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Such Devoted Sisters, Eileen Goudge

A Signet book

 

Signet

Published by the Penguin Group

Penguin Books USA Inc., 375 Hudson Street,

New York, New York 10014, U.S.A.

Penguin Books Ltd, 27 Wrights Lane,

London W8 5TZ, England

Penguin Books Australia Ltd, Ringwood,

Victoria, Australia

Penguin Books Canada Ltd, 10 Alcorn Avenue,

Toronto, Ontario, Canada M4V 3B2

Penguin Books (N.Z.) Ltd, 182-190 Wairau Road,

Auckland 10, New Zealand

Penguin Books Ltd, Registered Offices: Harmondsworth, Middlesex, England

Published by Signet, an imprint of New American Library, a division of Penguin Books USA Inc. Previously published in a Viking edition.

First Signet Printing, December, 1992

10 987654321

Copyright ฉ Eileen Goudge, 1992 All rights reserved

Grateful acknowledgment is made for permission to reprint

excerpts from the following copyrighted works:

“Love the One You’re With,” words and music by Stephen Stills.

ฉ 1970 by Gold Hill Music.

Sesame Street theme song, by permission of Children’s

Television Workshop.

REGISTERED TRADEMARK-MARCA REGISTRADA

Printed in the United States of America

Without limiting the rights under copyright reserved above, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form, or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise), without the prior written permission of both the copyright owner and the above publisher of this book.

PUBLISHER’S NOTE

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

BOOKS ARE AVAILABLE AT QUANTITY DISCOUNTS WHEN USED TO PROMOTE PRODUCTS OR SERVICES. FOR INFORMATION PLEASE WRITE TO PREMIUM MARKETING DIVISION, PENGUIN BOOKS USA INC., 375 HUDSON STREET, NEW YORK, NEW YORK 10014.

If you purchased this book without a cover you should be aware that this book is stolen property. It was reported as “unsold and destroyed” to the publisher and neither the author nor the publisher has received any payment for this “stripped book.”

 

To my dear agent and even dearer husband, Albert Zuckerman, who gave this book its legs . and me the heart to write it.

And to my own devoted sister, Patty Goudge.

1

I

 

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

What could be more fun than researching chocolate? Not all of the data I collected ended up on these pages. Some of it, I confess, was eaten. But for what you see, I wish to thank the following people:

Robert Linxe of La Maison du Chocolat, both for his time and his divine truffles. The afternoon spent in the basement kitchen of his rue du Faubourg St-Honore shop was truly a celestial experience.

Beverly Levine of Le Chocolatier Manon, who was so generous, and gave me an insider’s view of chocolate retailing … and a good reason not to diet.

Martha Saucier of Li-Lac Chocolates, for showing me around her Village shop with its kitchen in back, which has been turning out delicious chocolates and other treats for more than half a century.

Bernard Bloom of Teuscher Chocolates, which makes the world’s best champagne truffle.

Deborah Marsicek, my fellow chocophile, who generously provided me with reams of information about chocolate that she has collected over the years.

Lora Brody, chocolate consultant and intrepid soul, for whom turning out hundreds of chocolate tortes and touring cacao plantations in 110-degree heat is, of course, a piece of cake. Thanks to her for vetting this book, and for introducing me to the best flourless chocolate cake I’ve ever tasted, f

Rabbi Ralph Shain, for his help with the Hebrew terminology.

John Robinson, former U.S. Customs agent, and Nancy McTiernan, Deputy Director, Office of Commercial Fraud, for their assistance in giving me a clear picture of the pitfalls of importing confectionary goods.

 

Vlll

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

Victoria Skurnick and Susan Ginsburg, for their time, expertise, and moral support.

Catherine Jacobes, my loyal assistant, whose energy, enthusiasm, good humor, and adeptness at keeping distractions at bay made it possible for me to finish this book in two years instead of five.

Pamela Dorman, my editor at Viking, for her clear eye in both editing and following through on every level, from outline to publication.

And, last but not least, I’d like to thank Dale Stine, my gorgeous and merciless trainer, who flogged me into working off all those calories!

Prologue

And every woe a tear can claim

Except an erring sister’s shame.

-Lord Byron

I

I

 

Hollywood, California

D September 1954

Dolly Drake got off the bus at Sunset and Vine. In the heat-shimmery air, the sidewalk seemed to heave as she stepped down onto it in an almost seesawing motion, as if she were standing on the deck of a ship at sea. Her stomach pitched and her head throbbed. Before her, the great curved flank of the NBC building reflected the sun back at her in a blast of white light that struck her eyes like hot needles.

Must be coming down with something, she thought. A touch of flu … or maybe the curse.

But, no, she wasn’t sick, she realized with a pang. This was no flu bug … it was a whole lot worse. She felt sick in her soul. Up all night with her own tired brain running ‘round in circles like a moon-crazed hound, not daring to decide which way to turn.

Dolly thought of the letter in her purse. Looking down at the shiny patent-leather bag looped over her arm, squiggles of thread sticking up from its frayed strap, she saw the letter as clearly as if she’d had Superman’s X-ray vision-the long white business envelope, folded in half, then again for good measure.

Inside was a single mimeographed sheet, minutes of a meeting of The Common Man Society. The date at the top was June 16, 1944. Ten years ago.

So what? she thought. A pissant fellow-traveller club that broke up years ago, with a bunch of members nobody ever heard of. Except for one. A faded, but still legible scrawl on the bottom line. A name almost as familiar to millions of good Americans as their own. A name Senator

 

12

EILEEN COUDGE

Joe McCarthy back in Washington, D.C., would surely want to pounce on. The bottom line read:

Respectfully submitted, Eveline Dearfield

1233 La Brea Blvd. Los Angeles, Cal. Recording Secretary

But that, of course, was long before Eveline got shortened to Eve and moved from La Brea to Bel Air. Before she won her Oscar and married hotshot director Dewey Cobb. Before she stopped giving two hoots about her sister, Dolly.

Dolly sucked her breath in, a lungful of air that tasted like melting tar. She thought of the air-conditioned Cadillac Eve rode around in these days, white as a virgin bride with cherry-red seats and a roof that folded down. Dolly imagined what it would feel like to be in that Caddy now, gliding up Sunset Boulevard with her hair blowing in the warm breeze. People rubbernecking to gape in admiration and envy and wonder to themselves, Who is she? Somebody famous, I bet.

A car horn blared, and the image was bumped rudely away. Then a group of would-be actresses-too young and blond and doe-eyed to be anything else-jostled her as they walked past, gossiping in low tones, sunlight skimming along their silk-stockinged legs. One of them wore a pair that was slightly mismatched, the result of careful scrimping, no doubt. Dolly smiled grimly, and thought of the can of Campbell’s chicken noodle that awaited her back at her Westwood bungalow. Mixed with two cans of water instead of one, along with a good dollop of catsup and a handful of saltines, a can of soup filled you up right fine. Well … almost. And maybe she’d even treat herself to a Hershey bar for dessert. Chocolate was the one thing that almost always lifted her spirits.

But right now the thought of food was making her stomach knot up. Give Eve the slap in the face she de-

 

SUCH DEVOTED SISTERS

13

served? Could she? But how could she deliberately hurt -maybe ruin-her own little sister?

In her mind, travelling back through the dusty miles and years to Clemscott, Dolly could still hear Preacher Daggett thundering from the pulpit, Put on the armor of God that ye may stand against the devil… .

Yeah, right, Dolly thought. And who was standing up for me while little Evie was out snatching up every decent role I went after? And my guy too … a town full of men, and she had to get her hooks into mine.

Tears started in the back of her throat. Hard tears that burned like acid. She gave the corner of each eye a swipe with the heel of her hand and sniffed deeply. Damned if she’d get caught bawling in public, showing up at Syd’s with her eyes all red and puffy. If Mama-Jo had taught her one thing in this life, it was to keep your dirty linen in your own hamper.

Dolly crossed the street and headed north up Vine. The hot air seemed to drag at her; she felt as if she were not so much walking but plowing her way through something solid and viscous. Would she ever get there? Shading her eyes against the sun as she was passing Castle’s Cameras, she glanced up at the Gruen clock atop the ABC building, and saw that it was nearly two-fifteen. Her appointment with Syd had been for two. Late again, she thought. Well, that was the story of her life, wasn’t it? Always missing one boat or another.

She stepped up her pace, her open-toed pumps flogging the hot pavement, her head pulsing like a marching band’s drum. Syd got mad when she was late; he hated to be kept waiting. Then she thought: To hell with Syd, that’s what I pay him for. Except, when you got right down to it, an agent’s ten percent of nothing was … well, nothing. Her last picture, Dames at Large, hadn’t even gone into general release, and since then there had been only a couple of walk-ons and one TV commercial.

That’s the ticket, all right. Dolly Drake winds up with zero, while little Evie has a brass star and handprints in the sidewalk outside Grauman’s.

And now Val, too.

 

14

EILEEN COU DGE

Dolly had reached the Century Plaza Hotel, its windows turned to mirrors by the sun. Briefly, she saw herself reflected, a pretty woman in her late twenties-she’d be thirty next May-bottle-blond hair unravelling from the combs that held it up in back. A bit on the plump side maybe, wearing a flowery-pink rayon dress, her best. The sun winked off the safety pin fastened to the underside of her hem. She winced. It shows, she thought. No matter how hard you try to hide it, down-and-out always shows.

She thought again of the envelope in her purse, and felt her stomach turn. She’d received it in yesterday’s mail, along with a note from Syd. Thought you’d be Interested. An old “friend” of your sister’s sent me this. Call me. First time she’d ever heard from him through the mail. His whole life was on the phone. But this was different. Syd had a real ax of his own to grind. Six years ago, Eve had dumped him-and not only as her agent, but a week before they were to be married. Syd had gone on a bender for two weeks, not seeing anyone, not even answering his phone, which for him was like cutting out his tongue. Since then, there had been a new, sour edge to him.

Dolly knew for a fact that the last thing in the world Eve wanted was to overthrow the U.S. government. She’s about as Red as Mamie Eisenhower, she thought. Probably some casting director or assistant producer took her to the meeting on a date and then asked her to take some notes. By the next day, she must have forgotten all about it. Otherwise, wouldn’t she have at least mentioned it to Dolly?

But things were so different from the war years. That wonderful sense of people reaching out to each other, working together to win, was gone. Now you didn’t know who to trust. Anyone might stab you in the back, especially here in Hollywood. Anybody who had been the slightest shade of pink, or who was just plain accused of it, even big-time directors and producers, was getting fired and blacklisted. No work anywhere in town. Like a silent death. But dying had to be better. At least at funerals people said nice things about you.

 

SUCH DEVOTED SISTERS

15

And now, if she went along with this, one of those poor blotted-out souls could be Eve.

One thing about McCarthy, he loved his headlines. And the bigger the name he savaged, the more press he got. Eve was big, all right. And the bigger they were, the harder they fell.

Dolly felt a flash of hot bitterness. Serve her right, wouldn’t it just? Show her what it’s like down on the dirty pavement with the rest of us. And then what would Val Carrera think of her?

Dolly clutched her purse, as if afraid the damning document it contained might fly right out of her hands. All night she had wrestled over what to do, and now she knew why. She hadn’t wanted to face the truth, but there it was. Did Eve think twice before sticking a knife in my back?

Dolly, her mouth set in a grim line, turned west onto Hollywood Boulevard and into the cool marble lobby of the office building on the corner. Well, she wouldn’t definitely make up her mind until she’d talked it over with Syd. When she called him yesterday, he’d said he had something to tell her, something really big. But, Lord in heaven, what could be bigger than this?

ซT

it’d be like … murder,” Dolly said.

Seated on the low Scandinavian couch opposite Syd’s kidney-shaped desk, her sweat drying in the tepid airstream blowing from the fan on the windowsill, she fingered the envelope she had taken from her purse, regarding it the way she would a nasty little dog that’s quite capable of nipping you. Here, for some reason, it seemed more real … and more unthinkable … than it had on the way over. Her heart was beating fast, as if she’d climbed the four flights instead of taking the elevator.

She looked about Syd’s compact office, marvelling at its lack of clutter-no messy shelves piled with scripts, no overflowing trays of unanswered mail, no ashtrays full of butts. Just pale-green walls, every inch of them taken up with framed photos-mostly of Eve Dearfield. Eve,

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