Amanda is heartbroken. She's tried, but she can't get over her breakup with hotshot writer Harry Gordon. If only she could talk to him, she could convince him that their love story is bigger than any screenplay. But Amanda isn't the only one in Hollywood keeping a secret—Harry's got one too.
Margo has to pinch herself: there's talk of her getting an Oscar nom for her first film role, and she's living with the Dane Forrest, the gorgeous movie star millions—including herself—swoon over. But if the public finds out about their domestic arrangement, her career will be over. The studio has a plan to fix it all . . . but is Margo prepared to pay the price?
Gabby's drinking is out of control, but who cares? She's bored and depressed. She needs someone who will treat her like the woman she is beneath the silly stage costumes and pigtails. And she's sure unpredictable musician Eddie Sharp is The One. But playing with bad boys like Eddie isn't for little girls. . . .
"In this scintillating sequel to Starstruck, the stakes are higher, the fights are cattier, and the drama soars sky-high . . . more twists and turns than Mulholland Drive. Secrets abound, and enough is held back to ensure that the next volume will have plenty left to reveal. This sizzling sequel definitely delivers the goods: think Valley of the Dolls meets Gossip Girl."--Kirkus Reviews
|Publisher:||Random House Children's Books|
|Sold by:||Random House|
|File size:||3 MB|
|Age Range:||12 Years|
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
Movie people were used to being up at the crack of dawn.
The lucky ones--that is, the ones who actually had jobs--were already hard at work at the studios by the time the dazzling California sun came up over the scrubby, green-dotted rock of the Hollywood hills: dressing sets, calibrating lights, tapping out rewrites, stumbling into the makeup department to have their imperfect, human faces carefully assessed, erased, and replaced before the daylight could expose anything the dream factories would rather keep hidden. The unlucky, unemployed majority had seen out the long night and their last dollar in the twinkling row of restaurants and ballrooms lining the Sunset Strip, dining and dancing and drinking away the choking fear that the long-awaited lucky break would never come.
And then there were the others, somewhere in the middle. Not quite successful but not quite ready to give up, not quite famous but not quite unknown.
They were the ones who were trapped. Caught in a web of work and worry--not to mention the pills, which made the work possible--through which sleep could never quite find its way. Winding up in Hollywood purgatory, a kind of eternal sophomore slump: that was the greatest fear of everyone in the business.
And it was exactly where Gabby Preston found herself now.
Or maybe more accurately, again.
It was four-thirty in the morning, but Gabby was still wide-awake. She paced the floor of her bedroom in the house on Fountain Avenue in a well-practiced path, placing one slippered foot in front of the other all the way down the frayed edge of the rose-colored Oriental carpet to the dressing table, where she'd pause to yank up her pajama top in front of the mirror, checking to see if her exposed stomach looked any flatter than it had a minute ago. A quick rearranging of the perfume bottles and lipstick stubs, then over to peer inside the door of her wardrobe, as though some new and exciting purchase might have magically materialized among the collared blouses and sensible skirts hanging in neat rows from the matching hangers.
Next came a desultory shuffle through the albums resting in an untidy stack on the polished cherrywood surface of the RCA all-in-one wireless/record player. It was quite a luxury to have one of those babies all to yourself, but as Gabby's mother, Viola, had told the keepers of the Olympus purse strings, given the amount of music the studio expected Gabby to learn every week, it was a necessary one.
Finally, she'd flop back on her quilted satin bedspread, where she'd take a few deep, hopeful breaths before the thrum of her racing heart told her it was no use and the whole pattern began again.
How long had it been since she'd slept? Really properly slept, with dreams and everything, and without needing blue pills to make her eyes close and green ones to open them up again? A couple of months at least. Maybe--probably, if she was being very, very honest--even longer. And the blue pills were barely working anymore. She had gobbled four of them before bedtime last night--her last four--and gotten no more than half an hour's light nap, tops. It would be hours before the pharmacies opened and she could send Viola out for more.
Gabby picked up the empty glass pill bottle off the dressing table and held it up to the light. A fine residue of blue powder coated the base. She couldn't stick her finger all the way to the bottom to reach it, let alone her tongue, but if she filled it halfway with water and let it dissolve, she could drink it.
Maybe that would be just enough to push her over the edge into a few precious hours of sleep.
Of course, the powder would be a whole lot more effective accompanied by a nice big glug of gin, but Viola had put the liquor cabinet under lock and key. Ironic, Gabby thought, considering it's my five-hundred-dollar-a-week salary that's paying for it all, right down to the padlock. How would Viola feel if Gabby started rationing the food in the icebox?
Or better yet, if I slapped my own padlock on the door of her closet? Ever since Gabby's mother had gotten a load of the bounty in the trunks Amanda Farraday had moved into the spare room--the delicately jet-beaded evening gowns, the close-fitting Paris suits with the raw-silk linings and hand-stitched seams so tiny and neat you practically needed a microscope to see them--the packages had been arriving from the most exclusive department stores in Beverly Hills. Smart striped hatboxes and stacks of shoe boxes and tissue-paper parcels yielding piles of complicated underthings in slippery French silk. Gabby couldn't bear to imagine what the hell her mother--who at forty-five was positively ancient--thought she was doing with that kind of stuff. She liked even less to think about how much it was costing.
It'll all be different as soon as I turn eighteen, Gabby told herself. Then she'd have control of her money, and her life, and Viola would find herself on a budget so fast it would make her curly little head spin. That is, if I don't tell her to take a hike altogether.
It wouldn't be much longer now. Two years, maybe less, if she could figure out some way to dig up her original birth certificate. Viola had always been a little vague when it came to birthdays, ever since the vaudeville days, when the Fabulous Preston Sisters were known for conveniently being whatever ages the theater bookers and press agents thought would sell the most tickets. According to her official Olympus Studios publicity bio, Gabby Preston, singing starlet of stage and screen, had turned sweet sixteen on Christmas Day, the only birthday Viola had ever let Gabby or her older sister, Frankie, celebrate, since "if it's good enough for the Baby Jesus, it's good enough for the Preston girls" and the double billing saved on presents in the lean years besides. In reality, Ethel Ellen O'Halloran, as Gabby had been named at birth, had to be at least a year older. Maybe even eighteen already.
Still, she couldn't do much without the papers to prove it, and Viola had probably thrown those in the fire years ago. There wasn't much Gabby's mother wouldn't do if it meant an extra year with her hot little hand in Gabby's pocket.
Margo Sterling would never have this problem, Gabby thought.
True, Margo didn't talk about her parents much--or at all. But Gabby was a close enough friend to know that the incandescent blonde all of Hollywood--hell, all of America--had anointed its latest big-screen queen had grown up with pretty much everything a girl could ask for: a big, beautiful house in Pasadena, a top-notch education at some fancy-schmancy girls' school, a place in Society (the capital S signifying the kind of rich people who would never willingly admit showbiz types into their rarified midst). And that was all before she'd seemingly done nothing but shrug her slim shoulders and step straight into the coveted role vacated by Diana Chesterfield in the box-office smash The Nine Days' Queen.
Honestly, Gabby thought, it's like she just said "Oh, all right, I guess I'll be a movie star today."
Margo's romantic life had seemed similarly effortless. She had broken the heart of Jimmy Molloy, Olympus's biggest star and the man Gabby had desperately wanted for herself--or at least, everyone thought she had, which was the important thing. Now Margo was practically living with Dane Forrest, who was just about the handsomest actor on the planet. Her picture had been on the cover of every magazine in the country. And this morning, by the time her maid had delicately sliced off the top of her soft-boiled egg, Margo was probably going to have an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress. Talk about a charmed life.
It wasn't that Gabby was jealous of Margo, exactly. It was just so unfair that it had all been so easy for her. Worst of all, nobody else seemed to mind. You'd think the anxious strivers and class-conscious immigrants who ran Hollywood would resent the entitled nonchalance with which the newest star in the Olympus Studios constellation seemed to grab every available column inch, but no, they just lapped it up as if they were kittens at a saucer full of cream.
That's the trouble with arrivistes, Gabby thought. They always have way too much awe for those who never needed to arrive.
This was supposed to have been Gabby's year. Last spring she'd been all set to headline in An American Girl, the picture Harry Gordon was going to write for her. It was supposed to have been the big one, the role of a lifetime, the picture that would finally make her a big star. She was the one whose phone was supposed to ring at sunrise this morning with a call from Larry Julius in the Olympus press office. She was the one who was supposed to have a truck pull up outside with one of the six-foot-tall foil-wrapped Oscars Mr. Karp, the head of the studio, was said to have specially commissioned from his personal chocolatier in Beverly Hills for every Olympus nominee. She was supposed to have stacks of congratulatory telegrams from the likes of Clark Gable and Spencer Tracy and Claudette Colbert, and weeks' worth of consultations with Rex Mandalay, the famously tempestuous (and tight-panted) Australian who was Olympus's most revered costumer, about the gorgeous gown he would design just for her.
But none of that was going to happen now. Those dreams had died that horrible night when Harry Gordon had told her he was taking the part--her part--in An American Girl away from her. It was a wound that hadn't quite healed, and Margo's inevitable nomination would only pour salt in it.
There's always next year, Viola would say. Everybody would say it. But Gabby had been in Hollywood long enough to know that the more people said those things, the less they believed them.
And besides, they weren't even making the picture now. An American Girl might have been the role of a lifetime, but it was dead as a doornail as far as production was concerned. That was some small consolation. If Gabby couldn't play that part, at least nobody else would.
The low whisper came through the keyhole. This was Viola's latest affectation, conveniently forgetting that "Gabby" wasn't short for anything, that it wasn't even a real name. "Gabrielle, are you awake?"
The door swung open before Gabby had time to decide what her answer would be. Her mother stood framed in the doorway, her stout body wrapped tightly in a lavender chenille dressing gown, her newly hennaed hair protected by a large square of white silk pinned over the tight marcelle waves. For years, Viola had had plain brown hair, just like Gabby's. Then the hairdressers at the studio had started putting a chestnut rinse in Gabby's curls and suddenly, Viola had decided she needed a reddish tint too.
"I saw your light on," she said, pushing one of the pins at the edge of the silk back into place. "Don't tell me you've been up all night again."
"What does it matter if I'm asleep? I'm resting, aren't I?"
Sighing, Viola sat down on Gabby's neatly made bed, making a face as she ran her hand over the pale satin of the bedspread. She had spent what seemed like hours in the linens department of Bullocks trying to talk Gabby into buying what she termed a more "age-appropriate" cotton coverlet printed with pink and yellow strawberry blossoms, but Gabby had refused to budge. Now Viola hated the bedspread for the same reason her daughter adored it: it represented one of the only arguments Viola O'Halloran Preston had ever lost. "You need sleep. Why didn't you take a pill?"
"I did. They're all gone."
"All of them? There were six left in the bottle when we finished dinner last night."
Six? "No. There couldn't have been that many."
"Gabby, I counted them myself."
The last time Viola decided Gabby was taking too many pills, she'd ripped up her prescription, and Gabby had spent the whole week feeling as if bugs were crawling under her skin, eating her from the inside out, until Dr. Lipkin, the studio doctor, had saved the day. Think of something, Gabby thought desperately. Anything. "Amanda must have taken them."
"I know she's been having trouble sleeping lately," said Gabby as sincerely as she could. Delivery was important with Viola; she had been blessed with what she liked to think of as a peerless nose for bull. Lucky I'm such a good actress, Gabby told herself.
"That girl," Viola groaned. "That girl is becoming a problem." A dangerous rasp had crept into her throat.
"It's not Amanda's fault." This was the trouble with telling even one lie to someone like Viola. You always had to tell so many more. "I said it was okay. She wouldn't have taken them otherwise. It's just a misunderstanding."
"Gabrielle, those pills aren't jelly beans. You can't just hand them out to be friendly. They're your medication. What Dr. Lipkin and the studio have decided you need to take to be able to work."
"Amanda's career isn't my concern," Viola interrupted. "Frankly, I don't care about her one way or another."
That's not how it used to be, Gabby thought bitterly. When Amanda Farraday first started hanging around the house on Fountain Avenue, looking for a hot meal and a shoulder to cry on in the wake of her breakup with the red-hot screenwriter Harry Gordon, Viola had seemed quite swept off her feet. Gabby had watched with a mixture of bemusement and jealousy as her normally curt mother stayed up late into the night sitting at the kitchen table with the glamorous redhead, drinking hot tea with whiskey while poring over the latest issues of Vogue and Harper's Bazaar and tearfully commiserating over the awfulness of men.
Sometime between Thanksgiving and Christmas, when Amanda started complaining about the hotel she'd been staying at since Harry left, Viola, in a fit of sudden holiday spirit, had invited her to stay in the spare room for as long as she liked.
She hadn't even bothered to ask Gabby first, although it wasn't like Gabby could object, since Amanda's broken heart was just the teensiest bit her fault. Gabby had gotten so mad when Harry Gordon told her he was thinking about getting the starring role in An American Girl reassigned to his girlfriend that Gabby had accidentally-on-purpose-but-mostly-on-purpose just happened to tell him Hollywood's best-kept secret: that the ravishing Amanda had once worked for the notorious Olive Moore, the self-styled "concierge" of Hollywood's most infamously lavish house of ill-repute. Oops.