Chapter 40

Tessa found herself in the middle of yet another window display, this time she decked it out for Christmas with twinkling lights and the fairytale splendor of the Nutcracker. It was an age-old story and she loved reading it with her Dad every year. What better way to honor her Dad than to keep the storytelling gene alive.

She’d read this book herself as she did in all the bookstores she’d worked in over the years. By the time she crawled out of the small space she’d attracted a good number of evening strollers enjoying the unseasonably warm weather.

With a satisfied smile she gathered her boxes and scraps of wispy snow that glowed with the twinkling lights. The tabletop tree was in the corner in all the classic colors from the book and a few special ornaments she’d collected over the years.

She arched her back and jumped when a bag thumped at her feet. “Goin’ somewhere, Nic?”

“No, but you are.”

Tessa twisted her watch around. “Nic, it’s only three in the afternoon. I’m not going anywhere. We’ve got four hours until we can even think of closing.”

“Yes, well Adam is coming in to help out tonight and since classes are out for the rest of the month he’s going to be available all day tomorrow.”

Tessa’s stomach began to quiver. “What did you do?”

“Well…there was this amazing deal on a flight to Nashville today. And since I only needed a one way ticket…”

“I can’t go now! There’s an order coming in tonight and another two trucks are coming tomorrow with the final orders for Saturday pickup for Christmas.”

Nic smiled brightly, her sweet face creasing in a huge smile. “And I’ve been doing orders for years and Adam is just as good as you are on the organizational end. We’ll be fine until you get back tomorrow night.” She unwrapped Tessa’s coat and purse from her crossed arms. “In fact, I don’t want to see your face until noontime tomorrow.”


Nic turned her toward the door and nudged her overnight bag to the side then helped her with her coat. “I packed everything you’d need-“

“There are clothes in there right?” Tessa interrupted.

“Of course there is.” More or less, she thought. “You’re going down to seventy degree weather for an overnight with a hunk of a man. You won’t need that much in the way of clothes.”

Tessa turned around. “I can’t do this, Nic.”

“Oh yes you can. I did a little research. Evidently Jon and Richie stay at the same hotel every time they go down to Nashville.”

Tessa’s purse fell off her shoulder. She did a little research? “Where did you find this out?”

“I trolled around the internet last night.”

“You planned this last night?” Tessa’s face was incredulous. “And how do you know you can trust this information.”

“The girl’s got pictures for God’s sake.”

Tessa studied her friend. “You’re a very scary individual, Nichole.”

“I’m a wiz at research…that is why you hired me.”

“I thought it was the whole friendship-nepotism thing?”

“Ha-ha, you think you’re funny but you’re not.” She turned her toward the door again. “Now, off you go. You only have ninety minutes to get to the airport and catch the flight. That’s an E-ticket so all you need is your license.”


Nic cut her off again. “Have a wonderful time, give my drool-I mean my best wishes to Jon and have a wonderful time. I want those circles gone by the time you come back.” She stopped for a moment. “Actually, circles are okay, just less tension.”

“I need my-“

“Your Ipod is in your bag and your headphones as well. I put a book in your bag as well, so you probably won’t want to check it.”

Tessa just shut up. She was a force to be reckoned with and the jittering in her stomach turned into a hive of bees. She was going to Nashville. She was going to see him. It was crazy and right at the same time. She turned around again at the door. “Nic-“

“No! You’re going!”

She leaned in and hugged her friend. “Thanks.”

“Oh now stop! There will be no crying here! You’ll be back in less than two days.” But she dabbed at her eyes anyway. “You have the best time sweetie. You deserve the break.”

Tessa pushed through the door and looked back one more time. Christmas was in full bloom all over her store inside and out. She didn’t have anything else to do really, just take care of customers. Her store was in good hands with Nic, but this was the first time she’d left in the middle of the day since she’d opened the place. She adjusted the strap of her purse and overnight bag and climbed into her car.

She took the half hour drive to get herself together and was pretty certain the bees in her stomach were almost asleep. By the time she got herself through checkout and onto the plane they were back to buzzing.

What was she doing? He was down there working. What if he didn’t have time for her? What if he wasn’t even there? What if she went down there for nothing and just ended up sitting in the lobby of the hotel like the fan she was?

She pressed her fingertips into her stomach and jumped when her cell squawked from her purse. Jon’s voice had the bees trying to make their way out her throat. “Shit,” she mumbled under her breath. She flipped open her phone and swallowed at the readout. “Hey, Jon.”

“Hey there. I was between meetings and thought I’d give you a call to say hi.”

She scooted lower in her seat and smiled. “I was just thinking about you. Do you have special powers?”

“You know, I’ve been told a time or two that I had a few special abilities.”

Her smile was slow and wry. “I just bet you do.”

Jon laughed. “Hey you asked.” Jon settled into the stiff couch in the waiting room of the Nashville branch of Island. Working with other artists for writing was a pain in the ass when it came to rights. He’d had meetings with the legal people for over an hour now. “I’ve been sitting with suits all day. I needed to talk to a sane person.”

“Then why are you calling me?”

Laughing he crossed one booted foot over his knee. “Girl, you haven’t dealt with record execs.”

“Ahhh, that kind of meeting. Any plans for tonight?”

“No, I think Richie and I are just going to chill tonight. Maybe get something to eat and hit the bars.”

“Oh, to be boys again.”

“It’s not all that it’s cracked up to be. If I had my way, I’d be home tonight.”

Maybe you can tuck me in tonight again?”

“Count on it.” Hearing a door open and voices he stood, “I think the meeting’s back in session. Don’t work too hard.”

“Don’t you worry,” she powered down her phone and settled back in her seat and opened the smutty book that Nic left for her. “Great, get me wound up with Emma Holly before I see Jon. Thanks, Nic.” She unwound her earphones and plugged into her Ipod for the rest of the flight.


Megan said...

Great story, I have only stumbled across it yesterday and have just finished reading what you have so far. I have enjoyed it. Keep up the good work.

Anonymous said...

What a great friend Nic is and can just imagine Jon's surprise when he realizes he has company lol - Love this story,

Peg said...

That Nic is quite a girl isn't she, lol.

I can't wait for the next chapter. I have a quiet day at work tomorrow so need something to keep me entertained.

Tara Leigh said...

Thanks to everyone that continues to post and a big thanks to the new guys that found me. I appreciate the comments. It always makes my day.

Aussiejovimum said...

Only just discovered your wonderful work and boy am I in trouble now LoL.
Can't wait for the Next chapter. Keep up the good work

Anonymous said...

I just can't wait for the next chapter. You are such a great storyteller. Keep it coming. Love all the details. Only problem is, are there other stories you've written re: the Bon Jovi boys? Cause I'd really love to read them if so. (help me please find them?)


Starr said...

Well I knew she would go to Nashville! Great, the story just keeps getting better and better!

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