I stared vacantly at the mirror in front of me - this woman was a stranger. She was the one they all thought I should be; a star, a fashion designer's dream and the other half of the It indie couple. She was the kind of woman who never got drunk or did anything wrong since she knew when to say no while managing to look fabulous at all times, especially when smiling vacantly. She was the musical star with the golden voice and loved by millions. This reflection was supposed to be whom I was, but tonight, like every other night, it was just a role I was playing.
I fingered a loose strand of my long, modish jet black hair. It was pulled back in a stylish, elegant twist. A few strands snuck free, purposely planned by my hair dresser. I was a musician, after all. I had to look perfect, but not too perfect. The glossy red lip gloss and the dark smoky eye make-up enhanced my already pale complexion. With the help of several pounds of make-up, my skin looked smooth and untarnished. With a sigh, I put on a pair of Gucci sunglasses, hiding my troubled green eyes from view. I wanted to hide even from myself.
I stood, wrapping my silk robe tighter to me. This was what I wanted - to be a rockstar and an A-List celebrity. I just hadn't realized I would change in the process. I certainly hadn't thought my supposed one and only love would change as well – all were for the worse.
Picking up the clothes my stylist had laid out for me had me frowning yet again. The clothes were wonderful but I wanted to be me for once and wear what I wanted to wear. Even when we had downtime on tour I didn't get that chance since we were constantly being filmed. Next week it would only get worse. MTV crews were arriving to start filming a segment on our touring life. Hopefully my fiancé Lars would behave himself in front of the cameras. Otherwise our manager Karl was going to have a tough time spinning our "fabulously romantic love story", as the press liked to put it.
I slipped into the super skinny black faux leather pants and groaned. My stylist was trying to insinuate I was fat. The clothes she bought me were getting tighter and tighter and it certainly wasn't because I was gaining weight. With my own trainer and daily workouts, no one would let that happen. I had a strict diet and schedule to adhere to. Though if it was up to, well, no use thinking that way. It wasn't up to me.
"Do you need help in there?" called out Cameron's chipper voice. My personal assistant was always chipper. It annoyed me to no end.
"Of course not." I finished dressing, putting on my fitted black bomber jacket before opening the door.
Cameron stood at the ready to slip on a long gold necklace around my neck. I held out my arms as she slipped on numerous bracelets. She added a large white belt to my outfit and held out a pair of strappy black high heels. It didn't matter that there was snow on the ground in New York City. I was wearing heels. I prayed I didn't slip on the ice. I did not want to have my picture plastered all over the Internet like that.
"Thanks," I said, though she paid me no mind. She was much more loyal to my Lars, after all. I was pretty sure they were screwing, though I could be wrong. Some days I hoped I was wrong. Others, I hoped I was right. Every day I wished I cared one way or the other.
She eyed me critically. "Okay, you look good. Perfect." She looked at the clipboard in her hand. "Lars and the boys have already headed to the party. This one is being held by Preston. He is the lead singer of-"
I cut her off. "The Moon Tower. My opening band. I know." I didn't want to go tonight. This was our second performance here at Madison Square Garden, with the final show tomorrow. All I wanted was to go back to my hotel room and take a hot warm bath. Unfortunately, my management didn't want people to get the wrong idea about Lars and me. He couldn't always be going to functions alone. Instead of telling him to stay home, I had to be the grown up and go to the same functions as him.
Cameron herded me out of the arena, bodyguards closely surrounding me. She anxiously tapped her foot as I stopped to sign autographs to the few fans who had waited for my departure. Autographs were not on her schedule. Soon, I was in the black sedan.
"We didn't have time for you to stop for autographs. You're already late."
I shrugged. "It won't make a difference. I don't want to stay long."
Cameron nodded, handing me a glass of white wine. "Make sure you greet Preston and the other band members. We want them to have a good impression of you. People have begun to comment about your untouchable nature."
I sighed, staring out the window. "That's what the label wanted. Now I'm supposed to be touchable again? I wish they'd make up their mind."
She ignored my comments. As usual, anything negative I said was pretended not to have been heard. "Tomorrow you have a 5am wake-up call. There's a radio interview followed by the Rolling Stone shoot."
"Of course," I nodded automatically.
She turned to her clipboard once again. "As I said, Preston is holding the party tonight. He's dating a woman named Cassandra, Cassie for short. She's nobody, but as they are serious, make mention of her. If she's there, be sure to say hi. That'll make you seem more likable and friendly. Nick, the guitarist, he's dating Katerina Lorenzo. She's a-"
I cut Cameron off. "A musician. I know. She's amazing. I have her EP though I'm still waiting for a copy of her new album."
Cameron looked down at her clipboard, tucking a strand of her strawberry blond hair behind her ear. "I believe one of the other band members has it. I'll make sure a copy is given to you tomorrow. Reed, the drummer-"
I cut her off again. "I don't think they'll be quizzing me on their relationship status. I'll smile, I'll wave, and I'll hold babies. I can handle a party. I used to do fine all on my own, believe it or not."
Cameron frowned, but she kept silent, filling my glass up once again.
We soon arrived. The paparazzi, probably tipped by my manager, were waiting eagerly outside despite the cold temperature. My driver opened the door, extending his hand as I stepped outside. Though already late, I kept my sunglasses on. They helped hide me from the flashing bulbs of the numerous cameras. I smiled brilliantly, waving as I headed toward the front door though if I could barely see. I laughed as the photographers teased me about my late entrance but I didn't stop.
Cameron directed me to the apartment and soon we were entering the lively party. Crowds of people filled every inch of space. I paused, not wanting to take off my glasses, but knowing I would need to.
"Your shades," hissed Cameron. "Remember, personable, not icy."
I kept my head high as I handed her the shades. My smile didn't waver as I turned my cold green eyes on her. "Don't ever tell me how to act."
I sauntered inside, ignoring the awed looks and hushed conversations as I headed towards the kitchen. My plan was to get a drink, say hello, find Lars and get out of here. The intense stares made it impossible for me to be at ease so I was counting the minutes till I could run. I looked around, my mood improving as I spotted my favorite beer on the counter. Taking one, I gulped it heartily. The cool liquid helped me forget the watchful looks. I turned my head to look for Lars, not surprised to find myself the object of intense observation from a man across the rom.
He sat at the dining room table in the midst of a poker game. A hand of cards lay in his hands, though he wasn't paying attention to the game at the moment. With his light shaggy brown hair, dark brown blazer and skinny white tie, I assumed he was in a band. Most people were nowadays, after all. His sparkling blue eyes were piercing even from across the room. He nodded his head in acknowledgment then smiled, revealing bewitching dimples.
I smiled back, my perfected Mona Lisa half smile. My large green eyes beckoned him closer as I raised my left eyebrow. He frowned, not impressed with a smile that had enthralled millions before him.
"Isabelle!" I turned to face the jovial man at my side. With longish brown hair and deep brown eyes, he seemed familiar. I grinned again, focusing my attention on him and the woman his arm was wrapped around. "Lars said you wouldn't be able to attend my little shindig. I'm honored you managed to grace us with your presence."
I pretended not to notice his sarcasm. That's what they wanted, anyway - someone who looked pretty but didn't understand their jokes.
"Of course I'd come. I'm honored to be invited, Preston." I hoped my guess was right. He looked like the lead singer of a band to me. "You must be Cassie." His girlfriend looked stumped at my use of her name. "How have you taken to having your boyfriend on tour?" I asked, feigning interest.
She shrugged. "Well, it sucks. It makes me regret not having learned to play an instrument."
I spotted Lars across the room at the dining room table. He had his hands full as he not only played poker but also caressed the warm ass of the woman to his right. My smile was becoming more and more forced, but no one would know.
"If you'll just excuse me, I believe I see Kevin."
I did indeed spot Kevin, the bassist of my band, across the room, several women surrounding him in a semi-circle. At least he was single and free to do as he pleased.
The people parted as I walked past; heads turned to follow my path. "Kevin," I said. The three women at his side all backed slowly away, making room for me. Kevin seemed genuinely pleased to see me.
"Izzy, what are you doing out? Don't you need your beauty sleep?" He wrapped an arm around my shoulders, giving me a hug. "Want me to get them off of him?" he asked. We had been through this too many times.
I playfully tugged his reddish brown hair pulled back in a ponytail. "You're his savior," I replied, still smiling. I would pretend to be jolly and that Kevin was an excellent conversationalist.
Kevin winked at me before heading to my wandering fiancé. The pity was there, but I ignored it. My beer was now empty, leaving me with a dilemma. To get another meant going through the herd. It just would take one to approach and I would be doomed.
I looked up to find the man I noticed earlier in front of me, a beer held out to me. I stared at him for a moment, debating whether or not to take the offered drink. Annoyance flashed over his face and before I knew what I was doing, I was taking the beer. My hand grazed his as I did so. "Thank you," I said politely.
He smiled, a cocky self-assured smile, and his dimples deepened. "I would have thought Isabelle Reid would be too good to come to a party like this. Don't you have fancier shindigs you have to attend?"
I arched an eyebrow, perfectly composed. "Despite the rumors swirling around me, that's not correct. I enjoy meeting and hanging out with the bands I tour with." I easily issued the statement used many times before.
The man continued to smirk. "Really? Huh." He took a gulp of his beer, leaning closer to me. I forced myself to hold my ground and not to move backwards as I wished. "I was under a different impression."
"Oh? Like I said," I began, but he cut me off.
"Yeah, rumors are rumors. I heard your press comment. Lars-"
It was my turn to cut him off. "Lars. Yes, Lars." My jaw tightened at his comment. Lars needed to learn to keep his mouth shut. I took several gulps of my beer. My composure returned to me as the desire to kill Lars was contained. "Lars and I do keep different schedules, but that doesn't mean I don't attend the same parties as he. I usually come a little bit later." I smiled my wide megawatt smile. This smile had gotten me the cover of Rolling Stone back when we were still unknown. "Lars gets upset when we're apart. It's difficult since we can't be together as much as we want."
The man before me stared intently, searching for cracks in my image. "You are an exceptional liar," he finally replied. "Even I would have bought that."
Again, my smile didn't falter. I laughed a low, sexy husky laugh. "You shouldn't tease me so. I might get offended."
"No, never tease Isabelle. She'll never forget it. She's a bitch, after all." Lars slipped an arm around my waist, pulling me roughly against him, as he kissed me heatedly on the lips. I forced myself to kiss him back, even if I felt stiff and uncomfortable in his arms. "Honey, the cameras. You've got to be more believable," he sneered.
His grip on my waist was tight, but I didn't complain. I could get through this. Then I'd finally be able to leave. My hand went to his as I tried to dislodge myself from his iron grip. "You're such a kidder," I replied, the happy smile on my face starting to hurt.
Lars snorted. "Did you introduce yourself to Blake?" he asked, referring to the man in front of me. He smirked. "Oh, I forgot who I was talking to. Treasured Isabelle Reid doesn't need to introduce herself to lowly mortals. Right honey?"
God, this was why I never wanted to attend these parties. He was such a mean drunk.
I pretended the comments from Lars didn't bother me as I extended my hand to the man before me. "Blake? It's nice to meet you. How do you know Lars?" I asked politely. I finally managed to pull his hand from my waist, simply clutching it in mine. He wouldn't escape unless it was with me.
"He's in Igby Goes Down. You know, the band opening up for us the next couple of weeks? Oh wait, you probably don't know as you haven't been properly briefed on it yet. This means she won't know what to say to you just yet. Give her time."
Blake's piercing stare was now directed to Lars, surprised by his attitude. Most people were.
I ignored Lars, stating, "We'll have plenty of time to get to know each other over the next few weeks. I'll look forward to it. If you'll just excuse us for a moment."
I grabbed Lars's hand, pulling him into the bathroom and locking the door behind us.
"Ready for a quick one?" he asked snidely.
"What the hell's wrong with you?" I asked. "What is it that you want?"
"What do you mean? I'm doing my job."
I massaged my forehead. "You want to break up, fine. We'll break up. You want to stay together, fine, we'll be together. Just tell me how you want to play this. You don't need to try and make me look like a fool in front of everyone we meet."
Lars sighed, sitting down on the toilet seat. "I'm sorry. I'm out of it." I sat down across from him on the edge of the tub. "Being together's best for the band. Plus, you're still my girl. The others are just my entertainment for the moment." He pulled out a small bag of cocaine. I looked away. Of course he hadn't stopped. "For old times? I'll be nicer to you."
"You're never nice anymore." Still, I found myself following his lead. Even if it wasn't real, it felt good to be happy for once.
He grabbed my hand as I turned to leave. "What did you think of Blake?"
"He's cute," I replied with a shrug.
Lars frowned. "He's not your type."
I laughed. "Fine, then he's not cute."
Apparently that wasn't the right answer either. Lars left the bathroom, once again annoyed with me. Spotting Cassie, Preston's girlfriend, I struck up a conversation with her. The high helped loosen my tongue and as she wasn't staring at me in awe like many of the people here, I felt like a normal person. Well, a normal person high as a kite.
All too soon the high faded, making me more and more aware of my own loss of control. I should never have risked it. It was time to leave.
Leaving a party is never simple, even for someone as important as me. Add Lars to the mix, it is downright impossible.
When shouts of anger began from the living room, I knew Lars would be the cause. I found him being held back by his new friend Blake. Across the room from them, a woman stood before another man, talking to him in earnest as she attempted to calm the situation. It seemed to be working which only made Lars angrier. He escaped Blake's grasp and sucker punched the man, pushing the woman to the side.
There went our anonymity. I cursed, abruptly pushing my way through the crowd. I showed no fear as I put myself in the direct line of fire. I pushed the other man to the side before turning on Lars. My green eyes were full of fire. He started towards the man, but I pushed him back. He stumbled once, glaring at me.
"What the fuck is wrong with you?" I hissed at him.
His anger turned on me. He grabbed me by the back of my neck, pulling me away from the fight. His nails bit into my skin as he pushed me aside. I stumbled forward, saved from falling by Kevin. I turned back to Lars, angrily stepping on his foot. My shoe crushed his toes and he let out a loud curse, turning to face me. I grabbed his face angrily.
"We're leaving. Now."
Kevin grabbed Lars arm as I put my sunglasses on.
Cameron hurried to us, a bodyguard not far behind her. "What happened? The police are on their way!"
"Good. That prick needs to take a joke. How was I to know she was his girlfriend?" Lars complained, rubbing his nose. "Send the guards to do their job and take care of that punk."
Cameron started to comply, but I quickly used my authority. "Everyone to the car. Now. Cameron, make sure Lars doesn't get distracted. Take the boys with you, Kevin."
Kevin nodded. He had dealt with Lars many times before. I turned around, my gaze falling to Lars' friend Blake. I hurried to him. "Listen, I have to get Lars home now. Are you going to be hanging around for a bit?"
Blake smirked. "Coming back for me?"
I ignore the comment. "The police are on their way." I paused as Blake reached a hand to my face. "My incompetent assist-," I began as he slid my sunglasses off my face. "What are you doing?"
"I can't see your eyes. I can't tell what's a lie and what isn't with these on."
I frowned, unsure of what to say. I pretended he hadn't spoken, letting him keep the glasses. "The police are on their way. They'll want to arrest the other man in the fight. Knowing Lars, he probably instigated it all. I would stay to take care of the mess, but that would make the whole thing an even bigger deal. I wanted to see if you could do me a favor."
"You want me to hang out and clean up your fiancées' mess?" I opened my mouth but he shook his head. "No, I planned on it anyway. Nick's a good friend of my good friend. I wouldn't want to see him get into trouble because Lars was out of line."
I groaned. "Nick? From The Moon Tower?" I frowned, and then remembered where I was. Anyone could be watching and taking notes. I smiled. "Well, this was fun. Seeing as you are doing me a favor, you are more than welcome at my hotel. Just speak to the front desk and they'll let you right on up."
Blake leaned closer to me, his eyes drifting to the large amount of my cleavage exposed from my shirt. "To your room?" he asked, his voice smooth and sexy.
Flustered, I grabbed my sunglasses from him. His hand caught mine.
"Of course not my room. Let go of my hand. People are watching."
He chuckled, releasing me. "I'll take care of this. You should get out of here before the cops come."
I nodded. "If they need to speak with me, please have them stop by. I'll be more than happy to talk to them.
"I certainly will," he murmured with a wink.
I turned on my heel, regaining my composure with each step I took away from him.