Frank Sinatra looked at his watch. It was not something he was used to doing.
But they were late and he had, for the first time in a long time, been looking forward to the evening. People didn’t usually keep him waiting. He was angry, yet suddenly on thin, unfamiliar ice, and he did not like this feeling.
When he was told the limousine had finally arrived and waited by the curb, he stalled. He poured himself a single malt whiskey. His assistant lounged by the fireplace drinking coffee, ignoring Frank which Frank had requested but now found irritating. So he did a line of coke, too.
She, she was angelic. Frank didn’t think it was the double Scotches he’d just consumed, because she was illuminated from within, and was that a halo over her head? Even the frigid, slightly disdaining look with which she greeted Frank when he opened the limo door and climbed in beside her, could not detract from the luminous beauty that was Vanish.
When they reached the club, Frank had them go around the back, and they opened the kitchen service door, walked past the pristine prep tables and ovens and aproned staff, into the club proper and a booth in the corner by the only window in the place, covered by silver painted wood slats, partially open to give the illusion of connection with the outside world.
She had a glass of champagne, which Frank ordered without asking her.
Vanish ordered rare steak, frites, and truffle-buttered French green beans. Frank listened, and ordered the same.
There was a dance floor and the musicians took the stage and started to play, without tuning or preamble. A few tabloid journalists circulated in the dim light, hampered by club staff, who were trained to discourage intrusive press.
Frank Sinatra began the evening by engaging Vanish in the ways that had been successful in the past; in fact, he jumped to his most treasured, most disarming, most charming attitudes and conversation. Less than his best effort would be futile, he realized, with Vanish.
“Liar,” she said.
She was not beautiful, Frank realized, and he was used to beautiful women. Her nose was too long, her eyes were pale and needed a lining of kohl, her hair was shiny but unruly.But her nose distinguished her, her pale eyes glowed with a velvety intensity when highlighted, and her hair tumbled over her shoulders like a Zambian waterfall. These were Frank’s thoughts.
She said,” Be honest with me, or this meeting is over.”
“I’m sorry I was late,” Frank said. “I was angry that you were not on time.”
“I think you are beautiful, but you scare me.”
Vanish took a small sip of her champagne, and smiled ever so softly.
“Can you help me?”
Vanish reached across the table and put her hand on his. “Please don’t smoke,” she said.
Frank Sinatra called for a waiter, who took the ashtray and its remains away.
“My career is stalled,” said Frank. “I feel like I am fading out of the public eye, losing my fans. I’m not ready to go, I have more to give.”
He watched her as she ate and drank, with purpose and concentration, and as if it was both the first and the last meal she would ever enjoy. A flash of light, perhaps paparazzi, from the dance floor illuminated her from behind, and he realized he had to have her. It would be the best, the very best. Frank was used to the best.
Vanish stared into his eyes. “No,” she said. “I’m not even flattered.” She set her fork down and put her napkin, neatly folded, beside the plate.
“For a fee,” she said, “I will help you.”
“You won’t like it.”
And he did not. But he agreed, and took her hand and since it was late and the journalists had withdrawn, they walked toward the front exit like a bride and groom walking down the aisle after a wedding ceremony.
“Visit my friend, Don Corleone,” said Vanish, when they stood on the pavement outside of the club. Frank’s limousine was waiting, but she waved it off. A small, black jaguar pulled up to the curb, and Vanish gathered her gown and disappeared inside it.
Frank Sinatra watched the car and Vanish drive away. She was luminous, angelic, evil, and powerful.
Perhaps not his type after all.