After that night, Valentino and Renee had been coming to visit Luna every day, spending almost all their time with her. Their own happiness after confirming that Renee was pregnant was pushed aside during the hours they kept Luna company.
Neither Val nor Renee wanted to show it too much, even though Luna had to be blind to miss their joy sparkling in their eyes.
Luna did her best not to let her pain show; forcing Val and Renee to talk about how they felt after finding that finally they were going to be parents and about their future plans for the baby. Luna knew it was unfair to deprive the couple the chance to show their happiness, even though deep down, that very same happiness felt like a stab in her broken heart.
Valentino and Renee understood that avoiding the subject would lead Luna to feel that they were leaving her out. So even though watching Luna struggling to cope with the mix of emotions that Renee’s pregnancy brought about overwhelmed Val and Renee to a point where they felt like dying inside, the couple shared everything with her, not keeping anything for themselves and they asked Luna to be their baby’s godmother.
Of course, Luna accepted but she also fell apart, crying disconsolate for hours, hugging Renee for dear life. Just as Delora had, Val and Renee understood that Luna needed to deal with her personal living hell in her own way. They couldn’t do much more than stick at her side, offering her their support, respect and love.
Things only got worse when they knew that Vin had taken Sheila to the LA Confidential Annual Charity Party. Vin and Sheila had arrived separately, but they had left together. Almost every single press agency had been present at the event, so naturally, there were hundreds of pictures showing them talking, dancing and finally getting together in the same car as they left the place.
It suprised Luna how much it had affected her to see Vin and Sheila together. It also confirmed to Luna her worst suspicion; she still cared for Vin. The fact only infuriated her even more, increasing her thirst for revenge even though she didn’t let it show, at least openly.
Val and Renee knew that Luna’s fortitude and her nonchalance were just a front, and they also knew that Vin’s insensitive behavior was only fueling Luna’s anger. It broke their hearts to see how bitter and cold Luna was turning day after day, without even being aware, resorting to sarcasm more and more.
Meanwhile the gossip around Hollywood took for granted that Vin Diesel was fucking Sheila Harley six ways from Sunday, but Vin hadn’t touched Sheila at all. In fact, he hadn’t even kissed her.
Vin had been hanging around with her, taking Sheila to a different club every night with the excuse of getting to know each other better, disguising his lack of real action as a way to show Sheila the respect she deserved as a woman, adding that he didn’t want to treat her the same way other men had done, as a slut.
Sheila bought it, because deep down she was dying to believe it. For once a man was treating her as a lady and she felt flattered beyond belief.
The night that Vin had shown up in her apartment after phoning her, Sheila had gone on guard, suspecting that Vin was there to pay her back for what she had done. Sheila was sure that Marcela had betrayed her, telling Vin about her fight with Luna. But to her utter surprise, Vin hadn’t said a single word about the matter. Instead, he had tearfully confessed, partially playing the role of his life, that everybody had given him the cold shoulder, now that he needed his so called friends’ support more than ever.
His flawless performance caused Sheila to push aside any doubts or suspicions. Certainly the fact that indeed, everybody had turned their backs to Vin helped. Some of the things that Vin had said that night had been true. He knew he deserved it, still it hurt. A lot.
Consequently, Sheila had docilely fallen into Vin’s trap and, inwardly, Vin had laughed in triumph. The first part of his plan had worked, and he had been more than ready to set the second part in motion.
Taking Sheila to the LA Confidential Charity Annual Party gave her the unique chance to party with other confirmed celebrities that, under other circumstances, she wouldn’t have dared to dream about meeting in person, much less actually talking with them. Allowing Sheila to take a look within the exclusive club that celebrities classified as ‘A list’ represented, tasting first hand how it felt to be treated as one of them, enjoying the inherent benefits, had caused the effect that Vin had expected. Sheila had fallen even deeper into his trap.
He had almost fallen apart, remembering Luna’s reaction when he had put her real feelings for him to test. She had felt a little overwhelmed and not very comfortable surrounded by such a colorful world. It had felt odd when Luna had started to say that she preferred to stay at home, watching movies, talking, having mind blowing sex or just playing with Roman better than partying surrounded by such decadent luxury and constantly under the spot light.
It had been back then when Vin had finally understood that he wouldn’t be able to impress Luna. She wasn’t a brainless chick hungry for success; she wanted recognition for her job and not to be known as Vin Diesel’s chick. It had been exactly that fact that had made Vin realize that he was in love with her.
Just on one single occasion had Luna really enjoyed herself and that had been when she had met one of her favorite actors in person, Al Pacino. She had been so excited at having the chance to talk with Mr. Pacino that she had unconsciously monopolized the actor for almost the entire night.
Not that Mr. Alfredo James Pacino had had anything to complain about; he had had a great time reviewing in deep detail with Luna some of his most famous roles. Her deep respect and thoughtful arguments while talking lively about characters such as ‘Serpico’, ‘Tony Montana’ or ‘Carlito Brigante’, had fascinated Mr. Pacino. It had felt like a gust of fresh air and the famous actor found that he didn’t want the night to end; he enjoyed having the chance to talk with Vin and his Spanish girlfriend, Luna, about movies, literature, art and music. For once Al Pacino hadn’t regretted having to show up at one of the infamous Hollywood parties so he could promote his latest movie.
Unlike Luna, Sheila fit perfectly within that decadent world, full of heartless souls ready to do anything to get what they wanted, which only made Vin’s plan easier to carry out. A couple of impersonal, expensive gifts that Vin had entrusted his new assistance to buy and voila, Sheila sealed her fate. It would be a question of days until he had Sheila exactly where he wanted her, trapped in Vin Diesel’s wild side, willing to do whatever he wanted her to do so she didn’t lose the status that being Vin Diesel’s chick represented.
Cedars Sinai Hospital (Cardiac Care Unit)
“I don’t think this is a wise decision, Luna. You’re still running the risk of suffering a new cardiac arrest.” Dr. Williams frowned, concerned. When Luna’s face remained impassive, the cardiologist sighed defeated. “Tell me at least that you won’t stop the treatment.”
“I won’t.” Luna smiled but her smile didn’t reach her eyes.
Dr. Williams silently considered if she should trust her patient’s words. It wasn’t as if she had any other option; she just couldn’t tie Luna to the bed. The fact that Luna had refused to talk with the psychologist didn’t please Dr. Williams either. She knew there was no way that Luna would be able to overcome the painful loss without professional help.
“Okay, but I want for you to know that I do not agree with it.” Dr. Williams opened the folder and, reluctantly, signed Luna’s discharge, handing the folder to her along with a copy of her medical records.
“Thank you.” Luna got to her feet. Dr. Williams stood as well and they hugged each other.
“Take care, Luna.” Dr. Williams smiled sadly.
“I’ll do so.” Luna replied, letting go of her cardiologist and exited Dr. Williams’ office, finding Steve, waiting outside for her.
“You ready?” He asked, offering a warm smile.
Luna felt a pang of guilt and sighed heavily.
Valentino had phoned Luna, telling her that she would need a bodyguard from now on. The media wasn’t going to give her a moment of peace since she had officially joined the celebrities club much to her dismay.
After going back and forth, arguing for what felt like hours, Val convinced Luna, but she didn’t want someone she didn’t know anything about, so Val had said that he’d take care of everything. And this is where Steve came onto scene.
“Steve…” She screwed up her face and he frowned. “I…I wanted to apologise for…”
Steve cut her off. “There’s nothing to apologise for, Luna.” He stroked her arm up and down and Luna opened her eyes, meeting his gaze.
Steve shook his head. “No buts. We both did what we thought we had to do.” He replied firmly and yet a small smile was gracing his lips. Then, Steve took one of Luna’s hands in his. “Listen, Luna, I need a job and you need a bodyguard. We’ve been together almost since the beginning. I’d like to keep things the same way.” He paused, squeezing her hand softly. “‘Sides, I earned some extra points as a tough bad ass, you know? Big black fella on parole?” he grinned wickedly, “no one will dare to mess with you if I’m around.” Steve smirked, winking.
Luna felt like crying; she knew that she had acted like a bitch with Steve and still, here he was, smiling warmly at her, making jokes about a serious situation and without bearing a grudge within his big, kind heart.
“Thank you.” Luna released his hand and hugged him, holding onto him tightly. From nowhere tears started falling and Luna pressed her face against Steve’s chest.
Steve felt his heart skipping a beat; he knew Luna was hurting badly and he stroked her back, soothing her muffled sobs. He didn’t know what to say so he said nothing. They stood in the hallway, holding each other until Luna regained control of her emotions.
“Are you gonna boss me around?” Luna released Steve, wiping away her tears but she was smiling even though her eyes were narrowed in suspicion.
“Nope, as long as you do as I say.” Steve winked at her again and picked her bag. “Now, let’s get out of here.”
Luna nodded ‘yes’, putting her sunglasses on and they both headed towards the entrance of the hospital.
As soon as they reached it, a crowd of photographers and cameramen were already waiting for her.
“Luna, are you okay?”
“Is it true that you’re going to divorce Vin?”
“Rumours say that Sheila and Vin were seen together in a club a couple of days ago. Does that affect you?”
Luna took a deep breath, exhaling the air slowly and, ignoring the dozen questions that they were throwing her way, she hurried her steps and got in the car that was already waiting for her. Steve followed her inside and the driver closed the door.
The photographers kept taking pictures of them until the car was lost from view. It was then that Luna let out the air she had been holding and, leaning backwards, she closed her eyes.
“They are not going to leave me alone.” Luna whispered.
Steve chuckled. “You already know how they are.”
Luna nodded. Yeah, she damn well knew. “I need to get out of here,” she said absently.
There was no way those fuckers were going to leave her in peace, not while Vin was hanging around with Sheila, and staying in LA would only make things worse. Luna suspected that each time Vin showed up somewhere, she would be the one being harassed by paparazzi and cameramen wanting to know how she felt about it.
Steve glanced at her from the corner of his eye. “Maybe we could go to New York?” His voice sounded with a hint of hope and Luna’s lips spread in a small smile.
Luna considered Steve’s words for a long moment, thinking deeply about what it meant to move to New York, if only for a while. She had nothing left here, with the exception of Val and Renee. Luna loved them both but it was too soon for her to feel comfortable around Renee; she needed more time for that. Besides it would be easier to give the paparazzi the slip because she wasn’t planning to party.
Yeah, why not? She was dying to see Allison anyway and she wanted to talk with Santiago Escudero about her book. She definitely needed to keep herself busy or she knew she would fall apart. Of course, Luna also knew that being in New York she might end up running into her family.
His family, she reminded herself.
Shaking her head, Luna opened her eyes. New York was a big city and she would keep herself as far as possible from any of them. Still she had a few things to take care of before she could move. Luna had already started planning her revenge.
“Sounds like a plan.” She met Steve’s gaze and he grinned. “Yeah, let’s move to the city of skyscrapers.” Luna added and Steve’s grin grew wider.
“You sure you’re ready, sugar?” Allison’s concerned voice sounded at the other side of the line. “I mean, it’s great and all but…”
Luna didn’t let her finish. “Yeah, I’m sure and I really need to do this, Allison. I’ve been postponing it for too long already.”
Luna’s sudden determination deflated Allison’s arguments. She knew that Luna was somehow running away, using the excuse of wanting to promote her book so that she didn’t have to deal with the fact that she needed professional help to heal completely. Still Allison couldn’t really blame Luna at all.
“Okay, then. I’ll phone Santiago Escudero and I’ll arrange a meeting.” Allison grinned when she heard Luna whooping. She knew that Luna was pretending but didn’t say it aloud. They would have time to talk once Luna was installed.
Both women chatted for about an hour more about Luna’s book, Tyrone and about the fact that Steve was coming with her.
Allison felt her heart skipping a beat, knowing that Steve would be around. She knew she had a pending talking with him. The succession of unexpected events that had taken place had forced them both to move backwards, knowing that Luna’s health was their main concern at that time. But now…
“Allison? I have a proposition to make.” Luna went serious in a heartbeat and Allison snapped out of her thoughts in a blink.
“What is it, sugar?” Her voice sounded tinted with concern.
“I’d like you work with me,” Luna paused for a second and then plunged, “exclusively.”
Allison blinked, shocked and Luna continued.
“I’ll pay you as much as you’re getting paid now and I’ll pay for Tyrone’s treatment from now on.”
Allison opened her mouth but no sound came out and she closed it again, frowning.
If she was alone, she wouldn’t have given a second thought but she had to think about Tyrone. Going to work with Luna, exclusively, would mean that she would lose the insurance policy coverage the agency offered her when she joined the staff. If for any reason Luna’s book didn’t have the success they all expected or if anything happened to Luna, Allison would find herself without a job. It was a hell of a risk.
Allison took a deep breath and swallowed the invisible knot that was choking the life out of her. “Luna…I don’t know what to say. I mean, I’d love to…but.”
Luna sighed hard. “You don’t need to give me an answer right away. Just think about it. We’ll talk once I’m there, okay?”
Allison smiled a little. “Okay. Love you.”
“Love you too.” Luna answered. “See you in a couple of weeks.”
“Yeah, I’m already counting down.” Allison laughed softly, blinking silent tears.
Luna cleaned her own tears and dialed her lawyer’s cell phone number. It was time for some loose ends to be tied and she also wanted to ask Thomas a very personal favour.
(One week after Luna’s discharge)
Weismann, Roberts & Eisner (Vin’s lawyers office) LA
“What’s this?” Sheila suspiciously eyed the document placed in front of her.
“A confidentially agreement.” Vin’s lawyer answered in a matter of fact voice. “You have to sign it.”
“What?” Sheila blinked shocked, looking at Vin. “Why?”
“You want to move in with me, right? Then sign it.” Vin replied coldly.
“You don’t trust me?” Sheila gasped, her face showing a hurtful expression that didn’t reach her eyes and didn’t fool either Vin or his lawyer.
Vin snorted. “I don’t trust anybody, Sheila. Now sign it.” He sounded impatient and his gaze hardened.
The last thing he wanted was to have to worry about Sheila once he was done with her. This little bitch wasn’t going to keep fucking up his life after he had ditched her like a dirty dishcloth.
Sheila pressed her lips together. “I bet you didn’t make her sign one.” She muttered under her breath.
Not even had the words passed her lips when Vin slammed his hand onto the desk causing Sheila and even his lawyer to both jump at once, startled.
“Sign the fucking contract, Sheila.” Vin’s voice sounded scary and Sheila shuddered, grabbing the pen and signing the contract quickly.
“My lawyer should have a copy of this, right?” Sheila handed back the documents to Vin’s lawyer.
“I’ll make sure your lawyer receives it.” Vin’s lawyer answered, glancing at Vin. He would take care of that, just not right away. He was busy with other matters.
Sheila nodded and got to her feet. “Are we done here?” She looked back and forth between Vin and his lawyer.
“Yeah, you’re done here.” Vin replied, taking a seat. “Wait for me outside, I’ll be out in a minute—babe.” He dismissed her, pulling out a cigarette.
Sheila set her jaw hard but obliged. Vin had been acting weird since that morning, when he had shown up at her place to take her out for lunch. Cold and distant.
Sheila wanted to argue further but, at the same time, she didn’t want to run the risk of pissing him off, just in case Vin had decided that he had grown tired of her already.
Sheila damn well knew that she was not the only fish in the tank; there were a hell of a lot of girls all ready to spread their legs for him and Vin was still married to Luna. Besides, more than anything Sheila wanted to move in with him, so she could start working her way into his heart and his money.
As soon as both men were alone, Vin’s lawyer cleared his throat. “You okay?”
Vin closed his eyes, pinching the bridge of his nose. “No, I’m not okay.” He replied, sighing hard. “I’m not fucking okay.” He opened his eyes, chuckling sadly.
Vin’s lawyer nodded as he put aside the documents Sheila had signed. “Well, I’m afraid that what I have to tell you won’t make you feel any better, Vin.” He picked one folder and handed it to Vin.
“What’s this?” He asked, lighting his cigarette.
“Luna’s lawyer, Thomas, sent me an agreement to take a look at. It seems that Luna wants to tie some loose ends before she moves to New York,” he answered, leaning backwards in his seat. “She wants alimony, not even under her name and that’s not all.”
Vin shut his eyes, cursing himself. He should have expected that Luna would want to put as much distance as possible between them. It hurt so much that Vin felt like dying inside.
“Give her whatever she wants.” Vin answered, handing the folder back to his lawyer causing the man to arch his brows at once.
“You didn’t even take a look at it, Vin. Luna wants among other things, fifty per cent of your share of Tigon and One Race. She wants to be on the administrative council of both companies too and she even wants to share your awarding veto control.”
“I don’t give a fuck. Give her whatever she wants.” Vin kept his voice emotionless but inside he was a step away of losing it completely, breaking apart.
Vin didn’t care about the money. It was just money and he had plenty. He knew Luna didn’t want that money for herself though, she never cared about that, ever. What was killing him was the fact that she was moving out of LA. It made sense though, Vin noted. His family was there; Allison was there too and also the publishing house.
Vin frowned. “What’s name is the alimony under, anyway?”
Vin’s lawyer, opened the folder and searched for the beneficiary’s name. “Here, Tyrone Brown.”
Vin’s lips spread in a small grin. Luna was going to assume Tyrone’s expenses? His heart hurt, as if someone had stabbed it. She was filling the empty hollow their baby had left helping another kid in need.
“How much is she asking for?” Vin leaned forward a bit.
Vin’s lawyer furrowed his brows and stared at Vin suspiciously. “$2,500.”
“Make it $4,000.”
“Vin.” His lawyer shook his head.
“Do it.” Vin replied seriously and got to his feet. “Tell Luna’s lawyer that we accept all the terms of the agreement.”
Vin’s lawyer sighed hard but nodded ‘yes’. “You sure you know what you’re doing, Vin?”
Vin chuckled. He wasn’t sure, but if Luna wanted to take part in his business, he wouldn’t stop her, at least for now. He was curious about where she was heading wanting to be part of Tigon and One Race. That could be interesting and it wasn’t as if he hadn’t discussed his business decisions with her before.
The veto control worried him a little, since Valentino was also part of the administrative councils of both companies. The Dominican had quit as his bodyguard but he hadn’t left the councils. If they joined efforts, they could stop a project from being released. But his sister Samantha was part too as well as his brother Paul.
Vin doubted Luna would jeopardize any future project, at least that was what he hoped. Vin wanted to start shooting ‘Hannibal’ as soon as possible. Nope, Luna wouldn’t do that to him, she knew he needed ‘Hannibal’ to be back on track after ‘SETH’ was shown in theaters.
“Yeah, I’m sure.” Vin shook hands with his lawyer and exited his office.
Black Star. LA (at the same time)
James Haltom followed the big bodyguard across the salon, glancing around. It wasn’t the first time that he had been in a celebrity’s house, but it was definitely the first time that the house didn’t look like some cold, impersonal place taken directly out of a fashionable magazine.
A faint, sweet aroma of homemade cooking assaulted his nostrils and James inhaled deeply. Was that paella? He smiled to himself, remembering his last vacation in Spain. Spanish food wasn’t easy to forget once you had a chance to get a bite.
Shaking his head a little, James looked around once more, noticing that there weren’t pictures of Vin Diesel around, not even one, at least in the salon. In fact there was nothing that reminded him of the fact that it was his house at all. It didn’t surprise James too much; at the end Thomas had already updated him about the current situation.
Steve glanced at him and James smiled politely, hurrying his steps until they reached the back yard. There was a woman, sitting on one of the wicker armchairs, a dog lying at her feet. His client, Luna Vincent, and James gave her a discreet once over.
Jeans, tank top and slippers. Causal clothes, fancy, expensive and yet she didn’t look flashy. No jewelry, with the exception of her wedding ring and another ring with a black stone. Hmmmm. It struck him as odd that she hadn’t gotten rid of her wedding ring. Yet anyway. He wasn’t sure what to think about such a gesture, it spoke volumes though.
Luna narrowed her eyes slightly and, lowering her eyelids, she observed the man approaching her.
Impeccable dark grey suit, black shoes, pale yellow shirt, matching tie. Short, curly, reddish hair, blue eyes. Boyish face full of freckles. Neat.
Luna blinked; she wasn’t expecting Mr. James Haltom would look like that. For some unthinkable reason, Luna had always linked private detectives with the image that movies showed of them. Tortured men with a dark past and an uncertain future. This man walking with long, firm steps resembled more some undergraduate, a broker or one of the many young executives that were walking around LA.
“Thanks for coming here, Mr. Haltom. I appreciate the gesture.” Luna shook hands with James.
“I’ve been told you would like to keep your privacy.” James smiled politely and Luna saw the twin dimples flashing in his cheeks.
Luna nodded once in agreement and gestured to the wicker armchair placed in front of her, at the other side of the coffee table.
“Please take a seat.” She smiled a smile that James noticed didn’t reach her eyes and obliged, but not before he warily glanced at the massive dog that was now staring at him; not very friendly, James noted.
Luna followed his line of vision and chuckled. “This is Roman.” She stroked Roman’s head and James watched the dog leaning against her thigh, clearly returning the affection Luna was giving him.
“Italian Mastiff?” James stiffened a little, vaguely recalling what he had heard about Vin Diesel’s infamous pet.
“Yes.” Luna smiled warmly, looking at Roman and this time, her smile did reach her eyes, even though a deep sadness could also be seen. “Would you like to drink something?” She returned her attention to James, her expression neutral.
He shook his head. “No, thank you.”
Luna glanced at Steve and he nodded, taking a seat at the far end of the large terrace. Steve could still hear them, not that Luna cared. She trusted Steve without reservations and knew he wouldn’t betray her confidence.
James cleared his throat. “Thomas told me you needed my services but he didn’t tell me the details.” As he spoke, James glanced down at the folder on the coffee table.
Luna lit a cigarette up and pushed the folder in his direction. “Everybody has skeletons in the closet, Mr. Haltom. Secrets we don’t want people to find out about.” She paused, blowing the smoke and then continued; her other hand constantly caressing Roman’s nape and back. “I want their secrets; the dirtier the better as long as there is enough evidences to prove them.”
James opened the folder. There was a list with several names written on it. Some of them he knew, in fact almost all of them. James closed the folder.
“Some of them are really powerful people, ma’am.”
Luna chuckled. “If it’s too much for you, say so, Mr. Haltom.” The ‘if you don’t have balls to do it then don’t waste my fucking time’ went unsaid but it resounded within James’ head all the same.
James frowned, considering the situation for a minute. It wasn’t the first time that he had been entrusted with a delicate matter. His physical appearance paid off. Most people wouldn’t figure out what he did for a living. It wasn’t a very decent job, that was for sure, but it paid the bills and allowed him to enjoy a vacation more than once a year.
Without giving it a second thought, James opened the folder again and, picking up the piece of paper, he folded it, pocketing it in his interior jacket pocket. Then he stood and extended his hand.
“I’ll contact you soon, ma’am.”
Luna smiled slightly and shook his hand back. “Thanks.”