[before this: a knock on the door.]
“Well, then,” Cristina said. “Let’s go to the shoes.” They took the elevator to the fifth floor with a gaggle of Asian tourists. Once they had arrived, Giulietta and the tourists made a bee line for the Louboutins. Francesca started to say something and Cristina grabbed her arm to stop her.
“You have to try to be nice and try not to be drunk,” she whispered.
Francesca rolled her eyes. “Arriviste,” she muttered under her breath.
Giulietta fingered a pair of 105mm lace and nude peep-toe pumps. “These remind me a little of those Valentino shoes you have,” she said to Francesca.
Maybe Cristina was right; maybe Giulietta just needed a friend, a confidante, a shopping buddy, a drinking buddy. “Absolutely,” she replied. “I think they’re actually a bit higher, don’t you think?”
“Do you think Ricci would like them?”
“Oh, God, I don’t know. I’ve never thought about anything like that. Is he into shoes?” Francesca was a little disturbed.
“Is Romaldo into shoes?” Giulietta asked her.
“He seems to enjoy them,” she grinned, turning her back on the Louboutins and heading towards Giuseppe Zanotti. “I think he’d be pretty into these,” she said, picking up a pair of tall, strappy gladiators.
“Really? Into them like how? Like, you wear them and he says, ‘oh, those shoes are so hot’?” Giulietta looked at her expectantly.
Francesca was mildly aware that she was treading on unstable ground, uncharted territory, something like that. But she was also mildly inebriated, and more loquacious than she would have been otherwise. “You know what I like to do?” she began, leaning in closer to Giulietta. Out of the corner of her eye she saw Cristina looking at flat velvet slippers. “I like to get a really ridiculous pair of shoes–really high, really sexy–and some nice black stockings, the ones with a back seam, and a pretty set of lingerie, a garter belt and all that, definitely lace. And on a weekend when I’m seeing Paolo, I’ll wear that for him, under a trench coat or something, when I get to his place.”
Her sister-in-law’s mouth hung open. “And then?”
“God, Giulietta, don’t be dense,” Francesca snapped. Giulietta’s eyes narrowed and Francesca softened. “Sorry, I didn’t mean it like that. But you know what happens next.”