Never having had a dance lesson in his life, Alex allowed Frankie to move him around the dance floor. Occasionally he stepped on her foot or bumped into some fat lady behind him. He planted his focus on his feet to make sure he was in line with Frankie.
“Look at me,” said Frankie, “and don’t worry about your footsteps.”
“How can I be sure I won’t step on you?”
“You don’t have to worry about a thing as long as you follow my lead,” she said with a cocky smile.
“Yes, ma’am,” he said.
Thankfully there were no prying eyes of gossip journalists or photographers. The wealthy were able to pay to have their privacy protected.
Frankie was sure to keep Alex away from any wayward middle-aged socialite looking for a score. She witnessed a few eyes on him—a few women brushed by, trying to gain his attention—but Frankie proved to be the best deterrent a young man could have in such an occasion. She was beautiful, and if any woman crossed the line, Frankie would rip off her face. Alex, keenly aware, was loving every minute of it.
She guided Alex away from the dance floor to a buffet table where appetizers were served. Frankie and Alex shared a plate and prowled the circumference of the ballroom together, watching the crowd like patrons at a zoo.
“See that woman there with the exposed cleavage?” asked Frankie as she popped a stuffed mushroom in her mouth.
“No, where?” Alex asked with a laugh, seeing the woman standing directly before them.
Frankie smacked in his arm. “The one who has been eyeing you all night.”
“Hmm . . . really?”
“She’s screwing her shrink,” Frankie said. “She’s a crazy; I wouldn’t go near her if I were you.” She then pulled Alex’s attention toward a debonair older man. “That’s her husband. He was an actor for many years; now he’s a director on Broadway.” She stood on her toes to whisper in Alex’s ear, “There is always a hot, new actor on his casting couch. I’d stay away from him, too.”
Alex bit into a cheese puff and then said with his mouth full, “Thanks for the heads-up.”
Frankie put her arm around Alex’s waist and led him around the party while she sipped champagne. “See that fat guy talking up that woman?” she asked. “He’s one of the biggest producers in the city—a real hotshot.” She then whispered, “Rumor has it he’s got a tiny pecker.”
“That’s always the case,” said Alex and then stuffed two more cheese puffs into his mouth. “What about the tall, pretty guy who looking around to see who’s looking at him?” asked Alex.
“That’s Robbie, your band mate,” Frankie joked.
Alex laughed, “No, the other tall, pretty guy.”
“Tad Benedict,” Frankie said. “He’s a Broadway actor, singer, and dancer; and he’s completely queer although he hides it really well. Most girls become discouraged when they find out he’s more interested in their dates than them.” Frankie gave Alex a gentle push. “Let’s move along.”
They stopped back at the buffet table to refill their plate and champagne glasses. Frankie sipped from her glass, making sure she had Alex’s back in case any women decided to wander over. None did. Feeling confident that she had the situation secured, Frankie led Alex back to the ball.
“You see,” she said, “everyone here has an image they’re trying to sell, and most people see what they want to see. Lonely rich women pretend to be faithful wives while, on the side, they’re hooking up with the gardener or their tennis instructor. Industry men constantly find new ways to promote their power and influence in order to attract naive young actresses. And then, saddest of all, there are those ‘aspiring individuals’ who have no game to play or image to sell. They are hopeless in this arena,” explained Frankie.
“Where do we fit in?” asked Alex.
Frankie looked up at him. “We don’t.” Tugging at his arm, she led him to the door and out into the hallway.