CHAPTER 4: Taylor | Daphne
Part one: TAYLOR
Taylor Swift. Such a lovable creature. All legs and eyelashes and funny breakup songs. But what was really underneath the tiny purses and the cat instagrams and the seemingly concocted-overnight friendships with supermodels arranged as power plays?
She looked at herself in the mirror of the tiny bathroom belowdeck. Her reflection swaying back and forth before her, dimly lit. She was drunk, that much she was sure of. But she had a feeling it was in a good way. An adorable Taylor Swift drunk way she smiled to herself.
It was so nice to finally have a girlfriend, she thought. Not a Vogue-enforced friendship for a magazine sales push, but a real friend who isn’t famous and certainly isn’t only friends with her because she’s famous.
Well… to be honest, Daphne sort of thinks that SHE is famous. And she’s not entirely sure if Daphne follows popular music culture enough to really grasp that Taylor is an icon in her own right… but whatever, Daphne’s lack of interest in Taylor’s career was a welcome change.
She toppled out of the bathroom as the boat lurched and up the narrow stairs to up above deck to rejoin the merriment, feeling buoyant with happiness at the sight of these real friends.
Daphne was sabering champagne bottles off the side of the boat with the heel of her Valentino rock-stud pump while Gaston cheered her on.
Gaston had taken his name from his fascination with the strapping male lead in Beauty and the Beast who he was convinced he looked just like. His real name he wouldn’t tell to Taylor or Daphne - a point neither contested when the invitation to drink champagne on his speed boat was flashed in front of them as a distraction.
As the empty bottles piled up, Gaston had admitted to them that he hated his father and that he wanted to be a male ballerina, not a financier.
Taylor admitted that the tourism board of NYC had paid her 38 million dollars to recored “Welcome To New York” for taxi tv use, and she hated it, and Daphne admitted that she thought she needed a boob job, just to gauge their reactions.
(they all agreed Daphne’s natural state was perfect, and she shouldn't alter anything, much to her delight)
By the time the sun had disappeared and the moon was rising, they were swearing their undying alliances to one another as life long friends. They polished off the last of the champagne, and Daphne threw both of her rock stud pumps off the side of the boat in a fit of irrational ecstasy.
They set off a few leftover fireworks they found stashed below deck and lay watching the mirage of lights shower down around them into the ocean as they fell asleep beneath the stars without a care in the world and slept the sleep that only overindulged 20-somethings can truly master.
Morning came like a glass of cold water in her face. Taylor woke up to a wave of unmistakable nausea. As she vomited off the side of the boat, she could see through bleary eyes that Gaston and Daphne were piloting the ship toward shore… toward… was that a hotel?
Daphne pretended to be interested in helping Taylor long enough to make sure she was willing to stay with the boat while they popped up to the hotel bar for refreshments and then flitted away with Gaston. Some friend she was…
What felt like a year later, after Taylor assumed she’d been left to die, Gaston returned, suddenly infused with a renewed interest in her wellbeing.
Something had happened with Daphne, he explained. She had just had a fight with her best friend… and she was going to stay at the hotel for a bit, and wouldn't Taylor like to accompany him to a dinner in Sorento… Taylor couldn’t follow Gaston’s voice any more.
Daphne had another best friend? She felt so defeated.
Several days later, still at Le Sireneuse, Taylor continued to feel bitter about Daphne’s fair weather friendship. She was sitting at the bar and staring into a cocktail that Sandro, her favorite waiter had prepared for her, imagining what her life would be like if she were an assistant to a financial planner or a preschool teacher. Surely she’d have real friends in those scenarios.
An older woman sat down beside her and whispered softly, “Stop slouching”
Taylor whipped her pretty blond head around to find she was sitting side by side with Julienne Moore. Of course. Another famous person, prepared to be her friend for fifteen minutes.
But what happened next was most unexpected. Julienne turned out to be warm and fun and full of wisdom. Wisdom that Taylor desperately needed. They sat at the bar chatting all evening and over the course of the next few weeks the two became confidants and true friends.
They would take nightly walks through the hills, chatting about life and love and the hardships of being a woman in the entertainment industry. Each evening they’d pass the sweetest couple of young dachshund lovers, who would sit beneath a lemon tree looking out at the ocean.
They’d waive to the couple and then continue their walk, happily discussing what life was like for two innocent nobodies, falling in love with a long life of normalcy stretching out before them.
One afternoon they even spotted the two pups in the town square, decked out in wedding attire, surrounded by joyous children throwing rice and flowers into the air as church bells rang out to celebrate their union. Taylor cried softly on Julienne’s shoulder, awash with emotion. It was all so beautiful.
The dachshund wedding became something of a talisman of happiness that Taylor held on to when she felt blue about the lonely life of superstardom. She’d think of how much love and joy showed on their furry little faces and in their exuberantly wagging tails and remind herself that she deserved that too.
So when one morning she found the boy dachshund alone, sadly licking his paw on the front steps of Le Sirineuse she couldn’t help but stop and ask if he was alright. Imagine her dismay when he revealed to her that his sweet bride had been ripped away from him and taken back to America! Taylor was almost as heartbroken as Fabrizio himself.
Right then and there, Fabrizio, Julienne and Taylor realized that they had to make a plan. A plan to find Fabrizio’s Principessa….
Part two: DAPHNE
Daphne stood, swaying slightly, in a new pair of rock stud pumps, on Hortensia’s doorstep. Her right thumb instinctually scrolling through a feed of images on her phone while she waited for Elise to answer the door. But when the door did open, Elise wasn’t there, it was Hortensia herself. She beckoned for Daphne to come quickly and rushed her into the floor-to-ceiling ode to scalamandre that was the foyer powder room.
In hushed tones, Hortensia unleashed a torrent of information on Daphne. There was a girl here who was holding her hostage! In the next room! Threatening her with the most ridiculous accusations! Don’t believe a word of it, Daphne, just get her out of here before Doxie sees her! Doxie already wasn’t speaking to her, but if she saw Taylor, she’d really never let it go…
“Hortensia. What? Doxie and you aren’t speaking? And she’s here?” Daphne asked in alarm
“Yes, she’s been a sullen little brat for months ever since I brought her back”
“You did what?”
“I annulled the marriage after you called, of course! Try to keep up Darling. Now go think of some way to get that blond antelope out of my living room”
Daphne took a startled step back and sat down on the sink. Trying to process it all. She had called Hortensia, now she remembered. But only to vent, really. She had called to tell her about the wedding. She didn’t think Hortensia would actually do anything about Doxie’s surprise marriage. She had assumed Doxie was in Positano, with the boy she loved more than her. She could hardly believe all of this. And Taylor. Why was Taylor in Hortensia’s house…
She pushed past Hortensia and rushed to find Taylor seated near the Christmas tree. The two girls stared at each other for a tense pause when Daphne entered and then both began to speak at once.
“I’m so sorry” “No I’m sorry” “No, like, I am so incredibly sorry” "Like, you have no idea how sorry I am!"
They embraced each other with the intensity of couples reuniting after surviving the sinking of the Titanic. And then Taylor began to explain to Daphne, as quickly as she could before Hortensia reached, them all that had come to pass.
She had come on behalf of Fabrizio who needed to find Doxie. Hortensia had once loved a young pup too, the father of Fabrizio! The love of her life! Theirs had been a story much like Doxie and Fab’s - the two met on a holiday at Le Sireneuse many years earlier, except that Hortensia left in the fall of her own accord to marry well, back state-side. Hortensia was only trying to thwart Doxie and Fab because of her own baggage about the issue. Hortensia was trying to marry Doxie off to that dreadful Charles Turnbough!
Hortensia charged into the room at full speed, the fur on her neck bristling through layers of Van Cleef and Arpels, prepared to refute these claims and throw both of these little maniacs out of her house. The full power of her canine ferocity locked and loaded, she knew these two lightweights stood no chance against her. But she hadn’t anticipated Elise also being on their side.
The usually meek parlor maid had become possessed by the haunting strains of acoustic shake it off that Taylor had been softly crooning for her earlier, and with the words “And the haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate…” echoing through her head, she threw aside her tray of teacups and pounced on Hortensia and pinned her to the ground.
Several minutes later, an Uber back car pulled up in front of the building and Taylor Swift, reunited with her best friend Daphne, emerged wielding their passports, and carrying an outraged and squirming Hortensia. Hortensia's front and back paws were tied in an elaborate straight jacket of Hermes scarves. She was going to Italy to find her daughter's husband whether she liked it or not.
They piled into the car, barking orders to head to JFK and sped off into the distance in the name of love.