The Johnnie cab flew through the streets. After the rear tire slammed up and over a curb and then back off to get around a bus, Jon closed his eyes. It was bad enough that any photog could catch them in the back of the cab instead of his usual ride, but his wife was laughing like a loon about it.
"Son of a--" he growled as the buggy, or whatever the fuck you were supposed to call a plastic car on the back of a bike, tipped as they took a sharp turn down Fifth Ave. The gala was at Rockefeller Center and West 48th Street was coming up fast. Way too fast.
"Where's your sense of adventure?"
The delight in her voice made him clench his jaw. For fuck's sake did she have any idea the road rash she could get if Eddie dumped them over in his exuberance? There was what? Two bolts holding them onto his bike? Christ. Instead, he curled one arm around her hip, holding her tight into his side and the other on the surprisingly clean edges of the cab.
They jerked to a stop and Eddie finally turned around to them with a huge smile on his face. "See, I get you where you need to go a helluva lot faster than any yellow-cab in the city."
Before Jon could jump out, Eddie was helping Tessa out onto the sidewalk. The first flash of a camera came from his left. Awesome. He'd be on Page 6 looking like an asshole. He hopped down to the street, smile plastered on his face. Eddie held out his arm as Tessa chattered with him, swapping out her little black slipper things for the dangerously high stilettos that had given him a boner even when it had only been twenty minutes since he'd had her. And now, this guy had his hands on his woman and was making her laugh.
And he was the fuckwad on the side of the street with cameras closing in.
She pressed a kiss to Eddie's cheek, her laugh cock hardening as usual. Jon straightened his shoulders and stepped forward. He pressed a bill into the driver's hand and shook it. The younger man was disheveled in that rugged model way that only twenty-something year old men could get away with. His dark eyes were shining and the poor sap was already more than half in love with her. He should be used to it. Men fell in love with his wife at least twice a week it seemed. But now it just made him grouchier.
Eddie pumped back enthusiastically. "I'd have driven her for free. You are one lucky man."
"So you don't want my money?"
"If she were alone it would have been a different tip I'd have been looking for mon amis."
Jon's smile tightened. "She's too good for you."
"Too good for you too, I think."
The kid said it with a blinding smile that made him want to punch him. And he knew he was going to hell because the kid knew he was jealous as fuck. And exactly right--she was too good for him, but he was keeping her. What the fuck was wrong with him tonight? And then she was by his side, her cool fingers sliding between his to clasp him tight. She smiled up at him, her green eyes dancing with happiness. All that he could give her and an out of control johnnie cab ride put as much color in her cheeks as a diamond.
He looked over at the kid and his smile was real for the first time since he'd gotten to the end of Mercer. "Thanks for getting us out of a jam, Eddie."
The genial smile was back and Eddie waved. "Do you realize how many people will take our cabs because you put your fine ass in my seat?"
Jon laughed. "If the pictures are anything to go by, quite a few."
Eddie swung his leg over his seat and peddled off with a laugh.
He looked down at his wife. "You have no idea how mad I want to be."
She tugged him down until their lips met. Even with the flash bulbs popping all around them, he didn't pull away. He didn't deepen the kiss. They had enough of him to sell to their rags. But he kissed her back until she sighed. She looked up at him all soft and lovely with just the tiniest edge of tired. "I know. And I love that you got in Eddie's cab anyway. Now let's get in there and listen to them drone on with their speeches so I can get to the dancing part."
"You got it."
Jon ducked into the bathroom. His only peace for the last few hours. Questions and shaking hands, schmoozing and begging for funds with a well practiced pitch. Exhausted didn't even cover it. He brushed sequins and glitter off the lapel of his tux. Wives wanted to press into him with glossed lips to his cheeks and the men wanted to share umpteen cigars with him. All of it was so beyond him that hour three was filled with fake smiles and warning nail bites from his wife.
He just wanted to go home.
He wanted to escape and tell everyone to go fuck themselves.
He wanted to tell Tess to close the shop and hop on a flight with him to a deserted island.
Instead he flushed, washed his hands and went back into the party. Thankfully a mellow DJ was their music of choice instead of the usual string section that put him into a coma. The music was just loud enough that he could wave instead of talk to people. He made a bee line for Tessa. As usual, she was in a crowd of women that were laughing and men that were staring. She was oblivious to it. Just enjoying people for the sake of enjoying them.
Even when he'd been a bear for most of the night, she was still the best thing in the room. Some of the other women were objectively more beautiful, but not in his eyes. He cupped her elbow and the honest pleasure in her eyes prompted him to drag her away.
"Jon, I was talking to that woman. She's a senator's wife for God's sake. Plenty of juice to get us some funding for--"
He stopped in the middle of the dance floor. "I don't care right now. For five minutes I want it to be just you and me and a dance."
She linked her arms around his neck. "Well, I can't exactly argue with that one."
"Good, I don't want you to argue. I want you in my arms and knowing every man in the room wants you and every woman wants to be you."
Her eyebrow lifted. "Good thing I enjoy your arrogance, Jon."
He rolled his eyes. "No, not because it's me. Christ, you're the only crazy one that wants to keep me. And I love you for it."
She cupped his cheek. "I can guarantee that at least a third of this room wants to steal you away from me."
"They'd hate me within ten days."
Laughing, she drew him down for a soft kiss. "I don't know what's gotten into you, but maybe I should put you back in the cab with Eddie."
"I just need you. I'm tired of people."
She slid her fingers into his hair and he groaned, closing his eyes. The bluesy ballad from Adele bled into a pop song filled with piano and drums and a slow beat. The sweet lyrics suited his wife and his less than stellar mood. He pulled her closer until his knee slid between her thighs and she was pressed to him from every angle. With her arms around him, it lightened the load and he lowered himself to press his cheek to hers.
Leaning in slowly, he brushed his lips with hers. She tasted like dark chocolate and champagne and smelled of pears. Breathing her in, he slid his arms around her waist, his thumb drawing circles on the small of her back. Instead of passion, it spiraled out to the sweet and contented place that he didn't allow himself all that often, but invariably included this woman every time.
SONG: Kiss Me Slowly - Parachute