Chapter 1: Enter a Hollywood Legend

In the courthouse, final arguments had been made and the jury had been adjourned to contemplate the verdict.  The jury’s only request – the video tape offered by the prosecution to explain the disappearance of the woman’s family.  The video tape contained a copy of a woman’s interrogation in which she had sat, unresponsive for several minutes while the prosecutor attempted to ask her questions.  Finally, the prosecutor stopped trying to interrogate the woman and instead asked her if she had anything to say, upon which time the woman began speaking in a monotone, her gaze never leaving her hands folded in prayer on the table.  

“A man spent an enjoyable afternoon with his father and his 3-year old son, while fishing in a murky South Carolina lake.  Upon docking the boat and stowing their life jackets in the boat, the man, his father and his son proceeded up the long dock towards the shore. 

“The excited son ran ahead.  For only a second, the man took his eyes off his child to respond to his father.  When he looked again toward his son, he watched in horror as his son, now leaning far out over the bottom wooden railing, lost his balance and fell, disappearing into the dark waters below. 

“In a state of complete shock, the man stood motionless, waiting, praying for his son to resurface.  The next moment, he scaled the railings and dove.

“In the murky waters, he searched to and fro, his eyes wide open but seeing only a foot or so in front of his face, his arms and legs stretching out in all directions hoping to happen upon his son, his lungs quickly vacating of air.  He knew that he would have to surface soon to breathe.  But he kept searching, thinking that if only he could wait one more second, it would be in that second that he would locate his son. 

“The man would later admit, however, that it was guilt, not hope, which drove him to continue his futile search.  He simply couldn’t bear the guilt of resurfacing without his son.  It was the guilt that kept him searching up to the point when his lungs felt like they were about to explode. 

“When he finally surfaced to gasp for air, he witnessed his father pulling his flailing son onto the dock.  But, even the enormous sense of relief he felt upon realizing that his son was alive could not overcome the enormous amount of guilt he felt for simply needing to breathe.”

Upon completing the story, the woman fell silent for several seconds and then raised her head, looked directly into the camera and uttered one final sentence.

“I simply needed to breathe.”

After hearing the tape, the jury returned a unanimous vote of guilty within 15 minutes.


Matt Kinsey caught a glimpse of his client, shackled and shuffling, accompanied by two prison guards trying to appear diligent in their escort duties but maintaining a maximum distance from his client.  Why such a petite woman would require shackles much less instill such apprehension from the burly looking guards, Matt had no clue … until he observed her bizarre behavior and appearance.  The woman stood, repeatedly shaking her head as she mouthed unspoken words to herself, the motion accentuating a shocking mix of salt and pepper hair, a carelessly bundled pony tail whipping back and forth with each violent movement of her head, and silver wisps that escaped from the cap’s sides brushing the edge of her jaw.  Her attire, an ill fitting tattered T-shirt and torn jeans, both of which were dominated by unsightly stains of unknown origin, would only manage to heighten the guards’ unease as they likely suspected, as Matt did, that the woman was a carrier of county courthouse cooties, the name assigned to the fleas, head lice and bed bugs that often found their way into and around county lockup.

Matt Kinsey immediately regretted his conclusion.  As a lawyer and, more importantly, as a human being, he had always prided himself on his aptitude to dismiss the obvious false first impressions and come to a more thoughtful and well informed opinion about people and situations.  He knew that to a casual observer, the woman was likely to be promptly dismissed as one of the homeless, just another dirty, disturbed, old woman who walked the streets of the City of Charleston, blighting the community’s attempts to be accepted as the artistic Mecca it advertised itself to be.  However, as he watched the woman politely thank the guards for removing the shackles, Matt Kinsey decided that her genuine smile and the toned and muscular arms, even white teeth, clean skin, and bright eyes made it obvious, that the woman, despite her garb, was no indigent. 

According to the limited information Matt had received, his client was a construction project manager named Jessica Mullaney, and his law firm had been hired to defend her by none other than William Wilde, aka Wild Bill, aka a Hollywood Legend.  Her job position drew chuckles and provoked lewd jokes from his law firm’s senior partners about the types of ‘erections’ that Jessica managed for Wild Bill.  Of course, they all assumed that Jessica would be just another of Wild Bill’s floosies that required a payoff.  However, as Matt Kinsey approached Jessica Mullaney in the depths of the Charleston County courthouse, he thought it plausible that she was indeed Will Wilde’s ‘construction project manager,’ as she looked nothing like a Wild Woman, the term once used to describe Wild Bill’s flock of alluring groupies. 


Martin Sheen once said, “I honestly do not know if civil disobedience has any effect on the government.  I can promise you it has a great effect on the person who chooses to do it.”  As for Jessica Mullaney, who had been subjected to threats, harassment and intimidation by the South Carolina judicial system for a good majority of the day, to finally take a stand and talk back made all the difference to her.  Of course, calling the judge a pompous ass, her public defender a ‘perv in an Armani suit’ and the Solicitor an ‘incompetent bureaucratic nitwit’ when she was asked to enter a plea only served to convince the agents of the court that their original assumption that she was completely crazy was completely accurate.  As for Jessica Mullaney, her outburst and her subsequent citations for contempt, which she wholeheartedly agreed was an accurate assessment of her feelings towards the court, served to help her feel a little more in control and less like a victim of the events and people that today had been beyond her control.

Within five minutes of leaving the courtroom and returning to her holding cell, she was released on bail and escorted to a waiting room where a tall man clothed in an expensive suit awaited her expectantly.  As she entered the room, he picked up his fashionable briefcase, a manila envelope and a raincoat draped over a nearby chair and walked toward her with an apprehensive expression that immediately put Jessica on her guard. 

As Matt Kinsey approached, he extended his hand and said, “My name is Matt Kinsey.  My firm has been hired to represent you; however, until five minutes ago, I thought this was a trivial misdemeanor because I hadn’t been informed of the significant charges that you are facing.  In sum, we have a lot to discuss.  I’ve posted your bail and I have your personal possessions, so we should probably get you out of here.”

His hand shake was firm.  Despite the unease that Jessica had originally noticed in his demeanor, she saw that his eyes softened when he looked at her.  This look, coupled with his assumption of authority of the situation, gave her full and immediate confidence in him.  “I’m Jessica Mullaney,” she said as she completed the handshake.  “But, you already seem to know that.”

Matt passed Jessica the small envelope containing her effects.  Then, he took the raincoat, put it around her shoulders and said, “We need to get moving before the press gets wind of this.”  He grasped her shoulder and guided her to a side exit.  Outside, he led her to a waiting limousine, helped her inside and then sat opposite to her.  Once inside, Matt directed the driver to proceed to the private back entrance of a luxurious downtown hotel and then directed Jessica to fill him in on the events of the day.  Matt then sat back, waiting for Jessica Mullaney to begin. 

“I wish I could tell you what happened today,” Jessica began, but she did not elaborate.  Instead, she wondered how a mom from Rock Hill, South Carolina, had become embroiled in the stalking of a major celebrity and was now suspected of several murders.  It was impossible, of course, to explain to Matt Kinsey what had happened today because she could not convey how she had spent the past month and a half in a state of constant anxiety, fear and worry, because a crazy woman stalking Will Wilde had sworn to kill her.  She could not describe the visions that haunted her every day she was while working – of finding the broken bodies of her family lying in bloody heaps after the killer had hacked them to death during her absence.  How could she describe the exhaustion she felt from waking most every night and then trying to return to sleep while wondering if the unknown cause of her awakening had actually been an intruder waiting to dispatch her when she fell back to sleep.  Or, how guilty she felt because she actually preferred to be working with her construction team, Stan and Ted, on William Wilde’s Kiawah Island home renovation, because they at least expressed concern for her well being, whereas her family subjected her to the silent treatment or outright hostility because they blamed her for the inconveniences in their lives due to all the new safety measures that were in place to protect them from the crazed stalker. 

So, Jessica began her story with Will Wilde, because he had become the cause and the effect of everything – good, bad or ugly – in her life lately.  Plus, everything had gone downhill from the moment she received his call. 

“Mr. Will usually calls everyday just to check that we’re OK.  He says that he’s checking on the progress of the renovation at his Kiawah Island vacation home, but we all know the truth.  When Mr. Will called today, I was just starting to prepare lunch for myself and my crew – Stan Simpson and Ted Webster.  I noticed we were out of some of the essentials, so I indicated that I was going to run to the store and Mr. Will said, ‘Are you sure that’s a wise decision.’  I know he was trying to help but I went off on him just the same.  When I got off the phone, Stan suggested that he go along with me to the store and it was at that point that I lost it.” 

“Have you ever been irrational, Matt?  And, even though you know you’re being irrational, you can’t do anything about it.  Well, that was me today.  I ended up going to the store alone and I wasn’t being careful.  Instead, I was angry and my composure was shot and my judgment was shot, and when I ran into her in the store …”

“It’s funny, you know.  When I first saw her, I didn’t recognize her or realize who she was.  I was pushing my shopping cart along, wearing my beat up construction garb, covered in filth and grime.  The next moment I look up and see this stunningly beautiful woman approaching me.  Perfect figure, perfect clothes, perfect hair, perfect accessories, perfect everything.  I remembered thinking how nice it would be to be that beautiful and that perfect.  And, that was when I realized that this woman was Mr. Will’s stalker.”   

Matt Kinsey listened as Jessica described how she had, in her mind, simulated every potential encounter with Will’s stalker except one in which the stalker would ignore her and walk on past.  And, when Jessica finally reached the point in her story where she had decided to tackle the stalker, he watched as Jessica’s hands clenched into fists.

“We went down in a heap and she began screaming and fighting like a possessed woman.  The next thing I knew, she had a gun in her hand.  We struggled for the gun and then it went off.  After the shot rang out, I banged her wrist down on the bottom shelf.  The gun flew out of her hand, ricocheted off of a box of dishwasher detergent and then I watched as it went spinning along the floor and lodged itself under the bottom shelf. 

Then, she began to wail.  I also heard yelling.  I don’t remember everything but I heard, ‘Someone’s got a gun’ and ‘Run for your lives’ and more of the same.  As for Mr. Will’s stalker, she curled into a ball, just like a baby, and cradled her wrist while she cried.  I think her wrist was broken.  Meanwhile, I had risen to my feet and I was staring down at her.  I think I must have been in shock.

“About then, the store alarm went off, and it shook me out of my mesmerized state.  So I grabbed the gun and shoved it into my pocket. 

Jessica continued, describing how she waited by the stalker until the police arrived, how the police checked each aisle and yelled ‘Clear’ to one another as they made their way closer, and how she had yelled for them to come help her.   

“When they saw me, they yelled for me to get my hands up.  So, I did so.  Then one of them grabbed me from behind and pulled me away.  I kept trying to communicate to them that the woman on the ground was William Wilde’s stalker, but they ignored what I was saying as they dragged me away.  Moments later, I was on the ground with my arms cuffed behind me.  From there, they dragged to a cop car and shoved me in, with me babbling incoherently all the while.” 

“They came back a few minutes later, read me my rights, and removed the gun from my pocket.  While they were doing that, I tried to explain about Mr. Will’s stalker.  But they just took the gun and then left me sitting in the car.  Meanwhile, the longer I sat there, the angrier I got.  I mean, there I was sitting, cuffed in the back of a cop car, as if I was Will Wilde’s stalker.  As if I was some sort of demented murderer.  Finally, the cops returned.  They didn’t ask me any questions.  They just drove me to the jail.

“When I got to the jail, they took me directly into an interrogation room and read me my rights again, and then the Solicitor came in.  I immediately began telling him that this was a bizarre case of mistaken identity, but he just began talking over me.  He told me he understood my anger.  He understood how fantasies sometimes get out of control.  He understood how families get in the way of dreams.  I interrupted him repeatedly to tell him he had the wrong person, but he just talked over me.  I sat through at least 30 minutes of that man harping on and on and on.

“Matt, I know you want me to tell you word for word what was said, but I couldn’t repeat to you one complete sentence because I was too busy thinking, ‘Is this for real’ or ‘How can this be happening.’  But, if you want word for word, I’m sure it’s all on tape.  Anyway, I guess the Solicitor finally got tired of talking.  And, after I realized there was silence, I looked up at him and he said my fantasy world was now crashing to the ground all around me.  I remember thinking that there was nothing I could say to respond to such a ridiculous statement.  So, I stood up and said, ‘Charge me or release me.’  Then, I stood up to leave.  He called my bluff, not that it was really a bluff.  The incompetent bastard had me booked on murder and stalking charges. 

“I then requested a phone call and a lawyer.  I used my call to telephone Stan and explain what had happened.  He said he would call my family and Mr. Will, and they would get a lawyer for me.  Plus, both he and Ted would be on the way as soon as they retrieved the van from the store.  That was seven or so hours ago.  I don’t know what happened to my family or Stan & Ted, but nobody showed.” 

“Actually, Stan and Ted are at the hospital,” Matt Kinsey began and then continued over Jessica’s exclamations. “Ted had a motorcycle accident when he was on the way to retrieve the van from the store.  But don’t worry.  He’s OK.  We’ll see both Stan and Ted soon.  I have no idea where your family might be.  But right now, we need to focus on your public defender.  What did you discuss with him?”

“Well, when he finally showed, I tried to explain to him what had happened and how this was all such a big mistake.  However, he didn’t seem to believe me either – he just kept asking me weird questions.”

“Weird questions?  How were they weird?”

“Weird cause they all seemed to … they all seemed to deal with sex.  He told me that, as an officer of the court, he needed to attest to my mental capacity.  So he wanted to know how often I thought about Mr. Will.  Did I ever fantasize about him?  Did my fantasies ever involve sex?  That sort of thing.  Finally, I told him Mr. Will had nothing to do with my case and that he needed to stop asking me ridiculous questions.  Then, he suggested that I wasn’t being truthful about my ‘relationship’ with Mr. Will.  At that point, I told him to go fuck himself and I then asked for another attorney.  But, the cops said I was stuck with the pervert until I could hire my own.  Between the cops and the Solicitor and the public defender, I began to wonder if I had gotten stuck in an alternate universe where only incompetent morons lived.”

“Welcome to the justice system,” Matt said cynically.  They had arrived at the hotel.  The door of the limo was opened by another man in a suit, who greeted them and offered Matt a bag of clothes and a cell phone.  Matt passed them to Jessica saying, “You can use this cell phone to call your family and here is a bag of clothes for you to use.  However, before we step out of here, I’d like you to cover up with my trench coat.”  At her questioning look, he added.  “The coat is just a precaution.  We don’t want any videos of you appearing on YouTube again, now do we?”

For the first time in a long, long time, Jessica Mullaney actually smiled, remembering only too well the events that had led up to her notoriety on YouTube. 


It had been two months earlier.  Will had arrived at his partially renovated home to ‘scout locations’ and ‘interview possible cast members,’ he had said.  Jessica had concluded that Will visited for the simple reason that he was lonely again.  However, in that he had at least given them notice of his impending arrival, unlike other times, her renovation team – consisting of Stan, Ted and herself – were prepared and had brought along toys, including guitars, drums, keyboards, and amps to have a serious jam session during their after hours, as well as Delores, Ted’s Harley.  As they pulled into the driveway of Will’s Kiawah Island home, Will came to the door and greeted them with a hearty, “Aren’t you people done yet … you’re costing me a fortune.”

“Oh, Mr. Will, you do not want to go there,” Jessica commented amidst the laughter.

Will did not press the point but instead greeted Ted with a hand shake and a shoulder pat, and thanked him for bringing Delores.  “Oh, Delores, how I’ve missed you,” he said, patting her with appreciation.

“Hands to self, hands to self,” Ted scolded.

Will then greeted Stan, with the same enthusiasm, and then turned to Jessica.  “Ah, Ms. Jessica, my home grows more beautiful with each passing day, but it pales in comparison to you.  Each time I see you, your beauty has grown beyond my wildest expectations.”

In disgust, Jessica turned to Ted and scoffed, “I bet you $10 he spent a week coming up with that one.” 

“You’re on,” Ted replied, “I’ll go with no planning at all.”

“Hey,” Stan complained, “I want in.  I’ll bet he thought it up in the last 24 hours.”

“Done,” Jessica pronounced, and then turned to face her flatterer.  “So, how long did it take you to come up with that line of crap, Mr. Will?”

“Oh, she knows me so little,” Will complained.  “Pay up to Ted, who knows me best.” 

The losers groaned, but moved to pay Ted.  Jessica rolled her eyes and added her stock reply, “You are a bad man, Mr. Will.”

Will laughed, enjoying the opportunity to tease Jessica about being beautiful, as she constantly chastised him for his obsession with beautiful women.  Over the entire year that she had worked as the construction project manager for the renovations of his Kiawah Island home, he had never seen her in anything but grungy clothes, and always with a baseball cap or a golf cap covering her head.  He wondered if that beautiful salt and pepper hair was an illusion.  Maybe Jessica was bald or her head was deformed, he joked to himself.  However, as his construction project manager, he realized that Jessica never had any reason to dress in any other way.  In fact, her usual attire, consisting of the cap plus an oversized frayed T-shirt, always with paint or other dingy stain on it, and either shorts or jeans, was not all that unattractive.  But, as he walked in the door, leaving the team to unpack, he began wondering just how well Jessica would clean up. 

When cocktail hour arrived, Will emerged from his office to what appeared to be an empty house.  It didn’t take him long to realize that the team was working in the basement.  Will therefore prepared several drinks, placed them on a serving tray, and descended in the home’s elevator, to find the team wrapping up the mirror installation in his workout room. 

As the elevator opened, Ted called out, “Right on time,” and he retrieved his drink and stood talking with Will, while Stan and Jessica continued to install the last of the mirrored panels that lined the wall of the workout room.  Stan and Jessica were bickering about the final mirror, which was not perfectly straight.  Stan wanted to remove the mirror and re-hang it and Jessica refused, indicating that the trim they would later install around the mirrors would hide any installation imperfection.  This was an example of the typical argument between Stan and Jessica.  She would accuse him of wasting time to perfect something that no one would ever know or care about, and he would maintain that ‘he would know.’  Jessica realized that her arguments were lost on Stan, because he was sure to come back and level the mirror tomorrow.  However, she was ready for a break and she refused to yield, so they both finished up and joined Will and Ted, who were now testing the bench press. 

“Well, Mr. Will, you now have your wall of mirrors, so you can spend your time preening during your workout,” Jessica commented.

“Come now, Jess, you can’t tell me you don’t look in the mirror from time to time and preen.  It’s perfectly natural to want to look good.  After all, you’re the one that runs 15 miles a week.  Are you trying to tell me that you don’t admire your shapely legs from time to time?”

“Mr. Will, the shape of my legs is not up for conversation.”

“Oh now come on.  Are you trying to tell me that a man’s appreciative look at your legs doesn’t make you feel good about yourself?”

“Yeah, you know you want to be a MILF,” Ted added.

“MILF?” Jessica questioned.

“Mothers I’d Like to Fuck,” Stan responded.

“Oh my word!  Why is it that all men think that women care only about their looks.  Some women actually do more than look pretty, you know.”

“Jessica,” Stan teased, “you are the only woman I’ve ever met that cares more about constructing a client’s beautiful home than making yourself look beautiful.” 

“Stan, your realm of women examples is too small.  There are a lot of other women out there that have more to their lives than impressing others with their looks.”

“Well that may be true,” Will observed, “but we’re not talking about other women.  We’re talking about you.  Do you realize that I have never seen you in anything except beat up work clothes and a baseball hat on your head?”

“So, what’s the point?  I can’t get all gussied up to come to work.  I’m not a model.  I’m a construction worker.  So, I dress the part.  After all, Mr. Will, I’m not here to look good, just to make your house look good.” 

“Listen, I want you to do something to prove a point.  I want you to get all dressed up and come out to dinner with me tonight.”

“Not a chance,” Jessica replied.

“Well why not?”

“Because, it wouldn’t be proper.  I’m a married woman, not one of your … groupies.”

“True.  But, you are my construction manager and I want to discuss business with you over dinner tonight.  So, hurry home and get all gussied up and meet me at Hege’s restaurant at 6:30 pm.  After all, the food there is delectable – you’ve said so yourself.”

“Absolutely not going to happen.”

“Jessica, I’m beginning to wonder if you have some sort of phobia about looking pretty.”

“He’s got a point,” Ted commented.

“Don’t start, Ted.  I do not have a phobia about looking good.  Furthermore, even if it is appropriate for a construction manager to meet her boss out at dinner, I don’t appreciate being coerced into it by the three of you.  I will not be pressured into doing something I don’t want to do.  So you guys can just drop it right now.”

“Ms. Jessica, far be it from me to want to pressure you into anything you don’t want to do.  I only intended to invite you to dinner.  I’m sorry if I offended you.”  Will then paused and looked around the room.  Finally, he turned back to them and said, “Listen, guys, I think I’m going to retire upstairs.  I’ll talk with you all later.”

After Will left, silence befell the group.  Finally, Jessica bellowed, “What?”

Stan guffawed and Ted looked away. 

“You think I was wrong.”

“Well, I think you may have hurt the guy’s feelings.  You almost accused him of being a giant sleaze, when all he offered to do was take you out to dinner.  After all, you’re the one that thinks he’s lonely.  Maybe you should think about his feelings,” Ted commented.

Jessica walked over to the far corner and pretended to examine their wall mounted TV.  She rethought the tone of the previous conversation and returned to the group.  “Stan, tell me the truth.  Do you also think I was wrong?”

“Well, he is our boss and he’s been really good to us.  He’s trusted you with a million dollar budget and carte blanche decision making.  It does seem … incongruous that you wouldn’t trust him to take you out to dinner.”

“It’s not that I don’t trust him…”she began, but then didn’t continue.  All that they said was true and she knew she had lost the argument.  However, she couldn’t help feeling like she had just been manipulated.  Finally, she resolved herself to an evening out.  “OK, I’ll go.  Let’s clean up here as quickly as possible and get going.  After all, I’ve got to get gussied up.”  Jessica finished with an eye roll. 

Before leaving, Jessica finalized her plans to meet Will for dinner at Hege’s, located at the Freshfields Village at the crossroads of Seabrook and Kiawah Islands, stressing to him she would be ‘dressed’ for dinner, so he had better be too.  And, Jessica did dress for dinner.  Although her wardrobe mainly consisted of the beat up clothes of a manual laborer, she had many ‘what if’ outfits stockpiled at her condo on Seabrook Island.  She found it funny that never, in the seven years that she had been coming to the condo, had she used a single one.  So, tonight, as she dressed in her silk cocktail dress, she thanked providence for her foresight in planning this particular what if.  The silk charmeuse dress, a striking red, white and black geometric design, had been purchased for $30 on E-bay six years ago.  Along with a pair of plain black flats – after all, they go with anything – and a black silk wrap with a short fringe, also an E-bay purchase, she thought that she looked pleasing to the eye.

As she stood, admiring her form in the mirror, she blushed as she remembered Will’s claim that ‘certainly she admired herself in the mirror from time to time.’  Alas, it was true, she supposed – she did have some vanity after all.  And, her long shapely legs were very admirable.  However, she had to admit that the most striking feature she possessed was her salt and pepper hair. 

Jessica never wore her hair down while working because her thick hair had a lot of curl and it was prone to frizz.  Consequently, in any humid climate such as Charleston or when she was working and prone to sweating, her only option to keep her hair under control was to poke it up into a baseball or golf cap.  But tonight, she had the time to style her hair and even to apply a dab of makeup, which she occasioned to use now and then.

When she finished, she took a critical look at herself in the mirror as she turned from side to side.  ‘Well, I will never be a beauty,’ she thought, ‘but for a 40-something mother from Rock Hill, I can’t complain.’ 

She exited the bedroom, heals clicking on the living room’s wood floor.  Ted – who was preparing dinner along with Stan in the adjacent kitchen – exclaimed, “Holy crap!”

“See, I do clean up well,” she countered back.

Stan stared at her for a second, raised his eyebrows, and then returned without comment to his meal prep.  Jessica walked to the doorway of the kitchen and, with both hands on her hips, said, “Stan, out with it.  You have something to say… some objection to how I look?  Let’s not forget that you guys are the ones guilting me into this.”

“I have no comment,” Stan replied, avoiding her eyes as he focused on his meal preparations.

“Well I’ve got to say that I may never be able to look at you the same again, Jess.  I mean, who would have ever guessed that you were a girl,” Ted teased.

“Oh, shove off,” she retorted.  “Stan, out with it!  What’s your problem?”

“Well,” he finally replied, and he paused mid sentence to look at her and shake his head, “you never dress up like that when we all go to dinner.” 

“Good GOD in heaven!”  She stormed away to grab the keys to the van.  When she returned, she crossly added, “You guys are going to drive me crazy.  First, you coerce me into this outing and then you sulk about me going.  I can’t win.”

As she stomped to the door, Ted called out, “Have a nice time on your date.”

“It’s not a date,” she snapped, as she slammed the door. 

Jessica departed in high dungeon.  By the time she arrived at the restaurant five minutes later, she was calm enough to call home and leave a message for her husband and son, who were still at her son’s baseball game, explaining that she was having dinner out with Mr. Will and thus would call them in the morning.  Then, smoothing her dress and taking a quick look in the rearview mirror to check her appearance one final time, Jessica went to meet Will.

Jessica entered Hege’s full of the confidence that a woman has only when she knows she looks her best.  Her entrance, however, was anticlimactic, as Will had not yet arrived.  She did notice, however, that several heads at the bar did turn to check her out.  She smiled proudly, and then immediately blushed at her own narcissism.  As she stood, confused, the Maitre D suggested that she follow him to be seated and she agreed.  ‘What an idiot.  I’m embarrassed at looking good,’ she realized, trying to shake off her conflicted feeling.  Any self examination was quickly interrupted, however, as she spotted some Rock Hill friends upon entering the dining room. 

The Dyer family, including Terri, Rob and their two sons, owned a vacation home on Kiawah Island.  Their sons, Tim and Jacob, had attended elementary school with her son, Ryan, but, it was the game of baseball that brought their families together, and they had become fast friends.

The Maitre D placed a menu at her table nearby, while she stopped to greet the Dyers, and the Maitre D conjured a chair when they suggested she join them.

After greetings were exchanged and she had asked the boys how they had enjoyed their spring break thus far, Rob asked, “So are Patrick and Ryan meeting you here after a round of golf?”

“No,” Jessica replied, “our spring break was last week and Patrick and Ryan are back in Rock Hill and Ryan is back at school.”  She then continued to explain.  “Actually, I’m down here on a job.  It’s been a long time since we’ve caught up, but I’m now working construction on Kiawah.  In fact, I’m meeting my boss for dinner and, before he arrives, I should probably tell you…”

“Check it out,” Terri interrupted, “Wild Bill himself just walked into this very dining room.”

“And that’s what I needed to tell you,” she said, wincing as she rose.

She turned to see Will approaching.  He was dressed in a simple, yet elegant, navy blazer with a crisp white shirt and gray slacks.  When he spotted her, he stopped, grabbed his heart with both hands in dramatic fashion, and let his jaw drop.

“Oh, please,” she retorted.  Pulling him over to the Dyer’s table, she introduced him around.  “Will Wilde, I’d like you to meet some wonderful friends of mine.  This is Terri Dyer.  She is a baseball mom who actually plays baseball with her sons.  I even tried to get her to coach with me one season.  This is her husband, Rob.  These are their sons Tim and Jacob, both baseball player extraordinaires.  Tim is a power hitter and can slug it over the fence.  Jacob once got flipped five feet into the air during a tag out, but held onto the ball to get the out.”

Will greeted each in turn.  Rob invited him to join them and Will did so with style, indicating that he would love to join them for a cocktail, but did not want to interrupt their dinner.  Of course, as soon as Will joined them, the conversation revolved around him.  What was he doing on Kiawah, they asked, which led to the discussion of the renovation and Will’s flattery of Jessica’s work, and then to the movie that Will planned to film in the area.  The Dyer’s meals finally arrived and Jessica and Will made their way to their own table and began perusing the menus.

Finally, Jessica put her menu down and said, “Mr. Will, while I appreciate how graciously you behaved to my friends, I just don’t know how you can stand it.”

“What do you mean?”

“Well, everyone fawns all over you.  It’s like you’re the guest of honor every time you appear in public, and everyone wants to know your business.  At this exact moment, I bet half the patrons in this restaurant are looking at you and wondering why you’re here and what you’ve been doing lately.  I just can’t see how you can deal with it.”

“Oh, my dear, you are truly naïve.  People aren’t looking at me and wondering about me, they’re staring at you and wondering who is that beautiful woman having dinner with Will Wilde.  After all, they already know I’m Wild Bill, A Hollywood Legend.  You are the enigma.”

Jessica immediately blushed, “I have just become more self-conscious than I’ve ever felt in my entire life.”

Will, with laughing eyes, leaned across the table and whispered.  “Jess, if there is anyone who can handle this, it would be you.  I’ve never met a woman who was more sure of herself.  You know who you are and you’ve always been secure in that.  You’ve never worried before what anyone else thought, including supermodels, Hollywood superstars, or fashion designers.  So, why start worrying now?  Just sit there and be Jessica Mullaney, accomplished construction manager, loving mom of Ryan, and … wife.”

“That last part was awkwardly done,” she kidded.

“Well, it felt awkward saying it.  It was like admitting that I was dating someone else’s wife.”

“This is not a date.”

“I’ll drink to that,” he said, offering up his glass.  After they clinked, he added slyly, “However, if this was a date, I couldn’t ask for a more beautiful partner.  Who would have ever thought that under those beat up baseball caps and grungy work clothes a glamorous woman was hiding?”

“Ha!  You just didn’t think that I would clean up well.  Admit it!”

“On the contrary – I was banking on it.  After all, we all enjoy looking at beautiful things … from time to time.”

Despite herself, Jessica blushed.  “Mr. Will, you have actually made me blush.  Now you stop that.  I don’t like to feel uncomfortable.  It makes me want to take this dress off right now.”

“Now that I’d like to see.”

Jessica laughed loudly and he joined in.  After that the conversation flowed freely.  They ordered dinner and then discussed the coming weeks of renovation.  Jessica believed that they could have his vacation home completed and ready to go by early summer, if the weather went well.  The only remaining areas to complete were the workout room, the storage area, the dining room, the main powder room and then the outside kitchen and living areas.  It was the latter that Jessica was most enthusiastic about.  The team had big surprises, she said, and she refused to reveal even the smallest detail.

It was then that the commotion began.  The first photo flash shocked her and she looked towards the photographer before she realized what was going on.  Will warned, “Look away.  It’s one of those damn paparazzi.  How the hell did he find out we were here?”  Will removed his cell phone and began texting while he gave her advice.  “Just turn the other way.  You can block your face with your hand.  Don’t worry, he’ll be gone soon.  Security will get him.” 

Jessica sat, facing the wall, with her hands beside her face blocking the shots.  Finally, angered at having her dinner interrupted, she extended both her middle fingers to flip off the intruder.  Will laughed at her and she smiled.  Then Will shouted, “Finally!  It’s about time, Ken.” 

Jessica turned to find a large man escorting the photographer, in a none-to-gentle manner, from the building. 

“You know that guy.”

“Ken?  Yeah, he’s my bodyguard.”

“Your bodyguard?  Since when have you had a bodyguard?  And, where is he staying?  I didn’t see him today when we were working at your house.”

“Hey, it’s the mark of a good bodyguard to go unnoticed.  And, he was staying in the pool house to maintain ‘objective’ surveillance, he says.  However, he was watching you on the security cameras all day.  He thinks you have nice legs too.”

“You are such a bad man.  And don’t try to change the topic.  What’s going on that you need a bodyguard?”

“Well apparently…I have a stalker!”

Jessica raised an eyebrow at his manner, saying, “You don’t seem to be taking this too seriously.”

“Nah, it’s not a big deal.  Standard stuff, really.  It’s the studio’s requirement.  They have to keep their big star protected, after all.  Cause if the stalker gets me, I can’t make them money.”

“Mr. Will, you might want to consider taking a few precautions, like letting your bodyguard come in the restaurant to scope the crowd out.  You know, that kind of thing.”

“Oh, I’m sure Ken is sitting in the bar as we speak, drinking coca cola’s and making sure I’m not mobbed by the overindulged housewives of Kiawah Island.  Besides, my stalker is still in LA.  I’m sure she has no idea I left town and certainly has no idea I own a home on Kiawah Island.  Soon enough, they’ll catch her and Ken will be released from his contract to go guard some other Hollywood hotshot.”

“If you say so, Mr. Will.  But, until that time, maybe we should take a few precautions.”

“Throw caution to the wind and live a little.  You know what I want to do tonight after dinner?”

“Oh, lord, here it comes…”

“Let’s go out and do Karaoke.”  Jessica sat shaking her head, but Will continued, “Oh, come on.  It’ll be fun.  We’ll get Ted and Stan, and you can ask your friends, the Dyers.  We’ll go out and have us a big night out the town.”  Will looked at Jessica, clasped his hands as if in prayer and pleaded, very loudly, “PLEASE.”

Jess couldn’t help but laugh, as his loud plea made all the nearby tables turn toward them.  “All right,” she agreed.  “Let me check with Terri.  I’ll go, but only if they agree to go.”

She scooted to Terri’s table and conveyed Will’s request.  Behind her back, Will was mouthing please, with his hands still pleading in prayer.  Terri glanced in Will’s direction and giggled.  “He’s a card.  So what do you think, Rob?  It will certainly make for some good stories, I bet.” 

“Sure, let’s do it.”

So, the plan was formulated.  The Dyers would run home, drop off the kids and change to more casual clothes for the night out.  Meanwhile, Jessica and Will would finish dinner while waiting for their return, and then they would all depart together, along with Ken the bodyguard.  She texted Stan and Ted the plan.  However, by the time Terri and Rob returned, Jessica still had no word from her team so she demanded that they return to her condo, which was only five minutes away, so she could check on the guys and change clothes.

The condo was dark when she entered.  It was only 8:15 pm, but all the lights were off and the door to the bedroom that the guys shared was closed.  She opened it stealthily and whispered into the darkness.  “Guys, we’re heading out to do Karaoke with Mr. Will and some friends.  Do you want to go?”

Jessica heard a groan and then Ted’s voice grouched, “Get lost!  We’re sleeping!”

Jessica quietly closed the door and retreated to her bedroom to change into jeans and a casual shirt.  But, as she was leaving, she tried one final time.  “Are you sure you don’t want to come?”

“Go away,” Stan moaned.  So, she departed without another thought.

Their final destination, a large Karaoke bar boasting the biggest selection of Karaoke tunes in Charleston, took more than 45 minutes of travel time, which went by quickly as they reveled in entertaining stories of the Hollywood elite as told by Will.  By the time they arrived, they had become a raucous bunch, except for Ken the bodyguard, of course, who spent the entire trip driving and keeping a ‘watchful eye.’

Jessica had never been to a Karaoke bar in her life, so she was not prepared for the crowd, who booed the bad acts to the point where they would leave the stage, and applauded the good acts.  A large amount of heckling was ongoing as they entered.  However, as Will brazenly marched in, the crowd quieted as table after table turned from the stage to stare at the celebrity in their midst.  Will obviously knew how to handle the crowd, and he started slapping backs and shaking hands as he made his way through, without the slightest fear or hesitation.  Finally, he found a vacant table and stopped, and they all clustered around it except for Ken, who disappeared to the bar to keep ‘a watchful eye.’ 

After they ordered a round of drinks, Jessica and Terri added their name to the list, with plans to sing Carly Simon’s ‘You’re So Vain.’  They then sat to the side, plotting substitute lyrics aimed at Will. 

Terri was reticent to sing anything but the refrain, because she was worried that Will would be offended.  However, Jessica had no reservations whatsoever.  When their turn came, the room grew silent, knowing that she was singing about Will. 


You walked into the Karaoke bar, like you were walking onto a stage

You flashed a smile upon every babe, you even winked at the openly gay


Well you think you can seduce anyone

Without even having to try

After all you’re A Hollywood Legend, A Hollywood Legend


And, you’re so vain, I bet you thing this song is about you. 

You’re so vain.  You’re so vain.

I bet you thing this song is about you, don’t you, don’t you.


Well you’re the biggest flirt on the face of the earth but you don’t mean a single word

You’ve got stalkers and groupies and MILFs everywhere, your women are quite absurd.


You’ve got a bodyguard to save your ass

Which really is quite fine

After all you’re A Hollywood Legend, A Hollywood Legend


And, you’re so vain, I bet you think this song is about you 

You’re so vain.  You’re so vain.

I bet you think this song is about you, don’t you, don’t you.


Oh you bought a big home on Kiawah, to entertain the Hollywood elite. 

Then you landed your next big starring role, you don’t even have to compete. 


You have prostitutes on speed dial,

But when you’re not with them

You’re with some Hollywood starlet or Victoria Secret Model


And, you’re so vain, I bet you think this song is about you 

You’re so vain.  You’re so vain.

I bet you think this song is about you, don’t you, don’t you.



During his serenade, Will reacted to each verse, including yelling “Ouch” and even wiggling his butt after mention of his fine ass, much to the crowd’s delight.  For the final verse, Will feigned falling out of his chair, which caused so much laughter that Jessica and Terri couldn’t be heard singing the final refrain of the song.  In the end, the song received a standing ovation from the crowd and both Terri and Jessica took several bows, before leaving the stage.

“You are good,” Will mused, when Jessica returned to their table. 

She patted him on the shoulder.  “Thanks for taking it like the legend that you are.” 

“OK, but just remember that paybacks are hell,” he said, amidst the laughter. 

For the next 30 minutes, the acts came and went.  Meanwhile, Will conspired at the bar with Ken and Rob, which left the ladies to catch up on each other’s lives.  When their respective children had been in grade school together, Terri had been one of Jessica’s favorite friends; but, conflicting schedules and different schools took a toll, and they hadn’t spoken in more than a year.  So, they spent quite a while catching up, after which the conversation naturally turned to Will.

“You know, Jess, I’m curious about how you got to know Will Wilde so well, particularly given that you’re his construction foreman.  You’ve certainly forged a unique relationship, what with going out to dinner with him and hitting the bars.”

“Oh, this isn’t the norm.  This is the one and only time that I’ve ever been out with Mr. Will.  And, I wouldn’t have come out at all if the guys I work with hadn’t guilted me into coming.  They told me I’d hurt Mr. Will’s feelings, which is probably a load of crap.  But, I came out tonight anyway.  I’m glad I did, cause I don’t get to see you that often.

“As for Mr. Will… well … he’s come to Kiawah a couple of times, even though we’re in the midst of a major renovation and despite the fact that the place has been barely habitable at times.  His visits are always memorable, and usually coincide with some distasteful event in his private life, the poor guy. 

“I think he came down this time because there’s a stalker after him.  At least that’s my guess.  Ken, the dude at the bar, is his bodyguard.  Of course, Mr. Will has taken a flippant approach to his personal protection, coming out in public like this much less trying to use Ken to write lyrics for a song.  But, this is a one-time thing.  Enjoy it while you can.  Normally, when Mr. Will visits, we just sit around his house razzing each other, drinking and telling funny stories.  We also have the occasional poker game or jam session.  And, given the fact that there is a stalker out there, though Mr. Will is sure she is still in LA, I’ll insist henceforth that he stay home while he’s here.” 

“Jess, don’t you find it strange that you’re sitting around every night drinking with a famous movie star?”

“No.  He’s just a regular guy, who just happens to be famous.  He gets on well with the crew.  He throws out his zingers as well as takes them.  Seriously, you’ll forget that he’s famous after you get to know him.”

“If you say so.”

Their conversation was interrupted by Will and Rob, who had taken the stage with their rendition of ‘Whip It.’  The crowd was delighted, of course, when a star of Will’s stature was in their midst.  They cheered so loudly that the lyrics were lost in the noise.

Afterwards, Will complained, “Man, and I had the best lyrics too, about a shrew construction manager that needed to be whipped.”  He handed Jessica the lyrics on the napkin.  Jessica read them with skepticism. 

“You mean to tell me you took 30 minutes to write this song?”

“What?  You don’t think it’s good?”

“It doesn’t even rhythm.”

“Oh well excuse me, you jingle writer wannabe.”

“You’re excused,” she said rising.  “I’m going to go find another song.”

As she left, Will stuck out his tongue, causing Terri and Rob to laugh.  After they had recovered, Terri commented, “So, Will, Jess tells me you’ve come to Kiawah to hide out from a stalker.  Sounds a bit scary.” 

“Well, my stalker is a bit scary – they say that the people she loves have a way of disappearing.  However, that’s Jess’ opinion of why I’m here.  I actually came because … because it’s a vacation for me.  Jess and her crew are fun and I get to be myself when I’m here, and not worry about making the headlines of every tabloid.  Generally, there are no paparazzi to deal with, though tonight was a bit of a bummer.  Still, I’d just as soon kick back and drink beers with Jess and her crew as hob knob …”

”Hey, check it out,” Rob interrupted.  “They put Jess in at the top of the line up.” 

“Oh, lord, what will she do this time,” Will said leaning forward in his chair. 

Already, the crowd hushed in anticipation.  But, if they were expecting another song poking fun at Wild Bill, they were mistaken.

Jess’ powerfully sung rendition of Heart’s ‘Straight on for You’ blew the audience away.  She not only completely captured the attention of the crowd with the intensity of her singing but also with accompanying sexy wiggles and pointing of fingers. 

By the end of the first verse, Will had collapsed back in his chair, again with the fake groping of his heart, exclaiming, “What a woman.”  Terri also heard him utter, “Holy crap” when Jessica made one specifically gyrating motion.  After she completed the song, to another standing ovation, Will was the loudest, clapping, whistling, and cheering at the top of his lungs, until she left the stage.  He then turned to the others and said, “I gotta go take a cold shower.” 

Rob laughed and agreed, “That was quite a performance.”

Terri, however, pursed her lips, thinking that Will’s visits perhaps had ulterior motives, which she planned to address to Jessica as soon as possible.  The crowd soon parted and Jessica, still smiling brightly, reached their table and took a gulp of beer. 

Will immediately began harassing her, “Girl, you didn’t tell me you were a stripper in your previous career.”

Jessica laughed, spraying beer all over the floor. “You are a bad man, Mr. Will,” came her stock reply.   

“Not half as bad as you, you naughty minx.  I may be able to seduce any woman in this bar, but every man in this bar would sell his soul to go home with you tonight.  Except of course, Rob and I.  Rob can’t look beyond the beauty of his lovely bride here to see you, of course.  And, as we all know, I only go for prostitutes, Victoria Secret Models and Hollywood starlets.  In fact …”

“Are you done babbling,” Jessica complained.  “Because, I’d really like to drink in peace and quiet without all your blah blah blah blah blah.”

The evening wrapped up, after several more songs, including a crowd pleasing rendition of Bruce Springsteen’s ‘Born to Run,’ which they all sang together with the crowd and a much heralded duo performance of Rod Stewart’s ‘If You Think I’m Sexy’ in which Will crawled back and forth on his knees pretending to try to seduce Jessica, who spurned him at every turn.  Ultimately, he wore two big knee holes in his pants, from all his crawling, which the crowd found utterly hilarious.  Finally, after last call at 1:00 am, they started home in high spirits. 

Jessica’s condo was the first stop, since it was the closest.  Will insisted that he walk her up and she insisted that she didn’t need an escort to her door.  They argued on and off from the gates at Seabrook to the point where the car stopped at her condo, upon which Jessica bolted from her door and started running as fast as she could up one set of stairs.  Will, seeing her escape, ran for the other flight of stairs.  They both arrived, amidst pounding feet, at her door at the same moment. 

“Mr. Will, you are a pain in the ass.  For the last time, I do not need to have someone walk me to my door.”

“A gentleman always sees a lady to her door after a date.”

“Oh for God’s sake, Mr. Will, you are no gentleman and this is no date,” Jessica said as she unlocked her door.

“Oh, Ms. Jessica, your cruel comments crucify my heart.”

“Mr. Will,” she began as she opened her door.

“I know,” he interrupted, “I am a bad man.”

She giggled at him as she closed the door behind her.  As she was locking the bolts she heard Ted yell out, “What happened, Cinderella, did the pumpkin break down?  It’s way after midnight.”

“Go to sleep,” she sniped back.

“We were sleeping, you butthead, until you and Prince Charming had your footrace to the door,” Stan called back. 

In her room, as she prepared for bed, Jessica couldn’t help smiling.  It had been a fun night.  However, she had definitely had way too much to drink and she had no desire to get up for work at 6:30 am the next morning.  As such, she left the boys a short message on the kitchen table, asking them to please not wake her in the morning and instead return for her at lunch.  Further, she shut off her cell phone so that she would not be woken in the morning by her husband’s usual call. 

By the time Jessica woke at 10:15 am, the video entitled ‘Sexy Dance for Wild Bill,’ which had been posted on YouTube by an unknown user in the wee hours of Thursday night, already had over two million hits.  Stories had already been posted on more than 25 celebrity watch websites and she had been dubbed ‘The Silver Fox.’  By 10:45 am, when Jessica was showered, dressed and ready for breakfast, Jessica’s son, Ryan, had been shown the video twice by his classmates, and had received ten other texts from friends about it.  Ryan, in turn, had called his dad to let him know, and Patrick had in turn called or texted Jessica no less than ten times since viewing the video.  As Jessica started her breakfast at 11:00 am, she still had not turned on her cell phone and had no idea of the chaos that she would face on this day. 

Jessica also did not know that somewhere in the Los Angeles County area, Will Wilde’s stalker was watching the video for the first time.  The woman would continue sitting in her bedroom watching the video over and over throughout the day, stopping only occasionally to talk to any of the thousand images of William Wilde, from publicity stills to posters, which adorned her walls as wallpaper.  By nightfall, the woman’s tears of bitterness had dried, and she took one last look at the caption on her wall that read, ‘I Love You, Wild Bill, My Hollywood Legend,’ before packing her bags for the trip she now planned to make to the East Coast.  But, of the pictures that her landlord would later sell to the tabloids, it wasn’t the images of Wild Bill plastered on the wall or the caption professing the stalker’s love that commanded the most money, it was the single grainy photo of Jessica, that must have been downloaded on a cheap printer from a still frame of Jessica’s famed video that commanded the biggest bucks, primarily because the caption on the photo read ‘You will die, Silver Fox.’

When the guys finally arrived to pick up Jessica at noon, she still had not turned on her cell phone and had no idea what was about to befall her.  They, however, had witnessed the non-stop phone calls from Will’s agent, publicists, lawyers, and family, identified by Will as ‘damage control,’ that began at 9:00 am that morning and continued until the team departed to pick up Jessica.  At noon, when Jessica opened the door of the condo to the approaching footsteps of her crew, her friends’ faces immediately conveyed their concern and Jessica finally learned about the video posted on YouTube that would change her life forever.