As David guided her through the crush of people towards the ballroom of the hotel, she forgot all about Senator Smith and wondered how soon she could slip away without calling down Margaret's wrath. They had been near the end of the receiving line, and already she could hear the music playing in the ballroom.
The waiter led them to Williams's table, placed prominently at the very edge of the dance floor. It was a table for eight, Jenifer noticed, but no one else was sitting there.
'Would you care to dance?' David asked.
'No, thanks, David. Not right now.'
He seated her at the table. 'How about a drink?'
She nodded, 'All right. Campari and soda please'.
David gave their order to the waiter and sat down beside her. 'Well, what you thought of our new senator?' He asked,
She shrugged. 'Not much. He doesn't have a very scintillating personality. I wonder how he ever got elected'.
David laughed. 'Oh, he's Maryland's great white hope comes from a Prominent family there with money in the background'.
'You mean he bought his way into the Senate?' Jennifer asked over her drink.
'Oh, no,' David assured her hurriedly 'nothing like that he was involved In State politics for a number of years, and while he doesn't have politicians typical glad-hand manner, he's a sound man, quite capable, and, I hear, immensely popular in his own Constituency'.
'I'll take your word for it', Jennifer said drily the subject bored her.
The table was full by now Margaret was holding court at one end, and William was a deep conversation with Senator Smith and a man from the Justice Department at the other.
Margaret turned to the beautiful blonde woman at her other side. 'You know Lara Jones, don't you, Jenifer?'
'Of course. How are you, Lara?' Jennifer knew her more by reputation than personal friendship a thirty divorcee whose father was a power in the State Department, her name had been linked with every eligible man in New York at one time or another.
Jennifer surmised that she must be with Senator Smith since Margaret went on to introduce the other woman at the table as Mrs. Adams, whose husband was talking to William and the senator.
The music started up again and Jennifer sees that several couples were out on the dancing floor.
'Mrs. Green', the tall dark man was saying to Margaret,' Would you care to dance?'
Margaret looked up at him. 'Oh, I don't think so, thank you.' My arthritis is acting up.' Why don't you dance with Jennifer?'
Jennifer could have murdered her on the spot. Arthritis, my ass! She glanced up ruefully at Senator Smith and opened her mouth to refuse, but by now he had crossed to her side of the table and was holding out a hand to her.
There was nothing for it but to give in gracefully she needn't have worried. He held her loosely, without warmth, and seemed vaguely preoccupied, more than that, she thought as they continued to dance in silence, he seemed to be as bored as she was.
'I'm sorry, 'About Margaret pushing you into dancing with me' she's inclined to manipulate'.
A fleeting smile crossed the hard features.' Yes, I've noticed' he shrugged. 'I know the feeling I'm a victim of the same kind of thing myself'.
She gave him a sharp look. Was this a new approach? 'Really'? She asked dubiously
He nodded. 'I've found the best way to handle it is to just go along with it there's no harm in it, and you meet some interesting people'.
She wondered why Matthew Smith had found it necessary to learn to deal with matchmaking attempts. Was he just a confirmed bachelor? A womanizer who wanted his freedom to play the field? Somehow she doubted that. She'd never danced with a man who seemed as unaware of her as a woman.
When the telephone rang early the next morning, Jennifer knew before she answered it that would be Margaret calling. 'What did you mean sneaking out last night?'
'Margaret, 'I'm trying to get some work done. I've got a deadline on these illustrations and have to get them to the newspaper before noon today'.
'You wouldn't have to earn a living if you'd just get married again'. Now, answer my question?
Jennifer sighed and glanced out the window at the rain slashing against the glass panes she'd have to come up with a good answer or Margaret would never let her get back to work.
'I wasn't feeling well', she said weakly. It wasn't really a lie. She'd been sleeping badly for months and barely picked at her food.
'I knew it, I knew it,' came her sister's triumphant cry. 'I've been after you for weeks to go to a doctor. You look terrible. You're way too thin, and have no color at all.'
There was silence on the line while Jennifer collected herself. Margaret was obviously chewing over her last remarks.
'Jennifer,' she said at last in a softer tone, 'I want you to make an appointment to see Dr. Eric today. I'm worried about you. You've got to snap out of it. Richards has been dead almost a year, now, and....'
'I don't want to talk about that', Jennifer interrupted firmly.
Margaret sighed dramatically. 'All right. Have it your way'.
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