My agent chose an aggressively charming French restaurant, with child-sized tables and excellent vegetables. I’d become flustered while ordering – I’ll just have what she’s having – as if I needed to further demonstrate my inability to think clearly. Plus, she insisted on ordering a bottle of wine. This was something I ordinarily loved about Caroline and at the outset it always sounded like a great idea, but I was a lightweight and once again our daytime drinking ended with me fighting back tears and finally apologizing. My third novel, promised nearly a decade before, was the ostensible reason for this, our annual lunch.
The waiter cleared our plates away; we both declined dessert. ‘I just need another month,’ I said. ‘Really.’ And though this was a lie, it was hard to imagine that Caroline cared whether or not I was telling the truth.
She nodded too kindly, said okay, said she had a new suggestion. ‘Are you open to hearing it?’
‘Of course,’ I said, exasperated. ‘Of course I am.’