'So', Amanda says, grabbing my arm and pulling at it as if she were five and wanted ice cream,' what sort of cousins are we going to be, Dawnie?'
I say, ' Not the sort of cousins who have pet names for each other.'
She looks hurt.
I feel I have to explain.
'I got kidnapped a couple of times' I say - this is of course a colossal understatement but I don't want to get into a whole backstory thing right here, right now-' and for some reason, my worst kidnappers always called me Dawnie. It gave me a complex about the whole pet name thing.'
Amanda looks a bit impressed, but not very.
'You got kidnapped,' she says. 'More than once. That's something new.'
' New?' I say.
'Well,' she says with the smile of someone into whose trap I have walked. 'Murder, false imprisonment, jail break, sex change, drug addiction - we've had all those round here, so kidnap is new. Just not very startling.'
'Oh,' I say being even more world-weary than she is. 'Kidnapping is the least of it. From what evil lawyer bitch says, you are due for some sort of Apocalypse.'
Amanda looks blank.
'Very very bad things,' I say. 'Trust me on this.'
'Oh,' she says. 'I got confused. There used to be this bright scarlet glosser, and I didn't think you could mean that.'
'Ah,' I say. 'Our lives have been very different.'
'So,' she says, 'what sort of cousins?'
There is one thing I need to get very clear, just in case.
'Not kissing cousins,' I say. 'I already have two girlfriends and you're family.'
'Eww,' she says, ' I knew you fooled around, but I didn't think you were actually...'
'Yep,' I say.
'My best friend is gay,' she says perkily.
'I kind of noticed that,' I say.
'And I do threesomes sometimes,' she says.'Girl-girl-boy obviously.'
'Obviously,' I say.
'And once or twice, when I drank too much,' she says. 'Well, there's this girl who works here...'
I decide to change the subject. A bit.
'Looks like I am staying here,' I say. 'Evil lawyer did the whole offer I can't refuse thing.'
'Oh,' Amanda says. 'Was that the whole kissing you thing?'
'No,' I say 'That was more her celebrating making the deal.'
'It did look hot,' she says.'In a lesbian sort of way.'
'Sort of,' I say. 'Once you get past the whole thing of her being dead and tasting vaguely of preservatives.'
Amanda looks slightly unwell.
'Welcome to my world,' I say.
In the middle of all this desperate fun, Buffy has wandered off. I see her going through a door with the Betty woman.
'We really have to get you some better clothes,' Amanda says. 'We should go to wardrobe. I have a friend there.'
I catch a slight emphasis on the friend.
'This would be your drinking buddy,' I say. 'Is she cute?'
'No,' Amanda says, 'she's Scottish.'
Then an awful realization comes over me.
'We've inherited an apartment,' I say.'And I am going to need somewhere to live.'
'Yes,' Amanda says. 'It's huge. So much bigger than mine. And it's a New York apartment. With a good address.'
'That means we'll be living together,' I say.
''Yes,' Amanda says. 'Won't it be fun?'
I suppose so. In the sense in which I suppose broccoli is good for me.
'I really really won't mind if you bring Celeste over.'she says. I love her music.'
I can't stand Celeste's music myself, deeply as I love the girl.
But I shouldn't hold liking it against people, because hello! my sister is a fan.
Amanda tugs me into a room that is full of more dresses, shoes and random accessories than I have seen in my life.
'What do you want now ?' a tough-looking red-headed woman growls.
'Hi, Christina,' Amanda says and bounces at her in a vaguely cheek-kissing sort of way. 'This is Dawn. She's going to be an intern. She's my cousin. She needs clothes.'
And then she flits out of the room in the direction of her desk.
Christina looks at me.
'You're not how I'd expect Amanda's cousin to be,' she says.
'Oh,' I say,' there are two of us. And neither of us is even a bit like Amanda.'
'Nice girl, really,' Christina says with a tired note in her voice that is also affection.
'Lovely,' I say.
Then Christina looks at me a bit more closely.
'Aren't you?' she says.
'Tape?' I say.
'Yes,' she says.
'I don't make a habit of that sort of thing,' I say. 'It happened.'
'Oh,'Christina says.'You'll fit right in here. That's everyone's excuse for everything, plus the whole I was drunk thing.'
I feel I have to explain myself a little.
'I'm mostly doing the whole intern thing,' I say, 'because we get an inheritance if I do. Plus there is an end of the world thing going to happen here which I am supposed to fix.'
'You'll have met Daniel,' Christina says. 'He does drugs too.'
'No,' I say, 'not drugs. My real life is full of vampires and monsters and things from other worlds.'
Christina looks unimpressed.
'Does no-one in this place read a newspaper?' I say.
'Betty does,' Christina says. 'And they tell me that Alexis has been known to, but people do tend to believe malicious gossip about that one. Perfect measurements, she has, though, even if she wasn't born with them.'
'You do know that Los Angeles was invaded by demons and dragons and parts of it were burned to the ground,' I say.
Christina looks at me in a weary way.
'Oh, ' she says,' that'll be why we had to cancel the Prada shoot in South Central. I wondered about that.'
Then she says, 'And you'll know all about the difference between Jean Muir and Jean-Paul Gaultier'
'Not without someone kind tells me,' I say. 'Because I am stuck here in Fashion World, looks like, and am completely out of my depth.'
Christina has the look of someone who loves to explain things.
It is a look I know well, not least from the mirror.
'Oh,' Christina says, only she is Scots, so she actually says 'Och'.
'Och, Dawn,' she says. 'I think you and me will get along just fine.'
Then she looks at me hard, whisks a tape measure round me several times in a way that is entirely professional but vaguel sexual anyway, and suddenly she is handing me a pair of tight-fitting red leather trousers and a black sweater.that feels like it weighs less than air.
'Those'll do you for the moment' she says.
Amanda comes back into the room.
'Get changed, Dawn' she says. 'Get changed now. You have to talk to the Meades.'
I shuck out of the perfectly respectable outfit I left Rome in and Christina snatches it away with a vague air of disapproval.
I am aware that putting the new outfit on changes something about me.
I feel taller, even before Christina tosses me a pair of shoes which have flattish heels, but make my ankles feel different to any way I ever felt before.
'You know' Amanda says,.' the hair needs fixing, but you'll actually do. You have such good skin.'
'She's natural,' Christina says, 'You'll no remember what that's like.'
And somehow they push me towards an office at the far end of the corridor in a way that feels like being frog-marched, even if it isn't.
Joining the Mode family is as easy as getting your teeth filled, but not as much fun.
The thing they have in common is that all you have to do is sit in a chair in the middle of a room.
At the dentists, though, everything is peaceful and calm except for the noise of the drill, which, it occurs to me now, is a gentle droning noise for which I am almost nostalgic.
It's better than people screaming at each other for an hour.
Apparently, Bradford Meade doesn't own Mode, just its offices and all the magazines on all the other floors of the Meade building.
He does not actually have a vote on whether or not I get a job, but this does not stop him shouting a lot about how I shouldn't.
He also has opinions on what just happened - when Fey was actually there, he sat there with his mouth open and the shifty eyes of someone whose lover has come back from the dead and might say anything at all.
I can see how you don't want there to be embarrassing sex talk in front of children who hate you.
Now, of course, Fey's appearance was a cheap magician's trick in very bad taste.
His fiancee backs him up, of course.
'Mode doesn't hire people,' she says, 'just because of cheap notoriety.'
Then she says, 'The girl has no class and no style. Christina can work wonders, of course, but not when there is nothing there to begin with.'
I really don't like her.
I like to think that Daniel and Alexis both want to hire me anyway; the fact that their father and Wilhelmina don't want to makes them a whole lot keener.
Annoying their father and his fiancee appears to be the chief pleasure in their lives right now.
Also, I am pretty certain that Daniel has a copy of the sex tape. And has watched it more than once.
Then Betty comes into the room after half an hour with a stack of paper.
It turns out that she got Buffy to ring up the Watcher's Council for my resume.
Betty is a princess among administrative assistants, I think as she scurries off, even if she does wear unfortunate ponchos.
Alexis takes one look at it and says 'Actually, we'd be getting Dawn cheap if she came to us as an intern.'
Wilhelmina pulls a cat sneer face and goes, ' Oh really.'
Alexis says, 'She works for an NGO. She's one of their top researchers. Apparently, she speaks several languages, most of which I've never heard of.'
Wilhelmina pulls a sceptical face and actually she has a point. I really don't think that an ability to communicate with Fyaarl demons is going to help me work at Mode.
Daniel says, 'Plus, she has showbiz connections.'
Wilhelmina says, ' I don't think unfortunate liaisons count as connections.'
Betty comes back in with a stack of e-mails.
Apparently she got hold of Celeste and Celeste called in favours.
Daniel says, ' Twelve of the Maxim 100 just asked her for interviews.'
He winks at me like a boy who is enjoying himself too much.
Then Marc slips in and passes Wilhelmina a note.
She looks at it hard and gulps.
Marc catches my eye from behind her left shoulder.
His mouth moves silently in the syllables 'Evil lawyer'.
Wilhelmina turns to Bradford and says, 'Well dear, if she comes that highly recommended, perhaps we should....'
Then she whispers something in his ear that sounds like 'Fabia'
And then she says, 'After all, at least she isn't going to sleep with Daniel.'
I am pretty certain she is right about that.
Bradford Meade slumps in his chair like a man who is bowing to the inevitable.
I wonder who Fabia is.