Authors: Louise Bay
Week in New York
by Louise Bay 2014
© 2014 Louise Bay. All rights reserved
This is a
work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents
are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious
manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is
purely coincidental. The author acknowledges the trademarked status and
trademark owners referenced in this work of fiction, which have been used without
permission. The publication/use of these trademarks is not authorized,
associated with or sponsored by the trademark owners.
ISBN - 978-0-9928918-4-8
“Has he tried to contact you?”
I could barely hear Leah through the booming of the bass. We were perched
on stools at the oh-so-cool bar in TriBeCa and we had to lean in to each other
to be heard. I’m not sure if hearing her would have helped me make sense of
what she was saying—we were three cocktails in. But I got that she was talking
about Ben—she hadn’t really talked about much else.
Leah was my best friend in the whole world. We had met at law school, and
until recently, we’d shared a flat. She was supremely protective of me, and I of
her. Talking about men and drinking cocktails is what we did, and we did it so
well. The subject of our conversation tonight was Ben—my most recent ex.
“He wouldn’t dare. Probably knows I’d rip his balls off.” I shrugged and
sipped on my Manhattan. I had to drink Manhattans while I was in Manhattan,
“I just can’t believe it,” Leah said for the 57th time that evening.
I shrugged again and looked over Leah’s shoulder and saw a face in the
shadows looking at me. He raised his glass and nodded in my direction. Did I
know him? He looked familiar. My eyes darted back to Leah.
“And you didn’t have any hints?” she asked.
“I mean, he was different from other guys I had dated. But no, he never
dropped it into the conversation that he was mixed up in crazy shit and owed
money to the wrong kind of people.”
Ben the biker had turned into the boyfriend from hell—or Ben the Bastard
as Leah now referred to him. He had always been so sweet to me. I thought he
was going to be different. I thought I’d finally made a good choice after
having precisely no luck with men for years. But I’d been delivered a reality
check—Ben the Bastard was a bastard. The crazies he’d owed money broke into our
flat and scrawled a crazy-assed threat across the bathroom mirror in Leah’s
room. They hadn’t taken anything, which confused us. About a week later, Ben
confessed and I went to the police.
The police had called earlier today and confirmed that Ben had confessed
to them, as well. It had been a threat to scare him into paying back what he
“So you’re going to sell your apartment?”
“Well, I still call it a flat, but yes, I’m going to sell it,” I smirked.
Leah started calling her mobile a cell as soon as we landed at JFK. I couldn’t
pass up an opportunity to tease her sudden Americanization.
I’d decided on the plane that I was definitely going to sell my flat. I’d
not felt right about the place since the break in. Daniel, Leah’s boyfriend and
all around perfect man, had arranged for an alarm to be installed. But Leah had
moved in with him, and I hated being on my own. Even though I knew the police
were handling it, I still didn't want to be in the flat. I didn't tell Leah
that because she would have moved me in with her and Daniel, and as much as I
loved them, I didn't want to be living with them and interrupting their sexy
time. Especially when I wasn't having any of my own.
Leah, as she couldn’t stop telling me, couldn’t believe it. But I stopped
hearing from him around the time of the break-in, and so I had a niggling at
the back of my brain. I’d never had much luck with the men in my life. They
started off really great, but then around the three-month mark something always
went wrong. I went off them, or they became clingy, or they had crazies
breaking into my flat. Same old, same old.
When Leah invited me to keep her company on a week’s trip she and Daniel
were making to New York, I jumped at the chance. It was an opportunity to get
away from London and my flat and any complications of the male variety. Daniel
would be working a lot, apparently, so we’d have plenty of girl time. And girl
time was just what I needed. After Leah’s last break up, we’d flown to Mexico
for a holiday. Flying west seemed to get her over her heartbreak. Let’s hope it
did the same for me.
The bartender slid some more drinks in front of us—a Manhattan in front
of me and a replica of the disgustingly sweet concoction that Leah had ordered
earlier. I looked at Leah and she shrugged and picked up her drink. I gently
pushed her wrist, persuading her to put it back on the bar.
“We didn’t order these,” I said to the bartender.
He pointed at the man I half-recognized. “They’re courtesy of the
gentleman at the end of the bar.”
Sirens blared in my head. Oh no. This wasn’t happening. I didn’t want
male attention. I didn’t want any complications. The familiar stranger caught
my eye and raised his drink again. Ungratefully, I rolled my eyes and sat back
in my chair. Leah looked at me pleadingly.
“Fuck it,” I said and grabbed the fresh cocktail. I might as well drink
it. It didn’t mean I had to talk to him.
“So, Daniel has this friend,” Leah said.
“He’s a really nice guy.”
I shook my head.
“But you always told me the way to get over a man is to get under
“I would never say something like that.”
“You did and you know it.”
I grinned. I so would. “I’m not dating.”
“Look, I just found out that my last boyfriend was mixed up in a whole
lot of crazy. I’m not on the market. I need to give myself a timeout. I have
shockingly bad taste in men.”
“You totally do not.”
“What about the guy that picked up the waitress while I popped to the
“Well, he was a douche. But you still need a bit of fun in your life.”
“She’s right,” a voice said from behind me. I turned to find the familiar
stranger looking down at me
Leah popped off her stool, grinning. “I have to go to the restroom.”
“Restroom? Not loo?” I teased, and rolled my eyes. She was about as
subtle as a brick.
The stranger lowered himself into Leah’s seat. I could feel him looking
at me while I stared into my drink.
“I have rules,” I blurted.
He didn’t respond so I looked up to see if he was paying attention. He
was looking straight at me with bright blue eyes. I stared back at my drink,
unnerved. Ok, objectively he was handsome, the tall and dark variety, but no
doubt a total shit because he was here talking to me and I was a shit magnet.
“Rules about fun?”
I nodded. “Rules if you want to get laid tonight.”
“I’m listening,” he said, without missing a beat.
Did I have rules? Well, now I had to think of some. “I don’t want to know
your real name. Make something up.”
He shook his head. “No. No, that’s not going to work for me. You’re not
going to be screaming another man’s name tonight. My name is Ethan.”
Our eyes locked and my breath caught in my throat.
“Look, I’m sick of being lied to. If I don’t expect anything from you I
can’t possibly be disappointed.”
“I promise you won’t be disappointed.”
I took a beat and said, “I don’t want to know anything about you. And I
won’t tell you my real name.”
“You British girls seem to have a certain charm about you.”
“If you don’t like it, feel free to leave me alone.” I really wasn’t in
the mood to mess about.
“I’m not going anywhere. I’d like to see how this plays out.” He grinned
at me and I felt the corners of my mouth twitch. I wanted to hate him. “So you
know I’m Ethan. And I work in construction?” He asked instead of told me.
It was very clear from his Cayman Islands tan and the Rolex on his left wrist
that he didn’t work in construction, but he’d lied at my request, so I had no
room to complain. I felt a shiver down my spine. This might be fun.
He shook his head. “No. You’re not Florence.”
“I know, but I’m not going to tell you my real name. I told you, there
“That’s fine, but your made-up name isn’t going to be Florence. It’s
about as sexy as an old shoe and you’re a sexy girl. You need a sexy name.”
I raised my eyebrows at him. “Ok,” I said cautiously. “Kate?”
He shook he head again.
“Whatever. Choose something.”
I could see him thinking. I was interested to see what he’d come up with.
How did he see me? “Anna,” he said finally.
Did he know me? No. We lived 3,000 miles from each other. Did
I look like an Anna? It must be just some kind of weird coincidence. What did
it matter if he used my real name, anyway? I’d never see him again after
Leah came back from the restroom at that moment, interrupting any debate
I might have with Ethan over his invented name for me.
Ethan reached out to shake Leah’s hand. “I’m Ethan. We were just leaving,
but we’ll see you home.”
I giggled. He was pretty sure of himself, that was for certain. “I did
“My boyfriend’s driver is outside. I can see myself home.” She grinned
like an idiot.
“Ok, then we’ll walk you out,” Ethan said, as if we were a couple or
Daniel’s driver was chatting to a man who turned out to be Ethan’s driver
when we got outside. I said goodbye to Leah, promising to call her in an hour
to let her know where I was and that I was ok. Ethan opened the door to his car
and gestured for me to get inside.
“Do you know Daniel?” I asked.
“I know of him, but I’ve never met him. Why do you ask?”
“Your driver seems to know his driver.”
“Leah’s boyfriend is Daniel Armitage?”
I nodded and he nodded in response.
“Where are we going?” I asked, slightly panicked. Why hadn’t I asked
before? I’d just got into a car with a stranger without asking any questions.
What was I doing? I pulled out my phone to text Leah.
“Columbus Circle. Mandarin Oriental,” he said to the driver.
I told her where we were going and that I’d text her later to let her
know I was ok. I swallowed and leaned forward to unwind the window to let the
warm air of the New York summer spill in. OK, well if we were going to a hotel.
He meant business. And when I say
, I mean
been into one-night stands. I didn’t like the idea of a stranger seeing me
naked. But this stranger was particularly attractive and I was here in New York
City to blow off some steam and have some fun, right? It was the city that
didn’t sleep, and when in Rome …