A/N: Happy New Year and belated Merry Christmas. I hope all of you have enjoyed the holidays. Here is my gift to you. A long chapter wrapped in friendship, romance and a trip to Dubai. :)
"People come into your life for a reason, a season, or
a lifetime. When you figure out which one it is, you
will know what to do for each person." - Brian A. "Drew" Chalker
November 8, 2012
One word. So many different meanings.
It could be unrequited, unconditional or forbidden.
It could be at first sight, or it could blindside you. Either way, it changes you.
Falling in love with Jake was never the plan. He was miles away on a business trip and emotionally unavailable. He encouraged me to date Senator Cameron's son, Sebastian, who turned out to be a very decent guy.
He's charming, down to earth and very handsome.
His chocolate-brown hair, dimples and mercury eyes are a very delicious combo. Everything about him is surprisingly pleasant for someone who was raised with a silver spoon in his mouth.
He told me his parents were so desperate for grandbabies, they were willing to auction him off at every monthly charity gala.
He made me laugh which was quite an accomplishment since I was not in the mood for jokes at all. He also admitted that he had Googled me before our date and was not expecting to wine and dine a modest girl with excellent manners.
Yes. Sebastian was a charmer alright. He's the type of guy you bring home to meet the Governor of Washington and his ambitious First Lady. He works as a Junior Financial Analyst, drives a Porchse Cayenne and comes from a long line of senators and Ivy League politicians.
He was a 'catch' as Renee would say.
She was right. Guys like Sebastian were a dying breed.
He's sweet, eloquent and respectful. He handles the media attention with grace and knows how to avoid the paparazzi who are adamant on invading my privacy.
Washington is craving new blood and the recently appointed Governor is their new target.
The pack of tabloid hungry wolves stalked me all the way to work a few days ago and camped outside the school grounds.
The principal shot me dirty looks during morning assembly and I was later called into her office. She openly admitted that she was not a big fan of Charlie, politically speaking. Her political views were a lot different from what my father had in mind for the State.
Work was no longer a haven for me.
Staff meetings were horrible since many teachers felt it was okay to approach the Governor's daughter for favors and whatnot. Even students interrupted me during class to ask me personal questions.
Right now, two guys with cameras are camped outside my building in case I decide to go out this weekend.
Welcome to my so-called life.
Posted by: Aspiring B
I missed Jake.
He was everywhere.
Every time a bike sped past me on the street, every time I ate a cupcake or listened to Bossa Nova music, he was there. I could easily picture him inside my head: brooding eyes, smirking lips and a cigarette dangling from his russet fingers.
We were both equally stubborn, which was a bad thing. I could have fixed things between us with one text, but no- not today. Not yet.
It was my turn to brood and sulk.
As the Governor's Golden Girl, I was expected to attend a Thanksgiving Ball hosted by Renee.
My mother was a natural at organizing, hosting and entertaining her guests. She practically stole the limelight from dad who preferred to kick back and watch her do her thing. We both did. However, as the host's only daughter, I was supposed to meet and greet the crowds of police officers and firefighters who were joined by their wives and children.
Dressed to the nines in an uncomfortably long gown, I smiled my way around the lively tables, exchanging niceties with some of my dad's old friends.
Sebastian showed up fashionably late and smartly dressed in a navy pinstripe suit with a tie that matched the color of his eyes. He shook hands with my dad and kissed Renee on the cheek, making her blush. I rolled my eyes when he pretended to kneel at my feet as if to propose.
He almost gave Charlie a heart attack.
'Just kidding, Sir.' He chuckled, folding his long legs as he sat down beside me. He kissed me on the cheek and draped his right arm over my seat. 'Swan Junior. How are you this fantastic evening?'
"I'm fine. You look extremely dashing tonight." I remarked.
'Why thank you.' He bowed his head in response. 'I combed my hair to the side as per your request.'
I reached out and touched his wavy chocolate locks. "You put too much gel in your hair. It's so stiff."
'There is no such thing as too much gel, Future Mother of My children.'
I shook my head in amusement and took a leisurely sip from my pineapple and coconut juice.
Sebastian scanned the large ballroom for a few seconds before leaning over and talking my ear off.
He was everything but mysterious. He wore his heart on his sleeve and gave his honest opinion without hesitation or second thought. He was close to his dad and adored by his mother. Even his sisters were protective of him since he was their youngest sibling.
There were no skeletons in his closet and no ghosts from his past, haunting his present.
If life was a fairytale, I would have definitely ended up with Sebastian.
'A penny for your thoughts?' He whispered in my ear.
"Sorry. I zoned out again, didn't I?"
He nodded and snatched the tall glass from my hand. 'You have perfected the art of zoning out during our conversations.' He said before downing the rest of my beverage and setting the class down on the table.
"It's been a rough week. My brain is just overloaded with stuff."
Sebastian suddenly grabbed my hand and pulled me from my chair. 'Let us unload it then.' He said, taking me by the hand and excusing us both from the table.
Renee beamed at us and nudged Charlie who was busy talking football with a bunch of his old colleagues. She wanted everyone to take notice of her daughter who was being escorted to the dance floor.
Yes. Sebastian wanted me to unload while we were ballroom dancing.
"What are you doing?" I faked a smile when his lanky arm looped itself around my waist.
'We are having a private conversation, away from the prying ears of Renee and company.' He replied, threading his fingers through mine.
'Yes. Oh is one way of expressing my resourcefulness during gala dinners.' He chuckled.
"That you are, my dear Sebastian." I nodded in agreement. "No. Seriously. You should do that more often."
'The dancing or the bragging?' He quipped.
A camera flashed somewhere to our right where a professional photographer was standing with Renee hovering right over his shoulder.
Great. Just effin great.
'Keep smiling, Swan.' Sebastian encouraged, squeezing the palm my hand. 'We live in a fake world these days, so give them what they want. They'll get bored eventually and leave you alone.'
"Easy for you to say." I snorted. "The paparazzi have no shame. Jake was right. They follow me almost everywhere these days."
'Who's Jake?' Sebastian inquired.
Flustered, I avoided his question and tried to change the subject. "Umm…no one. Wow. Look at that buffet. It's so…"
'Bella.' He interjected. 'I told you all about my heartbreak, shared with you stories about my crazy ex-girlfriend who's obsessed with My Little Pony. Extend me the same courtesy or I swear I'll unfriend you on Facebook.' He jokingly threatened.
"Ok. Fair enough."
We danced under the watchful eye of my mother until she retired to her seat. She was grinning from ear-to-ear and shamelessly pointing at us.
'Your mom is just as bad as mine.' Sebastian commented. 'She thinks you and I are perfect for each other and all that jazz.'
"She is kinda right. We do make a good team." I mused. "You're great at handling PR stuff and breaking the ice during soirees. I excel in awkward small talk with strangers and using the wrong fork during four-course meals."
His grey eyes danced with humor. They were too pretty for a guy.
'You, my sweet, are adorably awkward.' Sebastian brought my hand to his lips and kissed it. 'I envy that son of a bitch who stole your heart.' He sighed dramatically, pretending to weep on my shoulder.
"There, there. Dry your tears, buddy." I stifled a laugh while patting him on the back. "You'll be happy to know that Jake is in another continent. He's in Dubai or probably Singapore, which is technically an island."
'Did you say Dubai?' He lifted his head from my shoulder, grinning enthusiastically. 'I happen to love Dubai. It's my favorite holiday destination.' He gushed. 'I usually stay at the Armani Hotel. It's hands down the best hotel in the world.'
"Armani has a hotel? I thought he was a fashion designer."
''Everyone owns a hotel these days, Love.' Sebastian answered, guiding me away from the now-crowded dance floor.
Mom was encouraging her guests to get up and dance, so we made a run for it and left the ballroom.
We sat in the hotel lobby and ordered coffee and cake. Sebastian asked me to spill the beans on Jacob, so I did. He was easy to talk to and I found the words spilling from my mouth while he listened intently.
He waited until I was finished to give me his advice, which was brutally honest. 'As of this moment, you have two options. Either stay here and regret not going after Jacob , or book the next available flight to Dubai and surprise the lucky bastard. Talk things out and tell him how you really feel. If he rejects you, I'll be your rebound guy, virile and easy on the eyes.' He added with a suggestive wink.
"Spontaneity is not really my forte, Sebastian. I can't just leave the country at the drop of a hat."
'Yes you can.' He insisted, helping himself to my chocolate cake. 'You're the Governor's daughter. Use it to your advantage.'
I took a deep breath and leaned forward, smoothing the fabric of my burgundy dress with shaky hands. The mere thought of confessing my feelings to Jake was beyond terrifying.
'I could tag along for moral support.' Sebastian offered. 'In fact, I can book us two exclusive suites at the Armani Hotel. It'll be mad fun.'
"Jake could be long gone by the time we reach Dubai. He's launching his business in Singapore as well."
'Hmm...did you say his name was Jacob Black?' He asked, taking a sip from his own coffee cup.
"Yep. His dad is Billy Black. CEO of Black Industries."
His mercury eyes widened and he almost choked on his hot beverage. He spluttered and coughed while I rubbed his back soothingly.
"Are you alright?"
'Yeah.' He cleared his throat and ran his fingers through his gelled hair. 'So…Jacob Black, huh? I know him by the way.'
It was my turn to be surprised.
Sebastian nodded, frowning down at his porcelain cup. 'Yeah. Yeah. He's friends with Theodore, my high school buddy.'
"No way! I think I've met Theo. He's tall with green eyes and looks a lot like Daniel Radcliffe."
'That definitely is Theo.' Sebastian confirmed. 'Where did you guys meet? Wait. Let me guess. Monaco?'
"Yes. Jake took me to Monaco and Bordighera in July."
My new hunk of a friend rolled his eyes and tugged on his silk tie. 'How the heck am I going to compete with that? Next thing you know, he'll be whisking you off to Japan for sushi and sake.'
"There will be no whisking or sushi-ing for that matter." I sighed. "Jake doesn't want a girlfriend. Period."
'Bullshit. We all need a woman who's smart, supportive and beautiful.' He argued. 'Someone who can call us out on our bullshit. A sexy teacher is a plus for those who have unfulfilled high school fantasies.'
He gave me a playful nudge and I swatted his arm in return. "If you keep on dropping hints like that, I'm going to hook you up with a friend of mine. She has a huge fetish for gym junkies."
'I am not a gym junky.' He protested, crossing his arms. His biceps were threatening to burst out from his tailored jacket. 'You think I work out too much because you're a lazy duck.'
"Ducks are not lazy. They fly, they swim, and even run on occasion."
Sebastian chuckled, his trademark dimples making an appearance on his rosy cheeks. He looked too young and fresh-faced for his age. 'Does Jacob enjoy your Animal Science lessons too?' He teased.
'Bella.' He said in a more serious tone. 'You need to text him right now and find out if he's still in Dubai.'
"What if he doesn't respond?" I voiced out my biggest fear.
So many dreadful scenarios were running through my mind.
What if Jake was in the arms of some exotic woman, and they were both lounging on a beach somewhere? What if he sees my text and totally ignores it?
What if he comes back with a leggy brunette on his arm?
'Sweetie, this is not a complex science project. Just text him. You have absolutely nothing to lose.' Sebastian encouraged me.
"You're right." I swallowed, taking out my iPhone and searching for his number. My thumb was reluctant to press the -send message- button.
Seconds ticked away, going to waste as I took my time to write the freakin' text. Sebastian suddenly grew impatient and snatched the phone from my hand.
'Could you be any slower?' He complained.
His long fingers flew over the keypad, typing God-knows-what and I was freaking out because he would not return my phone. I almost tackled him off the couch in full view of the hotel's guests and employees.
"Give me back my phone!" I demanded, yanking him by his loose tie.
He was too damn tall and lanky. All the men in my life were blessed with height and ridiculously long arms.
I was doomed.
'Tada!' He declared with a triumphant grin. 'All done. Now all I gotta do is press send…'
"Sebastian, don't you dare!"
'Too slow, Swan Junior! Better luck next time.' He handed me the phone and watched as I quickly retrieved the text from the outbox folder.
"Oh my God. You really did send it."
"I hate you."
'Hate…shmate. You'll thank me later.'
Hi Jake. I missed U. R U still in Dubai? Kisses. Bella.
"Kisses? Really?" I snorted.
'What?' He shrugged. 'Guys like it when you kiss and hug via SMS.'
We sat there listening to an old man playing piano in the lobby. He was playing the theme from Game of Thrones quite beautifully. People clapped and Sebastian got up to request a theme of his own. He was obsessed with Doctor Who.
In the meantime, I was obsessing about Jake and glancing at my iPhone every five seconds.
'Here. Have a drink.' Sebastian returned with two glasses of wine and another slice of chocolate cake.
I took a small sip of the Pinot Noir and instantly remembered a certain bad boy showing me his wine collection.
'Look at you. You are as lovesick as my sister's puppy. He follows her around the house like she's the center of his doggy universe.'
"Haha. Someday, you're going to suffer from the same symptoms and I'm going to poke fun at you on my blog."
'Sweetie, no one reads your blog. You need to advertise it. Spread the word and get it published into a book. People in Washington are craving to know all about your private life. Some are even willing to destroy your squeaky clean image because they have some sort of political vendetta against your dad.'
"Umm…can we discuss this later? My phone just buzzed."
It was a message from Jake.
Hi. Yes. Staying in Dubai until tomorrow night.
My phone buzzed again.
Miss u too. More than I should.
'Aaaaw. He likes you.'
Butterflies fluttered inside my stomach and I found myself smiling endearingly at the screen, reading his words over and over until Sebastian grabbed my arm and pulled me out of my seat.
"What are you doing?"
'Helping you get your groove back.' He replied, leading me towards the revolving doors. 'Come on. We don't have much time.'
"Oh my God. I can't believe I'm actually doing this."
Sebastian grinned like a Cheshire cat. 'Everything is possible when you're friends with me.' He boasted. 'Your ticket is booked and your hotel reservation is confirmed. Your flight is two hours from now, so pack your bags as fast as you can, Lazy Duck.'
"Do not rush me." I wagged a finger at his baby face. He was getting on my nerves, especially when he decided to take a quick peek inside my walk-in closet.
'You women are all the same.' He snickered.
He stood in front of my shoe collection and eyed my prized Louboutin shoes; the ones mom insisted on buying me a few months ago. 'Meaning you have a bazillion pair of shoes.' He remarked.
I ignored him and resumed my express packing, stuffing my suitcase with three outfits, including a beautiful cocktail dress that hugged my curves and gave me longer, sexier legs.
'These should go in the bag too.' Sebastian recommended, removing the expensive shoes from their designated shelf and bringing them over to the carpet.
"Can I ask you a question?"
'Sure. Ask away.' He nodded.
"Do you believe in happy endings?"
'No. I believe in three things: beer, good company and baseball. Combine all three and you get one hell of a Sunday night.'
"How predictable." I rolled my eyes at his answer.
Five minutes later, we were out the door and jogging down the corridor.
It was a race against time and we were winning thanks to one crazy driver. Sebastian sped past minivans and hybrid cars, switching lanes like a monkey jumping from one branch to the next. His Porsche was operating at full speed and I was traumatized, holding onto my tote bag as if it were a life jacket.
We reached the airport in record speed and said our goodbyes at the gate.
'Do me a favor, will ya?' He said while mounting my suitcase on an empty luggage cart.
"Sure. What is it?"
'Trust your gut. Have fun, and most importantly, get the guy.' He winked, pulling me into a brief hug. 'I'm rooting for you, Bella. Do not disappoint me.'
"Thanks, Wingman. I'll try not to."
Jake sent me another text while I was boarding the plane.
He was staying at the Atlantis hotel. The hotel itself was built on a manmade island called The Palm.
The text was surprisingly long, as if Jake was bored out of his mind. He was probably in a meeting or having lunch with clients.
It suddenly occurred to me that I was flying to a country I've never been to in my evening gala dress. It totally slipped my mind to change into casual clothes at my apartment.
Luckily, Sebastian remembered to put a comfy t-shirt and a rolled up pair of jeans inside my tote bag.
"Oh thank God." I sighed with relief, digging my hand further into the bag and fishing out my emergency makeup kit.
There were a handful of people on the plane, so I took my sweet time in the bathroom. My dress was hard to unzip but I managed to take it off without much hassle.
My nerves were frazzled though, so I had a drink to take the edge off and tried to get some sleep.
Eleven hours and two in-flight movies later, we were descending towards the United Arab Emirates where Dubai was located. I Googled the city thoroughly, including the directions to Atlantis Hotel.
It was almost six pm local time, which meant I had a few more hours left before Jake boards his plane.
I took a deep, calming breath and glanced out my oval window.
There it was, The Palm Island, with rows of buildings adorning its branches.
The captain announced our descent as I struggled to fasten my seatbelt. My heart was beating incredibly fast and my hands were shaking like a leaf. A friendly flight attended took pity on me and offered me one last drink before we landed in the airport.
The huge airport was crowded and I almost got lost on my way to Passport Control. The long trip was beginning to interfere with my motor skills as I sluggishly pushed my cart towards the exit.
How on earth was I going to surprise Jake when all I wanted was to sleep?
"Coffee. I need coffee."
A friendly taxi driver took pity on me and helped carry my luggage to his taxi. He patiently waited in the parking lot while I exchanged my money for the local currency called the Dirham.
Afterwards, he drove me to the Atlantis hotel while I took in the lovely scenery from my passenger window. We passed by an array of towers and high-rise buildings, perfectly manicured lawns and date palms.
The city was vibrant and cosmopolitan, thrumming with energy and excitement. I spotted a lot of familiar brands and shops along the way, including a string of fast food restaurants such as Chillis and Applebee's.
The driver pointed out a silver skyscraper in the distance and referred to it as Burj Khalifa. Armani Hotel was located within its intimidating structure much to my surprise.
The skyscraper dwarfed the buildings surrounding it. They looked like Lego blocks compared to the colossal tower. I took a few photos using my phone and activated the roaming feature so I could text Sebastian and my parents.
Renee was under the impression that I was spending the weekend with Sebastian. Dad, on the other hand, knew that I was in Dubai. He also insisted on paying for my accommodation, saying that I deserved a nice, long weekend out of town.
The taxi driver exited the highway and took the road leading to The Palm Island. There were many cars headed for the hotel where some sort of music festival was taking place. The streets were crowded and many people left their cars and taxis, preferring to walk instead. It was past seven o'clock and I was definitely running out of time.
If my life was a romantic comedy, I'd have all the time in the world. Sadly, it wasn't.
It was time to do something drastic, so I paid the driver, thanked him for the ride and grabbed my suitcase and jogged all the way to the hotel.
The lobby was out-of-this-world huge, with a high ceiling and a blue art sculpture made of glass in the center. They had a bit of a Little Mermaid theme going on and everyone was admiring the view.
Fellow American tourists walked past me in their swimming trunks and beach bags. It was still summer-ish here in Dubai. A bit on the humid side though. I licked my dry lips and crossed the length of the spacious lobby that also featured a large salt-water aquarium. Everyone looked extremely relaxed and happy while I was freaking out on the inside.
I suddenly felt so out of place, searching for someone who could easily turn around and walk away from me.
Romantic comedies made it look so darn easy.
Damn you, Richard Gere!
Tired, stressed and jetlagged, I sat down across from the front desk and checked my phone. There were no new messages but I was able to make phone calls thanks to mobile roaming.
I nervously dialed Jake's number, wanting to make sure that he was still in the hotel. My heart was beating like war drums inside my chest and my palms were getting sweaty.
Unfortunately, my phone chose the exact same moment to die.
"No!" I frantically shook the damn handset.
My only hope was to ask for a battery charger at the Help Desk.
The British woman on duty must have noticed the distress on my face because she offered me a glass of water and took care of my phone situation. I was close to tears so she handed me a tissue and asked me if I was a guest at the hotel.
I ended up telling her a cliff notes version of my situation and she was more than happy to help me locate Jake. She searched for his name in the hotel guest list and informed me that he had checked out twenty minutes ago.
My heart felt heavy as I dragged my sorry ass to the taxi.
It was time to admit defeat and sulk in my expensive hotel room in Burj Khalifa.
Life was so ironic sometimes.
The second I stepped foot inside Armani Hotel's lobby, I was treated like royalty. The clerk at the front desk upgraded my Classic Room to the Fountain Suite and handed me a golden VIP access card.
I was escorted up to the eighth floor where the suite was located. It was a soothing combination of earth tones and creamy curtains with two bathrooms, a living room and a huge king-size bed.
The suite lived up to its name, offering a wonderful view of the dancing fountains outside Dubai Mall.
I found a map of the mall in the living room and was pleasantly surprised to find Magnolia Bakery listed in the Restaurant/Café section.
Coincidences were funny sometimes.
Armed with a heavy heart and my small wallet, I made it down to the mall and found the bakery. A lot of people were lined up to buy cupcakes, pies and cakes. Everything looked fresh and delicious so I ordered three chocolate cupcakes and one red velvet to go.
The ground floor was bustling with people who were mostly having dinner at the Food Court. I was tempted to grab a bucket of KFC but my box-full of sugar was all I needed right now.
The front desk clerk, Ivan, approached me the second I entered the lobby.
'Miss Swan. Someone's looking for you.' He said. 'I refused to disclose your information but he threatened to call the Head Office.'
"What? Where is he?" I asked, glancing around the immaculate lobby.
'He is upstairs.' Ivan revealed with an apologetic smile. 'I truly am sorry. Privacy is very important to our customers and I have failed you.'
"It's ok. He's probably just a friend of mine."
I rushed to the elevators, feeling both nervous and excited. My long, rollercoaster day was finally coming to an end.
The speech that I had mentally rehearsed evaporated from my head once I stepped inside the small compartment. I simply watched the numbers blink on the digital screen with bated breath, tapping my heels nervously against the marble floor.
The elevator dinged…the doors slid open…
I took a deep breath and walked down the carpeted corridor. The silence was like a prelude to a storm, or a reunion between two lovers.
A wave of Déjà vu washed over me when I saw the tall, broad shouldered man standing outside my hotel room.
He was leaning against the wood panelled wall, dressed in black jeans and a maroon v-neck sweater. He appeared to be lost in thought, his thick lashes casting shadows along his elegant cheekbones.
His face looked tired and he had a bit of stubble on his jaw line.
I felt this faint throbbing sensation between my thighs when his eyes finally met mine. They were midnight dark and sultry in the dim spotlights.
There were so many questions on the tip of my tongue, so many things I wanted to say. The words were ready but my mouth had other things in mind.
Jake remained in the same casual position, his eyes drinking me in as I managed to reach my locked door. His trademark perfume was like a pheromone, drawing me to him. Memories of our intimate night together were fresh in my mind as if they happened yesterday.
My feelings for him only got stronger in his presence. They were amplified and bubbling beneath the surface.
I didn't even notice that my hands were shaking until Jake touched me. His own hands were warm and steady. He looked so calm and collected but his eyes betrayed him.
He was staring at me as if he was seeing me for the first time.
'How did you manage to find a cupcake shop so fast?' He chuckled.
It was a deep, sexy chuckle that rendered me speechless. I simply shrugged and blinked up at his towering frame.
His calloused fingers stroked my palm sensuously, his playful question forgotten as he closed the distance between us. I tilted my head to study his tired face and spotted the shift in his expression.
"How did you find me?"
He took the cupcake box from my hands before answering my question. 'Your friend Sebastian called me.'
His answer was brief and had an impatient undertone. I knew him well enough to sense that he was not here for questions.
I reached inside my back pocket and fished out my key. Jake's eyes kept on darting to the door so I unlocked it and entered my lovely suite. My nerves were still on edge and I could also sense his nervous energy vibrating all around him.
He followed me inside and placed the box on top of the coffee table.
I turned around to close the door when he suddenly reached out and slammed it shut. His breathe was hot on my neck as he pinned me to the wooden surface in one swift move. 'Fuck, Bella.' His eager hands kneaded my waist, his voice needy and desperate. 'Tell me you missed me.'
"I-I missed you." I panted against the door.
His earlier façade was crumbling and I wanted to witness it happen. I needed to look at him but he planted moist kisses below my ear and pressed his chest against my back. 'Say it again.' He demanded in a husky trill.
"I missed you." I repeated, my voice heavy with emotion. "I missed you so very much."
'Did you come all the way here just because you missed me?' He prodded.
His right hand suddenly travelled south until it reached the crotch of my jeans. I glanced down at his big, russet hand and bit back a moan when his middle finger traced my zipper. 'Why then? Hmmm?'
"You're a clever guy. You should have figured it out by now."
His wandering hand flew back to my waist and spun me around to face him. 'Humor me. Please.'
I felt naked...stripped bare while Jake watched me with those fiery eyes of his. He was trying to mask his nervousness and vulnerability but I could see them through the cracks in his armor.
There was no hiding from me this time.
"Okay." I exhaled a shaky breathe. "You deserve honestly so here goes…"
He looked at me expectantly, his hands still on my hips. I swallowed the lump in my throat and continued my rehearsed speech. "This may sound ridiculously cheesy and cliché but you have added so much color and value to my life. You've taught me not to judge a book by its cover and you have shared so many wonderful experiences with me. And I know that you've been hurt before and trust doesn't come easily to you, but I'm here…and I love you." Tears were spilling down my cheeks at this point. "And I would never do anything to jeopardize your reputation. Trust me, I now know what it's like to be under the microscope. It's no picnic."
I wiped at my tears and waited for his reaction. He squeezed my hipbones and his eyes drifted away from my face.
'How many times did you rehearse that speech?' He asked.
His voice trembled slightly but he still managed to look so calm.
"I lost count."
He fished out a napkin from his pocket and handed it to me. It smelled just like him; woodsy with a hint of Boss Ultraviolet perfume. 'When did you realize that you were…in love with me?'
"I think it happened somewhere between Monaco and my father's first Gala."
Jake nodded and swiped his thumb across his lower lip. 'I uh…won't be flying to Singapore tonight.' He said. 'My clients can wait.'
The last sentence came out as a murmur, I could barely hear it. It was almost as if he were talking to himself. It was incredibly strange and uncharacteristic of him.
"Jake. Are you alright?" I rubbed his arm affectionately.
'No. Not really.' He admitted. 'You make me feel…' His voice trailed off but his eyes mirrored the words he was afraid to say.
"What? Good? Bad? Naughty?" I filled in the blanks for him.
'Yeah.' He laughed. 'Like I'm a student in your class.'
I liked this nervous version of Jacob.
It was effin Hot!
"Mmmm…I like the sound of that." I wrapped my arms around his neck and felt his rapid pulse beneath my fingertips.
His heart was racing faster than my own.