Shari Low & Ross King
Publication date: September 13th 2022
Genres: Adult, Romance, Thriller
When we bury our secrets, they always come back to haunt us…
Their rise was meteoric.
Only a few years before, they had been three friends from Glasgow, just trying to survive tough lives of danger and dysfunction.
But on one Hollywood night in 1993, they were on the world’s biggest stage, accepting their Oscar in front of the watching world.
That night was the beginning of their careers. But it was also the end of their friendship.
Over the next twenty years, Mirren McLean would become one of the most powerful writers in the movie industry.
Zander Leith would break box-office records as cinema’s most in-demand action hero.
And Davie Johnson would rake in millions as producer of some of the biggest shows on TV.
For two decades they didn’t speak, driven apart by a horrific secret.
Their past is coming back to bite them, and they have to decide whether to run, hide, or fight.
Because when you rise to the top, there’s always someone who wants to see you fall.
An exciting new glam thriller for the fans of Taylor Jenkins Reid, Liane Moriarty and Jo Spain
‘Young Americans’ – David Bowie
Twenty Years Later
Beverly Wilshire Hotel, 2013
By the pool of the Beverly Wilshire Hotel, made famous by a cinda-fucking-rella movie about a hooker saved by a rich man, Davie Johnston has taken three cabanas – one for him, one on either side so he doesn’t get overheard or interrupted. He’s wearing linen trousers and shirt, open just low enough to reveal every perfect contour of his lasered torso. Clothes pale blue. Every time he wears blue, someone mentions that it brings out the colour in his eyes. Every time he replies, ‘Oh really? I didn’t realize.’ Then he goes home and orders ten more shirts, same shade.
As always, he’s combining business and pleasure, taking pitch meetings for the next big reality show. He already produces three of the top five in the ratings. He chose the Beverly Wilshire because it kills two birds with one stone. If a meeting goes exceptionally well, he’s only an elevator away from a California-king-size bed.
A couple sit down for the three-o’clock slot. It’s the first interview after lunch and he’s had two glasses of Pinot Noir. In this postcode that qualifies him for AA.
She’s a supermodel; he’s an ageing rock god, best hits behind him. They pitch the show. Fly on the wall. Beauty and the Beats. Great premise, shit title. They tell Davie every network has expressed interest in this show, but they want him to produce it because he’s ‘The Man’. They’re not lying about the second part.
The meeting goes well, like every other meeting in the industry. Both sides flatter the other. Both sides claim interest. Ninety-nine times out of a hundred, one side refuses to take the next call.
Davie listens. Definitely has potential. They shake hands; he tells them he’ll be in touch. He will. His secretary will call on Monday and arrange a follow-up meeting. Only the supermodel. Room 567. With the California-king-size bed.
On the ground floor of the hotel, at Wolfgang Puck’s restaurant, CUT, Mirren McLean is oblivious to her childhood friend’s presence upstairs. She is at her usual table, with her husband of nineteen years, producer-director Jack Gore, and their teenage children, Chloe and Logan.
If anyone added up the value of the diners in the room, it would hit the billions. People have no problem paying $150 for a Japanese 100 per cent Wagyu steak because this place is regarded as the best. And in Beverly Hills, it’s only the best that matters.
Jack has been on location for a few weeks, so Mirren is thrilled he’s back. Even happier because both her children are there. This is what life is about – family. Right now, she’s a mum and a wife, and that’s all she wants to be. Just a mum and a wife.
Paul Bonetti, the legendary producer, approaches her table. Shakes hands. She’s polite because she has manners, but she wants him gone so she can get back to her family. She likes to keep the two separate, but in this town, there’s no forgetting about business.
Bonetti smiles, like he’s her best friend. ‘I couldn’t be more pleased for you – still number one at the box office after three weeks,’ he says, attempting jovial and sincere, achieving latent fury and crippling envy. His leading men could act; he couldn’t. ‘Just hope I’m up against you next time around – make it a fair fight.’
‘Oh, I’m sure you’ll take the top spot next time. It must be your turn,’ she says, wide grin, while the words ‘over my dead body’ explode in her head. She makes a mental note to bring forward the release date for the next Clansman movie to ensure it clashes with whatever action killfest he has coming out. Time to put him back in his place. If he wants to play that game, she’ll take the challenge.
She’ll win. Because she’s one of the biggest and ballsiest players in Hollywood.
And everyone in the room knows it.
* * *
On the seventh floor, room 731, Zander Leith is sitting in a solid-mahogany high-back seat. He’s already refused the director-style chair left by the company who organized the press junket, as this one forces him to sit up straight. It’s all about the angles.
His new movie, the sixth in the Dunhill franchise, playing a man who is a suave, deadly cross between a Bond and a Reacher, hits the cinemas in three weeks’ time. He’s now been in this airless room for seven hours, answering the same questions from TV and print journalists who all look different but act equally inane. Cute young women asking flirtatious questions. The enthusiastic newbies who want to be his best mate. The older, jaded ones who try to catch him out and twist his words.
Very occasionally, there’s someone who has well-researched questions that actually make him think – they’re the only ones that hit the pause button on the eradication of his will to live.
Next door, his hair and make-up team, publicist and manager sit ready to pounce when they are required.
One of them is required now. The journo in front of him, wearing the shortest of skirts, is giving him a glimpse of her Victoria’s Secret underwear. He knows the brand because he slept with a model who was wearing it on the catwalk only a month before.
The interview is coming to a close. Once upon a time, he would get someone else to do his bidding. Now, he just cuts to the quick. It’s speed-dating, movie-star 101.
He leans towards her. ‘Warren Beatty Suite. Seven p.m.?’ It’s a question to which they both know the answer.
She leaves satisfied that she got everything she came for. His publicist enters the room, turns to the sound guy.
‘Make sure that last exchange is deleted?’
Of course he does.
Because no one ever says no in Hollywood.
In January 2022, Shari Low celebrated 21 years since the publication of her first novel, What If?. Shari went on to be a best-selling novelist, publishing over 30 books, including My One Month Marriage, One Day In Summer, One Summer Sunrise, The Story Of Our Secrets and her non-fiction collection of parenthood memories, Because Mummy Said So.
In late 2020, her first novel, What If?, was updated and re-published. In January 2021, the sequel, What Now? was released, followed in April 22 by the third book in the series, What Next?. All three novels became international best sellers.
In real life, once upon a time she met a guy, got engaged after a week, and twenty-something years later she lives near Glasgow with her husband and a labradoodle. Her two teenagers have now left home, so she spends an inordinate amount of time on video calls checking if they’re eating well and keeping up to date with their laundry.
For all the latest news, visit Shari on Facebook, twitter, instagram or at www.sharilow.com
Ross King is the author of the bestselling Brunelleschi’s Dome and Michelangelo & the Pope’s Ceiling, as well as the novels Ex-Libris and Domino. He lives in England, near Oxford.
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