Up to the nines

She really shouldn’t have chosen this dress, but it’s too late now. Its pink and black swirls, like psychedelic leaves, looked so stylish in the full-length mirror in her bedroom. Especially with the broad-brimmed pink hat, translucent and raffishly droopy.

And now, in the oppressive heat of the marquee, she’s sure her make-up is slowly deliquescing. She has runnels of sweat on her back, and she just knows that the same is happening to her maquillage (a word she has only recently picked up, and uses at every opportunity).

But she doesn’t dare run her hand over her face, just in case it’s not. And even if it is, she’s bound to make it worse.

Geoffrey’s face at her front door was enough to confirm her worst fears.

“Wow…” he said, more of a hesitation than an exclamation. “You look fantastic.”

But she could tell it wasn’t sincere. Just a form of words that men deploy when faced with an elaborately made-up female on the edge of hysteria.