The woman straightens with enough speed to lose a few drops of her conversational whiskey. She looks at Alison Alexandra in surprise and appreciation. A translucent mask is peeled from her face. She is animated. Her eyes are expectant.
“You are new here.”
“You’re the observer.” Alison Alexandra smiles.
“But I never say what I really see.” The woman finally takes a real drink. “None of us do.”
“But you come up to me – with your observations.”
“In truth -”
The woman stops. She realises how rarely she tells the truth. She is startled that she is about to do so. She is apprehensive.
“In truth, it is on a dare.”
“Someone has dared you to ask me?”
“Actually, a number of people have put money in a pot to see if this will happen.”
“To approach me?”
“How much am I worth?”
The woman raises her glass and laughs. “A bottle of Scotch.”
“Not really.” The woman is apologetic, yet she laughs. “It’s not that calibre of party.”