I stepped in so close to her I could see the pores of her skin.

She definitely needed a chemical peel.

“I see who you are,” I said. “You’re a small-town girl with a big talent and it got you far. Look at you … you’re America’s Sweetheart, but now that you’re getting older, you’re mean. Ugly. Maybe I should be angry with you, but when it comes down to it, I’m not. I know what death is, Blair. I fell twenty thousand feet from the sky into a cold ocean. I watched my mother bleed to death in front of me. My father drowned so I could live. So, if you think that I am going to sit by and worry about what some jaded actress from lower Alabama has to say about spilling my secrets to the press, you’re sadly wrong. You are an infinitesimal zit on this universe, and there are plenty of other issues worth my time.” I gathered myself. Smiled. “Oh, and I wanted to personally thank you for your fifty thousand dollar contribution to Lyons Place. Indie Rock Today announced it this morning.” I leaned in and gave her a squeeze. “God loves you.”

I walked off on shaky legs, but with victory in my bones.

“My favorite color is cobalt—also cornflower or indigo or azure or steel or lake or sky—hell, I just love blue.”

—Spider (Clarence)

“HOW MANY BLUE shirts do you need?” I asked Spider as we left Gucci and headed down Rodeo Drive. He might look like a thug, but he was a well-dressed one, always scouting the men’s stores for the best looks and designers.

We strolled along wearing Dallas Cowboys caps pulled low and aviators. Not that it helped much. Those hardcore fans always recognized us.

“I’m in what I’m going to call my blue phase, whether it’s my hair or that sick blue Lamborghini we looked at last week.” He lit a cig and blew out smoke. “I think I’m going to buy it. What do you think?” He slid his eyes at me. “Dude, you look like shit warmed over.”

“Thanks. That’s just the look I was going for.”

I’d agreed to come along even though all I really wanted was to go home and crash. Usually I was the Energizer Bunny. Not today. Something clawed at me. Maybe it was because I’d been up until two in the morning drinking and waiting for V to play. Same as the night before. But she never did. The only time I saw her was at the studio. I’d even tried to talk up Mrs. Smythe and find out what days she’d be at the orphanage, but the woman was tight-lipped on all things V.

She’d said she wouldn’t regret us, but she did. Most of the time, all I wanted was to just pull her in my arms and kiss her, but I couldn’t lead her on.

I had nothing to offer her. No love. No future. Just friendship and sex. I rubbed my face. Since when did Sebastian Tate wallow in self-pity over a girl?

Just then I saw Blair across the street, walking with her flashy entourage in tow.

My mind went back to the day Harry had introduced me to her in his office a few months ago, before we’d moved to LA. She’d been sitting there splayed out on his leather couch like a Playboy centerfold, her shirt unbuttoned down to her waist and tiny boy shorts on. She’d giggled at me, flicked her hair over her shoulder and tackle hugged me, her melons squashed against my chest. Her body was tight, no denying it, but underneath she was a twisted bitch. Only I hadn’t been able to see it at first. I’d just wanted to fuck her, plain and simple. Harry had sucked me in with his idea of making us a couple. Be seen around town, he’d said. Pretend you’re in a committed relationship, he’d encourage. The Hing movie will fall in your lap, he’d promised. And maybe it would have worked if V hadn’t came along, but I wasn’t blaming her. I blamed myself. I’d willingly agreed to the lies just to get ahead. Sure other couples in Hollywood did it all the time, but I was disappointed in myself. Lying wasn’t me. Hadn’t I told V that I valued honesty? I was a fucking joke.

I grabbed Spider’s arm and muscled him through the door of the next store. “Hide,” I hissed. “I can’t deal with her shit today.”

“Who? Godzilla? Zombies?” He gazed around at the glittery displays in the store and paled. “Dude, we’re in Tiffany’s. If you’re here to get me to buy a ring for Mila, you can just back the f—”

In a cloud of cloyingly sweet perfume, Blair waltzed through the door. She rushed up to me just as her entourage surrounded Spider. He grinned and welcomed them with open arms. Fuck. I just wanted to run.

“Basty, baby! I’m about to pee myself that Tiffany’s is where you wanted to meet me.” She smiled brilliantly and then leaned in to hiss in my ear. “Act like you’re happy to see me.”

I arched a brow. “I came in here to get away from you.”

Her big lips tightened as she pulled me to the side. “I have called you a million times, asshole. I heard you went horseback riding—without me. I also heard you practically begged V to talk to you at Rio’s.”

I narrowed my eyes. Was she following me?

“So what? I didn’t get the part, anyway.”

Her strapless dress swelled as she sucked in a sympathetic breath. Her voice was sugary. “Harry told me. Apparently, I’m still in, but if we keep up this nonsense of not being seen—”

“Stop,” I snapped. “I’ve been doing some soul searching and I don’t care anymore about negative publicity. You can do your best. Paint me as the bad guy. Tell everyone I cheated on you. Make yourself look fucking golden. It doesn’t matter to me. I am ending this charade. I want my life back.”

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