The young man’s body formed a perfect arc as he dived into the turquoise water of the pool behind Belinda’s Bel Air home. His name was Darian Boothe-the final “e” had been her idea-and when he came to the surface, she blew him a kiss. “Wonderful, darling. I love watching you.”

He gave her a smile that she suspected might not be totally sincere. As he pulled himself out of the water, his biceps knotted, and his tiny red nylon Speedo rode up into the crack of his rear. She hoped the network would buy his pilot. If they didn’t, he’d be miserable, and she’d have to expend too much energy trying to cheer him up. On the other hand, if they did buy it, he’d move out and forget about her, but it wouldn’t be difficult to find another handsome young actor who needed her help.

She moved her legs farther apart so the sun could reach the insides of her oiled thighs, and pulled her sunglasses back over her eyes. She was tired. It hadn’t been easy to fall back asleep after Jake’s phone call last night telling her the twins had been born.

She’d known Fleur was having twins ever since the sonogram, so it wasn’t a surprise, but Belinda couldn’t imagine getting used to being a grandmother of three. Fleur and Jake had been married for three years. Three years and three children. It was embarrassing. And they didn’t plan to stop there. Her beautiful daughter had turned into a broodmare.

Only to herself did Belinda admit that Fleur had turned into something of a disappointment. Her daughter sent thoughtful gifts and called several times a week, but she didn’t really listen to Belinda anymore. Belinda tried to be fair. With the opening of Fleur’s West Coast office last year, not even the most dedicated skeptic could say that she hadn’t turned her agency into a huge success. And she had been photographed for Vogue wearing Michel’s gorgeous new line of maternity clothes. But it was clear to Belinda, if no one else, that Fleur wasn’t living up to her potential. All that beauty gone to waste…God knew, she didn’t need it to sit behind a desk. Then, on weekends, she and Jake buried themselves at that godforsaken farmhouse in Connecticut instead of staying in Manhattan where they could be the brightest, most sought-after couple in town.

Belinda remembered her last visit to the farmhouse two months ago. It had been early July, just after the Fourth. She’d stepped out of her car directly into a pile of dog refuse from one of those dirty animals Fleur insisted upon keeping. Her new Maud Frizon pumps were ruined. She rang the front doorbell. No one answered, so she had to let herself into the house.

The interior was cool and fragrant with kitchen smells, but it wasn’t Belinda’s idea of what the inside of a house belonging to two such famous people should look like. Wide-pegged floors instead of marble. Two braided rugs-“rag rugs” they’d called them in Indiana-instead of Persian carpets. A basketball was shoved into one corner of the foyer. A galvanized watering can held some very ordinary garden flowers. And, on the console, she spotted something that looked suspiciously like the Peretti evening bag she’d given Fleur two Christmases earlier, except now Big Bird’s fuzzy yellow head stuck out the top.

Belinda had removed her soiled pumps and padded through the silent downstairs into the dining room. A manuscript sat on the sideboard, but Belinda wasn’t tempted to look at it, although she knew dozens of people would give anything to get an early peek at a new Koranda play. Despite all his awards and honors, Jake’s writing didn’t interest her. And the book about Vietnam that had won him his second Pulitzer was the most depressing thing she’d ever read.

She liked his movies so much better than his writing and wished he made more of them, but there’d been only one Bird Dog picture in the last three years, and Fleur had thrown a fit about that. She and Jake had argued for days, but Jake wouldn’t budge. He told her he liked playing Bird Dog, and she could just suffer through it every few years. She ended up going on location with him whenever she could get away from work and spending her time wrangling the horses.

Just then, Belinda heard Fleur’s laughter drifting through the open window. She pushed back the lace curtain.

There her pregnant daughter lay, her head in her husband’s lap, both of them sprawled underneath a gnarled cherry tree that should have been removed years ago. Fleur wore faded navy maternity shorts and one of Jake’s shirts with the bottom buttons unfastened to make room for her stomach. Belinda wanted to cry. Her daughter’s beautiful blond hair was pulled back with a rubber band, a long scratch ran along the calf of one sunburned leg, and a mosquito bite marred her ankle. Worst of all, Jake was popping cherries into her mouth with one hand while he stroked her stomach with the other.

Fleur tilted her head, and Belinda saw the sheen of cherry juice on her chin. Jake kissed her, then slid his hand under her shirt to cup her breast. Embarrassed, Belinda started to turn away, only to hear a car door slam followed by a high-pitched, happy shriek. Belinda’s pulses quickened, and she leaned forward to catch her first glimpse of Meg in weeks.


Fleur and Jake looked up as the child came running around the side of the house. She dashed past a green plastic wading pool and launched her chubby body at them. Jake caught her before she could reach Fleur and pulled her into the crook of his arm. “Whoa, Cookie Bird. You’re gonna make Mommy’s tummy pop.”

“Great start to her sex education, cowboy.” Fleur tugged down the elastic leg on Meg’s cotton sunsuit. “I see ice cream around that mouth? Did you pull a fast one on Nanny again?”

Meg plopped her index finger into her mouth and took a contemplative suck, then turned to her father and gave him her biggest grin. He laughed, pulled her close, and buried his head in her neck.

“Con artist.” Fleur leaned forward and closed her mouth over a chubby thigh, almost as if she were tasting her daughter’s skin.

The diving board banged, and Darian Boothe somersaulted into the pool, bringing Belinda back to her own house in Bel Air and the reminder that her daughter now had two more babies. As she lay in the sun with the scent of chlorine filling her nostrils, she thought of how contemptuously Alexi would have regarded Fleur’s childbearing. Poor Alexi.

But she didn’t like thinking about him, so she thought about Darian Boothe instead and whether the network would buy the pilot. Then she thought of Fleur, who was still so beautiful she made Belinda’s heart ache. And Meg…

It wasn’t much of a name-far too plain for a beautiful little girl with her father’s mouth, her mother’s eyes, and Errol Flynn’s gleaming chestnut hair. Still, any name with Koranda after it was going to look fabulous on a marquee, and blood would tell.

More than thirty years had passed since the night James Dean had died on the road to Salinas. Belinda stretched in the California sun. All in all, she hadn’t done too badly for herself.

Author’s Note

So many people have helped directly and indirectly with this book, both in its original form and this newly revised edition. My special thanks to those in fashion and film who answered my questions so graciously: David Price, Calvin Klein Ltd.; Ford Models, Inc.; and the production staff and cast of Flanagan. A wonderful group of writers offered both wise counsel and practical information: Dionne Brennan Polk, Mary Shukis, Rosanne Kohake, Ann Rinaldi, Barbara Bretton, and Joi Nobisso. Friends and former neighbors shared their specialized knowledge with me: Simone Baldeon, Thelma Canty, Don Cucurello, Dr. Robert Pallay, Joe Phillips, and the staff of the Hills-borough (New Jersey) Public Library. My original editor, Maggie Crawford, loved this project from the beginning. Since then, my current editor, Carrie Feron, has wisely and enthusiastically steered it through its rebirth, along with my terrific agent, Steven Axelrod. How do I thank all the fabulous people at HarperCollins, William Morrow, and Avon Books, who continue to watch over me so well? Every writer should be so blessed. And to Bill and Dr. J.-thanks for the inspiration.

Susan Elizabeth Phillips

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