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"I dumped you, Victor," she says, reminding me, but it's not harsh because she's leaning in, smiling.

"But it's not like you broke my heart," I whisper because we're close enough.

"That's because you didn't have one," she whispers back, leaning closer. "But hey, I don't necessarily find that... unsexy."

Looking into her face, I realize that she's more willing than I first thought and since I'm not in the mood yet I lean back, away from her, playing it cool, looking over the crowd, guzzling the punch. She pauses, reflects on something and sits up a little, sips her punch too, lets me leave a hand not holding my cigarette on her thigh.

"Rumor has it you fled the States, baby," I'm saying. "Why?"

"Rumor?" she asks, knocking my hand away by crossing her legs. "Who told you that?" Pause. "There are rumors about me?"

"Hey baby, you're a star." I'm shrugging. "You're in the press."

"You didn't even know I lived in New York, Victor," she says, frowning. "Jesus-what are you talking about? What press?"

"So... you did not flee the States?" I ask tentatively. "So-o-o you're not, like, hiding out here?"

"Flee the States? Hiding out here?" she asks. "For f**k's sake, Victor -get your shit together. Does it look like I'm hiding out?"

"Well, um, baby, I heard things-"

"I came here to make a lousy sci-fi movie," she says. "Who were you talking to? Who told you this garbage?"

"Hey baby, I heard things." I shrug. "I heard something about boyfriend troubles. I'm very well connected, you know."

She just stares at me and then, after the appropriate amount of time passes, shakes her head and mutters, "Oh my god."

"So when are you coming back?" I'm asking.

"To where?" she asks. "To where you're going? I don't think so."

"To the States, baby-"

"The States? Who in the f**k calls it the States?"

"Yeah, the States, baby." I'm shrugging. "You wanna join me?"

A long pause that's followed by "Why are you so concerned whether I come back or not?"

"I'm not, baby, I'm not," I say, paying attention to her again, moving closer again. "I just want to know when and if you're leaving and if, uh, you need a lift."

"I don't know, Victor," she says, not moving away. "I don't know what I'm doing. In fact I don't even know what I'm doing at this party with you."

"Hey, I don't believe that," I say. "Come on, baby."

"Why don't you believe that?"

"Because of the way you said it." I shrug, but this time I'm staring at her intently.

She studies me too, then shudders. "I have a terrible feeling you're gonna end up on a late-night talk show in a pink tuxedo in about three years.

"Hey," I whisper huskily, "I'm built to last, baby." It's the cue for a kiss. "Baby-come to where the flavor is."

The lights flicker, then dim, the chorus to U2's "Staring at the Sun" bursts out and she tilts her neck so her mouth is more easily available to mine, confetti starts drifting down around us, and Raquel Welch in One Million Years B.C. suddenly starts running around, projected on an entire wall above our heads, and as our lips touch there's an insistency on her part that I'm reacting to but Tara Palmer-Tomkinson and the hat designer Philip Treacey stop by and that's when Jamie and I disengage and as we're all chatting Jamie asks Tara where the closest rest room is and as they all leave together Jamie winks at me and I not only experience a Camden flashback but also realize that I'm going to get laid and make $300,000. Note to self: why bother modeling anymore? New plan: remember all the girls I dated who might need locating. I start mentally composing a list, wondering if Palakon would be even mildly interested.

I'm staring at a group of Japanese guys hunched over a small TV set smoking cigars and drinking bourbon while watching a tape of "Friends" and after one of them notices me he can't stop staring and, flattered, I pretend not to notice and, unsure of whether Jamie took the vial of cocaine with her, I start rifling through the Mark Cross suede tote bag she's carrying in this scene as the Smashing Pumpkins' "1979" starts playing at an earsplitting level, people crying out in protest until it's turned down and replaced by the melodic trip-hop at low volume.

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