Chapter 1: Existential Instantiation
Elspeth hated her on sight. The evening was already not going well and the towering woman turned it into a disaster. As soon the woman appeared, she demanded attention. It would be hard to identify the most arresting part of the woman’s appearance. She was almost six feet tall. Her dreadful posture ought to have made her seem shorter, but the aggressive stance negated that small handicap. Her jeans and T-shirt were intentionally tattered. Her massive breasts sagged unsupported under the thin black cotton. Nipple rings made clearly visible impressions in the fabric, with an occasional glint of gold through a tear. She could have been a poster for tough and uncultured until she opened her mouth.
Her name was Siobhan Richards. She gave it as if daring someone to mispronounce it. Her primary accent was country, upstate New York, New Jersey or possibly Pennsylvania, but Elspeth heard an overlay that said Ivy League. Clearly, her date did not. For that, there was no excuse. David Winthrop was Ivy League of Ivy League, going back four generations. He was more than willing to say so. He built up a sneer as the woman, Siobhan Richards, admitted to some hours from Rutgers. Elspeth had just time to note the New Jersey connection when Ms. Richards suckered punched David with Yale’s graduate school. While David floundered for something to say, Ms. Richards turned her attention to Elspeth.
Elspeth Otis-Endicott was a Boston blue-blood of the first order. Intense scrutiny was nothing new. Indeed, Elspeth had spent more than the usual allotment of time with Beacon Hill’s semi-official ruling lady—Adele “Grandmother” Cabot. The tiny woman was never less than perfectly correct and was quite gifted at informing young girls where they were lacking. That sort of dry inspection paled to nothing before the withering gaze of Siobhan Richards. It lasted only seconds, but Elspeth’s life would never be the same.