Episode 11 – A Plot For Nanny

"I hate these shoes," groaned CC, kicking off her Manolo Blahniks as she collapsed on the Sheffields' living-room sofa.

"The feeling appears to be mutual," said Niles, wrinkling his nose. "I've sliced Limburger cheeses less fragrant than your feet."

Just to annoy him, CC drew her objectionable feet right up onto the couch, within four inches of his legs. His eyes travelled along the line of her black pantyhose all the way to her skirt, but he made no further comment, for which she was grateful. Absorbed in coffee and the New York Times' culture section (Sheffield Productions' latest play was being damned with faint praise again, which in her opinion was worse than an outright trashing), she did not hear Niles' next remark until he poked her left foot with his pen.

"What?"

"I said, why wear those preposterous shoes if you hate them so much?"

CC put down the newspaper and leaned her head against the pillow, partly because it ached, mostly to hide her face from Niles' too-observant blue eyes. She thought of the way Maxwell's eyes followed Nanny Fine every time she climbed the staircase – taking her own sweet time about it, knowing quite well how those cheap six-inch heels set off her shapely calves.

"I wasn't aware I had to account for my fashion choices to you, apron man."

"Tsk, tsk. Someone hasn't been taking her happy pills this morning."

She sat up straight again to make a sharp reply, but was interrupted by the stomping feet, cloying perfume and aggrieved sigh of the eldest Sheffield daughter, who looked like a bad director's vision of a Parisian coffee-house existentialist: black leather jacket, short skirt, beret and an adoloescent pout.

"I hate this hat," groaned Maggie, flinging the beret onto the coffee table as she collapsed into an armchair opposite them.

"Then why wear it?" asked Niles, with his most aggravating air of patience and reason.

"I thought it would make me look older," said the teenager. "More sophisticated, like Philip and friends. But it keeps falling off and … and makes my hair all staticky!"

She ran her hands through her soft blond bob with comical despair, making CC snort. You think you've got it bad, missy? She was half expecting Niles to put the girl in her place with one of his zingers – of the polite variety, of course; no barnyard jokes for the Sheffields – but the smile on his face, to her confusion, was less a smile of amusement than of sympathy.

"Then don't wear it," he said. "You needn't compromise yourself for anyone."

It was not only Maggie he was looking at – however, as usual, CC showed no sign of hearing the advice.