No Way to Treat a First Lady
She lost her husband. This is a grieving widow, look at her, and you're putting her through this hell.' "
    "I'll lose the weight."
    "Look on the bright side—you can take up smoking again. You used to love to smoke after... wards. The maid, this Sophie Williams, who brought you a hot breakfast while War God was cooling beside you, does she like you?"
    "Like me? I suppose."
    "No, no, no, do not 'suppose.' When she takes the stand, will she, a black woman, convey to a substantially black jury that you are a wonderful, kind, thoughtful employer who remembers staff birthdays and whose kid broke his arm and whose aunt just died? The sorts of things that thoughtful big people do for the little people?"
    "I should think. Yes. You know, the Lady Bethmac thing was never—that was unfair. I'm not a bitch."
    "Hm."
    "I am not a bitch, Boyce. Just because I fired some people on the White House staff."
    "Why'd you give them the sack?"
    "In one case because the staffer was giving my husband blow jobs on Air Force One."
    "He was head of state. How many did you sack?"
    "Over the two and a half years? Nine."
    Boyce groaned. "This is going to be such an easy sell to the jury. You didn't kill your husband, despite the fact that he was humping the guest down the hall, as well as half the employees on the federal payroll. What really happened was he got up in the middle of the night, consumed with remorse for his cheating ways, decided to commit suicide by smashing himself in the forehead with an antique spittoon, and just before dying, tucked himself back in bed. It's so obvious. We'll move for summary dismissal."
     

Chapter 6
    Babette Van Anka had been in the public eye for over two decades now, since her spectacular film debut in Expensive — And Worth It, as the suburban housewife who secretly moonlights as a prostitute to support her family after her stockbroker husband is shot by a commuter train conductor upset over the bad stock tips he had given him. At the time of the President's death, her career had been in decline. She was now getting more press coverage than she'd ever had.
    Their "special relationship" had been the subject of unremitting news stories ranging from sober headlines in the Times (ACTRESS SPENT 56 NIGHTS IN WHITE HOUSE, subheadline "Wealthy Financier Husband Was Also a Guest—Four Times") to the more exuberant ones in the supermarket tabloids (BAB'S NIGHTS OF BLISS WITH KEN). Inside one of the tabs, someone was quoted saying, "Babette Van Anka, she's so bad you wanna spanka."
    Babette lived in Bel Air, the moneyed enclave in the hills looking down on Los Angeles, with her third husband, Max Grab, the international financier. He advised a number of sultans of the oil-rich archipelagoes of Southeast Asia. He was said to have, as it is put, "ties" to influential Chinese.
    The Grab-Van Anka mansion was large even by Hollywood standards. The grounds included a private hippodrome and his and hers helipads. The hippodrome had caused controversy. When their neighbors complained about their plans to blast away half of the side of one of the Hollywood Hills in order to accommodate it, there was a stink. Since Babette passionately embraced environmental causes in addition to peace in the Middle East, some delicacy was required. They hired Nick Naylor, who had once been the chief spokesman for the U.S. tobacco industry.
    Naylor produced a letter from an organization that taught handicapped children to ride horses. The letter praised the Grab-Van Ankas lavishly for so generously offering them unlimited use of the new hippodrome. The enraged neighbors never regained the public relations offensive.
    The blasting proceeded, the hippodrome was finished, complete with chandeliers and potpourri instead of sawdust, Max Grab having an aversion to the smell of horse by-products. Max also had an aversion to handicapped children, as it turned out. The organization was quietly presented with a check by Naylor and a note suggesting they seek

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