Mac, Lilly and Mary, dressed in gorgeous creations of mint green, blue and deep violet respectively, sashay down the runway, wide smiles on their faces as they wave at the public who wait patiently ten-deep for a glimpse of their favourite stars.
“Oh, my gosh, Lyn,” LaVerne whispers out the corner of her mouth as they follow their fellow hostesses, her normally pale skin drained of all colour. “When you mentioned we were hosting a movie premiere for Joe Cosentino and his stunning heroine, Jana Lane, you failed to mention it was a Hollywood premiere. Look at the gorgeousness around us.” She gestures around then glances down at her own snug jeans and heels and winces. “I’m underdressed!”
Lyn grins and links their arms, propelling them in a stately march to the entrance. “Silly girl. This is Hollywood. Anything goes. You’re rocking the casual-cool look. Besides,” she nods towards Mary who’s stopped to have a selfie taken with a fan. “Everyone will be too distracted by Mary’s girls in that dress to take any notice.”
“I heard that.” Mary waves goodbye to her adoring public and matches stride with Lyn and LaVerne, adjusting the front of her dress in a futile tug. “What I wouldn’t give for a safety pin.”
“Oh, no,” LaVerne grins and links her free arm with Mary’s. “Flaunt it, girlfriend. I would if I could.”
Without warning, Lyn picks up speed and drags the other hostesses along making them trip over her feet. “The party has started and the special guests are here, hurry up girls!”
They join Mac and Lilly at the entrance where Oliver waits for them all before dispensing glasses of champagne and flattery. They float inside, blushing and giggling like schoolgirls. A man, resplendent in a tuxedo turns at their noisy entrance, a smile lighting his face and murmurs to the stunning woman at his side, her strawberry-blonde hair glinting under the chandeliers.
“Joe! Jana!” Lilly steps forward and kisses them each on the cheek. “How lovely to see you both. I can’t wait to hear more about your story. It sounds intriguing!”
“Thank you,” Jana replies, the musical quality to her voice matching the beauty of her appearance. “And thank you for hosting the premiere. This spread is amazing.”
Chocolate popcorn, pesto pizza, star shaped ginger cookies, tuxedo
brownie cookies, chocolate covered strawberries, strawberry shortcake, and strawberry ice cream sundaes.
Not needing any further encouragement, they crowd the table, oohing and ahhing over the centrepiece, an Oscar-shaped fruit jello mold before piling their plates high.
Lilly taps her glass for attention. “Before we start, let’s raise our glasses to Joe Cosentino and his new novel, Paper Doll. With Jana center-stage, it is sure to be a hit!”
They hold their glasses aloft and clink, the sound of merriment filling the air.
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After a short ride into the center of town, Jana parked her car and walked to a dress shop on Carriage House Court. Once inside, she tried on her new dress for the evening—a pretty rayon print. Both the encouraging saleswoman and Jana agreed the dress was the most beautiful creation in Dutchess County, New York.
Moments later, Jana hurried out of the store with box-in-hand—totally convinced that the dress was not right for her. As she ran across the lamppost-lined street, the ex-child star noticed an odd-looking boy with a turned up nose and a full red mouth. She realized that he was dressed in light blue from head-to-toe. As he grew closer in her view, he transformed into a thirty-eight-year-old man sporting the beginnings of a receded hairline and an intense gleam of desire in his big brown eyes.
“Jana, it’s you!”
“Have we met?” She took a step backward and perused the small town shops for lit windows.
“Pardon me. I feel like I’ve known you all my life!” he said ecstatically. When for some reason she seemed perplexed, he added, “I watch your movies!”
“Sure. All the time.”
Ah, a fan. “I’m flattered.” Let’s see, is there a working pen in my purse to sign an autograph? “That’s quite noble.”
“You’d be surprised the parts you can forget. Like when you were seven years old in Surf’s Up, and you saved your little friend, Timmy, from that shark. Then you swam him on your back to your father’s boat. And when Timmy asked if you would ride with him back to shore you said, ‘Don’t worry . . . I won’t leave you. We’ll be friends . . . always.’ I almost forgot that part until I replayed you on tape yesterday, and there it was. It still puts a lump in my throat.”
“Thank you.” Is there any mace in my purse?
“My name is Mark Leonard. I’m your biggest fan!” His eyes grew bulbous.
“Nice to meet you, Mark.”
“The pleasure is all mine.” He bowed grandly.
Not knowing if she should pat him on the head or lift her ring to his lips, she said, “I’d better go.” Jana placed one foot in front of the other, hoping the man would not follow her. Once at a safe distance, she called out over her shoulder, “Take care,” and kept walking—rapidly.
He stood on the curb, wiped the perspiration from his hands onto his vest, and called out, “I’m so happy to have finally met you. I’ve been searching for quite a while. I even tracked down your father. I phoned him to try to find you. You mean a great deal to me. I wake up each morning thinking about your movies. If I’m having a bad day . . . which is most of the time . . . I remember something encouraging you said in one of your films, and I feel better.”
Jana waved and walked faster.
“And don’t worry, Jana. Other people may have stopped watching, but not me. I promise! I’ll always be your fan.”
Fifteen minutes later, Jana’s sports car rounded a curve overlooking New York’s picturesque Hudson Valley. She was lost in thought about the strange mix of people in her little hometown—not so unlike the people she had once encountered in Hollywood’s motion picture industry. Jana spotted a small black car growing larger behind her. She strained to see the driver’s face in her rear view mirror, but instead noticed a black tinted front window—now a few inches away from her back fender. Feeling the sweat drip down her leg, Jana pressed harder on the gas pedal. Rapidly approaching a zigzag in the road, she noticed the upcoming stretch of non shouldered highway was under construction and had no guard-rail. Suddenly, the black car was an inch away and then just a heart palpitation away! As Jana flashed her lights, she pleaded with God to save her—for the sake of her children, to reconcile with Brian, to watch over her father and Tamara. Just as the black monstrosity was about to run her tiny sports car off the road, Jana veered right—into a patch of mud and briar. With a growl, the black car sped along the open highway.
“Joe Cosentino has utilized his keen knowledge of show business through shrewd celluloid eyes with tight twists, wicked turns, and one stunning surprise after another!”
̶ Jeff Walt, author of “Hex”
“Paper Doll is a delicious concoction of suspense and nostalgia with all the trash of the tabloids and all the style of classic film noir. Romance, glamour, lust, and murder, make a page turning mystery. I can’t wait for the sequel; I can’t wait for the movie!”
̶ Gerald Fierst, storyteller and author of “The Heart of the Wedding”
Joe Cosentino has appeared in principal acting roles in film, television, and theatre, opposite stars such as Bruce Willis, Rosie O’Donnell, Nathan Lane, Holland Taylor, and Jason Robards. He has written and directed many musical plays for family audiences (toured through Encore Performing Arts of NY, and one published through Eldridge Plays and Musicals). His one-act plays, Infatuation and Neighbor were performed in New York City. Another one-act, Swing, was performed by Stageworks of NY and published in the Marquee Literary Journal. He wrote The Perils of Pauline, available on CDROM (through Prentice Hall Publishers). Joe received his MFA from Goddard College in Vermont, and MA from SUNY New Paltz. He is currently Head of the Department/Professor at a college in upstate New York. His upcoming novels include An Infatuation (Dreamspinner Press),Drama Queen, and Nick the Nerd (for children). JoeCosentino.weebly.com.
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