In her relentless search for the truth, Nikki discovers the hidden side of her friend's life, laying bare secrets buried before Darla was born, and uncovering widening layers of corruption that reach far beyond Hollywood to the highest levels of government.
What’s real? Darla used to ask me. How do you know what’s real? I never understood the question. But then I didn’t have platinum hair and cheekbones that could cut glass, and no one ever offered to buy me a Rolls if I spent one night naked in his bed. Darla was a brilliant neon sign ﬂashing pure escape. You almost didn’t notice that those lovely green eyes didn’t blaze like the rest of her. She was both main attraction and sad observer at the carnival. Something had damaged her at a very young age. We never talked much about it, but we recognized this in each other from the start. Isn’t that what friendship is?
The week she disappeared was as extreme as she was. Triple-digit heat in late August and wavy layers of smog suffocating the city. By ten in the morning, it was brutal everywhere, and on the sidewalks in front of the homeless shelter, with the sun bouncing off the ﬁlm crew trailers and the odor of unwashed bodies and general decay, it was a very special episode of hell. Beneath an archway, a tall man with a ﬁlthy blanket draped over his head rolled his eyes heavenward like a biblical prophet. Or a Star Trek castaway waiting to be beamed up.
In one of those trailers, where air conditioning brought the temperature down to the high nineties, I was being stuffed into a ﬁtted leather jacket two sizes too small. Perspiration had already ruined my makeup and the dark circles under my eyes were starting to show through.
Heat keeping you up, hon? the makeup girl had asked. I’d nodded. Half the truth.
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