Chapter 4 – New York, New York Preview: Haley and Jordan make it to NYC and argue over which hotel to stay in.

 

The bright lights of New York City distracted me from the fact that it was night time in a dangerous, unknown place where I was stuck with a complete male stranger.  There were times throughout the ride from Pinkston to New York where I was in utter bewilderment of why I had decided to go through with it all.  There were also moments of absolute horror where I imagined being robbed and stranded without a dime or a telephone.

 

For some reason, though, every time I looked over at Jordan, something told me, despite his rough exterior, he wasn’t a thief, or a rapist, or an ax murderer.  Jordan was a regular guy, who probably, underneath it all, had a heart of gold.  I envisioned myself bringing that out in him, but knew that was just my imagination taking over.

 

Like any other girl, I believe in fairy tales.  I don’t believe they happen to me, but I do believe in them.  I don’t think girls want to be Cinderella, though.  I know I certainly don’t want some rich prince wanting to marry me after only one night just because I’m wearing some fancy dress, and my foot fits in a glass slipper.

 

Most normal girls want the fairy tale of ultimate change.  A man meets a woman who he is so smitten with that he completely rids himself of all the flaws he has just to win her love.  Granted, I dream of that, but it’s unrealistic and I know it.

 

One thing my paternal grandmother taught me before she passed away was never try to change a man.  Of course, she was making a dig at my mother for all the years she made my father quit smoking cigars, and stop wearing brown shoes with black pants.

 

Personally, I would much rather have a quirky, flawed man than someone like Christian Eriksson, with his perfect hair, teeth and budding career, who always knows the most charming thing to say.  Perfection is not romance.  Or maybe it is, which would explain my non-existent love life over the years.

 

I am far from perfection and I believe everyone knows it.  I have become painfully aware of it myself over the last two years.  I never quite look right in my clothes.  In photos, I look uncomfortable and my hair seems to fall flat.  At parties, I never seem to fit in with anyone.

 

The middle class automatically thinks I’m stuck up while wealthy girls look repulsed by how unpolished I appear.  They all have designer clothes, while I wear expensive labels, but in no way dress as flashy as they do.  The only reason I even own designer bags is because Bippy’s mother sends them out with her Christmas cards every year.  Otherwise, I don’t know Versace from Valentino.

 

The bus taxied to a stop and after a moment, we were allowed to exit.  I stood up and stretched, smacking Jordan in the head in the process.

 

“Ouch,” he groaned.

 

I laughed, “Sorry, did I mess your hair?”

 

He was already running his fingers through his tousled strands as I asked the question.

 

“Shut up,” he mumbled as he stood.

 

Jordan grabbed his things from the overhead compartment as I made my way down the aisle.  We got off the bus and walked into the Port Authority bus terminal.

 

“We need to find a hotel,” Jordan said.

 

“You didn’t book one?” I gasped, stopping short and turning around.

 

Jordan practically bumped into me.

 

“Relax, there’s more hotels in this city than hot dog vendors,” he laughed, brushing past me.

 

“Oh my God!”

 

“What’s wrong?” Jordan turned around wide-eyed.

 

“I still haven’t called my parents,” I realized.

 

“Calm down, it’s only eight-thirty.  What time were you supposed to be home?”

 

“Five,” I pouted.

 

“Haley, Haley, Haley,” Jordan shook his head snickering.  “Your parents probably have a search and rescue team after you by now.”

 

We walked out of the Port Authority bus terminal and I stared up at the buildings and colorful lights all around me.  Too bad my camera was on its way back to Bakersfield.  I was fascinated by the many different angles I could capture.

 

I hadn’t been to New York in three years and for some reason, I was looking at the city with fresh eyes.  Trips with my parents had always been about work or their stuffy friends.  I was always pushed off on Bippy, the socialite, and her best friend, Leslie Tyler.  I doubt they ever really liked me simply because they were teenage debutants, who were able to get what they wanted when they wanted it.

 

As for me, though I had the money, I was limited to what I could do with it.  I rarely ever dated.  My parents made a strict rule of no dating until I was seventeen and by that time, Christian had been assigned to me without my consent.  I wasn’t allowed to go to clubs and I wasn’t the kind of person who defied my parents, even if I didn’t agree with some of their rules.  I knew girls like Bippy drank and did drugs; they’ve probably slept with more guys than I will in my entire lifetime.  I didn’t want to be like them, so I stuck to my parents’ rules.

 

“There’s a payphone,” Jordan snapped me out of my thoughts.

 

I followed him over to the phone and sighed.

 

“Do you have a quarter?”

 

He shook his head, “Call collect.”

 

After going through the process, my mother answered the telephone.

 

“Haley Marie, how dare you just do something as crazy as this!” she yelled.

 

I wasn’t sure what she knew and how she knew.

 

“I’m sorry, Mom.”

 

“You know Tasha is not someone you should be spending extra time with!  A whole two weeks with her in Boston!?”

 

I smiled to myself.  I love Tasha.

 

“I know, Mom.  She really wants me to stay with her.”

 

“Well, she told me about the volunteer parks clean-up you’re both doing, but Haley, we donate enough of our money to that sort of thing, you don‘t have to…”

 

Tasha was good at lying.  She always knew to add just the right touches.  She was a do-gooder, often volunteering at hospitals and running food drives on campus, which made the park clean-up a believable story.

 

As my mother rambled on in a high-pitched tone, I did everything I could to keep from laughing as Jordan made faces and mimicked her.  Before I knew it, Mom was off the phone and Dad replaced her.

 

“Pumpkin, why didn’t you tell me you wanted to start the internship in July?”

 

“Um, Tasha told you that, huh?”

 

“You’ll still have almost two months with the firm,” he said.  “Enjoy some time off, but be careful.”

 

“Right,” I sighed, sensing he was worrying more than he let on.  “Dad, my phone–”

 

“I can’t believe you dropped it in the toilet.  You will be getting a new one?”

 

“At some point,” I said.  “I’ll just use Tasha’s phone to call you.”

 

I knew they would both be calling me obsessively therefore I wasn’t in too much of a rush to be bothered with all of that.  I rushed my father off the phone not wanting to have to tell too many lies.  I could also tell Jordan was enjoying watching me squirm.

 

“You did well, princess,” he smirked.

 

“Shut up.  Let’s find a hotel,” I sighed.

 

I began to walk toward forty-third street.

 

“Let’s eat first,” Jordan said as he walked in the opposite direction.

 

Reluctantly, I followed him.  Now that I thought of it, my stomach was growling a bit.  I was in a hurry to get settled into a nice bed, though.  I still felt uneasy about the events of the day, especially me following an absolute stranger around a popular tourist city.

 

“Hey,” I said trying to catch up to Jordan.  “Where are you from anyway?  You never said.”

 

“Boston.”

 

“You don’t sound like it.”

 

“Why?  Because I don’t say pak the caw in the garaage?” he asked in the worst Boston accent I ever heard.

 

“Well, yeah…” I laughed.

 

Jordan shrugged, “I was born here, actually.  I moved to Boston when I was eighteen.”

 

“Isn’t that like a cardinal sin for a New Yorker to move to Boston?”

 

He laughed, “Yeah.  There’s nothing like the fear you feel wearing a Yankees hat in Fenway Park.”

 

We walked down to fortieth street and stopped at Ted’s Steakhouse.  I glanced up at the red, black and white cow print awning.  Of all the restaurants in New York, we were going to eat here?  I must have made a face because Jordan laughed.

 

“Dinner is my treat,” I decided.  “Let’s go to the Palm.”

 

“Oh, hold on…you’re supposed to see how regular people live, remember?”

 

“Do you think regular people eat here?” I asked, noticing the homeless person sitting on the ground out front eating what looked like the remnants of a hamburger.

 

“Would you try something new?” Jordan asked opening the door.

 

Rolling my eyes, I walked into the restaurant and Jordan followed me.  Instantly, I heard customers shouting their orders out to the staff.  It looked like a cafeteria line!  When it was our turn to order, Jordan shouted out to the guy behind the counter.  He ordered for both of us and I scowled at him.

 

“Excuse me?  I can order for myself…”

 

“Not here you can’t,” he laughed.  “There are only two things on the menu I like…the macaroni and cheese and the garlic toast.  Trust me; you’ll be chewing on the steak for days.”

 

“So, we’re at a steakhouse but their steak sucks?” I asked.

 

“Pretty much,” he shrugged.

 

“You’re really a weird guy,” I said walking away from him to find a table.

 

I took some napkins out of my knapsack and placed one on my seat before wiping the table with the others.  Jordan just watched me shaking his head as he paid.  I sat down on my napkin covered seat.

 

“I’ll get the next meal,” I said when Jordan sat down, “when we go to a nice restaurant.”

 

“I thought you wanted to see how the other half lived?” Jordan asked.

 

“No,” I shook my head.  “I want to do things I want to do.  That doesn’t mean eat in places where only two things on the menu are good,” I said.  “Besides, I thought this was a two-way street?  You want to see what it’s like to live like me, remember?”

 

“I already know what that’s like and no, thanks…I rather be poor,” Jordan said.

 

I hated him for being so stubborn.  I was pretty much offering to pay for fancy dinners and maybe a hotel for him, but something tells me he really wouldn’t appreciate it.  I felt bad for some reason, guilty even for wanting expensive meals and hotels.  Maybe what I really wanted was to be on my own and to experience what a typical struggling college kid goes through.

 

Soon our food was in front of us.  I jabbed at my macaroni for a second while Jordan practically inhaled his.  Finally, I tried a bite.  Wow.  It sounds insane but never have I had something so simple taste this good!  In fact, if I was completely honest I would take the macaroni and cheese over a steak dinner from the Palm any day.

 

“Now, are you happy you came to a cheap steakhouse for mac and cheese?” Jordan asked.

 

“Okay, I will try and be more open-minded,” I gave in before stuffing my face some more.

 

We didn’t talk for the next ten minutes as we ate.  I think we were both hungrier than we realized.  I looked around the restaurant, still not believing I was eating in a dive of this caliber.  Granted, I occasionally ate in the cafeteria on campus, but it was much nicer than Ted’s.  It came as a shock to most people, but I have never even eaten in a McDonald’s before.

 

My parents didn’t allow me to eat fast food growing up.  They are the type of rich people who support organic farms, and try to eat healthy, but honestly, I don’t think they preferred that way of living for the right reasons.  They simply eat healthy because it is the thing to do.  We could also afford to have a chef come in four times a week, and make a nutritious gourmet meal.  Leaving the shopping and cooking up to someone else was an easy way out for my mother.

 

In the past year, Mom decided to go green as well.  She then, of course, asked our maid why she would throw away her aerosol hairspray.  I remember Elsa’s face as my mother chewed her out for tossing her favorite styling product; claiming it to be the only hairspray on the market to make her hair bounce.  I explained to Mom the effects of aerosol on the ozone, and she laughed, saying I shouldn’t believe everything I read.

 

While biting into my garlic toast, which I suddenly regretted, horrified of how bad my breath and pores would reek, I observed the customers.  A large majority of the people were Asian families.  A few of them had large cameras around their necks, making it obvious they were tourists.

 

One family, who was American, their thick Brooklyn accents ringing through the restaurant, was celebrating their son’s birthday.  He looked about eight-years-old and was wearing a large pin announcing he was the “Birthday Boy”.

 

The family looked happy as they ate their steak dinners.  For a family of five and at fifteen dollars a plate, it was a steal; though the steak was no prime rib prepared with the perfect seasoning, to that family Ted’s was The Palm.  I smiled at the little boy as he looked over at me before I looked at Jordan, who appeared to be staring at me.

 

“Ready?”

 

I nodded, “Thank you for dinner.”

 

 

 

 

We wandered through Times Square not saying a word.  I felt a certain calmness suddenly.  It was as though all of this was meant to happen.  Not only did I get on the wrong bus, but that same wrong bus left me stranded with someone completely opposite of me.  This is my adventure for the taking, and I am glad I took it.

 

“Here we are,” Jordan announced.

 

I was too busy in my revelation to notice he had stopped walking.  I looked up at the big black and yellow sign that read “Motel” before cringing.  Even from the street, I could see the dirty floor and chipping paint.

 

“Are you kidding me?”

 

“Is there a problem?”

 

I raised an eyebrow at him.

 

“Out of all the hotels in New York City, you pick a sleazy motel with no name?”

 

“It’s eighty dollars a night.  Do you know what a bargain that is?” he laughed.

 

“Are you forgetting I have money?”

 

“And are you forgetting I don’t care?”

 

Jordan started up the narrow cement stairs and I followed him desperately trying to talk sense into him.

 

“Can’t we at least stay at a Holiday Inn?”

 

I grabbed his hand, and we both stared at where our skin touched.  I immediately dropped his hand.  Jordan, amused by my frantic attempt to stay somewhere else, looked at the cracks in the floor as he walked inside the motel, and then back at me.

 

“Please…”

 

“Okay, you win,” he smirked before whispering, “I think I saw a cockroach.”

 

The thought alone gave me chills as we rushed out of the building.  The cheap motel was even too gross for Mister I Get By On My Good Looks!  We managed to find a well-known and affordable hotel a block down.  Still, the condition of this establishment was well below my usual standard.

 

“We’d like a room, please,” Jordan said to the concierge.

 

He was a wiry old man, who looked like he hadn’t slept in weeks.

 

I was lucky I didn’t look that disheveled over my insomnia.

 

His scalp was visible through his greasy silver hair and there was a sheen of sweat above his curled lips.  He started to speak in a creepy monotone voice, but I interrupted him.

 

“Two rooms, please,” I smiled, as I cast my eyes toward Jordan.

 

“Why waste a room, Haley?”

 

“I don’t even know you, remember?”

 

“Oh, so getting stranded together, and going to dinner doesn’t constitute as knowing each other?” he laughed.  “There are people who instantly feel they’ve known each other all their lives from one day together,” Jordan held up his index finger for emphasis.

 

I placed my hand on my hip, and cocked my head to the side, knowing he was just giving me a hard time.  I suppose I was figuring out more about him than I had realized.

 

“Well, we aren’t those people…two rooms, please,” I smiled at the concierge, who now looked bored with our banter.

 

A few moments later, we were standing in the hallway on the sixth floor.  I immediately slid my key card into the slot and opened the door.  The room was modest, but at least there were no cracks in the foundation, and so far, no sign of infestations.

 

“Good night,” Jordan said, and I turned to look at him as he opened the door to his room.

 

“First mission tomorrow…shopping.”

 

“Excuse me?” he laughed, and turned to me.

 

“I have nothing to wear, remember?”  I pulled at the collar of my shirt.  “I’m going to have to sleep in this,” I sighed.

 

He just smirked at me, “Sleep naked.”

 

Jordan’s facial expression was telling me one of two things: he was thinking about me naked or he wanted me to scoff at the suggestion.  I figured he was waiting for a reaction out of me, but I wasn’t going to give him the satisfaction that I was so uptight that I wouldn’t sleep naked, alone, on sheets that I have no idea where they’ve been, or who has been in them… Eww.

 

“I think I will sleep naked,” I smiled at him as I held onto the door with one hand, and began to close it ever so slowly.  “Thank you for the suggestion,” I shrugged my shoulder upward before shutting the door.

 

If Jordan wasn’t thinking about me naked before, he probably was now.  Oh God, he’s imagining me naked!  These hotel room doors lock automatically, right?

 

 

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*Legal Disclaimer: This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is coincidental.

Copyright © 2010 by Sandy Lo.
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About the Author

Sandy Lo ()

Sandy Lo’s personal story is inspiring. She started, StarShine Magazine, an online publication in 2001, at the age of 18. She wrote her first novel in 2009, “Lost In You,” followed by the “Dream Catchers” Series. She was the first person ever to professionally interview Taylor Swift and has received personal endorsements for her books from members of boy bands Backstreet Boys and 98 Degrees. Recently, she has been seeing some tremendous momentum in book sales on Kindle. She has been included on the “50 Writers You Should Be Reading” list by The Authors Show, and “Dream Catchers”, “Breaking The Moon” and “Indigo Waters” reached the Top 100 Best Selling Coming of Age novels in Amazon’s Kindle Store. What makes this even more unique, is that Sandy relocated from NY to Nashville in order to write “The Watch Dog,” which is set in a fictional town outside of Music City. “The Watch Dog” reached the Top 10 Ghost Stories on Amazon. Aside from her writing projects, Sandy is also a freelance digital strategist.

Website: http://sandylo.com

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