I hate everything about planes—the taking off, the landing, even the food. I get the worst headaches when I’m in the sky. So, as you can imagine, at this moment, I’m not having the best time. My mother and I are on a flight to New York for the last couple days of my spring break.
She wanted to get out of town for “some much-needed bonding time,” as she puts it. I was perfectly fine with it; I did need a break from campus. So far, life at the University of North Carolina has been great, I’ve had amazing professors and I’ve made great friends. I can’t wait to graduate, and thankfully, I only have one more semester left.
The pressure in my head worsens, and I lean my forehead against the cool glass window. Clearly, the anxiety pills Mom gave me earlier are not working.
“Selina?” my mom says with a yawn. She dozed off the second the plane took off. I have no idea how she does it, but I wish I had that special talent. Her dark brown hair sticks to the side of her head and I smile.
“You look so beautiful like that, let me take a pic,” I say, reaching into my bag to pull out my phone.
“Ha, ha.” She snatches it from my fingers before I can take a photo. “Are we almost there?”
At that instant, the intercom system crackles to life. “Attention ladies and gentlemen, we are nearing our destination and have begun our descent into New York. ETA is 20 minutes. Thank you for choosing Delta Airlines for your travels. Have a safe trip!” The pilot’s cheery voice filled the plane for a moment.
“Well, I guess that answers your question,” I respond, as I take my phone back. I return to my Netflix app and continue watching American Horror Story. This show has become my life for the last couple of weeks. I’ve been watching it religiously.
The plane shudders and jolts as we encounter turbulence on the way down, and I almost shit my pants. I swear to Jesus we are driving next time, I don’t care how long it takes.
“You ready for exams?” my mother asks, as she fluffs her pillow and lays her head on it.
“Yeah, the only class I’m really worried about is my campaigns course. The client my group has is a pain in the ass,” I reply, pausing my show.
She laughs. Mom was a popular news reporter on CNN before she retired a few years ago. So, she knows all about working with difficult individuals. Throughout her career, she planned well and invested a lot of her money; now, she is a majority stockholder for one of the most downloaded apps in America.
“Sometimes you have to make sacrifices and do the things you don’t want to in order to reach your main goal,” she replies with a smile. Of course, I knew she was right, but it still pissed me off. “Plus, you only have one more month of school to get through until you go to your father’s for the summer.”
I think of my father with a smile. I loved going to visit him in California. Sometimes, I hate that my mother decided to live so far from him after their divorce. Growing up, it was difficult to adapt to the fact that my father was no longer a room away. I missed not seeing him. Despite this, we still talk at least once a week, and although he’s not physically with me, we make the best of the situation. No matter how much I resent that my mom took me away from him, I can never stay upset. She is very career-driven, and her job is what took her to Charlotte, NC. When I was younger, I struggled to understand; however, as an adult, I can never fault her for following a great opportunity.
Mom smiles, giving me a tight squeeze, yanking me out of my thoughts. “You okay?”
The plane lands in New York City around 1:00 p.m. After retrieving our luggage, we hail a taxi and head to the Saxton Hotel, one of my favorite places to stay in New York. Immediately upon our arrival, a bellboy appears. He grabs our bags and leads us into the hotel.
I’ve always loved the opulence of the hotel lobby. Light marble covers the floors, and the grand elevators would draw anyone’s eyes. It travels high up into the ceiling like a stairway to heaven. I follow my mother to the check-in desk and she informs the attendant about our reservation.
“Here you are Ms. Bridgeport, Room 712. I hope you enjoy your stay! If you have any further inquiries, please call the main desk.” A very small woman with a big bright smile hands us the key cards.
We say our thanks and dart through a crowd of people exiting the elevator to catch it. Once inside, the bellboy selects the seventh floor and we slowly ascend above the lobby. Beauty is too small of a word to describe the masterpiece from this height. The back of the elevator is all glass, so I can view the entire lobby area below.
My mother makes small talk with the bellboy as we walk to our hotel room. A couple of girls, about sixteen or seventeen, run past us, cheering wildly and almost knocking me over. What the hell?
“Yeah, the hotel has been overtaken with teen girls the last couple of days,” I overhear from the bellboy.
“What’s going on?” I ask.
“There’s some big concert tomorrow, Daniel Cruz I think,” he says.
Daniel Cruz?! He’s the biggest sex symbol/singer on the planet. He’s had more smash singles then I can even remember. Greaaaaaat—now my whole vacation is going to be full of screaming, dramatic girls. There go my hopes for a relaxing trip.
“Oh wow, that’s exciting!” my mom says, clapping her hands.
No, it definitely was not, but I keep my mouth shut. We finally reach our room at the end of the hall. Mom opens the door and the bellboy walks in, placing our bags in the living room.
“Do you need any more help with anything, Ms. Bridgeport?” he asks as he returns to us.
“No, thank you for all your help.” My mother hands him a twenty. He nods his thanks, then leaves the room with a smile.
I walk into the massive room and pick up my bag. To the left is a small kitchen with granite counter tops and stainless steel appliances. Why we need a kitchen in our suite, I don’t know. I continue past the living room and into one of the bedrooms. A huge king-sized bed sits in the center of the room, in front of large windows. Tiny New Yorkers walk around on the streets below. After depositing my luggage in a chair, I collapse on the bed and close my eyes. Even with the excitement of the trip, this has felt like the longest day of my life.
“Hey, honey? You hungry?” Mom’s voice travels from the living room.
I’m actually starving. But I also don’t want to move from this very comfortable bed.
“Lina? Do you want something to eat?” The bed dips under my mom’s weight as she perches on the mattress.
“No, I’m just tired.” I say, cracking open one eye. Her big brown eyes stare intently into mine.
“I’ll let you rest. But we are going out to dinner tonight!” is her reply. She kisses my cheek then leaves the room, closing the door quietly behind her.
I take off my shoes and crawl into the downy softness of the bed, pulling the covers over me. I had to knock about ten pillows off in the process of getting comfortable—hotels and their masses of pillows. Exhaustion soon overwhelms me, and I fall into a deep sleep.
Chirp. Chirp. Chirp. I struggle to open my eyes. My phone rings again and I reach into my bag.
“Hello?” I answer groggily.
“Lina, I’m in the lobby. You have thirty minutes to come down,” my mom responds, then hangs up.
I yawn, stretching. The alarm clock beside my head reads 5:00 p.m. Jesus, I really hibernated. I drag my lazy ass to the bathroom and turn on the light. After blinking about ten times, I quickly take a shower.
Five minutes later and I’m drying off, walking back into the bedroom. Opening up my suitcase, I grab my favorite black bra and some underwear. I slide on a pair of black high-waisted jeans and pair them with a white crop top that reveals a sliver of my belly. Walking back into the bathroom, I stare at my wide hazel eyes and begin applying mascara. My brown skin is smooth and clear, so I just put concealer on the faint dark circles around my eyes. On the other hand, my hair is a wet, thick, curly mess. In the end, I just pile it into a bun on top of my head. After giving myself a mental thumbs-up, I grab a pair of nude four-inch heels and my phone. I text Mom I’m on my way down as I walk out.
Immediately, I hear giggles and shouts as I head towards the elevator. Oh great, just what I need. I approach the mass of girls waiting for the elevator.
“I heard he landed a few hours ago!!” a blonde exclaims. Cue eye roll.
“I love him so much! I can’t wait to see him!!” another girl shouts, practically exploding with excitement.
Why do all fangirls shout? Can’t they just talk in a normal voice? Finally, the elevator arrives. I follow the girls inside, trying to ignore them for the rest of the ride. When the doors open at the lobby, the girls immediately run out, continuing their banter.
I wander into the lounge area, looking for Mom. A few seconds later I spot her. She’s sitting at the bar with her legs crossed, sipping a martini. She looks hot in her black strapless dress. It’s knee length and fits her slim form like a glove. Her dark hair is down in soft waves, curling just beneath her chin. She’s wearing black pumps that make her mile-long legs look even longer. She’s in her mid-fifties, but doesn’t look a day over thirty.
She spots me and waves. I swear, I must have gotten all my father’s genes. She looks like a supermodel; I, on the other hand, am average in height and curvy. I have a great ass, courtesy of my father, or at least that’s what Mom says…which is really gross now that I think about it.
“Lina! Finally, you look so pretty. I like that top,” she says when I reach the bar.
“I try. Where are we eating?”
“Le Bernardin. It’s seafood, you’ll like it,” she answers, then finishes off her drink.
“Okay, let’s go. I’m starving.”
We arrive at Le Bernardin about thirty minutes later. It truly is amazing—I have never eaten seafood this delicious before. I order crab legs, and can’t even describe the warm butter flavor of each one. Mom and I talk a lot about school. I hadn’t realized how much I missed her until now. She asks about a million times if I’ve met anyone, but the answer is no. The last guy I dated was a year ago, and since then I have remained solidly out of the dating scene. Every now and then, I’ll hook up with someone, but nothing serious.
After we finish eating, my mother takes me to an ice cream shop a few blocks from the hotel. Ice cream is my life—it’s even one of my first memories as a child. I order chocolate with peanut butter and cookie dough in it. Holy foodgasm.
“Mom, this stuff is sooo good. How do you find these places?” I ask around the mouthful of chocolate currently overwhelming my taste buds.
She laughs, and takes a bite of her strawberry ice cream. “I travel all the time hon, I have to know where all the good food is.”
We leave the shop and head back to the hotel. On the way there, her phone rings.
She pulls it out of her purse and answers. “Hello?” she smiles. “You’re here? Yeah, of course, I’ll be there soon.” She hangs up her phone and looks back at me.
“Hey hon, a friend is at the bar—”
“That’s fine Mom, you have fun,” I interrupt. Just because I’m love resistant doesn’t mean she has to be.
“Are you sure? I can meet him another time,” she says, looking at me. I can tell she wants to go though, and I’m not going to stop her.
“No, go, it’s fine. You know if it wasn’t I’d say something. I’ll just watch a movie and talk to Marie.” I need to catch up on my American Horror Story anyway.
She hugs me carefully, trying not to get ice cream on my shirt. “Thanks, Lina. Have I told you how lucky I am to have you for a daughter?”
“All the time. Now hurry up and go! It’s only 9:30, go get your freak on!” I laugh, untangling myself from her.
“Okay, and text me if you leave the hotel. I don’t want to be worried about you,” she says as she walks away.
“I will!” I answer. I turn and head inside the hotel, aiming for the elevators.
“Oh my gawwwwd, my friend said she saw him a few minutes ago getting pizza!!” shrieks an excited fangirl to her group of friends near the elevators.
Oh hell, no. I’m not going through that again. I turn away from the elevators and head towards the stairs. Seven flights in heels? No problem. Better than listening to screaming fangirls talk about being the baby mama to some guy that they haven’t even met.
I scoop some more ice cream into my mouth as I begin climbing the steps. Honestly, I didn’t realize how creepy this was going to be. The dull lights barely illuminate the surrounding gray walls. I’m pretty sure this is the part in a scary movie where I would be brutally murdered. I reach the fourth floor and start to regret my decision. My calves and feet are burning and I’m short of breath. Finally, after what feels like an hour of climbing, I arrive at the seventh floor. I’m just reaching for the door handle when the door suddenly swings forward, slamming me in the face. My head snaps back and my ice cream falls from my fingers.
“What the hell?” I yell, as I clutch my face. Warm blood drips from my nose, running between my fingers. Ow, damn that hurt!
“Oh shit! I’m so sorry, I didn’t think anyone would be in here,” says a warm, deep voice.
I’m not even paying attention to the person. Blood is running down my face, onto my white shirt, and I’m pissed. What idiot just flings doors open like that? And my nose really hurts, it feels like it’s split wide open. Tears begin to prick behind my eyes.
“Let me help you,” the voice speaks again, and I look up into a pair of startling green eyes surrounded by dark, thick lashes…eyes that seem familiar somehow?
It’s hard to place his face in the dim light, but damn, is he FINE. Dark curly hair covers the top of his head, nearly falling into his eyes. His full lips tilt down in concern as he watches me. Jesus, he’s tall; even in my heels, he towers over me. He has to be at least six foot two. His wide shoulders fill the door frame and he steps forward, closing the door behind him. I’m still staring at him when I realize his beautiful bronze face does not make up for the fact that he probably just broke my nose and, even worse, ruined my ice cream. My pissed mood returns full force.
“No, thank you. You’ve done enough,” I mumble. I can’t even get my words out. I reach down to pick up my wasted ice cream. Ugh, I really wanted to eat that.
Big tan hands grab it before I can. The guy scoops all the chocolate ice cream into the bowl and tosses it into one of the trash cans in the stairwell. Well, there goes my plan to eat it off the floor.
“Look, let me help you. You need a doctor,” he says, looking intently at my face. I have the feeling he’s about to move my hand and examine my nose.
“Look, the only way you could help me now is by buying me another ice cream,” I mutter through my fingers. His lips twitch in a quick smile, revealing a set of straight white teeth.
“I could get you that too,” he says with a full-on grin.
The more he talks, the more familiar his voice is. I feel like I’m missing something huge and when I figure it out, I’m going to feel like a dumbass.
“I have a doctor that can check on you if you want?” he asks, tilting his head, trying to examine my nose through my fingers.
I arch a brow. “Oh, you have a doctor? What, is he in your room?” I say sarcastically.
He laughs. It’s full and deep; my face begins to warm. I’m just going to blame that reaction on my busted-ass face. “No, but she could be here in ten minutes.”
I debate on that. I really didn’t want my mother to get a call from the ER while she was out having fun.
“Fine. When she gets here, tell her to ask the lobby for Ms. Bridgeport’s room. I’ll call them and let them know she’s coming,” I say, stepping past him.
“Wait,” he calls out, and I turn back. “What’s your name?”
“Selina LeGarde,” I answer, distracted. I really need to wash this blood off my face, it’s starting to feel pretty gross.
“LeGarde?” he murmurs. “Any relation to David LeGarde?” he asks, as his green eyes roll over me, causing my hands to sweat. What the hell is going on with my body temperature?
“Yeah, that’s my father. How do you know him?” I ask, surprised. My father is a big-time entertainment lawyer in Los Angeles.
He stares at me for a couple of seconds like he was waiting for me to answer my own question.
“Did you hear me?” I question, then snap “And stop staring at me, it’s creepy.” It really wasn’t, but it’s making my whole body heat up like an oven and it makes me feel weird.
He smiles and pauses, as if debating on how to answer my question. “I’m Daniel Cruz,” he finally says.
“I’m sorry, you’re who?” I say, my mouth dropping open. There is no way he is Daniel Cruz. I mean, I’ve seen multiple pictures of Daniel Cruz. I would recognize him if I saw him. I mean...I
think I would. Although, he did seem so familiar, and I did just get hit in the face with a fucking door.
He laughs, reaching out his hand to close my mouth. I lean back and his hand slips from my face, leaving a warm trail. I swallow, then I’m reminded of the ache in my nose when I see blood on his fingers.
“You know, this is a topic for another time,” I say as I open the door out of the stairwell. I need to get this blood off my face, pronto.
“Let me help you get to your room,” he says, moving to follow me.
I stop and face him. “That’s really not necessary.”
His smile fades slightly. “All right, I’ll call Dr. Gainsby, and it was nice meeting you Selina.”
“You too.” His green eyes meet mine, and once again my face flushes.
“And hopefully, next time we meet, it won’t be under the same circumstances,” he adds.
I wave goodbye and begin walking down the hall. I doubt I’ll ever be seeing him again.