Mr. Love: A Romantic Comedy (11 page)

BOOK: Mr. Love: A Romantic Comedy
13.97Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub






Bitsy, lying in the huge tub, soaking in the various potions that she found in the bathroom and added to the water, is almost asleep when she hears her cell phone ringing.

She is tempted to leave it but, anxious that it’s Jane or Gordon, she rises from the water, pulls a bathrobe over her dripping body and hurries into the bedroom where her phone lies chirping on the dresser.

When she sees the number for the Quant Foundation displayed on caller ID her heart nearly skips a beat.

“Hello?” she says.



“This is Daniel.”

Even after this astonishing day—a revolving door of high-powered journalists, culminating with her chatting to some movie star in Los Angeles—Daniel Quant’s voice is enough to weaken her knees.

“Daniel, this is a surprise.”

“I’m the one who is surprised, Bitsy.”


“I saw you on TV.”

“You watch TV?”

He laughs.

“Oh, yes. I’m a sucker for sit-coms. Anyway, I caught you on
Entertainment Tonight
. You were a tonic, Bitsy. I never knew you had such a naughty sense of humor.”

Naughty sense of humor?

Was he talking about her?

“Well, thank you, Daniel.”

“So, really, this is just a call from a fan.”

She can’t suppress a giggle at the absurdity of this.

“You were radiant, Bitsy. You have truly transcended your old self. What a joy it is to behold.”

“Thank you,” she says.

“Anyway, I’m sure you’re busy being feted and wined and dined,” he says.

“No, I’m just taking a bath.”

Daniel laughs.

Well, enjoy that and I hope to see you very soon.”

He’s gone and Bitsy wanders back into the bathroom in something of a daze.

It is only when she has lowered herself into the tub that she realizes she is still wearing the robe and carrying her phone, both of which are now drenched.

heaves herself out, sodden and dripping and stares at her face in the mirror.

Daniel Quant is looking forward to seeing you,” she says. “He said you looked radiant.”

the palatial hotel bathroom disappears and she is in a field with Daniel, a field of lush green grass and sunflowers, and he takes her in his arms and kisses her and she sinks to ground and submits to his will.






Gordon sits on the bed of his room and stares at the wall.

The day was a resounding success, Bitsy’s idiot savant routine—which he knew came from sheer terror and an old Puritan addiction to the truth—catnip to the media.

He and his sister are going to be very rich.

“So why the hell are you so damned glum?” he asks himself.

“Good question, Gordo,” Suzie says, leaning a haunch on the mini-bar.

“Have you come to crow?” he asks.

“No, I’ve come to say goodbye.”


“Yes. You’re a hopeless case, Gordon. You blew the opportunity to finally rip off that hair shirt you’ve been wearing for twenty years and

“It’s a very well-tailored hair shirt.”

“Gordon, I know what happened to me was tragic. Hell, I should know, I was the one who
. But you have to move on, Gordy. You can’t carry on mourning me.”

“I’m not mourning you.”

“You sure as hell are. What was that decade plus spent writing that awful book if it wasn’t some act of mourning?”

“It was me trying to find some meaning in my life.”

“Just live, Gordo. Fall in love again.”

“I think I’m done with love.”

“Then I’m done with you. Have a nice life, Gordon.”

And she’s gone.

He looks around, certain she’ll pop up in another corner of the room.

“Suzie?” he says, but he’s talking to himself.

Feeling a profound emptiness, Gordon lies on the bed and stares up at the ceiling.

e sees the rest of his life stretching out before him.

A life of great financial comfort, to be sure, but with little else.

When he finds his hand on the telephone he realizes he’s about to call Jane Cooper.

withdraws his hand.

No, he is better alone.

Miserable, yes, but still with his dignity intact.

For what, after all, is a man without his dignity?

He waits for Suzie’s ribald rejoinder but, of course, it doesn’t come.

All he hears is the muted whisper of
the traffic and the slow, measured tick of the bedside clock.






The two days since the media blitz at The Pierre have passed in a blur for Jane.

Lizzie Rushworth is officially

Trending on Twitter.

Ablaze in the blogosphere.

Splashed across
the pages of the major newspapers.

Jane’s hardly slept and barely eaten.

The upside is that she’s been too busy to fret about Tom Bennett.

Jonas Blunt has jetted off to
Los Angeles to booze and schmooze Raynebeau Jones and her acolytes, eager to keep his noble profile high in the shark-infested Hollywood waters.

He’s left Jane, as he put it,
at the tiller
, managing the slavering media and the auction of
, which is happening today.

Before he left Jonas set the terms of the auction with the five major publishers who are bidding: it’s to be a “round robin” auction, with
11:00 A.M. today the deadline for first offers.

Once all the initial offers are received, the lowest bidder will be given the opportunity to outbid the highest or drop out
, then the next lowest bidder will be given the opportunity to top the highest bid and it will continue until there is one winner standing by tonight.

Three hours ago Jonas, air kissing the vicinity of Jane’s forehead as he dashed to the airport limo, said, “Over to you, Janey. I’ll be on my mobi.”

There are many things that Jane loathes about her boss, but his new affectation of using British slang for his cell phone had her biting back a snide rejoinder.

But, as she sits in her gorgeous new office
watching the clock edge toward eleven, she understands how much she owes him and how she merely needs to bob in the wake of his insufferable ego for another couple of years and then (who knows?) perhaps she’ll be able to hang out her own shingle.

The Jane Cooper Agency
, has a nice ring.

Or maybe
Cooper Literary

Her computer bings like a
door chime as she sees the first bids land in her inbox.

She clicks on one.

An offer of $3 million.

She gulps and clicks on the next.

$3.5 million.

Jonas is right: they’ll be able to get around $6 million by the end of the day.

The door to the office opens and Jane’s new assistant, Belinda, sticks her head in.

“Jane, there are two detectives here to see you.”

Before Jane can reply Belinda pushes the door wide and a flabby guy in a badly fitting jacket followed by a tired looking woman in a pantsuit invade the room.

The man wags a badge at
Jane and mumbles two names she doesn’t get.

“What’s this all about?” Jane says, hearing her computer chime as another bid arrives.

“You know a Thomas Bennett?” the woman says.


sees her assistant still lurking in the doorway.

“You can go, Belinda
, and close the door, please.”

waits until the girl departs before she speaks.

“Tom Bennett is my ex-fiancé,” she says.

“You wouldn’t happen to know his whereabouts?” the man asks.

“No. I haven’t seen or heard from him in a couple of days.”

“But he lives at your apartment?”

“He did,” Jane says. “He moved out a few days ago. What’s wrong? What’s he done?”

The woman says, “He is a person of interest in an ongoing investigation.”

She flaps a piece of paper under Jane’s nose.

“This is a warrant authorizing us to search your apartment.”

Jane stares at the woman cop.

“What for?”

The man says, “Ms. Cooper we need you to accompany us to your
home. Immediately.”

Jane shakes her head.

“I can’t. That’s impossible. I’m in the middle of something vital here.”

“Don’t make us arrest you, Ms. Cooper,” the woman says, staring her down with very cold eyes.

Jane stands.

“Okay, I’ll go with you. I just need to brief my assistant before we leave, okay?”

“Make that briefing brief,” the man says, chortling.

His partner looks pained.

Jane, her computer chiming again, abandons her desk on the most important day of her career.



Jane sits at her kitchen table watching as the detectives and a squad of uniformed cops turn her apartment upside down.

A man built like a basketball player knocks a bowl from a shelf beside the fridge and it crashes to the floor, spilling sugar on the tiles.

He doesn’t seem to notice, crunching over it in his size eighteens.

It’s after noon and Jane, who had to surrender her iPhone and iPad to the detectives (a nerdy looking plainclothes cop sits opposite her, trawling through phone and tablet) feels close to panic.

Her landline rings and the
female cop crosses the living room to answer it.

“Yes?” the woman says.

After a pause she says, “Ms. Cooper is unavailable right now,” and she hangs up.

“Who was that?” Jane asks, standing,
heading toward the doorway.

“I look like your secretary?” the cop

Jane walks toward her.

“I need to be in touch with my office—”

“Just step back into the kitchen and stay there, Ms. Cooper, otherwise I’m going to have to restrain you.”

Jane obeys, watching the wall clock advance toward 12:30 P.M.

The nerdy cop leaves her phone and iPad on the table and
goes through to the living room, speaking to the male detective who grunts and comes into the kitchen and sits down opposite Jane.

“Okay, your apartment’s clean.”

Jane wags a hand at the spilled sugar and broken bowl.


“Believe me, sugar is the least of your worries.”

He leans in and gives her the benefit of his breakfast breath.

“You look like a nice girl, what you doing with a loser like Bennett?”

“I’m no longer with him.”

“So you say. Thing is Counselor Bennett was supplementing his income by supplying his preppy crew with dietary additives, if you get my drift.”

“I don’t.”

“Drugs, Ms. Cooper. Cocaine, to be specific. You indulge?”

“Certainly not!”

“Tom Bennett ever use drugs in your company?”

, no. He hardly even drank.”

The cop stares at her.

“Looks like there’s a lot about this guy you don’t know.”

She nods.

“I’m realizing that.”

The cops grunts his way to his feet.

“We’re outta here. You’re free to go. But you hear from him, you call me, okay?”

He hands her a card.

And just like that they’re gone, leaving Jane with an apartment that looks like Hurricane Sandy took a detour through it.

Jane’s cell phone rings and her stomach knot
s as she sees Jonas’s name on caller ID.

“Jonas,” she says.

“I’ve just landed in L.A. and I’ve already had five editors calling me, screaming about their bids being ignored.”

“I can explain—”

“Hell, I thought I knew you, but this!”

“I’m sorry, Jonas?”

“Sorry? Sorry!? Why? You have
of steel, Janey. You’ve got these editors in a spin. They’re all swearing that they’re prepared to double their bids. Or they would if they could track you down!”

He laughs.

“Where are you, anyway?”

“Uh, I’m at Starbucks.”

“Well, have a Peppermint Mocha on me. Then trot on back to the office and bleed those suckers dry.”

“I’ll do that.”

“Oh, and Janey . . .”

“Yes, Jonas?”

“Remind me never to play poker with you.”

He’s gone and so are Jane’s knees.

She falls into a chair and sits for a minute before she finds the strength to go out into the chaos that has become her life.

BOOK: Mr. Love: A Romantic Comedy
13.97Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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