In contrast, the other guests glistened in tanning oil. There they were, half-naked, with implausibly buoyant bosoms and supplemented bums and biceps, radiating a carefully constructed beauty; all of these individuals were in the film business or married to it. The women were skeletal; Anne assumed they had all stopped eating in about 2004. Skittering around this august company, weaving around feet and in and out from under lounge chairs, was an ugly little hairless dog with a tufted mane like the result of a hairdresser’s tragic mistake—a Chinese crested. It shuddered as it ogled Anne, and she was equally appalled by its alien appearance. The animal was working up the nerve to lunge when a woman who had appeared to be asleep admonished, “Gwyneth!” and the dog cowered and shivered under her chair. Immediately Anne felt a pang about causing the creature so much angst and was just beginning to reach out to pet it when she saw her host, Steve Nelson, tall, expensively groomed husband of Becky, making his way toward her with a frosty highball in each hand. He silently mouthed the words she bites very, very emphatically. Anne tucked her hand behind her hip and smiled.
He smiled back—a flash of laser-bright teeth. The more Anne focused, the more improbable he appeared: so youthful. He had that round-eyed look that spoke of the surgeon’s knife and made Robert Redford, Michael Douglas, and Sylvester Stallone all look vaguely like Beverly Hills matrons. He stopped briefly by the lounge of a man wearing swim trunks and a straw hat—he was shaped like a young Gary Cooper and had incandescent marine blue eyes the likes of which Anne had never seen. Mr. Nelson shook his head and tut-tutted as he handed the hunk a drink as it became apparent by his vacant, beautiful gaze that the man in the hat was talking intently on his headset.