Chapter 97

She woke to the butterfly soft press of lips next to her belly button. She smiled. “Saying good morning to my ladybug?”

She felt the soft puff of air before she heard his laugh. “Why yes, I am.” He crawled up the bed and dropped a quick kiss on her lips, “Ready for the star treatment today?”

She winced. “I really don’t need a Spa-“

He cut her off by squeezing her lips together. “The least I can do is make you feel like a million bucks for half the day. It’s going to be a long night of dancing and schmoozing.”

She gave him the raspberries and tugged his hand away. “I don’t think I should leave Nic alone all day.”

“Honey, treat yourself for one day. You’ve been working like crazy for weeks before Christmas and now after-“

“I know, but that’s my job,” she interrupted.

“And if you keep it up, you’re going to burn out. Just take the day and relax.”

“Pot, kettle,” she muttered. He only snorted and settled her against him. With a reluctant sigh she let herself rest her cheek on his chest. Scoring her fingernails lightly through his hair and down around the rigid muscles of his pec she kissed the center.

“Besides, the Red Carpet is calling our name tonight. Even I’m getting a hair cut.”

She propped her chin on her hands. “Oh really?”

He winced and pushed his hair out of his face. “I’m feeling the need for change soon.”

She leaned up and nipped his chin, enjoying the rasp of beard along her lips. “Oh yeah? Am I hitting the social scene with my blonde hunk tonight?”

He rolled them until she was underneath him. “We’ll see.”

She laughed and wriggled out from underneath him. “I need to grab a shower.”

“Nah, don’t bother, they’re going to dunk you.”

She shoved him off and let out a little shriek when he snatched her off her feet and flat on her back again. “They do not need me to come in there reeking of sex.”

He dug his bristly jaw into her neck until giggles bubbled up. “I want you to have fun today. Let them pamper you, okay?”

“Okay, okay.” She smoothed a twisted lock of flyaway blonde hair away from his face. His eyes were earnest and even a touch worried. “I promise. I’ll let the crazy people in the overpriced salon take me apart and put me back together.”

“Thank you.”

She rolled her eyes, “I still think it’s excessive.”

“The thing about making a woman feel good is…it’s never excessive.”

“Well hell,” all the fight and the teasing melted away. “Do you work at being amazing? Or is it just a natural gift?”

He winked, “It’s a gift.”

And just like that, he could make her laugh. “Get off me.”

“C’mon that was so good I deserve at least a kiss.”

“Is that right?”

“Oh yeah,” he said, his clear blue eyes twinkling.

She slid her hands under his arms, letting her fingertips coast over the muscles of his back and up to his shoulders. She lifted her mouth, stroking her tongue over the little curl that happened to his lips when he teased her. “A kiss huh,” she breathed.

Instead of answering her, he fastened his mouth to hers and they fell into a sweet, long and lingering kiss. She started out in control but found herself falling all over again, enjoying him just for the sake of it, loving him for all those little, yet infinitely important reasons.

He rolled his hips against her and groaned against her mouth. “What time’s the appointment?”


He glanced at the clock and groaned.

“Hey you made the appointment, buddy.”

He rolled off her. “Go take that shower before I forget myself again.”

She sat up, pushing her hair out of her eyes. She leaned over him, letting the silky soft skin of her breast linger on his hair roughened chest. “Wouldn’t want that, would we?”

“That’s it!” He tucked his shoulder down and lifted her over his shoulder.

“Jon! Put me down!”

“You are a danger to society woman. How is any man supposed to resist you?”

She let her arms dangle down and she slapped his oh so perfectly sculpted butt. “Give it a try, Caveman.”


Twenty minutes later she still smelled like sex, but it least it was slightly masked by soap and shampoo. She didn’t bother doing any more than blow drying her hair and brushing her teeth. A little gloss and she was good enough to make her way into one of the high brow spa’s in the city.

She didn’t bother arguing, just took Henry for the morning and promised Jon she’d be ready for him by seven. She had to admit that it was a little daunting to think about surrendering her body to a bunch of licensed cosmetologists for a day, but she was determined to enjoy herself. This was a once in a lifetime kind of deal, and he’d surprised her when he’d booked them into the Mandarin Oriental in the city.

She’d heard plenty of rumors that he was a Four Seasons kind of guy. But as the driver got closer to the city, she began to realize why he went for a locale that people wouldn’t expect from him. The streets were crawling with people. Some headed for the Times Square experience and some for the legion of parties that New York City would host on this night.

They turned off the main street and off on a side street. Her eyebrow rose as they passed buildings that all looked the same. The city was an ever changing surprise for her, but her breath caught as the Mercedes pulled up to a round-about and a park rose out of the center. It was decked out in all its Christmas finery still, and the fountains had been dialed back to a slow trickle. Glass and steel rose from the ground and just kept going.

“I thought we were going to the Mandarin?”

“It’s part of the Time Warner Center, Miss,” Henry said with his usual coolness.

Trying not to feel stupid she sat up straighter and tried not to gawk at the unbelievable structure. They pulled around the circle and finally stopped before a wall of windows with the Mandarin Oriental Flag waving in the brisk December wind. It’s well known golden fan on the Chinese red background was the only clue to the hotel’s whereabouts.

Henry pulled up and a doorman opened her car door. Suddenly her jeans and sweater felt awfully gauche in response to the Time Warner Center’s chic building. Henry gathered her things without a word and held out a garment bag and travel case to the doorman who passed it off smoothly to a bellhop.

She turned, but Henry was already climbing back into the car and barely tipped his hat at her. Straightening her shoulders she followed the red coat of the bellhop to the wall of elevators. They took an express elevator that bore the Mandarin fan yet again and she watched the lights flick until the car stopped with a quiet rocking, ping on the thirty-fifth floor.

Marble and soft lights met her as she walked into the lobby. The bellhop motioned for her to walk ahead as he quietly led her to the black marble desk. Her boots clicked on another circular pattern of more marble in a swirl of jade green and white. A huge oriental rug in muted reds and roses was cut only by the most amazing abstract glass sculpture she’d ever seen up close. It was lit from the inside and gave the feeling of elegance through the fluted length of swan-like necks.

She breathed a little more easily when she saw another couple checking in, decked out in clothing similar to hers. Though she was fairly certain the woman’s sweater set was probably Saks to her Macy’s but it was still a sweater.

The woman at the desk smiled at her then the bellhop. “Hello, may I help you?”

She had to give the woman props for the lack of a sneer. Her face held and utter calm that spoke of rigid training. Tessa rested her hands on the cool marble and smiled back. “Tessa Donovan, checking in,” she said a little more breathlessly than she would have liked.

The woman nodded, and the barest flicker of surprise flashed through her dark eyes before she tapped a few keys on her silent keyboard. “Yes, I see a reservation here for the Spa for a half day and then a room?”

“Yes, that’s right.”

“Very good then,” she turned to the bellhop. “George, she’ll be in the Hudson River room.”

He nodded and went back to the elegant elevator. She followed him, noticing that the bellhop was given the key, not her. Totally unaccustomed to people doing things for her, she felt out of place and nervy.

“It’s a lovely room, Miss.”

She smiled as he finally engaged in a bit of small talk. “I wouldn’t expect any less from a place like this.”

“It’s got a view that will take your breath,” he said with a smile.

“And the Spa?”

“First rate,” he smiled warmly. “Once a year we get a really good discount and I sent my wife here for the full treatment. She said she felt like a queen by the end.”

“Queen, huh?”

He smiled hugely, “And I got treated like a King for giving it to her.”

She laughed, “I just bet.”

The stopped on her floor and walked to the end of the hallway and Tessa had to stop her own eyeroll. Just her luck. Even with Jon’s millions she still ended up with one of those rooms that were at the very edge of nowhere.

George opened the door and hung her garment bag. She suddenly felt very small and very insignificant as the New York City skyline opened up from their corner room and the fleet of buildings closed in on her. “Holy Hanna!”

George laughed and folded his gloved hands. “I told you.”

She made a slow spin and took in the wide, king sized bed with its headboard of mirrors bounced back the view all around the room. Chinese lanterns flanked the bed and the room smelled fresh and held the bite of the white orchid that climbed along a basket near the window.

She caught George’s expectant, yet patient look and gave herself a mental kick. She dug into her purse and found a twenty. She paused. Was that enough? She took another twenty out and folded it into his hand. “Thank you, George.”

He smiled and didn’t even look at the money. “Have a nice stay, Miss Donovan and a Happy New Year.”

She forced herself to meet his eyes and not stare out the window until he was gone. “You too.”

When the door shut behind her, she went right to the window and caught the glint of harbor lights from the Hudson River and the ant-sized people that crawled the streets. “Jesus, Tessa what have you gotten yourself into?”


Jen said...

Holy hell! And I thought the hotels where I live were beautiful!

Man, to spend a day in luxury like that and then spend the night with a gorgeous rock star...

Excuse me while I drool...

mamybest said...

thanks for the pm tara telling me that this was up! lucky tessa!!! just the piture's took my breath away..very nice added touch!!!
can't wait for more!!!


Anonymous said...

Love the pictures. Great chapter -- am I sensing some regret from Tessa? (Why on Earth would I think that I don't know) Is this world too much for her? Well, if it is, I'll take her place! You wrote this so beautifully -- very easy to visualize all aspect of the chapter. (I was just at the Time Warner Center by the way)!
Looking forward, as always, to the next few!

Anonymous said...

I love this story and your writing is amazing.....
Please!!!!! I need a new chapter soon!!!!! Can´t wait for more!

Thanks for this wonderful story Tara!

Anonymous said...

I keep checking for a new chapter... can't wait much longer.. please more of Jon and Tessa

Anonymous said...

Tara you are an amazing writer. You capture the feelings and emotions so well. Say nothing about your descriptions of things. I could picture everything about this hotel as I was reading it. Totally captivating. Love it!


Jeff said...

Thought it might interest you to know that Tessa Donovan was my maternal grandmother's name. I was actually doing a google search for info about her and was led to your story. Nice writing style, BTW.

Anonymous said...

This was really interesting. I loved reading it

Anonymous said...

What a nice post. I really love reading these types or articles. I can?t wait to see what others have to say.

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