Henrietta Fox laid her picture before the boss of the gossip column. She gave him a big smile and hoped he was feeling generous.
“Hello, Lewis. I took this picture of the Middletons at the Goring Hotel. It’s exclusive.”
She always thought of Lewis Cuttner as a guy with a past rather than a future. She guessed he was only in his late thirties. He was a tall man, suffused with an air of faded glamour and his Jermyn Street suit had been slept in once too often. The handmade shoes cried the neglect of a man who arrived home at 4 a.m. and is at his desk by ten.
He had partied his way through his twenties, the darling of London’s society club-life girls. He kissed and told all the next day in print. Now she saw that time was catching up with London’s top gossip columnist. He was still handsome, she thought, in the style of an eighties’ Hollywood star. But dark wrinkles of skin were just discernible beneath the hooded eyes, forerunners of pouches to come.
She noticed his brow met his hair a little higher each year. He had smiled too much, causing him to appear weary and insincere. The picture over his column each day was of him frozen at twenty-four years old, a picture he refused to relinquish despite her offers to take a new one. What would he be like in bed? When she thought about it at all she found him slightly ridiculous.
He lifted her picture close to study it and Henrietta knew he either needed glasses or wouldn’t wear them. He was scathing.
“Exclusive? It’s a snatch of Pippa in a car! I’ve had dozens offered. Better ones, too.”
“I was inside the hotel. Standing as close to her as I am to you.”
“She came in with the family. I was right there.”
Henri lowered her voice. “The cops nabbed me. I forgot to turn my flash off.”
“You got nothing?”
“Nada. Zilch. I want a grand for the car shot.”
“Don’t you always, Henri? They call you the Grand Dame in Editorial. I can’t buy this, Foxy.”
“I never thought I’d say this. You’re losing your touch, old girl. No deal. Bring me something I can use.”