A vicious hit. A vengeful enemy. A drug addled Colombian club owner. A sex crazed Italian family. And the ever powerful Lucky Santangelo has to deal with them all, while Max-her teenage daughter is becoming The "It" girl in Europe's modeling world. And her Kennedyesque son, Bobby, is being set up for a murder he didn't commit. But Lucky can deal. Always strong and unpredictable with her husband, Lennie, by her side she lives up to the family motto-Never cross a Santangelo.
Lucky rules. The Santangelos always come out on top. An epic family saga filled with love, lust, revenge and passion.
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About the Author
Hometown:Los Angeles, California
Date of Birth:October 4, 1941
Place of Birth:London, England
Read an Excerpt
By Jackie Collins
St. Martin's PressCopyright © 2015 Chances, Inc.
All rights reserved.
The Keys was Lucky Santangelo Golden's dream hotel, but sometimes one can dream bigger, and Lucky had decided that she should create something even more special. She was at a place in her life where she felt ready for a new challenge. Everything was running smoothly; her kids were all doing well. Bobby, with his chain of successful clubs. Max, busy making a name for herself in London as an up-and-coming model. Young Gino Junior and Leo (Lennie's son, whom she'd adopted) were ensconced in summer camp, while her father, Gino, was happily living out his days in Palm Springs with his fourth wife, Paige.
So Lucky had decided it was time to shake things up, and she'd come up with the idea of building a hotel/casino/apartment complex plus a movie studio. This was something nobody had done before. Why not? It was a brilliant idea.
When she'd told her filmmaker husband, Lennie, he'd thought it was a crazy concept, although certainly doable. The movie community would love it. Everything in one place. And it wasn't as if Lucky was a newcomer to making movies — she'd owned and run Panther Studios for several years. She was the Lady Boss. Lucky Santangelo could do anything she chose to do.
Today she was lunching with a team of architects that she was considering hiring. One of her favorite moves was testing people, observing their strengths and weaknesses, deciding if working with them would be calm or stressful.
Danny, her trusty assistant, accompanied her on the way to the Asian, an elegant Chinese restaurant located in her hotel.
Danny was one of the few privy to the fact that she was plotting and planning on building yet another fantastic Vegas complex. Danny got it. He understood that the Keys — a truly amazing combination of grand hotel, luxurious apartments, and one of the best casinos in Vegas — was simply not enough for her. As usual, his dynamic boss wanted more.
The moment Lucky entered the restaurant, conversation stopped and people stared. They couldn't help themselves. Lucky had a magnetic, charismatic quality about her. She radiated beauty, power, passion, and strength. A lethal combination.
Danny relished every minute of the way people reacted when they saw Lucky. She deserved the attention. She was a true star, an incredibly smart businesswoman who could achieve anything she set her mind to. The thing about Lucky was that she needed to be collaborative, but she also needed to be in control. Nobody told Lucky Santangelo what to do. Her motto was "If I'm going to fail, I'll fail on my own mistakes, not on someone else's." Her other motto was "Never fuck with a Santangelo."
Danny had both mottos engraved on two coffee mugs that sat in the kitchen of his L.A. apartment along with his somewhat mangy cat, Ethel.
They were lunching at the Asian because although most meetings took place in the boardroom, at other times Lucky liked to see for herself how efficiently everything was running. Danny could just imagine the panic taking place in the kitchen. Ms. Santangelo is in the house. Everything has to be perfect.
Lucky strode through the restaurant, unaware of the buzz of excitement she was causing. The two men and one woman she was meeting with jumped to their feet as she approached. Danny detected much nervous tension.
Lucky immediately put them all at ease. "How's everyone today?" she asked, flashing them a dazzling smile.
Everything about Lucky was dazzling — from her wild mass of long dark curls to her deep olive skin and her black-as-night eyes. Lucky was ageless, and she exuded sex appeal; she always had.
"All the better for seeing you," one of the men managed. He was balding and nervous, a trait many people exhibited when meeting Lucky for the first time.
Directing her attention to the female of the group, an attractive black woman in her early forties, Lucky said, "You must be Nina. I've heard many positive things about your work. In fact, I should tell you that you're the main reason I requested this meeting."
Danny watched the men shrivel. He knew what they were thinking: Nina worked for them, not alongside them. She was a junior partner in their firm, but Lucky had insisted they bring Nina to the meeting. Ah yes, Lucky was all about female power — it pleased her to see other women succeed.
Nina blossomed. She was full of ideas that Lucky seemed to be into, and the meeting went well once the two men realized that Nina could turn out to be an asset, not a threat.
"If we get together on this," Lucky announced at the conclusion of lunch, "then I expect Nina to head up your team. How do you feel about that?"
The men nodded. This could be an enormous project, and if Lucky Santangelo wanted Nina, that's exactly who she'd get.
Danny escorted Lucky out of the restaurant, reminding her of the agenda for the rest of the day. She had more meetings; a drink with her superstar friend Venus, who was currently shooting a movie in Vegas; then a late-night flight back to her other home in L.A.
Lucky divided her time between her Vegas penthouse and her Malibu beach house. In Vegas it was mostly work. In Malibu she could sit back and relax — especially when Lennie was home, which wasn't always the case. Like his wife, Lennie was a workaholic. Once a stand-up comedian and then a movie star, his current passion was writing, producing, and directing his own independent movies.
Lennie spent a lot of time on location.
Lucky spent a lot of time in Vegas.
Time apart boded well for their marriage. They had never been happier — for when they were in the same place, things were as steamy as the first time they'd gotten together. It helped that Lennie was a master of tantric sex, and that Lucky had always maintained a wild streak in the bedroom. It amused her when married people complained about their sex life being boring. Didn't they realize that it wasn't their sex life, it was them — allowing themselves to fall into a state of lethargy and disinterest? Nothing like disinterest to put the brakes on adventures in the bedroom.
After more meetings, Lucky felt in need of a drink. She was looking forward to seeing Venus. Once so close, over the last year they'd kind of lost touch. Lucky understood why. First of all, Venus had abandoned her latest boy toy and hooked up with Hugo Santos, a Venezuelan avant-garde filmmaker who obviously saw the platinum-blond superstar as much more than a luscious world-famous sex symbol. He'd moved in on Venus big-time and taken over her career. She was currently playing a drugged-out whore in his gritty movie Woman.
Venus viewed Hugo Santos as her intellectual savior, while Lucky considered him to be a grasping opportunist who saw Venus as his ticket to conquer Hollywood.
The second reason they'd drifted apart was Max, and her fleeting thing with Billy Melina — Venus's ex-husband. Max making out with her best friend's ex was more than awkward.
Lucky had never discussed it with Venus, and fortunately, the burgeoning romance between Billy and Max had fizzled — with a little help from Lennie, who'd visited Billy and told him in no uncertain terms to stay away from his teenage daughter or there'd be major repercussions. Faced with pressure from his team of advisers as well, Billy had complied, and Max had taken off to London, where she now resided. Lucky missed her, although not as much as Lennie did. Lennie was way too protective, while Lucky knew it was good for Max to be out on her own experiencing independence.
Lucky waited for Venus on a secluded terrace overlooking the golf course. Usually Venus liked to make an entrance, but today she'd requested that they meet somewhere quiet. Lucky had agreed, and now she was sitting on the terrace sipping a Campari and orange juice. Closing her eyes for a moment, she imagined the new hotel complex she was planning. A hotel attached to a movie studio. How fantastic! How innovative! And even though it would take at least two or three years to build, she was excited. It occurred to her that maybe she'd even start producing movies again. She'd always enjoyed the process, and it could be fun, another challenge. Perhaps she and Lennie could work on something together. Although if they did that, they'd probably kill each other.
She smiled at the thought of two incredibly stubborn people working side by side. No. It was never going to happen.
A woman was walking toward her. A dark-haired woman wearing frumpy clothes and old-fashioned horn-rimmed glasses. There was something vaguely familiar about her, but Lucky wasn't sure what it was until the woman pulled out a chair and sat down opposite her.
Oh my God, Lucky thought, her mind spinning. It's Venus!CHAPTER 2
It pissed Bobby Santangelo Stanislopoulos off that his live-in girlfriend, Denver Jones, was never available to travel with him. Even with texting, sexting, and Skype, long separations were no damn good. Oh sure, he understood that Denver was fixated on her job as a high-powered deputy district attorney, but surely just sometimes she could put him first?
Lately she'd been so into the drug case she was working on that even when he was home at their house in L.A., he barely saw her. She was intent to prosecute; he'd never seen her so determined.
This too shall pass, he told himself. And when it's over, I will finally give her the seven-carat Tiffany diamond engagement ring I purchased months ago, and ask her to marry me.
He had to tread carefully with Denver. She wasn't like the other girls he'd been with.
She was exceptionally smart, beautiful, and a self-achiever. She didn't want anything from him other than his love, and that suited him just fine, because as the heir to a great shipping fortune, he knew that most women looked at him with dollar signs flashing in their eyes.
Bobby Santangelo Stanislopoulos, son of the infamous Lucky Santangelo and the late Greek shipping tycoon Dimitri Stanislopoulos. Drop-dead handsome with longish dark hair, intense eyes, and olive skin — all inherited from the Santangelo side of the family. Six foot three, with his father's strong features and steely business acumen, plus Lucky's street smarts. An interesting mix.
Without touching his massive inheritance, Bobby had gone into business for himself. He and his partner, M.J., had opened a chain of highly successful nightclubs called Mood. From New York to Las Vegas, Mood was the place to see and be seen.
Currently they were in the process of opening Mood in Chicago, which meant Bobby had a full agenda.
Pacing up and down in his Chicago hotel room, he missed Denver, although at the same time, he was also kind of mad at her. In the course of pursuing a notorious drug cartel, she'd been part of a sting operation that had ended with the arrest of Frankie Romano.
Poor old Frankie — who happened to be a longtime pal of Bobby's. Unfortunately, Frankie had gotten himself caught up in the so-called glamour of the Hollywood high life. A druggie who'd once been Annabelle Falcon's boyfriend, Frankie had partnered in a sleazy Hollywood club with the son of a Colombian drug lord, then gotten himself taken down for illegally peddling drugs. The charges against him were distribution and possession — charges that could get him a twenty-year prison sentence. It seemed his operation was connected to a notorious Colombian drug cartel, and Denver was making it her business to find out exactly how. She was relentless in her pursuit.
Bobby had tried his best to persuade her to go easy on Frankie. It hadn't worked; she'd refused to listen to him. Deep down he'd known she was right. Frankie had been a bad boy, and he deserved to be punished. But such a long jail term? Couldn't Denver fix it so that Frankie was put on probation for cooperating with the investigation? She had the inside track — why not do it as a favor for him? It was a situation he was not happy with.
M.J. called up from the lobby. "You on your way down?" he asked.
"Be right there," Bobby answered, checking his watch and realizing that he was running late.
They were headed for the opening night of Mood Chicago. The club was not yet open to the public; this evening was by invite only. VIPs, local celebrities, attention grabbers.
Bobby placed a call to Denver on her cell, but it went straight to voice mail. Grabbing his jacket, he headed downstairs. M.J. was waiting in the lobby.
M.J. was African American, short of stature, handsome — with a shaved head and an endless enthusiasm for all their projects. More outgoing than Bobby, he was the perfect business partner.
Tonight M.J. was all hyped up, looking his usual cool self in a black Armani suit. "It's gonna be a full house," he announced when Bobby appeared. "We got all the right faces comin'. The PR we hired has done a fine job."
Bobby nodded. Their club was looking stellar. And so it should, since they'd spent the last week in Chicago making sure everything was perfect, testing food, drinks, waiters, bartenders, and the couple of hosts who were all set to run the place when they weren't there.
M.J. had a car and driver waiting outside the hotel. Bobby elected to take his rental car in case he chose to leave earlier.
M.J. shrugged. "Gotta get back to check in with your girl," he said, his tone lightly mocking. "Man, Denver's got your ass well whipped. I remember when —"
"Gimme a break," Bobby interrupted with a friendly grin. "You wish you had someone to check in with."
Since divorcing his pretty but overly ambitious wife, Cassie, M.J. had turned into the perennial bachelor, sampling a parade of random girls at an alarming rate. Bobby realized that it was all bravado. The truth was that M.J. missed Cassie, only he would never admit it.
"Someone, anyone — as if I give a fast fuck," M.J. said. "Y'see, me, I got it all figured. Variety is where it's at, an' you, my man, are missin' out."
By the time Bobby arrived at the club, it was already packed. Word was out that Mood was about to be the place, and the movers in town were determined to mark their territory, making sure they got the right table and the attention they imagined they deserved.
M.J. was already doing the rounds, stopping by tables, buying drinks, turning on the M.J. charm. He had the knack.
Bobby hovered near the bar. He was in no way as social as M.J.; he was more into the design and financial aspect of the business. But he was well aware that a few personal greetings went a long way, so after one quick shot of vodka, he forced himself into host mode and stopped by a few tables to say hello.
Bobby's particular brand of charm worked well with both men and women. The women loved getting attention from such an attractive man, while the men related to him because he could talk sports, cars, and cigars, plus he bought every table he stopped by a bottle of champagne. Lucky had taught him that the two golden rules of owning a successful club were remembering the customers' names, and buying them a drink.
Soon he was into the rhythm of the place, feeling that certain rush he got when everything was moving in the right direction. Mood was set to take over Chicago nightlife — the same way it had in Vegas and New York.
Nursing another vodka, he settled into a corner booth, observing the action and wondering if he should call Denver again.
No. He'd left her a message; it was her turn to call him.
M.J. loped over. "Looks like we got ourselves another winner," he announced, sitting down next to Bobby. "We're takin' over Chicago, man. Bet on it."
Bobby laughed, and as he did so he caught sight of a young woman descending the staircase into the club. She wasn't just any woman, she was a Latina version of Michelle Pfeiffer making her entrance in the movie Scarface. The woman was a showstopper. A stone-cold beauty in a body-hugging red dress.
M.J. noticed her too. "Are you seein' what I'm seein'?" he gulped.
"Yeah, I'm seeing it," Bobby said, attempting not to stare.
"Who the fuck is she?"
"Like I would know."
"Hey, man," M.J. said, jumping to his feet. "Got me a feelin' it's time to find out."
"Go for it."
"That's my main plan."
Bobby observed as M.J. launched into action, greeting the exotic woman and her escort, a short Latino man with bland features, a scraggly beard, and hard eyes. They did not look like a couple — they looked all wrong together.
M.J. led them to a premier table, ordered them a bottle of champagne, then backed off.
"Who are they?" Bobby asked when M.J. returned to the booth.
M.J. shrugged. "They're not on the list. I asked our PR, and she doesn't know them either. But hey, who gives a shit? They can stay. Man, the woman's a freakin' ten plus."
"I can see that. The guy with her — husband? Boyfriend?"
"Dude's her cousin, an' that works for me, 'cause I got major plans on movin' right back in."
"Sure you do," Bobby said with a knowing smile.
"Oh yeah," M.J. said, nodding to himself. "Gonna cool it for now. Make my move later. Watch an' learn, my man. You'll see how it's done."
Excerpted from The Santangelos by Jackie Collins. Copyright © 2015 Chances, Inc.. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
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