Hollywood Wives:The New GenerationBy: Jackie Collins
Eric Vernon walked into Sam’s Place, a seedy topless bar in the valley, and immediately fixed his gaze on Arliss Shepherd.
Arliss was not a pretty sight as he leaned against the bar, nursing a half-full bottle of beer. Long-faced with pale, pock-marked skin, and lank, shoulder-length yellow hair, he was skinny as a starving coyote and just as skittish. Nervous habits surrounded him–he chewed his straggly hair, picked his teeth, rarely changed his underwear, and smelled of stale onions.
In spite of his shortcomings, Arliss was not lacking in friends: a group of similar misfits hung out at Sam’s Place, with Arliss leading the pack. Sam, an obese man famous for only having one ball, ran his bar like a friendly club for losers. Regulars included Davey ‘The Animal’, Little Joe, and Big Mark Johansson. They were a motley crew, drawing solace from each other’s company and the fact that there was strength in numbers. Together they could kick ass. Alone they were useless, nothing more than a bunch of loud-mouthed failures. Which, as far as Eric Vernon was concerned, was a good thing, because men with no self-esteem were far easier to manipulate than men with balls. He’d discovered that in prison when he was doing time for manslaughter.
Manslaughter my ass, Eric thought as he approached Arliss at the bar. I hit the scumbag with a two-by-four until he dropped dead in front of me. And not a moment too soon.
Eric Vernon was a nondescript man of medium height and slight build, with bland features and sandy brown hair cut short. He had the kind of face that blended in–the kind of face that nobody ever remembered.
Except that skanky bitch remembered me all right, he thought sourly. Oh, yes, she remembered me so well that I served six miserable years in prison because of her.
The first thing he’d done when he’d got out of the joint was taken care of her. Smashed her pointy face until it was no more than pulp. Then he’d burned her house down.
The best revenge is deadly. Eric had learned that at an early age.
Immediately after dealing with the tattling bitch he’d adopted a new identity and moved to California, eventually settling in L.A. where he’d taken a job with a computer company–a skill he’d mastered in jail.
All this had taken place two years earlier, and no one had ever questioned who he was or where he came from. Which is exactly the way he’d planned it.
A person does not sit in jail for six stinking years without making plans. And Eric had an agenda, an agenda he was getting ready to pursue.
‘You look fantastic!’
Lissa Roman narrowed her eyes as she studied her reflection in the large, lightbulb-studded makeup mirror. She saw perfection, and so she should, considering she worked like a long-haul truck driver to look as good as she did. And it wasn’t easy. It took real dedication and non-stop action. Yoga, Pilates, starvation, ice-cold showers, Brazilian waxing, hair colouring, jogging, swimming, weight training, fasting, aerobics, spinning–you name it, Lissa did it. Everything except plastic surgery. She was too scared of the knife. Too petrified that the surgeon would make her look like somebody else–take away her identity, her personality. She had seen it happen to numerous people in Hollywood, men and women. Besides, she was only forty–younger than Madonna and Sharon Stone, for God’s sake. And, anyway, she didn’t need it.
‘You’re sure I look as good as it gets?’ she questioned, forcing Fabio, her faithful makeup and hair artist, to repeat his compliments.
‘Divine. Beautiful. The works,’ Fabio assured her, tossing back his luxuriant mane of expensive hair extensions.
And he meant every word of it, because although Lissa Roman was not a classic beauty, she had that indiscernible something that made her a superstar. It was a combination of blatant sex appeal, fiery energy and a body to die for. Not to mention blazing blue eyes, high cheekbones, and full, pouty lips. Fabio loved basking in her aura.
‘All thanks to you and your magic fingers,’ Lissa murmured, smoothing her shoulder-length platinum hair.
‘That’s what Teddy told me last night,’ Fabio said, with a self-satisfied smirk.