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Chapter 30
Was this all there was? Was Nate it? Blair didn’t have much choice. She opened her eyes wide, silently asking Nate for help and praying he’d be up to the job. Ms. Agnelli frowned and turned around to see what Blair was staring at. Blair made a run for it, and Nate stepped in just in time. Thank God he was so stoned. “Nate Archibald,” Nate said, shaking hands with the woman. “My mother is a big fan of those falcons.” Ms. Agnelli laughed and blushed a little. What a charming young man. “Well, of course she is,” she said. “Your family has been very generous with our foundation.” Nate plucked two flutes of champagne off a passing tray and handed one to her. He raised his glass. “To the birds,” he said, clinking his glass with hers and trying to fend off an outbreak of the giggles. Ms. Agnelli blushed again. This boy was too cute! “Hey, those two girls helped plan the party, too,” Nate said, pointing at Kati and Isabel, who were standing on the edge of the dance floor, useless as usual. He waved them over. “Hello, Nate,” said Kati, tottering over on four-inch stilettos. Isabel clutched her drink and stared at the strange woman standing next to Nate. “Hi,” she said. “I love your suit.” “Thank you, dear. I’m Rebecca Agnelli, from the Central Park Save the Peregrine Falcons Foundation,” the woman said. She held her hand out to Isabel, who reached out with both arms to give her a drunken hug. “Excuse me,” said Nate, bowing out right on cue. “Blair?” Nate called, cautiously pushing open the ladies’ room door. “Are you in there?” Blair was crouched in the end stall. “Shit,” she said softly, wiping her mouth with toilet paper. She stood up and flushed. “I’ll be right out,” she said, waiting for him to leave. But Nate pushed the ladies’ room door open all the way and stepped inside. On a counter by the sinks were little bottles of Evian, perfume, hairspray, Advil, and hand lotion. He unscrewed a bottle of water and shook a couple Advil onto his palm. Blair opened the stall door. “You’re still here,” she said. Nate handed her the pills and the water. “I’m still here,” he repeated. Blair swallowed the pills, sipping the water slowly. “I’m really fine,” she said. “You can go back to the party.” “You look nice,” Nate said, ignoring her. He reached out and rubbed one of Blair’s bare shoulders. Her skin felt warm and soft, and Nate wished they could lie down on her bed and fall asleep together like they always used to. “Thanks,” said Blair, her lower lip beginning to tremble. “So do you.” “I’m sorry, Blair. I really am,” Nate began. Blair nodded and began to cry. Nate pulled a paper towel from the dispenser and handed it to her. “I think the only real reason I did it . . . I mean, that I did it with Serena . . . is because I knew she’d do it,” he said, grasping for the right words. “But it was you I wanted all along.” Nice one. Blair swallowed. He’d said it just right, exactly the way she’d written it in the script in her head. She put her arms around Nate’s neck and let him hold her. His clothes smelled like pot. Nate pushed her away and looked down into her eyes. “So everything is okay now?” he said. “You still want me?” Blair caught the reflection of the two of them together in the bathroom mirror and gazed up into Nate’s gorgeous green eyes and nodded yes. “But only if you promise to stay away from Serena,” she sniffled. Nate wound a strand of Blair’s hair around his finger and breathed in the scent of her perfume. It felt okay, standing there, holding her. It felt like something he could do. For now, and maybe forever. He didn’t need Serena. He nodded. “I promise.” And then they kissed—a sad, soft kiss. In her head, Blair could hear the swell of music signaling the end of the scene. It had started out a little rocky, but at least the ending was okay. “Come on,” she said, pulling away and wiping the mascara smudges from under her eyes. “Let’s go see who’s here.” Holding hands, they left the ladies’ room. Kati Farkas smiled knowingly as she tottered past them on the way in. “You guys,” she scolded. “Get a room!” “This band rocks!” Serena shouted at Vanessa over the pounding drum and bass. She wriggled her butt from side to side in her chair, her eyes shining. Dan was having trouble breathing normally. He’d barely touched his drink. Vanessa smiled, pleased that Serena liked the music. Personally, she hated it, although she’d never tell her sister Ruby that. SugarDaddy was all about people dancing and sweating and shaking their bodies around, which was definitely not Vanessa’s thing. She’d rather lie around in the dark listening to Gregorian chants or whatever. Yeehaw! “Come on,” Serena said, standing up. “Let’s dance.” Vanessa shook her head. “That’s okay,” she said. “You go.” “Dan?” Serena said, tugging on his jacket sleeve. “Come on!” Dan never, ever danced. He was bad at it, and it made him feel like a goofball. He hesitated, glancing at Vanessa, who raised her black eyebrows, challenging him. If you get up and dance right now, youwill go straight to the top of my loser list, her look said. Dan stood up. “Sure, why not,” he said. Serena grabbed his hand and pushed her way into the gyrating throng with Dan stumbling after her. Then Serena began to dance, her arms raised over her head, kicking her feet out in front of her and shaking her shoulders. She definitely knew how to dance. Dan nodded his head up and down and waggled his knees in time to the beat, watching her. Serena reached out and clasped Dan’s hips, rocking them back and forth and around and around, mimicking what her hips were doing all on their own. Dan laughed and Serena smiled and closed her eyes, getting seriously down. Dan closed his eyes too, letting his body follow hers. It really didn’t matter that he danced like a moron, or that he was the only one in the room wearing a tuxedo—probably the only one in Williamsburg. He was with her, and that was what mattered. Alone at the table, Vanessa finished first her drink and then Dan’s. Then she got up and went to sit down at the bar. “Nice shirt,” the bartender remarked when he saw her. He was in his early twenties, with red hair, long sideburns, and a cute, sly smile. Her sister was always talking about how cute he was. “Thanks,” Vanessa said, smiling back at him. “It’s new.” “You should wear red more often,” he said. He held his hand out. “I’m Clark. You’re Vanessa, right? Ruby’s sister?” Vanessa nodded. She wondered if he was just being nice to her because he liked her sister. “Can I tell you a secret?” Clark said. He poured a few different things into a martini shaker and shook it up. Oh, fuck, Vanessa thought. Here’s when he pours out his heart andtells me all about how he’s been in love with Ruby forever, but shedoesn’t seem to notice him. And he wants me to play Cupid andblah, blah, blah. “What?” she said. “Well,” Clark said. “I see you and Ruby come in here all the time.” Here he goes, thought Vanessa. “And you never come up to the bar and talk to me. But I’ve kind of had a crush on you since I first saw you.” Vanessa stared at him. Was he joking? Clark poured the drink out of the martini shaker into a short little glass and squeezed a few limes into it. He pushed it toward her. “Try that,” he said. “It’s on the house.” Vanessa picked up the glass and tasted it. It tasted sweet and sour at the same time, and she couldn’t taste any alcoh............
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