Unlike a movie, perhaps, Sasha’s arrival in the garden did not still the celebration. People kept talking and laughing, birds continued to chirp, glasses clinked. Honeybees hummed in the last dusty beams of sunlight.
Only three people observed the moment of Sasha’s entry, in fact. David, of course, positioned facing the crowd for his toast. Louise, whose gaze followed David’s.
And Kassandra, whose emotional radar had begun to ping a few minutes before. She’d wondered what Sasha had up her sleeve when she’d read the text Sasha sent to warn Kassandra of a late arrival. As David began his toast, Kassandra’s spine had tingled a warning. She’d turned away from David, scanning the crowd for her friend.
She saw Sasha enter, and turned to see David turn pale. Kassandra herself needed to concentrate on her knees for a moment to prevent them from buckling.
Sasha was stunning. That word leapt to Kassandra’s lips. It wasn’t just the little black dress, simple and elegant, fitting her athletic body closely. In fact, Kassandra would reflect later, the dress was the least of it. The effect wasn’t created by clothes, shoes, makeup. These things decorated Sasha’s entrance, but did not catalyze it.
Afterwards, Kassandra would describe it as a kind of profound focus, a laser-like beam of concentrated energy, aimed at David. The way a hitter at the plate stares at the baseball coming from the pitcher’s hand; the way a thoroughbred thunders toward the finish line; the way a ballet dancer imagines landing a powerful leap on the single ball of her foot; all these images flashed through Kassandra’s mind as Sasha stood at the edge of the celebrating crowd.
She admired this ability her old friend demonstrated, even as it terrified her. If Sasha could manage this kind of focus, even for a moment, in the service of her ambitions, what could possibly stop her?
Kassandra watched David move toward Sasha, drawn by an invisible tow rope. She sent a silent prayer: may they both be happy tonight, whatever happens.