As I get into the town car waiting for me outside of the terminal at JFK, I ask the driver, “So where are we headed?”
“Sorry ma’am, Mrs. McHugh said it was to stay a secret.”
I roll my eyes. Of course! I should have known when Gail asked me to come to New York for a big surprise — I wouldn’t be let in on the secret.
As we hop onto the Long Island Expressway and head into Manhattan — the Chrysler Building coming into my view, butterflies start to form in my stomach as the realization of who my visit is with hits me. OMG…I just got off of a 4 hour flight. I quickly take out my makeup case from my purse and try to make myself look a little more presentable. As we pull up in front of the building, Gail is standing on the sidewalk with a huge grin on her face.
|I know where I am going now!|
“Thanks a lot,” I say with a scowl, getting out from the vehicle. “You could’ve given me a little more warning before springing ‘Mr. Gorgeous’ on me!”
“How do you know I’m springing ‘Mr. Gorgeous’ on you?”she asks, a slight smirk tipping her lips.
Again, I roll my eyes. She knows I’m onto her and at that point, she just lets out a laugh.
“Okay, okay,” she says, placing her hand on my back. “I am springing ‘Mr. Tall, dark and, uh, handsomeon you. But I figured it would be a nice surprise considering all of the help you’ve offered me since Collide released. So… surprise!”
Wow, I love Gail, but I’ve rolled my eyes a couple of times in the last few minutes. Shaking my head at this ‘unexpected’ encounter with the Gavin Blake, Gail leads me into the Chrysler building, and we head straight for the elevators after getting checked in by a security guard. Pressing for the 62nd floor, Gail looks over to me —where I’m standing, no doubt looking like the sweaty mess I feel like. Again, she emits a light laugh and leans against the wall while crossing her arms. I know they call her “The Evil author Lady” and to tell you the truth, I’m starting to see where some of this is coming from.
As we step out of the elevator, a beautiful sand-blasted see-through glass wall with the name ‘Blake Industries’ comes into my view. Yeah. I’m pretty sure I need more deodorant right about now. I gulp down the lump forming in my throat as Gail nods in the direction of the secretary. She leads me to the back of the building as I try to calm my nerves.
Reaching for the handle, of what appears to be a corner unit office—Gail cast one last smirk my way and opens the door. Before I see him, I hear his voice —and boy let me say— it sounds as sexy as Emily describes it to be in the book. Actually, strike that… it sounds even better. Sigh… Without turning around to face us, I witness Mr. Tall, Dark and, umm, yeah, handsome, standing in front of floor- to- ceiling windows — his attention focused on a phone conversation he’s in the middle of. With that, Gail clears her throat, and then perfection in its truest form hits me like a ton of damn bricks as Mr. Handsome turns around. I vaguely register him telling the receiving end, that he needs to call them back, because I’m too busy taking in his gorgeous physique. Wow. Just wow. He has his suit jacket off, and his sleeves are slightly rolled up. Shit. Why can’t he have that shirt unbuttoned so I can witness his eatable black dragon tattoo that so many of us have read about in Collide? You know? The one that curls from his left rib cage all the way down to his… Oh, God. I need to stop. Focus on something else, Becca. Okay. His hair, yeah, it’s mussed like he just rolled out of bed, but yet, my Lord, it is perfect and I find myself just wanting to run my fingers through it and all its blackness. Now I’m the one clearing my throat as Mr. Gavin Blake removes the blue-tooth receiver from his ear— heading right for me.
“Becca, I apologize for making you wait,” he says, reaching out and grabbing for my hand. He gives it a light shake, but all I want to do is shove my fingers into that luscious mouth of his. Releasing my hand, he turns and shows us over to a black leather couch. On a glass table in front of the couch is a fruit platter, some croissants and an array of bottled drinks and some coffee. Gesturing to the mini-smorgasbord, Gavin says, “Please, have something to eat if you’re hungry, Becca.”
Eat? Does this man seriously think I can eat right now? I don’t think so. On the other hand, I wouldn’t mind dousing those gorgeous blue eyes with a little whip cream and licking it off.
“I actually ate on the plane,” I answer and then clear my throat. “But I appreciate your offer.”
“Not a problem.” He smiles and then turns to Gail, where she’s pulling out her cell phone from her purse. “Boss, did you eat?” Gavin asks, reaching to make himself a cup of coffee.
“I did, Gavin. Thanks,” she replies, bringing the cell phone up to her ear. “You two go ahead with the interview. I have to call Emily. We’re doing a little shopping after this.”
I watch as a reverent smile breaks out across Gavin’s face. Man, you can totally see what goes through his head at the mention of Emily’s name. Flicking those blue eyes back in my direction, he takes a seat next to me on the couch and nods as if to tell me to begin with the interview. I try to catch my breath. God, he smells AH-MAZING!
“Thank you Mr. Blake, for meeting with me.”
“You’re very welcome, Becca. But honestly, you can’t be that much older than I am, so let’s keep it as casual as possible. Call me, Gavin, okay?”
Yep. He sure as shit knows what to say. I nod.
“Okay, Gavin,” I say, finding myself slightly relaxing at his casualness. “At the age of 28, you’ve been named ‘Forbes Magazine’s ‘Up and Coming People’ to watch for in 2013, and have also made the Fortune 500 list, not once, but twice. What do you attribute to your success to?”
After taking a sip of coffee from his mug, he leans back, draping his arm across the top of the couch. A grin softens his mouth. “Hard work and a shitload of luck.” He laughs. “Mostly luck. Life has a funny way of hitting you with luck where you least expect it. Colton and I worked hard to grow Blake Industries into what it’s become, and with that, we got lucky.”
“Hmm, I never thought about it like that. Nice point.” Considering this dude is gorgeous, and worth millions, I’m finding him pretty centered right now. “You’ve also been named one of ‘New York’s Most Beautiful Person for 2012’ and one of ‘New York’s Most Eligible Bachelors’. So, what would it take for a girl to become Mrs. Blake? Is there anyone in your life right now that might fit the bill?
At this, he lets out a deep chuckle and damn — it’s sexy as hell. Slanting a hand through his hair, he leans forward, his forearms resting on his knees as he tents his hands under his chin. “Yeah. I saw those articles. Beautiful. Mmm, one: I’m not sure beautiful is the right word. Although my mother would beg to differ because she says I get my looks from her.” Cocking a glorious brow, he leans back in his seat and smiles. “I’d say I’m pretty average looking, so, I’m not quite sure why I landed on that list.” At this point, I’m thinking Mr. down to earth, centered millionaire might be little crazy. Although I have an intense urge to shove a mirror in his face, and say “Have you seen yourself lately?” I let him continue. “What does it take for a girl to become the future Mrs. Gavin Blake?” he asks, a smirk pulling at his lips. Shifting in his seat, he cups his chin. “I’d say she’d have to stand about 5’5, have a small coke bottle shaped body, long silky auburn hair, eyes as green as grass during the summertime, smell as sweet as vanilla and her initials would have to be E.C.”
|A thoughtful Gavin Blake|
Right about now, I’m pretty damn sure I’m leaving this building and going straight to the nearest courthouse to change my name to Emily Cooper. Lucky bitch… I’ll work on the cosmetics later. Oh wait! I have vanilla spray in my purse!!! God, Becca, get a damn hold of yourself. Okay, next question.
“You’re known for your philanthropic ventures, and there seems to be a theme to most of the charities you support. Can you tell us about your favorite and why it’s so special to you?”
Reaching for his mug of coffee, he takes a sip and nods. “Obviously they’re all special to me. Not one charity receives more than the other, because that’s what they are, a charity for organizations in need.” Leaning back in his seat, a sad smile curls his lips. “But the one my family holds the closest is the American Cancer Society. My mother is a breast cancer survivor, and dedicates most of her time helping out the organization in whatever way she can. She holds a gala every October to raise awareness.” Staring into my eyes, he shrugs his shoulders.“Life hit my family with luck in that department, too. We got lucky that she caught it on time. Make sure you go for your yearly check-up, Becca, okay?”
At this point, I’m feeling a slight paradox occur within my brain. Not only do I want to reach out and hug this gorgeous, down to earth, oh my God, your parents raised you well, delectable man… but, I’m also thinking— considering Gail is still busy tooting away on the phone with Emily, what are the chances she would notice that I slipped my shirt and bra off right here in this very office and allowed Mr. Gavin Blake to perform my yearly mammogram? I lift my hand to my face, fighting back the urge to do exactly that, and wipe the sweat that has now thickened along my hairline.
Blowing out a puff of air, I answer, “Yes, I make sure I get checked out every year.” Gavin cocks his head to the side and tosses me a wink. “All right, Doctor. Blake, uh, I mean, Mr. Blake, shit, I’m sorry, I mean, Gavin.” Though he has a slightly confused look shimmering in his eyes, Gavin lets out a chuckle, reaches for his coffee mug, (that has a Yankee’s emblem on it) and finishes the java off. I wait for him to get comfortable again before I ask, “Is being in the advertising industry your dream career or is there something else you’d rather be doing?”
Sucking in his bottom lip— which only further fuels my earlier thoughts about a private one-on-one mammogram session— he casts a sidelong glance over to the window, his eyes seeming to worship the buildings beyond. “I wanted to become an architect when I was younger. My mother said I had a thing for spaghetti-O’ s and Lego’s.” Now we’re both laughing. Damn, he is just too freaking cute! I’d let him build a Lego castle around my body any day. I watch, mesmerized as he continues. “However, life brought me in this direction. It’s cool, though. I build ad campaigns, commercials and other shit like that. I guess as long as I’m building something —other than enemies— it’s all good.”
Right as I start to giggle at his answer, my doting gaze abruptly pulls from Gavin’s eyes, when I hear his office door open. Among that sound, I also hear Gail quickly tell Emily that she’ll call her back. I watch a pretty decent looking guy—around Gavin’s age— walk into the office. Appearing more than comfortable in the setting around him, he makes himself a whiskey on the rocks at a mini bar located across the room. When he’s done preparing his drink, he strolls back over to where we’re all sitting, a cocky grin plastered across his face, and settles himself casually into one of the leather chairs.
Drawing up a brow, Gavin smirks, and lets out a heavy sigh. “Dillon. It’s so nice of you to grace us with your unexpected presence.” Ah, yes, Dillon. Of course. Before Dillon can say a word, Gavin looks to me and says, “This would be the opposite of luck, doll. This is a rainy day and dog shit stuck on the bottom of your shoes kind of thing.”
Appearing confused by Gavin’s statement, Dillon chugs back some of his alcohol (mind you, the time is just past 10:00 a.m.) and flicks his eyes in Gail’s direction. “Am I not part of this ‘dream-cast,’ or what, boss? Emily told me Gavin was being interviewed today. Why wasn’t I invited?”
Gail shifts in her seat, her brow drawn up. “Dillon, I didn’t purposely not invite you. I thought you were away on business again. That’s all. Now, calm your horses. Remember, I hold the key to your future.”
Wow, she takes this ‘Evil Author Lady’ thing to a whole new level when she wants to. Can’t say I blame her. I’ve read about this jerk. Gavin finds her statement hysterical, because this is when I hear him let out a full, throaty laugh. I bring my attention to him, where he’s comfortably draped both arms across the back of the couch, the fingers of his one hand thrumming against it in a constant rhythm that is now echoing throughout the room. I take the opportunity to break the tension that is taking over my once awesome interview by shifting my attention back to Dillon.
“So, Dillion,” I say, reaching for a bottle of water. I twist the cap off, take a sip, and cross my legs. “You’ve been friends with Gavin for some time now. Is it hard playing second fiddle to New York’s richest and most eligible bachelor?”
At this I hear three sounds simultaneously ring through my ears. The first: Gavin letting out another laugh— this one quite louder than the last. The second: Gail emitting a sigh. And last, but certainly not the least: Dillon releasing a snort. I’m thinking my question has piqued an array of emotions from all involved.
“What’s your name?”Dillon aims the question at me, his eyes now narrowed. He leans forward, places his drink on the table, and then reclines back in his seat, folding both hands behind his neck.
“Her name is Becca, ‘Fiddle player’,” Gavin answers before I can. Oh shit.
“Stop being an asshole, Blake,” Dillon blurts out, his tone clearly aggravated. Jesus, these two guys are friends? Shifting forward, Dillon grabs for his drink and tosses the remaining liquid down his throat.
Gavin looks my way and whispers, “He’s free entertainment once you get him going. Want some popcorn? My secretary’s very accommodating.” He tops his statement off with a wink. “Why don’t you answer the lady’s question, Dillon?” Gavin asks, glancing over to a clock on the wall. “I’m pretty sure she doesn’t have all day, and to be honest, neither do I.”
It appears that Dillon is now grinding his teeth— however— I’m sitting across the room, so I really can’t confirm this. He props his feet on the glass table, and starts twirling his empty glass around in his hand— the sound of the ice clanking with its movement.
“First, Becca,” Dillon says, emphasizing my name, slowly. I kink my head to the side, awaiting his response— my blood starting to boil with this dudes cockiness. What the hell does Emily see in this asshole? “I play second fiddle to no one in this city. Let’s make that clear.” Oh jeez, another laugh from Gavin echoes through the room. I look over to Gail, where she is now shaking her head, giving me a look like she wants to kill me. I guess my question sucked? “Second, Gavin can hold the title of New York’s most eligible bachelor for as long as he likes. I have a fine piece of ass at home waiting for me right now. As far as I’m concerned, that makes me wealthier in more ways than my friend here will ever know.”
Considering I’m sitting right next to Gavin, yeah, I can see he’s now grinding his teeth—actually, I can hear him grinding his teeth. A nerve has definitely been hit. Even though the man beside me is one of the most physically attractive specimens that I’ve ever laid my eyes on… the sound is kind of annoying. Okay, think quickly, Becca. Next question!
“They usually say don’t mix friendship with money,” I blurt out, looking at Dillon where the grin aimed in Gavin’s direction is still holding pretty steady. “So how have the two of you been able to remain friends without the money getting in the way?”
“That’s easy to answer,” Gavin interrupts, leaning forward, his eyes trained on Dillon. “Dillon’s my stockbroker. Without me, he’d be living off of cans of tuna and expired milk. Wouldn’t you agree, Dillon? Considering Blake Industries pretty much funds,” Gavin pauses, smirks, and leans back against the couch, “the real reason you get laid, you’d never allow the money I have to get in the way, would you?”
Oh Jesus. I’m thinking… no, I’m sure my widened eyes are showing I’m starting to get a little uncomfortable right now. Private mammograms and whip cream over blue eyes… Private mammograms and whip cream over blue eyes.
Sighing, Gail runs a palm over her face and shakes her head. “I’ve created two monsters.”
“Always a wiseass, Gavin,” Dillon huffs out. Gavin lets out a chuckle as I watch Dillon rise to his feet and make his way back over to the mini-bar. Shit. That’s all we need up in here—a drunken brawl. On second thought —I wonder if Dillon would be able to get Gavin’s shirt off during the fight. I’d be able to witness that tattoo first hand. “But like I said before,” Dillon continues, after topping his glass off with a heavy dose of whiskey. He casually strolls back over to his chair, a wicked grin pulling at his lips. “It doesn’t matter how much money you have, Gavin. I still have what you want. Wouldn’t you agree?”
Oh shit. Gavin’s grinding his teeth again— but this time he’s standing up from the couch—his shoulders rigid with palpable hostility. Damn, he has a nice ass. Oh my God, what am I thinking?!? I know what I’m thinking—I better change the damn subject! Think, Becca, think! I can’t believe I’m about to do what I’m about to do.
Without thinking much more about it, I throw myself off the couch, landing hard onto the floor. An audible cry (and not one that I’m faking— because I have now hit my head against the glass —knocking over croissants in the process) slips past my lips. Gail rushes to her feet, but before she can reach me, Gavin kneels down beside me, sliding his hand under my head. Hmm, all of a sudden I feel all warm and fuzzy.
“Jesus Christ. Are you okay, Becca?” Gavin asks, those whipped cream eyes staring deep into mine as he hovers over me. Unable to think straight, I smile—no doubt looking like a fool, but at this point, I could care less, because Gavin is now lifting me from the floor—the back of my knees dangling over one of his forearms, my head cradled against his shoulder. I have now officially decided to hire Marucs DeLuca from E.L. Montes ‘Disastrous’ to put a hit out on Emily Cooper. I will be Gavin’s new love. Sigh. Gail rushes over and grabs some ice from the mini bar, wrapping a piece of paper towel around it.
“I don’t know what all the fuss is about,” Dillon huffs out, strolling over to the office door. “She’s fine. I don’t see any blood.” As I watch Gail roll her eyes, and Gavin shake his head, I have now officially decided to add Dillon Parker to Marcus Deluca’s hit list for me. I feel all warm and fuzzy again because— (as Olivia would call him) ‘Douche-Pickle’ leaves Gavin’s office. Over the next thirty minutes, I continue to bask in Gavin’s first aid, making sure I’m okay, as he caters to my every need. Yeah. Emily’s dead meat. I finally stand from the couch and Gavin reaches for my hand.
“I appreciate you taking the time to do this interview today, Becca. I’ll make sure that my driver see’s you to the airport.” Releasing my hand, and taking my heart with him, Gavin flashes me one of his famous dimpled smiles. “For the inconvenience, I’ve chartered my jet to take you back to Texas.”
“You didn’t have to do that, Gavin,” I say, realizing I can’t wait to get home to see what black dresses I have available. I need to look top notch at Emily’s funeral.
“It’s the least I can do,” Gavin answers, showing Gail and I to the door. “Boss, I’ll talk to you later?”
“Yes, Gavin,” Gail replies, walking out of the office, but then, she comes to an abrupt stop, and turns back to face Gavin. “Oh, Emily told me to tell you it’s on for this evening. She’ll be out your penthouse by six.”
Right about the same time a slow, beautiful, breathtaking smile curls Gavin’s lips, I have an overwhelming desire to add Gail to Marcus Deluca’s hit list.
A very special Thank You to Gail McHugh – My interview turned into a full scale Novella! What a wonderful gift!