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Sheldon, Sidney - A Stranger in the Mirror by Sheldon Sidney

Sheldon, Sidney - A Stranger in the Mirror by Sheldon Sidney

Author:Sheldon, Sidney
Language: eng
Format: epub
Published: 2006-04-23T03:16:34+00:00


BOOK THREE

29

There is a smell to failure. It is a stench that clings like a miasma. Just as dogs can detect the odor of fear in a human being, so people can sense when a man is on his way down.

Particularly in Hollywood.

Everyone in the Business knew that Clifton Lawrence was finished, even before he knew it. They could smell it in

the air around him.

Clifton had not heard from Toby or Jill in the week since they had returned from their honeymoon. He had sent an expensive gift and had left three telephone messages, which had been ignored. Jill. Somehow she had managed to turn Toby's mind against him. Clifton knew that he had to effect a truce. He and Toby meant too much to each other to let anyone come between them.

Clifton drove out to the house on a morning when he knew Toby would be at the studio. Jill saw him coming up the driveway and opened the door for him. She looked stunningly

beautiful, and he said so. She was friendly. They sat in the garden and had coffee, and she told him about the honeymoon and the places they had been. She said, "I'm sorry Toby hasn't returned your calls. Cliff. You can't believe

how frantic it's been around here." She smiled apologetically,

and Clifton knew then that he had been wrong about her. She was not his enemy.

"I'd like us to start fresh and be friends," he said.

"Thank you, Cliff. So would I."

217

Clifton felt an immeasurable sense of relief. "I want to give a dinner party for you and Toby. I'll take over the private

room at the Bistro. A week from Saturday. Black tie, a hundred

of your most intimate friends. How does that sound?"

"Lovely. Toby will be pleased." ^~~-

Jill waited until the afternoon of the party to telephone and say, "I'm so sorry. Cliff. I'm afraid I'm not going to be

able to make it tonight. I'm a little tired. Toby thinks I should

stay home and rest."

Clifton managed to hide his feelings. "I'm sorry about that, Jill, but I understand. Toby will be able to come, won't

he?"

He heard her sigh over the telephone. "I'm afraid not, dear boy. He won't go anywhere without me. But you have a nice party." And she hung up.

It was too late to call off the party. The bill was three thousand dollars. But it cost Clifton much more than that.

He

had been stood up by the guest of honor, his one and only client, and everyone there, the studios heads, the stars, the

directors -- all the people who mattered in Hollywood --

were

aware of it. Clifton tried to cover up by saying that Toby was

not feeling well. It was the worst thing he could have done.

When he picked up a copy of the Herald Examiner the next afternoon, there was a photograph of Mr. and Mrs. Toby Temple that had been taken at the Dodgers Stadium the night

before.

Clifton Lawrence knew now that he was fighting for his life. If Toby dropped him, there .would be no one around to

pick him up.



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