‘Hi.’ Blu did not expect anyone this morning, she’d been planning to spend the day in bed mostly, having had a rough nights’ sleep; she hardly sleeps nowadays.
‘Hi.’ Francesca walks into her best friend’s home, uninvited but is certain Blu would not kick her out. It was her turn to get her friend out of her funk.
‘What are you doing here so early?’
‘It’s ten am.’
‘It’s a Saturday.’
‘Still, the world is awake and so must you. Have a shower, get dressed, we are going to brunch and whatever else I have planned for you today.’
Blu makes a sound. Is there any point arguing?
Francesca Milan, bossy boots and sky high maintenance but lovelier than her cold persona would allow you to think. It’s easy to not like her, she is one of those people who robs most everyone up the wrong way and even after you get to know her, she will try every ounce of your patience, but Franny is a love and shows up for her nearest and dearest in ways one would not expect. She is the friend you call when you are trying to make something disappear, her black book is filled with the whoest of whos of the, who is who. Married to Roland Milan, president of Milan film studios, the rich and very famous want to rub shoulders with her. Whip smart with a mouth sharper than a razor, Franny can take a person down with one withering look or make someone’s life with a nod. She helped set up her husband’s studio, got him out of the contract with a bigger studio when they wouldn’t let him go, and is pretty much the one who stirs the ship. As the saying goes, Roland is the head and she is the neck. With a Bachelors degree in Law, Masters in Economics, Francesca is the one you want securing your bag.
Her relationship with Brodie is testy at best, they tolerate each other, more Brodie, because she is Blu’s best friend, if it wasn’t because of this, he wouldn’t even want to be in the same room as her.
‘I’m ready.’ Blu appears after an hour, dressed in skinny jeans, grey fisherman’s knit and studded biker boots. Franny recognised them as new season McQueen.
‘Marvellous.’ They step out to her waiting Maybach, the uniformed chauffeur holds the door open for both women before hurrying to his side so they can get going.
‘Where are we off to?’
‘Brunch darling, at Balthazar then whatever else you fancy.’
‘Oh.’ Blu raises a brow, ‘I have a say.’
‘Don’t do that, you’ll wrinkle before you’re forty then you’ll have to get botox. Ghastly.’
Blu rolls her eyes with a smile.
‘How are you?’ Francesca leans her wrapped head against the rest. Dressed in a grey Hermes cashmere combination, with a camel coat and colourful head-wrap, her friend looks as fabulous as one would expect.
‘I’m good. How are you?’
‘Worried about you?’
‘Blu because you did something stupid.’ It’s not Francesca if she isn’t blunt about it.
‘Don’t be obtuse. You dumped the love of your life at the altar and bolted out of there like a mad woman. Were you trying to be Julia Roberts or something?’
‘I’d never seen that movie until recently and I don’t like it. I prefer her in Pretty Woman.’
‘Working girl, there’s a difference.’
‘If you say so.’
‘Why are we talking about this?’
‘Because you pulled a runaway bride. What set you off?’
Blu sighs, just like Franny to exhaust her completely within minutes of being in her presence. ‘I can’t tell anyone about it until I talk to Brodie.’
‘You haven’t spoken to him?’
‘No I haven’t.’
‘Why on earth not!?’
‘Because Franny, I don’t know what to say.’
‘But something happened to push you to this limit right?’
Yes, something did-’
‘Did he hurt you? Because I’ll kill him.’
‘No! You know Brodie would never do anything to hurt me, not on purpose anyway. I simply have to talk to him first.’
‘Blu we are meant to be best friends.’
‘Don’t you dare guilt trip me about this.’
‘Oh I will because we talk about everything, we tell each other everything. Whatever it is, I don’t believe you didn’t even tell us, any one of us.’
Blu prays for patience she does not have.
‘I’m sorry.’ Francesca knows she probably should reign it in, Roland warned her about going too hard on Blu before she left the house this morning. ‘Please don’t be mad at me, I’m sorry.’
‘It’s not you I’m mad at.’ Blu looks out into the cold London morning wanting to forget all the things she remembered from that day.
Francesca let her friend be, she knows she is going through something and is struggling to come to terms with what she did. Blu is a lot of things; wonderful, kind, loyal, uber stylish, not cold and what she did to Brodie was cold. She and Brodie don’t much get on, but they’ve always been civil to each other at the very least and she still would not wish that on him if he were her enemy.
The chauffeur parks the car outside Balthazar and Francesca waits for him to open her door, whilst Blu gets hers. She doesn’t want to be mad at Franny, her friend is only trying to help, this is what they do, get involved in each other’s lives, and nothing will change that.
‘I’ll call you when we’re done. We’ll be here a while so get some lunch and what have you.’
‘Yes Ma’am.’ The chauffeur bows discreetly, before entering the car to drive off.
‘The private dining room please, booking for Milan. Thank you.’ Francesca gives her name to the maitre’d, she is one of those people known well enough to use a fake name, but she has no time for that nonsense. If people recognise her so be it, if it means she gets better service oh well, but she is who she is and has what she has only through hard work, so let them fuss.
They are shown to the private dining rooms upstairs and seen to by a small team who already laid a spread for them.
‘Perfect. We’d like some privacy please, I’ll press the bell when we need you. Thanks ever so much.’
The staff do as she implied and the two women are left alone to dine. Which they do in silence for all of fifteen minutes, the longest Franny has gone without having an opinion on something.
‘Okay you’re going to have to be mad at me for a few days but what’s new. I’m going to come right out and say it and you can, not talk to me for five days at which point it’ll be my turn so that’s fine, but I want to know why the fuck you did what you did?’
‘I cannot tell you Franny, you are just going to have to understand that I can’t. I feel shitty enough for what I did to Brodie-’
‘You guys were so in love, you were that couple.’
‘Please don’t say that.’
‘But I will. You were that couple, still are for me and yet on the ninety-ninth hour you bolted and left us all in shock.’
Blu regarded Francesca carefully, ‘you don’t like Brodie much.’
‘Just because we don’t see eye to eye does not mean I wanted this to happen to him, he loved you and so had a shared interest with me, the rest is just human nature. And Brodie is one of us, not an outsider.’
They continue eating their food in silence, Blu too irritated to talk.
After that painful brunch, they go for a wander in the piazza, both giving each other space to simmer.
Franny caves first.
‘Blu I’m sorry.’
‘Don’t be. I should be the one apologising after all, you guys helped me plan my wedding, and you spent just as many hours on it as I did. We went to Paris like ten times for that dress-’
‘It was divine.’
‘I know, it really was, wasn’t it.’
‘Oh man. I really wanted you and Brodie to be happily married.’
‘I wanted it too. I’m sorry we didn’t have it.’
‘I’m sorrier for you because I know you still love him. And I know whatever it was that made you call off the wedding to the man you love so much must have been a hell of a thing. Promise you’ll tell us one day.’
‘I will. I just have to tell Brodie first.’
‘You do. If you haven’t told him and he doesn’t know, you really ought to.’
‘I will.’ She hopes she gets a chance to.
‘Now come on, I got us tickets to see the Lion King.’
Blu’s squeals excitedly, it is only her favourite musical. Franny hates musicals but for Blu she would do anything, if only to get her out of that funk.
‘And you are coming to the cottage with us don’t think you are getting out of that.’
‘Why do you want me there? I’ll only bring down the tone you know that right?’
‘It’s a tradition. Come on, a few nights away from the children before the onslaught of the mad in-laws and Christmas, you cannot deny us that.’
‘So you guys go and be with each other.’
‘No, it’s a tradition we started from Uni and we intend to keep it until we all die.’
‘But I’m not with Brodie.’
‘We could leave the men out-’
‘It wouldn’t be fair.’
‘Just like it wouldn’t be fair on us if you interrupt a time honoured connection.’
‘I know. You love me anyway.’ Franny smiles looping elbows with her friend as they make their way to the Lyceum theatre to watch one of her favourite shows of all time.
Blu tries to put the thought of going back to the cottage this year to face all her friends behind her. Bloody hell.