the world and laughed when he told it to go to hell. From the moment she saw him on the Palace Theater screen, he meant everything to her. He was the rebel…the lure…the shining beacon…The tilt of his head and slouch of his shoulders proclaimed that a man is his own creation. She’d transformed that message within herself and walked out of the theater her own woman. A month before her high school graduation, she lost her virginity in the backseat of an Olds 88 to a boy whose sulky mouth reminded her of Jimmy’s. Afterward, she packed her suitcase, slipped out of the house, and headed for the Indianapolis bus station. By the time she reached Hollywood, she’d changed her name to Belinda and put Edna Cornelia behind her forever.

She stood in front of him, her heart thumping in a crazy dance. She wanted to be wearing her tight black pedal pushers instead of this prim, navy-blue cotton dress. She wanted dark glasses, her highest heels, her blond hair pulled back on one side with a tortoiseshell comb.

“I-I loved your movie, Jimmy.” Her voice quivered like a violin string drawn too tight. “East of Eden. I loved it.” And I love you. More than you can imagine.

The cigarette formed an exclamation point to his sulky lips. His heavy-lidded eyes squinted against the smoke. “Yeah?”

He was speaking to her! She couldn’t believe it. “I’m your biggest fan,” she stammered. “I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve seen East of Eden.” Jimmy, you’re everything to me! You’re all I have. “It was wonderful. You were wonderful.” She stared worshipfully at him, her hyacinth-blue eyes luminous with love and adoration.

Dean shrugged his fine, narrow shoulders.

“I can’t wait for Rebel Without a Cause. It opens next month, doesn’t it?” Get up and take me home with you, Jimmy. Please. Take me home and make love to me.


Her heart was racing so fast she felt dizzy. No one understood him like she did. “I heard Giant’s really going to be something.” Love me, Jimmy. I’ll give everything to you.

Success had made him immune to hyacinth-eyed blondes with star-worship emblazoned across their pretty faces. He grunted and hunched back over his book. She didn’t consider his behavior rude. He was a giant, a god. Rules that applied to others didn’t apply to him. “Thank you,” she murmured, as she backed away. And then, in a whisper, “I love you, Jimmy.”

Dean didn’t hear. Or if he had, he didn’t care. He’d heard those words too many other times.

Belinda spent the rest of the week reliving the magical encounter. His location shooting in Texas was over, so he was sure to be at Schwab’s again, and she’d go there every day until he reappeared. She wouldn’t stammer, either. Men had always liked her, and Jimmy would be no different. She’d wear her sexiest outfit, and he’d have to fall in love with her.

But it was the respectable navy-blue sheath she wore the following Friday evening when she walked out of the shabby apartment she shared with two other girls and went off with her date. Billy Greenway was an acne-scarred sex fiend, but he was also the head messenger for Paramount’s casting department. A month ago, she’d gotten an audition at Paramount. She thought she’d been one of the prettiest girls in the waiting room, but she didn’t know if the assistant casting director had liked her. As she left the building, she’d met Billy, and by their third date she made him promise to get her a copy of the casting director’s memo if she’d let him touch her titties. Yesterday he’d called to tell her he finally had it.

They’d nearly reached his car when he pulled her against him for a long kiss. She heard the rustle of paper in the pocket of his checked sports shirt and pushed him away. “Is that the memo, Billy?”

He kissed her neck, his heavy breathing reminding her of all the raw Indiana boys she’d left behind. “I told you I’d bring it, didn’t I?”

“Let me see.”

“Later, babe.” His hands moved to her hips.

“You’re going out with a lady, and I don’t appreciate being mauled.” She gave him her coldest look and got in the car, but she knew she wouldn’t see the paper until she’d paid his price. “Where are you taking me tonight?” she asked as they drove away from her apartment.

“How’d you like to go to a little blast at the Garden of Allah?”

“The Garden of Allah?” Belinda’s head came up. During the forties, the Garden had been one of the most famous hotels in Hollywood. Some of the stars still stayed there. “How did you get an invitation to a party at the Garden?”

“I got my ways.”

He drove with one hand on the steering wheel and the other draped over her shoulder. As she expected, he didn’t take her directly to the Garden. Instead he wound through the side streets off Laurel Canyon until he found a secluded spot. He turned off the ignition and flicked the key over so they could hear the radio. Perez Prado playing “Cherry Pink and Apple Blossom White.” “Belinda, you know I’m real crazy about you.” He nuzzled her neck.

She wished he would just give her the memo, then take her to the party at the Garden without making her go through this. Still, it hadn’t been too bad last time, not once she’d closed her eyes and pretended he was Jimmy.

He thrust his tongue in her mouth before she caught her breath. She made a soft, gagging sound, then imprinted Jimmy’s face on the backs of her eyelids. Bad Boy Jimmy, taking what you want without asking. A small moan escaped at the feel of the rough, invading tongue. Bad Boy Jimmy, tongue so sweet.

He began tugging at the buttons of her navy sheath, his tongue stuck deep in her mouth. Cold air brushed her back and shoulders as he peeled the dress down to her waist and pushed her bra away. She pressed her eyes more tightly shut and pretended Jimmy was looking at her. Am I beautiful for you, Jimmy? I like it when you look at me. I like it when you touch me.

His hand slid up her stocking and over her garter onto bare flesh. He touched the inside of her thigh, and she eased her legs open for him. Touch me, Jimmy. Touch me there. Beautiful Jimmy. Oh yes.

He pressed her hand into his lap and rubbed it against him. Her eyes flew open. “No!” She pulled herself away and began straightening her clothes. “I’m not a tramp.”

“I know that, babe,” he said tightly. “You got a lot of class. But it’s not right the way you get me all worked up and then turn off.”

“You got yourself all worked up. And if it bothers you, stop dating me.”

He didn’t like that, and he peeled out onto the dark street. All the way down Laurel Canyon, he sulked in silence, and he was still sulking as he swung onto Sunset Boulevard. Only when he’d eased the car into the parking space at the Garden of Allah did he reach into his pocket and pull out the paper she wanted. “You’re not going to like this.”

The pit of her stomach lurched. She snatched the paper from him and ran her eyes down the typed list. She had to scan the page twice before she found her name. A comment was printed next to it. She stared at it, tried to make sense of what she was seeing. Gradually she absorbed the words.

Belinda Britton, she read. Great eyes, great tits, no talent.

The Garden of Allah was once Hollywood’s favorite playground. Originally the home of Alla Nazimova, the great Russian film star, it had been turned into a hotel in the late twenties. Unlike the Beverly Hills and the Bel Air, the Garden had never been completely respectable, and even when it first opened, there’d been something slightly seedy about it. But still the stars came, drawn like silvery moths to the twenty-five Spanish bungalows and the party that never seemed to stop.

Tallulah Bankhead cavorted naked around the pool, which was shaped like Nazimova’s Black Sea. Scott Fitzgerald met Sheilah Graham in one of the bungalows. The men lived there between marriages: Ronald Reagan when it was over with Jane Wyman, Fernando Lamas after Arlene Dahl. During the Golden Age, they could all be found at the Garden: Bogart and his Baby, Ty Power, Ava Gardner. Sinatra was there, and Ginger Rogers. Screenwriters sat on white slat chairs by their front doors and typed during the day. Rachmaninoff rehearsed in one bungalow, Benny Goodman in another. And always, there was a party.

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