New Year’s Eve in Times Square. Ian Cumberland was
done dwelling on last year’s miseries. The past was
over, and tonight was about new resolutions, new hopes,
new opportunities. Cheerfully he stuffed his hands in his
pockets and sniffed in the crisp, seventeen-degree air.
It was nearly midnight, and he was primed for the winds
of change to blast open new doors. The neon carnival that
was Times Square seemed ideal. Apparently it was the ideal
place for another two million huddled masses as well. Huddled,
because the winds of change were blowing from the North
at approximately thirty-five miles per hour. And not that
he wanted to complain, but okay, those winds were freaking
Noisemakers and klaxon horns bleated in the air, riding
over the up-beat tempo of the latest and greatest boy-band
– until they hit puberty or got involved in the latest
sex scandal, whichever came first. No, no negativity. Not
Determined to make this work, Ian gave his senses free
rein, marveling at all the tiny details he’d overlooked
before. Ear-blasting sounds, a kaleidoscope of brilliant
colors, and a melting pot of smells. He took a deep breath
of New York air – a million contrasting perfumes,
roasted chestnuts, and strangely enough, honeysuckle.
Over the past year, he’d divided his life into two
distinct periods. Pre-layoff and post-layoff. Pre-layoff
ended precisely at 4:30pm on February seventeenth. Then,
Ian didn’t have the time to waste twelve hours standing
around Times Square waiting for a giant multi-colored orb
to fall from the sky. Post-layoff, he still didn’t
have the time, but now he had the will.
New Year’s at Times Square had been on his list of
life to-dos since he was ten, as had been kissing Jessica
Alba, although he’d moved past planting a long one
on the movie star. Times Square was still out there though
on his list, though, waiting to be vanquished. Pre-layoff,
Times Square wasn’t something he worried about much.
Post-layoff, he realized that life was not cooperative and
orderly, and when you got the chance to do something once-in-a-lifetime,
you just did it.
The night’s crowd was packed shoulder to shoulder,
impossible to move, nearly impossible to breathe, and he
found himself sharing an uncomfortably close, personal space
with about a large group of awestruck foreigners who didn’t
understand the common English vernacular: “You’re
standing on my foot. Please move.”
As he stood there, taking in the trolling lights and squinty-eyed
police and happy perky people, Ian waited patiently for
something miraculous, something life-altering, something
hopeful, but instead all he got was a stamped foot and a
deafening horn in his ear.
Still he waited, colder, sober, and now thinking that perhaps
he’d been a little wiser pre-layoff when he had avoided
Times Square like the plague.
On what planet had he actually thought this was a good
idea? It didn’t matter that it was New Year’s
Eve, Times Square, nearly midnight. In the end, he wasn’t
an investment banker anymore; he was an employment counselor,
and a lunatic one at that.
Beckett had told him it was stupid. Told him that nobody
froze their ass off in New York in January when they could
stay home and have a decent party, guzzle champagne, and
watch the ball drop from the confines of well-insulated
apartment. And of course, it was at that moment that Ian
looked his best friend square in the eye had launched into
his winds of change spiel, new beginnings, living life –
doing it right.
And there, crushed amidst two million other cock-eyed optimists,
a killer wind shot through him, the truth dawning with frigid
Ian was a sap. Time to pack in the new year, accept what
he had and trudge onward. It was what it was, and nothing
-- not even a few mind-shattering hours in the center of
the universe -- was going to change it.
Feeling all sorts of foolish, he turned, starting toward
the sanctity of the subway because somewhere out there,
his sanity and his friends were waiting. Before he managed
another step, he felt a pull at his arm that knocked him
off balance. Ian whirled, prepared to tell the jerkward
that international relations be damned, quit touching him,
but then he stopped --
She was honeysuckle in the flesh. She looked like it, smelled
like it, and damn, he wanted to know if she tasted like
it as well. His body shocked to life, filled, throbbed.
Hello, winds of change.
Watercolor blue eyes were panicked and filled with worry.
Warm tawny hair streaked with gold spilled from her knitted
“Have you seen my phone? I can’t find my phone.
Help me find my phone. Oh, God. I lost my phone.”
Her voice was soft and tense against the noise of the crowd.
She was searching for her phone. Help her.
“Where’d you lose it?” he asked, raising
the volume, noticing the beefy tourist sizing her up with
those beady continental eyes. Shove off, Herr Queef.
“On the ground. I dropped it and I really need to
find it. I shouldn’t be here. It’s a complete
zoo. Why did I come here?”
To meet me, thought Ian, a stupid, romantic thought, right
up there with his winds of change spiel. Ian grinned, a
foolish, romantic grin, but he couldn’t help himself.
“We’ll find it,” he offered, and bent
to the ground. She hesitated, her eyes wisely fearful, but
then she bent too, testing the restraint of three million
possibly drunken party-goers, probably taking her life in
her own hands, yet still trusting him.
The ground beneath the crowd was like being underwater,
swimming against the tide of directionally-challenged fish.
The dim light was diffused by shifting legs and restless
feet and a continuous swirl of coats. Her hands grabbed
for the edge of his sleeve, her eyes terrified. “You
okay?” he asked, and she nodded once, but still he
“We’ll find it,” he assured her, keeping
one hand tied to hers. With the other, he explored the ground,
searching for what had to be the most important phone in
“I can’t believe I lost it,” she chattered,
the words tumbling out in a panic. “I can’t
believe I screwed up. I’m not careless. I can’t
be careless. I won’t be careless.” A clumsy
set of legs bumped into her, and she jumped, flying closer
“Don’t get crazy. We’ll find it,”
he soothed, heroically gathering her closer, trying to find
her phone, trying to keep her untrampled, all while telling
himself that just because a beautiful woman stumbles into
his arms, it did not mean the winds of change had changed
Blindly he groped the rough asphalt, his hand stomped on
twice, but apparently the gods actually owed Ian something
good this year, apparently Frank Capra wasn’t dead
in spirit, because at that moment, Ian’s fingers latched
onto plastic. Rectangular, sturdy, magical plastic.
“Found it,” he yelled, quickly pulling her
upright before they were both trampled to death -- which
never happened in Frank Capra movies.
The flashing neon signs lit up the jittery alarm in her
eyes, and he pulled her to him, instinct more than reason. “It’s okay. We got it,”
he said, feeling the tremors run through her, absorbing
them into himself. “It’s a phone,” he
murmured, whispering against her hair. “It’s
only a phone. Don’t cry.”
“Don’t like the crowd,” she muttered,
her face buried in his shoulder.
“You picked the wrong place to figure that out,”
he murmured, relieved to hear her awkward laugh, deciding
that holding a beautiful crowd-o-phobic was worth a layoff,
was worth being labeled a sap.
In the end, Ian had been right. New hopes. New opportunities,
and they all smelled like honeysuckle.
He stroked the back of her woolen coat, feeling the slow
ease of her shivering. It didn’t take her long, and
he knew the exact moment when her back stiffened, her chin
lifted, and the fear had passed. “I’m not crying.
I don’t cry,” she told him, her voice a lot
firmer than before.
Then she raised her eyes to his, dry, and more focused
than before. “I’m not crying,” she repeated.
“Thank you. This was stupid. I’m sorry. I don’t
like being stupid.”
Her profile seemed so fragile, so oddly out of place in
the chaos of the crowd, the lights, and the noise. Her face
was thin, delicate, a medieval maiden out of a fairytale.
, Yet there were hollow shadows in her eyes, shadows that
didn’t belong with such beauty. It took more than
a lost phone to cast shadows like that. Gently he tracked
her cheek, pretending to wipe at non-existent tears, only
wanting to touch the golden rose of her skin.
“You’re not being stupid. Everything’s
fine now. Everything’s perfect now,” he said,
watching as the control eased back in her face.
“Thank you for finding my phone,” she said,
and casually he shrugged off her gratitude, knowing the
night was young, the year was young. What was a job? What
was financial security? Totally oversold. In the big scheme
of life, could anything compare to that world-by-the-tail
feeling of her dreamy eyes growing warmer, looking at him
as if he was a hero -- and not just any hero, but her
“It’s nothing. You’re okay now?”
he asked, leaning close to be heard over the crowd. Oh,
“Sorry. I never fall apart,” she answered,
her head close to his, so close he could make out the carefully
concealed freckles on her nose.
“Don’t apologize. I fall apart on a regular
She looked at him oddly. “I was joking,” he
told her, and cursed himself for being a blockhead. There
was something in her face, in her moon-kissed gaze, that
held him fast. Hidden behind the composure, he could see
a child’s curiosity peering out.
Her mouth curved up, a pink cupids-bow that he felt somewhere
near his heart. Right then, one of the tourists jammed her
into him, and she started at the movement, until he pulled
her close again, fast adjusting to the heady feel of her
in his arms. “I shouldn’t have come here tonight.
I thought I could do this.”
“I know, two million idiots who think New Year’s
Eve is a night for new dreams. What a bunch of dorks. I
should have been home, guzzling champagne, instead of freezing
my… never mind.” Once again he felt her muffled
giggle and decided he didn’t mind being a blockhead,
didn’t mind being a fool. To hear her hesitant laugh,
to feel those lush curves fitted to his, to have her hair
brush against his face.
After a moment, her head lifted, and carefully she studied
him. “You ever do this before?”
“Only once. You?”
“Never again,” she answered firmly.
Apparently God was still watching, Frank was still filming,
and the winds of change were definitely on the move, because
suddenly, miraculously, the crowd began to count.
Thirty-three. Thirty-two. Thirty-one.
Her eyes glowed bright, the muted blue heating to liquid,
trapping him there. Her hands locked to his lapels, as if
she’d never let go. The air began to arc between them,
almost visible, coiling and floating like warm breath in
New life. New love. New year.
Nineteen. Eighteen. Seventeen.
Totally entranced, Ian slid his right hand behind her neck,
twining in her hair with a lingering sigh. She lifted her
face and her lips touched his even before he asked, even
before he begged. Soft, honeysuckle sweet, and tasting like
a new beginning.
When the crowd jostled her closer, Ian didn’t complain,
his left hand riding under her coat, finding the glorious
skin of her back, the inviting curve of her waist. Around
them, the world blew by, showers of confetti, bursts of
cold wind, and the joyous shouts of two million slightly
overjoyed partiers. Ian ignored them all, because in the
midst of two million, it was only he and this woman, and
the rest of their life.
Her generous mouth opened, her tongue merging with his,
coaxing, seducing, and oh, yes, he was so seduced, no coaxing
even necessary. His nerves fired, pulsing with new life,
pulsing with ideas that were older than time. He would take
her home. He would make love to her. He would marry her.
It was the Frank Capra way.
Impulsive arms locked around his neck, burying her fingers
in his hair. Honest to God. He could feel the insistent
touch of her hands on his neck, restless, and against his
greedy mouth she moaned. Music. Bells. Chimes. Somewhere
he’d died and was kissing an angel.
His hand slid lower, pressing her against him, soft to
hard. Her hips curled into him, her thigh rocking between
his. His eyes crossed. Nope. No angel. They didn’t
have moves like that in heaven.
An irritant vibrated against his leg -- not his cock, nor
his pulse, which were both buzzing in their own overjoyed
condition. She broke away, her breathing heavy, then lifted
the phone, the exact phone he’d found for her only
moments before. Which, if he had not found, she would not
be talking into. No, they would be still be kissing. Man,
he was a such a stupid dweeb.
Next to them, one of the tourists shot him a look of male
approval, but Ian ignored it, trying to restart his brain.
Here was the inspiration he’d been seeking.
As she talked, her gaze scanned the length of his cashmere
coat. For the first time, he could see that elusive recognition
flicker in her eyes -- seeing him as a man that was worthy
-- financially viable. Possibly insecure, but there it was.
Maybe the male code had some unwritten law saying it was
cowardly to trade in on his past life, but did geeky Clark
Kent ever want to throw open his jacket, exposing the all-powerful
‘S’? Hell, yeah.
The shouts of two million voices fell away. Only her words
touched his ears. She was talking, trying to reconnect with
her date. Date? No!
Ian wanted to yell at her to hang up because this was kismet,
karma, and the entire outcome of his post-layoff life rested
upon this one moment – no pressure. Instead, he kept
his mouth shut, a confident grin plastered on his face as
if this one moment didn’t mean a damn thing.
When she looked at Ian again, the soft blue eyes were so
lonely and sad. He wondered if she had sensed it, too. Ian
had never felt that pull before, never met a woman who stepped
out of his dreams and into his arms. It should have been
“I’m over here,” she said into the phone,
waving a graceful hand in the air for someone other than
Ian. Other than Ian. He wanted to pull down her
arm because she couldn’t be with someone else. This
was a new year. New opportunities. New loves….
“I have to go. He’s my date,” she apologized,
dashing the last vestiges of his hope to the ground, much
like last year’s sodden confetti.
“No surprise there,” answered Ian, his voice
faux-cheerful, something appropriate for happy people on
New Year’s Eve. “Have a good year.” Have
a nice life.
One heartbeat later, her expression turned to the well-mannered
smile given to a stranger on the street. Without another
word, she politely asked Hans to move out of the way, and
then moved out of Ian’s life.
All before he’d even gotten her name.
The winds of change blew cold and heartless, and Ian stamped
on Hans’ foot, hard -- international-incident hard
-- and Ian was gratified when the giant oaf muttered something
in another language that probably wasn’t nice. Tourism
was overrated anyway.
As he made his way home, Ian looked back at the ball that
was glittering like a fallen star, making outrageous promises
it wasn’t going to keep.
Happy New Year.
In a crowd of two million, Ian had never felt so alone.
At this precise moment, Rose Hildebrande wanted to rewind
back to last year when Remy wasn’t sipping his champagne
and discussing in elaborate detail his latest performance
in the operating room.
Rose wanted to go back in that unforgettable moment when
the stranger was kissing her with such desperate need, as
if he couldn’t get enough of her. With one kiss, he
had found something golden and fleeting inside her. Romance
-- that was what they called it.
The people, the crowds, the fear. Everything had been a
black, paralyzing blur, except for the feel of that strong
body, holding her tight. Not to punish, no, that was protection.
Rose handled her touches very carefully. On a normal day,
she knew exactly when she wanted to be touched, when people
expected touching, and how she was supposed to react. That
blood-pounding, swept-away feeling should have terrified
her. In some ways it did, but when the fear came, it was
slow and lethargic, tempered by something new. Something
Quickly she shook off the weakness. Some instincts were
too ingrained to ever be forgotten. Control. Always in control.
Now, sitting in the lobby of the Four Seasons with New
York’s crème de la crème, her blood
was neatly congealing back to its more reserved state. Her
date for the night, world-renown pediatric cardiology surgeon
Dr. Remy St. Roget, was cheerfully describing his day. The
rest of the world was planning a celebration, and Remy was
slaving over the operating table, saving the lives of small
children. Heroic, handsome, charming, and rich. The man
had zero flaws.
So, why was Rose nodding at suitable intervals, with each
polite bob of her head, her mind clicking back to that dazzling
feeling inspired by one exquisitely hard, hungry mouth?
No, she thought, shoving the dazzle aside. More hocus-pocus
that had no basis in anything real.
Idly, she shuttered her lashes, an indication of perhaps
not actually listening, but a sincere pretense of listening.
It was a look she’d perfected by the age of six,
when Rose had been primped, painted, powdered, and coiffed,
and then ordered to skip down the charm school runway with
bubbly poise and a lollipop smile. Her parents had big dreams
for her, beauty pageants, charm school, marrying well. Rose
Hildebrande’s heart-shaped little face was their ticket
to a better life, and Rose had quickly learned to fall in
line. There was no little girl better at perfection, a concrete
diamond mined from the worst of hell.
The suffocating blackness filled her, but she shoved it
aside. This was safe. This was good, and Remy was everything
she always dreamed of. He was a fourth generation St. Roget,
heir to the St. Roget fortune in case a heart-surgeon wasn’t
secure enough. And there was something princely about him,
a chiseled profile, the Roman nose. His dark hair was carelessly
brushed back from his face. The dove-gray suit was tailored
perfectly to show sculpted shoulders and a tapered torso.
Best of all, the man was on the wrong side of thirty and
trolling for a wife. A beautiful blond to hang up on his
wall along with his summa cum laude diploma from Columbia,
his medical license from the State of New York, and the
live-action photo of the impala he’d shot on his last
safari in Tanzania.
“Have you thought about the auction?” she asked,
shifting the conversation from surgery towards a more stomach-surviving
topic. She had promised the Countess she’d deliver,
and it was a promise Rose intended to keep. Sylvia was her
boss, her friend, and Rose owed her a lot more than a charity
“Yes, I’ve thought. The answer is no.”
“Please,” she asked, not blaming him for saying
no, but still determined to change his mind. It was demeaning,
it was embarrassing, but truly, there was no more perfect
bachelor in the entire tri-state region.
“No.” Those prince-like eyes were firm, but
Rose was undeterred.
“Think of the puppies, those little fluff-balls that
need a good home. You can’t be that heartless.”
“I’m a heart surgeon. I replace hearts on a
daily basis. I don’t fear heartlessness like ordinary
mortals without a god complex.”
They were more alike than he would ever suspect. He saw
her as the ideal, the perfect woman, and she never let him
see behind the flawless mask to the woman that was missing
both a heart and a soul. Very rarely did she dwell on that
loss, except on a starry night like tonight. When a sexy
stranger appeared like magic, a prince charming coming to
sweep her away to someplace quiet and glorious and decadently
warm. Oh, yeah, right, next thing you know, you’re
flossing your teeth, and you’ve got a diamond-studded
tiara perched on your head. Rose lifted a hand to her head,
just to check. All clear. No, if Rose wanted her happy ending,
she was going to have to work for it.
“Would you do it for me?” she asked in her
best, most earnest voice. This was their fourth date, and
she didn’t ask things from him. Their relationship
was a battle plan, carefully executed, plotted, and to date
proceeding exactly on schedule, with the Countess cheering
on from the sideline. Very few people saw similarities between
relationships and battle, but Rose had read and memorized
the Art of War. Those similarities were all Rose had ever
“You’re going to make me, aren’t you?”
he said, charming resignation in his voice. It was why she
liked him so much. He never asked anything of her, never
told what to say, or what to wear, all she had to do was
sit prettily at his side and listen. Piece of cake.
“Make you? Me?” She fluttered her lashes and
made him laugh. “You can make all the heartless jokes
you want, but I’m on to you.”
“Do you always get your way?”
“Yes. You should have figured that out by now.”
She waited, fingers crossed under the table, until finally,
he nodded, and she remembered to breathe. “I’ll
Rose was so excited, she nearly kissed him, except for
the hot hunger that still lingered on her lips. She wanted
to keep that taste there, just for a little longer.
“You’re sure? I mean, if you really
don’t want to…”
“You’d let me off the hook that easily?”
“Not really, but I’m trying to show some pretense
of sensitivity. Humor me, here,” and because she owed
him, she listened to three more blow-by-blow surgical descriptions
without even a visible quiver of nausea.
Before he moved to number four, he looked down at his watch.
“It’s nearly two. You look tired.”
A secret glance at her watch said it nearly one, and all
Rose wanted to do was go home and fall into bed. Alone.
She’d had exactly zero lovers in her life. When you
were groomed for matrimony as a blood-sport, virginity was
highly prized, right up there with a clean complexion and
a coming-out dress. Her parents didn’t have the money
for white satin and Mechlin lace, so the Hildbrands had
over-compensated with endless lectures on virtue and a lifetime
supply of Neutrogena. Rose -- being a bright girl, and not
one to rebel -- had taken the hint.
Now she yawned, not exactly faked. “I’m exhausted,
and with your day -- honestly, I don’t know you do
“Good drugs,” he answered with an easy laugh.
And the stamina of a camel. Mentally, she slapped herself,
feeling tired, punchy, and the bubbles in her blood were
starting to wither. A master of efficiency, he helped her
into her coat, always the gentleman, and she took a last
look at the patrons in the lobby. Everything was so beautiful
here, the polished marble, the gleaming silver, the people
with their gentle laughter and placid faces. The six years
of charm school had been so similar to this. Every day,
the candle-glow lights and high-gloss perfection had been
a safe haven for her, a few peaceful hours away from home.
There, here, Rose had survived and thrived, grown hard and
Her chin lifted, perfectly parallel to the ground, and
she pivoted smoothly, slow and elegant, and the entire room
watched her leave.
As they made their way out the doors, her heel caught on
the step, and when her foot moved on, the shoe stayed behind.
Remy -- happy, smiling, gloriously rich, Remy --swooped
down, and brandished it with a romantic flourish. “You
did this on purpose?” he asked, as if she could be
He bent down, dark hair gleaming in the light and placed
the shoe on her foot. It should have been magic.
“Do you believe in fairy tales, Remy?” she
asked curiously. If you lived within the invulnerability
of the castle walls, did it all seem a big con on the rest
of the world?
“Do you think this night is magic?” he countered,
rising to his feet, and she saw a flash of something in
his eyes. Something that she’d seen when she kissed
the stranger. Hope. On this one night of the year, everyone
wanted to believe.
“I think people deserve one night of magic,”
she answered, almost the truth.
It was his cue, his moment, and Remy was not stupid. He
bent down, took her mouth, and Rose was too determined to
pull back. Remy was a lot more viable than a fairy tale.
He was everything she’d worked for, and his kiss was
every bit as accomplished as it should be. So where was
the triumph? No triumph, only the taste of hot hunger that
even a fourth-generation St. Roget couldn’t ease.
Patiently she waited for the thrill of victory, the absoluteness
of her control. Perhaps she hadn’t won the war, but
this battle belonged to her. So why did she feel the same
as before, the same as yesterday, the same as she’d
felt all her life.
As his hand moved purposefully toward her waist, Rose realized
the hot hunger wasn’t going to return. It couldn’t
be forced, it couldn’t be tricked.
Purposefully, her hand covered his, and she lifted her
head, gave him her nicest smile, a fake smile designed to
make people believe she had a heart.
“Too soon?” he asked.
“Yes,” she told him, regret in her voice. “I’m
sorry, Remy.” And she was, disappointed in herself,
in her trickster mind. Sometimes she saw monsters where
there were none, and sometimes she felt nothing when she
should be pulsing with life.
“Soon,” she promised. “I’m still
not there, yet.”
Remy thought her heart was involved elsewhere, that Rose
was pining for a man who was desperately unworthy of her
affections. A failed love affair had been Sylvia’s
idea, but Rose had approved, because it solved a lot more
problems than it created.
“I can wait,” he said gallantly, not wanting
to believe a woman would be stupid enough to turn him down
forever. Someday, Rose wouldn’t turn him down, but
“Can I see you home?”
“I’ll manage. It’s not far.” Another
big fat lie.
He took her hand, as if she were a princess, and kissed
it once. If she had a heart, if she had a brain, she wouldn’t
play this game, but instead get on with the life that she
planned. Instead, she stood there watching him go, a worried
smile on her face.
After Remy had left, Rose hoofed it on aching feet to the
number six train, which would take her to the Bronx. The
Bronx was home, but not for too much longer. Rose had dreams,
ambitions, and she had big goals in her life. She was grown,
a woman fully-formed, and stronger than her father had ever
guessed that Little Mary Poofster could be.
Rose wouldn’t live on false hopes and broken dreams.
She didn’t have to worry about whether fairy tales
or magic truly existed because they didn’t; all she
had to do was foster the illusion. Rose had long ago mastered
the art of the illusion. Money was hard, money was real,
money made you invulnerable to whatever the fates chose
to throw your way.
After she got off at her stop, she walked past the pet
store boxed between the bodega and the OTB site. It was
an odd place for animals, and she liked to stand outside
the glass, watching the puppies from a safe distance.
The puppies always fascinated her, confined to the little
pen, but they didn’t seem to mind. Five little black
fur-balls with twinkling brown eyes that saw the best in
the world. They always seemed carefree and content and safe
in their own little world. The Hildebrandes never had a
pet. Not even a fish. And Rose didn’t mind. Dogs were
smelly, and loud, and dirty, and could rip a hole in pink
satin, quick as you could say Boo.
But she liked watching from behind the window, and she
wondered what they thought while they played behind the
glass. Sometimes she’d put her hand on the glass and
leave it there, waiting to see if they’d come to her,
but they never did. Animals didn’t like her, knowing
things that people never would.
Tonight, there were no puppies, only a big black monster
dog with a huge jaws, but tired eyes. He was curled up on
the hay, with absolutely no knowledge that tonight was the
start of something new. Lazily he opened an eye, squinted
at her, and Rose squinted back. She put a hand to the glass,
because from behind the glass, there was nothing he could
do to her.
The dog growled.
Rose quivered, her hand falling to her side.
However, she did defiantly stare him down, until he realized
she was no threat, and shut his eyes, prepared to sleep
Yup, animals knew things that people never would.
Before she was climbed the steps to her building, Rose
took one last look at the lights of the skyline, the late-night
partygoers making their way home, shouts of happiness ringing
in the air, as if all was right with the world.
For a second, for one heart-stopping second, she had felt
that way, too. Rose pressed a finger to her lips, remembering
Somewhere he was out there. Was he alone? Was he thinking
about her? Rose pressed a finger to her lips, remembering
My Prosperous Prince Charming.
The words whispered inside her, seductive and golden and
warm and quickly Rose shushed them away.
She turned and went inside.
It was New Year’s Eve, and all she wanted to do was
be alone, let down her hair, and slip into a pair of cushy
polka-dot socks. Bright lights and a polished world might
put stars in her eyes, but it sure was hell on the feet.
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