Oliver stared at the paper unbelievingly. How could she have done that? He thought about how passionate she had been in bed. And he had completely misread it. It was a passion filled with hate, not love. There's no way I can ever stop her, Oliver thought despairingly.

Senator Todd Davis looked at the front-page story and was aghast. He understood the power of the press, and he knew how much this vendetta could cost him. I'll have to stop her myself, Senator Davis decided.

When he got to his Senate office, he telephoned Leslie. "It's been a long time," Senator Davis said warmly. "Too long. I think about you a lot, Miss Stewart."

"I think about you, too, Senator Davis. In a way, everything I have I owe to you."

He chuckled. "Not at all. When you had a problem, I was happy to be able to assist you."

"Is there something I can do for you, Senator?"

"No, Miss Stewart. But there's something I'd like to do for you. I'm one of your faithful readers, you know, and I think the Tribune is a truly fine paper. I just realized that we haven't been doing any advertising in it, and I want to correct that. I'm involved in several large companies, and they do a lot of advertising. I mean a lot of advertising. I think that a good portion of that should go to a fine paper like the Tribune."

"I'm delighted to hear that, Senator. We can always use more advertising. Whom shall I have my advertising manager talk to?"

"Well, before he talks to anyone, I think you and I should settle a little problem between us."

"What's that?" Leslie asked.

"It concerns President Russell."


"This is a rather delicate matter, Miss Stewart. You said a few moments ago that you owed everything you have to me. Now I'm asking you to do me a little favor."

"I'll be happy to, if I can."

"In my own small way, I helped the president get elected to office."

"I know."

"And he's doing a fine job. Of course, it makes it more difficult for him when he's attacked by a powerful newspaper like the Tribune every time he turns around."

"What are you asking me to do, Senator?"

"Well, I would greatly appreciate it if those attacks would stop."

"And in exchange for that, I can count on getting advertising from some of your companies."

"A great deal of advertising, Miss Stewart."

"Thank you, Senator. Why don't you call me back when you have something more to offer?"

And the line went dead.

In his office at the Washington Tribune, Matt Baker was reading the story about President Russell's secret love nest.

"Who the hell authorized this?" he snapped at his assistant.

"It came from the White Tower."

"Goddammit. She's not running this paper, I am." Why the hell do I put up with her? he wondered, not for the first time. Three hundred and fifty thousand dollars a year plus bonuses and stock options, he told himself wryly. Every time he was ready to quit, she seduced him with more money and more power. Besides, he had to admit to himself that it was fascinating working for one of the most powerful women in the world. There were things about her that he would never understand.

When she had first bought the Tribune, Leshe had said to Matt, "There's an astrologer I want you to hire. His name is Zoltaire."

"He's syndicated by our competition."

"I don't care. Hire him."

Later that day, Matt Baker told her, "I checked on Zoltaire. It would be too expensive to buy out his contract."

"Buy it."

The following week, Zoltaire, whose real name Matt learned was David Hayworth, came to work for the Washington Tribune. He was in his fifties, small and dark and intense.

Matt was puzzled. Leshe did not seem like the kind of woman who would have any interest in astrology. As far as he could see, there was no contact between Leshe and David Hayworth.

What he did not know was that Hayworth went to visit Leshe at her home whenever she had an important decision to make.

On the first day, Matt had had Leshe's name put on the masthead: "Leshe Chambers, Publisher." She had glanced at it and said, "Change it. It's Leshe Stewart."

The lady is on an ego trip. Matt had thought. But he was wrong. Leslie had decided to revert to her maiden name because she wanted Oliver Russell to know exactly who was responsible for what was going to happen to him.

The day after Leslie took over the newspaper, she said, "We're going to buy a health magazine."

Matt looked at her curiously. "Why?"

"Because the health field is exploding."

She had proved to be right. The magazine was an instant success.

"We're going to start expanding," Leslie told Baker. "Let's get some people looking for publications overseas."

"All right."

"And there's too much fat around here. Get rid of the reporters who aren't pulling their weight."

"Leslie - "

"I want young reporters who are hungry."

When an executive position became open, Leslie insisted on being there for the interview. She would listen to the applicant, and then would ask one question: "What's your golf score?" The job would often depend on the answer.

"What the hell kind of question is that?" Matt Baker asked the first time he heard it. "What difference does a golf score make?"

"I don't want people here who are dedicated to golf. If they work here, they're going to be dedicated to the Washington Tribune."

Leshe Stewart's private life was a subject of endless discussions at the Tribune. She was a beautiful woman, unattached, and as far as anyone knew, she was not involved with any man and had no personal life. She was one of the capital's preeminent hostesses, and important people vied for an invitation to her dinner parties. But people speculated about what she did when all the guests had left and she was alone. There were rumors that she was an insomniac who spent the nights working, planning new projects for the Stewart empire.

There were other rumors, more titillating, but there was no way of proving them.

Leshe involved herself in everything: editorials, news stories, advertising. One day, she said to the head of the advertising department, "Why aren't we getting any ads from Gleason's?" - an upscale store in Georgetown.

"I've tried, but - -"

"I know the owner. I'll give him a call."

She called him and said, "Allan, you're not giving the Tribune any ads. Why?"

He had laughed and said, "Leshe, your readers are our shoplifters."

Before Leslie went into a conference, she read up on everyone who would be there. She knew everyone's weaknesses and strengths, and she was a tough negotiator.

"Sometimes you can be too tough," Matt Baker warned her. "You have to leave them something, Leslie."

"Forget it. I believe in the scorched-earth policy."

In the course of the next year, Washington Tribune Enterprises acquired a newspaper and radio station in Australia, a television station in Denver, and a newspaper in Hammond, Indiana. Whenever there was a new acquisition, its employees were terrified of what was coming. Leslie's reputation for being ruthless was growing.

Leslie Stewart was intensely jealous of Katharine Graham.

"She's just lucky," Leslie said. "And she has the reputation of being a bitch."

Matt Baker was tempted to ask Leslie what she thought her own reputation was, but he decided not to.

One morning when Leslie arrived at her office, she found that someone had placed a small wooden block with two brass balls on her desk.

Matt Baker was upset. "I'm sorry," he said. "I'll take - "

"No. Leave it."

"But - "

"Leave it."

Matt Baker was having a conference in his office when Leslie's voice came on over the intercom. "Matt, come up here."

No "please," no "good morning." It's going to be a bad-hair day, Matt Baker thought grimly. The Ice Princess was in one of her moods.

"That's it for now," Matt said.

He left his office and walked through the corridors, where hundreds of employees were busily at work. He took the elevator up to the White Tower and entered the sumptuous publisher's office. Half a dozen editors were already gathered in the room.

Behind an enormous desk sat Leslie Stewart. She looked up as Matt Baker entered. "Let's get started."

She had called an editorial meeting. Matt Baker remembered her saying, "You'll be running the newspaper. I'll keep my hands off." He should have known better. She had no business calling meetings like this. That was his job. On the other hand, she was the publisher and owner of the Washington Tribune, and she could damn well do anything she pleased.

Matt Baker said, "I want to talk to you about the story about President Russell's love nest in Virginia."

"There's nothing to talk about," Leslie said. She held up a copy of The Washington Post, their rival. "Have you seen this?"

Matt had seen it. "Yes, it's just - "

"In the old days it was called a scoop, Matt. Where were you and your reporters when the Post was getting the news?"


"Why didn't we get that story?"

"Because it isn't official yet. I checked on it. It's just - "

"I don't like being scooped."

Matt Baker sighed and sat back in his chair. It was going to be a stormy session.

"We're number one, or we're nothing," Leslie Stewart announced to the group. "And if we're nothing, there won't be any jobs here for anyone, will there?"

Leslie turned to Arnie Cohn, the editor of the Sunday magazine section. "When people wake up Sunday morning, we want them to read the magazine section. We don't want to put our readers back to sleep. The stories we ran last Sunday were boring."

He was thinking, If you were a man, I'd - "Sorry," he mumbled. "I'll try to do better next time."

Leslie turned to Jeff Connors, the sports editor. Connors was a good-looking man in his midthirties, tall, with an athletic build, blond hair, intelligent gray eyes. He had the easy manner of someone who knew that he was good at what he did. Matt had heard that Leshe had made a play for him, and he had turned her down.

"You wrote that Fielding was going to be traded to the Pirates."

"I was told - "

"You were told wrong! The Tribune is guilty of printing a story that never happened."

"I got it from his manager," Jeff Connors said unperturbed. "He told me that - "

"Next time check out your stories, and then check them out again."

Leslie turned and pointed to a framed, yellowed newspaper article hanging on the wall. It was the front page of the Chicago Tribune, dated November 3, 1948. The banner headline read: DEWEY DEFEATS TRUMAN.

"The worst thing a newspaper can do," Leslie said, "is to get the facts wrong. We're in a business where you always have to get it right."

She glanced at her watch. "That's it for now. I'll expect you all to do a lot better." As they rose to leave, Leshe said to Matt Baker, "I want you to stay."

"Right." He sank back into his chair and watched the others depart.

"Was I rough on them?" she asked.

"You got what you wanted. They're all suicidal."

"We're not here to make friends, we're here to put out a newspaper." She looked up again at the framed front page on the wall. "Can you imagine what the publisher of that paper must have felt after that story hit the streets and Truman was president? I never want to have that feeling, Matt. Never."

"Speaking of getting it wrong," Matt said, "that story on page one about President Russell was more suitable for a cheap tabloid publication. Why do you keep riding him? Give him a chance."

Leshe said enigmatically, "I gave him his chance." She stood up and began to pace. "I got a tip that Russell is going to veto the new communications bill. That means we'll have to call off the deal for the San Diego station and the Omaha station."

"There's nothing we can do about that."

"Oh, yes, there is. I want him out of office, Matt. We'll help put someone else in the White House, someone who knows what he's doing."

Matt had no intention of getting into another argument with Leslie Stewart about the president. She was fanatic on the subject.

"He's not fit to be in that office, and I'm going to do everything I can to make sure that he's defeated in the next election."

Philip Cole, chief of correspondents for WTE, hurried into Matt Baker's office as Matt was ready to leave. There was a worried expression on his face. "We have a problem, Matt."

"Can it wait until tomorrow? I'm late for a - "

"It's about Dana Evans."

Matt said sharply, "What about her?"

"She's been arrested."

"Arrested?" Matt asked incredulously. "What for?"

"Espionage. Do you want me to - ?"

"No. I'll handle this."

Matt Baker hurried back to his desk and dialed the State Department.

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