spotted him immediately in the lobby of the hotel. How could
she not? Six-feet tall, broad shoulders, slim hips—the body
of a swimmer. She walked toward him and, as he tucked some
bills into a bellman’s hand, she heard the porter say,
“Thank you, Mr. Bryant.” “Bryant.” Strong name. She liked
it. It went with his chin.
Impulsively and surreptitiously, she followed him into the
elevator. It was crowded, and she was sure he hadn’t noticed
her yet. If he had, she would have noticed his noticing.
Generally, male attention meant nothing to her. She was used
to it, men noticing her. She had always assumed it was
either her trim figure or the copper-red hair brushing her
shoulders that drew their regard. But, in fact, it was
neither. It was the purpose of her gait and, then, when
closer, the directness of her eyes.
off on his floor behind him and followed him down a carpeted
corridor to his room. Preoccupied, he still didn’t see her.
When the door swung open, she swept past him into the suite
before he even had time to withdraw his key from the lock.
The hotel was old, elegant and venerable; card keys had
evidently not found their way into its antiquated systems.
Nor electric elevators either, it appeared; riveted on him
though she was, she had still been aware of the gentle rock
of hydraulics as the lift had stopped and started again at
various floors on the ride up.
in the center of the lavishly-appointed living room and
scrutinized him as if he were desirable but dangerous prey,
like a lioness ready to fight or flee. Startled but fully
attentive to her tense presence, now, he stared back at her,
his dark eyes flashing in response to her bold and
irresistible dare. Indicating her decision by tossing her
handbag carelessly in the direction of a couch, she
approached him and unbuttoned his trench coat, then helped
him out of it as casually as if she did this every day.
Next, she removed her own fur jacket. One by one, wool scarf
to silk, shirt to blouse, pants to skirt, loafers to heels,
socks to hosiery, she undressed them both until they stood
contemplating each other against an afternoon sun that
dappled the plush Victorian furniture with a scattered
confetti of light.
French doors flung open to the bedroom, she turned from him
and, glancing imperiously out the tall windows at New York’s
skyline, entered it. Still following her lead, he eased onto
the bed next to her without uttering a word. She ran her
fingers over him first, seeking the outline of his form as
if tracing the roadways on a map, not yet having selected
where she wanted to go. Then, urging him to turn over, she
grazed his thigh with her lips and began to suck her way
slowly into the soft and sensitive area behind one knee.
Knowing it would be impossible to start with such a favorite
but secret spot unless it was one’s own, he soon swung her
around and returned the favor. The inside of his ankles were
next, and then the arch of his foot. Repeating the
one-for-one undressing sequence, but joining as an active
participant in the game now, he gave her back in kind every
motion she initiated. Unexpectedly, when she hovered over
him, he turned his head away with a sudden jerk of aversion.
She resolutely pulled his face back around and blew her
garlic breath steadily into it.
How was I
to imagine I would encounter you in the lobby just
now? her eyes teased. Then her breathing began to break its
even pattern, becoming ragged from the emotional impact that
full contact with his body brought to her own. He guessed
she had eaten a slice of pizza for lunch. And decided he
the nape of her neck, he pulled her head down and bruised
both of their mouths with a kiss that sent them moving
rhythmically together, as if they were swirling through
heavy water, entwined and synchronized. With his other hand
on the small of her back, he pressed the rest of her down to
him until they were locked together and then rolled them
both over neatly to watch the expression on her face as he
locked eyes with her as well. “Bitch,” he swore silently,
smelling the faint fragrance of jasmine as, loosing the
battle of the gaze, he buried his face into her shoulder.
many long moments of resting quietly together, she rose from
the bed, walked willfully to the living room, and returned
with something the size and shape of a small, transparent
quartz-like stone dangling from a thin metal wire that she
held by the tips of her long fingers; a glass prism of some
sort, it glittered in the sunlight. Climbing onto the bed,
she wound the wire attached to the chunk of cut glass around
her ring finger and lifted her left hand high to admire her
handiwork, an impromptu and humorous engagement ring. Then,
next to him once more, she stretched her body—again like a
cat!—the length of his for one luxurious instant before
turning away to reach for the phone. “A bottle of Dom
Perignon,” she ordered, throwing him a challenging smile.
hesitated. It was her game with her rules. It was clear that
he couldn’t do anything until she did it first. Now she had
spoken. But not to him. Did that mean he could speak too? Or
not? He hated to lose—He had already suffered points by
failing the staring contest. She was lying lazily back
again, her head on his chest, her eyes on the crystal
chandelier hanging above the bed. The pear-shaped glass
prism she had tied to her finger perfectly matched the
hundreds of others making up the light fixture.
murmured, letting his voice trail off to hedge his bet. It
was an abstruse exclamation that might have been directed at
her. But not necessarily; it could be interpreted simply as
a commentary on the choice of champagne.
she nodded, neither affirmatively or negatively, merely
acknowledging his words.
up, followed her path to the living room, and returned with
something of his own to match her lead. But, rather than
show his hand openly as she had done, he concealed the
object he carried within a closed fist. Back on the bed and
keeping his secret hidden within the palm of one hand, he
untied the glass bauble from her finger. Then he stood
upright on the bed, and, threading the wire into an empty
loop on the chandelier, fixed the prism into place.
early,” she mused, watching him. “I’d planned to prepare the
he said, flashing her a quick smile as enigmatic as her own
had been. Then, grinning fully—triumphantly—he pretended to
pick another crystal nugget from the sunburst of light and
suspended it tantalizingly high above her.
suppress her curiosity, she sat up slowly, her eyes
gradually widening into an expression of shocked disbelief.
winning smile, he resumed his place beside her and slipped
an enormous pear-shaped diamond solitaire onto her finger so
it nestled against her simple gold wedding band. Their eyes
met, remembering the night twenty years ago when they could
afford nothing more than two plain rings and one night in
this room, the night when her youthful spirit had spurred
her to “borrow” an engagement stone from the chandelier.
Spontaneously and simultaneously, they broke into peals of
Incredulously, she flung herself back down against the
pillow; she couldn’t stop laughing. He had beaten her. Yet
she had won! He lay down beside her again, and, bringing her
left hand to his lips, kissed it tenderly.
raised her hand high, letting the dazzling diamond gather
more light from its radiant inspiration, which still swung
gently overhead in a graceful orbit caused by the action of
replacing the missing prism. Her gesture was that of a
Alexandra York is Founding President of ART.
(See Bio in board section)
© Alexandra York, all rights reserved