Excerpt for Publicity!: Scandals of a Hollywood Crisis Manager by , available in its entirety at Smashwords




Publicity!


By Edwin Betancourt



















All rights reserved. This book or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the publisher/author except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.



The stories in this book are works of fiction. Any references to historical events or real places are used fictitiously. Other names, characters, places and scandals are products of the author’s imagination, and any resemblance to actual events, scandals, places or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.



Copyright © 2017 by Edwin Betancourt



Created in the United States of America



First Printing, 2017



For Business Inquiries, Questions, or bookstore questions Email: EJB326@gmail.com























Most of the successful people in Hollywood are failures as human beings.”

  • Marlon Brando



Publicity!

Here at Publicity! My goal is to make sure every client no matter where you fall in Hollywood: A-List, B-List, C-List or D, have long lasting careers without suffering the bumps and roads of scandals that plague every turn in Hollywood. My name is Laurel Quinn and I am the Head of ‘Publicity!’. I founded this company after my mother, the late Oscar Award Winning Actress Elizabeth Quinn, suffered a scandal because of a jealous costar and committed suicide. Ever since that day, I have vowed to protect the reputation of these celebrities and turn their scandals around. With the help of my staff, no scandal is too big for me to handle! So give me a call and let Publicity!, handle your scandal!”



November 10th, 2017

Laurel Quinn tapped the end of her pink crystal pen against the edge of her chestnut desk. Seated in front of her was the famous rapper Lil Holler, wearing his infamous thick golden chains and holding his customized fitted cap on his lap.

He had heard many stories about this Auburn haired woman all throughout San New City. She was a force to be reckoned with, but she always got the job done.

Many people dubbed her the ‘Ice Queen’, a term the Rapper was sure would offend the middle-aged woman if someone called her that to her face.

The silence between the two had been present for at least three minutes now. Laurel knew why he called to set up an appointment with her, she just wanted to hear him explain the reasoning behind it himself…sadly the man that won five Grammy Awards and spent most of his career yelling at the top of his lungs in every song; wasn’t saying a word. He sat there giving her an apologetic look and gulped trying to find the proper words to say.

She leaned back in her throne like office chair and flipped her hair back, “Should I explain to you why you’re here or are you going to finally open up that trap of yours and tell me yourself?”

The rapper licked his lips and began to speak, “Aight so this is what had happened-“

Laurel slammed the pen on her desk causing Lil Holler to flinch and stop speaking. “If you’re going to address me, I advise you to take that Rapper façade-you fool the world with and throw it out. You will address me like the Harvard Graduate you actually are and use proper English words.”

Lil Holler let out a frustrated sigh and he gave the woman a nod. He cleared his throat and continued on, “My apologies Ms.Quinn. I was going to say I screwed up.”

“Screwed up?” Laurel repeated slowly. “No. A screw up is getting a groupie pregnant because you were too stupid to put on a condom. What you did was insult not only your intelligence but an entire nation.”

Before the rapper could open his mouth to defend his actions, Laurel grabbed a small remote control off her desk and pressed the power button turning on the large television screen behind her. On the large screen, was a picture of the rapper holding up an American Flag that was set on fire and smiling at the camera. The headline on the screen read:

NYC Rapper Lil Holler Betrays America and Insults The Troops”

Lil Holler shifted uncomfortably on the chair as the news segment continued playing with the volume on mute. Laurel noticed how uneasy he was and she turned off the screen and placed the remote back down on her desk. “Can you please, please tell me what the hell was going through your head when you not only burned the American flag, but also took a stupid selfie doing it?”

“Listen…it all started when Presidential Elect Victor Reber won the damn election. I-I mean who votes for a racist?!”

“And instead of creating a fake profile on Twitter to complain about it-like everyone else does- you decide to open a can of stupidity and share it with your eight million followers?”

Lil Holler clenched his jaws together, “I was protesting.”

“Protesting what, Curtis?”

“Call me Lil Holler.” The rapper corrected her.

Laurel looked at Lil Holler for a few seconds shocked he would prove his stupidity even more by demanding her to call him a name that made him sound like an idiot. “Yeah I’m not doing that.” She stated. “As I was saying, what the hell were you protesting that you had to burn a flag?”

“Police Brutality.”

“If you want to protest Police Brutality kneel during the National Anthem or text during a Presidential Speech, I don’t care! But you do not burn a flag! It is seen as disrespectful to everyone including your fans- which is ironic considering all you do is rap about killing snitches and calling women ‘whores and sluts’- but that’s beside the point.”

“The last time I checked, the desecration of the flag is a legal act that is protected by the First Amendment. This means I cannot be imprisoned.”

Laurel flipped her shoulder length Auburn colored hair back and smiled at him. “You aren’t going to jail Curtis, nor are you facing any jail time. This….act of ‘Righteousness’ cost you endorsement deals. Nike, Snapple, those ridiculously huge headphones, and any and every deal you had in the works are gone. Poof! They all dropped you once this photo went viral. I am not your agent; I do not care what your intentions are! I am a Crisis Manager, Your fixer. I’m here to make sure you come up unscathed from this mess.”

Curtis aka Lil Holler grew angry at her words. He didn’t think about the business side of his act and quite frankly he didn’t care. The whole purpose of that photo was to show how screwed up America was; now that Republican nominee Victor Reber won the Presidency.

Although he knew there wasn’t much of a connection between Reber and the police shootings that took place six months ago, he needed his voice heard and he proved it by burning the American flag and taking the picture to show his fans and the entire world how he truly felt.

Curtis took in a deep breath, “I don’t need them! As long as my fans support me, that is all that matters. I have three songs currently played in commercials. One song is even the theme to that stupid show about those girls finding their killer or some crap.”

Laurel gave him a nod. “I highly doubt your manager even called you since this whole scandal went down; as it’s pretty evident you’re wasting my time and yours. However, those commercials have dropped your songs and they are replacing it with new songs by that Canadian Rapper. As for that show, more than twenty thousand fans have signed a petition to boycott the show until they take your song off as its theme. They’re sending the petition over to the studio execs at MBZ as we speak.”

“Wait! What!? Someone created a petition to remove my song?”

“Yes, clever little buggers. They can’t afford to move out of their parent’s basement or let alone actually find a job, but they can sit behind their computer screens and create meaningless petitions.”

Curtis shook his head nervously and he shifted in the chair again. “So what do I do now? I mean you are my Crisis Manager after all. You’re supposed to make these types of things go away!”

“I am well aware of my job title thank you for the reminder.”

There was a knock on the door that caused Curtis to nervously to look at Laurel and he watched as she rose up from the chair and made her way toward the door. He couldn’t help but admire the woman’s hourglass figure that was made possible by the skin tight red and black dress she had on.

Laurel opened the door to find a man no older than thirty years old standing in the doorway holding a manila colored envelope in his hands. “Are these the photographs I asked for?”

The tall man gave her a nod and smiled “And then some.”

“Perfect. Thank you Tony.” She took the envelope and turned back to her desk and she began to walk toward it once again. “Curtis, do you remember Dave Alex, the former mayor of Singler City?”

The rapper thought to himself about the name and he shook his head never once hearing it before. “No I don’t.”

Laurel continued to walk around her desk and she sat down on the chair. “Well Dave Alex was running for Mayor and he painted this image with his beautiful family. Wife, kids and white picket fences. You know the same old cliché bull crap closeted Republicans use to get votes. Well, back in the day he and I was engaged. This was in college, where I clearly had no self-esteem. Anyway, he did this press conference a few months after being elected, where he referred to me as -and I quote- ‘A Blonde Cancerous woman who turned my life upside down until I met my current wife’.”

“Oh my God.” Curtis let out a low gasp.

“Right?” Laurel asked. “During those days I wasn’t even a blonde!” She shook her head smiling to herself not entirely sure if Curtis understood her dark humor. “Anyway, after that little comment I grew offended and wanted to give my dear ex-fiancé a congratulatory present. Well, Tony-the man who just knocked on my door- is very gifted with his ability to manipulate photos and make them seem real.”

“You mean like Photoshop?”

“In a way yes. But he doesn’t use that program. He uses something a bit more advanced. Something that fools those geeks in the FBI who analyzes the photos, it shows no traces of manipulation. So getting back on track, someone leaked a photo of dear old Mayor Alex sniffing cocaine and hanging out with prostitutes the same day his third son was born. That made the people of Singler City very upset. So upset they decided to impeach him and his wife forced him to go to rehab.”

If this was a cartoon, Laurel was sure animated exclamation marks would be dancing over Curtis’ head.

The rumors he heard from random people in the industry were correct. She was a ruthless woman who would stop at nothing to get what she wanted.

“Y-You leaked those photos?”

“Oh Curtis. What is that phrase you say in all your songs?” Laurel rubbed her chin thinking of the phrase and within a second, she snapped her fingers in excitement. “Ah yes! Now I remember ‘Snitches get shot’.” She flashed him a devious smirk that would make even the Devil himself nervous.

He cleared his throat again and asked, “But what does this have to do with my current situation?”

“Great question!” She opened the manila envelope. “Well, Tony and I went over ways to make this all go away and we came up with a marvelous solution. Here is our version of the original photo.” She took out a picture and handed it to the rapper.

He lowered his eyebrows at what he was seeing.

The picture he uploaded online was the same as the one he was currently looking at, he wore the same white tank top, the same black fitted cap with his logo on it but instead of sweatpants- he had on shorts, and instead of a burning flag in his hands, he held a trout as if he just fished it out of the local river.

“What the hell is this?! Nah man. No one will believe that!” he stated as he pushed the picture away from him.

Laurel was impressed at how handsomely athletic this man was and yet how stupid he was coming across at the same time. “Have you checked your phone recently? You are trending number Two on Twitter. You would’ve been trending number one but the Queen of England was fictitiously killed off again.”

“I’m trending number two because of this damn scandal!”

“Mmm, check again.” She stated leaning back on the chair.

Curtis quickly pulled out his cellphone and tapped the touch screen to discover he had more than ninety-eight Tweet notifications and one hundred messages. He clicked on the notification icon and scrolled through the pages in shock and awe at what he was reading. He noticed one tweet had ‘Lil Holler Makes A Statement About Hacking’ and he lowered his eyebrows.

“You released a statement on my behalf?”

“Mhmm.” Laurel replied with a smirk still plastered on her pore less face.

The rapper clicked on the link and read the statement aloud.

“I want to thank my fans for their response both positive and negative regarding the picture that was uploaded earlier. It breaks my heart that anyone in their right mind would believe that I would burn a flag- a symbol of this Country, a symbol of everything the brave Men and Women are fighting for overseas, that you all would believe I would do something so sinister and vile leaves me silent and hurt. I have been vocal in my community for years and believe me when I say I did not burn the American Flag. I had the FBI and local officials look into the picture and it was manipulated by hackers-“ Curtis stopped reading and he looked at Laurel. “The FBI? Wouldn’t they deny this claim?”

“They can. However, it’s amazing at what people will do to ensure their secrets never get out. Now please continue reading you’re getting to the good part.”

Curtis nodded. He was sorry he even asked the question and he continued reading the statement.

“- Apparently, some very angry people were livid that my name was tossed into the Inauguration pool to perform for Presidential Elect Victor Reber, that they called me a ‘Traitor’, ‘A liar’ and even used racial slurs to describe my intentions. My name was tossed into the hat to perform but I never once held any interest to do so. Yes, throughout his campaign, he had said some very offensive things that made me question where his loyalty was, but I would never disrespect something as special as our American Flag.

I will continue being vocal in my community against the Police Brutality, we have been facing for the past year, for as long as I am alive. I want to thank you all for your understanding. Below I have posted the real picture. If you are going to try to photoshop a picture, do not do it erasing the biggest Trout I ever caught! LOL!”

Curtis finished reading the response and he began to reread it again in his mind. This was a beautifully written response. It sounded just like him, every word used were some he would actually have used himself.

“This...is great but I’m letting my people down by stating the flag burning wasn’t real!”

“What people?” Laurel asked. “When this photo went viral eighteen hours ago you went from Eight million followers to nine hundred. Then before I even started typing out that beautifully worded public statement, that number dropped down to two hundred followers. Face the fact Curtis, this isn’t about politics or race. At the end of the day, it’s about you staying on top of your career. I get that you want to be Robin Hood, I do. But put all that anger into your next album, because as a woman, I ought to castrate you for calling us ‘Bitches, Sluts and Whores’.”

As if the pain was real, Curtis placed his cap over his crotch and nodded. He looked back down at the phone screen and swiped it again. “According to my followers now, I only have five hundred.”

“Give it time. Everyone is still working and in school. Around noon and six the news will pick up on this mishap and address it.”

Curtis placed the phone in his pocket and he rose up from the chair. “You really came through for me. Thank you so much!”

Laurel gave him a sincere smile and nodded her head watching him. “That’s my job. Now, the next time you’re angry…stay away from Flags.”

Curtis chuckled and he turned toward the office door and opened it, he walked out of her office and Laurel couldn’t restrain from letting out a deep sigh of relief at another job well done.

Tony re-entered her office and leaned against the doorway.

“Everything worked out?” he asked his British accent making it obvious he was concerned for Laurel’s wellbeing. She flashed him a smile nodding her head.

“Were there any doubts?-” She paused for a few seconds and licked her lips smirking. “How would you like to make Twenty Five Thousand dollars?”

Tony straightened his posture and looked at his boss. “I’m listening.”



Nine Hours Later @ Laurel Quinn’s Apartment (6:40pm):

Laurel walked out of her bedroom wearing grey sweatpants, a baggy pink sweater and her Auburn hair was placed in a messy bun. She just got home over twenty minutes ago and couldn’t wait to kick off her stiletto shoes and designer dress, to put on something more comfortable and relaxing.

She walked over to her kitchen and grabbed a glass of red wine off the counter.

She poured a little into a glass cup and took a small sip, enjoying the bittersweet taste that was now travelling down her throat.

Her concentration was cut short when her cellphone began to ring. She placed the glass of wine on the counter and walked over to her living room where her phone laid on her black and red sofa. She grabbed the phone, read the screen, and saw Tony sent her a text message. With a tap on the screen, the text opened and on it read, ‘Turn on the news now’.

Laurel quickly turned on her large plasma television screen that hung on the wall in her living room. The screen turned on to the news, which showed an image of Lil Holler and underneath the picture was the caption:

NYC Based Rapper Lil Holler Gunned Down”.

She sat down on the sofa and turned up the volume wishing she had brought her glass of wine from the counter with her.

That’s right Linda! According to the San New Police Department, Curtis Lucas who goes by the name Lil Holler was coming out of a meeting with his Record Label when another car pulled up to his Black Mercedes Benz and opened fire. From what I have been told, Lucas was shot twice in his right arm and is listed in stable condition. Now this comes just hours after Curtis released a public statement that his Twitter account was hacked and a manipulated photo surfaced of him burning the American Flag. Investigators have detained a person of interest and there is no word yet if this individual was behind the shooting-“

Laurel smirked at the information she just heard and she remembered the conversation she had with Tony in her office.



Nine Hours Earlier:

“Were there any doubts?-” Laurel paused for a few seconds and licked her lips smirking. “How would you like to make Twenty Five Thousand dollars?”

Tony straightened his posture and looked at his boss. “I’m listening.”

“I need you to help Lil Holler gain more followers.” Laurel stated signaling the 6’1 man to close the office door so they could talk privately.

Tony closed the door behind him and he gave his boss a nod listening carefully to her words.

“Followers as in bullets or stabbing?”

“Bullets. But I need you to make sure he doesn’t die. So try to aim for his arm. Right arm, he’s a lefty so this won’t affect his ability to write.”

Tony wasn’t like most men in San New. He was tall, dark and handsome and while he was born in the United Kingdom; he had many secrets that prevented him from returning home. Secrets that would end his life if they ever got out, those same secrets that made Laurel hire him without any hesitation.

“If I didn’t know any better Quinn, I’d say you’re hiring me as your assassin rather than your assistant.”

Laurel flashed him a smirk and flipped back her hair. “It was your exact assassination skills that brought you here. It was also your poor lapse of judgment that made you assume I was an easy target. Now, I’m just...promoting you temporarily to do what you do best. Except this time, you’re not killing anyone. You’re just helping a dear client with his unfortunate situation.”

Tony gave the beautiful yet mysterious woman a smirk and he straightened his tie. “Sounds reasonable.”

“Great! I’ll wire you the rest of the money when the job is done. “





Laurel snapped out of her daydream and she glanced back over at the television screen as the blonde reporter continued speaking.

Lucas has been receiving an outpour of support from his fans, other celebrities as well as local leaders.”

She turned off the television screen and looked down at her phone. She tapped a few buttons and smiled as the screen read, “Transfer Completed”.

“You’re welcome.” She placed the phone in the right pocket of her sweatpants and got up from the sofa. She made her way back to the kitchen and grabbed the glass of red wine and took another sip smiling to herself. Her right hand gripped the glass of wine as her left hand grabbed a quarter out of her purse.

Laurel spun on her heels and walked out of her kitchen turning off the lights. She made her way down the long hallway of her three-bedroom apartment coming to a halt at a white door. She reached out her left hand and twisted the crystal doorknob slowly opening the door.

The room was dark but the light from the hallway crept in revealing a baby’s crib, a blue banner hanging on the wall with the name ‘Elijah Zachary Quinn’ and a few stuffed animals. Her bare feet made no noise as she walked further into the bedroom, turning her attention to a chestnut dresser.

On the dresser were a few diapers, a picture of an eight-month-old baby smiling and looking happy and a glass container that had no more than Twenty-Three dollars of quarters inside of it.

Laurel dropped the quarter inside of the container and she quietly walked over to the crib. Inside of the crib was a stuffed furry bear that wore a small t-shirt that read, ‘Mommy’s Little Angel’. She used her left hand again to press the bear’s stomach and it spoke.

“Hey Eli, it’s mommy! I just wanted to sing to you before you fell asleep. Are you ready? Okay here it goes, ‘Hush little baby don’t you cry, Mommy’s gonna bake you an Apple Pie. And once that Apple Pie’s all gone. Mommy’s gonna bake you another one.’ Shhh my little Angel. Go to sleep and know Mommy will always love you.”

Laurel’s hazel eyes watered as she heard the voice recording she made for Elijah for his first Christmas. She wanted him to know that when he slept in his crib at night, she was always going to be there with him, even if she was only two doors down.

She missed her baby and she missed holding him. She missed his laugh, his cry…..the way he would speak to her as if he was actually speaking real English words.

She took a deep breath and left the room closing the door behind her.

Sleep was the only thing on her mind right now. The only thing she wanted to do and the only thing she needed in order to stay sane.

She continued walking down the hall entering her spacious bedroom. She placed the glass of wine on her nightstand and took out her cellphone from her pocket as she sat on the edge of her king sized bed when her cellphone began to ring.

Any normal person would check their caller ID to see who was calling them, but she knew it had to be business rather than anyone of great importance. She swiped the answer button and placed the phone on her right ear.

“This is Laurel Quinn!”

“Hello Miss Quinn. This is Meryl Hopkins.”

“Meryl Hopkins? As in Six Oscars-Three Tonys-and five Emmys- Meryl Hopkins?” Laurel’s tone wasn’t filled with praise but rather of curiosity. She grew up watching her and singing her songs. This was Hollywood’s royalty!

“You are correct. I am calling because I am in need of your services. My husband of five years has decided to divorce me. In doing so he has threatened to reveal all of my personal secrets to any media outlet that would pay him the highest amount of money.”

“Sounds like a keeper.” Laurel responded with sarcasm drenched in every word. She never knew the actress was married as she always kept her life private, so initially this shocked her more than anything else. “Did you two sign a pre-nup and did your lawyer make him sign a confidentiality clause? “

“No and No. I know what you must be thinking Miss Quinn. But I am very old fashioned and I believe love is love. Love isn’t about who gets money or when a marriage ends. Or if it ends. I was a fool I know, but I really loved him.”

Laurel rubbed her forehead trying not to sound too frustrated or irritated. “Okay. How about you swing by my office tomorrow and we can discuss this further.”

“That sounds delightful!” Meryl stated, as her tone was pleasant and kind. Very reminiscent to an elderly neighbor who would bake chocolate chip cookies on the weekend. “But there’s something you should know Miss Quinn-“

“Please call me Laurel.”

“Okay, Laurel. Well my husband and I met on the set of a movie I did called ‘Matters of The Art’. We laid eyes on another and that was love. He and I have been together ever since.”

“Sounds romantic truly. But what does this have to do with the situation?”

“Oh yes...well, my husband is...how do I say this without sounding-okay, well if the identity alone of my husband becomes public...my image will be tarnished forever.”

Laurel lowered her eyebrows at the statement. “Why? Who is he? Is he already married?”

“No...You see Laurel…my husband….just turned twenty two yesterday.”

Without a word, Laurel knew she wasn’t going to be welcoming sleep into her life, anytime soon.















#DALA

December 3rd, 2017:

The front entrance of the Golden Hotel was filled with Paparazzi and fans, all eager to snap a picture of the newest ‘It’ couple currently taking over San New City; model Lola Ferrari and Pop Star Damien Marx.

An anonymous tip on Twitter reported that both the Twenty something year olds checked into the Presidential Suite of the hotel for their first sit down interview with the Queen of Entertainment, Darlene Hart.

San New City may be full of celebrities who are rich and famous, but the city was known for the vultures that inhabited the streets watching from afar and waiting for that one slip up.

Those Vultures in question would be the Paparazzi. A group of people who would take pictures of celebrities in the most embarrassing and vulnerable situations and not even care enough to find out the real story. While many of the San New elites found them to be very problematic and immoral, they weren’t breaking any laws. After all, it was their job to take the pictures and sell it to whatever magazine paid them the highest amount of money.

A black Mercedes Benz pulled up to the front of the hotel grabbing the attention of some of the fans who weren’t really sure if another celebrity was about to make their grand entrance. The back door opened and a woman wearing red stiletto shoes and a black designer dress stepped out. Her shoulder length Auburn hair was in a neat ponytail, and she held a black Designer handbag, which was a gift from the Canadian Prime Minister a few years ago. She thanked the driver and closed the car door behind her.

She looked at the crowd of hungry photographers and emotional fans all eagerly waiting, reminding her of hungry pigeons flocking around a little old woman who would throw bread at them in the local park.

She rolled her eyes and walked through them making her way to the Hotel door. As she approached, a door attendant opened the door for her and smiled wide welcoming her in. “Thank you” She replied stepping foot in the hotel.

The floors, walls, sofa legs, chandeliers and even concierge desk were all colored Gold to match the name of the hotel. “This is what nightmares are made out of.” Laurel told herself walking toward the elevators.

The lobby was very spacious and it even connected with the designer Dulce Amore’s new pop up shop, which had an entrance on the other side of the lobby, but Laurel wasn’t there to shop or sight see; she was there to work.

The staff of the hotel watched as the Crisis Manager made her way toward the Golden elevators, the sound of her stiletto shoes echoing throughout the lobby as she kept her eyes on the doors. It was currently on the second floor and as soon as she was four feet away the elevator doors opened and inside was Tony Vincetti holding a cup of coffee in his right hand.

“Hello Beautiful.” Laurel sighed in relief. The reason for her sigh was not because of the handsome 6’1, Brit or his casual outfit that consisted of a tight white dress shirt, black slacks and a black/white tie, but because of the coffee he had in his hand.

“Good morning Quinn. How is your day so far?” Tony asked as Laurel entered the elevator and took the cup from him. She took a long sip of the coffee and swallowed it slowly enjoying the bitter sugarless taste that was currently going down her throat.

Tony pressed the ‘36th button on the elevator panel and the doors closed. The elevator began to ascend and Laurel finished swallowing her coffee and looked at her assistant.

“Sorry, you know how I get without any coffee in my system.” She stated and she cleared her throat finally answering his question. “So far so good.”

Tony nodded slowly and he decided to tell her what was currently on his mind. “After you left the office yesterday Meryl Hopkins called again. She’s been calling for a month now. Why haven’t you taken the job?”

If this were anyone else, she would use some very colorful words to tell him to mind his business but this was Tony Vincetti and while their history wasn’t really clear to outsiders looking in, Laurel always treated him with respect; even though she signed his checks.

She sighed softly and turned to him. “I have no interest in being associated with the mess she got herself into. Especially as a mother.”

The words shocked Tony and a small gasp escaped his mouth. He had never once heard about a child or even seen her with a man. “A mother? When in the bloody Hell did you have a child?”

Laurel didn’t answer the question, she took another sip of the coffee and kept her focus on the job she was hired to do.

The elevator passed the twentieth floor, and she swallowed the coffee, “There are many things about me you don’t know and I intend on keeping it that way. Now, what can you tell me about the new “Hollywood Royalty?”

He figured she would change the subject. This was something that peeked his interest but he knew the timing wasn’t right to even pursue the situation any further. “Sure. Well Lola Ferrari is Twenty-two years old-“

“Please tell me that isn’t her real name.” Laurel stated.

Tony shrugged his shoulders. “Your guess is as good as mine. She is supposedly in a relationship with Pop Sensation Damien Marx. To the media they were outed as being in a relationship last week because they were spotted together leaving a restaurant. In reality, Damien and Lola are not dating at all but Jordan has decided to create the illusion as if they are dating because he manages them both.”

Laurel rolled her hazel eyes at the mention of the man’s name. “Where is that sleazeball?”

“He called and said he’s running late due to traffic. But anyway-“. The elevator took a small bump causing the duo to look up at the digital screen and they saw they were now passing the ‘30th floor.

“ – Your job is to prep them for the interview with Darlene Hart. You of all people know she can sniff a lie from a mile away.”

“Which is ironic since she had no idea for the past eighteen years, her husband was playing ‘Hide the Pogo Stick’ with their maid.” She held the coffee cup in her right hand and adjusted her handbag on her left shoulder as the elevator made its way toward the ‘35th´floor.

“This sounds like a piece of cake. I don’t know why Jordan hired me. This is amateur work.”

The elevator came to a slow stop and the doors opened. “Okay Tony, let’s go fake a Hollywood relationship.”

Laurel walked out of the elevator as if the long golden and silver tiled hallway was a catwalk. Tony followed quickly behind his boss admiring her confident walk, attitude and poise.

“They’re in the VIP Room which is the last door straight ahead.”

Laurel kept her eyes on the Golden VIP door as she made her way down the very long hallway.

She finally made it to the door in what felt like a lifetime and she knocked on it lightly.

The door opened and a handsome young man with thin arched eyebrows, pale white skin, light blue eyes and straight white pearly teeth smiled at the sight of her. “Hello, you must be Laurel Quinn. Welcome and please come in.”

She took the invitation and entered the spacious and beautiful suite. The details would make the other hotel occupants jealous, but Laurel wasn’t there to bask in the beauty and she didn’t care for the details.

“We don’t have enough time to prep before Darlene and her brainless cohorts make their way up here. Should we go over anything specific?” Laurel asked turning around to face Damien who closed the suite’s door after Tony entered.

“Not that I know of. What about you Lola?” Damien called out.

Laurel was born in the late seventies and she remembered growing up with male Pop Stars who had gimmicks that differed from each other. From Michael Jackson’s one glove to Prince’s ass less chaps, each artist stood out from the rest. But for some reason this new generation had male Pop Stars who all had thinly arched eyebrows, lip gloss, restless hair, foundation and skinny jeans. Not to mention the fact that Damien had a man bun on his head. Was anyone original anymore?

When the hell did man buns become a style? She found herself questioning this every time she went to MoonBucks to get her coffee every morning.

Her concentration on the male was cut short when a young woman walked out of the bathroom with a smile on her face. “What happen babe?”

Lola Ferrari looked exactly like her modelling pictures. She didn’t have any pores, moles, birthmarks or even a blemish on her porcelain like face. Her baby blue eyes were round, as if she was an anime character.

Her hair was multicolored. The right side was lavender and the left was a light pink. She too had her hair up in a bun. She also wore a floral green dress, which flowed with every move she would make. Her teeth were brighter than Damien’s- hell it was brighter than Laurel’s or even Tony’s teeth.

Damien passed the Crisis Manager and made his way toward Lola, “This is Laurel Quinn, she was hired by Jordan to prep us for the interview. Do you have any questions for her?”

Lola shook her head smiling widely at the Pop singer and she turned her attention over to Laurel. “Not at all. You see, when you are in love like myself, you don’t need to be prepped on anything. Every and any word that comes from my mouth actually comes straight from my heart.” She turned over to Damien and ran her fingers through his hair.

Laurel and Tony exchanged looks with each other as if they could telepathically send messages to one another. It didn’t take a genius to see how uncomfortable Damien was with Lola touching him.

“Um, Tony. Can you please take Damien out in the hall for a few minutes while us girls talk?” Laurel asked him with her tone sounding as innocent as a child wanting an expensive toy from her parents. Tony knew there was a motive behind this and he didn’t bother to ask.

“Of course. Come on mate.” Laurel’s assistant opened the door and as if a fire broke out in the bathroom, Damien ran out leaving just Laurel and Lola in the suite.

The Crisis Manager waited until Tony closed the door and she turned on her heels to face the oblivious love struck girl.

“What did Jordan tell you about this plan?” She asked.

The young model looked as if she was asked a question in a completely different language. “What plan?”

“The plan involving you and Damien. The plan where you two pretend you have been dating for a long time to fool the public into thinking you’re some kind of Hollywood royalty. Thus, getting endorsement deals, make up lines and bookings at whatever sad sap decides to keep garbage bags as couture.”

Lola shook her head at the words uttered by the woman as if she was lying. “That isn’t true. You’re just saying that to get me mad. I know how all you Publicists work.”

Apparently a Deity spent more time on her looks rather than her brain.” Laurel thought to herself as her face was plastered with a sinister smirk. “You are clearly mistaken here. Or delusional- eh either way, I blame all that on the countless bleach you put in your hair.” Laurel stated as she placed the coffee cup on a dresser that was also colored with a Golden coating. “You and Damien aren’t really a couple. Whenever there are cameras present you two have to get all lovey dovey for the public. But once you are both in private you and Damien are just mere pawns in this sad, yet cliché, faux Hollywood romance.”

The words that came out of Laurel’s mouth caused Lola to clench her teeth together angrily. Her sweet girl demeanor somehow disappeared and she stormed over to the Crisis Manager as if she was going to slap her and she stopped a few feet away from the woman. “Listen to me you sad pathetic old woman-”

Laurel raised her eyebrows at the young girl as if she had just lost her mind but she didn’t feel the need to defend herself against the porcelain young model. She just crossed her arms across her chest and listened to every word, clearly entertained by the tough façade Lola was putting on.

“-I don’t know what sad or twisted things are going through your mind, but Damien is my man! My man! He and I are not acting nor are we pretending. So I’d advise you to stop trying to break him and I up because you have a crush on him. Because if you even lay one of your ugly manicured fingers on him, I will kill you and get away with it. Do you understand me?” The fire in Lola’s eyes grew stronger as did her state of insanity. You would think her threat would make Laurel silent or even understanding…you would be wrong.

“Are you done?” Laurel asked impatiently as if the idea of Lola attacking her bored her to death.

The young model was baffled by Laurel’s reaction. “Now understand me sweety. I am not interested in your “man” because you don’t have one. Damien isn’t interested in you either on an emotional level, just a financial level because apparently to his manager, Jordan, dating you could open many doors to his future. But if you’d ask me, I would’ve rather faked him being Gay and dating that Pro Golfer who just came out the closet last week. While we’re also at it. I have no interest in dating your “man” because I date men not boys. Lastly, you may want to watch your tone with me, wannabe Jylie Kenner, because I will not only destroy you and watch your career burn down in flames. I will destroy you and make you relive the horror every single day of your life! Do I make myself clear?”

Throughout this speech-or threat- Laurel’s tone was calm and collective. She had anger yes, but she did one hell of a job not letting that anger show in her tone. It was then that Lola realized Laurel wasn’t like most women she came across. It was also then that she realized just how scary this woman could truly be.

Before Lola could respond or take another gulp, the suite’s door opened and Tony stood in the doorway looking in and catching Laurel’s attention. “I don’t mean to interrupt but Darlene is exactly five floors down.”

“Great!” Laurel said changing her tone to a sweet and innocent one. “Now Damien, I need you and Lola to hold hands but not too tightly. Whenever one of you speaks, it is imperative that the other person takes a lingering glance; it shows just how in love you two truly are. Also do not forget to mention that you guys have been in a relationship for six months.”

Damien entered the room and lowered his perfectly arched eyebrows, “Why six months?”

She turned to the Pop singer and addressed him. “A week romance makes this obvious to the public that this relationship is nothing but a publicity stunt. In order to make the public accept this façade is real, we have to go with six months. It makes it sound forbidden, raw and those scavengers will get even hungrier to know why you two have chosen to keep it a secret for this long.”

Damien understood what she meant and he was happy Jordan called Laurel. If it wasn’t for her, Damien didn’t think he would be able to pull this off.

“Now any questions before the Wicked Witch of Late Night comes?”

Damien shook his head and he glanced over at Lola who had a look of sadness and regret on her face. She didn’t bother making eye contact with the Auburn haired woman. She just shook her head slowly looking down at the floor.

Tony saw Lola’s reaction and he knew that something took place in the room. He had hoped it had to do with Laurel putting the model in her place because based on what Damien told him outside, Lola was as crazy as they came. A girl unstable as her, could ruin the entire plan; Tony prayed that wasn’t the case here.

“Okay!” Laurel clapped her hands together causing all three people in the room to flinch. “It’s show time!”



{The next section is the interview conducted by host of ‘Hart2Hollywood Star’ Darlene Hart.}:



(DARLENE HART mid 30s- early 40’s is seated on a chair smiling as she gazes into the camera)



Darlene: “Hello and good morning San New City! I am your host Darlene Hart and I am beyond thrilled to be interviewing the couple that has taken the world by storm since last week. Damien Marx and Lola Ferrari.”



(We watch as DAMIEN and LOLA wave at the camera smiling. LOLA is holding DAMIEN’s right hand and they finally look like a couple smitten with each other.)



Darlene: “First off, Thank you so much for coming onto my show. It is such an honor to be in the same presence as Hollywood Royalty.”



Damien: (smiling shaking his head) “I wouldn’t necessarily say we are on that caliber. We are just two amazing people. Two creative people who- (he looks at LOLA)- were lucky enough to find each other.”



Darlene: (nods still smiling) “Let me ask the question that has everyone going crazy-wait before I ask. Did you guys know your fans are calling you ‘DALA’? ”



(Both LOLA and DAMIEN shake their heads clearly having no idea they had a ship name on social media.)



Lola: “Not at all. That is so amazing! Our fans have been very supportive of us since…well the tabloids leaked that picture of us yesterday having dinner at the Grove.”



Darlene: “Yes, that was my next question. Everyone wanted to know how you two met each other since, Damien is a huge Pop Star that sold more than 20 million records in his three year career span and Lola…you’re just… a model.”



Damien: “That is a great question Darlene. I was playing a show in Athens when my security received a letter from a young woman who wanted to meet me. I had no idea who this girl was. But her hand writing was beautiful. She wrote poetry that would make the strongest man cry-“



(Just as DAMIEN continued speaking, LOLA was staring at him listening and falling more in love with him with every word he said.)



Damien (cont’d): “-Anyway, I told security I had to see who wrote me such a beautiful letter.”



Darlene: “And it was Lola?”



Damien: “Not at all. It was her younger sister.”



(DARLENE lets out a fake laugh that she had been famous for)



Damien: “But as it turned out Lola helped her write it.”



Darlene: “And when was this exactly?”



Lola: “Six months ago. We’ve been dating for six months.”



Darlene: (nods in shock) “That is amazing! Six months in this industry is like a decade. So make sure you two cherish each other.” (She looks into the camera) “We’re going to take a quick break and when we return, Damien will tell us all about his upcoming album.”



Director: “And cut!”



Laurel let out a sigh of relief in shock these two were able to pull off such an act.

Darlene got up from her seat and walked over to the director and they began discussing whether or not she looked amazing in the shots they just took.

Laurel walked over to the young couple who were chatting amongst themselves.

“How did we do?” Damien asked nervously.

“You did exceptionally well. I am so proud of both of you. Now your fans will know the truth and why you two chose to hide your love for so long.”

Damien lowered his eyebrows confused at her words.

Just an hour ago, she was yelling at him to act as if he could tolerate Lola and now she’s acting as if they were really a couple. He initially thought it was because Darlene was in the room but she wasn’t within earshot.

“I-I don’t understand-“

Laurel pointed to her own chest and Damien and Lola looked at it in confusion. It wasn’t until Lola looked at her own chest she realized they still had the body mic on. She nudged Damien and pointed to his mic and he gave her a nod finally understanding why she said those words.

Hollywood is a tricky industry. People will smile at your face and wish you well but when you’ve turned your back they’re secretly looking for ways to destroy you.

With interviews and microphones, it’s practically the same thing except as long as you have a body microphone on your chest, anything you say is on the record. Whether it was said on air or off.

A Hot Mic -is when a microphone is turned on and it records everything that is said in private- can hurt even the brightest of stars in this industry.

Laurel smiled widely. “It seems my job here is done. I want to thank you both for such an amazing job. I would hug you but...I just don’t want to.” She turned on her heels and walked out of the suite closing the door behind her.

Lola turned to Damien who was excited the interview was going exactly how he planned, “I can’t believe the fans already have a ship name for us. DALA…I mean it’s weird.”

“Eh, it’s better than Damola or Lamian. Plus this really means our fans are-“

“Hey Damien.” Darlene interrupted causing the young couple to look at her nervously. “I’m sorry to interrupt; I just have to say it is an honor to get to speak with you. I have been a fan of yours and I know it’s awkward because of my age but-“. She placed her right hand on the young man’s left shoulder and rubbed it smiling. “-I see a lot of talent in you and I know you will get far in this industry.”

Lola clenched her jaws together watching the scene unfold before her. The rage she had from before was slowly creeping right back in, like fire ants in an apartment.



*****************************

Laurel leaned against the wall of the elevator as the doors closed. Tony rubbed the back of his neck shaking his head. “That Lola is a crazy bat.”

“No crap Sherlock.” Laurel snapped as the elevator started to descend. “Did Damien tell you anything about her?”

Tony shook his head. “Only the fact she has been trying to seduce him daily. He has told her many times he wasn’t interested in her but she continued to make advances. Poor Lad has a super crush on his neighbor’s daughter and he’s stuck pretending to date a Bloke that should be locked up in a psych ward.”

Laurel knew this couple was a mistake. They were completely mismatched as far as interests go. Lola was a model who would party as if it was a morning routine and Damien was a Pop star that had more success than anyone before him did. In her mind, she thought of this less like a job and more as if she was a parent...something, she had to stop thinking about.

“If you ask me, I would make them break up. He deserves to just live his life doing what he does.” Tony stated sighing as if he had a long day of moving heavy furniture. But he was right. This job wasn’t like the previous ones which involved easy Public Relation tactics, what Laurel did was help a couple of young stars fake a relationship so they could easily make more money and get more fame.

“Yeah well this is all the work of Jordan Monroe.” Laurel’s tone sounded as if the name was like venom in her mouth.

The elevator slowed down and stopped in the lobby of the hotel. This shocked the duo as they were sure the ride down was a lot faster than the ride up.

The doors opened and Laurel walked out unto the lobby floor.

“Magnificent job Quinn!” A voice called out causing every hair on Laurel’s neck to stand.

“Say the Devil’s name and he appears.” She stated causing Tony to chuckle.

Walking towards them was a tall older man with silver dyed hair wearing a very tight suit. His face had not one wrinkle which didn’t shock Laurel because while he is Forty Nine years old, the man gets Botox injected into his face more times than a baby burps.

“I saw the interview and I am beyond pleased at your work. Those kids are more convincing than celebrities when it comes to their charity work.” Jordan waited for Laurel or Tony to laugh but none did and he cleared his throat.

“When was the last time you spoke to Damien? He doesn’t want to be in a relationship with her.”

Jordan looked at Laurel in schock,“He told you that?”

“He didn’t have to. The poor kid just wants to tour the world and be felt up by fan girls looking for something to tell their friends. He can’t do that if he’s dating Ms. Psychopath.”

Jordan’s face grew stern-well at least that’s what Laurel thought, it was hard to tell from looking at him.

“Lola is the top selling Model in Mexico and I know she can hit the U.S market and be on magazine covers. She can be the next Sofia Hayek.”

Laurel rubbed her forehead in frustration at the man who saw dollar signs rather than anything of importance. “You would honestly have both your clients be in a miserable relationship just so that you could cash in on them?”

“Let me tell you something Quinn. Damien got famous because of me. I uploaded that video of him singing in that cardboard box, I dubbed him the Homeless Singing Kid. He was never homeless or even miserable with his life. He is a friend’s kid that I promised to make famous. The public ate that crap up and now they will eat this up, making Lola a star and me a billionaire.”

“And you think playing Devil’s Advocate is worth billions of dollars on the unhappiness of your first client?”

Jordan didn’t need to think about the question because it was obviously true. “Don’t pretend that what you do is nobler than what I do. You and I turn scraps of garbage into these beautiful and perfect illusions that Hollywood and the idiots who worship these people eat up. Yes, Damien is miserable. Yes, Lola is a beautiful psychopath. But at the end of the day does any of that matter when they’re making millions in an hour?”

Jordan combed his fingers through his silver hair and he lowered his voice so none of the hotel staffers could hear the words he was saying. “Everyone sells their souls to make it in this industry and only the strong survive. Damien and Lola are both strong kids who will leave their legacy in this God Damn city and if you think-“

CRAAAAASSSSSHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Jordan’s words were cut short by a loud crashing sound that came from outside of the hotel. The trio heard screams of horror erupt from the fans and photographers who were still camped outside.

“What the hell was that?” Laurel asked and she began to walk towards the entrance of the hotel with Tony and Jordan following her. She pushed the hotel doors open and a scene of chaos ensued.

Fans covered their eyes as they cried and screamed in horror, paparazzi took out their cameras and quickly took pictures of the dramatic scene as fast as they could, similar to sharks in a tank that were given a live seal to devour.

Laurel pushed through the crowd and she felt the world around her slow down as she saw what was causing the scene.

On the curb of the hotel was a parked Red Sports car and on the car was the dead body of Damien Marx. He was bloodied, bruised and staring lifelessly at the beautiful clear sky.

Tony couldn’t believe what he was looking at. The young man he was just speaking to an hour ago, the same young man that was telling him about how he hoped to make a Christmas album in memory of his mother; was now dead.

The chaotic scene looked like something out of a movie.

Inconsolable fans shocked, disgusted and sadden by the loss of their idol, hotel staffers scrambling and calling the ambulance and Jordan paralyzed and unable to move.

Laurel stepped closer to the car and she didn’t say anything. For a moment, no thoughts crossed her mind at the tragic scene.

This could’ve been avoided- it should’ve been avoided if Jordan had decided to do the right thing and focus on Damien. But it was too late now, too late to blame someone, too late to think of possible outcomes and most importantly; too late to feel guilty.

Laurel turned around and glanced up at the thirty-six floors of the hotel above her. She could see a figure looking down the balcony, a figure wearing a floral green dress watching the aftermath of what she just did.

Lola wanted to make a name for herself and to expand her portfolio here in San New City. Unfortunately, instead of being known as ‘The Beautiful Supermodel Lola Ferrari’, she will now be known as ‘Lola Ferrari, Number One Suspect In The Death of Damien Marx’.

At the end of the day, Lola got exactly what she wanted; fame.

Poser!

December 15th, 2017:

Laurel looked at her cellphone again and read the time. It was “6:15pm” and she had officially spent exactly three hours waiting inside of her parked Black Mercedes Benz. She had always wanted to take a tour of the Pixney Studios San New lot. It was where the biggest movies and television shows were filmed.

With more than one hundred studio lots present, each large studio contained sets that ranged from schools, oceans, bedrooms, streets, hospital rooms etc. That was the magic of filming! Everything was done on a lot that didn’t even require the actors or film crew to travel too far.

Although the visit was on Laurel’s bucket list, she unfortunately wasn’t there to take in the sight -as usual. She had work to do and the reason she was parked in front of Studio Lot 36 was because of her new client.

Action star Cody Posey contacted her a few days ago. He was supposed to visit her the other day at the Publicity! office, but he had a meeting. She had known Cody only through his many tv appearances and whatever was posted in the tabloids.

He was a twenty six year old actor famously known for his many action films like, “Ask Hard, Kick Harder”, “Iron Fingers”, “The Insocialables” and most recently he signed on to play the role of the famous comic book hero ‘Captain Canary’. The gig was the biggest of his career and Laurel knew why. He would be racking in $4.5 Million from this movie as well as 70% of profits from the action figures sold. It was a fantastic deal, so she knew once he called her on the phone the situation was dire and it had to be exterminated quickly.


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