It was early evening and the garden restaurant was only half full. The patrons were trying to play it cool, because after all, this was L.A. and stars abounded. However, most of them couldn’t resist an occasional surreptitious glance over at Venus, the platinum- blond, world- famous superstar, as she picked at a chopped vegetable salad. Sitting at the table with her was Lucky Santangelo, a darkhaired beauty who’d experienced her own share of controversial headlines and scandals over the years. Lucky, the former owner and head of Panther Studios, was a businesswoman supreme who currently owned the luxurious hotel, casino, and apartment complex The Keys in Las Vegas. The two of them made a formidable couple. In Hollywood, where looks were everything, Venus and Lucky ruled. Venus with her in- your- face blondness, startling blue eyes, and toned and muscled shape. And Lucky— a dangerously seductive woman with blacker- than- night eyes, deep olive skin, sensuous full lips, a tangle of long jet hair, and a lithe body. “I’m beginning to think you’re a sex addict,” Lucky said lightly, smiling at her close friend. “Excuse me,” Venus retorted, raising a perfectly arched and penciled eyebrow. “Last week you called me a cougar, and now I’m a sex addict. Seriously, Lucky?” Pushing back her mane of unruly black curls, Lucky grinned. “Yeah. I’m so wrong,” she drawled sarcastically. “It wasn’t you who slept with your twenty- two- year- old costar last week, and it wasn’t you who screwed your sixty- year- old director two days later.” “Oh please,” Venus said, dismissively waving her hand in the air. “I’m getting a divorce. What do you expect me to do, join a convent?” “That might be a touch extreme,” Lucky said, smiling as she thought about Venus wreaking havoc in a convent. “But anyway, I’m sure you know what you’re doing.” “You bet your fine ass I do,” Venus answered vehemently. “Billy is all over the Internet and the magazines with that juvenile skank he’s supposedly hooked up with. Just like Cooper before him.” She paused for a long thoughtful moment. “Another cheating rat. I sure know how to pick ’em.” “You certainly do,” Lucky agreed, thinking that Cooper Turner, Venus’s husband before Billy Melina, was a whole different ball game. Cooper was a much older movie star with a Warren Beatty– style track record, and everyone had known that Cooper would eventually cheat. Billy— not so much. Even though Billy was thirteen years younger than Venus, he’d seemed thrilled to be with her. And why not? Like Madonna, Venus was a true original with legions of fans worldwide. “I cannot believe Billy turned out to be such a loser,” Venus said, determined to verbally trash her soon- to- be ex. “Hardly a loser,” Lucky couldn’t help pointing out. “His current movie has grossed over a hundred million. Not too shabby.”
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