“Well, I rather thought your sister might cause an awful scandal with that artist fellow.” The woman’s white silk dress rippled in the studio lights, with the tactile appeal of cold marble. Her blonde hair rippled too. She yawned, but her eyes sparkled up at him as she spoke.
“Pauline would never be such a silly fool, Diana!” George gave what he hoped was a hearty laugh after his reply, and straightened his already pristine cuffs. He had sent his aunt to Europe to chaperone his sister. The fact that she hadn’t yet been able to find her need not be discussed in Town. His long fingers twisted dials  with delicate precision as he bent his tall frame to peer through the camera lens. He was trying not to think of the effect that his sister’s disgrace might have on his recently established studio.
“She was always an odd girl, even at school. Of course, we all had tremendous crushes on you…” A wearyingly predictable giggle, a flutter of eyelashes. These society beauties had absolutely nothing to occupy their heads but sordid affairs.
“Nonsense! How terribly flattering! But if I might just –“ With practised ease, he moved into a performance of the familiar steps. He ran a hand awkwardly through his dark hair to ruffle it slightly. An appearance of flustered embarrassment was always far more successful than the polished, charming line. That put them on their guard. With an appearance of clumsiness, he brushed against her waist as he reset the scene. A nervous clearing of the throat. He gazed at his highly polished shoes. “If only you still had a crush on me now.”
What a disgusting charade this all was. But one needed to go through with it to get ahead. Once they were charmed by him, they did all they could to raise his reputation. He raised his eyes, met her gaze, and bent his head. He kissed her softly, without passion. He tasted disgust. In his mouth, or hers? What did it matter? They were both damned.

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