Simon, stop looking at the lady like a sheep and get us some drinks.”
Simon nodded. “Dawn, juice? Mineral water for the two of you?” Joyce and Buffy nodded, Dawn as well. Simon nodded and walked off.
Buffy Chandler had decided to let Joyce regain her composure and to question the rather interesting young lady on her other side. “May I assume this is your first ballet?”
Dawn nodded happily. “It is. Have you been to many?”
“Quite a few, but this is the first big production in Los Angeles.”
“I’ve only been here once, and that was with school, just to look around.” She looked around the high foyer with obvious satisfaction.
“I see. Your mother and Simon are friends?” Buffy could almost feel the heat of the blush coming from the woman beside her. The girl carefully looked around her and at her mother and smiled a touch wickedly.
“A bit more than friends. They’re dating. They kiss a lot, but they can’t tonight because I am their chaperone and I promised Alice, that’s the maid at the hotel, not to let Simon muss her until after the ballet.”
Buffy looked thoughtfully at the blushing woman beside her, red from the roots of her hair to the top of her dress. “I thought it might be something like that.”
It was on this sentence that Simon returned, carrying a tray with four glasses. “Something like what?”
Buffy gave him a dry look. “Love.” Simon flushed, looked down and proffered the tray to the three, who accepted the beverages. A waiter hovered nearby and reclaimed his tray as soon as Simon removed his own glass and let the tray dangle by his leg. Buffy gave him an amused look.
“Still disconcerting the waiting staff I see?”
He gave a one-shouldered shrug. “It gives me something to do.” Simon settled beside Joyce and took her hand, squeezing it gently. Joyce accepted the touch gratefully. Buffy glanced at them with a smile. Something about the woman’s profile, her face, the startled fawn look she now had reminded her of something.
“You seem somehow familiar my dear. I don’t know how, or from what.” She pondered. “Did you have anything to do with art? I seem to recall you in front of a painting...”
Joyce nodded shyly. “I was senior appraiser at Christie’s.”
Buffy laughed. “Now I remember! I was selling some of my art and jewelry and Charlie Biggins desperately tried to introduce me to the remarkably astute young expert who had assessed it.”
Joyce nodded, composing herself. “I’m amazed you remember it. I never did get to meet you.”
“Well it’s not that often people duck into broom closets to avoid being introduced to me.” She stated it dryly and Simon snorted, Dawn looked at her mother in astonishment and Joyce buried her face in the safety of the crook of Simon’s shoulder and neck.
“You saw that?” It was a meek little voice that came from the tuxedo clad hiding place.
“Yes, my dear. You looked so startled when you saw me the first time and then Charlie led me to you and you bolted. I told him you’d gone to the ladies room and I’d meet you later. I did wonder why you didn’t actually go into the ladies room. That supply closet must have been a lot more uncomfortable…”
“I panicked. I’ve wanted to meet you since I was eight. And then you were there.” It made no sense to Joyce, but the old lady seemed to understand.
“Don’t worry dear; I remember the first time when I was supposed to meet Eleanor Roosevelt. I ducked into a shrubbery in the White House Rose garden.”
Joyce smiled. Apparently Buffy Chandler understood better than she thought. “Thank you.”
Buffy laughed. “Well I’m at least glad you were not a young man running from me. That would have been wounding to my ego.”
“I am certain that no young man has ever run from your presence, my dear lady.” Simon said gallantly.
“I would not say that Simon, I would not say that. But none ever got away!” She winked. The bell sounded and the Founder’s Foyer started to empty as the audience seated itself in preparation for the ballet to start. Buffy looked Joyce over, saw no problems with her make up, winked at Dawn and held her arm out for Simon to help her up. The Operatic director, Peter Hemmings approached to take the old lady’s arm, guiding her to the seat of honour. To Joyce’s amusement Simon’s seats were right next to Buffy’s, at the very front center. Dawn looked ecstatic. Buffy gestured for Dawn to sit next to her, then Joyce, then Simon. Dawn, after a quick look at her mother, did so.
“Can’t remember anything about the seats, eh Simon?” Joyce leaned into her date.
“I swear I thought the arrangement then was just for the first evening.” He whispered defensively.
“Of course, dear.” Buffy leaned down to Dawn and whispered something which caused the girl to giggle. A few of the guests looked disturbed until they realized just who was talking to the child and one portly woman who seemed to be about to make a remark received a pointed glare from Buffy and closed her mouth quickly.
The ballet started once the audience was settled. Dawn sat holding Joyce’s hand; Simon occasionally stroked the other, sending shivers down her spine. Joyce thought her daughter barely breathed until the intermission.
Simon hastened to help Buffy rise and Hemmings once more led the old lady to the Foyer, though Dawn walked at her other side and they discussed the dance technique and movements used and how the Ivanov-Petipa choreography held up in a modern theatre. Hemmings threw an amused glance at Joyce, who shrugged deprecatingly.
They settled in the same place, but this time a waiter was there with the mineral water and the juice. Joyce grinned. “They learn quickly.”
Simon gravely accepted the water. Dawn and Buffy were still talking technique and Simon, Joyce and Hemmings were discussing opera costuming as a dapper, lithe man approached them. “Dr. Meier?”
His voice had a slight accent.
“Mr. Baryshnikov?” Simon lifted an eyebrow. “So formal?”
The dancer shrugged; amusement in his face. “You are at a public function, which is not part of your social obligations, with a beautiful lady, in a city in the United States that is not New York. This is extraordinary enough that I thought you might be a double.”
Joyce laughed. “He makes you sound like a shut in Simon.”
“Not quite a shut-in, dear. More like the stag at bay.” Simon said in a morose voice.
She rolled her eyes and slid her hand into the crook of his arm, squeezing gently. “You poor thing. Persecuted by the weaker sex until you have to hide all alone in a huge mansion. If you start whispering ‘Rosebud’ I’ll start to worry.”
Everybody laughed. Simon nodded at the Russian. “This is Ms. Joyce Summers, her daughter Dawn. I assume you’ve met director Hemmings and Mrs. Chandler? This is Mikhail Baryshnikov, a dancer of some note.”
“I’ve had the pleasure of meeting both of them.” He bowed low, elegant, a dancers’ bow. “It is good to meet you both again. Now I heard an interesting conversation regarding dance here?” He gestured his glass of water at Dawn and Buffy. Dawn, wide eyed and awed scooted to the side as Buffy gestured imperiously for him to sit between them.
The talk resumed until the intermission was over. They filed back in, this time with Dawn being guided by Baryshnikov. Simon and Joyce could hear the conversation.
“Oh, I know now I’ll never be a real ballerina, I don’t have the talent. You have to be realistic about such things.” Joyce felt her heart break at her daughter’s mature yet sadly spoken appraisal of her skills.
“I myself was not truly appreciated as a dancer for a long time.” Baryshnikov pointed out gently.
“That was not your talent that was because they thought you were too short. Err... That came out wrong.”
The dancer laughed. “Quite true though. But you enjoy the dance, the art of it?”
“Oh, I love it. It is a magnificently liberating feeling. But I’ve never danced with a partner really; the boys in the class are not strong enough for most of the really cool moves. So I’ve never been partnered with a man.”
“Neither have I.” The tease was obvious in his voice.
Dawn grinned up at him. “All you need is a really big partner. Maybe Michael Jordan?”
Mikhail started laughing, startled at the comeback. He looked over his shoulder at Joyce. “You’ve got a remarkable young lady here.”
Joyce nodded. “I think that every day. Even in the mornings when her conversations are limited to glares and grunts.”
Dawn groaned in embarrassment. “Mom!”
The Russian émigré laughed again. “Do not worry Dawn. I’m not too good of a morning myself.”
They arrived at their seats and watched the second part of the ballet.
This time Joyce very firmly took Simon’s hand in hers, hoping that she would manage better without the stroking. Dawn looked in awe at the abilities of the ballerinas. She had come to the conclusion that she would never achieve that level of skill during the first part. It had been a shattering realization. But at least she would have this.
The ballet ended and the audience rose en masse to give a standing ovation. Dawn was grinning from ear to ear. The curtain went down for the final time and suddenly she felt her hand being taken. Mikhail was standing there. “Do you want to go backstage and meet the dancers?”
Dawn’s face lit up in incredulous joy. “Can I? That would be wonderful!” She looked at Joyce and Simon, who laughed.
“Have fun dear. We may be along in a bit.”
Dawn looked at Buffy. “Do you want to come along?”
The old lady shook her head. “I’d like to dear, but I’m rather tired. So I’ll say goodbye if you don’t mind. I do hope to see you again. Mikhail, do please confer my regards to Natalia for all her wonderful work, and to Miss Vishneva as well.” She rose with some difficulty, helped to her feet by Simon, who looked a touch worried.
“Will you be alright?”
“Yes Simon. But you know as well as I do that my time is running out. But I did want to see this. And it was certainly worth it.” She looked in satisfaction around the great auditorium, then patted Joyce’s arm. “And I hope to see you again too dear. Preferably fairly soon, while I still have my wits about me. And do bring your Buffy. I’d like to meet her.”
Joyce nodded. “I’d like that too.” She stood staring after the old lady as Peter Hemmings led her away and sighed. “Cancer?”
“Liver. They give her a few more months.”
“I’ll talk to Buffy. I really want her to meet the woman she’s named after.”
“I think they’d both enjoy it. Shall we go after Dawn?”
Joyce nodded. “Yes. It’s time we get her to bed before she collapses.”
They moved backstage slowly through the crowds and were let through without difficulty. Dawn was talking to Diana Vishneva, the principal ballerina with Mikhail as interpreter. Her face was flushed and feverish and it was obvious that the late hour was catching up with her. Diana gave Mikhail a pointed look and the man smiled, taking Dawn’s hand and leading her to the stage entrance. Dawn looked surprised but went along meekly. Diana followed, as well as a slender, stately middle aged woman with an amused expression. Simon identified her to Joyce as Natalia Makarova, the Kirov dance mistress. Several of the dancers tagged along, and a few guests. Simon and Joyce did the same. Once on stage Mikhail took hold of Dawn’s waist, rising on the balls of his toes and lifted her. Diana guided Dawn into position and Mikhail took her through a number of movements. The dance mistress made the occasional comment. After fifteen minutes Dawn managed a fairly proficient Poisson, from which they moved on into glissades and two jetés, though her dress got in the way of the more vigorous movements.
The small audience applauded and Dawn glowed. Natalia smiled kindly at her, speaking a few words, Dawn nodded, but said something, and Natalia’s smile broadened. She reached out and touched Dawn’s cheek gently, approvingly, speaking again.
Mikhail gave the girl‘s shoulder a squeeze and led her over to Joyce and Simon. “I think it is time for this young lady to get some sleep.”
Dawn yawned behind her hand and did not even protest. Joyce put an arm around her daughter’s shoulders and gave the dancer a grateful look.
“Thank Diana. She made me do it as soon as she heard Dawn had never partnered.” He smiled and winked.
Dawn yawned widely, her hand barely covering her mouth. “’Scuse me.” She blinked owlishly. “I should say goodbye to people.” Simon nodded.
“I’ll take you, come on.” He led her to the dancers and Dawn started saying her goodbyes.
“So what was that at the end?”
“Madame Makarova complimented her on her skill.” The Russian shrugged. “Dawn told Natalia that she was not good enough, and though she would enjoy dancing still she would not try for ballerina. Natalia then told her it was wise to know one’s limitations and that she might consider ballroom dancing as well.”
Joyce sighed softly gazing at her youngest child as she was saying goodbye to the dancers. “I wish she could hold on to that dream. But she’s always been level headed. So very rational.”
“Much like her mother?”
Joyce nodded. “Much like me.” She gave him a broad smile. “I thought that seeing a ballet would make her night, but dancing with you…”
“It was a great pleasure, she is a delightful girl.” He glanced at the drooping Dawn, smiling. “Albeit a very tired one.”
“We’ll take her home.”
“You may not have realized, but the Centre’s photographers will certainly have footage and photographs of my dance with Dawn…”
Joyce smiled. “I was too busy watching her enjoy herself. Could you…?”
He nodded. “It will be my pleasure. I’m certain they have pictures of the three of you as well.”
“That would be lovely.”
Simon returned with Dawn and slipped a small pager from his pocket, pressing the button. He said good night to Mikhail and Dawn tightly hugged the dancer, much to the amusement of the troupe. Simon led them to the exit, picking up the cloaks and hat. Dawn was stumbling and yawning and with a glance for permission at Joyce Simon lifted her up in his arms, cradling her elegantly coifed head to his shoulder and carried her outside to the waiting car. She fell asleep as soon as her head touched his shoulder.
Denton opened the door and Joyce got in first, Simon gently placing Dawn into the car and her mother’s arms and got in himself. Denton closed the door behind them and drove them to the hotel. Dawn did not wake and Simon carried her into the lobby and the elevator, letting Joyce open the doors to the suite. Joyce undid the pearl necklace and held it while Simon put Dawn on her bed. Alice arrived and helped Joyce undress the girl and slip her into her favourite Winnie the Pooh shirt, the one with Tigger on it. Dawn did not wake throughout.
“Did she have a good night?” Alice asked with an amused smile.
“Perfect.” Joyce kissed Dawn’s forehead and they withdrew.
Simon was reading a book on the couch, dressed in an elegant padded silk blue night gown, his shirt, trousers and a pair of disreputable old slippers. Joyce smiled at the incongruity and entered her own bedroom where Alice helped her out of her clothes, storing them carefully, and helped her brush out her hair. She took the refilled safety deposit box downstairs after bidding the guests good night. Joyce sat down next to Simon, dressed in her new red robe and slippers and a satin nightgown out of her own wardrobe.
“Well that was a certainly an interesting night.”
“Did you enjoy it?”
She leaned against him, lifting her feet onto the couch, tucking them under herself. “Immensely.” She closed her eyes and Simon caressed her face and hair. “You might want to call your parents and your sisters tomorrow.”
“Why?” She murmured sleepily.
“There were considerable numbers of paparazzi present. I think you might want them to find out from you rather than them.”
“You should go to bed.”
“Shall I carry you?”
“Hmmm hmmm.” She nodded into his shoulder and snuggled even closer. Simon smiled, lifting her and carrying her into the master bedroom, placing her on the bed and covering her gently with the duvet. She was asleep minutes later. Disclaimers Real persons mentioned or appearing: Comte Hubert James Marcel Taffin de Givenchy, (21 February 1927) famous French Fashion designer, one of my favourites, he designed the dresses of Audrey Hepburn amongst others. He retired from designing in 1995 but I’m sure he’d come out of retirement for something like this… All the perfumes mentioned are real and classics (I strongly recommend Mitsouko.) Except for Joyce, which Simon had designed for Joyce at Floris of London. Though he went to the Madison Avenue store, which was still open then. Anna Maria Luisa de' Medici (11 August 1667 – 18 February 1743) last scion of the House of de’ Medici left her personal jewellery to Grand Duke Francis of Tuscany. (Also Holy Roman Emperor and husband to Maria Theresia.) In 1737 she had left the considerable personal fortune, art collection and other properties of the de’ Medici to the Tuscan state provided that it never leave Florence (The Patto di Famiglia, the family pact). Tuscany at this time was more than bankrupt. In my universe part of the debt was paid by breaking the terms of Anna Maria Luisa’s will, thus leaving me to use some of her favourite jewellery and art as backdrops for the Meier’s by that time rich enough to be among the bankers of Europe. I apologize to her memory and all those Florentines who defended her memory. Mrs. Dorothy Buffum ‘Buffy’ (or Buff or Buffie) Chandler (19 May 1901 - 6 July 1997) was a Los Angeles personality: vital to the founding of the Los Angeles Music Centre, the first building of which, the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, was named after her. Editor and director of the Los Angeles Times, patron of the arts, volunteer and fundraiser for the LA Childrens’ Hospital. She also led the groundswell and fundraising that saved the Hollywood Bowl. I hope I’ve portrayed her with the dignity she deserves and apologize to any family members who might be offended that I’ve let her attend the ballet in the condition I portray her in without one of them present. Mikhail Baryshnikov is a superb dancer. He’s also the kind of man I think would dance with a little girl who’s just realised she’s never going to be good enough to be a prima ballerina. I hope he doesn’t mind. Peter Hemmings (10 April 1934 - 4 January 2002) was he general manager of the LA opera from 1984 until 2000. He was a gifted administrator and artist in his own right. Ballet performances in LA did not start until 2000 but I needed a venue. I was tempted to include the LA opera’s advisor Mr. Placido Domingo, but decided that was too much of a good thing. Dance Mistress Natalia Makarova and Prima Ballerina Diana Vishneva were members of the Kirov at the time of this faux performance. I hope they will forgive me as well. I was unable to find those who brought ballet to LA so I apologize for slighting them.