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Authors: Judith Krantz

Scruples Two

BOOK: Scruples Two
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, the owner of Scruples, once an ugly-duckling Boston aristocrat and now a tearing beauty, is imperious and stubborn, a creature of rampant sexuality, too rich, too vulnerable, and far, far too impulsive.

, a man who adores women and can read their minds, reigns like a pasha at Scruples. This wise and merry California Golden Boy is more than tough enough to stand up to Billy.

, the brilliant young designer for Scruples, is half Irish but French as the Eiffel Tower. She is alert as a vixen, hot-tempered, lovable, and as difficult to pin down as a mermaid.

, Billy’s second husband, a film producer whose career had been notable for its erratic course, has finally captured the goal of his life, the Oscar for Best Picture. Tyrannical yet a charmer, Vito is more flawed than Billy realized before their quick marriage.

Now please turn the page to meet the men and women with whom Billy, Spider, Valentine, and Vito have unfinished business …


. Until her arrival in California Gigi had been brought up to take care of herself in New York. She’s an unselfconscious, adventurous gamine whose natural style needs only Billy’s touch to blossom into outrageous attractiveness. Gigi’s magical transformation eventually changes the lives of everyone who knows her.
. Gigi’s roommate and best friend, she’s shrewd, witty, impudent, and flat-out gorgeous, a latter-day Gibson Girl who works as a top lingerie model on Seventh Avenue.
. Sasha’s older brother, he’s the most brilliant of off-Broadway directors. Powerfully talented, a bull of a man, with a naturally magnetic personality, he lives in a whirlwind of gusto.


. Tough, redheaded, and I League, he is a sculptor from San Francisc He’s a great lover, boiling with energy, pride and unforeseen emotion.
. An American-born French baroness, she’s clever and manipulative, an obsessive collector of and antiques who takes a dangerous interest Billy Ikehorn.
. Wife of the head of a major film studio, Hollywood royalty to her fingertip she is a perfect hostess—and a tightly controlled and controlling woman who leads an explosive double life.

This edition contains the complete text
of the original hardcover edition


A Bantam Book / published in association
with Crown Publishers, Inc

Crown edition published 1992
Bantam edition /July 1993

All rights reserved
Copyright © 1992 by Judith Krantz
Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 92-3325

No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher
For information address: Crown Publishers, Inc.
201 East 50th Street, New York, NY 10022

eISBN: 978-0-307-80354-2

Bantam Books are published by Bantam Books, a division of Random House, Inc. Its trademark, consisting of the words “Bantam Books” and the portrayal of a rooster, is Registered in U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and in other countries. Marca Registrada. Bantam Books, 1540 Broadway, New York, New York 10036


n the momentary wait before the presentation of the Oscar for Best Picture, that pause during which Oscar fever reaches its height, while the presenters walk out of the wings and downstage to read the list of nominations, Vito Orsini began to sweat. What if Maggie MacGregor’s information had been wrong? What if
hadn’t won Best Picture? Jesus—he’d have to buy the rights to
come what may, according to the terms of his bet with Curt Arvey. But what the hell. He shrugged his shoulders and smiled. Right or wrong, he had to have that book. It had been written for him to produce. He knew it

Billy Orsini, squeezing his hand tightly, had no such last-minute panic. Dolly Moon had called her first thing that morning, unable to hold back the good news. But Billy hadn’t wanted to tell Vito because she suspected he might feel that in some way it diminished the Oscar he was about to get if he knew the secret of the envelope had been revealed before the actual presentation. Nor would she tell him that she was pregnant until tomorrow, when the glory of this night was less fresh. The news, for her husband, childless at forty-two, would upstage whatever industry recognition he could ever be given. And as she felt Vito’s hand tense more firmly than ever over
her own, she told herself to be honest. She, Wilhelmina Hunnenwell Winthrop Ikehorn Orsini, did not have the faintest intention of sharing the particular spotlight of glorious maternity with any little gold-plated statuette that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, in its infinite wisdom, might ever bestow


illy woke reluctantly from a dream of such poignant happiness that she tried to cling to it as long as possible. She was running in the dream, bounding effortlessly up a flight of circular steps that led to a platform at the top of a tower from which, she knew even as she ran, she would see a radiant springtime woodland leading to the adventure of a beckoning turquoise sea. She opened her eyes with a sigh and waited for the emotion of the dream to fade, but all the joy stayed with her.

Blissfully disoriented, confused even as to the date and place, she mistily consulted the high ceiling until memory floated back. She was in her own bed in her own house in California. It was April, it was 1978. Last night Vito had won the Oscar for Best Picture and Dolly Moon, her dear friend, had won for Best Supporting Actress. Four hours later Dolly had, with dispatch and composure, given birth to a magnificent baby girl. Billy and Vito, with Lester Weinstock, Dolly’s publicist, had skipped the post-Oscar party and waited at the hospital together. Then they had all returned here, to celebrate with scrambled eggs, English muffins and champagne. Billy remembered cooking the eggs and she had a clear vision of Vito opening champagne, but after that everything blurred into a haze of toasts and laughter. Perhaps both men were in bed with her? A quick peek revealed that she was alone, and on Vito’s side of the bed the covers were thrown back.

Yawning, stretching, groaning with pleasure, Billy eased herself cautiously upright. Her bedside clock told her that it was past noon, but she didn’t feel at all guilty. If a woman couldn’t sleep late after enduring the many nervous tensions of yesterday, when could she? Especially in her condition, her incredible condition, her excessively interesting, newly discovered condition that was still a secret. But now the time had come to make her announcement. She heard Vito’s voice on the phone in the sitting room next to their bedroom. Good, that meant she could throw some water on her face and brush her teeth before he realized she was awake. As Billy brushed her hair, dismissing as always the bugle call of her insistent beauty, even she couldn’t fail to notice the vivid freshness of her skin, the artless brightness of her smoky eyes, the deeply gleaming abundance of her dark brown hair. She looked ten years younger than her thirty-five years. It must be hormones, she thought, up to their notorious tricks.

When she emerged from the bathroom Vito was still on the phone, so Billy was inspired to take a quick shower. From the instant she told Vito about this baby, he’d be so excited, so thrilled, so blind to distraction that everything else would become unimportant while they spent hours talking and planning, so she might as well grab this opportunity. A few minutes later, still damp from her hurried shower, barefoot and all but dancing in eagerness, Billy threw on a peignoir made of almost transparent crêpe de chine and flung open the door to the sitting room.

In quick, reflex confusion, she stepped back into the bedroom. What the devil was Vito’s secretary, Sandy Stringfellow, doing sitting on Billy’s favorite chair in her very own, very private and off-limits sitting room, murmuring discreetly into Billy’s private phone, whose cord Sandy had dragged over from Billy’s desk? Neither Vito nor Sandy had noticed her, so absorbed were they in their separate conversations. Billy shrugged out of her indiscreet peignoir and put on slippers and a robe made of heavy toweling.

“Good morning,” she said, beaming at Sandy and Vito. Sandy made an apologetic grimace and continued talking. Vito looked up quickly, waved, smiled, blew her an abstracted kiss and continued listening intently.

“Yes, Mr. Arvey, Mr. Orsini will take your call as soon as he gets off the other phone,” Billy heard Sandy say. “Yes, I know how long you’ve been waiting, would you rather he called you back? No, I can’t say exactly when, that’s the problem. We don’t have a switchboard here, and the phone hasn’t stopped ringing all morning. Mr. Orsini hasn’t even had time to dress to go to his office. It shouldn’t be long now, Mr. Arvey, but this phone doesn’t have a hold button. Yes, I know that’s ridiculous, but I’m on Mrs. Orsini’s private phone.”

Billy scribbled a question mark on a piece of memo paper and thrust it at Vito. He shook his head at her and pointed toward Sandy.

“Who’s he talking to?” Billy asked.

“Lew Wasserman, about
The WASP,”
Sandy answered, putting her hand over the mouthpiece of the phone. The two women made wide-eyed faces of mutual congratulation at each other. The combination of the most influential and powerful man in Hollywood and Vito’s cherished new project, in which he hoped to star Robert Redford and Jack Nicholson, explained everything about Vito’s intensity.

“Where’s Josie?” Billy asked. Surely Josie Speilberg, her own secretary, should be running herd in here.

“Terrible stomach flu. She called in sick,” Sandy answered.

“Great,” Vito said, “that’s great, Lew. Yeah … yeah … uh-huh … I understand your point.… Right. Listen, Lew, thanks again for the advice. Breakfast tomorrow morning? You’re on. Seven-thirty? No problem. Good-bye, Lew.” He hung up and gave Billy a quick, violent hug and a brief, hard kiss, triumph and victory making him move twice as quickly as usual. “Sleep okay, darling? No time to talk, I absolutely have to take the other phone and talk to Curt Arvey. That miserable sucker should never have bet me that
wouldn’t win. Now he’s going to shell out the million and a half for the rights to
, and I want to make sure he’s closed the deal with that New York literary agent. If ever there was a hot property.…” He had picked up Billy’s private phone and was deep in conversation with Arvey while Sandy jumped to answer the other phone, which had started ringing the minute Vito put it down.

Billy looked at the two of them and realized they had forgotten her. Well, her news would wait, she told herself, and she needed breakfast. She waltzed down the staircase and through the sun-dappled double living rooms of her very large yet supremely comfortable house. It was an old house, as houses go in California, built in the 1930s, and in spite of its size it managed to retain an intimate, human scale. It was a house rich in personal, non-fashionable accumulation. Each room beckoned the passerby with asymmetrical bouquets of upholstered furniture, interestingly covered in slightly faded, succulently flowered English linens and ribbon-striped French cottons; there were fine old needlepoint rugs on the irregular, polished floorboards; no room was without several working fireplaces in which firewood was newly laid. Clusters of blooming plants, ferns and small trees stood in nooks and corners and were grouped near the French doors, piles of books overflowed the bookcases, everywhere a multitude of paintings stood propped up and against the walls. Small, splendid bronzes, well-used silver candlesticks, inlaid tea caddies and birdless birdcages covered the tabletops; baskets brimming with magazines stood by the chairs and everywhere were gloriously idiosyncratic antiques, bought for their charm and exuberance. There was no gilt, no formality, no grandeur or opulence, not so much as one jeweled snuffbox among the hundreds of whimsical objects, yet it was obvious that Billy had never refused to be tempted when she happened across something she wanted. In spite of their fascinatingly disorganized clutter, the rooms were so big that they were characterized by crisp space and carefree freshness. It was not the house of a woman who had to please or impress anyone but herself, yet only huge expense could keep this great house in the customary immaculate perfection of unstudied disorder that Billy loved.

She made her way through the library and the music room and the dining room, on her way to the pantry, smiling gaily at her three maids as she crossed their busy paths. Two of them had their arms filled with flower arrangements that had just arrived, and the third clutched sheaves of telegrams.

In the kitchen Billy’s chef, Jean-Luc, concealed his surprise at the appearance of his employer; twice a week he conferred with Miss Speilberg about menus for the week, but Mrs. Orsini rarely visited the kitchen, and certainly never in her bathrobe. Billy asked him to send Vito and Sandy a platter of club sandwiches and make her a dish she saved for very special moments: three slices of white toast covered thickly with Tiptree’s Little Scarlet strawberry jam and topped by carefully layered slices of very crisp bacon. This combination tasted like sweet and sour Chinese food for infants, and was a masterpiece of empty calories.

Sugar, salt, white flour, and animal fat, Billy gloated while she waited in the breakfast room for the bacon to be browned to the point of almost burning. This would be her last hurrah before she began her pregnancy diet, a bravura farewell gesture that could be appreciated only by a woman as compulsive as she was, a woman who knew the value of every calorie she had ingested since the age of eighteen, when she had lost a lifetime’s accumulation of fat and determined successfully to stay thin forever.

Nothing but melon, broiled tomatoes and steamed fish tonight, Billy thought, without regret, as she sipped orange juice and considered the scene in her sitting room. This phone marathon couldn’t go on much longer. Presumably it had started hours ago, since Vito, an early riser under all circumstances, still hadn’t had time to shave or dress. Soon the calls would taper off, most people would be out to lunch, Sandy and Vito would go to his office to handle things more efficiently. Of course there’d be more calls to the house and more flowers and telegrams, but this post-Oscar frenzy couldn’t last more than a few hours. After all, the world had a million really important things to focus on, no matter how significant this big win was to Vito and her.

She’d finished her sinful lunch without tasting it, Billy realized as she hurried back upstairs to the private part of the house, hoping to hear Vito busy in his own dressing room, expecting to find her sitting room empty. But both Vito and Sandy were exactly where she’d left them. “What the hell?” Billy wrote and shoved the paper under Sandy’s nose. The secretary grimaced in semi-desperation and wrote, “He’s talking to Redford—I’m keeping Nicholson

“No shit!” Billy said to the air, in a mixture of mystification and exasperation. My God, those actors had perfectly good agents. Why was Vito talking to them directly? Or had they called him?
had been at the top of the best-seller list for seven months, it was the hit book of the decade, everyone wanted to be involved in it, but such a breakdown in Hollywood protocol was something she’d never heard of before. She’d settled down to listen when Sandy waved another note at her.

“Maggie’s on her way here now with a camera crew … a special day-after-Oscar roundup show for tonight’s news. Shouldn’t you dress?”

Billy’s jaw dropped. This was a goddamned invasion of privacy. She’d turned over her house to Vito and his band of workers without a second thought for six weeks of postproduction when it had been a question of getting
edited and mixed without the studio’s interference. She’d worked eighteen hours a day as a script girl; she’d never complained about the damage to shining floors or the breakage of her most delicate bibelots during the entire mad and feverish process, but Maggie MacGregor and her gonzo camera crew were something else again. She didn’t give a damn for the fact that Maggie’s television show from Hollywood was, week in and week out, one of the five most widely viewed programs in America. Nor did she care that Maggie had tipped Vito off about winning the Oscar. Maggie was Vito’s friend, not hers, never hers. She and Maggie never met without reinforcing their cordial mistrust. They couldn’t afford to allow themselves to become enemies—the town and the business were too small for that—but they’d never trust each other. Her house wasn’t a soundstage, for Christ’s sake, she didn’t want strangers inside it, she’d never allowed a single magazine to photograph it, and Maggie damn well knew that.

For the past three years, from the time she had bought her Holmby Hills estate, on Charing Cross Road, on the coveted south side of Sunset Boulevard just beyond Beverly Hills, Billy’s property had been discreetly patroled twenty-four hours a day by armed men with Dobermans; barbed-wire fences were concealed in every foot of the thick perimeter hedges of her eleven acres; there was a tall iron gate at the beginning of her driveway and a gatehouse guarded by two uniformed men who waved away anyone who stopped a car to rubberneck. All that security went with being one of the richest women in the world, as sensible and necessary as it was to any boss in organized crime, and now Maggie MacGregor, without so much as a by-your-leave, was thrusting her way in with a camera crew. Why couldn’t Maggie interview Vito in his office?

Still unwilling to disturb Vito, Billy scribbled the question and plunked it down in front of Sandy, who stopped flirting with Jack Nicholson for a second and murmured, “Human interest, she’s shooting everyone at home.”

Billy retreated to the absolute privacy of her thirty-foot-square dressing room and the deep window seat on which she’d huddled yesterday when she realized that she was pregnant, when hours of soul-searching had revealed to her stubbornly disbelieving mind that she had wanted all along to have a baby without knowing it.

BOOK: Scruples Two
13.93Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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