I arrived in London early this morning and had half an hour to kill, so wandered through to St Pancras to my favourite café, Le Pain Quotidien, where I was delighted to find a couple of familiar faces.
Suzie was dressed in her ‘Dark Goddess’ ensemble – black corset, laced tight, tiered black D&G skirt, gold-studded Dior stilettos – complemented by black lipstick and a sleek, shiny cascade of near-black hair. I’ve seen her dressed like this before. It’s magnetic. I could hardly take my eyes off her. And it wasn’t just me. Suzie gave no sign that she was aware of all the attention, but of course she was.
Cleo, by contrast, was looking unusually subdued and thoughtful. She was dressed as usual in jeans and Desigual, but wore no make-up and her hair was tied up in a messy knot.
‘Hi, girls,’ I said cheerfully as I joined them, trying not to seem as nervous as I felt. ‘Are you off to Paris again?’
Suzie nodded. ‘We’re going to spend a couple of hours shopping,’ she said. ‘Then we’re meeting Isabelle for lunch. After that I have to sort out accounts, paperwork, documents, et cetera. Could take a few days. Should be plenty of time for Cleo to find a new boyfriend.’
Cleo laughed at this. ‘Suzie thinks it’s the fastest way to make me learn French. What she refuses to understand is that, if I do find a new boyfriend, the only French my lips will be used for is kissing.’
Suzie just shrugged. ‘And after that,’ she said, ‘we’re off to Transylvania for a holiday.’
I grinned. ‘I’ve just been there!’
‘Yes – we saw your blog. What was it you said? A “plentiful supply of fresh food”? “A nice place for a summer holiday”?’
Oh, God, I thought. Had I just aimed two real, live vampires at an unsuspecting tourist destination?
She smiled suddenly at my discomfiture. ‘Relax,’ she said. ‘We’ve been planning this for ages. But thank you for the warning about the pass. We’ll make sure to approach Poenari from the south.’
‘And if anyone’s camping there overnight,’ Cleo said, ‘we’ll give them a night to remember.’
Suzie rolled her eyes. ‘Maybe.’
‘Speaking of blogs,’ I said, changing the subject, ‘I was reading Jenny’s the other day. Did you really tattoo her breasts?’
Cleo chuckled. ‘That was so funny at the time,’ she said. ‘But I find her so much sexier now that my name is written on her body. I get wet thinking of her lovers reading it while they suck on her nipple.’
I looked at Suzie. ‘Interesting girl, Jenny,’ she said after a moment. ‘Never lies with words. Deviously clever.’ I started to ask more, but she looked at me suddenly in a way that sent a chill down my spine.
We chatted awhile, mostly about tight-lacing of corsets and the way waist-training makes the internal organs of human females shift into different positions – which all sounds medically very unwise to me. Actually, there was a picture of this (an anatomical illustration) in the Deutsches Museum which was really quite disturbing. I won’t bother you with details, and anyway I’m not sure I remember them correctly.
As I got up to leave, Cleo handed me an envelope. ‘I was going to post this,’ she said. ‘Thought you might like it for your blog.’