LOS ANGELES 1987
SATURDAY, JULY 11TH
It was a perfect cloudless Los Angeles day. The Santa Ana winds had driven off
the smog, and Saturday, July 11th, dawned crisp and clean, settling into a
seductively lazy heat.
Kris Phoenix awoke early. Unusual for him, but he had flown in from London the
previous afternoon and gone straight to bed. Fourteen hours later he surfaced
in his oversize California King bed, in his oversize palatial Bel Air mansion,
and rolled over to find that his Los Angeles girlfriend, Cybil Wilde, had
joined him sometime during the night. Fortunately for her, she had not tried to
wake him. Sex was great, but woe betide anyone who came between Kris and his
Cybil slept on, her nineteen-year-old body smooth and naked, long, honey-blond
hair fanning out around her wholesomely pretty face.
Cybil Wilde was a highly paid, extremely visible commercial model. Not quite
Christie Brinkley, but on her way. Recently she had appeared on the cover of
Sports Illustrated in a revealing one-piece swimsuit. Now the
offers were pouring in, but Cybil never accepted anything without deferring to
Kris's superior judgment. And he preferred having her at home -- whether he was
there or not.
He debated waking her; after all, it was several weeks since
they'd seen each other. Then he remembered the concert tonight, and decided he
could wait. Astrid, his London live-in, had not exactly let his motor idle. In
fact, Astrid was a maniac in the sack, she never left him alone.
Astrid, the clothes designer. They'd met four years ago in Paris, when his
manager hired her to design some leather pants for him, and she'd ended up
feeling a lot more than the material. At twenty-eight, Astrid was nine years
older than Cybil, but she had the requisite long blond hair and knockout body,
plus she was Danish, and everyone knew about Scandinavian women. He liked his
women blond and long-legged, with a big bosom and an amiable disposition. What
more could any man ask?
Silently Kris stepped from bed, making his way into his black, mirrored, high
Fortunately he'd managed to stay sober on the flight from London. It was
amazing the difference it made -- he actually felt like a human being. And on
close inspection in the mirror above his black marble sink, he actually looked
Kris Phoenix was thirty-eight years old. He had intense ice-blue eyes, longish
dirty-blond hair subtly streaked by the sun (and if the sun wasn't around, an
English hairdresser called Spud took care of it), and rakish good looks.
Neither tall nor short, he hit a comfortable five feet ten inches -- and since
taking up weight training he was all dynamic body power and rippling muscles.
Hardly Arnold Schwarzenegger -- more Bruce Springsteen fused with Mick
Kris Phoenix was a rock star. A very famous rock star indeed.
In fact, some said, Kris Phoenix was a rock legend.
All that talk never bothered him. As far as he was concerned he made music,
sang songs, and played a mean guitar. So did a lot of other guys. Kris reckoned
he had a hold on reality. Just because he divided his life between two
fantastic mansions, made millions of dollars a year, owned seven cars, and kept
two beautiful live-in females, that didn't make him any different inside. He
would always, deep down, be plain Chris Pierce from Maida Vale, London. There
was no getting away from the fact that his mother once scrubbed other people's
floors, and his stepfather drove a bus.
"... my...God! You... are...sooo...sexy!" Cybil barefooted
her way into the bathroom, and it wasn't only her feet that lacked coverage.
"I've really missed you, Kris!" she sighed, throwing her arms around him.
Suddenly Astrid the maniac began to fade from his thoughts.
"You too, kiddo," he replied, kissing her warm, inviting lips.
She rubbed her full breasts against his bare chest, knowing full well what that
would do to him.
One snag. Sex was out on the day of a performance. Only somebody should tell
the massive hard-on growing in his pajama pants.
Regretfully he pushed her away. "Leave it out, Cyb. Y'know the rules, and
tonight's that goddamn private gig for Marcus Citroen."
Snaking her arms around his waist, she rocked him back toward her. "How about a
private gig just for me?" she whispered in her best sexy voice. "After all, I
am asking nicely. And I promise I'll be good." A meaningful pause. "Very
There was no way Kris would break his rule. And nobody -- not even the gorgeous
Cybil Wilde -- could make him. On the day of a performance he was like a
fighter entering the ring, he needed every ounce of his precious sexual energy.
Not one drop got spilled until it was all over.
"Later," he promised, disengaging himself and moving purposefully toward the
Cybil pulled a disappointed face.
"I said later, luv," he repeated, flashing his famous crooked grin as he
stepped under the icy needles of water and grabbed a bar of lemon soap.
Lathering his chest, he decided the shower felt good. Freezing water. Freezing
out the old sexual urges. Making him feel alive and alert, ready for
Anything except a private performance for Marcus sonofabitch Citroen.
Coldly Kris reflected on how much he loathed the powerful record magnate.
And with dull resignation he realized there was nothing he could do about
Not yet anyway.
Rafealla alighted from Marcus Citroen's private jet and entered Marcus
Citroen's personal Mercedes stretch limousine waiting on the tarmac. She nodded
curtly at the driver, and was relieved to see upon entering the limo there was
no welcoming committee to greet her.
Great, she thought, no one to bother me until I reach the
pardShe was wrong. As soon as she settled back, the driver requested that she pick
up the car phone. "Mr Citroen on the line," he said reverently.
"Thanks." Her voice was flat. Marcus Citroen followed her every move. She.
couldn't go to the bathroom without his knowing about it.
"Hi, Marcus," she said listlessly.
"Mr. Citroen will be with you in a moment," replied the velvet-toned voice of
his ever-so-efficient secretary, Phoebe.
Rafealla waited. Marcus liked to keep people waiting; she had seen him do it
countless times. "Builds character," he would say dryly, with just a hint of
the European accent he had never quite managed to get rid of.
Nervously she leaned forward and asked the driver if he had a cigarette.
"I gave it up," the man said with an apologetic shrug. "Would you like me to
stop and get you a pack?"
"No," she said, shaking her head vigorously. She too had given up the dreaded
habit, although right row she was prepared to kill for the chance of one long
deep drag on anything.
"Rafealla?" Marcus's voice. The slight accent. The oily thickness.
Of course I am, you summoned me, didn't you? "Yes."
"Was your flight comfortable?"
"Good, good." He cleared his throat "I have booked you into a suite at
L'Ermitage. I'll call you as soon as you get there."
Yes. Probably the moment I walk through the door. "Fine," she said
"You won't regret your decision.
Ah, but I will, Marcus. I will.
He had given her no option, she thought, running a hand despairingly through
her long, dark hair. With a deep sigh she slumped back against the plush
Rafealla. She was known by just one name.
When she sang, her voice evoked magic. Sultry nights and smoky nightclubs, for
she did not sing of virgins and fresh young love, she ventured back to Billie
Holiday territory and the blues. At twenty-seven years of age she knew plenty
about the blues. More than she ever should have known.
Rafealla was an exotic beauty. Green-eyed, with sharply etched cheekbones, a
wide, luscious mouth, and a deep olive complexion. Her dark hair, straight and
shining, swept in a curtain to her waist. She was slight of build, not
voluptuous -- but her body was still quite something in the oversized man's
suit and thin silk top she wore.
Rafealla had risen to the heights from nowhere, it seemed. Eighteen months ago
she had been unheard of. Now she was a star. Burning bright. A meteor streaking
her way to the top of every record chart in the world. And whereas she had
imagined stardom would bring her freedom, exactly the opposite had happened.
Stardom had brought her Marcus Citroen. And she hated him with a deep and
"Bobby Mondella, do you have any idea how much you are loved?" the pretty black
woman crooned affectionately as she perched on the edge of a large circular
desk. Her name was Sara.
Bobby, sitting in a comfortable leather chair next to the desk, reached out to
touch. "Tell me, girl, tell me good."
Bobby Mondella gave new meaning to the word "handsome." In his thirties, he was
tall, well over six feet, with dark-chocolate skin, curly jet-black hair, and a
"I'll do better than tellin' you, honey," Sara said enthusiastically, grabbing
a random pile of press clippings from the desk. "I'm gonna read you some of the
reviews comin' in on Mondella Alive. We are talkin' dy . . na. . .
Bobby reached for the dark glasses covering his unseeing eyes, took them off,
put them on again. He made the same gesture about a hundred times a day. It was
impossible for him to accept the fact he would never see again.
"Yeahhh. Dy... na . . . mite!" Sara repeated excitedly.
"I know 'bout the reviews," Bobby said patiently. "The album's been number one
on the soul charts for five weeks now."
"Six," Sara corrected matter-of-factly. "Six straight weeks an' still
goin' strong." She paused for breath. "Oh, sure, Mister Mondella. I know
you've heard all about the Billboard rave, an' Rollin' Stone, not
to mention the L.A. Times, Blues an' Soul, an'--"
"What's happenin'?" Bobby interrupted. ""Whyn't you just get to the train
station an' save me the trip?"
"What's happening," Sara said importantly, "is that all across the country, in
this great land we call America-"
"Cut it, babe."
Ignoring him, she continued her speech. "In every little hick town-they are
lovin' you, honey, but I mean lovin' you." She paused triumphantly,
shuffling the stack of press clippings, "Want me to read you some of this
"Sure," he said casually, not wishing to appear too eager, although hiding
anything from Sara was almost impossible; she knew him too well.
"Ridgeway, PA," she read crisply. "Bobby Mondelia is King Soul.
Buy Mondella Alive an' really get down, for Bobby Mondella puts
more meaning into a lyric than anyone out there." She paused, then said, "'You
"Hey -- listen to Mister Conceited!"
"Bring your cute ass over here, I wanna play basketball."
"Will you stop?" she scolded. "Here's another one. The Duluth Herald,
The return of Bobby M. makes for the finest soul album of the last decade.
Since his unfortunate tragedy the Mondella magic is hotter than ever.
Sara's sweet voice droned on, heaping praise upon praise, superlative after
Listening carefully, Bobby couldn't help being delighted by all the extravagant
praise. It was good to be number one again. Real good. Especially since
everyone had counted him out, said he was finished, written him off as a
And Marcus Citroen. Damn him.
Bobby felt the hate envelop him like a noxious cloud. He loathed the man, and
for good reason. But he had to admit that Marcus Citroen was the only one who
had given him a chance to come back -- and back he was, with a vengeance.
"Enough, Sara," he interrupted quietly. "I want to get some rest. before
"I don't know why you agreed to do this dumb fund-raiser," she grumbled.
"Marcus Citroen and his rich friends don't deserve to be entertained by the
likes of you. Especially your first live appearance since the accident".
How come everyone -- including Sara -- referred to his loss of sight as an accident?
It was no accident, goddammit It was a crime. And one day he would find out who
"It's for an interesting event," he said shortly.
"Her event," Sara sneered, taking his arm and guiding him toward the
door of his bedroom.
Her event. Bobby hadn't seen her since it happened. Nor had he
heard one word from the coldhearted bitch.
Nova Citroen. Marcus Citroen's wife. The thought of being in her company
excited and disgusted him, He wondered what she would do...say...
Oh, Christ. Don't tell me I'm still hung up, he thought I can't be. I
As if sensing his thoughts of another woman, Sara withdrew Her voice became
cool and businesslike. "The limo will be here at three o'clock. What time shall
I wake you?"
"Make it one-thirty." His hand reached for her smooth cheek. "An' I'll have a
bacon sandwich with all the trimmings. Okay?"
"I'm not your resident cook," she said stiffly.
"I know baby. But nobody -- like I mean nobody -- makes a better bacon
sandwich than you."
Letting out a deep sigh of resignation, she realized she would do anything for
Bobby Mondella, and he knew it Whether he appreciated it or not was another
Left alone, Bobby made his way over to the bed, took off his shirt, unzipped
his pants, and lay down.
Nova Citroen. Now that he had started, he couldn't stop thinking about her.
Removing his dark glasses, he realized with a dull feeling of hopelessness he
would never be able to set eyes on her again.
Nova Citroen could not decide which important piece of jewelry to wear that
night The Harry Winston emeralds were inviting, so green and rich-looking. A
single huge stone surrounded with diamonds for her neck, matching earrings,
outrageous ring, and a magnificent bracelet. But she had worn that set in
February to the great annual Niven-Cohen-Moss Valentine party, and again to
Irving and Mary's Oscar event. Twice in one year was enough, so she discarded
the emeralds, moving on to the Cartier rubies.
Ah, such nice bright baubles, but a touch too jazzy for her requirements
Without hesitation she turned to the deep burgundy box that housed her new
diamond necklace, bracelet, and earrings. No contest. She had known all along
the evening cried out for nothing less than dazzling diamonds to complement her
upswept whiteblond hair and the stylish Galanos dress she planned to wear. So
appropriate for a simple summer evening by the sea.
Nova Citroen's idea of a simple summer evening by the sea and the rest of the
world's might possibly differ. Nova and her husband, Marcus, lived part of the
year on Novaroen, a magnificent twenty-five-acre estate perched on the top of a
high bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean a few miles past Malibu. The estate
boasted two separate mansions -- one especially for guests, an Olympic-size
swimming pool, three north-south tennis courts, a recording studio, a fully
equipped gym, a luxurious movie theater, stables for their expensive Arabian
horses, and garage space for Marcus's collection of immaculately restored
They called it their weekend hangout. Only this particular weekend a little
more than hanging out was taking place. Nova and Marcus Citroen were hosting a
fund-raiser for Governor Jack Highland -- the fund-raiser of the year. An
exclusive black-tie affair for fifty couples, each of whom had paid a hundred
thousand dollars per couple for the privilege of being there. It was called
protecting their future. And a very select group they were too. Nova had been
ruthless in her choice of whom she would allow to attend. Once word got out
that it was an impossible ticket, everyone clamored to part with his money.
After all, those in the know felt that Governor Highland was a sure thing for
the next President.
Nova was suitably pleased with her final guest list. Only the creme de la
creme. The richest, the most powerful, the most talented, and the most famous.
She had not wanted too much Hollywood -- her desire was to attract the real
power, with just a scattering of rare stardust. And she had succeeded. They
were flying in from all over the world.
The evening she had planned for her guests was spectacular. A five-course
open-air dinner catered by the ultrachic Lilliane's restaurant. Followed by a
surprise concert, where three of the biggest recording stars in the world
would appear. The legend -- Kris Phoenix. The comeback -- Bobby Mondella.
And the rising star -- Rafealla.
One night five million dollars raised for Governor Highland's forthcoming
campaign, and that was before the silent auction and raffle, where
anyone, for a thousand dollars a ticket, could win prizes ranging from a case
of Cristal champagne to a Mercedes coupe.
Clasping the magnificent diamond necklace to her throat, she decided it would
be perfect for later, and carefully replaced it in its velvet-lined box. After
all, she had a certain reputation to live up to. She was known for her fabulous
Nova Citroen was an elegant-looking woman in her early forties, with lightly
tanned skin, fine aquiline features, and mesmerizing violet eyes. Men got lost
in Nova's eyes. They were her greatest asset She was not beautiful, but
seductively attractive, with a body slim to the point of anorexia. It suited
her, enabling her to look wonderful in clothes.
"Excuse me, Mrs. Citroen." Discreetly, Norton St. John, her personal assistant,
entered the room. "Mr. Citroen would like to speak to you. He's on your private
"Is he?" For a moment she considered telling Norton to inform Marcus he could
go to hell. It was a pleasurable idea, but one she thought better of. Marcus
Citroen was her continuing ride to the top, and much as she detested him, she
was aboard for the entire trip.
Speed liked money. Only one snag. Money didn't seem to like him. Every time he
made a bundle -- something happened. He'd win at the track and some big-boobed
bimbo would take it all from him. He'd score in Vegas. Whammo! A showgirl or
two would step into the picture and it was all over. When he worked
legitimately, which wasn't a steady activity, his ex-wife's lawyer was on his
case within hours of his first paycheck. What was it with him and his freakin'
luck? He just couldn't figure it out.
And then, one day, a meeting came to pass with a dude named George Smith, and
Speed finally knew his fortunes were about to make a drastic U-turn. There was
a big job going down, and George Smith wanted him in, because goddammit, Speed
was the best freakin' driver in the whole of Southern California, and let
nobody forget it.
There had been several meetings since the first one, and now today was D-Day,
and Speed knew exactly what he had to do.
Dressing carefully in the gray chauffeur's uniform he had hired from a
Hollywood costumer, he admired his reflection in the long hall mirror of his
So he wasn't very tall. Big freakin' deal. Nor was Dustin Hoffman.
So the hairline was receding. Big freakin' deal. Mr. Burt Reynolds had the same
So he had the features of an inquisitive ferret. Was Al Pacino a matinee
Speed creamed over the way he looked. As far as he was concerned he was a real
lady-killer. And when he had the money to back up his imagined charm, he was a
hotshot with women. All women except his ex-wife -- a platinum-blond stripper
with bazoombas to break a man's heart, and nagging to break a man's balls.
Speed thought the uniform looked pretty ritzy on him. He admired himself for
quite a few minutes before turning to other matters at hand. There were things
to do before the evening's big caper.
He nodded to himself knowingly. This was the big score he had been waiting for
all his life, and there was no way he was going to blow it.
Vicki Foxe had a strong urge to kick the grinning jackass security chief in the
balls. Men. Sex. That's all they ever thought about. Most of them, anyway. There
were exceptions -- few and far between, and those always turned out to
be the ones who played hard to get.
For a moment Vicki allowed herself to think about Maxwell Sicily -- now he
was an exception. Of course he'd crap in his pants if he ever thought she
knew his true identity -- but who the hell did he think he was dealing with
anyway? Some dumb dingbat with big tits? Oh, no. When Vicki Foxe got involved
in a business caper, she knew what it was all about.
George Smith my ass, she'd thought, when he first contacted her. And it
didn't take her long to find out his real name. It never took Vicki long to
find out anything.
"Are y'all wearin' a bra, sweetie?" The beefy man leered, staring bug-eyed at
her greatest assets.
Up yours, dickhead, she thought. What a cretin!
If he ever saw her at her best he would go into cardiac arrest without pausing
to make a will. Right now, skillfully disguised as a maid, she looked her
worst. Her bright-red hair was scraped back in a bun. She wore little makeup on
her face. And her truly sensational body (39 D cup, small waist and
accommodating hips) was mostly concealed beneath a drab maid's uniform.
"Don't be so nosy, Tom," she scolded, flirtatiously batting her eyes at him,
forgetting that she was not wearing the sweeping false lashes she usually
favored. "It's none of your business, big boy."
Tom was chief of security on the Citroens' vast oceanside estate, and already,
after Vicki had worked there for only six weeks, he was hot to do anything she
might ask in exchange for a sexual favor or two.
"I'd sure like ta find out," he drooled.
"Well..." Suggestively licking her lips, she gave him a little body brush.
"Whatcha doin' later?"
They both had a good laugh at that one. Later was the big concert -- the giant
event Tom would be up to his eyebrows handling massive security
"If only we could watch the concert together," Vicki sighed, deliberately
popping a button on her uniform, and then another, and then -- very slowly,
"Tom almost choked on his coffee. "You've got great ti--" he began.
Somebody walked into the service kitchen and he shut up.
Vicki quickly turned away, doing up her buttons. She could hear Tom's heavy
breathing all the way out the door. And when the time came to take care of him,
it would be no problem. Absolutely no problem at all.
Across town, Maxwell Sicily reported for work at Lilliane's, the exclusive
Beverly Hills restaurant. Maxwell Sicily was twenty-nine years old, five feet
eleven, one hundred and forty pounds, and of Sicilian origin. His hair was
patent-leather black and greased back, his eyes brooding and close-set. His
nose was too long, and his mouth too thin. But the overall effect was of a
certain cold handsomeness. He looked like the son of a mob boss.
He was, in fact, the son of the infamous Carmine Sicily -- one of the top drug
kingpins in Miami.
Father and son did not speak. Maxwell had come to California to make it on his
own. He'd certainly had the right training.
"Hiya, George," greeted Chloe, the pudgy supervisor who sat behind the desk at
Lilliane's, answering the phones and keeping a sharp eye on the waiters as they
Maxwell nodded. At work they knew him only as George Smith
-- a suitable pseudonym.
"Hot today, isn't it?" Chloe said, coquettishly fanning her drooping bosom
with a copy of People magazine.
Maxwell ignored her, thought better of it, and nodded a curt yes.
"I never got to ask you before," she said quickly, glad of an opportunity to
chat with the handsome waiter whom she'd had her eye on ever since he started
work there. "You're an actor, aren't you?" She gazed at him hopefully. "I'm
right, huh? I can always spot em.
Maxwell repeated his nod. Thank God this was the last day he had to put up
with this. Tomorrow he would be on a plane to Brazil with a
king's ransom supplied courtesy of Mr. and Mrs. Marcus Citroen.
Maxwell Sicily couldn't wait.
Copyright © 1998 by Jackie Collins