Logan ran away from her current life and childhood love in Texas to start over in New York City. She quickly realizes from her first ‘y’all’ that life in the big city is much different than the familiar life of the ranch she left behind. On her first day in the city, Logan meets the charismatic Mac, who has connections with the social elite over the city. Mac is always looking for a new project and Logan is looking for her grand adventure, as these two join up for a journey that will transform them both. That is until her life in Texas catches up with her and she must confront her past before she can move onto her future. Logan finds an unlikely group of friends in Mac, Caroline and Grey who are all roped into a series of epic events. Successfully completing this adventure will challenge and unite them in unforeseen ways. Big City Dreams is a story about a girl on a journey to discover herself and bonds friendships with a little bit of mischief created along the way.
Targeted Age Group:: 18-65
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
Logan's story started as a simple line 'girl gets job in city walking spastic dog'. Then several years ago I was asked to write a short story and I took that line and wrote a short novella of about 100 pages. When I was done with that project, I knew that there was so much more to Logan's story. I originally was going to do a series of short novella's but after a three year hiatus, I decided that Logan needed a full length novel to tell her story.
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
Logan was the most fun to come up with because she was what I described as 'country sassy'. Her friend Mac was based loosely on a character from a TV show I used to watch several years ago. Finally, the character of Caroline, has the best story about how her character got her name. Several years ago, I did a BINGO game on my social media and the winner got their name featured in my next book. So while the character is not based on that reader, she did lend her name to my character!
The steady rhythmic clicking of the train as it sped over the tracks seemed to help settle my nerves. My fingers idly played with the light gold chain around my neck. A lingering memory reminded me that it used to be much heavier, as I grasped for the familiar ring that used to hang there. I pushed the thought away, tucking the chain under my shirt, and pulled my baseball cap further down as I leaned against the window, watching the scenery speed by.
It could have been hours or minutes later when I finally heard the announcement that we would be arriving at Union Station; it was the final transfer before Penn Station.
New York … almost there, I thought to myself as butterflies danced in my stomach. I stood and rubbed my hands on my jeans to dry my sweaty palms before grabbing my backpack from under the seat in front of me; my duffel bag dangled over the side of the overhead compartment as I reached up. The train crawled to a stop as I eagerly waited to step off onto the platform.
I suddenly felt self-conscious that my jeans still held a layer of dust from the ranch and my green vest smelled of hay. I froze for a moment and watched as the people around me hustle by in suits, their shoes clattering on the shiny marble floor. A sea of people dressed in monochromatic colors rushed towards their next destinations. A sad smile spread across my lips as I hoisted my duffel a little higher on my shoulder and set out in search of the next platform.
The next train was still mostly empty as I took a seat near another window. While I continued to watch the people below me hustle around the platform, I pulled out a bag of chips and a soda left over from a stop in Chicago. I made up stories about their lives and their destinations. One woman in tall yellow heels caught my attention as she struggled to pull multiple bags behind her with one hand while talking on her cell phone with the other. She was shorter than most of the people around her, but her posture projected a certain attitude. She looked like one of those fancy lawyers you saw on TV; maybe her name was Jessica, but all her friends call her 'Jess.' I imagined her on the phone with a handsome and powerful partner from her high-profile law firm in New York City, and they were planning a getaway. Within a matter of steps, her bags tilted sideways and fell on the ground as she stumbled forward due to the unexpected shift in weight. Like a true professional, she never faltered in her composure. She straightened herself and glanced around only to snap her fingers in the direction of a young man, who came over to pile her luggage back up. She reached into her bag and pulled out a few dollar bills and pointed in another direction to which the young man now headed. I shook my head and let out a small chuckle, it was becoming clear to me that this world was considerably different than back home.
I fell asleep shortly after the train left DC. A loud burst of laughter suddenly woke me. The sounds of raised voices and bottles clinking left me momentarily confused. "Where am I?" I thought to myself as I slowly cracked my eyes open and adjusted to the fluorescent lighting. I looked in the direction of the noise and saw a large group of about ten to twelve younger people sitting several rows in front of me engaged in animated conversation. If I had to guess, they were probably in their mid- to late-twenties. Several were holding glasses for a gentleman in a black suit to fill with champagne. The women wore beautiful gowns and had flawless makeup; the gentlemen looked exquisite in three-piece suits and ties. I was drawn to the group as I stared at a woman with long brown hair and bright red lipstick; she had the whitest teeth I had ever seen. She laughed effortlessly at a man's joke and batted his shoulder. He leaned in and whispered something in her ear; she giggled again. My mouth hung open at the intimacy of their moment. I locked eyes with the very attractive bald-headed man, and he smiled at me. I felt my face flush and immediately took to staring out the window again.
As the buildings and scenery whipped by, I wondered what New York was going to be like. I imagined buildings as tall as the sky, beautiful bright lights, an endless parade of yellow taxi cabs filling the streets, and swarms of people on the sidewalks. Mama had told me stories of going to the city on weekends or during the Christmas season. This one time mama said she and her best friend ditched class just as the weather turned warm and they took the train into the city. They were walking through Central Park and got mistaken for some VIP's at a special event under a big white tent. They decided to play along and were introduced to some wealthy dignitaries. They dined on caviar before they stole a bottle of champagne and snuck out the back of the tent. They spent the rest of the afternoon camped out on the other side of the park with that bottle of champagne, watching people come and go from the tent. They made it home in time for dinner and no one ever knew the difference.
I was deep in thought when I could feel someone hovering over me. I slowly looked up to find the bald-headed man from earlier staring down at me expectantly. He was taller than I originally thought, and exceedingly well dressed. He had a subtle hint of stubble and wore black-rimmed glasses with a full suit and black bow-tie. I wasn't physically drawn to him, but I felt an instant connection; a familiarity that immediately made me relax.
"Can I help you, sir?" I asked, pushing my cap back to see him better.
"Yes. My phone slid under the seats and I believe it's now under your seat." He pointed to the space beneath me.
"Oh, yes sir," I replied, leaning down and feeling around for a phone. My fingers brushed against the side of something rectangular a couple seconds later and I was able to retrieve it.
"Sir? WHO are you calling Sir?" he exclaimed, bringing his hand to his chest in mock indignation.
"I'm sorry, sir, I didn't mean to offend you," I apologized offering him the phone, slightly puzzled by the interaction.
"Again, I am NO sir," he teased. He gingerly took the phone from me and held it between two fingers. I could see the dust and grime on the case.
"Let me help, sir," I said as I took the phone back. I pulled a handkerchief from my back pocket and thoroughly wiped the phone before giving it back to him.
"Aren't you peculiar?" he mused. He stared at me for a moment before taking the seat across from me.
He extended his hand with a flourish and said, "I'm Mac."
I hesitated a moment before taking his hand. "Logan," I replied. He had a firm shake, which Papa always said could tell you a lot about a person.
"Logan, sweetie, you don't seem to be from around here," he said, stating the obvious.
"No sir, it's my first time to the city."
"Uh huh, what brings you to the city?" he asked slowly, clearly taking in my full appearance for the first time.
"Needed a change," I stated without elaborating.
"I see …" he trailed off and glanced at his friends.
"Sir, I'm really okay if you need to get back to your friends."
After several moments, he said, "I would feel way more comfortable if you stopped calling me sir."
"Sorry, it's a habit."
"Clearly," he said dryly, pulling his glasses down a bit and looking at me again.
"Is something wrong?" I was starting to feel uncomfortable with his silent examination.
"Oh, no. Things are going to work out just fine," he murmured, pushing his glasses back on to the bridge of his nose.
"Where did you say you were staying?" he asked, distracted by something on his phone.
"I didn't say."
"Right … right." He continued to flip through something on his screen.
"What is your cell phone number?" he asked out of the blue.
"I don't have one, sir." I put my hands into my vest pocket and looked down. I used to have one, but I left it behind. At the time it seemed like a good idea, but now I wasn't so sure. I took a big gulp, looking at Mac.
"Oh. Well that just won't do!" He flashed me a million-dollar smile. He paused and patted down his pockets. He suddenly got up, held up a finger for me to wait a moment, and walked back to his friends. I watched closely as he whispered something to a gentleman, which sparked a spirited conversation. A couple minutes later he came back with a piece of paper and a pen.
"Sorry about that … the art of the dramatic is strong with this crowd," he quipped, sitting back down. He started writing.
"Where are y'all coming from?" I was unable to hide my curiosity.
He paused and looked up at me. "Sabrina just had to see the new Terrance Kenyon show at the Kennedy Center, as if New York doesn't have enough shows for her already," he said exasperated. I nodded as if I understood.
"Is Sabrina the one with the red lipstick?" I couldn't help but ask.
"No that's Constance, but we call her Connie. The guy next to her is her date, Alistair. The one in the deep blue dress is Sybil and her date is Thaddeus. Augustus is the one with the bad mustache and he's with Marianna in the yellow dress. William and Samuel are twins and they are with Blair and Cam, respectively," he said pointing to each person.
"So, you're dating Sabrina?"
"Oh, heaven's no! Her date was supposed to be Ben, short for Benedict – not Benjamin, but he was called away to Chicago for business. Ben is a saint and he does a pretty good job of taming Sabrina for a straight man, I must say. No, what Sabrina needs in times like this is her opinionated, very well dressed gay best friend. It's a little cliché, but it works for us," he said with a shrug, shifting his focus back to the piece of paper he was writing on. My mind was reeling with information as I tried to draw an imaginary diagram in my mind to understand everyone's connections.
"Okay, when we get to Penn Station, I want you to take this to Gus at The Plaza. He'll be able to get you a room for a night or two." He finished scribbling. "He owes me a favor," he added.
"The Plaza?" I queried, remembering Mama talking about the iconic hotel. I think I may have even seen it on TV once or twice.
"It's a luxury hotel on 5th Avenue and Central Park. You'll have to go about twenty-five blocks, but you can take the metro or a taxi," he said, rising again and handing me the piece of paper.
"Sir, this is very kind of you, but I don't think it's necessary. I couldn't possibly afford it," I stood and handed the piece of paper back to him.
"Nonsense! A girl like you from some country-western, small-town America has no business wandering the streets of New York this late with no destination."
"Oh wait!" he said, pulling the paper from my hand. I was filled with instant regret. Maybe I should have taken the paper. He scribbled something at the bottom and handed it back to me.
"Here's my number, for when you get a phone. Trust me," he stood, "you're going to want to call me." He gave me a quick wink, then turned and headed back to his friends.
"Penn Station," the announcer blared over the speaker, as I stood there holding the paper Mac had placed in my hand. I studied the sheet for another moment and folded it in half. I moved to say something further to Mac only to find he and his friends were gone. I now stood alone on the train.
Standing on the platform of Penn Station, I was in awe as people exited the train around me. I knew this would be a moment I'd remember forever and I desperately wanted to take in all the sights. I stopped to stare at the elaborate ceiling, only to have a man bump into me.
"What the hell lady … watch where you're going!" he shouted at me.
Welcome to New York, I mumbled to myself, sliding out of the way. I felt an emptiness begin to form in the pit of my stomach, causing me to hold onto my bag tighter as I followed the crowd out of the station and onto the street.
Hot, sticky, humid air blasted me as I exited the revolving doors. It suddenly felt hard to breathe, so I stepped to the side to pull off my vest and long sleeve shirt, leaving me with just a tank top. I tied the long sleeve shirt around my waist and stuffed the vest into my backpack. All the while, people continued to shove past me without bothering to acknowledge my existence. I felt invisible.
I looked at my watch in amazement. It was nearly two in the morning and there were still hundreds of people walking around the city. Everyone seemed to be in a rush; like they knew exactly where they were headed. Everyone but me.
I didn't know what I was doing; I hadn't really planned anything more than getting to New York City. I idly wandered a block or so while looking at the buildings, smelling all the new and sometimes strange smells, and just trying to breathe in the humid air. I should have been exhausted; I had been riding trains in some form or another for the last twenty-four hours. But I felt surrounded by a pulsing energy – it was almost contagious. The city felt alive and I wanted to be part of it. Without realizing it, I turned a city block and found myself standing in front of the largest storefront I had ever seen.
"OMG," I gasped to myself. "It's Macy's." I stopped in my tracks and stared at the department store.
"Watch it!" a voice exclaimed as he raced past me.
"Idiot," I heard another person snicker. I didn't care. I grew up watching the parade with my brothers and sisters every Thanksgiving. Mama would always tell us about the time her high school marching band was selected to participate in the parade. She still claims it was the coldest day she had ever experienced.
"Excuse me, sir?" I stopped the next person that tried to pass me.
"What do you want, lady?" he said, barely coming to a complete stop.
"Which way is Times Square?" I asked in an almost whispered excitement.
"Straight that way," he pointed, giving me an odd look before heading in a different direction.
I was so excited that I struggled to keep walking – I wanted to break into a run just to get there faster. By the time I reached my destination several blocks away, I had beads of sweat running down my back. I walked into Times Square and gaped at the lights and the iconic sights I had watched on TV so many times before. I slowly walked up one side of the square and down the other, trying to memorize this moment and exactly how I felt. I stopped at a cart and bought a bag of roasted peanuts and a bottle of water. I couldn't believe I was actually eating food out of a bag I just bought on the side of the street! It was all so new and exciting; in this moment, I knew I had made the right decision. As I stood off to the side, leaning against a building and eating my peanuts, I watched the people move up and down the sidewalks totally unaffected by where they were. I was in amazement; I wanted to stop them and make them look around.
"Do you know where you are?" I wanted to yell at them. But I didn't. I simply stood and watched. The longer I stood there, the more exhaustion started to roll over me. My legs began to feel like lead, and I couldn't imagine standing any longer. I headed back in the direction I came from, remembering a lovely hotel I had passed earlier. When I turned the corner, I saw a grand building with fancy lettering on a black awning that read 'The Chatwal.' It sounded more like an animal we would find on the ranch than something that belonged in New York City. As I approached the entrance a gentleman in a red suit opened the door, but not before glancing twice at my appearance. Unlike the street, the lobby of the hotel was mostly empty as I made my way to what looked like the counter. I stood for a moment before a well-dressed woman approached the desk.
"May I help you?" she asked, her eyes darting up and down, taking in my appearance.
"Do you have any rooms available?"
"Yes. Our standard nightly rate is $795 per night for a double room with no view," she replied, not making a move toward the computer.
"Excuse me, ma'am. Did you just say $795 a night?"
"$795 plus tax," she said, smiling.
"That's wilder than an acre of snakes! You should be ashamed of yourself," I exclaimed, as I turned and stalked away. The money in my pocket no longer felt like it was going to last as long as I needed it to.
"There's a motel about three blocks away that you might find more suitable for your … needs," she called after me.
"Which direction?" I stopped momentarily for her to answer. She pointed to the left and I nodded before the same gentleman in the red suit held the door open for me again.
"Thank you, sir," I said and quickly headed in the direction of the motel. I wearily glanced at my watch – it was now nearly four in the morning.
Finding the motel was not as easy as I thought it would be. I walked almost five blocks before I realized I must have missed it and backtracked. I eventually stood in front of a run-down looking building with a flickering red-letter sign only partially lit up. "Vacancy," it read. There was no gentleman to hold the door open for me this time as I pulled on the handle. The door wouldn't open, so I pulled at the door again. Suddenly there was a loud buzzing noise and I could hear the door unlock with a loud click. I pulled one last time and the door easily opened. I stepped inside a small and dingy lobby that smelled of cheap perfume and tobacco. An old woman sat behind the front desk reading a magazine.
"Do you have any rooms available, ma'am?" I approached the counter.
"Hourly or nightly rate?" she droned, without even lifting her eyes to look at me.
"Hourly?" I questioned, not even realizing that was a possibility.
"How many hours?"
"No … um, ma'am, you misunderstood me. I just need a room for the night," I clarified, flustered. The woman finally lifted her eyes to look at me. As was becoming the norm, she looked me up and down and made a clicking noise with her tongue before she spoke again.
"From out of town, dearie?"
"I just need a room for the night."
"$55 cash," she put down her magazine. I pulled out sixty dollars and handed it to her.
"Sorry, I can't make change," she said, putting my key on the counter and pointing to the stairs.
"No refunds or exchanges. Rooms are as is," she said before sitting back down and picking up the magazine.
"Yes, ma'am." I took a big gulp, grabbed my duffel, and headed up the stairs to room 204.
The hallway was dark, drab, and held a much heavier smell of tobacco smoke than the lobby. There was a guy sitting in the hallway by the stairs who appeared to be sleeping as he clutched a half open beer can. I stepped over him and headed towards my room. To my surprise, the door opened easily. I entered the room quickly, shutting and locking the door behind me. The room was small and covered in green and red wallpaper. I was going to set my backpack down on the floor, but I thought I saw something crawling out of the corner of my eye, so I placed it on the chair instead. I pulled back the comforter on the bed and examined the sheets — they weren't the crisp white linen Mama put on our beds, that was for sure. I pulled the comforter back up to cover the sheets and decided I would just sleep on the top; the room was so hot it wouldn't matter anyway. Sleeping in the horse barn in the hay was cleaner and more comfortable than this five-by-five with stale air. I tried to adjust the room temperature, but the window unit just rattled without any real results. I should have cared more about these arrangements, but I was too tired to care as I laid down and quickly fell asleep.
A blaring horn and a woman yelling startled me awake. Confusion set in as I looked around, slowly remembering my surroundings. I glanced at my watch – it was past ten in the morning. As I sat up in bed, I realized my body ached and my skin was sticky. I stood and stretched, twisting and turning in an attempt to ease my stiffness. I pulled the curtain back to reveal a dirty, small square window that had a view of the next building. I stared in wonder. I felt close enough to share breakfast with the man sitting at his table just across the alley. He glanced up from his bowl of cereal to find me staring at him and waved. I awkwardly waved back and closed the curtain. This sure wasn't the wide-open spaces of the ranch. The small amount of sunlight that streamed in the room revealed a large amount of dust floating through the air, making my skin itch. I wandered into the bathroom and turned on the faucet. I jumped. The water held a yellowish hue as it streamed into the sink. I quickly turned it off – even I have limits. I knew I needed to leave this motel as soon as possible. As I gathered my few possessions, the interior wall rattled.
"Baby, please," I heard through the wall as the wall shook again.
I moved closer. "Stop it," I heard a woman plead again, followed by a moan or a scream.
"One more time?" the woman asked as I pressed my ear to the wall. Suddenly there was a loud moan. Grabbing my things, I raced out of the room slamming the door shut behind me.
"Excuse me, ma'am," I hurried to the same lady who had checked me in just hours earlier.
"Yes?" she replied, again, not taking her eyes off of the magazine.
"I think a man might be hurting a woman in the room next to mine."
"203? Nah. They're regulars. Like it a bit rough," she explained without looking at me.
"That's disgusting, I'm leaving," I said to no one in particular.
"Come back soon," the lady mumbled as I headed toward the door. The air felt fresh as I stood in the street and let the sun hit my face, warming me. Across the street from the motel I noticed a diner. It jutted out from the sleek building with a silver façade that made it look like it was right out of the 1950's. Blue and red letters flickered reading Big Easy Diner, which made my stomach growl. Carefully crossing the street, I entered the diner and was greeted by the intoxicating aroma of French toast and eggs – reminding me of home.
"Can I help you?" a large woman asked from behind the counter, flashing me a grin.
"Just one, ma'am."
"Look here, Ma. A true southern belle," the woman hollered towards the kitchen.
"WHAT?" a voice shouted back.
"A southern lady – a southern lady, Ma," she shouted back, forgetting my presence for a moment.
"Before you seat me, may I use the restroom?" I asked, and she pointed to the back. I nodded gratefully and headed to the back. Turning on the faucet to find clean water, I giggled with excitement as I did my best to clean myself up. It felt so good to wash my face and brush my teeth. I dug into my bag to find a clean shirt and jeans, doing my best to change in the confines of the small restroom. I've had worse, I thought, remembering some of the camping trips Papa had taken us on as children, with no modern accommodations. I exited the bathroom to find the lady from the counter standing by a booth.
"Young lady, here," she gestured, setting down a plate and walking away.
"I didn't order yet, ma'am," I said confused, sitting down.
"Don't have to, you get what Mama serves," she replied over her shoulder.
"Definitely sounds like home," I mumbled, thinking of Mama. Not realizing how hungry I was, I shoveled the food into my mouth, taking little time to breathe in between bites. When I was done, I sat there staring at my empty plate and thinking about the day ahead. The lady eventually came by with the bill and a cheese Danish she said was on the house. Looking for change, I dug into my backpack to find my vest. I pulled out several dollar bills and a folded piece of paper fell onto the table. Picking up the paper, I realized it was from the man on the train. I examined it again and thought about my motel experience, causing me to shudder.
"Ma'am, do you know how I get to The Plaza?" I asked before leaving.
"Mmmm, that's one of those fancy hotels. Take a left and then a right on 5th Avenue, about fourteen or fifteen blocks," she said, pointing in that direction.
"Thank you, ma'am," I said, heading in the direction she pointed me. I wasn't sure what today was going to bring, but I knew it had to be better than my unforgettable first night in New York.
The hotel was right where the woman said it would be. As I stood in the lobby, it was as if I had been transported back in time to the 1900's. I tried not to gawk, as that seemed to bring more attention than I was looking for. Another woman in a suit stood at the counter, which suddenly made me as nervous as a fly in a glue pot, giving me flashbacks of yesterday.
"Excuse me," I said, making a conscious effort to drop the greeting I was accustomed to.
"How may I help you?" she gave me a cheerful smile.
"Is Gus here?" I twisted the paper in my jacket.
"He's not due back until later this afternoon. Is he expecting you?"
"Yes," I stated, feeling bad about lying.
"Are you a guest?"
"I understand. Would you like us to check your baggage until you are able to speak with him?" she asked, looking at my bag.
"Can you do that?" I blurted out.
"It would be our pleasure." Seconds later a gentleman in a suit came around the counter and took my duffel and backpack, the tag on his jacket said Jeffrey.
"What name would you like to put this under?" she asked.
"Logan. Logan Hunter."
"Ms. Hunter, your bags will be here when you need them," the man in the suit confirmed, handing me a small tag with a number on it. I thanked them for their time and headed back out into the city. Fortunately, Central Park was directly across the street. The sun was shining brightly, and it was already starting to get warm. I found an inviting spot near a tree, took off my shoes, and squished my toes in the soft green grass. Lying down, I stared up at the bright blue sky and took a content breath. For a moment, I found if I shut out the city noise, it almost felt like being back home. This was the same sky I looked at while lying in the haystacks at the ranch.
I closed my eyes and felt the steady rise and fall of my chest as my breathing deepened. My thoughts drifted back to three days ago, reliving the anger and confusion I felt when I left home. I could hear Mama's voice in my head, whispering to me before I left.
"Be safe. Do what you feel is right and remember: the world is full of bad people, but there are also just as many good people. Trust your gut and call when you can." We both cried when she hugged me goodbye. She stood on the platform waving and waited until the train pulled out of the station. I wiped the tears from my cheeks until I could no longer see her or the station. That moment seemed like it was years ago. I felt like I had been transported into this new world. I wasn't sure about anything, but I knew I didn't want to go back.
At some point, I must have fallen asleep. The sun had shifted and a long shadow from the nearby tree now engulfed me and sent a shiver down my spine, despite the heat. As I rolled over, I saw kids chasing each other around, screaming and giggling. Stretching out, my stomach growled, and I realized that it was getting late. I checked my watch to find it was almost six in the evening; I had slept most of the day away. A feeling of panic set in.
‘What if I overslept and missed Gus at the hotel?’ I thought to myself. Rushing to put my shoes back on, I left the park and jogged back to the hotel. Pausing for a moment outside the door to gather my composure, I took a deep breath and pulled my shoulders back, prompting me to stand a little taller, and walked into the hotel.
There were more people milling around the lobby than earlier in the day. A couple waited at the counter while being served by a young man. I stood behind them as a tall broad-shouldered man with a full head of black hair and beard emerged from a back office.
"May I help you?" he asked with a slight accent I couldn't place, looking at me.
"Yes sir. I'm looking for Gus," I said, silently kicking myself for using the word 'sir'.
"I'm Gus, how may I help you?" He looked at me a little closer, searching for a sign of recognition.
"Hi, yes. I'm Logan." I reached my hand out to him. Confused, he reached out and firmly shook my hand.
"Oh, wait. I have this," I said, digging into my pocket and pulling out the wrinkled piece of paper from Mac. I handed it to Gus. He read the note, glanced back at me and back to the note.
"I see …"
"You do? Because I'm still not sure how this is all supposed to work."
"I can get you into the junior suite for two nights, but that's the best I can do," he said, looking suddenly stressed.
"The junior suite?" I questioned in disbelief. After having slept on a train, in a park, and in the squalor of that no-tell-motel, all I was looking for was a bed with clean sheets.
"Fine. I can give you the Ellington Park Suite, but that's all I can do. The Vanderbilt Suite is already booked," he uttered with a heavy sigh.
"Sir, I can't afford …"
"No, no. I owe Mac. This is on the house. BUT you tell him that we are even now. He can't keep sending me people in the middle of the day, expecting me to house them all. This is not a boarding house, it's The Plaza for Christ's sake!" he exclaimed.
"Understood, consider the message passed," I whispered.
"I assume you have bags?"
"Yes, I checked them earlier – under Logan Hunter," I said, handing him the valet tag.
"Jeffrey will help you with your bags and escort you to the suite," he motioned to the man from earlier.
"Thank you so much," I said, unable to articulate my gratitude.
"The pleasure is mine," he said, holding out his hand. I looked at his hand. Instead, I walked around the desk and gave him a big hug. I clearly surprised him. After a few seconds he returned my hug and I could feel him relax.
"You are very welcome," he said, more sincerely than before. I finally released him and started to follow Jeffrey before pausing to look back at Gus.
"Oh, Gus, do you have any recommendations for dinner? It's my first dinner in New York I want to make it memorable – affordable, but memorable."
"You're in luck. We have a world-renowned chef here at The Plaza. I'll send something up."
"Sorry, but I don't know if I can afford to eat here," I quietly whispered, leaning towards him.
"Don't you worry about that. You're staying in one of the finest suites in New York, if you ask me. You should dine like royalty – consider it my treat. Welcome to New York," he smiled warmly. I stepped up to embrace him one more time and he chuckled.
"Thank you, sir," was all I had left to say. I followed Jeffrey, who was holding my duffel bag and backpack, toward the elevator. Jeffrey was quiet on the elevator ride up, which did little to settle my nervous excitement, as I played with the ring on my right hand.
"Have you worked here long?"
"Do you like New York?"
"Not much of a talker?" I mumbled as the doors opened to a short hallway and another door. Jeffrey ushered me forward into the hallway towards a sign labeled 'Ellington Park Suite.' He swiped a key card and pushed the door open for me. I slowly passed through the doorway and gasped, losing all ability to speak. The suite was the biggest hotel room I had ever seen. It was definitely bigger than Becky's, Emily's, and my rooms combined. The foyer had a beautiful marble entryway that led to a sizable living room with a private terrace. Forgetting about Jeffery, I walked through the living room and pushed the massive French doors open to a grand stone terrace with immaculate plants and greenery, and furniture that belonged in a magazine. At that moment I finally understood the term 'million-dollar-view' as I beheld the picturesque Central Park and New York City skyline.
"Excuse me, Ms. Hunter?" Jeffery approached from behind me.
"Are you all set?"
"Yes. This is amazing." Jeffrey stood there for a beat or so longer, making the moment awkward. It appeared he was waiting for something, but I didn't understand. He finally cleared his throat, nodded in my direction, and left. Once the door closed, I continued to investigate the suite. There was a huge master bedroom which contained a king-size bed with white crisp linens and a fluffy white comforter. I walked into the bathroom and observed a grand claw-foot tub and a huge shower that may have been even bigger than the kitchen at home; I wasn't sure, but it looked close. On the other side of the suite was a second bedroom, which was smaller in comparison, but still extremely spacious and nice. There were so many emotions raging through my system at that point that I didn't know how to feel. Taking a deep breath, I steadied my nerves before I started to cry. I suddenly caught a whiff of myself and knew what I had to do first. I headed to the bathroom.
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