After The Glitter Fades

By: Diane Marina

Acknowledgments



My thanks and much love to my wife, Angela. If I asked you to read this book a thousand times, I know you would do it without complaint, and that’s symbolic of our life together – you support and love me every step of the way. Thank you for being my partner in everything I do.



Thank you to Tara Young for your superior editing skills. Your attention to detail and your perspective on the story was greatly appreciated. Thank you catching all of my “darts”.



Special thanks to Daniela Acitelli for providing me with insight into Elise’s character, and for sharing your incredible talent with me. You helped me realize that this character should go in a direction I hadn’t expected. I look forward to hearing you breathe life into these characters.



Finally, thanks to my friend Stacey Darlington. Your support and encouragement helps me do what I do, and you’re your insight helps me become a better writer with each book.



This book is dedicated to Jason and Angelica–two great kids who have made me proud to be their mom.





Chapter One │

Siena



Siena sat in the makeup chair, motionless save for her ridiculously long eyelashes, which fluttered closed and then open again as she listened to Elise through the speakerphone. She watched as Gloria, the studio hairstylist, used a hot iron to put the finishing touches on her espresso-colored curls. Siena blinked, her annoyance growing as Elise spoke.

“I understand the reason you don’t want to come to the party tonight, love,” Elise droned, “but it’s my birthday.” Her rich vibrato, dripping with Southern honey beneath a hint of Old Hollywood, hummed in the makeup room. Elise had spent a lot of money working with coaches to hide the Southern twang, but every once in a while, Siena could hear it creep back in.

Siena closed her eyes and envisioned her best friend ticking off the reasons on her fingers as she tried to coax her through her expensive smartphone.

“You’re my best friend, so what would people say if you’re not there? I promise you, Julia will not be there to report on what she sees, she will be there as my friend. Your secret will be safe. Besides, Victoria and Derek will be attending, and you love Victoria, though if you ask me, that’s a fucked-up circle all on its own.”

Siena’s gaze left the reflection of her own in the mirror and met Gloria’s, whose brows had raised just a touch—enough to let Siena know her curiosity was piqued. Hollywood was a nosy little town with enough hungry spies on the lookout for a juicy story, but Siena would be damned if she’d give anyone a nibble at her personal life. This was why she normally used her own hairstylist, but it was just her bad luck that Becka was home sick with a stomach bug, forcing Siena to use the services of the studio’s stylist this week.

Siena released a nervous sigh before speaking, raising her voice in an obvious “shut the hell up” manner. “El, I’m in hair and makeup right now, but I promise I’ll call you in a bit with my answer.”

A slight pause before Elise hummed and replied, “Oh, hello, Becka dear. I didn’t mean to ignore you.”

“No, no. Becka’s home sick. I’m in with Gloria today.” Siena’s rich voice underscored the woman’s name, hoping Elise would pick up on the innuendo and zip her mouth.

“Oh. OH!”

Thank God. Sometimes you had to hit El with a figurative brick to the head.

“Okay, but, Siena, I’m warning you.”

“I promise. Just give me some time to get in touch with Derek.” Siena glanced up at Gloria. Again with the eyebrow. She was sure by the end of the day the rumor going around Hollywood would be that she was either pregnant or marrying Derek for the second time.

Elise let out a displeased grunt.

“El…”

“Okay!”

“Call you later, I promise. Love you!” Siena hit the “end” button and chewed her bottom lip.

“Stefan will have to redo your lips if you keep that up,” Gloria reprimanded her.

Siena jumped slightly. She chewed things when she was worried—lips, fingernails, tips of pens, gum—her teeth didn’t discriminate, happy to grind away at whatever was available. She consciously sat back in her seat and tried to focus on watching Gloria’s progress with the goal of keeping her mind off a party where a famously out lesbian entertainment reporter would be a prominent guest, along with Siena’s ex-husband and his secret girlfriend. Siena tried her best not to count how many ways the guest list at that night’s soiree could destroy her career as one of Hollywood’s most famous and well-loved actresses.