Authors: Lauren Weisberger
“I'm in the bathroom!” Emily yelled back, her voice muffled.
“I have the most incredible thing to tell you!” Karolina called back. She was high, absolutely flying, with joy. She wanted to scream her news to anyone and everyone; to go salsa dancing with strangers; to stay up all night for three nights in a row.
“Can you give me a minute?” Emily sounded as irritated as Karolina was excited.
“Sure. You okay?” Karolina waited directly outside the bathroom door.
“Seriously?” Emily called. “Can you give me, like, five seconds of privacy?”
Karolina grinned. At no one. For no real reason. “Sure. Clock starts now.”
In under a minute, Karolina heard the sink turn on and then off. The door swung open and Emily, looking like she'd been dragged through a tornado by an open-air cruise ship, emerged.
“What the hell is so important that you are literally staking out the bathroom?” Emily asked, walking straight past Karolina, who hurried to keep up with her.
“Emily, I have no idea what you said or did, but whatever it was, thank you! Graham is sending Harry to boarding schoolâin Connecticut!”
Emily stopped and turned around, her expression neutral. “And?”
I'll stay in Greenwich and Harry will come
on weekends. Plus, I can go there to see him. I'm basically going to be his primary parent!”
Emily sighed loudly.
“What?” Karolina asked.
“This is why I like to handle things by myself. But when she offers her assistance, you really can't control her.”
Karolina resumed following Emily, who plopped herself back down on the living room couch and reached for the remote. “Waitâturn that down. Who are you talking about?”
“She got you Harry back. She stepped up when I needed her. It's not perfect, but at least it's done.”
It was all Karolina could do not to wrap her hands around Emily's neck. “Emily. Tell me what happened. Right now.”
Emily pressed her palm against her forehead as though her head was pounding. “Miranda is harping on me to come back and oversee events. It's flattering, don't get me wrong, but she just doesn't seem toâ”
“Emily? Can you please tell me about my
Emily waved her hand. “I told her I couldn't work for her right now because I was too busy with you. She asked what was up with thatâbasically why I hadn't fixed this already. I told her it wasn't so easy going head to head with a sitting U.S. senator. Then she pretty much laughed in my face like I knew she would. She told me she would handle it, and it would take her approximately sixty seconds. I told her to go for it.”
“Go for it? What does that mean, exactly?”
“She asked what it was you wanted. I said Harry. She wanted to know if I had any dirt she could use on Graham. So I emailed her a list. Then she handled the rest.”
“Handled the rest?”
“You keep repeating everything I say.”
“You really told her about the girl in high school when I swore you to secrecy?”
Karolina's warm feeling of complete happiness was quickly giving way to outrage.
“And about the vasectomy?”
“Oh, I had already confronted Graham on that. So maybe it was the one-two punch that got him to do this.”
“Emily! That was
. Between us.”
“Because of Harry. I know. I'm not an idiot. Miranda didn't take it to the press. She took it to Graham. Called him straight up out of the blue, I'm sure, and reminded him how she served for a few months as President Whitney's social secretary. That's Regan's father, President Whitney. Remember him? And how tight Miranda and the president are socially? And I'm guessing she told him point-blank that President Whitney would be
unhappy to hear about some of the things his daughter's soon-to-be fiancÃ© had been part of. I imagine she gave him a lot to think about.”
“Oh my God.” It was all Karolina could say.
“No media, no public pronouncements or unsavory scrutiny. Just a good old-fashioned shakedown from a woman who operates at the master level. She's like the Dalai Lama of Blackmail. The Grande Dame of Extortion. The Priestess ofâ”
“I got it.” Karolina reached for the bottle of rosÃ©, filled Emily's glass to the brim, and then drank the entire thing down herself.
“Help yourself. I feel like shit anyway,” Emily said. “Still, I don't think weekends are good enough, do you?”
Karolina stared at Emily. “I've seen him exactly five times since New Year's.”
“Karolina.” Emily said this as though merely uttering her name was exhausting. “When are you going to stop looking at the world as a place where you owe it something and start acting like it owes
? Have you done anything wrong here? Hurt anyone? Are you looking to screw anyone over? No. You just want to live a normal life and see your son. It doesn't sound particularly exciting to me, but hey, to each her own.”
“What are you saying?”
“Just because Miranda Priestly would be happy with weekends and Graham agreed to that doesn't mean
have to! Pick up the goddamn phone and tell him the deal's off unless Harry goes to Choate as a day student and lives with you. Or some other school. This is fucking Greenwich, for Christ's sake, there have to be a dozen schools around here willing to take fifty grand a year off your hands to educate a seventh grader. Make it happen!”
It was as though someone lifted a weighted blanket from her chest. Karolina could only stare at Emily, in awe of this woman who instinctively knew how to get what she wanted. Emily was right: if Graham was so desperate to preserve his relationship with Regan that he'd let Harry go to boarding school in Connecticut, she should be able to push a little bit harder and get Harry full-time. She whipped out her phone and started typing but quickly erased all of it after deciding that short and strongly worded was better. She added Trip and Miriam to the chain.
There's been a misunderstanding. I want Harry living with me full-time in Greenwich. You can pick the school. You can tell everyone he boards if that saves face. But he doesn'tâhe sleeps at home with me, every night, every year, until he graduates. He can come see you in Bethesda whenever you two decide, but otherwise he lives with me. And I want it done legally and in writing.
She had to physically restrain herself from qualifying all of her statements with further justifications. She hit “send” and couldn't breathe.
The three dots appeared within thirty seconds and stayed blinking for nearly two minutes. Then they vanished. They reappeared and vanished again, and Karolina thought she might have a heart attack. Was he going to renege on the whole deal? Decide that he'd rather keep Harry in Bethesda than marry Regan? Call the bluff and tell her to go to hell? Karolina literally paced, clutching her phone, her palms so sweaty that she dropped it two times.
When his reply came in, Karolina didn't even realize she'd been
holding her breath. She had exhaled, preparing for the inevitable crush of disappointment to wash over her, when her eyes focused through the tears and fixed on the only two letters he had written.
. Both in caps. No qualifications, no threats, no negotiation, no argument. Just acquiescence. Her son was hers again.
mily watched as Karolina bounded out of the living room and up to her room, presumably to call Miriam or her aunt or whoever else would want to know the good news about Harry. Emily was happy for her, of course, but she also felt like a failure.
Probably because I am one
, she thought, mindlessly flipping through the channels. Emily had put the whole plan in place. She had brilliantly orchestrated Karolina's mommy makeover and new messaging; she'd gotten her rehabbed in Utahânot to mention laidâand she'd relaunched her to the ladies who lunch in Greenwich, who could surely take things from there. But what she hadn't doneâcouldn't do, apparentlyâwas get Karolina what she wanted most. When push came to shove, it was Miranda who'd stepped up and gotten it done. It might give Emily's business a boost in the endâif she didn't hear from Kim Kelly's people in the next week, she'd be shockedâbut
it wasn't her win. And one thing in all of this was absolutely certain: Miranda hadn't done anything out of the goodness of her heart, her affection for Emily, or her concern over the well-being of a child she'd never met. How long would it take Miranda to collect payment for what she was owed? She had literally made a deal with the devil.
Not having the energy to reach across the table and reclaim her wineglass, Emily hoisted the new bottle Karolina had opened to her lips and took a long drink. It didn't help get rid of the queasiness she'd been feeling all night, nor give her anything approximating a decent buzz. Irritated and tired and already half-hungover, she hoisted herself off the couch and headed for bed. She squirted toothpaste on her toothbrush and began to brush in an overly aggressive way that was certainly receding her gums when something caught her eye. That stick. Just resting there by the sink, waiting for someone to notice it. Emily spat and gave it a perfunctory glance. There, clear as day, were two bright red lines. Exasperated, she tossed it in the trash and proceeded to floss and pee and wash her face without a second thought. What good were these fucking pregnancy tests when they were always wrong?
She'd fallen asleep watching
on Netflixâthe iPad had hit her face and she hadn't woken upâwhen she felt someone shaking her awake.
“Emily. Emily! Get up.” Karolina sounded frantic.
“Mmm. What?” It somehow felt like she'd been unconscious for three seconds and also for three days.
“Get up! Right now. Open your eyes!”
Emily obeyed, and Karolina's pure panic caused her to bolt awake. “What? Is it Miranda? Are you sick? What's happening?” she asked, ripping the headphones from her ears as her iPad clattered to the floor.
“How could you not tell me you're
?” Karolina asked, her face so close that Emily could smell her minty breath.
With this, Emily could only laugh. “Because I'm not! Did you really have to wake me?”
“Emily. I SAW THE POSITIVE PREGNANCY TESTS IN THE BATHROOM!” Karolina was hysterical now, really out of control. Why was she screaming like that? It was enough to make someone crazy.
“Calm the fuck down, will you, please?” Emily said, pulling the comforter up under her arms. “I'm not
“You're not? Then whose tests are in the bathroom?”
Emily looked at Karolina. “You have your own bathroom. Hell, you have your own seven bathrooms.”
Karolina's eyes looked like they could pop out of her head. “I was out of toilet paper! I went to the nearest bathroom to get a roll. And lo and behold, it looks like a Duane Reade pregnancy-test aisle exploded in there! And they're all freaking positive! You were clearly not trying to hide anything, so don't give me this privacy crap right now. Oh my God, Emily, I'm so happy for you.” The last words came out in a squeak, and Emily could tell Karolina was seconds away from tears.
“Before you start with the waterworks, please hear me out. I am not pregnant. I have an IUD! Well, I had one. Up until recently. And my periods never went back to normal because of all the hormones. I couldn't remember when I had one last so I peed on a stick. God knows you stock them like tissues. It wasn't a serious thingâbecause there's no way I'm pregnantâand sure enough, it was a false positive.”
“A false positive?”
Karolina sprang off the bed, her arms flapping wildly. It was maybe the only time Emily had ever seen this gorgeous woman look completely ridiculous. “Emily! THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A FALSE POSITIVE!”
The way Karolina said this, with such certainty, gave Emily pause. Could she be right? No, no, that wasn't possible. “Of course there is.”
“Oh my God, I can't even!” Karolina was breathless. “Emily. There is a hormone detectable in your urine when you're pregnant. That's what activates the second line on the tests. It's totally possible to get false
because the test misses detecting the hormone, but you
cannot get a false
âthe test is not going to detect something that's absolutely not there.”
Emily felt like someone had punched her. “You're sure?”
“I spent the better part of the last five years trying to get pregnant. You don't think I know exactly how a drugstore pregnancy test works?”
Emily grudgingly lifted her gaze to meet Karolina's.
“You're pregnant. There is no room to argue here.”
“I'll go with you tomorrow so you can have it officially confirmed at a doctor's office, but I've never been more certain of anything in my entire life.”
Again that gut-punch feeling. Emily sucked in her breath. “That can't be.”
“Why not? There's not really some huge mystery here.”
“Yes, but I had an IUD!”
Karolina looked incredulous. “You
an IUD? As in, you
to have an IUD but currently you do
have an IUD?”
“For ten years!” Emily snapped. “Two of them, actually. And I planned to put another one in when she took the last one out, but the one I wanted was back-ordered, and when the office called to tell me it was back in stock, I meant to schedule an appointmentÂ .Â .Â .”
“But you didn't.”
“I was busy! Helping you, for one thing. Besides, Miles always pulls out. Almost always. And I probably have three eggs left, if that.”