Adoredby Tilly Bagshawe, Barbara Rosenblat
To the outside world, Siena McMahon’s life is a fairy tale. She’s the granddaughter of Hollywood legend Duke McMahon and the daughter of his billionaire producer son. She has beauty, brains, and wealth. And like her grandfather, Sienna has a rapacious appetite for the opposite sex, a love of high-living, and one all-consuming desire: to be the most… See more details below
To the outside world, Siena McMahon’s life is a fairy tale. She’s the granddaughter of Hollywood legend Duke McMahon and the daughter of his billionaire producer son. She has beauty, brains, and wealth. And like her grandfather, Sienna has a rapacious appetite for the opposite sex, a love of high-living, and one all-consuming desire: to be the most dazzling star of her generation. From her success as a fashion model, to her early struggles as an actress, to her legendary affairs with the wrong men, this story of one woman’s journey to the top gives new meaning to larger-than-life power, glamour, and fame.
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By Tilly Bagshawe
Warner VisionCopyright © 2006 Tilly Bagshawe
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Chapter OneHANCOCK PARK, LOS ANGELES, 1975
"Forty-eight, forty-nine ... fifty! Nice job, Duke, you're looking great."
Duke McMahon lay back on his workout mat and looked up at his trainer. Jesus Christ, these young guys all looked like shit. Sideburns like a pair of hairy runways, a brown velour jogging suit, and more gold jewelry than the fucking Mafia. No wonder so much Hollywood pussy was out there looking for an older man.
Still, Mikey was right about one thing. Duke was looking great. He sat up and took a satisfied look at his reflection in one of the floor-to-ceiling mirrors that plastered the room. At sixty-four, he still had the body of a man twenty years younger, and he didn't owe one inch of it to surgery. He hated working out with a passion, especially the goddamn sit-ups, but was infinitely vain. In his six years with Duke, Mikey had never known him to cancel a single session.
"You still need to do some more work on your abs, you know," Mikey chided as he watched the old man untie his sneakers and head toward the shower.
"Yeah, and you still need to do some more work on your fucking wardrobe, man. Not to mention your hair." Duke held up his hands in mock exasperation. "I'm telling you, buddy, you look like Cher with a three-day shadow. Get a fuckinghaircut!"
Mikey laughed and turned down the blare of Mick Jagger on the record player. Duke loved his Stones.
It was a long time since the trainer had seen him in such a chipper mood. Evidently the new girlfriend was working wonders. He knew he shouldn't really like Duke, but he couldn't help it. Sure, the old man was a bastard. An addictive womanizer, he treated his poor wife, Minnie, like dirt and was so right-wing-anti-gay, anti-women, anti-blacks, anti-taxes-it was totally outrageous. But he also had this incredible energy, a lust for life that seemed to draw people to him. Mikey had a lot of wealthy, famous clients-although none quite as wealthy or famous as Duke McMahon-and none of them could touch him for raw charisma.
Emerging dripping and naked from the shower, Duke strode over to the window and looked out at the California sunshine. He'd had the gym built on the first floor of his sprawling hacienda in Hancock Park, a pale pink Spanish architectural masterpiece known to the busloads of tourists who hung around outside the gates simply as the McMahon estate. Although the estate itself had been built in the twenties, when Hancock Park was first starting to become popular with the swelling ranks of movie actors and musicians who had moved west to find fame and fortune, the interior was a bizarre milange of modern and traditional styles.
Minnie, Duke's long-suffering wife, had impeccable if rather conservative taste, and many of the public rooms reflected her refined and understated influence. In striking contrast, Duke's unashamed vulgarity and love affair with all things modern had led to some gruesome decor decisions, of which the gym was only one: The state-of-the-art music center, complete with eight-track tape deck and stereo speakers, was housed in an immense velvet-lined teak cabinet. A central workout square of polished wood was surrounded by a sea of cream shag carpeting, fitted wall to wall beneath the ubiquitous mirrors, and a disco ball hung in pride of place from the vaulted ceiling.
"For the love of God, Duke, would you put some clothes on?" Seamus, Duke's oldest childhood friend and now his right-hand man-a sort of hybrid manservant, PA, and business manager-had stuck his flushed, permanently jovial face around the door, giving a brief nod of acknowledgment to the trainer. "You have a meeting at eleven, you know? I know the dress code is casual in Hollywood, but I'm sure John McGuire would appreciate a pair of underpants at least."
Duke looked over his shoulder at his old pal and grinned. They were almost exact contemporaries, but Seamus looked nearly old enough to be his father. His hairline had receded so far that he appeared completely bald from the front, and a lifelong penchant for "the odd dram," as he put it, had contributed to both his florid complexion and his spreading waistline. In anyone else Duke would have been scathing of such a lack of self-control, but he'd always considered Seamus a special case. Having battled his way through the vipers' nest of scheming agents and unscrupulous studios in Hollywood, Duke knew just how rare loyalty and genuine friendship were. Seamus was a gem.
"Go fuck yourself, wouldya?" he replied good-naturedly, scratching his balls for added effect. "I'm trying to enjoy the view here."
And quite a view it was. Immaculately manicured lawns rolled down the hill away from the house as far as the eye could see. An Olympic-size pool flashed and shimmered in the morning sunshine, surrounded by a haphazard collection of orange and lemon trees, all groaning with fruit. Tiny hummingbirds, their brilliant streaks of color clashing with the unbroken blue of the sky, flitted from flower to flower, enjoying the sunshine. It was hard to imagine that such a Garden of Eden could be completely man-made; that without ceaseless irrigation, planting, and tending, the whole of Hancock Park would have been nothing more than a lifeless desert. But then that was precisely what Duke loved about L.A. It was a place where you could turn a patch of dirt into paradise, if you worked hard and wanted it badly enough.
Any one of the legions of Mexican gardeners and handymen on the lawns below could have glanced up and seen the master of the house stark naked, surveying his kingdom from the window, as they had on so many mornings before. Duke didn't care. It was his house. He had worked for every square inch of it, and he could shit on the fucking floor if he wanted to. Besides, he liked being naked in front of the staff, because it drove Minnie insane with embarrassment. Humiliating his wife was one of Duke's greatest and most enduring pleasures.
"Eleven o'clock." Seamus raised a reprimanding finger in the general direction of Duke's naked rear view before scurrying off to prepare the paperwork for the day's meetings.
"Look at that, man." Duke made a sweeping gesture through the window for Mikey's benefit, once Seamus had gone. "What a terrific day!"
"We're in California, Duke. Every day's a beautiful day." The trainer zipped up his sports bag and leaned back against the mirrored wall. He wasn't in any rush to leave. His next client was a hopelessly overweight Beverly Hills widow who couldn't seem to get enough of his brown velour jogging suit and shoulder-length hair. Chewing the fat with Duke was a whole lot more fun. "So what's put you in such a great mood all of a sudden? This wouldn't have anything to do with ... is it Catherine? What's her name, your new girlfriend?"
"Mistress, my new mistress." Duke grinned. "I'm a hell of a lot too old for a 'girlfriend.'" To Mikey's relief, he pulled on a pair of white linen golfing trousers and sat down on a bench, warming to his theme. "A girlfriend is someone you hold hands with, maybe go to the pictures. One day, if you find you really like her, then maybe you marry her and she becomes your wife. That's a girlfriend. Now, a mistress-a mistress is something totally different." He paused for dramatic effect, a slow smile spreading across his predatory hawklike features. "A mistress is basically pussy that you own."
"Jesus Christ!" Mikey exploded into laughter, genuinely shocked. "You can't say things like that! Nobody owns nobody else, Duke."
"Ah, kid." Duke shook his head. "How little you know."
Standing up to admire his chosen outfit-white pants, white patent-leather shoes, and a tight chocolate-brown turtleneck that was far too warm for the California climate but that accentuated his chest and biceps-he put an affectionate, paternal arm around his trainer. How come he could never talk like this to his own son, Pete? The boy was always so fucking uptight, a stuck-up little prig like his mother. Duke used to say that Pete Jr. was a replica of Minnie, only with balls-but these days he wasn't too sure whether his son even had that distinction.
"Anyway, in answer to your question, yes, my mood probably does owe just a little something to Caroline."
"Sorry, yeah, Caroline, you told me."
Duke was beaming like a drunk in a liquor store. This must be quite some girl. As if reading his mind, the old man continued. "Not only is she a world-class fuck"-Duke noticed Mikey fighting to stifle a blush-"seriously, man, you should see her, she is the sluttiest little whore but she speaks like the fucking queen. If you haven't screwed an English girl, I'm telling you, you gotta try it."
"I'll bear that in mind," said Mikey. "Thanks."
"But the best part is," Duke looked at him triumphantly, "she's agreed to move in with me. Permanently. As of today."
Had Mikey missed something here? "What do you mean she's moving in with you?" He knew it was rude to piss on Duke's picnic when he was so patently over the moon. But how could Caroline possibly be moving in? "What about Minnie? Did you guys, like, separate or get a divorce or something? How come I never heard about this?"
"Nope." Duke cracked his knuckles and smiled broadly. He was evidently lapping up the younger man's discomfiture. "No separation, no divorce. I just told her. This is my house, and I want Caroline to live here. Minnie'll do what she's told if she wants to remain a part of this family."
Mikey winced. Duke's brutality never ceased to shock him, especially where poor Mrs. McMahon was concerned. He couldn't understand why on earth she tolerated it. Still, even by Duke's standards, this was a bit extreme, moving the girlfriend into the estate right under her nose. He imagined Peter wasn't going to be too pleased either.
"We're having a welcome dinner tonight at eight," continued Duke, unfazed. "It's just family: Caroline and me, Laurie, Pete and his wife ... and my wife, of course," he sneered sadistically. "But you're more than welcome to join us if you'd like. I'll have Minnie set an extra place."
Jesus Christ, so Minnie was expected to play hostess at this charade? Suddenly Mikey felt awkward, guilty. He didn't want to be a party to any of this. "I can't," he said, blushing. "I'm really sorry, but I can't."
For all his charm, Duke obviously had a huge hole right where any sense of morality or basic human compassion should be. And when you looked right into that hole, it was black. Frankly, it scared the shit out of Mikey.
Sensing the old man's disappointment, he shrugged apologetically, attempting to lighten the atmosphere. "Dinner with my girlfriend, you know?"
"Sure. Of course," said Duke with a mirthless smile that reminded Mikey of the wolf grinning at Little Red Riding Hood. All of a sudden the room seemed to become terribly cold. "It's not a problem, kid, really," said Duke, heading for the door. "I understand."
Sitting at her dressing table in the east wing of the house, Minnie fastened the clasp of her pearls with a steady hand. The sweet scent of the cyclamen creepers that grew around her dressing-room window never failed to relax her. She took a deep, calming gulp of the warm morning air and sighed.
Minnie adored her dressing room, her small, private sanctuary filled with the beloved and familiar reminders of a former life: Her father's antique English writing table now served as her bureau, and the richly faded Persian rug on the floor had once been the nursery rug back home in Connecticut, on which she and her brother, Austin, had crawled and squabbled and built elaborate cities out of blocks. Lavish vases of flowers covered every available surface, and a slightly battered but charming old bookcase beside the door was filled with books, not only collected but read by generations of Millers. Some had belonged to her great-great-grandfather and Minnie loved simply to hold them, stroking the spines and thinking of all of her ancestors who had held them and read them before her.
Thirty years in Los Angeles had done nothing to diminish her homesickness for the East Coast. But through her flair for interior design-Minnie had that rare ability to turn a house into a home without diminishing its elegance, with a style that combined traditional conservatism with real warmth-she had created a miniature East Coast oasis inside the estate, which had become a huge comfort to her in her frequent times of trouble.
Having arranged her pearls carefully in the mirror, she picked up the silver-backed clothes brush on the dresser and swept a few stubborn strands of lint from her skirt. Today would be a difficult day. But as her mother had always taught her, a lady never loses her composure, no matter how trying the circumstance. Whatever it took, she must maintain her dignity, draw it like a shield around her in the face of this ... this ... unfortunate event.
Ten years younger than Duke, at fifty-four Minnie had embraced middle age as enthusiastically as her husband had fought to keep it at bay. She looked like his mother. That is to say, she dressed like his mother. Or like his mother would have dressed had she come from an old-money Greenwich family like Minnie's (rather than an impoverished New York Irish tribe of manual laborers and petty thieves). Her daily uniform had barely altered since she and Duke first married over thirty years ago. A khaki linen skirt to the knee, crisp white shirt with jauntily upturned collar, tan panty hose (no matter how stiflingly hot the weather, a lady never went bare-legged), slightly heeled round-toed pumps, and, of course, her grandmother's pearls.
Thanks to a rigorous, no-nonsense daily beauty routine consisting of soap, water, and a good dollop of cold cream at night, her handsome patrician face was not excessively lined. The years of suffering she had endured through the latter stages of her marriage to Duke had etched themselves only faintly around the eyes, where other, happier women had laughter lines.
Still, Minnie reminded herself grimly, she had a lot to be thankful for. Life as the wife of the world's most famous movie star had brought a lot of material comforts, which had certainly dulled the pain of some of her other marital disappointments. And of course, she had her children. Sweet, reliable Laurie, and her beloved son, Pete, still lived on the Hancock Park estate, and along with Pete's young wife, Claire, they provided a daily buffer of emotional support against Duke's increasingly open hatred of her.
Her husband might be insisting on moving his cheap little tart into their home. But, by God, if he thought he was going to drive her out with his vindictive little games, her or the children, he had another think coming.
"Mother? Oh, Mother, there you are."
Laurie's forlorn face peered around the doorway. At twenty-eight, Duke and Minnie's younger child had already adopted the appearance of a confirmed spinster. Her full gypsy skirt and loose shapeless Moroccan blouse did nothing to conceal the rolls of fat acquired through decades of comfort eating. With her greasy brown hair scraped back into a severe ponytail and her face bare of makeup, it was almost impossible to believe this timid, trembling mouse of a girl could be the natural child of such fine-featured parents. This morning her appearance was further hampered by a bright red shiny nose and eyes dreadfully swollen from crying.
"Well, of course I'm here," said Minnie, her voice bright and businesslike. "Where else would I be? We have an awful lot to do today for the dinner, and I'm going to need your help, Laurie-Loo, with the flowers."
For the last week, Caroline's arrival had been referred to simply as "the dinner." No one could bring themselves to utter her name.
"Oh, Mother!" Laurie's swollen, twitching face finally gave way, and she crumpled into full-throated, childish sobs. "How can you be so calm about it? I mean, how could Daddy do this to you, to all of us?"
"For the good Lord's sake, Laurie, pull yourself together," said Minnie. If there was one thing she would not tolerate, it was giving in to one's emotions. It really was disgracefully undignified. "It's a difficult time for all of us, but we have nothing to be ashamed of, and certainly no reason to cry."
She handed her daughter a white monogrammed handkerchief and patted the chair beside her. The rosewood creaked as Laurie eased her sniveling bulk into it. Minnie wished her daughter would show just a bit more self-discipline when it came to food, but she smiled at her kindly and tried not to show it. "Really, darling, you mustn't cry." She patted Laurie's head ineffectually, as if she were an obedient dog. "Believe me, your father will tire of this young woman soon enough. Just as he has with all the others."
Excerpted from Adored by Tilly Bagshawe Copyright © 2006 by Tilly Bagshawe. Excerpted by permission.
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