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By Della Street
Normally Jo felt pretty comfortable in her faith, but it was truly being tested today. How could a benevolent God allow this to happen?
"Please try to keep up, Jo."
She dutifully padded over to the next table, because if there was one thing that Jo Polniaczek was dying to do on a free Saturday, it was to trail after Blair Warner for hours at some silent auction in the City. 'Silent' only in the sense of bidding, unfortunately; Jo's suggestion that Blair herself also be silent in honor of the occasion had elicited a flip of the hair, but the unusually short huff had lasted only two and a half tables before Blair was once again beaming at her and holding up some adorable cachet for Jo's review.
Now, with Jo at her side, hands stuffed in the pockets of her loose black pants, Blondie resumed her act of examining each article as if she would actually bid on some of them. Right. Blair Warner was going to bid on a baseball bat autographed bywhoa!seven, eight, nine of this season's starting Yankees lineup. Oh, man. Dave Winfield. Ken Griffey. Don Baylor
With one last stroke of the wood, Jo laid the bat gently back in its case and trotted up to Miss Subtle.
"See anything you like?"
"No." Because if there was something else that Jo Polniaczek desperately wanted, it was to have her face rubbed in Warner money by Blair buying her some overpriced knickknack. Jo had seen the sign-up sheets for this stuff; the minimum bids alone were way out of a hard-working Bronx girl's price range. Blair, of course, had not looked at the figures. On the few occasions when something struck her fancy, she had simply snatched up a pen and signed her name with that ridiculous flourish of hers, taking up two lines without even putting an amount. The people in charge would fill it in later, apparently, with whatever it took to win the item. Typical Blair, used to getting what she wanted.
Jo cocked her head to one side as Blair leaned over to read the label on a set of fancy dish towels. After a while, she noticed a couple of male gazes aimed at her friend's ass, which happened to be framed nicely by a snug blue skirt. Creeps. She shot them a glare.
"Oh, look, there's Mrs. Mayfair!"
Was this even a real charity, or one of those Society for the Prevention of Split Ends type of things? Not that Blair's family had never endured hard times. Oh, no. As Blair had once confessed, her own grandfather had been forced to drive a Mercedes at one point in his life.
Blair set down the round glass figurine she had been fondling rather obscenely that inspection had held Jo's attention and moved on to the next display. Jo glanced down at the object, picturing Blair run her palm across the smooth surface again, cupping it, unconsciously squeezing it while she eyed the braided thing next to it. That was one thoroughly groped piece of glass.
"Hellooo!" Blair toodled another woman that she just had to have lunch with soon. Tagging along behind the socialite was one more comatose husband. Jo knew the signs: Hands in pockets, trudging along with a vacant expression, occasionally jolted out of their stupor to utter a "Yes, Dear" when called for. Suckers.
Jo offered the poor schmuck a sympathetic roll of the eyes as they passed. Whipped. Half these guys obviously had no interest in being here. Granted, neither did Jo, but she didn't have to be here.
"Oh, look, Jo! This looks like one of your motorcycle thingamajigs!"
Come to think of it, why was she here?
She sighed. The Blair Warner Syndrome, of course. Now that was one charity that, if it existed, Jo would gladly donate every spare dime to, in the hope of finding a cure for whatever it was that scrambled Jo's brain in the presence of one particular person. The scenario this morning should have gone this way:
"Jo, wake up."
Kapow! "That's what you get for waking me up early, Warner."
Or, failing that:
"Come with me to the Blahblahblah auction this morning."
"No. I won't know anybody, I can't afford anything, and I'd rather listen to Miss Muldoon do Madame Butterfly than be stuck with you all morning."
"Jo, wake up!"
"Whaddya want, Blair?"
"Come with me to the Blahblahblah auction this morning."
"Eh, what the hell."
Suddenly a red knit sweater was dangling in front of her face. "You'd look cute in this."
"No, I wouldn't," Jo groused.
"Aw, aren't you a grumpy gus today?" Blair laid her hand affectionately against her friend's cheek.
Jo drew back, growling her dismay. This was not how it was supposed to work. Jo was supposed to grumble, Blair was supposed to say something snide back, and they were supposed to snipe away the hours like always.
A man rolled his eyes sympathetically as he walked past her.
Thanks, Buddy. Wait a minute . . . .
Oh, shit. It was true. Jo Polniaczek was freakin' whipped. Oh, hell. She might not be getting any of the P Jo tried not to visualize that concept but she was definitely W.
By B. W.
Aw, crap. She had tried to ignore this dawning realization for months, but now total strangers were picking up on it. Just what she needed in her life. Jo raised her eyes toward the heavens. "You are really havin' a good laugh today, aren't ya?"
Blair whirled around. "What?"
"Well, now that we've seen everything, pick something."
A condescending wave of Blair's hand cut her off. "Trust me, I don't want to, but it's expected."
Say no. Say no!
"I do not-oh, all right." After a brief internal debate, Jo walked back over to the figurine.
"I liked that, too!" Blair said happily. "For some reason, I can't keep my hands off it."
Jo rubbed the glass gently against the center of her palm. "It does feel good, doesn't it?" she said.
When no response came, she looked up to see deep brown eyes glued to the motions of her hand as it caressed the small globe. She slowed her actions, watched intently by the prettiest woman in the gallery, who was chewing on her lower lip. "Uh, yes," Blair finally said.
Jo began drawing small circles with the pad of her middle finger.
"Stop that," Blair murmured.
Stepping closer to her, Jo said, "Why?"
Fumbling with her purse, Blair said, "Time to go. I just need to leave my credit card number so they can do my bidding."
Like the rest of us. But her normally confident friend seemed a little scattered, and Jo, who considered herself an expert in human nature and Blair's in particular, was fairly certain she knew why. "Blair . . . ."
"It'll just take a minute."
One minute, five minutes, didn't matter to Jo. She wasn't in a hurry any more. When her roommate returned, Jo was going to inform her that she had changed her mind, that it was okay with her to kill some time at the empty Warner apartment after the auction as Blair had originally proposed. And when Blair hesitated, Jo was going to take her by the elbow, walk her out to the curb, hail a passing cab, and then turn expectantly to Blair, who would stare at her for a long moment before giving an address to the driver.
And then Jo would begin her research into something that had no cure.
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