Dangerous KissBy: Jackie Collins
I would like to thank the wonderful team at Macmillan for their dedication and enthusiasm every time they publish one of my books. I would particularly like to thank all the sales force and the great group of people I get to work with: Ian S. Chapman, Arabella Stein, Clare Harington, Elizabeth Bond, Katie Roberts, Nadya Kooznetzoff, Morven Knowles, Jacqui Graham, Chris Gibson, Annie Griffiths, Mark Richmond, Liz Davis, Tess Tattersall, Matt Smith, Neil Lang, Annika Roojun, Fiona Carpenter, Lucy Hale, Vivienne Nelson, Michael Halden, Julie Wright, Dan Ruffino, Jeannine Fowler, Andrew Wright, David Adamson, Fiona Killeen, Gabrielle Dawwas, John Lee, John Neild, John Talbot, Kate Hales, Keith Southgate, Keren Western, Norman Taylor, Phil Trump, Robert Ferrari, Sally Ferrari, Steve Shrubsole, William Taylor Gill, Kay Charlton, Ray Theobald, Alison Muirden, Karen Schoenemann and Ray Fidler.
I would also like to thank Andrew Nurnberg and everyone at Andrew Nurnberg Associates for selling my books worldwide with such class and style: Beryl Cutayar, Paola Marchese, Vicky Mark and Christine Regan.
P.S. And a big thank-you to my loyal and dedicated readers.
'Take it' the young white girl urged, thrusting the gun at the sixteen-year-old black youth, who immediately backed away.
'No!' he said fervently. 'My old man would bust my ass.'
The girl, clad in a mini-skirt and tight tank top, had long legs, a big bosom, a pointed face, hazel eyes heavily outlined in black, and unevenly cropped dark hair. She stared at the boy scornfully. 'Chicken!' she jeered, in a scathing voice.
'Daddy's little baby chickee boy.'
'No way!' he grumbled, pissed that she would talk to him that way. He was tall and gangly with large ears that stuck out, and big brown eyes.
'Oh, yes.' she taunted. 'Way!'
On impulse he snatched the gun out of her hands, sticking it down the front of his pants with a macho grunt. 'Satisfied?'
The girl nodded, hazel eyes gleaming. She was eighteen, but looked older. 'Let's go,' she said authoritatively. It was obvious who was in charge.
'Go like where?' he asked, wishing she could be a bit nicer. She was always so short with him.
'To have a blast,' she answered airily. 'Y' know, cruise around, get shit-faced.
We'll take your car.'
His father had recently bought him a black jeep for his sixteenth birthday. It was also a present to celebrate their return to LA after a year and a half of living in New York.
'I dunno…' he said hesitantly, remembering that tonight he was supposed to have an early dinner with his dad, but thinking that the idea of getting shit-faced with her seemed much more appealing. 'An' why we need a gun?' he added.
The girl didn't answer, she simply made chicken noises as she sauntered towards the door.
The boy followed, his eyes glued to her legs. He had a hard-on, and he knew that if he played it right, tonight might be the night he scored.
Lucky Santangelo Golden stood up behind her enormous art-deco desk in her office at Panther Studios, then she stretched and yawned. It had been a long hard day, and she was beyond tired. However, the day was not over yet because tonight she was being honoured at the Beverly Hilton Hotel for her work towards raising money for AIDS research.
As owner and head of Panther Studios, Lucky was in an extremely high profile position, so she had no choice but to accept the limelight gracefully.
The problem was that she was not looking forward to being the centre of attention. It wasn't as if she'd asked to be honoured - the evening had been thrust upon her, making it impossible to refuse.
She reached for a candy bar, nibbled hungrily on the sweet chocolate. Nothing like a sugar rush to get me through the next few hours, she thought ruefully.
Michael Caine's famous Hollywood quote kept running through her head: 'In a town with no honour, how come everyone's always being honoured?' Yeah, right on, Michael! she thought, with a wry grin. But how does one avoid it?
Lucky was a slender, long-limbed woman with an abundance of shoulder-length jet curls, dangerous black-opal eyes, full, sensual lips and a deep olive skin.
Hers was an exotic beauty mixed with a fierce intelligence. A brilliant businesswoman, she'd been running Panther Studios for eight years, making it one of the most respected and successful studios in Hollywood. Lucky had a knack for greenlighting all the right movies and picking up others for distribution, which always did well. 'You're Lucky in more ways than one,' Lennie was forever telling her. 'You can do anything.'
Lennie Golden, her husband. Whenever she thought about him her face brightened. Lennie was the love of her life. Tall, sexy, funny - yet, most of all, he was her soulmate, and she planned on staying with him for ever, because they were truly destined to be together and after two previous marriages she was finally totally happy. Lennie and their children - seven-year-old Gino, named after her father, and adorable eight-year-old Maria - satisfied her completely.
And then there was her fifteen-year-old son Bobby from her marriage to the late shipping magnate Dimitri Stanislopoulos. Bobby was so handsome and adult-looking - over six feet tall and extremely athletic. And there was Bobby's niece, Brigette, whom Lucky considered her godchild. Brigette lived in New York where she was a supermodel. Not that she needed the money because she was one of the richest young women in the world, having inherited a Greek shipping fortune from her grandfather, Dimitri, and her mother, Olympia, who'd died tragically of a drug overdose.
Tonight, Steven Berkeley, Lucky's half-brother, was picking Lucky up, because Lennie was on location downtown, directing Steven's wife, Mary Lou, in a romantic comedy. Lennie had once been an extremely successful comedian and movie star, but since his kidnapping ordeal several years ago he'd given up performing in front of the camera. Now he concentrated solely on writing and directing.
The movie he was shooting with Mary Lou - a talented and successful actress -
was not for Panther. Both he and Lucky had decided not to provide any opportunity for snide rumours of nepotism. 'If I'm doing this, I'll do it on my own,'
he'd said. And, of course, he'd succeeded, just as she'd known he would.
Tonight she was going to make an announcement at the end of her speech - an announcement that would blow everyone away. She hadn't even told Lennie about it - he would be as surprised as everyone else and, she hoped, pleased.
Only her father, Gino, knew what she was planning to say. Feisty old Gino, eighty-seven now, but still a man to be looked up to and admired.
Lucky adored Gino with a fierce passion; they'd been through so much together -
including many years when they hadn't spoken at all. Now their closeness was legendary, and Lucky always went to him first when it came to making decisions.
Gino was the smartest man she knew, although she hadn't always felt that way about him.
Oh, God! What a checkered past they shared - from the time he'd married her off to a senator's son when she was barely sixteen, to the years they hadn't spoken while he was out of America as a tax exile and she'd taken over his Las Vegas hotel empire.
Gino Santangelo was a self-made man who had power, charisma, and quite a way with women. Women adored Gino, they always had. Even now he still knew how to charm and flatter. Lucky remembered her adopted uncle, Costa, telling her all about the infamous Gino when he was a young man. 'His nickname was Gino the Ram,' Costa had confided, with an envious chuckle. 'That's 'cause he could have any woman he wanted, an' did. That is, until he met your dear mother, God rest her soul.'
Maria. Her mother. So beautiful and pure. Taken from her when she was a child.
Brutally murdered by the Bonnatti family.
Lucky would never forget the day she'd run downstairs to find her mother floating on a raft in the family swimming-pool. She was five years old, and the memory had stayed with her for ever - as vivid as the day it happened. She'd sat by the side of the pool staring at her exquisite mother, spreadeagled on the raft in the centre of the pool. 'Mama,' she'd murmured quietly. And then her voice had risen to a scream, as she'd realized her mother was no longer with her. 'MAMA!
Discovering her mother's body at such a young age had coloured her entire life.
After the tragedy, Gino had become so protective of her and her brother, Dario, that living at home in Bel Air was like being shut away in a maximum security prison. When she'd finally been sent abroad to a boarding-school in Switzerland, she'd immediately rebelled and turned into a wild child, running away with her best friend, Olympia Stanislopoulos, to a villa in the South of France where they'd wreaked havoc and partied nonstop. Oh, yes, those were crazy times. Her first taste of freedom, and she'd lived every minute of it, until a sour-faced Gino had tracked her down. Shortly after that he'd decided she would be better off married than careening around on the loose. So he'd made a deal with Senator Peter Richmond to marry her off to his son, the extraordinarily unsexy Craven.
What a trap that had turned out to be.
When she thought about it, Lucky realized that her life had been a series of incredible highs and lows. The highs were so utterly amazing: her three beautiful, healthy children; her marriage to Lennie; the success of running a major Hollywood studio; not to mention her earlier achievements in Vegas and Atlantic City where she'd built hotels.
The lows were too dreadful to contemplate. First, the murder of her mother, then the brutal killing of her brother, Dario, and her beloved Marco getting shot in Las Vegas. Three devastating tragedies, for which she'd extracted her own form of revenge.