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VIII

You ever wonder what it would be like to have that much money? Kathleen asked. She let the Sunday New York Times Magazine slide from her hands to the floor and stretched out full-length on the sofa.

Sam peered over the top of the Business Section at her and said, I know where you're going with this and you might as well stop right there.

Why? Nothing wrong with a little harmless daydreaming, is there?

There's nothing harmless in what you're doing. You're thinking maybe you really could snag Kevin Porter and his bank account, and I don't see any good coming out of that train of thought.

I am not, Kathleen said. She reached down and picked up the magazine again but only flipped through it idly, looking at the pictures. Sam's sofas were exceptionally comfortable, and Sunday afternoons, after the knitting circle, she often made her way up to his den, where she could leaf through the Times and doze comfortably on some real furniture. Sometimes she even brought her knitting with her and settled in for a good long stay. Sam had a large flat screen TV and a satellite feed. A nice guy with a lot of money is not a bad thing, she said after a moment.

They should stop telling little girls the story of Cinderella, Sam said. He turned a page. It ruins them for life.

My mother married for love, Kathleen said. It was a disaster. Im not going to make the same mistake she did. If I ever get married, it'll be for the right reasons.

Sam lowered his paper. The right reasons? You mean like because he's loaded? Oh, that's noble. He rolled his eyes. Kathleen, just because your mother was too stupid or too young to realize that Lloyd Winters was an ass doesn't justify your chasing after men for their money.

Im not chasing after anyone, Kathleen said. Im sitting here-

Lying here, with your filthy feet on my sofa-

Sitting here, very relaxed, having a conversation with my upstairs neighbor. All Im saying is that it's good to be practical about these things.

Sam folded the Business Section neatly in half. Have you ever met Kevin's sisters-in-law?

Briefly, she said. They come by the office sometimes.

And? What are they like?

Pretty awful. They boss people around and always look like they just ate something bad and can't get the taste out of their mouths.

Do they seem happy?

God, no.

Doesn't that tell you anything?

Yeah, she said. Cinderella's got built-in evil stepsisters.

Maybe they weren't always evil, Sam said. Maybe they're just so miserable, they've forgotten how to be pleasant.

Kathleen considered that. And rejected it. Nah, I think they were probably miserable to begin with.

I see. So you would be different if you married into that family?

Of course I would. For one thing, I wouldn't spend all my time shopping. From what Ive seen, that's all they ever do. And even I know there's more to life than that. I mean, it's important, but there's more to life.

You think that's why they're unhappy? Because they shop too much? You think it has nothing to do with the men they married?

Kevin is nicer than his brothers. Everyone says so.

Sure, he is, Sam said. Nothing like them at all. Why would he be like those guys just because he shares their genes and was raised in the same household and works with them on a daily basis? So You're not shopping all day long. What are you doing with the Porter fortune and all your free time?

I don't know, Kathleen said. Maybe using it to help people somehow. She wasn't sure she believed that, but Sam had a way of getting her to say things in self-defense that she wouldn't normally say.

Kathleen Winters, philanthropist? Patron of the arts?

I wouldn't use those exact words, but, sure, Id be interested in supporting stuff. Why not?

Well, the fact that Ive never known you to set foot in a museum or concert hall, for one thing. You're like every other kid in your generation-you think because you've seen a couple of independent films, you're the artsy type. But you're really a philistine. You have no genuine interest in stuff.

I never claimed to be artsy, Kathleen said. Or classy, or anything like that.

Good, he said. Because classy and gold-digging don't go together.

I like the sound of that, Kathleen said, wedging a pillow under her neck and closing her eyes. Gold-digging. It sounds so twenties. Speaking of which, weren't you in college right around then?

Grade school, he said. If you're going to fall asleep, Kathleen, go back to your place. Last week, you drooled all over the sofa and the cleaning lady couldn't get the stain out.

No, I didn't.

See for yourself-it's still there. Get out before you do it again.

She sat up and swung her bare feet around, which were admittedly-as Sam had pointed out-not as clean as they might have been. You keep throwing me out of here and Im going to think you don't want me around.

Gee, that would be a real shame. He picked up another section of the newspaper and unfolded it with a snap. He didn't even glance up when Kathleen said goodbye. Then again, he never did.

But this time she stopped in the hallway that led to the kitchen, turned around, and came back toward him. For your information, she said, I really like Kevin Porter. I wouldn't be going out with him if I didn't. Im not like that.

You keep telling yourself that, Sam said and turned another page of his newspaper.


| Knitting Under the Influence | c



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