Sex and Vanity - Kevin Kwan
From: Isabel Chiu
Subject: la dolce vita
I’m sooooo happy you’re coming to my wedding in Capri! Do you know, apart from my family, you’re the person I’ve known the longest that will be there? I can hardly believe we’ve been friends since I was 13 and you were 7—you were the only kid I ever babysat, although I would hardly consider it babysitting since you had to endure repeated viewings of Roswell and hearing me moan nonstop about my obsessions. (Remember Nikolai? Ran into him at Erewhon the other day. He’s in LA working as a location scout for Lawrence Bender, and he’s totally unrecognizable now!)
Anyway, after getting approval from my mom’s fortune teller, we’ve chosen an auspicious day in July to celebrate our nuptials, and Capri, where Dolfi spent every summer of his youth and where his family has deep roots, will be absolutely magical at that time. It’s so special to me that you’re joining us, and of course I remember your cousin Charlotte and look forward to seeing her too. I can’t wait for all of us to be on the island together and for you to meet my friends!
My calligrapher is behind schedule because she was a bit unprepared for the sheer number of guests, but the formal invitations should be done by the end of the month. Be on the lookout for yours!
To: Lucie Tang Churchill & Guest
999 Fifth Avenue, Apt. 12B
New York, NY 10021
Mr. and Mrs. Christopher Chiu
request the pleasure of your company at the marriage of their daughter
Mr. Adolfo Michelangelo De Vecchi
the son of Conte Andrea De Vecchi and Contessa Laudomia De
at the Villa Lysis, Capri, Italy
on Saturday, July 20, 2013
at five o’clock
and afterward at
875 Nimes Road
Los Angeles, CA 90077
Capri, Italy, 2013
The trail was lit by tall flickering torches, but Charlotte Barclay still felt like she could have fallen a thousand times on the pathway. She knew she had broken the cardinal rule that every seasoned magazine editor like herself always adhered to: dress sensibly, not frivolously, when traveling. Staring down at the tattered hemline of her party dress and cursing her decision to wear stilettos borrowed from Olivia Lavistock at the last minute, she felt like she had been stumbling through the woods for hours, although it had only been about fifteen minutes, and when the villa finally came into view, its Ionic columns illuminated in high relief against the dark liquid night, she breathed a sigh of relief.
Patting down her fastidious blond bob—a style that had not altered since her days at Miss Porter’s—Charlotte climbed up the uneven marble steps and entered the terrace overlooking the Bay of Naples, feeling disoriented yet again. The graceful veranda that was empty an hour ago had been transformed in the blink of an eye into yet another banquet space where a lavish midnight buffet was set up, and wedding guests lured from the ballroom were grazing like chic gazelles at the long tables laden with delectable treats.
Charlotte glanced around nervously, feeling as if every single one of those damned Italian principessas and contessas was scrutinizing her every move. How could the most exquisite wedding she’d ever witnessed have morphed so quickly into a living nightmare? She saw Auden Beebe pile a heap of lobster ravioli onto his plate, and for a moment she wanted to rush over to him for help. No, he’s the wrong person. He won’t quite understand. The Ortiz sisters were just coming up the stairs. Absolutely not them.
When she spotted Olivia perched at one of the high-top bistro tables along the wall, she could finally feel the tension in her shoulders ease. Olivia would know what to do. Olivia would be cool; she was an avant-garde filmmaker. Olivia was English, but she wasn’t like the other English here. She lived in LA and had gone to school in Paris, so she’d probably seen some shit in her time. Olivia would help her out of this unthinkable mess.
Charlotte marched up alongside her, covertly grabbing her elbow. Olivia immediately caught Charlotte’s look and misread it. “Sure, call me a hypocrite. But after watching you inhaling pasta, focaccia, biscotti, and every possible variation of gluten for the past week, what did you think would happen? This white truffle and caviar pizza is better than wild muddy sex in a Scottish dale with Sam Heughan. You ought to write about it in your magazine.”
Charlotte tried to speak but found that her throat was too parched.
“I’m talking about the pizza, not the muddy Scottish