Tessa dragged herself off to the bathroom tossing her tote on the sink with a curse. She leaned on the counter, staring at her smudged eyes. Six hours after the reading hour she didn’t even have to pretend to look like a scurvy pirate. She resembled one from the extras from the Pirates of the Caribbean movie set.
She took out the earrings first rubbing the sore lobes as she tore the rest of her costume apart. She pulled a wide necked cable knit sweater out her bag and stripped out of the pirate outfit. Her arches ached like the very devil from the boots. She had to admit they were pretty amazing and toughed out the pain for a bit longer and left them on.
She’d be sorry to see them go back to the art department where Adam worked at the local college. The bandana and hat followed the poet blouse back into the bag. Dressed in a camisole and black leggings she attacked her face with cold crème, getting the majority of the now gritty makeup off her face.
By the time she was done, she looked like she’d gone hog wild with the mascara brush, but the majority of the black make-up was gone. Her hair was a lost cause so she threw it back in a headband.
She stared at herself in the mirror. “You are one stupid woman,” she said to herself and left the room. She’d had him right in front of her. She scrubbed her hands over her eyes. She’d been able to keep her anger at bay for most of the day, but the fact that Carol Rothchild had interrupted her to talk about the town Christmas celebration had been about all she could take from the woman.
She knew all about it from the emails and her membership in the Community Business Association. She did not need to be pulled aside like a friggin’ child to have that woman explain her responsibilities. She’d run one of the largest corporate bookstores in Manhattan by the time she’d turned thirty. She did not need to be told how to conduct herself at a fucking party.
She was thirty-six years old. She stormed over to the children’s section, needing something to do with her anger. She slammed books back into order along the wall, automatically alphabetizing them as she made her way up to the window. With a disgusted sigh she spotted a sweater left behind on the rocking chair.
The only thing she hated about Sundays was the never ending box of lost and founds she accumulated by the end of the night. She lifted the soft brown sweater and stopped. It couldn’t be. She opened the ultra soft cashmere and took a sniff. It smelled like heaven dipped in apple juice.
Tessa dropped into the rocking chair and tipped her head back. Fate was a fickle thing with one twisted sense of humor.
“I can’t believe you let that bitch drag you away from him,” Nichole said for the tenth time that night.
“Nic, we’ve been over this.”
“Yes, but perhaps you won’t do stupid things if I remind you of them every five minutes.”
Tessa dropped her gaze until she could look at her best friend with her most wilting stare.
Nichole just rolled her eyes. “Don’t give me that look. It ain’t working tonight, woman.”
She dropped her head into her hands, her nose instantly driving her system into overdrive. The cologne that drifted off the expensive wool was nothing she’d smelled before. “I wonder if this is that new cologne he’s modeling for Kenneth Cole.”
Nichole snatched the sweater.
“Oh, my God! He left his sweater behind?” She buried her nose in the fabric. “Oh yeah, that’s the smell. I’m never going to forget that smell. Holy crap, Tessa! At least you get to keep the sweater!”
Tessa flicked the chocolate cashmere from her friend’s fingertips. “No. If he ever comes in again, I’ll return it.”
“Oh puleeeze! The man has gazillions! What does he care about some sweater? He probably has a drawer full of them.”
“Actually he tends to wear the same clothes a lot.”
Nichole rolled her eyes. “You know far too much about this man. Maybe it’s best that he left when he did so he doesn’t find out you’re a maniac stalker.”
“Shut up,” she sneered.
Nichole snuck a glance at her watch.
“You can go home sweetie. I know Adam’s waiting home for you.”
“Nooo…I can stay and help—”
“Get outta here! I know Sunday nights are your hang out night. Go ahead.” She shooed her to the door. “I’m going to set the alarm and get out of here myself. We can clean up in the morning. Mondays are always slow.”
Nichole pressed her hand against the sweater. “God, I bet that feels good along that rock hard chest of his.”
“It does,” she murmured.
“Tessa, tell me!”
“It’s no big deal, I just brushed his chest when I handed his little boy a drink box.” Her body flushed at the memory. “It’s as nice to feel as it looks.”
“Shit, Tessa! That’s not right.”
She ushered her to the door, snagging her purse and coat as they went. “Tell me about it.” She lifted the tote bag. “Here, give these back to Adam and tell him thank you for me.”
“C’mon…out!” she opened the door and crossed her arms against the blast of cold. “Go have a nice night with…” The h in with drifted out on a puff of breath as she finished with, “Jon.”
“No, you’ve got Jon Bon Jovi on the brain. My husband’s name is…oh shit.”
Jon grinned at the two women before him. “Must suck when you have an argument, the word loses all of its power.”
Nichole grabbed her coat. “His name is Adam and I’m soooo outta here.”
Jon stuffed his hands in his coat. “Hey,” he said ducking his head down a little as he met her eyes.