Chapter 1

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The shoes had made a nasty dent in my paycheck, but I wasn't sorry I'd splurged. They were Chanel, black-textured with a peep toe and a gold zipper up the back, really more of a booty than a stiletto. And not what you'd ever call "Fuck me" shoes-there was nothing about them that would make a guy want to bed you, unless he was the type who liked a razor-sharp heel at his throat. These were what you wore on your feet when you needed armor, when the night would include a few foes half-hidden among the friends and fans. They were the kind of footwear that said you could damn well take care of yourself.

"Fuck you" shoes, I thought. That's what they were. And I knew I might need them tonight. Because in TV there were always people who wished the worst for you.

As soon as I stepped off the elevator onto Bettina's floor, I could tell her apartment was packed. The din drove its way through the door, a babble of voices punctuated by ice clinking in glasses and bursts of laughter. Bettina had told me not to show until six-thirty ("The guest of honor must make an entrance"), and I was one minute ahead of that. I didn't want  to seem all eager-beavery, but I also couldn't stand waiting any longer. I was about to be feted for the book I'd written, and I wanted to savor every second, especially because just two years ago, a night like tonight would have been preposterous to imagine.

The penthouse door swung open presto-like before I could even touch it. There was a guy right inside, wearing a collared black shirt, black pants, and gleaming, super-pointy black shoes. He smiled, beckoning me in. A twentysomething girl stood next to him, poured into a tight black dress and holding a clipboard. Big smile from her, too, as I stepped inside. The white walls of the entrance gallery popped with edgy modern art.

"Welcome, Ms. Trainer," the guy said, obviously recognizing me. "I'll let Ms. Lane know you're here."

"That's okay, I'll f ind her," I said. I wanted a few moments to take everything in and relish it all.

I moved down the hall, inching by a cluster of people I didn't recognize, and emerged into the enormous living room, nearly jammed with well-dressed guests. I'd been to Bettina's apartment a couple of times when I'd consulted for her, but always during daylight hours-for offsite breakfast meetings and once a luncheon we'd put together for a group of key celebrity publicists.

Though I knew the place was a jaw-dropper, with f loor-to-ceiling windows facing the lower Hudson, I wasn't prepared for the magical twilight tableau in front of me. Hundreds of lights sparkled from buildings on the New Jersey side of the river, and inside, where every possible surface of the columned loft-style room was dotted with white votive candles. The air smelled of vanilla and some exotic fruit-maybe mango. Manhattan meets Madagascar, I thought. Just the kind of magic touch Bettina would concoct.

Pretty quickly, I started to pick out familiar faces-the major players from my book publisher; staffers from Bettina's website; colleagues from the new cable show I was cohosting; my TV and book agents; and fortunately, a few gossip columnists, whom I was counting on to create hype for the book.

I recognized more than a few boldface names, people Bettina had obviously coaxed or strong-armed into coming out on a Sunday night in summer. As expected, there were a few foes also, including Mina Garvin, the TV critic who'd bludgeoned the show its f irst week on the air. But so what? I had the shoes for it.

I swung my gaze around the room, searching for my cousin's daughter, Maddy, who'd been working as my intern the past few months. This party wasn't meant for friends or relatives, but I'd asked Maddy to come in case I needed assistance. There was no sign of her, but to the far right, near a bar twinkling with glasses, I picked out Carter Brooks, my coanchor on The Pulse, holding court with the president of the network and a couple of other honchos. At six-three, Carter towered over the other men.

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