If You Loved Me
Izzy Brown was rising fast on the music charts. Her song, “If You Loved Me,” was number three on the billboards and her concerts were selling out. Izzy was twenty-one, blonde and beautiful. She grew up in California to doting parents that nurtured her singing talent from a young age. Now she was a star. She had decided to move to New York to grow, both as an artist and as a woman.
Izzy’s chauffeur waited for her outside her apartment on Central Park South. She bought the pied-a-terre when her first hit record went gold. She loved the place, loved to decorate and buy art. The apartment building was built in the forties and the view of Central park was stunning. The apartment had three bedrooms, a large kitchen, a living room and formal dining room and a library. Izzy had a glass recording studio built in the corner of the living room surrounded by glass walls. She collected dolls and had a display of all the vintage dolls she had collected from all around the world on her tours.
The afternoon was a warm May day ouside and the sliding glass doors were open.Izzy got out of the shower, her long blonde hair wet and dripping down her back. She stepped over the thick carpet to her bulging closet and picked out an outfit. She chose a pair of black suede pants, a black silk blouse and a pair of pink ostrich boots, custom made for her in New Mexico. She had a date to meet her agent Eddy at The Russian Tea Room for lunch.
Eddy had been her trusted agent for five years. He managed other acts as well but kept his eye mainly on Izzy. Eddy was in his forties, a short man and very shrewd in business. He made sure that no one would screw Izzy out of her money, make bad record deals or steal her royalties.
Izzy put on a pair of silver hoop earrings and an antique black onyx ring. Damian had given her the ring in Paris. Damian was just one of her many boyfriends. She wasn’t ready to “go steady” with anyone yet. The press watched her comings and goings closely. Each new boyfriend was tabloid fodder and she was growing weary of being watched every moment of her life.
She rode the elevator to the ground floor and the ornate doors opened to the Art Deco lobby. The doorman Stan was there, he tipped his hat to her and opened the door. The chauffeur stood waiting at the limosine and he nodded to her as she came out.
Izzy jumped in the back of the limosine and relaxed. She had a song playing over and over again in her head. She opened her bag and took out a small recorder and sang into it. She would record it later, more material for the new album.
The streets of New York were crowded. Shoppers walked by with bags and businesspeople walked briskly by carrying briefcases and wearing running shoes. The limosine pulled to the curb and the chauffeur opened the door. Some tourists stopped and stared.
“Look, that’s Izzy Brown” one tourist gawked. “Can we get a picture?” said another woman.
Izzy stopped and posed for a picture with the tourists. The doorman to the Russian Tea Room opened the doors and she walked inside. The restaurant was fragrant, the rich aroma of fresh flowers and cinnamon. The maitre’d hugged her and led her to a banquette where Eddy was waiting. He was wearing a dark suit with a colorful rock and roll tie. He kissed her on both cheeks.
“You look great, “ he beamed
“You too Eddy.” She smiled at him
“Two Cabernets please.” Eddy said to the waiter
Eddy took one of her hands in his, “So, my darling, how are you?”
“Tired but good, I just finished my tour, and in a few days I’m going to Europe.”
“I know, baby, you have a hectic schedule.”
“That’s okay, I’m totally into it, I love it. I can’t wait to get to Europe.”
“They love you there, especially in France.”
“I know.” She smiled
“Maybe you will be swept off your feet by a romantic Frenchman.”
“Don’t bet on it.”
“Such skepticism at your age!”
The waiter returned with their wine. He placed their glasses in front of them carefully. He took out a small pad of paper from his pocket.
“Are you ready to order? the waiter asked
“I’ll have the trout almondine please.”
“And I’ll take the filet mignon, rare.”
“Thank you.” The waiter smiled at them.
They sat awhile and sipped their wine. Izzy opened up her bag and took out a small notebook. It was full of scribbling and doodles and words. Eddy looked at it.
“What’s this?” asked Eddy
“The new album.” She smiled
“Read me the songs.”
“Okay”. She read him off the songs.
“Beautiful, I love it!”
“I think it’s my best so far.”
“The best is yet to come, trust me.”
“I trust you Eddy, you are so queer!”
“What? Are you calling me a faggot?”
They laughed. The waiter arrived with the food.
“Would you care for some fresh pepper? He asked Eddy
They dug into their food. Some people in the restaurant stared at them. Izzy took no notice as they pointed to her and whispered.
Eddy looked up from his food. ” I have a surprise for you.”
“What?”She looked curious.
“I’ve arranged for a little mini-holiday on your tour.”
“Yes, it’s a wonderful little village off the coast of the Adriatic. It’s called Stari Grad, ever heard of it? It’s tiny, but beautiful.”
“No, I’ve never heard of it.”
“It’s tiny. No one will bother you there.You will enjoy it.”
“Oh Eddy! Thank you!” She squeezed his hand.
They sat for awhile and he finished his steak.
“So, how’s all the men in your life? I’ve been reading the papers.”
“I don’t want to talk about it.”
“Oh? that bad?”
“No, that good....”
“Really? Well, super kiddo.”
“I’m not in love though.”
“Well, I’m not sure....”
“You’ll know when you are.”
“Oh yeah, do you think so?”
“I’ll take it from you Eddy.”
Eddy smiled at her and then looked serious.”Now, getting down to business. You have the VH1 special next month, the album must be complete in no less than six months and after the European tour you’re going coast to coast. Think you can handle it?”
“Yeah, I guess so. I might freak out though.”
“Why would you freak out?”
“I don’t know, I’m scared one day it will all get to me and I’ll end up in some institution somewhere.”
“Well, promise me you’ll stay away from drinking and drugging and you will be just fine.”
“I will, promise.”
The waiter appeared.”Care for any coffee or dessert?”
They got up and walked through the restaurant. Some heads turned as they left and some tourists asked for an autograph.
“Izzy! Out here!! Can I have your autograph?” asked one man.
“Izzy! When is your next album coming out?”
Izzy fulfilled all her obligatons and as they approached the limosine Eddy whispered in her ear. “Knock’em dead in Europe baby, do it for me!”
Izzy’s eyes filled up with tears and she replied, “I will Eddy, I will.” She hugged him tightly.
Izzy got inside the limosine and turned as it pulled away to see Eddy waving goodbye.
She said to the driver, “ 54 West 72nd please.”
“Yes Izzy. “ The driver replied.
Izzy thought of the trip ahead of her. She would be doing concerts in France, Italy and Germany. She had never been to Europe before and anticipation was high. She was looking forward to the audiences there and do some sightseeing in between shows.
The limosine pulled over and the door opened. She hopped out.
“Thanks, I’ll be about an hour or so.”
“Sure Izzy. I’ll be waitin’.” the driver smiled.
Izzy went inside the lobby of the building and pushed the UP button. The doors opened and she stepped inside and pressed PH. As she rode up she thought of Paul. He was madly in love with her, sending her flowers and notes, but sadly she wasn’t in love with him, at least she didn’t think so. She saw him occasionally, he liked to go to the Boat House in Central Park and sometimes they would rent a rowboat and hide from the press wearing disguises.
Izzy wondered if she would ever fall in love for real. Not anytime soon, that was for sure. Now her mind was solely focused on her career, her music and staying on top of her game. Let no man interfere. Izzy arrived at the Penthouse and buzzed the doorbell. Masala answered the door and let out a yelp of glee. Masala was a glamourous fashion designer in her late forties, wearing white pants and a white t-shirt and ballet slippers.
“Izzy!” Masala hugged her tightly, “What a surprise!”
“Great to see you”, Izzy hugged her back.
“Come in, come in.” Masala let her into the large loft which was filled with racks and racks of beautiful gowns and designer clothes. Masala was from Africa and had grown up in a tiny village. She met her American husband, a lawyer, there and moved permanently to the United States. She designed evening gowns, wedding dresses and costumes, made from the finest silks, sequins, laces and trimmings.
“So? How have you been?” asked Masala
“Great. Busy. I’m going on tour next week to Europe.”
“Oh honey, that’s fabulous.”
Izzy wandered around the loft and touched the gowns.
“I need a gown to take with me.”
Masala came over, “Here, let me show you some things....This is the latest piece I have been working on.”
She pointed to a long, shimmering emerald gown with a lace bodice. Izzy shook her head.
“No, it’s beautiful but it’s not what I had in mind.”
Masala led her to another rack by the tall loft windows and pulled out a dress. “This piece is a dress I designed from fantasy. I was just sewing and creating and it came to be. It is one of a kind. I beleive it is your size, size eight, no?”
“Yes, I’m an eight.”
“Do you like it?” asked Masala anxiously
She held up the dress. It was a red chiffon strapless dress with beading at the bustline.
“Go ahead, try it on....” Masala led the way to a large curtain suspended from the ceiling. Izzy went behind it and took off her clothes. She stepped carefully into the dress and zipped up the back. It was a perfect fit.
“let’s see.” said Masala.
“Okay....” Izzy stepped out from behind the curtain. She looked stunning and very glamourous. The dress showed off her slim waist and her long legs.
“I love it on you.” Masala was pleased.
“I love it too,....Sold!”
“Do you want to take it with you today?
“Just let me adjust the button in the back, it’ll only take a second.
“Alright”. Izzy went back behind the curtain and handed Masala the gown. Masala took the garment and sat down at the sewing machine. she worked her magic quickly, her nimble fingers skimming over the chiffon.
“So where will you be performing?”
“France, Germany, Italy, and then I’m going on a little vacation, that part is a surprise from Eddy my agent.”
“Oh wonderful, sounds exciting!”
“There you go, all fixed.”
Izzy took the dress. “I love it, its perfect.”
“I’m glad...If you don’t mind, I am going to send the proceeds from the sale of the dress to my village in Africa. I started a school for childeren there.”
“Oh thats wonderful. i love it. Do you need any more help?”
“This is plenty. Thank you Izzy.”
“Thanks Masala, you are a wonderful designer..... Maybe one day if I perform in Africa you could come with me.”
“I would like that...”
They hug tightly.
Izzy walked out the door, the dress in a plastic bag draped over her arm. The chauffeeur was waiting and opened the door. He put the dress in the front seat beside him.
Izzy looked out the window at the diverse humanity that made up New York City. The hot dog vendors, Wall Street brokers, the traffic police, the homeless, the messengers on bikes and the constant parade that made Manhattan an adventure every day. It was a world away from California where she was born and raised. She would return there someday, just not yet.
Home. The driver pulled up to her building with the familiar green canopy and opened the door for her. Izzy jumped out and went inside and the chauffeur handed the doorman the gown.
Izzy opened the door and deactivated the alarm. It was good to be home. Her apartment was done in shades of brown and khaki with cream accents. She loved to collect antiques and had a beautiful Chinese writing desk in the foyer that she had bought at auction. She laid her keys dwon and pressed the blinking light on the answering machine.
The first message played. It was Mark, her publicist.
“Izzy, baby, Need you for that photo shoot. Call me...”
The next message was from her father. “Honey, its me, Dad. Me and your mother are thinking of flying to New York next month,please give us a call.”
The next message was from Paul.”Izzy, its me..what about dinner tonight, I know this great place in the Village...Italian...Call me...
Izzy laughed to herself. Paul. He never gave up. What she really wanted to do was take a long hot bath and curl up with a good book. She had so little time to herself these days. But Paul was such a sweet guy...She picked up the phone and dialed.
“Hello?” the voice on the other end said.
“Paul it’s me, Izzy.”
“Izzy, baby, thanks for calling back. How have you been?”
“Okay, running around today.”
“Are we on for tonight? Please say yes.”
“Great! I’ll pick you up at 8:00”
“Okay, see you.”
Click. She sighed. Paul was the son of an heir to a tampon Manufacturer. He was rich, spoiled and loved to get his way. He was nice, he was polite, but oh, so predictable. But dinner coudn’t hurt, she thought.
Izzy changed into a pink satin robe and sat on the bed and opened her notebook. She began writing ideas and hummed to herself. She wrote a little more and time flew by. It was 7:30 and she wasn’t ready yet.
She wandered into her large closet and looked at the shelves of shoes. She had over 300 pairs. She picked out a black dress and a pair of open toed, black sling back shoes. Then she jumped into the shower to rinse off.