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Authors: Clare Naylor,Mimi Hare

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The First Assistant

BOOK: The First Assistant
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The
First
Assistant

One step u p from
The Second Assistant,
and one step closer to the red carpet

C la re Nay lo r
an d
M im i Ha re

a plume book

THE FIRST ASSISTANT

clare naylor is the author of five previous novels, including
Dog Handling
and
The Goddess Rules.

mimi hare was the director of development for a Hollywood production company where she worked on feature films such as
Jerry Maguire
and
As Good As It Gets
.

Praise for
The Second Assistant

“Your perfect spring fling . . . more fun than stargazing at Spago.”


People

“Make sure it is at the very top of your beach bag.”


Chicago Tribune

“This story of a power agent’s lowly second assistant has a lot of heart to go along with its smarts.”

—Malcolm Jones,
Newsweek

“[A] wicked romp.”


Us Weekly

“A high-spirited sprint.”


The New York Times Book Review

Also by Clare Naylor & Mimi Hare

The Second Assistant

The First Assistant

Clare Naylor

&

Mimi Hare

A PLUME BOOK

PLUME

Published by Penguin Group

Penguin Group (USA) Inc., 375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014, U.S.A.

Penguin Group (Canada), 90 Eglinton Avenue East, Suite 700, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M4P 2Y3 (a division of Pearson Penguin Canada Inc.)

Penguin Books Ltd., 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England

Penguin Ireland, 25 St. Stephen’s Green, Dublin 2, Ireland (a division of Penguin Books Ltd.) Penguin Group (Australia), 250 Camberwell Road, Camberwell, Victoria 3124, Australia (a division of Pearson Australia Group Pty. Ltd.)

Penguin Books India Pvt. Ltd., 11 Community Centre, Panchsheel Park, New Delhi – 110 017, India Penguin Group (NZ), 67 Apollo Drive, Mairangi Bay, Auckland 1311, New Zealand (a division

of Pearson New Zealand Ltd.)

Penguin Books (South Africa) (Pty.) Ltd., 24 Sturdee Avenue, Rosebank, Johannesburg 2196, South Africa

Penguin Books Ltd., Registered Offices: 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England

Published by Plume, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc. Previously published in a Viking edition. Copyright © Clare Naylor and Mimi Hare, 2006

All rights reserved

registered trademark—marca registrada

CIP data is available.

ISBN: 1-4295-2987-3

Original hardcover design by Spring Hoteling

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.

PUBLISHER’S NOTE

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

The scanning, uploading, and distribution of this book via the Internet or via any other means without the permission of the publisher is illegal and punishable by law. Please purchase only authorized electronic editions, and do not participate in or encourage electronic piracy of copyrighted materials. Your support of the author’s rights is appreciated.

The First Assistant

Prologue

I have just stepped out of the limo to my boyfriend’s movie premiere and I’m the happiest girl in Los Angeles. I am an impeccable fifteen minutes late and have arranged to meet him inside the theater. He has been on location in Prague. We haven’t seen each other for a month. I am wearing a black Azzaro cocktail dress. It’s the first time in my life I know what it means to feel like a million dollars. I manage my vehicular exit without a face-plant and when the driver closes the door behind me I see only the dazzling flashbulbs of the paparazzi ahead.

“Hey, Lizzie, over here!” I hear someone cry out. It doesn’t sound like Luke. I look around and within seconds the call has escalated to a chorus of “Lizzie” ’s. It is the first time that the paparazzi, who always huddle by the door on these occasions, have known who I am. I wonder
how
they know who I am, too. Strangely it never crosses my mind to ask myself that one truly critical question, “Who am I, anyway?” If I had I would have remembered that I am Lizzie Miller, efficient, but not to the point of fame, first assistant to the head of a Hollywood agency. I have never won a talent show on national television. I am not famed for my inimitable way with Balenciaga and I was never the fiancée of Jude Law. There is no other con-ceivable reason why anyone would want to gaze at me in
US Weekly
as they wait for a fat transfer injection in their dermatologist’s office.

Unfortunately when fame beckons my ego picks up the hem of its evening dress and runs headlong to meet it like a long-lost lover way before my brain can pitch in and warn me what a hiding to nothing even minor, piffling celebrity is.

“Give us a smile, Lizzie!” they call out again. So I take a deep breath and saunter up to the sidewalk in front of the metal railings that they use to separate the hunters from their prey. Now let me tell you something, if you’ve never seen an actress stand on the carpet and pose for the paparazzi you haven’t lived. The whole thing is hysterical. The glossy photos we get to see are no happy accident. They are the result of a ludicrous and humiliating process that no sane person would be party to. The first time I ever saw an actress posing for the cameras at a premiere I was morbidly horrified. She was a beautiful, English rose of a starlet one minute and the next she looked as if she’d caught sight of Medusa and been turned to stone. Either that or her Botox had just kicked in. She was petrified into such a ridiculous pout for such an ap-pallingly long time that it looked as if she might not blink again before the movie, or perhaps the millennium, was over. It was the first time in my life that I was glad I didn’t have skin the color of morning milk and a twelve-million-dollar paycheck.

Only now, for the first time ever, it’s my turn. I resolve to just give a couple of discreet smiles, possibly verging on the coquettish if I can bring myself to abandon my inhibitions to such a degree, then be on my way. I pull my dress out of my undies where it has lodged on the car ride and launch myself toward the waiting photographers.

“Come on, baby, give us a smile!” they call out. So I do. I stand on the sidewalk in front of them and begin to pose. And actually I might even trade places with the morning-milk skin chick after all because it is all terribly easy. I just pretend that I’m home in front of the mirror and replicate some
InStyle
favorite poses: the Happy Hostess on Prozac look; the Bored Ingénue after a big night; the Nymph in Raptures. I am actually quite enjoying myself until I am roused from the haze of my narcissism by one of the photographers yelling, “Hey you!” I open my eyes and see, not a hoard of adoring males, but a pack of irritated wolves who’ve just had their supper snatched away.

“Yes, you! Move out of the way!” I am confused for a fraction of a sec-ond until I hear a woman’s voice behind me.

The First Assistant
3

“How do you want me, boys?” she coos. I turn around and am confronted by the laudable cleavage of Lindsay Lohan.

“Lindsay, you’re a doll!” yells the same photographer who’d just told me to stop ruining his picture. They hadn’t been calling for Lizzie. They’d been calling for Lindsay.

I quickly scuttle inside the entrance to the theater and out of the way of a pro in action. The flashbulbs explode and Lindsay (who, along with everyone else, is wearing jeans and flip-flops; I appear to be the only person in a crystal-encrusted, floor-length evening gown) does her thing while I skulk in the doorway and contemplate my humiliation. I pause as my blush subsides and reassure myself that the foyer looks blessedly empty so at least the other two thousand people who’ve been invited to the premiere haven’t witnessed my crazed ego getting the better of me.

Or so I delude myself until I walk into the buzzing theater in search of my seat and boyfriend. As I step through the double doors the whole place goes quiet. Heads turn in my direction and, thinking myself sensible in the extreme, I obligingly step out of the way, sure in the knowledge that Ms. Lohan can only be a few paces behind me again and everyone wants to check her out. But this time there’s no Lindsay be-hind me. Then I understand why—on the giant screen ahead, magnified to Olympian proportions, is Lindsay Lohan, still pouting and giggling for the photographers outside. As is traditional at premieres, they film the arrivals on the red carpet and show them on-screen to the waiting audience. It takes me approximately four seconds to understand that every last person in this theater has just witnessed my big “moment” on the red carpet.

BOOK: The First Assistant
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