he screen goes on that wall.” Rina pointed the man carrying the large projection screen to the far wall of her basement studio. “And those tables in the back,” she said, turning to the caterer, “are for the buffet.”

As her hired staff bustled about, Rina stepped back and surveyed the room. She’d transformed her studio into an elegant theater, with heavy velvet drapery and hanging brass candles. She smiled, picturing the girls’ reactions when they arrived.

“Convinced hubby to spring for another redecorating spree?”

Rina frowned at the sound of Gabriella’s voice. “Hello to you, too. And if you meant to compliment my decorating talents, then compliment accepted.”

Gabriella grinned. “Touch?. I was going for witty, but I’m probably just jealous. Not your fault you have a rich husband, right?” She patted Rina on the shoulder as Rina stared at her. “The room looks stunningly gorgeous. Consider your talents complimented.”

“Thank you,” Rina said dryly. “And for your information, my husband did not spend a dime on the decorations for this party. I had them all in storage from a Ladies Auxiliary Tea I helped organize for my daughter’s school last May.”

Now Gabriella looked genuinely contrite. “Sorry,” she said in a gentler tone. “That was really bad of me. It’s nice that you went all out for this party.” Her gaze swept around the room, taking in the elaborate hot milchig buffet and the crushed velvet chair slipcovers.

Rina’s tone softened as well. “They worked hard, they deserve something special. I also bought each cast member a gift.”

She’d debated long and hard about what to get Gabriella. Their relationship was so tricky, but, at the same time, Gabriella had invested more effort into this film than anyone besides Rina.

“Beautiful,” Gabriella said. “I also prepared something.” She pulled a sheaf of papers out of her pocketbook. “I wrote up something about each of the cast and crew. Something light and funny, you know, in-good taste, since this is probably our last time together.”

Rina wondered if Gabriella had written about her. She wasn’t sure she wanted to hear Gabriella’s idea of in-good-taste humor as it related to her. But she did know that Gabriella’s jokes were sure to be spot on, and for a brief moment the picture flashed through her mind of the girls laughing hysterically at Gabriella’s presentation, perhaps appreciating it more than Rina’s expensive gifts.

Blinking away the image, Rina said, “They’ll love it.”

“Yeah, well, something tells me they’ll love the Birkins, or whatever it is you bought them, a whole lot more.”

“I didn’t buy them Birkins.” But Rina brightened nonetheless. Once again, Gabriella had displayed her knack for saying just what the other person needed to hear. No wonder Huvy had been so smitten, before—

Rina glanced across the room. Huvy, who’d been helping her set up ever since she’d come home from school, had now disappeared. Probably made her escape as soon as she’d glimpsed Gabriella. A part of her felt bad for Huvy. The other part was selfishly happy.

“Ooooh, Rina!”

“Oh. My. Gosh.”

Delighted, Rina turned to welcome the first arrivals.

(Excerpted from Family First, Issue 643)