Unexpectedly Yours (Page 1)
Christmas in New York…
Ever since I was a girl, snuggling in to watch holiday movies, I’ve dreamed about the day I would experience it for myself. The lights, the store windows, ice skating at Rockefeller Center, the sleigh ride through Central Park… Growing up in LA, with fake confetti snowfall and balmy 75-degree weather, I couldn’t wait to wrap up warmly in mittens and walk hand-in-hand through the softly-falling snow with the man of my dreams—
“Watch it, red!”
A stressed-looking man shoves past me to the baggage carousel. I leap back, right into the path of the other three hundred people all charging to get their luggage.
“Sorry… Sorry…wait!” I try to duck out of the stampede, but there’s no escape. The afternoon before Christmas, and the airport is madness: kids screaming, businessmen wielding their laptop cases like shields, hoards of tourists squinting at their phones. Last year, a friend of mine dragged me to a sample sale at a wedding dress warehouse. You haven’t seen chaos until you’ve watched five hundred wild-eyed brides-to-be fighting over the same 70% off Vera Wang strapless sheath. They had to call in riot police, and the whole thing wound up on the evening news.
But this? This is a whole other level of insanity.
I grip my suitcase tighter and fight my way to the exit. The doors slide open, and I step outside into a blast of icy frigid air and the sound of horns blaring in traffic.
Holy crap, that’s cold!
I bite back a gasp of shock. Just remember, you can’t have moonlit walks in the snow without actual snow, I remind myself, wrapping my vintage red wool coat tighter. I look around, but the sidewalk is packed with people.
“Excuse me,” I flag a passing security guy. “Where’s the taxi stand?”
“You’re looking at it.” He hurries on, rushing to separate two guys about to throw punches over the next cab in line. Behind them, the impatient crowd stretches around the block.
Plan B, then.
The Departures level is right upstairs, so I drag my suitcase into the elevator and head upstairs, hoping to snag a cab from someone just arriving to fly out. As the elevator fills, I slide my phone from my pocket and check to see if Matt has arrived. I wanted us to travel together, get the full romantic getaway experience from the minute we left LA, but he had a medical conference scheduled this week, so we had to fly out separately. Three romantic, snowy days in New York for Christmas, then on to Connecticut to meet his parents for the first time.
I can’t wait. My suitcase is heavier than an anvil, bouncing along behind me, packed full of “seduce me” slinky dresses for my candlelit dinners with Matt, and demure, “love me” dresses to wow my future in-laws. I shopped for weeks at my favorite vintage and thrift stores in LA, and since I’m a stress packer, I couldn’t leave anything behind. I want this trip to be perfect. I’ve planned every minute of our New York adventure: all the sights I’ve been daydreaming about ever since my babysitter slid Serendipity into the old VCR and I fell in love with the city for the first time.
“Hey babe, just checking in.” There’s no new messages, so I leave him a voicemail. “My flight landed fine, so I’ll see you at the hotel.”
I duck out of the elevator and head outside again, but this time, the sidewalk is blissfully empty. Everyone is rushing straight inside to catch their flight, leaving their cabs free. I spot one just about to pull away from the curb and wave.
The driver sees me and pauses, popping open the trunk. But I’m just dragging my suitcase over when someone hurries past. It’s a sandy-haired guy wearing a dark wool jacket and a pair of cowboy boots. His bag catches my shoulder hard, knocking me off balance.
“Hey!” I stumble, slipping on the icy ground. The world tilts as I flail for dear life, but gravity wins.
I go crashing to the ground, ass-first, feet in the air.
The guy doesn’t even hear me. He opens the door of the cab—my cab!—and slides inside. The driver sends me a sympathetic look, but he doesn’t stop to help. They drive away, leaving me in a heap on the ground with my belongings scattered all around me and muddy ice slush soaking into my pants.
Welcome to New York City.
By the time I’ve managed to find another cab and haul my shivering, wet body into the car, the glow is definitely off my holiday spirit. Matt still hasn’t called, and his flight was supposed to arrive a couple of hours ago. I leave him another message, and cross my fingers that he hasn’t been delayed by snow somewhere.
“Here for the holidays?” My elderly driver makes small talk from up front as we speed away from the airport. There’s a fake holly branch swinging from the rear-view mirror, and he’s got the radio tuned to a golden oldies station, Elvis crooning about it being a blue Christmas without you.
“Yes,” I reply, trying to squeeze the ice water out of my jeans.
“Just you?” he frowns.
“No, my boyfriend is coming,” I say quickly.
He relaxes into a smile again. “Good, good. Can’t have a pretty girl like you alone on the holidays. You need someone to kiss on New Year’s Eve!”
I smile, and quickly check my phone to see if Matt’s flight was on time. It’s listed as arriving on schedule. I feel a surge of relief, finally relaxing back into the seat. Matt’s probably already checked us in and is relaxing in the tub. Or, more likely, he’s sprawled out doing what every sleep-deprived doctor loves most in the world. Sleeping.