Hooked Up_ Book 1(10)

By: Arianne Richmonde

“So what’s the latest?” I asked, feeling envious. I didn’t own a car. Wished I did but living in New York City didn’t allow me such extravagancies. The garage alone in my neighborhood would cost practically the same as rent. And if you parked it on the street you had to remember to move it all the time for the street cleaners, so it wouldn’t get towed away. Fines. An expensive hassle. Of course Alexandre Chevalier didn’t have that problem.

“It’s an Austin Healy. I have a weakness for British classics.”

I knew that car cost a fortune but I played dumb. “Do you have an American car?”

“Of course. When in Rome. I drive a Corvette.” That rolled R again . . . uum . . . Cooorr – vette.

“You live here? I thought you might be just visiting?”

“Yes, I live on Fifth, on the Upper East Side, overlooking Central Park. I’m very fortunate,” he added.

I looked down and then up at him, through my lashes. I hadn’t flirted like this for years. “I live on the Upper East Side too! Seventy-Ninth and Third. Lucky you, overlooking Central Park. That’s anybody’s dream.”

“Not my sister’s. She prefers to live in Paris. She hates New York.”

I blinked at him. “Well. Paris. Yes, well, I guess Paris must be the most beautiful city in the world.”

He was biting his lower lip with his gaze set on my face, and it sent a jolt of electricity through my body. “You’ve never been?”

“No, I’m ashamed to say, I haven’t,” I replied. “But I intend to.”

“Don’t be ashamed. You’re lucky you have something wonderful to look forward to. Like, if there’s a great book you haven’t read—a classic. It’s a happy thought to know something wonderful’s in store for you. Waiting with open arms to welcome you.”

I smiled. “That’s a refreshing way of looking at it. Funny you should like classics. Me too. I love Russian novels and I adore old movies and re-runs of 50’s and 60’s TV sitcom shows like I Love Lucy, Bewitched, and I Dream of Jeannie.” I realized how dumb that sounded. “Silly really. I love old songs, too, especially from the 70’s. And you’re a lover of classic cars?”

“They’ve been tried and tested. Loved too. You know what you’re getting. You’re sure to be rewarded with quality.” His green eyes now looked flecked with tiger-gold. Was he flirting with me? My stomach was fluttering again—when he said those words, ‘tried and tested,’ it churned. Does he think older women are ‘tried and tested’ too? I wondered.

“Fifth Avenue and?” I asked, immediately realizing I sounded like a stalker.

“Fifth and Sixty Second. I wanted to have a green view. A view to Central Park, and more importantly, a good place for my dog.”

“You have a dog?”

“Rex. But he’s still in Paris. He’s at my parents’ house for the moment until I bring him here. My whole life,” he said with a smile, “is designed around Rex. I made sure the apartment here had a spacious roof terrace too. It even has trees and a patch of lawn up there. Ready for a life of comfort. Me? I’d be happy with a dark little cave somewhere, but only the best for Monsieur Rex.”

I laughed. “What kind of dog is he?”

“A black Labrador. All black except he wears a smart white cravat on his chest. One of the advantages of France is that you can take your dog anywhere. To restaurants, even. Especially black Labs. President Mitterrand had a black Labrador and ever since then, they’ve been very respected.”

My eyes widened. “Seriously? You can even go to smart restaurants with your dog?”

“I usually call ahead to be polite. I book the table and then add, ‘Oh yes, just one thing, do you mind if I bring my dog along, you know, he’s just a typical Black Labrador.’ They always say yes. But I’ll tell you a secret—”

He leaned forward and, oh so slightly, rested his hand on my knee. It started to quiver—goose bumps shimmered along my thighs, my arms.

“What’s the secret?” I asked, my voice sounding like a small child’s.

Also By Arianne Richmonde

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