The traffic moved along the Santa Monica Freeway at a snail's pace, as Allegra Steinberg lay her head back against the seat of the midnight blue Mercedes 300. At this rate, it was going to take forever. She had nothing particular to do on the way home, but it always seemed such an incredible waste of time just sitting there in traffic.
She stretched her long legs, sighed, and flicked on the radio, and she smiled as they started playing Bram Morrison's latest single. He was one of her clients at the law firm. She had represented him for over a year. She had a number of important clients. At twenty-nine, four years out of Yale law school, she was a junior partner at Fisch, Herzog, and Freeman. They were one of the most important firms in L.A., and entertainment law had always been her passion.
Allegra had known years before that she wanted to go into law, and it had only been for a brief, littlewhile, after two years of summer stock in New Haven during her sophomore and junior years at Yale, that she had thought she might want to be an actress. It wouldn't have surprised anyone in her family, but it wouldn't necessarily have pleased them. Her mother, Blaire Scott, had written and produced one of the most successful shows on television for nine years. It was a comedy, well peppered with serious moments, and some occasional real-life drama. They had had the highest possible ratings for seven of their nine years, and it had earned her mother seven Emmies. Her father, Simon Steinberg, was a major movie producer, and had made some of Hollywood's most important movies. He had won three Academy Awards over the years, and his reputation for box office successes was legend. More importantly, he was that rarest of commodities in Hollywood, a nice man, a gentleman, a truly decent human being. He and Blaire were among the industry's most unusual, and most respected couples. They worked hard, and had a real family, which they devoted a lot of their time to. Allegra had a seventeen-year-old sister, Samantha, "Sam," who was a senior in high school and a model, and who, unlike Allegra, did want to be an actress.
Only their brother, Scott, a junior at Stanford, seemed to have escaped show business entirely. He was in pre-med, and all he wanted in lifewas to be a doctor. Hollywood and its alleged magic held no lure for Scott Steinberg.
Scott had seen enough of show business in his twenty years. And he even thought Allegra was crazy to be an entertainment lawyer. He didn't want to spend the rest of his life worrying about the "box office," or the gross, or the ratings. He wanted to specialize in sports medicine, and be an orthopedic surgeon. Nice and sensible and down-to-earth. When the bone breaks, you fix it. He had seen enough of the agonies the rest of his family went through, dealing with spoiled, erratic stars, unreliable actors, dishonest network people who disappeared in six months, and quixotic investors. There were highs certainly, and perks admittedly, and they all seemed to love what they did. His mother derived tremendous satisfaction from her show, and his father had produced some great movies. And Allegra liked being an attorney for the stars and Sam wanted to be an actress. But as far as Scott was concerned, they could have it.
Allegra smiled to herself, thinking of him, and listening to the last of Bram's song. Even Scott had been impressed when she was able to tell him that Bram was one of her clients. He was a hero. She never said who her clients were, but Bram had mentioned her on a special with Barbara Walters. Carmen Connors was one of her clients too, the Marilyn Monroe look-alike who was the decade's new blond bombshell. She was twenty-three years old, from a town in Oregon the size of a dinner plate, and she was an ardent Christian. She had started out as a singer, and recently she'd done two movies back to back, and it turned out she was a sensational actress. She'd been referred to the firm by CAA, and one of the senior partners had introduced her to Allegra. They had hit it off instantly, and now she was Allegra's baby, literally sometimes, but Allegra didn't mind it.
Unlike Bram, who was in his late thirties and had been around the music business for twenty years, Carmen was still fairly new to Hollywood, and seemed to be constantly beset by problems. Trouble with boyfriends, men who were in love with her and she insisted she barely knew, stalkers, publicists, hairdressers, tabloids, paparazzi, would-be agents. She was never sure how to handle any of them, and Allegra was used to getting calls from her anytime, day or night, usually starting at two in the morning. The young beauty was often terrified at night, and she was always afraid that someone would break in and hurt her. Allegra had been able to control some of the terror for her with a security company that patrolled her house from dusk to dawn, a state-of-the-art alarm, and a pair of incredibly unnerving guard dogs. They were rottweilers and Carmen was afraid of them, but so were her would-be attackers and stalkers. But in spite of all that, she still called Allegra in the middle of the night, just to talk out problems she was having on the set, or sometimes just for comfort. It didn't bother Allegra; she was used to it. But her friends commented that she was as much baby-sitter as lawyer. Allegra knew it was part of the job with celebrity clients. She had seen what her parents went through with their stars, and nothing surprised her. Despite everything, she loved practicing law, and she particularly enjoyed the field of entertainment.
As she sat and waited for the traffic to move again, she pressed another button on her radio, and then thought about Brandon, as the traffic finally began to edge forward. Sometimes it took her an hour to crawl ten miles on the way home from a meeting or seeing a client at their home, but she was used to that too. She loved living in L.A., and most of the time she didn't mind the traffic. She had the top down on her car, it was a warm January afternoon and her long blond hair shimmered in the last of the winter sunlight. It was a perfect southern California day, the kind of weather she had longed for during her seven long New Haven winters while she was at Yale, first forundergraduate, and then for law school. After Beverly Hills High, most of her friends had gone to UCLA, but her father had wanted her to go to Harvard. Allegra had preferred Yale, but she had never been tempted to stay in the East after she graduated. Her whole life was based in California.
From the Hardcover edition.