Russian Jewel Beta Read

Russian Jewel ~ Chapter 2 The next morning, the view out the window drew my attention magnetically. The sunlight kissed the tall buildings, and its warm touch reached out to the cold pavement between steel giants. It was my first visit to New York City, and I looked forward to wandering its streets.

“Room service.” A sudden knock on the door scared me.

“Room service?” I mumbled, still groggy from sleep. Soundlessly, I tiptoed to the door and peeked into the peephole. Sure enough, there was in the hotel outfit a gentleman with a serving cart. I had only my shirt on, which was long enough to cover basically nothing. I cracked opened the door and hid behind it.

“Good morning, ma’am. I have your breakfast.”

“You’re not a serial killer, are you?” I asked, my eyes narrowing. “Because I didn’t order breakfast. Of course, I suppose if you were serial killer you wouldn’t answer to me.”

“No, ma’am,” the waiter said, looking a little confused. Guess I could not blame him.

“No, you’re not a serial killer, or no, you wouldn’t tell me?” I smiled.

“No, ma’am. I just work in the hotel. I’m not a serial killer.” He looked uncomfortable now. Probably not a serial killer.

“Okay.” I stepped back and opened the door wide, and screened my lower body behind it. He rolled in the cart, parked it next to the bed, turned around, and looked at me. A short expression of confusion appeared, but at the same moment, it washed away from his face. The corner of his mouth tweaked almost a small smile, but he quickly corrected it.

“Is there anything else you need, ma’am?”

“Nope. This’s quite a nice surprise already. Oh, the tip.” I reddened. My purse was across the room.

“Tip was included. Have a good day, ma’am.”

Once the door was locked, I walked to the cart, curious. It had a coffee pot, two cups, two glasses with orange juice, a container with maple syrup, another with cream, and two plates were covered with a silver dome. There was also a note, rested against a thin vase holding a small bunch of pink flowers. The note was written with a familiar ink but in unfamiliar handwriting.

Good Morning.

I know you said you don’t have breakfast in bed with strangers, but I had to find a way to return your pen.



I’m outside your room. And you were right, the pen does write pleasantly.

I smiled wide, and my heart rpms got faster. He’s outside. I have no makeup on. Oh come on.I ran into my bathroom and searched for my mascara and concealer.

“Did I forget it?” I muttered to myself. My hands trembled. I kept grabbing the wrong things in my makeup bag.

As fast as I could, I applied concealer and mascara to make my eyes bright, dabbed on strawberry red lip-gloss, fluffed my hair and rushed to the door. A cold breeze brushed against my lower back, stopping me short. My jeans still rested on the chair. I pulled them on and rushed to the door taking a gamble James wouldn’t care about messy hotel room. I glanced back. The bed wasn’t made, my nightshift was lost among the sheets, and the door to the bathroom was open displaying makeup chaos.

I opened the door. No one. Did I take too long?I peeked my head to the right towards elevators. A long empty hall had only a few dirty dishes outside some rooms. I turned other way. James was leaning against the wall, holding a glass bottle filled with a dark tawny liquid. He smiled wide when our eyes met.

“I thought you would never open that door. Good morning.” He pushed off the wall.

“Morning. How long were you planning to stand here if I didn’t open door?”

“For as long as I need to. You would have to come out eventually unless you changed your mind about your important morning or climbed out of the window to avoid me.”

“Interesting.” My mouth muscles had a battle. One side wanted to smile as wide as my lips would allow, and the other side tried to keep the smile to a minimum to not expose my total excitement.

“How about that breakfast?” James walked closer. His eyes were bright with sparkle as if some secret was hidden in them.

“Since you insist to have breakfast with me, I think it’s okay for you to come in.” I opened the door wider to let him pass me. The smell of fresh lemongrass soap on his skin tickled the tip of my nose. I inhaled. Now this scent would bring me back to this moment.

He placed the bottle on the cart and made his way to the desk chair and reclined on it. I closed the door and ambled to the cart wondering if it was polite for me to grab something to kill any suggestion of morning breath.

“What’s in the bottle?” I sat on the nightstand and leaned backward and accidentally knocked the lamp. It fell to its side. I jumped quickly and placed it back. Very smooth, Kate.

“Apple juice. I ordered orange juice but this morning thought what if you like apple juice?”

“I do prefer apple juice over orange. This breakfast is very thoughtful of you. I don’t know really what to say.” I didn’t lean against anything this time, to avoid any other mishaps. I bent forward and opened the plate dome to peek under. The plate had bacon, sausage and a scrambled egg. “Are they both the same?” I glanced at him.

“I went with two choices.” James got up and walked closer, opened other dome and revealed a mountain of blueberry pancakes.

“Oh wow.” I removed a thin piece of bacon off the plate and bit into it. “Well, which one would you like?” I sat down on my bed. “You probably would like bacon and eggs, minus one bacon since I just took one.” I placed my hand over my mouth. “It’s almost like a Scottish breakfast, only without beans and few other things.”

“I’m not picky.” He rested next to me. “Half and half?”


He pulled the cart closer, picked up a fork and offered it to me.

At first, we enjoyed our breakfast silently, giving each other short glances as we ate.

“Was your blonde friend successful to take your shirt off?” I ventured after a few minutes.

“No. I took her back up to the ballroom and safely passed the care of her to the bride. I didn’t want to be responsible for her, but also didn’t want to just leave her in the lounge.” He poured coffee into both cups. “And good Lord I didn’t want to be left alone with her in her room.” He passed over my cup. “Sugar?”

“Thank you. I take my sugar with milk and coffee please.” I reached for the small saucer to add cream. “I cannot eat too much. I want to look slim for photoshoot.”

“You can eat triple of these pancakes, and you’ll look beautiful.” He smiled.

“That’s kind of you to say.” I picked up the coffee cup and brought it to my lips.

“Come to the wedding with me as my date,” he said so suddenly I almost spit out my coffee.

“What? I can’t. I don’t know groom and bride. I barely even know you.”

“You don’t have to know them. And it will give you the opportunity to get to know me. Once I’m done with all the best man formalities, I’ll not leave your sight for the rest of the evening.” He placed his fork on the cart.

I was still uncertain, and filled the silence by pouring more cream into my cup.

“My friend will be here soon. I cannot leave her alone.”

“Bring her with you,” James said simply, leaning back on his elbow.

“I don’t know. I’ll ask her.” I got up and walked to my luggage. It was closed. Do I have anything nice enough for a wedding? “I’ll think about, but no promises.”

“What are your plans for today?” He asked, seemingly satisfied with my non-answer.

“After my appointment I’m meeting Kristina here. We’ll go to a café I saw near hotel. Back at home we have weekly Thursday breakfast at this French café, Roswell Provisions.”

“Why do you meet there?” He asked.

“Well,” I began, wondering how much to say. “It’sunique anddangerous to a woman’s figure.” I snorted. “But really, it just has such a good feeling about it. The hand-hewn ceiling beams run from one side to another. The plastered walls are now mostly bare brick.” I looked at James to see if I was boring him, but he seemed rapt, so I went on. “One side has dozens of different European meats and cheeses, with some kielbasas hanging from the ceiling next to an antique-like chalk board with titles ‘Les Fromages’ and ‘Les Viandes’. On the opposite side, the freshly baked pastries triumphs everywhere. Oh, you’ve to see the ancient hutch with white coffee cups. In the center of it, a tall, copper coffee machine looks like a tsar on its throne. It’s glorious among the humble white glassware. Am I talking too much?”

“No, no. Tell me more about this place.” James brought coffee to his lips.

“I love that café, its vintage trunks and burlap sacks with random goods for purchase. Its large collection of different wines from the around world. It has large table near the entrance that has a chandelier made with three layers of book aged paper. I’m getting carried away with myself here.” I felt my face reddening. James smiled warmly.

“That’s sounds lovely,” he said.

“It is. Anyways, after brunch we’re going to a wedding dresses shopping.” I smiled. “It’s an expensive, by appointment only shop.”

He raised his eyebrow. “I hope you’re not the one who will be trying on wedding dresses?”

“Why, is that a problem?” I couldn’t help myself, and teased him. “It’s my dream to try couture dresses.”

“Is it for you?” His face was serious now. “Or is it your friend?”

“Not for me,” I said, noting the relief that washed over his face. What’s up with that mood change? “Kristina’s wedding is in October. She found a dress in magazine, but it’s only sold in New York.”

“Good.” James relaxed further. “Don’t make me think you’re untrue to someone.”

“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to upset you.” I sat down far enough so we wouldn’t touch, and my weight on the mattress wouldn’t disturb his.

“You didn’t.”

Next silent minute got so thin the ticking on his watch was the loudest sound in the room.

“What’s your plans for today?” I picked a strawberry off the plate.

“Pub crawling with Ronald and others.” James wasn’t looking at me. He picked up the coffee pot, but it was empty. He placed it back.

“Well, don’t overdo it. The bride will kill you for ruining groom on their wedding day.”

“Right.” He ran his hand through his hair. He didn’t say anything else after that. I looked around the room to find something to talk about. My eyes fixed on the pink flowers on the cart.

“So strange that hotel used sweet peas. Typically, it would be a rose.” I shifted myself and pulled a corner of the pillow from under my bottom.

“They did have a yellow rose.” He looked at flowers, too, his face relaxing into a humble smile.

“They did?” I asked with the strawberry in my mouth. “How do you know?”

“I asked them. I didn’t want you to have a rose.” He looked straight at me with such an even, open calmness that a small chill ran over my shoulders. Am I not good enough for a rose?

“Why not?” I asked, not sure where this was going.

“A rose is too lackluster. I wanted you to have something as charming as you. This morning the first thing that came to my mind when I thought about you was a sweet pea.” Oh.

“I’m surprised this hotel is so accommodating.”

“No. Your cart had a single yellow rose. I changed it before they delivered it to your room.”

“How did you managed to find sweet peas?”

“I have my ways.” A lopsided smile showed a dimple on his cheek. “How did you meet Kristina?” He asked, changing the subject.

“We met at the college, first semester.” I smiled wide. “You would think growing up as an only child in a wealthy family would make Kris spoiled and out of touch. On the contrary, she is the most caring, sweetest, nicest person I know.” My phone buzzed at that moment and my heart sank a little. “That’s my meeting reminder.”

“Right. I should not keep you away from getting ready.”

My breathing was calm, but my shirt moved slightly up and down with my crazy heartbeat. With a short push, he got up off the bed and my heart skipped a beat. But James moved closer and slowly leaned toward me. At that moment my heart stopped beating altogether and a tremor ran through my body. He was so close to me his radiated warmth touched my skin. I closed my eyes and waited. The sound of his rapid heartbeat mixed with my own. I wanted it be a lingering kiss that would last in my memory forever. My plot, my adventure. He is the man. An abrupt knock on a door stopped this notional touch become a reality.

“Don’t answer,” he said, his lips inches away from mine.

“Even if it’s the fire marshal,” I whispered. Another few knocks on the door sounded. The voice that followed the knock revealed that there was no fire outside my door, but it was urgent just the same.

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