Welcome toMillionaire Wives Club
The evening sun settled over Manhattan's Lincoln Center as the three reality stars of Millionaire Wives Club walked the red carpet at Jacque Chanel's premiere fashion affair. The ladies' hips swayed as they passed paparazzi, and millions of dollars in rare jewels, ultrachic sheath dresses, and -diamond--encrusted Stewart Weizman dream stilettos graced their bodies.
They each thought fuck last season. To hell with the way the audience reveled in what the camera revealed: that beneath their posh facades lay emotional bag ladies, dressed in a collection of heartache, uncertainty, and decades of bullshit.
This was a new season, a new script, and a renewed chance to prove to the world that they'd finally gotten it together.
"Ladies!" An E! News reporter rushed over to them, hoping to snag a quick interview before they entered the fashion show. "You all look lovely tonight," he said as they stopped and faced him.
The ladies smiled and their eyes shone at the flattery. "Thank you," they said simultaneously.
"Can you tell us what to expect from the second season of Millionaire Wives Club?" He pointed the mic -toward the woman to his right. "May we start with you-?"
"Milan Starks!" A voice rose above the buzzing crowd and caused everyone's eyes to dart in search of its origin. Before their eyes could find the source, two women appeared before the cast, grabbed unexpected hugs from each of them, and then grinned as if they were all -long--lost relatives. The women were dressed exactly alike, from their matching -fire--red and curly -lace--front wigs to their red sequin short sets. The only difference between them was that one appeared at least ten years older than the other.
"Look at these bitches here!" The older woman snapped her fingers in a -z--motion, as the short set she wore glimmered in the fading sunlight. "You know y'all stay sharp as shit." She popped her lips. "But y'all crazier than a motherfucker." She looked into the camera and nodded for emphasis. "Are we on TV?"
"Ah, yes," the reporter said. "Yes, we're live."
"Oh, shit." The woman bounced her shoulders. "I'm Trena and Uptown's in the hiz'zouse!" she said into the camera. "And this is my - daughter--in--law, Roz!" She pulled the other woman close.
Roz smiled and shouted. "Hey, Money! I miss you, baby. Thank you for always holding it down! Don't even sweat those C.O.s! You got three hundred months left on your stint, and you'll be home soon."
"Where is security?" Milan mumbled to her costar, Chaunci Morgan, who stood next to her.
"Excuse me," the reporter said. "Do you two ladies know the cast of Millionaire Wives Club personally?"
Roz answered. "Hell, yeah, we know 'em personally. Every Thursday night at ten, we get to know 'em very, very well."
"So you're fans of the show?"
"Absolutely! We love it!" Trena said. "And ever since we spotted them getting out of the limo, we've been following them and trying to get their attention."
"What?" Milan said, taken aback. "You've been following us? Can somebody please find security?"
The reporter continued, "Would you like to tell us who your favorite is?"
Roz popped her lips. "Milan is my favorite." She draped an arm over one of Milan's shoulders, forcing her to look into the camera with a plastic smile.
"Why?" the reporter asked.
"'Cause honnnneeey, this trick don't give a damn!"
"Excuse you?" Milan blinked.
"Dat ass," Roz continued, "was scandalous. How you gon' sleep with that girl's husband like that? What was her name, ummm . . ._?" She snapped her fingers.
"Evan," Jaise volunteered. "Yes, -um--hmm, my dear friend Evan."
Milan elbowed Jaise, her other costar. "Are you starting again this season?"
"What?" Jaise flicked her hand. "They asked, and Evan was my friend. Oh, and make a mental note of this: Don't elbow me again."
"Look at you, Jaise," Trena sassed. "Finally learning how to stand up for yourself and stop being so damn high sadity and weak. My girl. But annnnywaay, that chick, Evan, was a -crazy--ass train wreck! What kinda -ho--bag walks into the ocean? She -wasn't Moses. Hell, she had to know she -couldn't part the motherfucker. Damn shame."
"Tell it, Trena. That trick was twisted. Poisoning her daughter and shit. And Kendu, he -couldn't see that coming? Oh, wait." Roz looked Milan over. "He was too busy doing you. But you know what they say: 'How you get 'im is how you lose 'im-' "
"Amen," Jaise signified.
"Oh, -really, Jaise?" Milan said in disbelief. "Really?"
"Are we gon' see somebody beatin' ass this season?" Roz asked anxiously. " 'Cause I don't care what you say, you three are a buncha hood rats." She winked. "My kinda girls. But wait, stop the press." She held her hands up. " 'Cause I have got to know: Who the hell is the new chick?"
Trena gasped. "I forgot about the new chick."
"How you gon' forget the new bird? You know the new bitch is supposed to be here tonight. And speaking of pigeons, where's -Al--Taniesha?"
"We don't keep up with -Al--Taniesha," Jaise snapped.
"I bet you don't," Trena said. "Especially since your son knocked up her daughter."
"Now, the new girl," Roz interjected. "Who is she? Everybody's been so -hush--hush about it. Is it true she's Denzel Washington's -jump--off or R. Kelly's -ex--wife?"
"R. Kelly?" Trena's eyes bulged. "Oh, that would be fiyah. 'Cause I know she was tired of his ass makin' rounds on the playground! Now tell us." She looked back at the cast. "Who is she?"
"I don't know," Milan sucked her teeth.
"Me either," Chaunci and Jaise said.
Roz and Trena laughed.
"These heifers know how to lie." Trena snickered. "Like they -really don't know. Surrrrrre you don't. I just hope she's somebody who'll let y'all asses have it, 'cause you three can get waaaaay outta control! So anywho, back to you, Milan." She pointed. "What you did last season was real -fucked--up. You might even be the real reason why Evan killed herself."
Milan's eyes bugged. "What?"
"Okay, ladies," Chaunci interjected. "Nice meeting you. But we need to get going before the show starts."
"Wait," Trena said. "I just have to know-Chaunci, did you ever get with your daughter's father? Puhlease say yes, 'cause yo' ass was so damn uptight you needed to be whipped with the dick-"
"Beat down by the -ding--dong!" Roz held up a -black--power fist.
"Hallejuah!" Trena waved her hand to Jesus. "'Cause that Idris was a - fine--ass black man-" She turned to Jaise. "Not finer than your - husband--but he was fine."
"Thank you." Jaise blushed. "Bilal is rather handsome."
"You bet he is." Trena slapped Jaise a high five. "But you better hope he -doesn't leave you. As insecure as you were, I don't even know what he saw in you. Plus, it looks as if you put on a few pounds."
"Say that again?" Jaise parked her neck one way and twisted her lips in the other direction.
"I know you don't have an attitude." Milan shook her head. "No, not you."
"Jaise, girl," Trena carried on. "I was happy for you when you finally found the one, 'cause I spent most of the season wanting to slap you! I thought for sure you would've been the one to kill yourself. Annnnnnd thaaaaat son of yours."
"Whew!" Roz shivered. "You should've kicked his ass! 'Cause if you would've put your foot down he -wouldn't have had you on all the gossip sites when he got arrested last season for underage drinking. And all the reports said he was drinking Old Milwaukee. Who in da hell still drinks Old Milwaukee? Jaise, he had yo' ass lookin' real bootleg."
Jaise quickly moved her head from left to right and snapped her fingers. "Let me tell you something, you don't talk about my child!"
"Security! Security!" Chaunci yelled and snapped her fingers in a panic. After she made eye contact with one of the officers she quietly mouthed "help," then slyly nodded her head -toward the overzealous fans.
The reporter's face gleamed in excitement as Jaise continued to lose it. "I'm not the one!" she spat.
After confirming that Roz and Trena -didn't have press passes or tickets to the fashion show, two armed security guards stretched out their arms and said, "Back it up, ladies. This area is for press and guests only."
The three cast members rushed -toward the entrance.
"We love you!" Roz and Trena shouted as the women entered the private marquee. "We never missed an episode!"
The lights were dim inside the exquisite tent. The walls were covered with flowing and crisp-white drapes, and the designer's name illuminated in lights around the room. A sleek black runway was in the center of the floor, and the guests' -linen--covered chairs were aligned in rows along both sides of the stage. The women eased into their -front--row seats, with Chaunci sitting in the middle and Jaise and Milan to her left and right, respectively. A few seconds after they were -situated--with their legs crossed and their Devi Kroell handbags and clutches resting in their -laps--Milan leaned in and whispered, "What. The. Fuck. Was. That?"
"Some bullshit," Chaunci said, as they waited for the fashion show to begin.
"Exactly," Jaise agreed. "A moment longer and I would've -really lost it. And as long as security took, you would've thought we were a bunch of Celebrity Rehab -D--listers."
"Oh, no!" Milan gasped. "Well, I'll just have to clutch my pearls at the thought."
"I have worked too hard!" Jaise carried on, oblivious to Chaunci's laughter. "I have sacrificed too much . . ."
Chaunci snickered and said low enough for only Milan to hear. "Clutching your pearls?" She wiped tears of laughter from her eyes. "Would you stop fucking with that chick before she gets mad and we have to whup her ass?"
"Let me inform you," Jaise ranted. "If it weren't for the cameras I would've whupped the jungle out of their asses."
"Don't let the cameras stop you," Bridget, the show's producer, whispered unexpectedly over their shoulders. "Don't ever let the cameras stop you."
Each of the women paused. They -hadn't seen Bridget since last season's reunion show a year ago. And since she -wasn't at the entrance to greet them when they arrived, they'd hoped that the rumors of her moving on to produce another reality show were true. They - couldn't stand her last season. She was obnoxious and unreasonable, she constantly invaded their privacy, and she took -reality--show production to new -heights--or lows, depending on how you looked at it.
It was just like Bridget to lay in the cut and then spring forward when everyone least expected it.
"Bridget." Jaise smiled. "How are you?" she said as they all turned quickly -toward Bridget and -air--kissed her on both cheeks.
"Oh, doll faces, you all missed me?" She grinned.
"Of course," Jaise said.
"Well, I quit another show to be here."
"How lovely." Jaise shot her a -Barbie--doll smile.
"Truly," Bridget agreed. "And Milan, no need to thank me for bringing you back for another season. Who knew you'd be the breakout star?"
"So, Bridget," Chaunci said. "Where's the new girl?"
"She isn't here yet." Bridget smirked. "But -Al--Taniesha and Lollipop just arrived." She pointed.
Jaise closed her eyes tightly as if she were having a bad dream, while Chaunci and Milan shook their heads. "Oh, already, y'all asses tryin' to get it crunked?" -Al--Taniesha smacked her lips, "How you not gon' share a limo with us?"
"Did somebody say it was prom night?" Jaise looked from side to side. "You should've hired a driver."
"Jaise, don't make me take it to the streets on your ass!" -Al-- Taniesha looked over at Bridget. "I'm not gon' tolerate attitudes and shit. So consider this a warning. -Al--Taniesha Chardonnay Richardson beats bitches' asses, okay? And this entire cast will go from starring on Millionaire Wives Club to The First 48!"
"And that's what's -really hood." Lollipop popped his lips as he and - Al--Taniesha slid off their identical mink coats and revealed their pink leather catsuits and rainbow leg warmers.
"What the hell is this? Twin night?" Chaunci said as Milan drew in a deep breath and Jaise blinked in disbelief.
"I won't even touch the outfits," Jaise commented. "But why do you have on mink coats? It's eighty degrees. Did you miss the memo that it's still summer?"
"Let me tell you something," -Al--Taniesha said as she wiped sweat from her brow and sat beside Jaise. "We paid fourteen thousand-" She held her fingers out as if she were counting on them. "-seven hundred - eighty--two dollars and -seventy--nine cents for this fuckin' farm of fur, and we don't care if it's a hundred degrees outside. If we wanna sport this, we gon' rock the motherfuckers, okay? So handle your damn scandal and we'll handle ours."
"And there you have it!" Lollipop snapped his fingers as the first model appeared at the top of the stage.
Jaise simply shook her head as everyone leaned back in their chairs and watched the show. As the models worked the runway Jaise noticed - Al--Taniesha and Lollipop snickering.
"What are you laughing at?" she asked them.
Al--Taniesha did her best to compose herself. "What kinda Walmart bullshit is this? Who inna hell would wear that?" She pointed at the models.
"Excuse you," Jaise said. "That is haute couture."
"Puh--lease." -Al--Taniesha frowned. "That is -haut--mess. -K--to--da-- mart. Straight -blue--light special."
Jaise was thoroughly disgusted. "The outfits are artistic," she whispered.
"Artistic? That shit is straight out the -ten--dollar spot."
"Shhh . . ." floated through the air.
"You don't shush me," -Al--Taniesha retorted.
Chaunci looked at them and said in a stern whisper, "Would you stop it?"
"So sick of y'all asses," -Al--Taniesha mumbled, leaning back in her chair.
The show continued. -Al--Taniesha and Lollipop cracked up at the models and even laughed until they cried at some of the outfits. When the designer walked out on the runway and took his bow, he rolled his eyes at -Al--Taniesha, then resumed smiling at the rest of the audience.
"Did that mofo just roll his eyes at me?" -Al--Taniesha spat. "Did he?" she demanded. " 'Cause I will beat the breaks off dat ass. Okay! This was a complete waste of my damn time! I've seen better shit on QVC."
"Would you have some couth?" Jaise said, -tight--lipped.
"Would you mind your business?" -Al--Taniesha retorted. "I sure hope I can get along with the new chick, 'cause y'all bring out the hood in me, and since me and Lollipop hit the lottery, I'm -really tryin' to be a fuckin' lady and have some goddamn class, but you're pushing me. Now, where is this new trick?"
"Good question," Chaunci said. "I guess she decided to stand us up."
"Seems so," Jaise said, slightly disappointed.
"No need to sound disappointed, Jaise," Milan said. "I heard the bitch was straight ghetto anyway."
Excerpted from Money Never Sleeps by Tu-Shonda Whitaker. Copyright © 2011 by Tu-Shonda Whitaker. Excerpted by permission of One World/Ballantine, a division of Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.