Authors: Gemma Halliday
Here’s what critics are saying about
"This first book in Halliday's new Hollywood Headlines series is a fun story with intriguing characters and a good mystery. The action is fast paced, the hero is delightful and the heroine is spunky and independent but smart enough to know when she needs help."
- Romantic Times
is fresh, funny, and has just enough heart to balance the snark.”
- All About Romance
"Gemma Halliday's witty, entertaining writing style shines through in her new book! I look forward to seeing lots more of Tina as this series continues. A fun read!"
- Fresh Fiction
is a great start to a new series that I will definitely be following as Halliday writes the kind of books that just make you smile and put you in a great mood. They’re just so enjoyable and I would without a doubt recommend this book to romance and mystery readers alike."
- Enchanted By Books
is very well written with smart and funny dialogue. It is a well-paced story that is thoroughly enjoyable with a mystery, a little romance, and a lot of laughs. Readers are sure to enjoy this delightful tale which is highly recommended."
- Romance Reviews Today
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(Formerly published under the title: Scandal Sheet.)
Copyright © 2009 by Gemma Halliday
All rights reserved. Without limiting the rights under copyright reserved above, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form, or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise) without the prior written permission of both the copyright owner and the above publisher of this book.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, brands, media, and incidents are either the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. The author acknowledges the trademarked status and trademark owners of various products referenced in this work of fiction, which have been used without permission. The publication/use of these trademarks is not authorized, associated with, or sponsored by the trademark owners.
This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each person you share it with. If you're reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then you should return to your online retailer and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the author's work.
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TEEN SENSATION ON MORAL VACATION
LAST NIGHT THE
CAUGHT EVERYONE’S FAVORITE TEEN ACTRESS, JENNIFER WOOD, AT THE HOLLYWOOD MARTINI ROOM WITH A MEMBER OF A BOY BAND IN ONE HAND AND MARY JANE IN THE OTHER -
I swiveled in my chair to face my boss, Felix Dunn, standing in the doorway to his office, hands on hips.
I pursed my lips. “That doesn’t count.”
I just heard you say ‘shit.’”
It was computer related. Everyone knows computer-related swearing doesn’t count.”
He narrowed his eyes. Clearly my argument wasn’t cutting it.
It’s your own fault, you know,” I protested, changing tactics. I’d been typing up a juicy tidbit about
It teen actress, who’d been caught with a joint in her hand at last night’s after-party, when my backspace button stuck, taking out one very cleverly worded line, even if I did say so myself. “I mean, how many centuries old are these things anyway?” I went on. “Would it kill you to buy some new hardware once in a awhile?”
He shook his head. “Swear Pig, Bender,” he repeated, then disappeared back into his office.
I heard that!”
I stuck my tongue out at his door and dropped two quarters into the purple piggy bank on my desk. Somehow our newly appointed editor in chief was under the impression that yours truly swore too much. I have no fucking idea where he got that impression. But he’d set up the Swear Pig as a way to break my bad habit. Personally, I was fine with my bad habit. It’s not like I was shooting heroin or anything.
Which brought me back to my story.
I swiveled around, pushing my glasses back up onto my nose and put my fingers to keyboard, recreating my perfect line.
IT MAY BE ONE JOINT TODAY FOR OUR FAVORITE FAIR-HAIRED TEENY-BOPPER, BUT WITH THE WAY HER LIFE IS SPIRALING OUT OF CONTROL, CAN COCAINE, METH, OR EVEN HEROIN BE FAR BEHIND? HOW MANY BLONDES DOES IT TAKE TO SPELL “REHAB?”
I sat back in my chair, surveying my work. Okay, so it was a little mean. And the truth was Wood claimed someone had thrust the “stinky cigarette” into her hand just before the paparazzi flashbulbs went off, after which she’d promptly threw it out. But, seriously, she played the perky “Pippi Mississippi” in a tween cable show. This was tabloid gold.
I hit “send” letting my daily gossip column zip through the
’s network to Felix’s inbox, then gave my knuckles a satisfying crack.
I glanced at the clock. Quitting time. And somewhere there was a big beefy burrito dinner with my name on it. I grabbed my Strawberry Shortcake lunchbox that doubled as my purse and made for the exit.
Unfortunately, not before Eagle Eyes Dunn could catch me.
I thought a dirty word and turned around to find him leaning against his office doorframe. “Did you want something, chief?”
You finish up that Wood piece yet?” he asked.
Just emailed it to you.” I loved it when I was one step ahead of the boss.
What about Pines?”
Edward Pines was the director who’d recently been arrested when police found a stack of pornography under the seat of his car during a routine traffic stop. Not that naked bodies were a novelty in Hollywood, but these particular magazines had included photos of thirteen-year-old boys in the buff. I don’t care how much his last action pic grossed, that guy was total Hollywood roadkill now.
What about him?” I asked.
Being arraigned today. It’s your story, right?”
Damned straight. My headline the morning after Pine’s arrest had read: PINES PINES AFTER PINT-SIZED PRE-TEENS. What can I say? I have a thing for alliteration.
But as much as I was relishing the story, I wasn’t thrilled with the timing.
He’s being arraigned
?” My stomach growled. “It’s dinner time.”
The news waits for no one, love. Cam’s meeting you at the courthouse,” he said, ducking back into his office.
So much for my burrito. “Shit.”
I know, I know.” I reached into Strawberry Shortcake, pulled out another quarter, and dropped it into the ceramic pig on my way out.
At this rate, I’d be broke by Christmas.
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The Beverly Hills courthouse was located on Burton, just a block south of Santa Monica. An unimpressive building, it had a sixties glass-and-concrete esthetic going on that made me think of a Doris Day movie. Totally outdated, totally utilitarian, totally at odds with the rows of Jags and Beemers in the parking lot.
I slipped my Honda Rebel into a space near the entrance. Yep, that’s right, I ride a motorcycle. A bitchin’ hot pink motorcycle. With yellow flames. I’ll admit, it was no Harley, but for a gal my size, 5’3” on a good day, it fit just right. And with L.A. gas prices shooting through the roof, it was the only way I could afford my rent and my regular Swear Pig deposits.
I pulled off my helmet, locked it to the handlebars with a metal chain, and shook out my hair. Luckily when your hair is as stick straight as mine helmet head isn’t much of a problem. I gave it a good fluff and felt the shag cut fall back into place. Currently it was auburn with deep purple highlights. Though, I’ve been through so many shades in my lifetime, I’m not even really sure what my natural color is anymore.
I grabbed Strawberry Shortcake and made my way inside, the cool air-conditioning a sharp contrast to the heat outside. Even in fall, the temp in So. Cal never goes much below 70, and this week we seemed to be hitting Indian summer in spades. After sending my purse through the conveyor belt and stepping through a pair of metal detectors, I made my way up to the second floor where Pines was scheduled to be arraigned.
A towering blonde in jeans and sneakers, holding a big, black Nikon, leaned against the drinking fountain outside the room.
Hey, Tina,” she said, raising a hand in greeting.
I see Felix gave you late shift too, huh?” I said, gesturing to her camera.
She nodded. “Caught me in the middle of the dinner rush at Mr. Chow. And Britney had reservations today, too.”
Cameron Dakota was the
’s only full-time photographer. Most of the time Felix found it cheaper to pay freelancers by the picture, but Cameron had a knack for not only capturing celebs with their pants down (literally, if she was lucky) but also providing clear, quality shots that kept readers coming back time and time again to the
’s pages. And, oddly enough, she actually seemed to enjoy being stuck on Brit watch. Personally, if I had to follow Hollywood halfwits to Starbucks every day, I’d shoot myself.
Lucky for me, I only had to cover them in court.
Pines in there yet?” I asked, gesturing to the large, oak doors.
Cam shook her head, long blond hair whipping at her cheeks. “He’s up next. Right now he’s in the room next door with his lawyers. No cameras allowed in the courtroom so I’m waiting for a walk-of-shame shot.” She gave me a wink.
Go get ‘em, tiger.”
I pushed through the doors and slipped into the back of the courtroom.
Contrary to the world of
, there was nothing glamorous, sexy, or exciting about sitting in L.A. County Court. The rooms were squat, square boxes filled with metal-framed tables, hard wooden chairs, and depressingly beige walls. Think DMV décor. Only worse. Since this was only an arraignment, no jury was present, just a bunch of people sitting in the gallery, family members who’d likely be putting up bail for the various guys in orange jumpsuits being paraded through the room. Currently up was a guy with earrings the size of nickels stuck in his ears, apparently pleading no contest to a drug possession charge.
I shifted in my seat, pulling my digital recorder from my back pocket as they let Mr. Meth out the side, telling a skinny brunette with tattoos that she could post his $50,000 bail downstairs.
But I sat up straighter as the side door opened and the next defendant shuffled in.
Edward Pines was in his fifties, though he looked about seventy-five today. Apparently jail did not agree with the man. Dark circles ringed his eyes, his jowly features softer and flabbier than the last photo Cam had snapped for our front page. He walked with his head down, as if already playing contrite despite the absence of jurors. Beside him stood his attorney—tall, pressed suit, pasty complexion. I didn’t recognize him, but that wasn’t surprising. High-profile pedophiles didn’t make legal careers.