This bathroom could easily house the upper floor of her two-bed terrace in Glebe Hollow. And nothing in here could be found within a two-mile radius; the substance was too refined, other-worldly – and ideal nicking material for some of the frequenters of the Liberal club round the corner. Part of her would have too. She shoved this squalid part of her aside and confronted her reflection in a full-length mirror. She expected to see an intruder. Instead she saw a creature caught off-guard. Her brow cast angular shadows over her eyes and her mouth was firmly-seamed as though withholding a lie. Her dress at least looked good. The fabric clung pleasingly to her pert breasts, although her hips hung a little low. She had good ankles, slim, tapering. Ankles became a focal point in full body shots. At least she didn’t have fat ankles. And no ladders to be seen.
Nancy fished out her makeup bag. She approached the mirror and brought her mascara brush to her lashes. Her hand tremored. She retracted the brush and drew a deep breath. A better course of action would be to lead in via eye-shadow, easier to apply.
Nancy carefully smudged silver into grey. Having such dark brown eyes required more blending than usual. She didn’t want to ask herself who the hell is that hard-eyed slapper standing next to Vincent Jonas on his preamble down the Nexus steps. The thought of them side by side made her stomach clench into a tight ball.
She applied peach lipstick and a little blusher. Blend. Keep blending. Nancy gathered her hair into a large bun-clip, teasing whorls around her ears. She aimed for a soft, maidenly look. Harsh outlines only gave her away. Was she merely trying to blur herself out? Nancy secured the wing-nut of her crystal earrings. They dangled pleasingly within the whorls of her hair. She could be pretty if she wanted to – a traditional English rose, not borne of fake tans or Botox. Her face could be seen on an Edwardian chambermaid, a forties farm lass or a waitress at Kew just before hitting the big time.
She zipped her bag. Who was she kidding?
A rap came to the door. Nancy gathered her handbag and clopped across the tiles. Her harsh whisper rebounded against the marble tops. ‘Leon?’
His soulful voice came reassuringly back. ‘We’re ready to go, Nancy.’
She opened the door. Leon’s expression was sedate as he took her in. His nod seemed to signify approval. ‘Let’s walk.’ He proffered an elbow.
In automation, Nancy rested her palm on the crook of his arm. Only the silk fabric of his suit resisted. Spiced cotton and spearmint teased her nostrils. ‘Just a few ground rules to guide you, Nancy.’ Leon gently urged her onwards towards the end of the corridor. ‘You are not to speak to Mr. Jonas unless he asks you a question. You are certainly not to speak in public. The pap will do their shoot. Don’t let ‘em phase you, just smile, give ‘em a little wave if you feel so inclined. You don’t have to do much else, just let Mr. Jonas take the lead.
‘You will accompany Mr. Jonas to the limo, soon after which you will be dropped off at a location of your choice.’
Vincent Jonas, the limo, the paparazzi, the shoot. Nancy’s comprehension had regressed to a five-year-old. She could barely take it in.
Leon ended their little stroll at an annex, fronted by a large door. He lowered his elbow. ‘Just one more thing,’ he uttered facing her. ‘As you leave the building, you will link little fingers…’ He gently took her hand and deftly teased her small finger from the others. He entwined his with hers and allowed their arms to drop. The link remained intact. ‘…like this.’
The result suggested a coupling but of the most formal and distant kind. This suited Nancy. She didn’t want to create the wrong impression; the finger-linking also gave something for her hands to do. Still, she was about to make physical contact with one Vincent Jonas.
At that point, Leon gently opened the door.