Lovers and Players

( 107 )

Overview

Dangerous sex, family secrets, irresistible power, mega money, and two murders equal one reckless week in New York

In Lovers & Players, the Diamond family rules. Red Diamond is an abusive and much-loathed billionaire. His three sons, Max, Chris, and Jett, are summoned to New York for a family meeting which rocks their world.

Diahann, a beautiful black ex-singer, works as Red's housekeeper—a job her daughter, Liberty, does not approve of. A...

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Overview

Dangerous sex, family secrets, irresistible power, mega money, and two murders equal one reckless week in New York

In Lovers & Players, the Diamond family rules. Red Diamond is an abusive and much-loathed billionaire. His three sons, Max, Chris, and Jett, are summoned to New York for a family meeting which rocks their world.

Diahann, a beautiful black ex-singer, works as Red's housekeeper—a job her daughter, Liberty, does not approve of. A waitress and would-be singer herself, Liberty has dreams of her own and while she pursues them, Damon P. Donnell, married hip-hop mogul supreme, pursues her.

Young New York heiress Amy Scott-Simon is engaged to marry Max. At her bachelorette party she runs into Jett. Jett has no idea who Amy is. She also doesn't realize who he is. A one-night fling leads to major complications.

Now the lives of these characters will intertwine, forever changing their destinies, in this highly charged love story about family relationships and deadly choices.

"A decadent concoction sure to appeal…a fast lane take on the lives of the rich and fabulous."

-Kirkus Reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
The use of four narrators adds energy, interest and spice to Collins's tale of the glamorous and tawdry lives of the rich and beautiful. Each narrator handles chapters told primarily from his or her assigned characters' point of view. Rather than create full-fledged "character voices," the narrators alter their voices slightly-a deepening here, a hint of an accent there-to make it clear who is speaking. Collins is perfectly cast as Lady Jane, the haughty social climber "with a phony English accent" whose wealthy husband, Red Diamond, refuses to conveniently die and leave her all his money. Sydney Poitier, daughter of the acclaimed actor, is warm and sympathetic in the roles of sweet and conflicted young socialite Amy Scott-Simon and Liberty, a biracial waitress/aspiring singer. Poitier deepens her voice to a sexy drawl to play record mogul Damon P. Donnell and adds some Harlem sass for Cindy, Liberty's cousin. Jack Scalia plays the conniving Red and his gravelly voice is ideally suited to enacting Red's eldest son, real estate mogul Max. Scott Sowers's higher, thinner voice does duty for Red's two younger sons. This lively audio is pure trashy fun that will surely delight Collins's many fans. Simultaneous release with the St. Martin's Press hardcover (Reviews, Nov. 28, 2005). (Feb.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
This novel marks the St. Martin's debut of best-selling author Collins (Hollywood Divorces), but her fans will be happy to discover that she has not changed her style. Red Diamond is a nasty billionaire media mogul who still revels in tormenting his three grown sons: Max, a real estate tycoon engaged to a young and innocent heiress and having serious problems with his Russian ex-wife; Chris, an entertainment lawyer to the stars who is trying to pay back a major gambling debt; and Jett, a model and former alcoholic drug user who falls in love with the wrong woman. When Red summons them to a family meeting, they are less than thrilled but obliged to attend-maybe he's terminally ill and softening up in his old age? Nah! This is a terrific soap opera chock-full of family conflicts, money, and sex with a little revenge and murder added for good measure. Despite the sometimes predictable plot (it won't take readers long to figure out how the waitress/singer trying to become the next Mariah Carey fits into the big picture), Collins manages to throw in a few surprises. Recommended for all public libraries. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 10/15/05.]-Samantha J. Gust, Niagara Univ. Lib., NY Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Depraved billionaire summons his three estranged sons to New York for a surprise announcement in Collins's (Hollywood Divorces, 2003, etc.) latest. Red Diamond is some piece of work, as his grown sons, Max, Chris and Jett, can attest. Red has had little to do with his sons until now, and the brothers wonder what exactly the bullying codger is after when he orders them to his luxe Manhattan brownstone for a sudden family meeting. Is he mellowing in his old age? Hardly. Far from being proud of his boys, Red, when not popping Viagra and cavorting with call girls, is continually finding ways to undermine them. Struggling with their own baggage, it's remarkable that the three have managed to make their way in the world at all: Max is a real-estate developer with an adorable little daughter, and a gold-digging Russian ex wife; Chris is a playboy LA entertainment lawyer who owes too much money to a Vegas gangster; and the youngest, Jett, is a male model (and recovering addict) living in Milan with a supermodel. It is Jett who, soon after arriving in New York, complicates the brothers' relationship by falling hard for Max's virginal fiance Amy during her bachelorette party. Max has an even bigger problem to contend with when his shady ex ends up murdered, making him one of several suspects. Meanwhile, Red's long-suffering black housekeeper Diahann is keeping a secret of her own from her stunning, light-skinned 19-year-old daughter Liberty. An aspiring R&B singer, Liberty catches the eye of the powerful rap mogul Damon, who appreciates the girl's talent and beauty, but is already married. Add to the mix the Russian mob, lots of sex and the promise of true love, and you have a decadent concoctionsure to appeal to the author's longtime fans. Just don't expect many plausible events in this fast-lane take on the lives of the rich and fabulous. Wicked fun, but lacking a heroine complex enough to root for. First printing of 350,000; $500,000 ad/promo
From the Publisher
“Take one vindictive aging tycoon and three charismatic, ambitious sons; add one naïve heiress, one aspiring R&B diva, one British (titled, natch) lady of the house; throw in a dash of Russian mafia, kinky sex and a pinch of rap mogul, fabulous locations and a sprinkling of murders, and you have the ingredients for a fast-paced, glamour-heavy Collins extravaganza…the ever-stylin’ Collins manages to tie the scattered plot lines together into another page-turning tale packed with intrigue, revenge and romance for her St. Martin’s debut.”–Publishers Weekly

“Vintage Collins here: Sex, love, betrayal, and deception. Her fans will certainly enjoy.”

Booklist

“Power, money and sex in the lives of America’s beautiful people…bartender, pour us a dirty martini and keep them coming. This is vintage Jackie Collins and we’ll be here ‘til closing.”

Heat magazine (UK)

“Escapism doesn’t come racier than Jackie Collins.”–YOU magazine (UK)

“[Collins] seems to know every Hollywood player and just where to find their dirty laundry basket. She is a consummate observer, an outsider with an insider’s knowledge. That’s her signature trick. She is at once both intimate and detached.”–Daily Mail (UK)

“Jackie at her very best. The plot has more twists and turns than Sunset Boulevard and is faster than a Ferrari on a Los Angeles freeway. Her style is pure escapism, her heroines strong and ambitious, and her men, well, like the book they’ll keep you up all night. In her novels Jackie’s taught women how to get their man, keep him, get to the top, and stay there.”

Company magazine (UK)

“A smorgasbord of love, sex, power, and money.”–Elle magazine (UK)

“Settle down with Jett, Chris and Max, whose overnight stands, debts, and divorces make sizzling reading.”–Sunday Express (UK)

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780312937089
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • Publication date: 8/29/2006
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 560
  • Sales rank: 260,762
  • Product dimensions: 6.60 (w) x 11.26 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Jackie Collins

JACKIE COLLINS is one of the world's top-selling writers, with more than four hundred million copies of her books sold in more than forty countries. Her twenty-three bestselling novels have never been out of print. She lives in Beverly Hills, California.

Biography

Louis Malle may have branded Jackie Collins a "raunchy moralist," but it wasn't her sense of ethical propriety that had her in a snit when Kenneth Starr dutifully reported to the nation the details of the pseudo-coupling between Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky. It was her literary pride. "Everybody said that the Monica Lewinsky stuff in the Starr report was like a Jackie Collins book," she told the Chicago Tribune in 2001, "but if I'd written it, the sex would have been better."

Unquestionably. Jacqueline Susann may be the Emily Bronte of the naughty bits, but Collins is surely Charlotte, having filled her books to the rim with skin since her first novel The World Is Full of Married Men appeared in 1968. Since then, there has been a string of sexy Hollywood moguls, sexy models, sexy wives of Hollywood moguls, sexy divorcées and sexy children of Hollywood moguls in such titles as Chances, Lucky and Throb as well as The Bitch and The Stud (both made into movies starring big sister Joan).

The critics, when they take notice at all, tend to sniff. ("While no one expects Lady Boss to be a literary banquet, certainly a yummy little snack is in order" is about the best to expect from The New York Times.) But those who can look past the satin sheets and champagne flutes see more going on in the Collins canon. Hers is a dissection of the vacuous, viperish entertainment class hiding behind designer sunglasses in Los Angeles. Vanity Fair called her "Hollywood's own Marcel Proust.” The Advocate hinted that she might be the Charles Dickens of Beverly Hills. And Joe Queenan, a Hollywood player himself, said Collins's 1993 novel American Star was nothing less than a lament of the American family's demise.

"It would be easy to self-righteously label this book trashy and worthless -- but it's not entirely either," the Detroit News wrote in a review of Collins's 1983 novel Hollywood Wives. "Jackie Collins has a talent for titillation and a knack for wooing the most reluctant of readers into a plot that spends 15 percent of the time peeking at people in the sack and the other 85 percent daydreaming about it. Deliberately or not, she speaks eloquently of emptiness through the lives of people who would seem to have everything: French poodles, Mexican maids, American Express."

And Judy Bass wrote in the Los Angeles Times that Collins's gimlet eye for detail is what makes her novels such a gas: "Collins caricatures the life styles of the rich and famous with devastating accuracy. She spoofs every nuance of their attire, speech and relationships, never allowing tedium or predictability to dilute the reader's fun."

There are a number of recurring characters in Collins's books, though none better known than Lucky Santangelo, the sexy (natch) film studio owner who has appeared in Lucky, Lady Boss, Vendetta: Lucky's Revenge and Dangerous Kiss. The Lucky series bring together all the required ingredients of a Collins cocktail: the rich and famous, the shifty Hollywood shenanigans, scheming opportunists and a bug-on-the-wall vantage point of every -- or every other -- bedroom in the 90210 zip code.

Time once wrote of a Collins novel that it allowed the reader the rare opportunity to watch adverbs mate. Of course. There's a high art to the lowbrow. The Village Voice, writing in 2000, understood that: "The beauty of the trashy novel is twofold: It's a lightning-quick read, and you can howl in smug superiority as you turn the pages. Lethal Seduction, the latest from well-appointed and leopard-print-swathed Queen of Trash Jackie Collins, is a prime example of page-turning, literary-hauteur-stoking fun."

But it might have been People, reviewing Vendetta: Lucky's Revenge, that most succinctly summed up the contradictory seductiveness of the Jackie Collins novel: "embarrassing to pick up, impossible to put down."

Good To Know

Collins makes a mean meatloaf. "It's the herbs and spices," she told Biography magazine, "and my essence."

Collins spends about a year writing each novel, and does so entirely in longhand.

She eschews the stodgy demands of grammar. "I don't basically understand grammar," she is quoted as saying in Contemporary Popular Writers. "I call myself a street writer. I write purely by instinct. I've decided people don't speak in grammatical conversations.... The important thing is I get people into the bookstores who probably wouldn't be there otherwise."

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    1. Also Known As:
      Jacqueline Jill Collins (full name)
    2. Hometown:
      Los Angeles, California
    1. Date of Birth:
      October 4, 1941
    2. Place of Birth:
      London, England

Read an Excerpt

Lovers & Players

1

"What's your name, dear?" the bald man with an abundance of hair sprouting from his ears inquired.

"Liberty," the young waitress replied.

"What's that?" he said, peering at her.

"Liberty," she repeated. It's written on my name tag, asshole. Can't you see it?

"What kind of name—"

Oh, puleeze! You got any idea how many times I've had to go through this conversation? Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin named their baby Apple. Courteney Cox and David Arquette, Coco. What's so unusual about Liberty?

Ignoring him, she refilled the bald man's coffee cup and walked away. Moron! she thought. Like who does he think he is, commenting on my name? It's none of his freakin' business. When I'm a famous singer/songwriter I won't question people's names. I'll be understanding and polite. I'll get it.

She hurried behind the counter, still steaming. "I'm so not down with this waitressin' crap," she complained to her cousin Cindi, who'd gotten her the job in the Madison Avenue coffee shop and like her was an aspiring singer.

"Never forget it pays the bills, girl," said Cindi, a buxom twenty-three-year-old originally from Atlanta, with gleaming black skin, thick ankles, an ample ass, huge breasts, and a wide, inviting smile.

"Singin' should pay the bills," Liberty said forcefully. "That's what we do."

"When we score a gig, that's what we do," Cindi pointed out. "So while we're waitin' ..."

"I know, I know," Liberty said, frowning. "Gotta make a living. Gotta pay the rent."

The furrowing of her brow did not affect her startling beauty. Biracial, the product of a black mother and what she assumed was a mixed father—a man her mother refused to talk about, let alone reveal his identity—Liberty was milk chocolate-skinned, with lustrous long black hair, elongated green eyes, thick brows, impossibly long lashes, cut-glass cheekbones, full lips, a pointed chin, and a straight nose. Cindi was always carrying on about how Liberty looked like Halle Berry, which kind of irritated her, because she considered herself an original and did not care to be compared to anyone—however gorgeous and successful they might be.

Liberty was nineteen. She had plenty of time.

Or did she?

Sometimes she awoke in the middle of the night in a cold sweat, her heart thumping. What if she never got discovered? What if nobody listened to her songs or heard her sing? What if she ended up like her mom, a failed singer cleaning other people's mess all day?

Man, she was almost twenty, she'd been out of school four years, and nothing big had happened for her. Oh sure, she'd made an amateur demo tape, scored a few gigs as a backup singer, but not as many as she'd like. And no producer had stepped forward and said, "Honey, you're it! I'm signing you to a contract here and now. You'll be the next Alicia Keys or Norah Jones. All you gotta do is name it."

Where the hell were Clive Davis and Diddy when she needed them?

"Miss!" A sharp voice brought Liberty back to reality as an irate female customer attempted to attract her attention.

She sauntered over. At least she had attitude; nobody could take that away from her. "Yes?" she said.

"Do you know how long I've been waiting?" the woman demanded in a high-pitched voice. "Where are my eggs?"Sharp-featured, the woman was wearing a knockoff Armani suit and clutching a fake Louis Vuitton purse on her lap.

No style, Liberty thought. If you can't afford the real thing, then you may as well forget it.

The man with the woman had nothing to say. Apparently his eggs were not such an urgent matter.

"I'm sorry," Liberty said in an "I couldn't give a rat's ass" voice. "I'm not your table person."

She refused to say "waitress"—she found it to be demeaning—especially to this cow.

"Well, get me my 'table person,'" the woman said in a sneering voice. "I've been sitting here for fifteen minutes."

"Sure," Liberty drawled.

For a moment their eyes met. The woman hated her because she was beautiful. It happened all the time.

They wouldn't hate her if she was Beyoncé Knowles or Janet Jackson; they'd be fawning all over her the way people did with stars.

Once Mariah Carey had come into the coffee shop with a full entourage in attendance and two massive black bodyguards who'd never left her side. People had freaked. Paparazzi had gathered outside, and within ten minutes a huge crowd had formed—almost breaking the plate-glass windows.

The owner of the shop, Manny Goldberg, had begun to panic, until his wife, Golda, decided it would be prudent to escort Miss Carey and her group into the kitchen, where the star graciously sipped a cup of green tea, signed autographs, and chatted amicably with the two Hispanic chefs.

Liberty had thought about approaching her but in the end chickened out. Cindi hadn't. Cindi had gotten the diva's signature on a paper napkin, which she'd stashed in her underwear drawer along with various packets of condoms in all colors and sizes. Cindi was into being prepared.

"Rude little bitch!" Liberty heard the woman mutter to her male companion as she walked away from the table. "Who does she think she is?"

Liberty was not bothered, she'd been called worse.

She was just about to go into the back when she spotted Mr. Hip-Hop himself walking in.

She held her breath for a few seconds; this was the third time he'd been in this week. He always sat at one of her tables and left a massive tip, although he never spoke to her other than giving her his order.

Today he was with another man, a white man who seemed to be all business. They were talking animatedly, with a lot of arm waving going on.

She knew who he was. Damon P. Donnell, hip-hop mogul supreme, head of Donnell Records. His new offices were less than a block away, and he'd obviously picked the coffee shop as his breakfast stop-off.

She knew other things about him. He was thirty-six, dark skinned, with cropped hair and a killer smile. He usually wore tinted designer shades, a diamond stud earring, Nike running shoes, and a cool suit with a silk T-shirt underneath. He was known for encouraging new talent—although almost all of his label consisted of male rap artists. He'd once been a performer himself but had given it up except for the occasional charity event. He was married. Damn! No chance of getting him that way, because Liberty drew the line at playing with married men. His wife was an Indian princess from Bombay and a consummate consumer. The two of them lived in a sixty-sixth-floor sprawling West Side penthouse with panoramic views of the city, and according to Vibe, his wife had converted three bedrooms into her own personal closet. They'd been married two years and had no children.

The first time Liberty had seen him she'd had no idea who he was. "I think I'm in lust!" she'd muttered to Cindi. "That dude is the bomb!"

Cindi, who was up on everything showbiz, soon filled her in. Cindi devoured Essence, Rolling Stone, People, Us, Star, and The National Enquirer. She watched Access, ET, Extra, and E! every single day. "That dude is famous, married, rich, an' way outta your reach," Cindi had informed her. "Forget it, girl, 'cause this big boy ain't lookin'."

Sometimes Cindi got on her case a little too much. Herpayback was an attempt to never mention him again, not an easy task.

Just as she was about to go over to his table, Cindi materialized and gave her a knowing nudge. "Mr. Wonderman's back—again. Mebbe I was kickin' it wrong, little cous', could be you do have a shot. If I was you, I'd go for it."

"The knockoff queen at table four is screaming for her eggs," Liberty said, ignoring any mention of Damon. "You'd better get over there before the cow throws a shit fit."

"I'm on it," Cindi said, totally unconcerned. "Think I forgot to order 'em. Ain't that a shame!"

Liberty approached Damon's table.

He didn't look up. "Coffee," he said, studying the menu as if he'd never seen it before. "Large O.J. Egg-white omelette, bacon on the side."

"I'll have the same," said his friend or business associate or whoever the other man was.

She hesitated a moment, willing Damon to at least give her a quick glance. He didn't, but the other guy was sure giving her a thorough going-over with his beady little eyes.

"Certainly, Mr. Donnell," she said, making him aware that she knew who he was. "Coffee and O.J. on the way. Omelette and bacon to follow. Crispy, right?"

Finally he looked up, taking her in, his eyes—visible through his tinted shades—resting on the hand-written name tag above her right breast. But still he didn't say a word, merely gave her an imperceptible nod.

She moved off to get them both coffee. And maybe her demo CD?

No! Too soon. I've got to develop a relationship. Like a cool waitress-customer kind of thing.

Oh yeah, now you can use the word "waitress."

That's because he's not some whiny white woman who thinks she's better than me.

"Waitress!" screamed the woman in the knockoff Armani. "I'm getting nowhere here. Where are my eggs?"

She was tempted to say, "Stuffed up your dried-up old snatch where nobody's gonna find 'em."

But she didn't, because Manny and Golda wouldn't approve and, as bosses go, they were decent people and she didn't want to get fired. Besides, she needed the job; so did Cindi. As usual they were late on the rent, and bills were mounting. It was hard keeping up; they could never seem to get ahead.

Before working in the coffee shop Liberty had tried a variety of jobs. All horrible. Being a waitress was the best of the bunch, although it was murder on her feet. Usually she took the day shift, leaving her evenings free to write songs and hang with her musician friends, including her current boyfriend, Kev, a guitar player. She'd been seeing Kev for a few months—he was a nice guy—but nothing serious. She didn't believe in serious, not before she'd forged a career.

"They're on their way," she yelled across the room at the hateful woman.

"I should think so!" the woman huffed, raising her painted-on eyebrows to let everyone know how pissed off she was.

"Excuse me, Liberty," said an older regular customer sitting by himself at a corner table. "Might I get a refill?"

This one never gave her any trouble and always tipped well.

She flashed him a smile and her most used words: "Coming right up."

Grabbing a pot of freshly brewed coffee from behind the counter, she filled the man's cup, and headed for Damon's table. Only before she could get there, a young boy playing with a toy car scooted it in front of her, and bam, she tripped over the toy, taking a fall—coffeepot smashing to the ground, hot liquid burning her arm, while her right ankle twisted beneath her.

Silence descended while everybody turned to stare at the crash site. After a few seconds, conversation resumed, and she was left sprawled on the floor looking and feeling like a clumsy idiot.

For a few seconds she didn't know what to do; then she heard the horrible female customer laugh in a rude fashion. Quickly Liberty got herself together, even though her armwas burning from the scalding liquid and, when she tried to stand, her ankle gave way under her.

Fortunately Cindi and Mr. Regular Customer came to her aid. The older man helped her to a chair, while Cindi began cleaning up the broken glass and spilled coffee.

"Are you all right?" Mr. Regular Customer asked, genuinely concerned.

She nodded tearfully and shot a look across the shop to see if Damon was watching.

He wasn't. He was carrying on talking, gesticulating wildly, his diamond stud earring flashing against the fluorescent lights.

She suppressed the urge to cry in earnest. Her arm was on fire, her ankle throbbed, and Damon P. Donnell hadn't even acknowledged her existence. Was anything ever going to go right for her?

Man, she needed a break and she needed it desperately.

Copyright © 2006 by Chances, Inc.

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First Chapter

Chapter One

"What's your name, dear?" the bald man with an abundance of hair sprouting from his ears inquired.

"Liberty," the young waitress replied.

"What's that?" he said, peering at her.

"Liberty," she repeated. It's written on my nametag, asshole. Can't you see it?

"What kind of name---"

Oh, puleeze! You got any idea how many times I've had to go through this conversation? Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Marlin named their baby Apple. Courteney Cox and David Arquette, Coco. What's so unusual about Liberty?

Ignoring him, she refilled the bald man's coffee cup and walked away. Moron! she thought. Like who does he think he is, commenting on my name? It's none of his freakin' business. When I'm a famous singer/songwriter I won't question people's names. I'll be understanding and polite. I'll get it.

She hurried behind the counter, still steaming. "I'm so not down with this waitressin' crap," she complained to her cousin Cindi, who'd gotten her the job in the Madison Avenue coffee shop and like her was an aspiring singer.

"Never forget it pays the bills, girl," said Cindi, a buxom twenty-three-year-old originally from Atlanta, with gleaming black skin, thick ankles, an ample ass, huge breasts, and a wide, inviting smile.

"Singin' should pay the bills," Liberty said forcefully. "That's what we do."

"When we score a gig that's what we do," Cindi pointed out. "So while we're waitin'..."

"I know, I know," Liberty said, frowning. "Gotta make a living. Gotta pay the rent."

The furrowing of her brow did not affect her startling beauty. Bi-racial, the product of a black mother and what she assumed was amixed father---a man her mother refused to talk about, let alone reveal his identity---Liberty was milk chocolate skinned, with lustrous long black hair, elongated green eyes, thick brows, impossibly long lashes, cut-glass cheekbones, full lips, a pointed chin, and a straight nose. Cindi was always carrying on about how Liberty looked like Halle Berry, which kind of irritated her, because she considered herself an original and did not care to be compared to anyone---however gorgeous and successful they might be.

Liberty was nineteen. She had plenty of time.

Or did she?

Sometimes she awoke in the middle of the night in a cold sweat, her heart thumping. What if she never got discovered? What if nobody listened to her songs or heard her sing? What if she ended up like her mom, a failed singer cleaning other people's mess all day?

Man, she was almost twenty, she'd been out of school four years, and nothing big had happened for her. Oh sure, she'd made an amateur demo tape, scored a few gigs as a back-up singer, but not as many as she'd like. And no producer had stepped forward and said, "Honey, you're it! I'm signing you to a contract here and now. You'll be the next Alicia Keys or Norah Jones. All you gotta do is name it."

Where the hell were Clive Davis and Diddy when she needed them?

"Miss!" A sharp female voice brought Liberty back to reality as an irate female customer attempted to attract her attention.

She sauntered over. At least she had attitude; nobody could take that away from her. "Yes?" she said.

"Do you know how long I've been waiting?" the woman demanded in a high-pitched voice. "Where are my eggs?" Sharp-featured, the woman was wearing a knockoff Armani suit and clutching a fake Louis Vuitton purse on her lap.

No style, Liberty thought. If you can't afford the real thing, then you may as well forget it.

The man with the woman had nothing to say. Apparently his eggs were not such an urgent matter.

"I'm sorry," Liberty said in an "I couldn't give a rat's ass" voice. "I'm not your table person."

She refused to say "waitress"---she found it to be demeaning---especially to this cow.

"Well, get me my ‘table person,'" the woman said in a sneering voice. "I've been sitting here for fifteen minutes."

"Sure," Liberty drawled.

For a moment their eyes met. The woman hated her because she was beautiful. It happened all the time.

They wouldn't hate her if she was Beyonce Knowles or Janet Jackson; they'd be fawning all over her the way people did with stars.

Once Mariah Carey had come into the coffee shop with full entourage in attendance and two massive black bodyguards who'd never left her side. People had freaked. Paparazzi had gathered outside, and within ten minutes a huge crowd had formed---almost breaking the plate-glass windows.

The owner of the shop, Manny Goldberg, had begun to panic, until his wife, Golda, decided it would be prudent to escort Miss Carey and her group into the kitchen, where the star graciously sipped a cup of green tea, signed autographs, and chatted amicably with the two Hispanic chefs.

Liberty had thought about approaching her but in the end chickened out. Cindi hadn't. Cindi had gotten the diva's signature on a paper napkin, which she'd stashed in her underwear drawer along with various packets of condoms in all colors and sizes. Cindi was into being prepared.

"Rude little bitch!" Liberty heard the woman mutter to her male companion as she walked away from the table. "Who does she think she is?"

Liberty was not bothered, she'd been called worse.

She was just about to go into the back when she spotted Mr. Hip-Hop himself walking in.

She held her breath for a few seconds; this was the third time he'd been in this week. He always sat at one of her tables and left a massive tip, although he never spoke to her other than giving her his order.

Today he was with another man, a white man who seemed to be all business. They were talking animatedly, with a lot of arm waving going on.

She knew who he was. Damon P. Donnell, hip-hop mogul supreme, head of Donnell Records. His new offices were less than a block away, and he'd obviously picked the coffee shop as his breakfast stop-off.

She knew other things about him. He was thirty-six, dark skinned, with cropped hair and a killer smile. He usually wore tinted designer shades, a diamond stud earring, Nike running shoes, and a cool suit with a silk T-shirt underneath. He was known for encouraging new talent---although almost all of his label consisted of male rap artists. He'd once been a performer himself but had given it up except for the occasional charity event. He was married. Damn! No chance of getting him that way, because Liberty drew the line at playing with married men. His wife was an Indian princess from Bombay and a consummate consumer. The two of them lived in a sixty-sixth-floor sprawling West Side penthouse with panoramic views of the city, and according to Vibe, his wife had converted three bedrooms into her own personal closet. They'd been married two years and had no children.

The first time Liberty had seen him she'd had no idea who he was. "I think I'm in lust!" she'd muttered to Cindi. "That dude is the bomb!"

Cindi, who was up on everything showbiz, soon filled her in. Cindi devoured Essence, Rolling Stone, People, Us, Star, and The National Enquirer. She watched Access, ET, Extra, and E! every single day. "That dude is famous, married, rich, an' way outta your reach," Cindi had informed her. "Forget it, girl,'cause this big boy ain't lookin'."

Sometimes Cindi got on her case a little too much. Her payback was an attempt to never mention him again, not an easy task.

Just as she was about to go over to his table, Cindi materialized and gave her a knowing nudge. "Mr. Wonderman's back---again. Mebbe I was kickin' it wrong, little cous', could be you do have a shot. If I was you, I'd go for it."

"The knockoff queen at table four is screaming for her eggs," Liberty said, ignoring any mention of Damon. "You'd better get over there before the cow throws a shit fit."

"I'm on it," Cindi said, totally unconcerned. "Think I forgot to order ‘em. Ain't that a shame!"

Liberty approached Damon's table.

He didn't look up. "Coffee," he said, studying the menu as if he'd never seen it before. "Large O.J. Egg-white omelette, bacon on the side."

"I'll have the same," said his friend or business associate or whoever the other man was.

She hesitated a moment, willing Damon to at least give her a quick glance. He didn't, but the other guy was sure giving her a thorough going-over with his beady little eyes.

"Certainly, Mr. Donnell," she said, making him aware that she knew who he was. "Coffee and O.J. on the way. Omelette and bacon to follow. Crispy, right?"

Finally he looked up, taking her in, his eyes---visible through his tinted shades---resting on the hand-written nametag above her right breast. But still he didn't say a word, merely gave her an imperceptible nod.

She moved off to get them both coffee. And maybe her demo CD?

No! Too soon. I've got to develop a relationship. Like a cool waitress--customer kind of thing.

Oh yeah, now you can use the word "waitress."

That's because he's not some whiny white woman who thinks she's better than me.

"Waitress!" screamed the woman in the knockoff Armani. "I'm getting nowhere here. Where are my eggs?"

She was tempted to say, "Stuffed up your dried-up old snatch where nobody's gonna find ‘em."

But she didn't, because Manny and Golda wouldn't approve and, as bosses go, they were decent people and she didn't want to get fired. Besides, she needed the job; so did Cindi. As usual they were late on the rent, and bills were mounting. It was hard keeping up; they could never seem to get ahead.

Before working in the coffee shop Liberty had tried a variety of jobs. All horrible. Being a waitress was the best of the bunch, although it was murder on her feet. Usually she took the day shift, leaving her evenings free to write songs and hang with her musician friends, including her current boyfriend, Kev, a guitar player. She'd been seeing Kev for a few months---he was a nice guy---but nothing serious. She didn't believe in serious, not before she'd forged a career.

"They're on their way," she yelled across the room at the hateful woman.

"I should think so!" the woman huffed, raising her painted-on eyebrows to let everyone know how pissed-off she was.

"Excuse me, Liberty," said an older regular customer sitting by himself at a corner table. "Might I get a refill?"

This one never gave her any trouble and always tipped well.

She flashed him a smile and her most used words: "Coming right up."

Grabbing a pot of freshly brewed coffee from behind the counter, she filled the man's cup, and headed for Damon's table. Only before she could get there, a young boy playing with a toy car scooted it in front of her, and bam, she tripped over the toy, taking a fall---coffeepot smashing to the ground, hot liquid burning her arm, while her right ankle twisted beneath her.

Silence descended while everybody turned to stare at the crash site. After a few seconds, conversation resumed, and she was left sprawled on the floor looking and feeling like a clumsy idiot.

For a few seconds she didn't know what to do; then she heard the horrible female customer laugh in a rude fashion. Quickly Liberty got herself together, even though her arm was burning from the scalding liquid and, when she tried to stand, her ankle gave way under her.

Fortunately Cindi and Mr. Regular Customer came to her aid. The older man helped her to a chair, while Cindi began cleaning up the broken glass and spilled coffee.

"Are you all right?" Mr. Regular Customer asked, genuinely concerned.

She nodded tearfully and shot a look across the shop to see if Damon was watching.

He wasn't. He was carrying on talking, gesticulating wildly, his diamond stud earring flashing against the fluorescent lights.

She suppressed the urge to cry in earnest. Her arm was on fire, her ankle throbbed, and Damon P. Donnell hadn't even acknowledged her existence. Was anything ever going to go right for her?

Man, she needed a break and she needed it desperately.

Copyright © 2006 by Jackie Collins
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 107 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(62)

4 Star

(25)

3 Star

(11)

2 Star

(4)

1 Star

(5)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 107 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 12, 2013

    Intriguing

    I enjoyed this book, which kept me intrigued all the way through... until the end. The end was a bit of a disappointment, as there was over 500 pages of details, only to end the book abruptly in about 2 pages. A bit predictable, but a good read nonetheless.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 18, 2012

    Nothing like a true Jackie Collin scandal

    All I have to say is Jackie Collins is a great writer & she knows how to keep a reader focused & wanting more. My personal reading time is limited, but when I do have the chance, I love to get losted in one of her books. Even if it is only for a half an hour. Sure makes it hard to stop! Looking forward to anything new that comes along!

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted August 4, 2011

    Love the story but the typos are making me crazy!

    Great story..interesting characters..hooked me from the beginning! The typos are ridiculous though. Die instead of the....really? I am reading it on a nook so I do not know if it is an editing issue or a nook issue but it is damn annoying.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 5, 2014

    Madi

    Hi

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 4, 2014

    Momo to john

    Will u be my master?

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 4, 2014

    Mark

    I will sue. You know what ro do.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 3, 2014

    Damien

    -_-

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 3, 2014

    Jane

    Wants someone to be her master

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 15, 2014

    Cody

    Hey michaelaaa

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 5, 2014

    Lizzi

    Hello john. Hi madi.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 1, 2014

    Lady

    Screams

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 31, 2014

    Adain to amber

    Hey

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 31, 2014

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 23, 2014

    Kevin

    Walks in

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 22, 2014

    Sandra

    Waits for some to come fu.ck her good

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 11, 2014

    To Kyle

    Wow! Cheating on ur girl! Im telling!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 31, 2014

    NO.

    I didn't understand each and every one of this characters. The only that caught my attention didn't had a big role on the story. Didn't like the relationship results and I think that no one would like them. DON'T WASTE YOUR TIME.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 25, 2014

    Berrynight

    Pads around

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 3, 2014

    Could not put this down

    Loved this book. Finished it so fast.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 18, 2013

    Excellent read by jackie collins as always

    Excellent read

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 107 Customer Reviews

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