Manhattan glitterati with a desire to find the perfect mate have a new champion
in matchmaker Vanessa Carlson. With her fledgling business giving her biggest
rival - friend and mentor Althea Sevalas - a run for her money, Vanessa's services
are definitely a hot commodity. To prove once and for all who's the best matchmaker
in town, Vanessa and Althea enter into a competition to see who can score downtown
playboy Mark Grayson as her client and send him walking down the aisle. Once a
winner is crowned in this very public endeavor, there will be no question as to
who rules Manhattan's matrimonial mergers. But emotions often have a will of their
own, and Vanessa learns that her rules don't always apply.
Bemelmans Bar, The Carlyle Hotel, 35 E. 76th
Street (corner of Madison Avenue), 212.744.1600
“Best remembered as the creator of the classic Madeline books for
children, Ludwig Bemelmans once joked he'd like his tombstone to read: "Tell
Them It Was Wonderful." Well, wonderful it was, and still is, at Bemelmans
Bar. Named in honor of the legendary artist, Bemelmans is a timeless New York
watering hole that has drawn socialites, politicians, movie stars and moguls for
more than five decades.” --www. theCarlyle.com
round please.” I signaled the tuxedo-clad waiter with an impervious twist
of my hand, the gesture undoubtedly not nearly as regal as I supposed. But then
dirty martinis will do that to you. Two is really the limit even for the most
dedicated of drinkers. And we’d already had three.
But this was a celebration.
And I wasn’t paying the bill. Which was just as well.
Bemelmans is my idea of heaven when it comes to a bar. Small and intimate,
with killer drinks, fiery-hot toasted edamame, and folksy art that puts one in
mind of a children’s storybook, it’s absolutely perfect. But you could
mortgage a Park Avenue apartment and still not have enough to pay the tab -- especially
on a martini bender. So better that it was Althea’s headache.
I’d save mine for tomorrow.
Althea Sevalas was my friend, mentor and sometimes rival. In truth, I’d
absorbed all she had to teach me with the voracity of the young and hungry and
then proceeded to go out and apply what I’d learned on my own.
Actually, I’m making it sound easier than it was. I don’t know
that I’d ever have taken the leap, so to speak, if it hadn’t been
for Franklin Pierpont’s tendency for dramatic scenes. Franklin is a billionaire
geek with absolutely no social skills.
Althea had taken him on in a fit of absolute pity. And when his first match
ended in a somewhat less than desirable way, he’d wound up standing on a
ledge outside my office window – nineteen floors up. Obviously this sort
behavior is not good for the matchmaking business, and Althea, who suffers from
vertigo, tasked me with talking him down.
Suffice it to say that it was not one of my favorite assignments, but after
showing half of Manhattan my Perele panties, and losing a Manolo to windowsill
gymnastics, I managed to talk sense into the man.
Of course it didn’t hurt matters when it turned out that the policewoman
who’d come to our rescue was not only a looker but the heir to a computer
fortune. A definite sign from on high. So when Althea insisted on taking credit
for handling the whole fiasco, I saw the writing on the wall, and with a little
help from the Pierpont – policewoman merger, I started my own agency.
Anyway, at first there’d been understandable friction between us. After
all I’d walked away with all Althea’s tricks of the trade so to speak.
But with a little time she’d realized that Manhattan was big enough for
both of us, and albeit warily, accepted me back into her circle of friends.
She wasn’t above twisting the knife a bit now and then though. And having
been invited to the wedding of the century was a coup she’d no doubt lord
over me for years to come. It was a first, and something I had to admit I aspired
to achieve. Not that it was likely.
This was a one on fluke. Matchmakers simply aren’t considered wedding
guest material. Too much a reminder of things best forgotten.
Which explains the reason for celebrating. And though it wasn’t really
my triumph, I didn’t have a problem swizzling Bemelmans martini’s
in Althea’s honor. Of course I’d brought reinforcements – my
friend Cybil Baranski.
“So I heard that even though the gown cost half a million, the bride
still looked like overfed farm stock.” Cybil adjusted her Oliver Peeple’s
frames and leaned forward, eyes sparkling in anticipation.
Cybil and I have been friends since Trinity and believe me her love of gossip
was a well-developed art form even then. Just ask Roberta Marston the first girl
in our class to go all the way. And of course, being Cybil, she’s found
a way to capitalize on her talent for digging dirt, getting paid handsomely by
the Murdochs to write a syndicated international column that’s become a
glitterati must read.
The bride in question is Susannah Barker, a long-shot late comer in the race
to secure the hand of multimillionaire Robert Walski. Of course she had Althea
on her team, which meant the odds were upped considerably despite what the rumormongers
(excluding Cybil of course) would have had one believe.
“Honey,” Althea leaned in as well, their noses almost colliding.
Dirty martinis are hell on depth perception, “when you’re wearing
a size twelve at your wedding – there’s just not a lot a designer
can do.” We all looked down at the newspaper Althea had brought. In this
case the picture was beyond words.
Judged against the ordinary world, Susannah would be considered attractive,
I suppose. But Manhattan is a sea of size twos. I’ve always believed that
the reason restaurants open and close with such velocity here is due at least
in part to the fact that while most women deign to visit restaurants out of social
necessity, they very seldom actually eat anything.
suffice it to say that Susannah holds up her end in the support of Manhattan restaurants.
However, her size wasn’t the issue here. Her father’s upstate mills
were. And when Baxter realized the advantages of his assets merging with hers.
Well the rest is history.
But that’s what it’s all about, isn’t it? Finding someone
whose social background and financial assets are equal to or enhance yours? All
this nonsense about true love and opposites attract is ridiculous at the social
strata we’re discussing. Marriage is a merger. It’s as simple as that.
Thank God, or Althea and I would be out of business.
Excerpt from A MATCH MADE ON MADISON by Dee Davis, Copyright
©2007 by Dee Davis. All rights reserved. Reprint only with permission from
author. Please contact