Beneath a Starlet Sky by Amanda Goldberg and Ruthanna Khalighi Hopper
By SMW Staff
The New York Times bestselling authors of Celebutantes return with a dazzling new novel set among the star-studded crowds of the Cannes Film Festival, where everyone’s hoping to discover, sign, screw or become the Next Big Thing. And a three-picture deal would be nice.
Lola Santisi—CEO of a struggling fashion line, reformed Actorholic and daughter of Hollywood Royalty—is now not only bicoastal, she’s Bi-Lolar: That is the condition which causes her to swing like a pendulum between the opposing poles of the fashion world in New York and the real world with her Doctor Boyfriend in Los Angeles. She hardly knows which shoe fits her anymore: the Louboutin stiletto or the Croc. As Lola tries to launch Julian Tennant’s new dress line, it looks like they’re about to get their next big break: his wedding dresses have been chosen to feature in the top film at the Cannes Film Festival. And suddenly Lola is staging a full-blown couture show on a yacht – in the middle of the Med. Think those super models had trouble walking down the catwalks at Fashion Week? With an unexpected finale twist, this time it’s Lola who’s tumbling off the runway.
Having recently endured a disastrous break-up with Lola’s brother Christopher, Kate Woods, Lola’s BFF and CAA’s rising star agent, is newly single, and focused 24-7 on her clients. The only thing worse than thinking it was a good idea for Kate to date Lola’s brother, is thinking it was a good idea for Kate to put one of her most loose-cannon clients, Nic Knight, in Lola’s father’s movie. Among Kate’s other mega star clients is Saffron Sykes whose appearance on the cover of Vain magazine in Julian Tennant could be the difference between Julian Tennant, Inc. weathering the economy or going bust.
As Lola fights to survive the Cannes Film Festival, will she get swept into the French Riviera’s riptide of glamour and superficiality? Are real love and couture mutually exclusive? Or can Lola have it all – the good doctor and her Louboutins. With her father and brother vying for the same prize, her mother starring in her new reality show, and one heartbroken girlfriend about to declare motherhood, it’s all on Lola to come up with the answers. And it’s going to take more than one of her mother’s prosperity chants to save the day.
Inside the Palais, I lean back in my plush red velvet seat. I’m ner vous for my brother as his premiere is about to begin.
“Stop fidgeting,” Julian says softly. “You’re going to destroy the sequins.”
“Sorry,” I whisper trying to smooth out the couple of them I inadvertently gnarled on my cobalt blue, one- shoulder minidress Julian made especially for to night.
“OMG, Lo, is that Rob Pattinson?” Julian asks, gesturing with his eyes toward the row in front of us. “He’s even more gorgeous in person,” Julian says breathlessly. “Is he or is he not a god among men? Maybe we should pray to him to let everything work out with our fashion show. C’mon, Lo, pray with me.” He closes his eyes and folds his hands in prayer, “Please, dear Rob, let us—”
“Stop it, Julian, breathe!” I say, trying to prevent Julian from having a full- on twelve- year- old- girl freak- out.
“Sorry.” Julian takes my hand in his. “The movie’s going to be great,” he says in a hushed voice.
“Thanks,” I say, squeezing his hand, wishing it were Lev’s. But Luke Levin, MD, my live- in love of the last nine months, is back in LA. Lev, whose first love is the ER and whose knowledge of pop culture ended the day he started his residency at Cedars- Sinai three years ago. (He thinks the HD in HD- TV stands for “high dose,” and the last movie he saw was Crash because he thought it would have an interesting take on trauma center stabilization techniques. I mean, how adorable is that?)
Exactly one year, two months, and twelve days ago (but who’s counting?) I fell headfirst off a gurney (and out of my Louboutin stilettos) and in love with the good doctor who saved me from more than a broken ankle on Oscar Night. He not only fixed my busted foot, but cured me of an undiagnosed case of Actorholism, my near- fatal addiction to dating the world’s most narcissistic men. He got me straight on an IV drip of anti- actor (IV in my case stands for inter- vention), and straight onto him. Not that kind of straight onto him. Well yes, that kind, too, but that came later.
That’s right. I, Lola Santisi— the CEO of a struggling fashion line, former Hollywood ambassador, and daughter of Hollywood Royalty without a kingdom— or even a condo— to call my own— scored a real, live Doctor in Shining Armor with a kingdom to call our own. Okay, maybe not a kingdom, but a really nice house in—Sherman Oaks— which makes it absolutely perfect because it’s on the other side of the hill from Hollywood.
I clutch Julian’s hand, thankful to have any hand to hold right now. Finally the theater goes dark and Forgetting Petunia Holt appears in simple Courier font against a black screen.
An hour and forty- five minutes later, as the movie ends and the lights go up, I spot Kate, standing in the back of the theater alone. She must have snuck in when the lights went down. When we lock eyes she’s already bolting for the door.
“Oh my god, she came,” Julian says, following my eye line.
“I’ve got to go,” I say, scurrying through my row. “Kate,” I yell once we’re outside. “Kate!” I catch up with her and lay a hand on her shoulder.
“What?” she says, finally turning to face me, her red lips pursed. If looking good really is the best revenge, then my best friend is getting hers. She’s wearing one of the prettiest, sexiest black silk slip- dresses I’ve ever seen. It’s spliced with tulle to create these supersexy peekaboo pan-els fl aring out from her taut midriff and down her perfect legs. Her chocolate hair is in a soft wave and her dewy skin is positively radiant.
“I’m not sure what to say.” I look down at the red carpet underneath us, not sure whether I just said that out loud or I’m just thinking it. “Relax. I’m here to sign the actress who plays Petunia Holt— Gigi Summer. She’s going to be huge. Bryan told me to bring back a signed contract or not bother coming back.” Kate is a rising star at Bryan Lourd’s Creative Artists Agency. But we both know that’s not why Kate’s really here to night. Her voice is detached, unemotional, all business, her feelings swept right under that red carpet she’s standing on. She shifts on her needle- heeled stilettos. I grab her arm to steady her, startled by this rare moment of imbalance from my best friend, who’s trying so hard to mask the heartache she must be feeling.
I know that nothing I say will make it better for Kate so I don’t say anything at all. Instead I wrap her in a hug. She doesn’t even try and push me away. She actually hugs me back. Hard.
“I love you,” I whisper in her ear.
“Thank you,” she says, not letting go of our embrace.
Suddenly the theater starts to unload and I spot Christopher through the throng. I look over at my brother and then over to Kate. Chris. Kate. Chris. Kate. God I hate this. Why did I ever think a romance between my best friend and brother would ever work? I want to go and congratulate my brother, but it feels like such a betrayal to my best friend.
“Go. Tell him what an amazing movie it is,” Kate says, as if she’s somehow read my mind. But just as I’m about to head toward him, he’s suddenly standing right in front of us.
“Chris,” I shout, throwing my arms around him. “It was incredible.
I’m so proud of you.” I look back at Kate and mumble an added, “Sorry.”
“It’s going to be a huge success,” Kate says.
“Kate, it’s really . . . can we talk for a min—” but just as Christopher’s trying to finish his sentence, Gigi Summer, his leading lady, sidles up next to him in a glittery strapless short dress with a nipped- in waist and a balloon skirt showing off her long legs. She gives him a kiss on the cheek. Was that a kiss- kiss? Or just a friend kiss? “Gigi, hi!” Chris says after a beat. “Have you met my sister, Lola?”
I’m about to return the greeting when Kate immediately thrusts her hand out to Gigi. “Congratulations. You were really great.”
“Thank you, I owe it all to my director,” she says, giggling in Christopher’s direction. “I’m Gigi.” She reaches out to shake Kate’s hand.
“Kate,” she says. “Woods.”
“Oh . . . wow . . . you’re Kate,” Gigi says. Maybe she’s not that good an actress after all because she’s unable to stop the surprise from showing on her face. After a few silent, tense beats, she says, “Wow, this is kind of awkward.”
“Not for me,” Kate says, seeming to relish in Gigi’s discomfort. “I hear you’re at Gersh. I suspect you’ll be looking for new repre sen ta tion soon. Here’s my card. CAA sees you in some huge projects. I’d love the chance to talk with you more about it.” She fishes one of her business cards out of her black cut-crystal clutch and hands it to Gigi.
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