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Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Chapter 19

Chapter 20

Chapter 21

Chapter 22

Chapter 23

Chapter 24

Chapter 25

Chapter 26

Chapter 27

Chapter 28

Chapter 29

Chapter 30

Chapter 31





Chapter Twenty - Six

            'You're pregnant.'

            'I'm what? Rosarita shrieked.

            'Pregnant, Mrs Falcon,' Dr Shipp, her gynaecologist replied, his phone manner congenial.

            'Are you sure?'

            'I wouldn't be telling you if I wasn't,' Dr Shipp said, clearing his throat. 'I'd like you to make an appointment for next week. We'll discuss everything then.'

            Rosarita was in shock. Pregnant! This was impossible. She always wore her diaphragm - never had sex without it.

            'You must have made a mistake,' she said, into the phone.

            'No mistake,' the doctor said cheerfully. 'I'll see you next week, Mrs Falcon. Congratulations.'

            She hung up, still in a state of shock.

            This was impossible news. She hated babies, scrawny little things with scrunched-up faces who screamed all night. Plus if she was pregnant, she would definitely lose her figure. And the pain of it from some of her friends.

            No! No! No! This wasn't happening to her.

            Abortion. The word slid into her mind immediately. A quick, convenient abortion .

            Then she remembered, the first time she'd got together with Joel in his car she had not been wearing her diaphragm. Which could only mean one thing: this baby was Joel's because she'd never had sex with Dex without using her diaphragm.

            I'm pregnant with Joel Blaine's child, she thought. Leon Blaine's grandchild, Leon Blaine, the billionaire

            OH.MY.GOD!

            This solved some of her problems. Although it didn't get rid of Dex, and he was the biggest problem of all. Right now he was out meeting with his agent and would not be back for a while.

            Rosarita took to her bed to think things through. Being pregnant with Joel's child changed everything. It gave her enormous power. In fact, it was a stroke of genius because it meant that her position was secured for life.

            That old chic he was true. Sometimes God works in mysterious ways.

            She buzzed Conchita and requested orange juice, freshly brewed coffee and eggs over easy. Then she clicked on the TV to watch the women on The View a daily habit. Star Jones always amused her with her raunchy take on everything. So did the others, especially Barbara Walters when she was in one of her feisty moods.

            Today Rosarita found herself unable to concentrate. Today she felt like a million dollars - no, a billion dollars. She was destined to be one of the richest women in the world. She was having a baby. And not just any baby: Joel Blaine's baby.

            It made her feel safe and secure. Now there was no hurry to cement the deal with Joel, because once she told him he was destined to be a father, he would be one very happy man indeed. Not only would it validate his manhood, it would also prove how much she cared for him.

            All she had to do was get rid of Dex. Then everything would be perfect.

***

            Dexter's agent, a fast-speaking man with a severe Marine crew-cut and brown Brooks Brothers suit, informed Dexter he was leaving the agency. 'Got a gig out on the Coast,' he explained. 'Going into indie prod -had enough of his agenting shit.'

            'Indie prod?' Dexter questioned, still something of a virgin when it came to showbiz terminology.

            'Independent production,' the man replied. Giving Dexter a what are you- a moron? Look.

            'What about me?' Dexter said, a frown creasing his leading-man forehead.

            'I've taken care of you, dude,' his agent said. 'Put you together with a gal you're gonna love. Annie Cattatori. She's a doll.'

            'I don't need a doll,' Dexter said, asserting himself. 'What I need is a good agent.'

            'Did I say she wasn't good? Annie's the best. Follow me, I'll take you to her office an' introduce you.'

            Dexter was disappointed. Not only was he out of a job, now he had to start with a new agent. It wasn't the way things should be going.

            Annie Cattatori, an extremely fat woman in her late thirties, was ensconced behind her desk. Her baby-doll prettiness was lost in a sea of double chins and chubby cheeks, but she had a winning smile and big, pale blue eyes. Around her neck hung a long gold chain with a pair of rhinestone-studded glasses attached.

            'Meet Dexter Falcon,' his almost ex-agent said. 'I'm sure you've seen him on Dark Days.'

            'Seen him? I jerk off over him,' Annie joked, standing up from behind her desk, revealing even more of her huge bulk. 'come over here, soap boy, an' gimme a hug. We're gonna be close friends.'

            The last thing Dexter needed was a close friend. What he needed was a hot agent, and somehow he didn't think Annie Cattatori was the one.

            He hugged her anyway, because how could he not? She smelled of mothballs, lilac and garlic, and she hugged pretty damn hard, almost crushing his ribcage.

            'Here's what we're gonna do,' she said, sitting back down behind her desk. 'We gotta get t' know each other.'

            'Okay, kiddos,' his former agent said, backing towards the door. 'I'll leave you two together.'

            Annie waited until the other agent had left the room, then she said, 'I'm gonna make you a movie star, soap boy. How'd you like them cojones?'

            I've heard that before, he wanted to say. I heard it when I auditioned for Scorsese. I heard it when I almost landed a Clink Eastwood movie, and I heard it when I just missed being Gwyneth Paltrow's lover in a Miramax film.

            'Would like that? Annie said, reaching for a cigarette from an open package on her desk.

            'Who wouldn't?' Dexter said, sitting in a worn leather chair across from her, thinking that he did not appreciate being called soap boy and he'd better tell her up-front.

            'I can do it for you,' Annie promised, crinkling her blue eyes . 'I'm good. I'm very, very good.'

            'Who do you represent?' he asked, hoping that Ben Affleck or Matt Damon might be part of her client list.

            'Plenty of talent,' she answered. 'Don't expect a resume,' she added, putting on her glasses and peering at him. 'You're coming to me. You're the only one that matters when you're in my office.

            'Excellent,' he said.

            'I'm working for you - remember that,' she continued, ' so don't go giving me any bull, soap boy, an' you and I will get along fine.' She lit up and drew deeply. 'You married?'

            'Yes,' he said, wondering what that had to do with anything. 'Don't advertise. Women prefer their leading men single.'

            'They do?'

            'Whaddya think we're all sitting in the movies for? We wanna fuck you, not picture you screwing the little woman.' Another deep drag on her cigarette. 'Any chance of dumping the old lady?'

            'I'm happily married,' he said, realizing as he uttered the words that it wasn't strictly true.

            'Okay, okay, only asking,' Annie said, blowing a stream of smoke across her desk into his face. 'Tell me about your bad habits. You do drugs?'

            'No.'

            'Drink?'

            'No.'

            'Screw around?'

            'No.'

            She removed her glasses. 'What are you- perfect or something?'

            'My wife thinks so.'

            'She must be one lucky gal.'

            'I'm lucky,' Dexter said, wishing it were true. He'd like nothing more than a happy marriage with a woman who genuinely loved him.

            'That's what I like t' hear,' Annie said. 'In this business we can use all the luck we can get.'

            'You're right,' he said quickly. 'Luck and talent. I've got both.'

            'I'm putting you together with an acting coach,' she said, regarding him shrewdly. 'You're gonna be more than just another pretty face on a hot body. We got pretty faces knee deep from New York to L.A. Everyone wants to be the next Brendan Fraser or Jude Law. But you,' she said, blowing an impressive smoke-ring, 'You got more than the average Joe. You got the looks, the body, the height, and let's see it we can give you the talent.'

            He wasn't pleased that she appeared to be knocking his acting. Hadn't he just told her he had the talent? 'The producers liked my work on Dark Days,' he said stiffly. 'I never got any complaints.'

            He wasn't pleased that she appeared to be knocking his acting. Hadn't he just told her he had the talent? 'The producers liked my work on Dark Days,' he said stiffly. 'I never got any complaints.'

            'But I need to work,' he protested.

            'who pays your rent?' she said. 'You? Or were you smart enough to marry a rich broad?'

            'My wife has some money,' he admitted, albeit reluctantly.

            'Then use it, honey. Let her support you now, and when you make it, she can bleed you for every cent you've got.' Cakling uproariously at her own humour, Annie added, 'Don't forget you heard it here first. I am gonna make you a star, soap boy. If you trust Little Orphan Annie, one day your balls will be enshrined in cement on Hollywood Boulevard.'

            Who was he to argue with that?

***

            Finding out where Carrie Hanlon was shooting a cover for Allure magazine was not big deal for Joel. He knew most of the bookers, encouraging the friendships by regularly sending them chocolates and small gifts. That way, whenever a new girl came into town he was the first to know.

            Fortunately for him, Carrie was shooting with a friend of his - Testio Ramata, a playboy in his own right. Testio was also an extraordinarily talented and much in demand photographer. All the girls loved working with Testio because he made them look sexy, fuckable and beyond gorgeous. He and Joel had paired up on many an occasion on double dates - usually somewhere exotic like Sardinia or Corsica, where Joel would join Testio on one of his assignments and they'd party all week long.

            They hadn't got together in a while because their last meeting had not been exactly friendly" Joel had inadvertently stolen one of Testio's girlfriends, an angular Danish model Testio appeared to be getting serous about.

            Months had passed. The Danish model was long gone, so Joel felt no compunction about dropping by Testio's studio uninvited.

            He could tell his friend was hard at work because he could hear the sound of the Rolling Stones coming from the studio. Testio swore he got some of his best and he had the girl's clothes off and her eyes were fixed on his camera lens. Mick Jagger's throaty growl seemed to turn them on every time.

            Joel strolled into the outer studio and up to the reception desk, where Testio's efficient assistant, Debbie, stopped him.

            'Haven't seen you in a while, Joel,' Debbie said, removing her fashionable eyeglasses.

            'Been busy. You know how it is,' he answered, leaning on her desk. 'Who's the master shooting today?'

            'Carrie Hanlon. You'd better not go in unless I announce you. She's very temperamental.'

            'I know Carrie,' Joel said. 'She won't mind.'

            'Sorry, Joel, you'll have to wait out here.'

            'You're kidding me, right?'

            'No, I'm not. Testio will kill me if you ruin the shoot.'

            'Why would I ruin anything?'

            'Carrie Hanlon is a bitch,' Debbie said, lowering her voice. 'She's got an entourage in there like you wouldn't believe, and she refuses to have strangers watch her when she's shooting.'

            'I told you,' Joel said dairily. 'I know her.'

            'Yes,' Debbie argued briskly. 'And I know my instructions.'

            'Okay, okay,' he said, glancing at his watch, nothing it was past three. 'Have they broken for lunch yet?'

            'Any minute now.'

            'Good. Then I'll join my friends Testio and Carrie for a glass of wine - what way I won't be disturbing the shoot. Tell Testio I'll be back in ten minutes.'

            He left the studio, walked to the corner flower shop and purchased three dozen pink roses.

            Bitch or no bitch, women were suckers for flowers. And Carrie was a woman, wasn't she? A supermodel woman, but he had a hunch that it would work with her just like all the rest. Roses would signal the beginning of a beautiful relationship.

   


Chapter 32

Chapter 33

Chapter 34

Chapter 35

Chapter 36

Chapter 37

Chapter 38

Chapter 39

Chapter 40

Chapter 41

Chapter 42

Chapter 43

Chapter 44

Chapter 45

Chapter 46

Chapter 47

Chapter 48

Chapter 49

Chapter 50

Chapter 51

Chapter 52

Chapter 53

Chapter 54

Chapter 55

Chapter 56

Chapter 57

Chapter 58

Chapter 59

Chapter 60

Chapter 61

Chapter 62