Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Chapter 8

Sophie turned to David and smiled “So…what time do you want me to pick you up?”

He laughed and shrugged his shoulders “Ten should do!”

“Ten o’clock!” She rolled her eyes…”that’s not breakfast….that’s brunch!”

“Works for me!” he laughed.

“Ok, Ok…I’ll let you have your beauty sleep! But I have to warn you…the place I have in mind for us for tomorrow fills up quickly, so be prepared to wait!”

“What kind of place is that?”

“Oh, only the one that serves the best pancakes in Bergen county…or maybe even in the whole New Jersey!”

“Well that’s an offer I can’t refuse!” David said imitating an exaggerated Italian accent.

Sophie laughed at him and started to drive back to the hotel. As they drove, David reached for her cell phone that was sticking out of her purse and chuckling at the smirk charm proceeded to punch few numbers. When his own cell rang few moments later, he quickly typed something into it and returned Sophie’s cell to her purse.

Seeing her raised eyebrows, he laughed and explained “I just took yours and gave you mine…cell numbers I mean”

She nodded and pulled up to Hilton’s entrance “You’re home…I guess..”

The last thing David wanted to do was get out of that SUV… With a deep sigh, he opened his door…then quickly reached over to her and kissed her gently on her lips…

“See you tomorrow Sophie.” He said as he left her car and went into the lobby.

“What has just happened? Did David Bryan just say that he wants to see her again? And did she just says yes to having a breakfast with him!?!? What was she thinking? AND DID HE JUST KISS HER!!!! Could this be actually happening to her? Or did she just have an incredible day dream?”

Sophie did not remember getting home. But as she sat in her kitchen, ignoring loudly complaining Sasha, she reached in her purse and grabbed her cell phone. She scrolled through her contact list and almost dropped the phone! There it was! An entry with name David and a number with a 732 area code next to it!!! Nope, she did not dream it!

She fed her cat, went through her usual bed time routine, set her alarm for eight am, and went to sleep. Next morning, when Jon’s voice woke her up, Sophie flew out of bed and stopped dead in her tracks. She inched toward her bedroom window and peaked through the blinds. There was at least a foot of snow on the ground! Hallelujah!!! She won’t have to go to her parent’s house for Hanukah tomorrow! The only thing she had to worry about now was getting to the other side of her town to pick up David on time.

At ten a.m. she was waiting in her car by the entrance of Woodcliff Lake Hilton.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Chapter 7

“Business” he sighed….”You sure you want to hear?”

Sophie nodded and reached for a piece of sashimi with her chop sticks. He watched her place it in her mouth, close her eyes and chew slowly with obvious pleasure on her face. Again, he felt an unexpected stirring in his groin. Giving himself a mental shake, David proceeded to explain the tedious process of negotiating of staging a Broadway Play. Sophie listened attentively and asked appropriate questions. She laughed at his sarcasm and commented that show business seems to have even more “red tape” then health care.

They made their way through the appetizer, sharing and commenting on different sashimi flavors and textures. The conversation slowed as the main course arrived. They ate in a comfortable silence, both wondering why they felt so at ease with each other.

When the waitress approached them with a dessert menu, David looked at Sophie who shook her head and patted her tummy “I can’t possibly eat another bite, but please go ahead if you want something.” He laughed and asked for the check, handing over his credit card as soon as it arrived.

Sophie looked at her watch ” Its getting late so I better take you back to the Hilton.”

David looked at her and raised his eyebrows “ Its only seven thirty! Why are you in such a hurry to get rid of me?” Then a realization hit him and he frowned “ do you need to get home to some one?”

“Actually, yes….Sasha is probably wondering where I am” she laughed

“Sasha?” he asked.

“Yes Sasha….my cat!” she laughed.

David nodded and decided to press on “Are you married? Or otherwise involved? I need to know if I’m about to trespass.”

Stunned by the last sentence, Sophie stared at him for few seconds before answering “ No David, I’m not married, not in a relationship either.” she said and softly added “and there are no kids, in case you’re wondering…”

It was David’s turn to be stunned “Did she just read his mind?”

The waitress returned with the credit card receipt, he signed without looking, reached in his pocket and placed couple of bills on the table. Sophie rose and reached for her jacket but David beat her to it and held it for her to get into. He then put on his coat and led her outside.

They were both surprised to see that gentle snow was falling around them. They reached her SUV and David went around and opened the driver side door for Sophie. She smiled gratefully and got in. He joined her few moments later.

Clearing his throat, he turned to face her “ Sophie, I’m going to be in this area for few more days….Do you think…uhmmm….Can we….Can I see you again?” He almost whispered.

“I….ahh…I don’t know what to say…” she whispered back.

“Please say yes!”

“OK, then….yes”

He smiled, leaned back in seat and said “Great! How about having breakfast with me tomorrow?”

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Chapter 6

She led him toward her SUV parked near the entrance, bracing against the cold air. Unlocking the doors, she motioned for David to get in. He climbed in to the passenger seat, silently giving thanks that it was not a subcompact. She turned the ignition key and quickly switched the stereo to a radio station. That swift move did not escape David’s attention. “What is she hiding now?” he thought as he switched the stereo back to the CD. The intro for “Sympathy for the Devil” came through the car speakers. Puzzled, he looked at Sophie who was blushing furiously. “What on earth could be wrong with listening to Rolling Stones?” He learned the answer few seconds later when Jon’s voice filled the car.

“Nice bootleg!” he laughed. “Please tell me you don’t have the one where I sing Tumblin’ Dice!”

“Actually, that’s the next track” said Sophie turning even redder.

“OK…OK… I give up!” he laughed and turned the stereo back to radio station.

Sophie gripped the steering wheel and tried to regain her composure. When she was reasonably certain that the color of her face was returning to normal, she turned to David and asked “So, where do you want to go? I mean, you did not tell me what you would like to eat!”

“I’m pretty easy in the food department” he smiled. “Italian, Chinese, Japanese, Burgers or grill would do.”

“McDonald’s or Burger King?” she asked raising eyebrows mockingly at him.

“Anything but that!” David groaned.

Sophie smiled and nodded as she put her MDX in drive and pulled out of the parking lot. They drove for couple of minutes in comfortable silence. Less then two miles from the hotel, Sophie pulled into a shopping center and came to a stop in front of a Japanese restaurant. “Gen” David read the sign and nodded approvingly. They walked in and were promptly seated at secluded table. A waitress came over to take their drink orders. David asked for Sake, Sophie opted for a diet Coke.

“What? I am the designated driver!” She laughed at the questioning look on his face.

David smiled and shrugged his shoulders.

They opened their menus and started to make their choices. After agreeing on sharing couple of appetizers and choosing their entrees they completed their order.
“So Sophie, can I ask what you were doing at the hotel?” he started, leaning back in his seat across from her.

“I was at a conference.” she replied.

“What kind of conference?”

“Nursing, wellness promotion, continuous education…that type of things”

“Soooo, you are a nurse?”

She sighed at the smug look on his face “Yes David I’m a nurse! And No I Don’t Do private duty, or give sponge baths….or anything else that just flashed through that mind of yours!” she answered and rolled her eyes.

“Please tell me you at least have the cap!” he raised an eyebrow.

“Nope, sorry to ruin that fantasy!”

She had to laugh at the look on his face, it was the look of a six year old who just caught his mom in the act of taking his tooth from under his pillow and replacing it with a shiny new quarter!

The waitress chose that moment to bring their drinks and appetizers. Silently thanking her for the interruption, Sophie decided to change the topic.

“So what brings you to our neck of the woods?” she asked.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Chapter 5

He looked at her and raised his eyebrows “But you are a fan? Right?”

Sophie nodded without saying a word.

“So who is your favorite?” He persisted. “All fans have their favorite band member! Do you fancy the Kidd? Or you prefer our Tall Dark and Handsome Wingman? Or is it the Hitman who sets your heart on fire? Or is it the Joker that tickles your fancy?” Seeing her opened mouthed shocked face, David smiled and said “We do read the boards and blogs you know.”

Recovering from her shock, Sophie smiled and nodded “Well, in that case sign me up for All of the Above category.” Seeing his unconvinced expression she continued “I actually like all of you guys. You know, each of you has unique talents and merits. I greatly admire Jon for his philanthropy. What he and his foundation do for the community is phenomenal. And of course his voice, song writing and stage presence are short of amazing! Richie’s guitar playing skills are legendary, his contribution to the creative process is irreplaceable. And don’t forget his charity work. Tico is a real power house on those drums! His art is very interesting and diverse, and I sooo love his jewelry line.” She smiled, slid her hand from his and touched her pendant.

Chagrined by the loss of her hand in his, David nodded and looked at her questionably “And?”

Sophie laughed at his “upset little boy expression” and continued “ And….O yeah, there is also this guy on that stage whose fingers seem to fly above the keyboards, who writes amazing piano music and funny songs for a stage production. Who is also actively helping to keep music alive in our schools! Happy now?”

David nodded and smiled “Yep!” “But seriously now, how long have you been a fan? And, most importantly, do I have to fear for my safety?” he said as he wiggled his eyebrows.

Sophie gave him a “Kidd worthy” look.

“I’m just kidding” he laughed, raising his hands in mock surrender.

She sighed, and shook her head “I don’t think you’re in any danger from me. And I‘ve been a fan of your music since the beginning, the 80‘s you know, the Runaway …”

“In that case, how about having dinner with me?” he asked.

“Well… OK… I guess…” she hesitated and blushed “as long as its not room service!”

“No, no room service!” David chuckled and thought to himself “at least not for now!”
He got off the bench and headed for the lobby with Sophie following him. As she looked through the glass hotel doors at the dark winter sky, Sophie hesitated and looked at David “Uhmm, Its December 19th, and we are in New Jersey….so its like 30 degrees outside. You’ll need your jacket!”

“What about you?” he laughed.

“Mine is in my truck, and I’m parked right there” she pointed to the nearest line of cars.

“Well mine is upstairs in my room, wanna come with me and help me get it?”

“Nope! I’ll just wait for you right here in the lobby if you don’t mind!”

David DID mind, but decided not to argue with her “Ok, give me five minutes.”

Sophie nodded and watched him turn and walk toward the elevators, admiring his muscular thighs and rear tightly hugged by black denim. True to his word, he re appeared few minutes later, sporting a long leather coat. Seeing her nod approvingly, he led their way to the doors.

“Do you know this area?” he asked her.

“Yes, I actually live here in Woodcliff Lake.” she answered.

“Great! Then you drive!” he laughed.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Chapter 4

He kept watching her as he played. She had a soft, almost “Mona Lisa” like smile splayed across her face. She seemed to be truly enjoying his music.

Sophie let her mind drift as it always did while she listened to this particular piece of music. The visuals it conjured up were calming and soothing: soft yellow sand and turquoise water, golden sun setting down slightly above the horizon, bathed in the pink glow; the sound of waves gently lapping at the shore… Ahhh, a Paradise! The music wound down and Sophie opened her eyes. Realizing where she was, she straightened up and smiled at David. “Thank you, this was so beautiful!” she said as she turned to leave.

She was walking away! “No, this can’t be happening! Not like this!” he thought.

“Wait!” said David, getting up and taking few steps in her direction, “don’t you want to hear anything else?” She turned back to look at him, smiled and said “Thank you Mr. Bryan, but I think I already imposed enough.”

He mentally cringed at the “Mr. Bryan” part. “You’re not imposing in the least! But I’m clearly at a disadvantage here”

“Why?” she asked.

“Well, beautiful stranger, you obviously know who I am.” he smiled. “How about telling me your name, so we can even out the bases”

She stood there quietly for few seconds, then extended her hand toward David “I’m Sophie Goldman”

He smiled and took her tiny hand in his, turned it over and brought to his lips, gently placing a kiss on her knuckles “Hello Sophie, please call me David.”

Her mind went completely blank. His lips felt soft, his smile was dazzling, his curls begged to be touched, and his blue eyes twinkled. None of the pictures that she has ever seen has done him justice “O My G-d! What do I do now?”

He took in her stunned expression and had to laugh “You’re not gonna faint on me are you?” She shook her head but remained silent. David looked at the tiny hand that he still was holding. The design on her bracelet was large R and B with a small s sandwiched in between. He glanced up at her pendant and sure enough it was the same letters scrolled across the star of David.

“So, Sophie, are you a Tico’s girl?” he asked.

That question brought her back from her stunned silence. “What? Why? What makes you think so?”

“Well, you’re wearing his jewelry”

“O that!” she laughed. “I like his designs, and I fell in love with this bracelet at first site, so I just had to have it. And last month I found this pendant and decided to get myself an early Hanukah gift. But I’m not a Tico’s girl, as you call it!”

“Really?” he wiggled his eyebrows, still holding on to her hand “So whose girl are you?”

She threw her head back and laughed. The sound of her laughter went straight to his groin! “Down boy, down! What are you? A horny high school boy? Don’t embarrass yourself in the first five minutes!” he thought. Realizing that he was still holding her hand, David took couple of steps toward the bench Sophie was sitting on earlier, sat down and pulled her down gently, to sit next to him. Turning to face her, he pressed on “ So Sophie, you did not answer me. Whose girl are you?”

She sat down next to him on the bench. His gentle hold on her hand, hell, his whole proximity to her was giving her goose bumps! She looked at him, and said with a gentle smile “I’m nobody’s girl David!”

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Chapter 3

Sophie was thoroughly enjoying her time with the girls. The conversation was fun, her Riesling was smooth with just the right hint of sweetness that she enjoyed in her drinks. Out of the corner of her eye she noticed a tall blond man walking past their booth, on his way out of the lounge. She turned her head to look at him and almost dropped her wine glass. The man was a dead ringer for David Bryan, the keyboardist from her favorite rock band Bon Jovi. “OK girl, time to step away from the booze” she thought. “You’re beginning to see things. Because what on earth would David Bryan be doing in this neck of the woods” She smiled, gave herself a mental shake and attempted to turn her attention back to the conversation. Luckily, her friends were all scheduled to work this weekend, so nobody was up for a second round of drinks.

After settling their bill, Sophie said goodbye to her friends and contemplated her options. Should she go back home to Sasha or swing by the Tice Corner for some retail therapy. Smiling to herself Sophie decided to give her credit card some work out.

In the atrium David set down on the piano bench and gently caressed the shiny black lacquer finished instrument. “Talk to me sweet girl” he whispered as he lifted the hinged cover. He ran couple of scales to warm up his fingers, closed his eyes and with a deep sigh, started to play.

Sophie was walking through the hallway when she heard familiar sounding music. She stopped to listen. Recognizing the beautiful crescendos of Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata, she followed the sound into the atrium. Grabbing a seat on a bench under one of the potted trees, she looked at the man hunched over the piano keys. He was wearing black denim pants and a gray sweat shirt, but it was the blond curls that made Sophie’s heart skip a beat. Her mind went back to the bar, and wine induced hallucination she thought she had. “Wow, how is this possible?” she thought. The music was winding down.

David saw movement out of the corner of his eye. He turned his head to look at the intruder. It was the brunette from the lounge. As the Sonata came to the end, his long fingers rested on the ivories.

Sophie got up and approached the piano and the man. “What am I doing?” she thought, but kept on moving.

She was moving toward him. He took a closer look at her. Tiny but well put together, nice curves in the right places, soft brown curls cascading past her shoulders, and beautiful liquid chocolate eyes. She was wearing black pants with a soft brown chenille sweater. A flash of silver around her right wrist, a black leather necklace with a silver pendant of some sort, but no rings… “Hmmm, promising…” he thought and smiled.

She saw his smile, gathered her courage, and came closer. “Do you take requests?” she asked him.

He looked slightly shocked as he answered ”Depends on the request I guess”

“I’d love to hear Endless Horizon” she said with a shy smile. He looked even more shocked, but nodded and started to play. Sophie leaned slightly on the side of the piano and closed her eyes.

David was watching her as he played. “She is obviously a fan” he thought. But she seemed different from the most of the fans that he has encountered, almost reluctant, “no, more like shy”. He took a look at her bracelet. It was a large curb chain with some sort of design, but it was her necklace that really caught his eye. It was a small Star of David with some delicate scrawl work across it. “Well, well, well…happy Hanukah Dave!” he thought to himself and smiled.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Chapter 2

Dr. Oz did not disappoint. As expected, he was an amazing speaker that held the audience’s attention captive for almost two hours. His lecture on self care and wellness promotion fit well with Sophie’s area of interest. Subsequent presentations of the morning portion of the conference unfortunately did not even come close in quality of the content or presentation. Needless to say, by noon everyone in the room were more then ready for a break and lunch.

Sophie was enjoying the small talk with her friends. Lulu was catching her up with the latest hospital gossip. Pattie and Essie updated her on the unit’s day to day life. Everyone touched base on their plans for the holidays. As her turn came about, Sophie put on a well practiced smile and told her friends how happy she was to spend another holiday season with her folks. They bought it as usual. Over all the lunch was progressing very nicely, and the food was out of this world. By the end of the meal the girls convinced Sophie to join them for a drink after the conference.

Upstairs, David wasn’t even aware of what he was eating. His meeting with the “Broadway People” could only be described as slow and excruciating torture. Something on the level of having a root canal done with only one Tylenol for anesthesia. Every paragraph, every proposition and stipulation that he and Joe came up with were fought tooth and nail by the execs. “There has got to be an easier way to bring a play to Broadway” he thought. Maybe he should have brought Jon with him, at least he could’ve stared the assholes down with his famous Bongiovi glare. Rubbing his throbbing temples, David returned his attention to the inquisition disguised as business negotiations.

The afternoon portion of the conference was more or less interesting. As soon as the evaluation forms were collected and the certificates of attendance distributed, the girls were ready to go. They made their way to the Nickelby’s Lounge and found a nice booth. Drinks were ordered, and small talk resumed.

It was four in the afternoon and they have accomplished absolutely nothing as far as David was concerned. Since his partner Joe DiPietro had family plans for the evening, they decided to resume the talks on Monday. Its not like he had anything else to do this holiday week. Hanukah was starting on Sunday night, and for the fist time in his life, he was all alone. Since Both Christmas and Hanukah were overlapping this year, April claimed their kids and took them to some tropical island vacation with her boyfriend of the moment. His mom has finally accepted his sister’s invitation to join her family on a holiday cruise. Of course he had a standing invitation to spend holidays with any of his brothers, but due to the negotiations in progress, California and Florida were out of question. That only left Jon and Dorothea, and for some reason he did not feel like invading their house on Christmas.

Deciding that it was not too early for a drink, David made his way to the lounge on the first floor of the hotel. He was pleasantly surprised to find it nearly empty compared to the rest of the floor that seemed to be over run by women. Getting a beer he surveyed the place. There were two more men sitting at the bar and a small group of young women talking and laughing over their drinks in the corner booth. There was a small upright piano in the corner of the lounge and it was calling his name. He sighed and turned away. “Is there some kind of a convention here today?” he asked the bartender. “No pal, just some hospital conference” he laughed, “But they were supposed to be done by three.” David thanked the guy, signed his tab and left a generous tip under his empty beer bottle.

On his way to the door, he glanced over the corner booth again, three of the four women were still involved in an animated discussion. The fourth one, a pretty brunette, was quietly listening to her friends while sipping her white wine. Their eyes met briefly. David smiled automatically and kept on walking.

He still felt far too restless to return to his room, so he slowly wondered around the now nearly empty floor. A whisper of running water caught his attention and he went to investigate. A small waterfall surrounded by lush green plants greeted him in the empty atrium; but most important, there was a beautiful black Steinway in the corner. “Yes! There is a G-d!” he thought, and for the first time today, a real smile graced his face.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Chapter 1

Got no time for the corner boys
Down in the streets making all that noise
Or the girls out on the avenue
‘Cause tonight I wanna be with you
Tonight I’m gonna take that ride
Across the river to the Jersey side
Take my baby to the carnival
And I’ll take her on all the rides.

Jon’s voice filled the dark bedroom. Sophie opened her eyes and groaned. Reached over and silenced the CD alarm. It was her usual six thirty wake up call, but today was slightly different. Today was not a usual work day, today she was going to the annual nursing conference presented by her hospital. She was looking forward to this conference ever since they announced that Dr. Oz would be one of the guest speakers. She was planning to meet couple of her friend from her old unit, still uncertain whether she’ll accept their invitation of going out for drinks after the conference.

Sophie got out of bed, opened the shades and looked out her window. Yep another dark December morning. At least the weather reports were not promising any snow tonight. Though it would be very welcomed come Sunday. This way she would not have to think too hard to come up with an excuse why she could not make it to her parent’s house for the first night of Hanukkah.

Oh well, she still had over 24 hours to come up with an excuse why she did not feel like sitting through the hours of not so gentle questioning by her aunts and her parent’s various well meaning friends, that would put Spanish Inquisition to shame. The questions of why such a nice, 35 year old “girl” was still not married, and was torturing her wonderful parents by denying them the joy of spoiling their grandchildren. Every year, at every family gathering, they went through the same scenario. Why couldn’t she be like her cousin Natalie the teacher, who had blessed her parents with two lovely children. Or at least be like her other cousin Gregory the Doctor, who even though he did marry that Catholic shiksa, still managed to bless his parents with three lovely children.

Sophie sighed and headed towards her shower nearly tripping over her cat in the process. Picking up the ball of gray fur, hugging him she gently placed him on her bed. Who needs a man when she had Sasha. Complete and unconditional love without asking for anything in return except for a daily feeding, fresh water and clean litter box. No emotional drama, no demands, no conditions to deal with, no criticism.

She sighed again, determined not to dwell on the failed relationship from the last five years. The one that finally had given a glimmer of hope to her parents, and nightmares to her. She finally had gotten the courage to end the relationship with Robert about nine months ago, and as far as she was concerned it was one of the two best decisions she had made in the last decade! The other was to return to school for her advanced certification in Holistic Nursing. Two years ago she left the familiar and comfortable position on the maternity unit and became a part of her Hospital’s Holistic Team. Sophie loved her role in providing comfort and diversion to patients in distress using a gentle touch, soothing music, relaxing massage, and aromatherapy.

She stepped into the shower and quickly went through her morning routine. Stepping out, she wrapped herself in a fluffy terry robe an started to dry her hair on her way to the kitchen for that all important first cup of coffee. Caffeine fix taken care off, she went back to her bedroom, to finish getting ready for the conference. She picked up her purse and examined herself in the mirror. A petite brunette smiled back at her. Well it was time to boogey. She got into her SUV and drove out of her garage. Soft sounds of Hallelujah came through the speakers. Yep, the day was starting out on a right note!

Less then ten minutes later she pulled into the picturesque grounds of the Woodcliff Lake Hilton. This was the third year that this beautiful hotel was hosting this annual conference. She parked and got out of her SUV. Entering through the lobby she was directed to the registration check in set up in one of the smaller conference rooms. Moving through the hall way she noted that they redid the lower level since last year. The gentle sound of running water caught her attention. A small waterfall surrounded by lush greenery in a beautiful atrium, she did not recall ever seeing this. Checking in with the conference committee she got her badge and the information folder. With all formalities taken care off, Sophie moved to the Grand Ballroom set up for the conference and picked out a table close to the podium. She reserved few seats for her friends Pattie and Lulu and the rest of the girls from her old unit.

Few floors above her, David was struggling to wake up with his second cup of coffee.