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The author wishes to thank the following people for their help and support: Beth Ader, Jennifer Brown, SWAT officer Matt Cabot, Bill Contardi, Carrie Feron, Michele laffe, Laura Langlie, and David Walton.
Wedding Surprise of the Year
Hindenburg stars’ red-hot romance sparks controversy:
Actors Bruno di Blase and Greta Woolston wed in media firestorm . . . It blossomed on the set of Hindenburg, last
year’s mega-movie blockbuster, which broke all previous earnings records and garnered seven Academy Awards, including Best Picture: a romance that, unlike the relationship of the heroic characters the two stars portrayed on screen, many said would never last. Now two of the hottest stars in Hollywood have delighted fans by making their big-screen romance a reality . . .
Officer Nick Calabrese stared down at the front page of the New York Post. The Post, man. The freaking
thing had made the Post. Even worse, the front page of
"Yo, a little help over here, please?"
Nick glanced at the other papers lining the front of the newsstand. The Daily News had it, too. Newsday. Even USA
Today. About the only paper it hadn’t made the cover of was the New York Times, and Nick was certain it would be
in there somewhere. The Metro section, probably.
"Yo, Calabrese," snarled Officer Gerard "G" West, as he struggled to place handcuffs on a local junkie who was proving reluctant to come along quietly. "You gonna stand there readin’ the funnies, or are you gonna help me with this guy?" Nick picked up a copy of the Post and strolled over to
his partner, pointing to the picture of the attractive couple
on the cover and tilting it so that the struggling captive could see the photo, too.
"Look at this" he said. "See this guy? The one in the tux? That’s my sister’s boyfriend. Or was."
The junkie peering at the photo didn’t seem to notice when G used this momentary distraction to snap his cuffs in place.
"Get outta town" the man said.
"No," Nick said. "Really."
Even G, still holding the junkie by the arms, looked skeptical.
"Yeah," he said, sarcastically. "And my sister’s dating Denzel Washington. C’mon, Nick. I wanna get a hashbrown down at the Ds. You know they stop servin’em after
"I am telling you," Nick said, holding the paper out so that the owner of the newsstand, who’d been looking on with interest, could see the photo, too. "That is my sister’s boyfriend. Two of ’em were livin’ together up until about a
few months ago, and the rat went and married somebody else behind her back. Can you believe that?"
The newsstand owner replied, his
Bangladeshi accent so thick that his English was barely understandable, "No, sir, that I cannot believe."
"She wrote that movie, you know," Nick said to the newsstand owner. "My sister did. The one that made them both so famous."
"You are shitting me, sir," the newsstand owner said politely.
"No, I’m not," Nick said. "I swear it. Lou wrote it as, you know, a whadduyacallit. A vehicle. For Barry."
"Who is Barry, sir?" the newsstand owner wanted to know.
"This guy." Nick pointed at the paper. "Bruno di Blase. That’s not his real name. That’s his, you know, stage name. His real name is Barry. Barry Kimmel. He grew up in our neighborhood out on the island. I used to make him eat bugs." He noticed the disapproving look his partner sent him, and said,
with a shrug, "Well, you know. We were kids."
G, still holding onto the junkie, grunted. "Oh, yeah. Barry. I forgot. Tough break for Lou. You don’t stop squirming around, I swear to God—"
The junkie however, was having a hard time containing his excitement. "Hey, s’that really true?" he asked Nick. "Your sister really shacked. up with that guy from
"Watch it," Nick growled. "My sister never shacked up with anybody, understand?"
"Well" G said. "Not anymore, anyway. I mean, not now that the guy’s married to—"
"You watch it, too." Nick flashed his partner a look of annoyance over the top of the diminutive criminal’s head
while he dug into his pocket and extracted some change, which he tried to give to the owner of the newsstand in exchange for the copy of the Post he held beneath one
"Oh, no, sir," the newsstand operator said graciously. "It is on the house. You are keeping our streets safe for law-abiding citizens."
Nick, pleased, slipped the change back into his pocket. "Hey," he said. "Thanks."
"And please to tell your sister," the newsstand owner called, "that I enjoyed her film, Hindenburg, very much.
As did my wife. It was truly a moving triumph of the human spirit."
"Sure thing," Nick said, as they moved towards the squad car. "Jesus, I still can’t believe it. Barry eloped on her! The poor kid"
It happened in the newly created Hindenburg
Room—featuring memorabilia from the hit movie of that name—in the Trump Casino in Las Vegas. Hindenburg
stars Bruno di Blase and Greta Woolston tied the knot, just days after Ms. Woolstons well-publicized split from longtime boyfriend, action-adventure star Jack Townsend.
Townsend, who rose to fame during his four-year stint as the moody Dr. Paul Rourke on the hit television medical drama, "STAT," and later went on to star as
renegade detective Pete Logan in the highly popular Copkiller movies, does not appear to have taken news of his ex’s elopement in stride.
"Good Lord." Eleanor Townsend looked down at the paper folded so neatly on the silver tray. "What is this, Richards?" The butler cleared his throat. "I took the liberty, madam, of picking up a copy of the Post this morning as I
was walking Alessandro. As you can see, there is a story on the first page that I believe will interest you."
Eleanor, after flashing her butler of thirty years a look that was as affectionate as it was reproachful, reached over the Yorkie perched on her lap, lifted the paper from the tray, and, slipping on her spectacles, inspected the front page.
"Ah, yes," she said, after scanning the article beneath the full color photo. "I see. How distressful. 'According to sources at the Anchorage Four Seasons Hotel, where Townsend is staying during location filming of Copkiller IV,
the sound of breaking glass was heard from the star's suite shortly after news of the wedding was announced on the evening news,'" she read aloud. "'By the time hotel security arrived, a French door had been shattered, several fist-sized holes were found in the hotel room walls, and a love seat had been set on fire.' Good heavens."
"There is no word," Richards said, "as to whether or not Master Jack was arrested."
"No." Eleanor perused the article. "No, it appears not. Fist-sized holes in the wall, indeed! And a love seat in flames? Jack would never have done anything so childish. Besides, he couldn't possibly have cared for the Woolston woman that much. She was so terribly . . . common. Though it's so difficult to tell when they have a British accent."
"It was, perhaps," Richards ventured, as he lifted a silver coffee urn and refilled Eleanor's china cup, "not so much that she married so soon after their breakup, but to whom."
"Yes," Eleanor said, squinting at the photo on the paper's first page. "I see. Bruno di Blase. He played the hero in that movie everyone was talking about last year? The one about the . . . what is it called again? Oh, yes. The blimp?"
"Indeed, madam," Richards said. "Hindenburg. A moving
triumph of the human spirit, I am told."
Eleanor lifted a carefully groomed eyebrow. "Oh, dear. Di Blase. I wonder if he is one of the Tuscan di Biases. You know, that lovely family I met in Florence last spring?"
"I believe, madam," Richards said, after clearing his throat
once, "that di Blase is a stage name."
Eleanor put down the paper with a shudder. "Oh, Richards," she cried. "How dreadful. That any woman should drop Jack for a man with a stage name—"
"I always rather suspected," Richards said, evenly, "that Miss Woolston's name might have been . . . well, improved upon, in some small fashion."
Eleanor plucked her glasses from her nose and looked horrified. "No! But you might be right. It's probably something dreadful. Doris Mudge, or Vivian Sloth, or some such."
"Allegra," Richards said, deliberately, "Mooch."
Eleanor shuddered. "Stop. Not Allegra. Not before
"My apologies, madam. Shall we attempt to reach Master
Jack, and see if we can be of aid?"
Eleanor examined her elegant gold watch. "No, there isn’t any point. He’s impossible to reach most of the time, but especially when he’s on location. And after something
like this he won’t get anywhere near a phone. Oh, Richards." She heaved a sigh. "It’s starting to look as if it’s going to be quite a long while before I ever see any grandchildren, doesn’t it?"
Although Jack Townsend himself has yet to comment publicly on ex-girlfriend Greta Woolston’s sudden
elopement with Bruno di Blase, her Hindenburg costar, the
marriage appears to have been as big a shock to family and friends as to fans. Academy Award-winning Hindenburg
screenwriter Lou Calabrese, longtime girlfriend of the new groom, has also yet to issue a public statement . . .
"Damned right we have no statement," Beverly
Tennant snarled at the newspaper, which she then threw, with savage force, in the general direction of her office’s
gilt trashcan. "Chloe," she bellowed. "Chloe!"
A harried-looking young woman came catapulting into the office, clearly having only just arrived, her ear-muffs still on, her coat not yet unbuttoned, and two cups of steaming coffee in her hands.
"Oh," Beverly said, noticing the steaming cups. "For me?"
Chloe nodded, trying to catch her breath. "I . . . saw . . ." she panted, "the . . . headlines . . . on my way in. I figured you’d need . . . a double. I got nonfat foam."
"You are a lifesaver," Beverly said. She tapped on her desktop with a well-manicured nail. "Put it here. And hold all my calls. I’m going to try to get hold of her."
"Oh." Chloe hurried to place the steaming cup where her employer had indicated. "Could you tell Lou hi from me? And tell her I’m really sorry. Tell her if it’s any consolation, none of us—here at the agency, I mean—think Bruno di
Blase is as hot as everyone is making out. I mean . . . we don’t represent him, do we?"
Beverly, her fingers poised over speed dial buttons, sent
her assistant a withering look.
"We do not," she said. "But I will deliver your message.
I’m sure it will be a great comfort to her."
Chloe, abashed, hurried from the office, closing the door
carefully behind her.
As soon as she was gone, Beverly, who’d slipped her feet from her Manolo Blahniks, leaned back and plopped her heels on her desk, peeled the lid from her cappuccino, and dialed her client’s Los Angeles number.
"Be there," she muttered, as the first ring sounded. "Be
there, be there, be there . . ."
Lou’s machine clicked on. "Hi. We’re not here right now, but if you leave a message at the tone, we’ll be sure to give you a call back real soon—"
Beverly winced at the use of the word "we." But there was
nothing except sympathy in her tone as
she cooed into the phone, "Lou, honey, it’s Bev. If you’re there, pick up. I know it’s"—she looked at her
diamond-chip-encrusted watch and made a swift
calculation—"six in the morning there, God, how can you stand it? But listen, sweetie, I’m telling you, this is the best thing that ever happened to you. Believe me, I’ve been there, I know. The man is pond scum. Worse than pond scum. He’s the scum that grows on . . . other scum."
Satisfied with this description, Beverly went on, "And she’s just British white trash. The two of them deserve each other. Where are you, anyway? Don’t tell me you’ve gone all West Coast, and taken up jogging, or yoga, or something horrible like that . . ."
Beverly slid her heels off the desk and sat up straight in her swivel chair, as if struck by sudden inspiration. "Oh, God, that’s right. You were headed up to the shoot today, weren’t you, to talk Tim Lord out of blowing up that mountain and getting all those environmentalists’ panties in a wad. God, what a dope I am. Here I am blathering to your machine and you’re off in . . . God, the wilds of Alaska. I am so sorry. Alaska, of all places. I shudder to—"
Beverly shook herself. "But no, wait, that’s good. It’s
good you’re in Alaska, Lou. Alaska will keep your mind off . . . well, I don’t suppose it will, actually, since Jack Townsend will be there, won’t he? I know how you feel about him. God. Well, anyway, honey, call me. And as soon as you’re back, we’ll do lunch."
Beverly hung up. She looked glumly down at her cappuccino. "Oh, God," she said to no one in particular. "Poor Lou. Right about now, I’ll bet she’s wishing she
never wrote the thing in the first place."
"Oh, God." Lou Calabrese dropped her head to the sticky airport lounge table. "Why did I ever write the stupid thing?"
Vicky Lord, seated across the table, regarded her friend with an expression of concern on her carefully made-up face. "Lou, honey. You’re gettin’ ketchup
in your hair."
"What does it matter?" Ketchup or not, the tabletop felt cool against Lou’s forehead. "If I wanted to give him a
vehicle, why didn’t I just buy him a Porsche?"
"Honey, lift up your head. You don’t know what people might’ve been doin’ on that table."
"Sure, he’d still have driven away from me just as fast," Lou went on, miserably, keeping her head where it was. "But every single person in the Western world wouldn’t know about it. It wouldn’t have been on CNN."
"Now, Lou," Vicky said. She opened her Prada handbag, which she’d kept carefully positioned in her lap so as to avoid condiment stains. "Not every single person in the Western world knows about Barry and Greta. I’m sure there’s some of those hermits in Montana—you know, the ones with the
bombs— who haven’t heard about it."
"Oh, God," Lou wailed. "Why couldn’t I have written a romantic comedy instead? They never would have gotten together on the set of a romantic comedy. It would have been too, you know. Predictable. Their publicists would never
have allowed it."
"Now, Lou, honey," Vicky said again, as she dug through the contents of her purse. "You can’t blame it all on
Hindenburg. You and Barry were having problems way
before Hindenburg, if I remember correctly."
Lou, not moving her head from the table, blinked at her friend. Morning sunlight was slanting in through the airport lounge windows, and a pinkish beam had settled on Vicky, who looked angelic in its rosy light.
But then, Vicky Lord always looked angelic. She hadn’t been the Noxzema girl for five years running just because of her flawless skin. Oh, no. Vicky glowed, and from the inside.
In a way that Lou, who spent way too much time in front of a computer screen, knew she would never glow, inside or out.
"Sure," Lou said. "Sure we were having problems.
We’d been together for what, ten years? Ten years, and the guy wouldn’t commit. I’d say that was a problem."
Lou didn’t know why she felt compelled to explain herself to the angelic vision seated across from her. Vicky would never understand. Vicky, model, actress, and current Hollywood It Girl, had always gotten everything she had ever wanted.
Well, that wasn’t quite true. There’d been one thing Vicky had wanted and hadn’t gotten, a guy she’d been crazy about, who’d thrown her over the minute she, like Lou, had mentioned the C word. True, that had been years ago, and Vicky was happily married now—to a man who so
thoroughly adored her, their marriage was routinely held up as one of the most successful in Hollywood. Yes, Vicky had moved on. . . . But maybe—just maybe—she could still see
where Lou was coming from.
"Barry told me the reason he couldn’t commit to our
relationship was because he didn’t want me to be saddled with an out-of-work actor for a husband," Lou said. "So I wrote something that I hoped would bring him some work."
Vicky found what she’d been looking for in her
purse—her Christian Dior compact. She opened it so that she could examine her newly Botoxed lips.
"Honey," Vicky said, as she regarded her reflection. "You didn’t just write him something that would bring him more work. You wrote him something that turned him from Mr. Nobody to Mr. Eight Figures in about five minutes flat. And how did he reward you?" Vicky looked up from her compact and
directed the full force of her azure-eyed gaze at her friend. "By runnin’ off with that blond ice-bitch. What I
don’t get is why all of this is such a shock to you. I mean, he moved out way before this, didn’t he? How long ago?"
"Weeks ago." Lou’s voice was mournful. "But he didn’t say anything about having fallen in love with somebody else. He just said he didn’t think he could
commit after all."
"When what he meant—obviously—was that he
couldn’t commit to you. Honey, I’ve been there. Jack pulled
the same old fast one on me, remember? Only in his case, he still hasn’t seemed to find Ms. Right. Maybe because for him there is no Ms. Right." Vicky shook her head, and
happened to spy the reflection of the terminal’s coffee stand in her compact mirror. "Can you believe they don’t have
espresso here? I mean, I realize Anchorage is not LA, but
it’s still America, isn’t it?"
"God!" Lou exclaimed. She lifted her head from the table, but kept her forehead in her hands. "When I think of everything I did for him! I tell you, writing that stupid thing was the worst mistake I ever made."
Apparently satisfied with her lipliner, Vicky closed her compact and slipped it back into her bag. "Taking up with Barry was the worst mistake you ever made," she said. "Writing Hindenburg was a stroke of genius. For
heaven’s sake, Lou, it’s become an American classic."
"Classic piece of crap," Lou said, bitterly.
"It was short on depth," Vicky said, with a shrug. "I’ll give you that. But the action scenes were to die for. And those love scenes between Barry and Gret. . . ." Lou didn’t miss Vicky shaking herself out of the thoughtful revery into which she’d
slipped. Biting her lower lip—ruining her liner as she did
so— Vicky’s expression was guilty as she said, "Oh, God, hon. I’m sorry."
"No." Lou slumped in her hard plastic chair. "No, it’s all right. I can take it. I mean, it’s not like any of this is a total
surprise. I certainly had my suspicions. Unlike some
Vicky raised an eyebrow. "If you mean Jack," she said, "he knew."
Lou let out a bitter laugh. "Oh, come on, Vick. He did not. He had no clue."
"About Greta and Barry?" Vicky shook her head until her bob shimmered. "I’m telling you, he knew. He’s not as dumb as you like to think, Lou."
"He dumped you, didn’t he?" Lou demanded. "If
that’s not the dumbest thing anybody ever did, I don’t know what is."
"Aren’t you sweet," Vicky said, with another of her
beatific smiles. "But honey, I swear to you, he didn’t trash his hotel room because of Greta. I mean, for him to have been that upset, he’d have to have, you know. Cared about
"And that’s a biological impossibility," Lou muttered, "for
someone who doesn’t even have a heart."
As Vicky, one of the many starlets Jack had left in his wake, ought to have been able to attest to. The only man in Hollywood who’d had more affairs than Jack Townsend was Tim Lord, director of both Hindenburg and this most recent
Copkiller sequel. . . .
But at least Jack did his conquests the favor of not marrying them and then dragging them forever through the