When Michael got home fifteen minutes later I was staring in disbelief at the trays of hors-d’oeuvres lined up on the counter.
“Hmm, smells good,” he began.
“Don’t even start.”
“What’s wrong?” His face registered immediate concern, which pulled me up short. Clearly I was overreacting.
I sketched a brief smile. “I’m being a little dramatic, I guess…
“I’m sure everything will be fine.”
“What will be fine?”
“The fact that we’ve got no alcohol and no one to serve the food.”
“Oh my god.”
For some reason I was beginning to feel bad again.
“Where is everybody?” he asked, looking around the room.
“The servers are late.” I looked at my watch. “Very late. The bartender’s not coming. The alcohol’s in his car, I assume, which means it’s not coming either.”
“Where’s the caterer?”
“At the supermarket buying booze.”
He assessed the situation in his usual business-like way. “How does the food look?”
“Good, though maybe a little skimpy.”
He thought for a moment. “Doesn’t matter. Booze is the important thing on this island.”
“That’s what Patty said.”
“At least she got one thing right.”
Michael sat down. “If we had any vodka I’d ask you to make me a drink.”
I stared at him with pity. “We have a situation on our hands, not a nuclear disaster. Grey Goose or Belvedere?”
By the time Patty got back we were a tad more relaxed. “I ran into Pablo at the grocery store. He’s on his way!” she said.
First I had to process the fact that she’d run into our truant bartender skipping carelessly along the aisles of the local market while I was having a nervous breakdown.
“I thought his mother was tottering on the brink of death.”
“Actually she died.”
“Oh my god.”
“Years ago. I just told you that so you wouldn’t hit me.”
I should have slugged you anyway, I thought.
“The truth is, Pablo has a massive drug problem.”
“Which he’s fighting against valiantly. I admire him a lot. And I forgive him for blowing us off.”
“You called him a bastard an hour ago.”
“Actually he is, but he makes the best martini in the Caribbean.”
“I forgive him too.”
The servers drifted in at 6:45. Patty greeted them like BFFs. This struck me as slightly peculiar, but perhaps in her world showing up nearly two hours late for work constituted exemplary behavior.
Drug-addicted but fabulous Pablo had not graced us with his presence when the first guests arrived at 7:10. I set about mixing their drinks, staring daggers at Patty. At 7:15 Pablo finally blew in.
I have to admit he was worth the wait.
Darkly handsome with an almost comically swaggering manner, he sidled up to me first thing and drooled, “I make you martini to die for.”
Dibs to Patty for telling him which butt to smooch first.
Loaded for bear, I gazed into his almond-shaped eyes and, instead of bawling him out, mumbled, “Great.”
He had me at hello.
And the martini was sensational.
I loved Patty all over again.