Drop Dead Beautiful. The three little words were scrawled on the
Cartier card Lucky Santangelo had just opened. Hand-delivered, the
note had been brought up to the house in Bel Air by Philippe, her
houseman, who’d discovered it in the mailbox at the end of
Drop Dead Beautiful. No signature, no return address.
Was it an invitation to an upcoming event too clever for its own
Whatever. One quick glance at the card, and Lucky tossed it in the
Lucky Santangelo. A dangerously seductive woman with
blacker-than-night eyes, full sensuous lips, a tangle of long
jet-black hair, deep olive skin, and a lithe body. Wherever she
went, Lucky still brought a room to a standstill, for not only was
she wildly beautiful, she was also a powerhouse—a woman to be
reckoned with, a force of nature. Street-smart and forever
savvy—Lucky Santangelo had it all.
In her past, she’d built hotels in Vegas, owned a major movie
studio, and been married three times. She’d also survived
much heartache. Her mother, Maria, had been murdered when she was
five years old. Her brother, Dario, was shot to death and tossed
from a moving car. Then finally her fiancé, Marco, was gunned
down in the parking lot of her Vegas hotel.
Eventually Lucky had found out that the man who’d ordered the
brutal killings was her godfather, Enzio Bonnatti, a man she had
always respected and trusted.
The information devastated her. Filled with vengeance, she’d
lured Enzio into a carefully planned trap at his home, and shot him
dead with his own gun, claiming that he’d tried to rape her.
It was deemed a clear-cut case of self-defense.
Self-defense. Sure. She’d made it look like Bonnatti had been
about to rape her, and the D.A. had bought it all the way. No
surprise there. Her father, Gino, had major connections.
The real truth was that she’d shot the son of a bitch because
he’d deserved to die, and she’d never regretted doing
so. Justice had taken place. Santangelo justice.
Don’t fuck with a Santangelo—the family motto.
Grabbing her purse from a shelf in the luxurious dressing room,
Lucky headed for the door. Everything was large and luxurious in
Bel-Air—the privileged enclave of the very rich and famous.
The house she and her husband, Lennie, were living in was a
short-term rental. Recent storms had wreaked havoc on their home in
Malibu and they’d been forced to leave while repairs were
The beach was more her style. Bel-Air was too cut off from real
life with its winding hillside streets and enormous mansions hidden
behind vast gates and high walls of impenetrable greenery. People
existed as if they were living under siege, surrounded by multiple
security guards and vicious attack dogs. That way of living was not
for her. She enjoyed feeling unprotected and free, which was one of
the reasons she’d opted out of running Panther Studios
several years earlier.
Being the head of a Hollywood studio was no nine-to-five job.
She’d found herself working seventeen-hour days, leaving no
time for family and friends. One morning she’d woken up and
thought, That’s it, I’m out. She’d had enough of
dealing with ego-inflated stars, nervous-for-their-jobs executives,
fast-talking agents, neurotic directors, fat-assed producers, and
anyone else who thought they could make it in the movie
business—which was most people in L.A.
So she’d quit running Panther, and after producing one movie,
Seduction, starring Venus Maria, and her new discovery, Billy
Melina, she’d sold the studio and gotten out of the film
Lennie was in the movie industry. That was enough for one
Besides, Lucky had other plans. She was getting back into the hotel
business in Vegas—the place where it had all begun for her.
Several years ago she’d put together a syndicate of
interesting and colorful investors to develop a huge
multibillion-dollar complex called the Keys. She’d been
working with architects and planners for the last five years, and
in less than a month they were about to celebrate the grand
opening. Since the hotel project was her baby, she was beyond
“Mom!” Max burst into the dressing room without
knocking. Max, her sixteen-year-old wild child. Tall and coltlike
with smooth olive skin green eyes, an unruly tangle of black curls,
and a killer bod, Max was a showstopper. She was also a rebel,
playing truant from school on a regular basis.
“Here’s the thing,” Max announced, bouncing up
and down on the balls of her feet. “There’s no way I
can go to Grandpa’s party.”
“Excuse me?” Lucky questioned, attempting to remain
“Y’see, there’s this big blowout for one of
Cookie’s best friends up in Big Bear,” Max blurted,
speaking too fast. “A whole crowd of us wanna go, so like I
can’t let Cookie down.”
“You can’t, huh?” Lucky said coolly.
“Nope,” Max answered, tugging on a stray curl.
“Cookie’s my best friend an’ this is like
“You are not missing Gino’s birthday,” Lucky said
firmly. “No way.”
Max stared balefully at her mom. “Huh?”
“You heard me,” Lucky said, heading for the door.
“I can’t believe you’d be this mean,” Max
complained, trailing behind her.
“Mean?” Lucky sighed. This was major déjà vu.
It reminded her of all the times she and Gino had gone head to
head, and there were too many to remember.
“Why do I have to stay for Gino’s stupid party?”
Max demanded. “It’s not as if he’ll miss
“Of course he’ll miss you,” Lucky insisted,
hurrying down the stairs.
“He’ll like so not,” Max grumbled, right behind
Lucky turned around, shooting her daughter a warning look.
“You’re getting on my bad side, so stop
“No, Max,” Lucky said, walking out the front door.
“I’m not interested, don’t want to hear
And with those words she got into her red Ferrari and roared off
down the driveway.
“Crap!” Max shrieked as her mother’s car vanished
into the distance.
“Whassup?” questioned her younger brother, Gino Junior,
rounding the corner from the tennis court.
“Mom sucks!” Max complained, ignoring Gino
Junior’s two leering friends, both of whom she knew had a
total crush on her.
“What she do now?” Gino asked. He was only fifteen, but
he was already six feet tall and built like a football
“She won’t let me get out of Grandpa’s lame
party. That’s so pathetic.”
Ignoring her, Gino Junior raced into the house, followed by his two
friends, who couldn’t take their eyes off her.
“Horny little pricks,” she muttered under her breath.
“Go jerk off someplace else. Like Siberia.”
~ ~ ~
Lucky drove like a race car driver, skillfully weaving in and out
of traffic. She turned the CD player on full volume—Usher
Lately Max’s behavior was becoming quite a challenge.
Everything seemed to turn into an argument. Lucky sighed. It
wasn’t easy being a parent, especially when in your head you
were hardly any older than your own child.
A frosted and Botoxed blonde in a shiny new Mercedes cut in front
of her, causing her to hit the brakes. “Shit, lady!”
Lucky yelled. “Whyn’t you learn to fuckin’
Not that anyone could hear her, but shouting at other drivers eased
the tension, although if Lennie happened to be in the car, it made
him crazy. “One of these days someone’s gonna get out
their car and shoot your ass,” he was always warning
“Yeah, sure,” she would reply. “I dare them
At which point Lennie would shake his head. In his eyes there was
no taming Lucky Santangelo. She walked her own path, and
that’s exactly the way he liked her.
Drop Dead Beautiful
- Genres: Fiction
- Mass Market Paperback: 512 pages
- Publisher: St. Martin's Paperbacks
- ISBN-10: 0312937091
- ISBN-13: 9780312937096