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Authors: Cathy Kelly
Nobody watching him idly caressing his extra-long lens as he watched young models could be in any doubt that he considered himself a bit of a maestro in the sack as well as behind the Hasselblad.
‘He’s definitely got his eye on Tonya,’ Izzie said, ‘but don’t worry. I’m going to put a stop to his gallop.’
‘Can somebody tape that?’ Carla asked. ‘I’d like to see him when you’ve finished with him.
would love film of Ivan having his lights punched out.’
Izzie laughed. Carla was one of the few people who knew that, at fourteen, Izzie Silver had had a reputation for being a tomboy with a punishing right hook. It wasn’t the sort of thing she’d want widely known – violence was only in fashion when it came to faking hard-edged shoots in graffiti-painted alleyways – but it still gave her an edge.
‘Don’t mess with the big Irish chick,’ was how some people put it. Izzie was more than able to stand up to anyone. Ruefully, she could see how that might put some men off. Before Joe, it had been six months since her last date. Not that she cared any more: you had to move on, right?
‘Carla, you’re just dying to see me hit someone, aren’t you?’ laughed Izzie now.
‘I know you can because of all those kickboxing classes,’ Carla retorted. ‘Sure, you’re the queen of glaring people into silence with the evil eye and telling them you don’t take any crap, but I’d still prefer to see you flatten someone one day. For fun. Pleeese…? I hate the way Ivan hits on young models.’
‘He won’t this time,’ Izzie said firmly. ‘He might try, but he won’t get anywhere. Since the company have actually spent hard cash to fly me here to make sure it all runs smoothly, I’m going to do my best. Any news at your end?’
‘No, it’s pretty quiet. Rosanna’s off sick so we’re a woman down. Lola spotted a gorgeous Mexican girl on the subway last night. She got a photo of her and gave the girl her card, but she thinks the kid’s scared she’s from immigration or something, so she may not call. Stunning, Lola says. Tall, with the most incredible skin and fabulous legs.’
‘Oh, I hope she phones,’ Izzie said. As bookers, they were always on the lookout for the next big thing in modelling. Despite the proliferation of television shows where gorgeous girls turned up hoping to be models, there were still scores of undiscovered beauties, and there was nothing worse than finding one and having her not believe the ‘I work for a model agency’ schtick.
‘Me too. Lola keeps glaring at her phone. It’s going to catch fire soon.’
‘No more news?’
‘Nah. Quiet. What’s the Zest marketing guy like? I heard he’s a looker.’
Izzie grinned. Carla had said she was never dating ever again just the previous week.
‘He couldn’t come. They sent a woman instead.’
‘You can catch up on your beauty sleep, then,’ laughed Carla, before hanging up.
When shooting was over for the day, the entire crew repaired to their hotel’s restaurant-cum-bar for some rest and
relaxation. There was a sense of a good day’s work having been done, but it wasn’t quite party time. That would be tomorrow night when the catalogue shots were all finished, when nobody had to be up at the crack of dawn and hangovers didn’t matter.
Besides, the Zest marketing woman was there watching everything alongside Izzie, and there was too much money in catalogue shoots to screw it all up mid-shoot.
Izzie knew what happened on shoots when party night had happened too early. Someone phoned
up at the office and screamed that her models had gone on the razz, and that the following day had been a blur with the make-up people working extra hard to hide the ravages of sleep deprivation, while general hungover irritation meant it was a miracle any shots were taken at all.
‘Menus,’ said the Zest woman cheerily, handing them out like a prefect at school trying to quash any naughtiness in advance. ‘There’s a salad bar too, if anyone wants anything lighter.’
A line of skinny people who did their best to never eat heavy if possible, stared grimly back at her. No mojitos tonight, then.
Food was finally ordered, along with a modest amount of wine and, thanks to the hair guy, who hated bossy women, cocktails.
‘Just one each,’ chirped the Zest woman, who had the company credit card to pay for all this, after all.
As Izzie had predicted, Ivan wasn’t long slithering up the cushioned wooden seat to where Tonya sat nursing something alcoholic from the cocktail menu.
Izzie sat down on a stool opposite Ivan and Tonya, simultaneously patting Tonya comfortingly on the knee, and giving Ivan the sort of hard stare she’d perfected after years of dealing with men just like him.
‘How’s Sandrine?’ she said chattily. Sandrine was his wife and a model who’d miraculously staved off her sell-by date by being labelled a super. Normal models were considered elderly once they hit twenty-five; supers could get another ten years out of the industry if they were clever.
Ivan didn’t appear to get the hint. He took another long pull of his margarita, gazing at Tonya over the top of his salt-encrusted glass.
‘She’s in Paris doing editorial for
,’ he said finally.
Tonya, bless her, looked impressed. Izzie wished she could explain to the younger girl that she wouldn’t absorb Sandrine’s brilliance by osmosis. Sleeping with a supermodel’s photographer husband didn’t make you a supermodel. It just made you look stupid, feel used and get a bad reputation.
Izzie had another try at the subtle approach. She
working for Tonya’s agency, after all. No point in irritating the photographer so much that he took awful shots of the girl, thus screwing up both her career and her part of the catalogue shoot. Izzie knew that wasn’t what her boss had in mind when she said ‘make sure nothing goes wrong’.
‘Ivan’s married to Sandrine,’ Izzie informed Tonya gently, as if Tonya didn’t already know this. ‘She’s so beautiful and so successful, but she travels a lot. It must be so hard to be apart when you’re married,’ Izzie added thoughtfully. ‘You must miss Sandrine so much. I bet you’re dying for the moment you can phone her. How far ahead is Paris? Ten hours, eleven?’
Izzie was not a natural liar. Catholic school had done its work a long time ago, but for her job, she’d perfected the art of subtle manipulation. A tweak here, an insinuation there, was all it took.
She could see the rush to Ivan’s brain: would the smooth fire of the local tequila make it there first or would her suggestion about phoning his wife overtake it?
A moment passed and Ivan reached into his jacket for his cell phone.
Izzie allowed herself a small, internal smile.
Too much cocaine and general stupidity had eroded Ivan’s logistic skills but still he had a certain bovine intelligence. He was aware that Izzie knew the bookers in his wife’s agency and that, if he misbehaved, the news would reach Sandrine. He began to dial.
His wife was the sort of model Tonya might be one day, given plenty of kindness and therapy and people to stop predatory males hitting on her.
Quite why Sandrine had married Ivan in the first place was beyond Izzie. Models knew that photographers were drawn to models like flies to jam. And that DCOL (doesn’t count on location) was such a given in their industry that it should have been part of the model-wedding-vow thing.
I promise to love, honour, obey and look the other way if he/ she has a fling doing a shoot in Morocco
. However, it didn’t work quite that way with the supers; when you could have any man on the planet, you didn’t stand for being cheated on.
When Tonya got up to go to the women’s room, Izzie quickly slipped into the young model’s seat, to make sure that Ivan couldn’t get close to her when she came back.
Eventually, the rest of the group joined them, the food arrived and the danger of Ivan getting Tonya on her own for a quiet tête-à-tête passed.
The group shared a low-key meal and Ivan wandered off with his assistant early on. Probably to score coke, Izzie guessed – and not the liquid type that refreshed, either. After all, he didn’t need to look good in the morning.
Once he was gone, she left Tonya in the gentle hands of the other models and the make-up and hair people, and went to bed.
Her room was large, decorated in the soft ochre that seemed to be part and parcel of New Mexico, and looked out over a pretty pool that was surrounded by ceramic candle-holders, all lit, twinkling like so many stars. Opening the double doors on to the small terrace, she stepped outside for a moment and breathed in the balmy night air.
There were two wooden loungers on her terrace, along with a little blue and yellow tile-topped table with a lit citronella candle to ward off the giant flying things that seemed to hum in the air. A heady scent of vanilla rose from below, as well as a more distant smell of garlic cooking. It was all very romantic and begging for a special someone to share it with. Even the bath in the huge ensuite was big enough for two. Sad for one, though.
Izzie sighed and went back into the room. She stripped off her simple belted shirtdress and sank on to the bed, trying not to worry how many other people had sunk on to the heavy Dupion coverlet – hotels were
. So many other people using exactly the same space, over and over again, leaving their auras and their sweat there – and laid down. Her head felt heavy from the heat and she was tired. Tired and emotional.
She looked at her phone again. No messages. What was it Oscar Wilde said: that it was better to be talked about than not to be talked about?
Cell phones were the same. No matter how often people moaned about them, it was nicer to be phoned than not to be phoned.
She ran one unvarnished fingernail over the rounded plastic of the screen, willing some message to appear there. But there was nothing: the blankness mocked her.
He hasn’t called. What’s he doing?
What was the point of being wise, clever, savvy – all the things she’d worked hard at being – when she was risking it all for a married man?
Izzie closed her eyes and let the now-familiar anxiety flood over her. She loved Joe. Loved him. But it was all so complicated. She longed for the time when it would be simpler.
Of course, it was complicated simply because of the sort of person Joe was. He might be a tough member of the Wall Street elite, a hedge-fund man who’d gone out on his own with a friend to set up a closed fund and was slowly, relentlessly pushing towards the billionaire Big Boys’ Club. But he was a family man underneath it all, and that was where the complications appeared.
Raised in the Bronx, married at twenty-one, a dad at twenty-two, his professional life may have been fabulous but his home life had gone sour long ago. What he did have, however, were three sons whom he adored, and while he was living a separate life from his wife, they were trying to shield their two younger sons from the break-up.
When Izzie thought about it, about the tangled mess she’d walked into when she’d fallen for Joe, she felt nauseated. She knew that people of her age or Joe’s carried baggage with them but his baggage made their relationship so difficult.
No wonder she felt nauseated.
Funnily enough, someone being sick had set it all off. That someone was Emily De Santos, one of the Perfect-NY partners.
She’d bought a ticket for a twenty-thousand-dollar-a-plate lunch at the Plaza in aid of a child-protection charity which focused on kids from disadvantaged areas.
‘Do you think those rich people would have heart attacks if they actually saw a child from a disadvantaged area?’ wondered Carla when word came down from on high that Emily – a social climber so keen she carried her own oxygen – was too ill to take her place at the lunch and wanted a warm body to stand in for her.
‘Carla, don’t be mean,’ said Izzie, who was the only one without any actual appointments that lunchtime and was therefore about to race home to swap her jeans and chocolate Juicy Couture zippered sweat top for an outfit fit for the Plaza’s ballroom. ‘They’re raising money. Isn’t that what matters? Besides, they don’t have to do a thing for other people. They could just sit at home and buy something else with their twenty thousand bucks.’
‘Sucker,’ said Carla.
‘Cynic,’ said Izzie, sticking her tongue out.
She was between blow-dries, so her hair needed a quick revamp and Marcello, one of her favourite hairstylists, said he could fit her in if she rushed down to the salon.
‘I’m channelling Audrey Hepburn,’ he announced, as Izzie arrived, having changed at home and tried to put on her make-up in the cab downtown to the hair salon.
‘You better be channelling her bloody quickly,’ Izzie snapped, throwing herself into the seat and staring gloomily at her hair.
‘You’re right,’ Marcello agreed, holding up a bit of Izzie’s hair with his tail comb, as if he dared not touch it with his actual hand. Marcello was from Brooklyn, had been miserable in high school when he wasn’t allowed to be prom queen, and made up for it by being a drama queen for the rest of his life. ‘Forget Audrey. I’m seeing…a woman leaning into a dumpster searching for something to eat and she hasn’t washed her hair in a month…’
‘Yes, yes, you are so funny, you should have your own show, Marcello. I have to leave here in twenty minutes to go to the Plaza – can you not channel Izzie Silver looking a bit nice? Why do I have to look like someone else?’
‘The rules of style, sugar,’ Marcello sighed, like someone explaining for the tenth time that the earth wasn’t flat. ‘Nobody wants to look like themselves. Too, too boring. Why be yourself when you can be somebody more interesting?’
‘That’s what’s wrong with fashion,’ said Izzie. ‘None of us are good enough as we are. We have to be smelling of someone else, wearing someone else and looking like somebody else.’
‘Are you detoxing?’ Marcello murmured. ‘Have a double espresso,
,’ he begged. ‘You’re much easier to style when you’ve caffeine in your system. Fashion is fantasy.’ Marcello began spraying gunk on her hair with the intensity of a gardener wiping out a colony of lethal greenfly.
‘There goes another bit of the ozone layer,’ Izzie chirped.