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Mother makes us.”“I abhor alcohol.” Cordelia winks at Louise as she picks stray feathers out of the couch cushions.

“I bet you don’t even believe in God, do you, Cordy?

She checks Tinder, even though she hardly responds to anybody she matches with. ”Louise hesitates.“I believe in things again, Louise!

When they call her, once every couple of months, Louise’s parents invariably ask her why she’s so stubborn about moving back to New Hampshire, say, where that nice Virgil Bryce is a manager at the local bookstore now, and he won’t stop asking for her new number. She made it a whole three months, watching people, before anybody noticed, and even then it was just her mother who found out, and grounded her, and by the time she was allowed out of the house again she’d started AIM- chatting Virgil Bryce, who didn’t like it when she went anywhere without him. She looks in her phone-mirror, a few times, to make sure she’s still there.

"Social Creature is a wicked original with echoes of the greats (Patricia Highsmith, Gillian Flynn)." —Janet Maslin, The New York Times For readers of Gillian Flynn and Donna Tartt, a dark, propulsive and addictive debut thriller, splashed with all the glitz and glitter of New York City. TARA ISABELLA BURTON is a writer of fiction and non-fiction. ”Lavinia gives Louise a beauty mark with her eyebrow pencil.“I stripped down to my underwear—no, that’s a lie; I took my bra off, too.

They go through both bottles of champagne right there on the High Line, with nothing but the stars over them... Winner of the Shiva Naipaul Memorial Prize for Travel Writing, she completed her doctorate in 19th century French literature and theology at the University of Oxford and is a prodigious travel writer, short story writer and essayist for National Geographic, The Wall Street Journal, The Economist's 1843 and more. I took off everything and I put on the dress and I left my other one in the street and I walked all night, wearing it, all the way back to the Upper East Side.”Lavinia does Louise’s buttons. “Stick with me long enough,” she says,“and I promise—things will just happen to you. She makes it a mirror.“Let’s stand against the peacock feathers,” Lavinia says.

You’re beautiful.” Lavinia has captioned the photo: alike in indignity. They do SAT words: What is the difference between lackluster, laconic, and lachrymose? “Maybe Vinny really does want you to be my babysitter. “Christ.”Feathers slice the air as they fall.“All my pretty chickens,” Lavinia cries.

She orders the nicest drink she can afford (Louise can’t really afford to be drinking at all, but even Louise deserves nice things, sometimes). If she doesn’t eat dinner (Louise never eats dinner) the alcohol will hit her harder, which is a relief, because when Louise gets drunk she forgets the invariable fact that she is going to fuck everything up one day, if she hasn’t already, whether it’s because she loses all her jobs at once and gets evicted or because she gains twenty pounds because she is too tired to exercise and then not even the catcaller will want to fuck her or because she’ll get throat cancer from all the times she has made herself throw up all her food or because she will get another kind of even rarer and more obscure cancer from all the times she obsessively dyes her hair in a bathroom without ventilation or she will fuck up by unblocking Virgil Bryce on social media or else because she will get into another relationship in which a man who seems nice on Tinder wants to save her, or else to choke her, and she will do whatever he says because the other way to fuck it all up is to die alone. Lavinia doesn’t notice.“Thank God you’re here,” she says. She is wearing her hair in one long thick braid, coiled and pinned. The walls are all a regal, blinding blue, except for the moldings, which Lavinia has made gold.

Sometimes, if Louise has been paid cash that week, she goes to a really nice bar: on Clinton or Rivington, or on the Upper East Side. flyers at The Corner Bookstore on Ninety-third and Madison, which has a free Christmas champagne reception Louise has been crashing for three years, even though she lives so far away, just to drink for free and watch rich, happy families be happy and rich.“I’m afraid I don’t know a damn thing,” Lavinia says over the phone. And I know I’ll corrupt her—unless somebody else is there to stop me. When Louise arrives on the stoop, there is opera blaring from an open window, and Lavinia is singing along, off-key, and this is how Louise figures out that Lavinia lives on the second floor without even having to check the buzzer. She is not tall but she is thin (Louise tries to calculate exactly how thin, but the feathers get in the way), and she fixes her eyes on Louise with such intensity that Louise instinctively takes a step back: half--knocking into a vase filled with dead lilies. There is a gold- embroidered caftan hanging on a wall, and a powdered wig on the head of a mannequin whose features are drawn in lipstick, and there are several illustrated tarot cards—the High Priestess, the Tower, the Fool -- in rusty art nouveau frames on all the surfaces in the room. I’ve had the most wonderful, wonderful night in the world.

What she is thinking is this: Lavinia isn’t afraid of anything.“I’m not drunk, you know,” says Lavinia. ”Louise puts another stitch in the hem.“Baudelaire said that you should get drunk.

But get drunk.”“Vinny’s drunk on virtue,” says Cordelia.


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