Excerpt for Publicity!: Perils of a Hollywood Crisis Manager "Exposed!" (Story 5) by , available in its entirety at Smashwords

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The stories in this book are works of fiction. Any references to historical events or real places are used fictitiously. Other names, characters, places and scandals are products of the author’s imagination, and any resemblance to actual events, scandals, places or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

Copyright © 2018 by Edwin Betancourt

Created in the United States of America

First Printing, 2018

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The best revenge is not to be like your enemy.”
Marcus Aurelius, Meditations



December 17th, 2017 (6:16am):

Lola Ferrari walked down the stairs of the San New Court House wearing a black dress. It wasn’t ideally form fitting for her stature but it was appropriate considering the fact she was on trial for the murder of her “boyfriend” Damien Marx.

But strangely she wasn’t being interviewed within the courthouse, instead the paparazzi and numerous reporters met her at the bottom of the stair case in front of the building. Her multicolored hair was now a light blonde and she wore minimal make up on her face, although it didn’t take away from the fact she was still beautiful.

I want to thank all of my fans who have supported me through this tragic time in my life…I don’t know where I would be without them. The judge found that there was no evidence that suggested I, in any way pushed my boyfriend Damien Marx off that balcony. Sadly, the detectives found a suicide note in his pocket when he-…when he jumped. I miss him so much...He was my world!”

Laurel Quinn muted the television screen in her office and shook her head at the live coverage of Lola crying for the cameras. “Well that doesn’t seem fishy at all.” She stated sarcastically to herself.

“Knock, Knock!” Tony Vincetti sang out standing in her doorway holding two large coffee cups in his hands.

Laurel turned around on her throne sized office chair and smiled at the beautiful sight of her coffee cup. “You always know how to spoil me don’t you?”

Tony gave her a wink and walked over to her and handed her the cup his left hand was holding. “I’ve had practice.”

She smiled while opening the lid and took a long sip moaning softly at how delicious the bitter coffee was. It was a delicious vanilla flavor only the bodega in Tony’s neighborhood knew how to make.

Tony smiled at her and he had a question that weighed heavily on his mind. The question was one he didn’t want to ask because he wasn’t sure what the answer would be, considering he has known Laurel for more than two years, he figured he would ask anyway. “How did you sleep after…you know?”

Laurel swallowed the delicious coffee and she gave him a nod slowly. “I slept well. Not that I had fun with my client officially labeled a rapist or helping Hollywood’s royalty get away with murder. But that’s my job, so I can’t really complain.”

It was a very trying day that drained Laurel emotionally but this wasn’t her swan song. It wasn’t the end of Publicity!, it was just a shocking realization at just how crazy people were to maintain their reputation in an industry, that could potentially forget their name and existence by the end of the week.

Tony glanced at the muted television screen and he saw Lola crying in front of the cameras. “What the bloody hell is she doing out of prison?”

“Oh that’s the fun part. Apparently the Judge dropped the murder charge because they conveniently found a suicide note in Damien’s pocket.”

Tony let out a chuckle. “Are you serious? He died three weeks ago and now they found this supposed note? That psycho has a lot more tricks in her bleached hair than she’s leading us on to believe.”

“Well, you know what they say about the crazy ones. They are always eighty steps ahead of the game.”

It was a statement that Tony couldn’t help but agree with. He was seconds away from telling Laurel some exciting news, when he heard the door to the waiting room open.

Laurel and Tony exchanged glances. She was booked with appointments throughout the day but none of which were at ‘6:16am’.

“Who the hell can that be?” She asked quietly.

“Helloooooooooooooo! Is anyone here? I needs help!” a high feminine voice shouted causing Laurel to roll her eyes in irritation.

“Stay here, I’ll find out what’s going.” Tony walked out of Laurel’s office and made his way into the waiting area.

Tony watched as a Blonde woman stood in the waiting area wearing dark tinted sunglasses. The woman reminded him of a picture for a Halloween costume. She had on a pink leather cat suit and her blonde hair had a streak of pink on both sides of her head.

“Hello and Good morning! My name is Anthony, how can I help you today?”

The middle-aged woman let out a dramatic gasp and she placed her hands over her chest. “Oh my God! I had no idea San New City imports their help from the UK. My servants are Mexico and it’s hard to communicate with them, because they only speak Mexican. So if I don’t understand you it’s okay because I’m fluent in a little bit of Britishnese.”

Tony had to take a slow sip of his light and sweet coffee before he could form any words together at the clearly delusional and racist woman standing in front of him. He swallowed the coffee and smiled widely at her. “How can I be of service?”

The woman sucked her teeth at Tony’s question. “I’m here to get a Pap smear.” She let out a loud high-pitched giggle that would make a dog howl and want to become deaf all at the same time. “I’m kidding! I’m here because I need help, obvi!”

Laurel heard a weird sound as if someone was strangling a cat and she got up from her chair placing the coffee cup on her desk. She walked toward the doorway as her stiletto shoes echoed throughout the office. Her outfit was different from usual; she wore a pink silk top and a black skirt.

Tony heard the clanking sound of her heels and he let out a sigh of relief causing the woman to glare at him. Although she wore dark sunglasses, it didn’t take a genius to know she was giving him a dirty look.

Laurel approached the duo and she smiled at the new guest. “Hello and Good morning. Welcome to Publicity!, my name is Laurel Quinn and I am a Crisis Manager. How can I be of service to you?”

“I need your help Laura, someone is like totally blackmailing me and they are asking for nude photos of me.”

“Um…I’m going to need some more information.”

The woman took off her glasses and revealed her baby blue eyes that were drowned out by the heavily amount of pink glittered eye shadow around her eyes. She couldn’t have been more than thirty six years old at least, unless she was younger than that, but the make-up did a horrible job covering up her age.

“Okay, so I was totally shopping at the Dulce Amorè store over at Fifth Avenue two years ago. She had just unveiled her Fall collection at Paris that same month and I saw this beautiful dress that had 24 karat gold buttons and fur trimmings all along the sleeves and neckline. So I went in to purchase it and the unthinkable happened-”

“Your credit card was declined?” Tony asked completely intrigued by this story.

“No!” The singer replied.

“You found out the sweater was the ugliest piece of apparel ever made since some loon thought Polka Dots on Stripes was stylish?” Laurel joined in causing the woman to shake her head.

“Bite your tongue! And no. You see, I went to get the dress in size one because that’s my size and it didn’t fit! Apparently I grew into a size Five!” The woman sounded mortified at this discovery as if she had just witnessed a lewd act in public. “I couldn’t be seen on the red carpet of the Music Channel Video Awards dressed in a freaking size five! Then the blogs would call me…fat!”

“Oh no we can’t have that.” Laurel responded sarcastically. “How would you ever live with yourself knowing you aren’t a size one?”

The woman flipped her hair back angrily. “Do you know who I am? My name is Elizabeth Glitters! I am Pop Royalty. My song ‘Baby Stop! Baby No! Baby Don’t! Baby Give Me More!’ has been number one on the music charts for six months now.”

The woman was beyond sure of herself and Laurel couldn’t help but smile wanting so badly to knock her off the pedestal she put herself on.

“I’m sorry, but where exactly does my service come into play?” asked Laurel.

Elizabeth snapped her fingers remembering the reason she was there. “Well, there were paparazzi outside waiting to see what I brought and I couldn’t tell them the truth. So instead, I told them that I was Vegan and protesting the store because they used real animal fur. Those dummies actually brought it and I was hailed as a hero and thankfully I sued that stupid sales associate for suggesting I was a size five; I was crowned the ‘Princess of Veganism’ by the National Animal Rights Peeps Association.”

There were many questions that Laurel wanted to ask about this situation but she didn’t have the time or energy to do so. Not today at least.

As if Tony and her shared the same mind he asked, “So what happened?”

“Some idiotic blogger spotted me eating a Grilled BBQ Chicken with a side of bacon yesterday. He threatened to leak the pictures unless I-unless I sent him nude pictures of myself. Can you believe that? Most people would want money, because I’m rich and famous but that scumbag wants nudies. Ew!”

Good God this woman is going to make me choke her.” Laurel thought to herself as she smiled, pretending to take interest in anything that was coming out of this materialistic-cliché-Valley-girl-singer’s mouth.

“Did he manage to tell you when he plans on leaking these pictures?”

Elizabeth thought about that question and she shook her head not able to remember him mentioning a deadline. “Come to think of it, no he didn’t.”

Tony crossed his arms across his chest, “When did he message you that he has pictures?”

“This morning. I ate that for lunch yesterday in my car. It was an empty lot how did he even see me?”

Laurel wasn’t surprised at the length people would go to, especially Gossip Bloggers. A group of people who spend their time invested in the lives of others because they are sad, lonely and pathetic people. Her hatred for that community stemmed back to her mother Elizabeth Quinn’s suicide, which was caused by a Gossip Blogger.

They leaked a story, which revealed to the world she was diagnosed with Manic Depression and although she never made this public to her family, the fact outside people knew about this before her own family hurt Elizabeth. It hurt her so much she decided to jump off the Empire State Building leaving a young Laurel with not even a goodbye.

It was because of that tragic day, Laurel decided to enroll in San New University majoring in Public Relations and she vowed to never see another Celebrity suffer in the Entertainment Industry. Of course, her methods were rather unconventional; she still got the job done, come Hell or high water.

Laurel inhaled and exhaled deeply and gave Elizabeth a welcoming smile. “Here’s the plan. The blogger is a creep that has no connection with anyone in this industry. The fact that he’s extorting you for nude pictures is sad and rather amateurish considering your status as a celebrity. Because of this, I am going to hand your situation over to my assistant Anthony here.”

The comment made Elizabeth uneasy and she looked over at the tall British man who looked as if he just came out of the pages of a GQ Magazine. “No offense Laura, but what can he do that you can’t?”

“It’s Laurel.” She corrected. “And he’s a hacker amongst other things. So he’s going to use your phone to hack into the blogger’s phone where he will delete the images and anything else that could potentially damage your reputation. Once that is done, Anthony will then delete any and all social media accounts silencing the blogger forever.”

A sigh of relief came out of Elizabeth’s mouth and she tried to hug Laurel but the Crisis Manager pushed back a little signaling that she didn’t want to be touched. She turned to Tony. “I assume you have this under control?” She asked calmly to which Tony gave her a simple nod in response.

“Great! I can-”

Laurel stopped speaking when a Twenty six year old man walked into the Publicity! office smiling and holding a manila envelope in his right hand. “I hope I’m not interrupting anything”, he said his soft tenor voice catching the attention of Tony and Elizabeth.

The 5’9 man with brown curly hair was Jace. He didn’t have a last name-well not one that Laurel knew of. He was the Private Investigator that had an office on the first floor of the building.

“Oh my gosh this is embarrassing.” Elizabeth said laughing nervously as she turned to face Jace. “I don’t have any headshots on me or a pen. But I can totally take a selfie with you if you’d like?”

Jace looked at her as if she was crazy. His eyebrows lowered at her words. “Why would I do that?”

“Um, because you’re Gay and I’m Elizabeth Glitters aka ‘The Princess of Pop’. The Gays love me, duh!”

“Well this Gay has no idea who the hell you are.”

Elizabeth gasped clearly insulted. “I am a singer. My songs are number one on the charts and I was just endorsed by Maybe No Chic make up line yesterday.”

“Yeah sorry I listen to real music.” Jace ignored the singer’s gasp and he smiled at Laurel. “I got it.”

“Fantastic. Let’s head into my office.” Laurel walked over to the door of her personal office and Jace followed causing Tony to watch them suspiciously.

Why would she ask a Private Investigator for help? For the past three years they had been doing everything themselves without the aid of anyone else. What was she hiding? Tony didn’t know what to say or think but he was going to keep a careful eye on the situation.

“You look great!” Laurel said closing the door once Jace entered the office.

“Thank you. I just got back from Miami.”

“Oh for the LGBTQ Festival?”

“I wish. No, I was hired to retrieve a stolen Diamond. I spent most of it running from gunfire and almost getting blown up, but in between the knife fights I did catch up on some sightseeing. It’s really beautiful down there.”

Laurel smiled as she walked over to her office chair and sat down on it. Jace sat on the chair across from her desk and folded his right leg over his left.

She brushed away a strand of her auburn hair from her eye and leaned back onto her chair folding her hands on her lap. “Okay, so what did you find out?”

“Let’s start with the name you gave me, Evan Matthews. As it turns out there are no legal records for Matthews. Apparently he doesn’t exist.”

“I figured as much.” Laurel stated.

Jace nodded. “So I dug further and I cross checked your address and found a match to a man named Brendon Aria. Initially I thought he was linked to the one and only Vincent Cappella aka the Kingpin of New York City.”

The name caught Laurel’s attention and she lowered her eyebrows unsure of where Jace was going with his words. “Vincent Capella is a man of many things. But he wouldn’t have sent someone to kill me. He does everything himself.”

“Oh I know.” Jace responded back. “Vincent-whom by the way is a complete ghost in the system, didn’t have anything to do with what happened in your house that night. Not him or his team of crazies.”

Laurel hated that she had to tell someone everything that happened to her on that night.

How a stranger broke into her house, tried to kill her then ended up killing her baby instead, but this was something that had been haunting her brain for the past few days. The mourning period was over and now she wanted revenge.

Jace continued on, “I did manage to find one name that transferred money over to Brendon’s account that night of the attack-”

“How did you pull that off? Many hit men use offshore accounts to prevent being traced back to them in case the FBI or CIA finds them.”

Jace gave her a wink and smirked, “You have your secrets and I have mine.”

Laurel could count the people she trusted with only two fingers. Tony wasn’t going to do anything to hurt her because he adored their crazy yet interesting friendship, but she trusted Jace because he wasn’t like most people.

As a Private Investigator, many of the Police Departments hated him because he did their jobs more proficient than they did. He was also not the most social type because he was Gay and although it is 2017, many people still found that an issue and in his line of work, he couldn’t trust if the person saying “Hi!” to him were purely interested or just wanting to kill him. Laurel had respect for him and it was rare for her to admit that about anyone she had known while living in San New.

“The name that kept popping up belonged to Samson Rivera.”

She repeated the name again in her head as if it meant something to her, sadly it didn’t. She had never heard the name before. “Who is that?”

“This is where the story gets tricky. Okay, well apparently Samson is a Pimp so to speak. He owns a legal escort agency in New York City. Brendon Aria was a John of his.”

“Why would a Pimp pay a John?”

“That’s exactly what I asked myself, as it turns out Brendon and Samson are business partners. But they also have a friend who foresees their sudden business ventures, just in case one of them tries to screw the other over.”

Laurel had a look of confusion on her face as well as some denial that Jace could see was slowly making its way out, although she internally fought it every step of the way. He decided to hand her the manila envelope and she took it.

“Inside is the man who donated more than $3 million to them. He was the one that hired the hit on you. He isn’t in San New or New York City. Right now as we speak, he’s facing seven years at the Borger County Federal Prison, for money laundering. Which is an hour and a half away from San New.” Jace’s voice was filled with sadness as he got up from the chair. “I’m sorry Laurel, I really am.”

Laurel cleared her throat and smiled at him. “Thank you Jace.”

“Anytime.” He walked over to her office door and opened it, he stepped out and slowly closed it behind him. He flashed Tony a smile and walked out of the office passing by Elizabeth who was trying to sing but it was very evident auto tune was a requirement for her records.

Tony looked away from his computer screen as Jace walked out and he glanced over at Laurel’s office wondering what happened and what their conversation was about. Whatever topic they discussed, made Laurel look sick to her stomach.

Laurel opened the tab of the folder and she looked inside to find a picture of David Jimberson. She closed the folder quickly and held her stomach in disgust.

The killer wasn’t there to kill Laurel because a stranger hired him to, he was there to kill Laurel because David hired him!

Laurel opened the folder again and looked into the aquamarine eyes of the man.

Rage grew inside of Laurel thinking about that night. She wanted revenge not only for Elijah but also for herself.

As Confucius once said, “Before you embark on a journey of revenge, dig two graves”. Laurel already dug one for her son, the next one? It had a name on it and that name belonged to David Jimberson- her ex-husband. ~


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