Today, I could have been cozy in bed binge watching Netflix in my apartment. But here I am in Los Angeles, a city that I despise due to its congestion. I live on the other side of Southern California in Orange County.
A very good childhood friend of mine, Will Drake has invited me to drive down to this godforsaken city for his event at the Hotel Cortez. I denied his invitation at first, but he’s very persistent and offered to comp my room and alcohol. Free alcohol? Why the hell not. I’m off this weekend anyways.
The hotel itself is very outdated, but I oddly appreciate its vintage condition.
My room is located on the 12th floor and I am currently alone in the elevator, making my way down to the lobby. If it weren’t for the towering heels I am wearing, my Will Drake gown would have coated the flooring in a circle around me.
There is no elevator music. It is just me alone in this boxed space, occupied with the thick silence. It is eerily comforting to me.
The elevator comes to a halt on the 7th floor and the bulb above me starts to flicker. I sighed. “Just my fucking luck.”
I press the lobby button endlessly, hoping that the more I press it, the closer I will be to succeeding. But eventually I grew tired and glanced around for an emergency call button, but nothing.
For a moment, I forgot all about having a cell phone. “Duh.” I whispered to myself, freeing my cell phone from my clutch only to find that there is no service. “Of course.” I rolled my eyes and angrily set it back inside my clutch.
I banged my fists against the elevator door, hoping I could succeed in grabbing someone’s attention to free me from this confined space. However, not a soul heard me so I had no choice but to find a way out myself.
Using every bit of force, I peeled open the elevator door and gate, stretching my fingers briefly afterwards.
The hallway is quite dim. I try my best to navigate along the halls until I find an entryway for the stairs. But minutes go by and I annoyingly cannot find it anywhere. There seems to be no hotels guests or even hotel staff around that I can get directions from.
Growing tired of this endless hunt, I am now desperate to find anyone to help me.
After continuing wandering, to my luck, I find an open door just down the hall, so I march towards it. The closer I get, I hear soft jazz music lingering.
Passing the threshold, I learn that I am in a suite and the soft jazz is playing on an old record player. I knock softly to make my presence known. “Hello? Sorry to bother you but I need some help.”
There is no response.
I step further into the suite. A part of me hoped I didn’t walk in on anyone naked. But now that I think about it, why would the door be wide open?
I decided to make my presence known again. “Hel-”
“Greetings.” The occupant pops out of the blue and I nearly jumped. He wears a blue striped suit, has a neat comb over and a pencil thin mustache. He’s quite handsome actually. Now I’m glad I found my way here. Though, Will is probably wondering where the hell I am.
“So sorry for intruding. I am lost.”
“No need for an apology.” He extended his arm out, hand occupied with a glass of brown liquor. “You look like you need a drink.”
Hm. One drink wouldn’t hurt. Especially with a good looking man. “Oh why not.” I shrugged my shoulders.
The corner of his lip quirked up. He proceeded to pouring me a fresh glass from the decanter. “My name is James Patrick March.”
“And what brings you to the Hotel Cortez?” He asked, walking towards me, gesturing his hand for me to sit on the couch. I obliged as I took my glass from him.
“I’m actually here for my friend’s fashion show event. What about you?” I sipped slowly, eyes following as he sat beside me. The distinct scent of his cologne was hard to miss. It almost made me feel dizzy with attraction.
“I own this hotel.” He chugged what’s remaining of the brown liquor, setting the empty glass down over the coffee table.
“Oh.” I was taken aback. A business owner? That’s hot. “Well you have a beautiful hotel. I appreciate how vintage it is.”
“Ah yes.” His eyes lit up like Christmas morning as if delighted by my comment.
“Well I’m sorry for having taken up some of your time. I’m sure you’re very busy. Hotel owner and all.”
I gulped down the rest of my glass before setting it over the coffee table, gesturing to stand. “Plus I need to get to my friend’s event. Do you mind directing me to the stairs.”
“I assure you your associate is far too busy to notice your absence.” James grabs a hold of my wrist, halting me. I narrowed my eyes, puzzled from his sudden gesture and assumption. “And your company is appreciated here.” He added.
“Seriously?” The word spills out my mouth, eyes widening briefly. He nods his head in response, eyes boring into mine, releasing my wrist. I sat back down, merely inches closer to him this time.
Hopefully Will doesn’t notice, but I’ll be sure to make it fashionably late. Something about James is reeling me in. I suddenly had a dying need to get to know him and my bottom is now glued to the couch, crossing one leg over the other.
James catches me by surprise as he seized my hand, bringing it closer to his lips before placing them against my knuckles. “Oh.” I muttered. My heart is now pounding out of my chest. He sure knows how to make me melt.
“I have to ask.” I chuckled, shifting the mood. “How many women have you swooned?”
“Ah. Not many, I admit.” He rose to his feet, aiming for the record player. “You seem to be the first in quite some time.”
“I see.” I glance around the room, relief hitting me. If I found out he does this frequently, I would’ve immediately left. I have yet to find out if he’s trying to get me into bed with him for a night or genuinely wants me in his presence.
There was a sudden change of song which snaps me out of my pondering. I look over at James who has his arm stretched out towards me. “Join me.”
“You want to…dance?” My brows furrowed, slowly setting my feet to the floor to stand. I left my clutch on the couch.
“Yes.” I saunter towards James, nearly hesitant due to being caught off guard by such an old school act. Though, it did give me a fuzzy feeling inside. Guys nowadays are such dogs.
I clasped onto his cold hand while his other found my lower back. I threw my hand over his shoulder and he pushed at my lower back so that I was forced to be closer to him. It caused my breath to hitch in my throat. “Rest your pretty head, dearest.” He said in a comforting tone.
Due to my petite figure, though in heels, my ear rested against his chest. His chest vibrated as he hummed while we stepped to and fro to the music. I instantly felt satisfyingly dizzy. I am positively thankful that the elevator broke.
What is James March doing to me? I’ve only known him for a matter of minutes and I strangely feel secure.
“I must say.” He started. I peered up at him through my lashes. “You look splendid in your gown.”
The corner of my lips quirked up. “Thanks, James. My friend actually designed it. But you look…nice too.”
James placed his thumb under my chin, tilting my head up slightly so that I was forced to look at those deep, brown eyes. “What?” I asked, placing my lip in between my teeth in anticipation.
“You are a divine creature.” He commented, smirking.
“Wow okay. Um. Your compliments are very kind, but not necessary.” I implied, definitely ruining the moment, but I couldn’t hold this in any longer.
I let out a sigh, placing my hands over my hips, breaking our contact. “Well for one, I’m just me. And two, you’re good looking and you are the owner of a hotel for crying out loud. Shouldn’t you be into like runway models or other business women?” There’s a whole flock of them downstairs, James.
“Not entirely, dear.”
“Are you just saying these things to get me into bed with you?” My brows knitted together.
“You must not assume.” James tucked a lock of hair behind my ear. “All I can say is I like what I like and I prefer to let it be known. You may call me old fashioned.”
So a love at first sight, type of deal? It’s a bit corny, but pretty amazing at the same time. I guess I’ll give it a shot. I let out a chuckle, shaking my head in disbelief. “Okay if you really mean it, then kiss me already.”
“Oh.” He uttered in his distinct tone, smirking. “Imperious. Are you?” He asked. My lips parted, eyes flickering from his eyes to his lips.
At this very moment, time stopped. My heart nearly beat out of my chest. James placed both hands to my blushing cheeks, leans over and meets his lips with mine. My lips burned and tingled, desire coursing through me. My hands clung onto his neck for dear life. I had an itching need for more and I know James did too because I did not feel one twitch of him wishing for a release. He starts to invade my mouth with his tongue and I welcomed it.
For a split second, I unlocked our lips only so I could press my palm onto his chest, shoving his back against the wall. He seemed pleased by my minor dominance. I would’ve hopped up and wrapped my legs around his waist, but my gown wouldn’t allow it. I brought our lips to meet again, but merely seconds later, I hear my cell phone ring within the confines of my clutch. My eyes narrowed as I shifted my view to the couch where my clutch laid. So my phone has service now?
“Shit.” I muttered.
James glared. “Language, dear.”
I ignored his remark, marching towards the unwelcoming ring of my cell phone. “Please don’t be mad. Please don’t be mad.” I said to myself before answering, already knowing it’s Will calling. “Hey Will. What’s up?”
“Where the hell are you, Y/N?” Will’s impatient tone was evident. “I am looking over at your reserved seat and it’s empty. The show’s halfway through.”
“So sorry. I got…lost. I’ll be there soon.” Will ended the call without a response. I am not surprised because he tends to stress himself out at every show.
“It seems your attendance is now urgent.” James said, clenching his jaw.
I frowned. “Unfortunately I have to go now.”
“Do meet me tonight. We shall have a proper date.” He wore a hopeful expression and my heart fluttered.
“Oh okay. What time and where to?” I asked.
“Miss Evers, my laundress, will provide all of the details and necessities to your room later.”
“Yes. Now off you go, darling.” James planted a soft kiss on my forehead. “Miss Evers!” He called out loudly, causing me to flinch. A red-headed maid appeared under the threshold, eyes twinkling as she awaits James’s response.
“Do escort Y/N to the lobby.” James ordered.
“Yes, Mr. March.” She obliged, escorting me to the elevator, which seems to be up and running again.
“You look radiant tonight, miss.” Miss Evers commented, expression warm.
“Thank you.” I flashed a smile. All of these comments left and right today has made me feel extremely confident for the first time in awhile.
The elevator doors slid open to the lobby and the runway music was booming. I stepped out and made sure to wave goodbye to Miss Evers.
After sneaking my way to my reserved seat in the front row, I made an acquaintance with my neighbor who I learn is a police officer named, John Lowe. I guess Will comped him a seat too.
Shortly after, the fashion show ended with countless applause and I was allowed backstage to find my friend. He seemed to be conversing with one of the runway models. “Oh Mr. Drake your show was quite marvelous.” I said from behind, mimicking a classy British accent humorously.
Will turned to face me with a puzzled expression that shifted to a lifted mood. “You.” He lifted me in an air hug, spinning me around before setting me down. It’s clear he’s unable to stay mad at me, no matter how hard he tries.
I giggled. “I missed you too, Will.”
“How on earth did you get lost?” He folded his arms over his chest.
“It’s a long story. But you wouldn’t believe who I met earlier.” Butterflies formed in my stomach just thinking about James March.
“Who did you meet?” Will raised a brow, curiosity piqued.
“The owner of this hotel. And he wants to take me on a date tonight.” I was bursting with joy.
Will nearly reeled back at my response. “Owner? I’m the owner.”
My mood shifted, bewildered. “Huh?”
“Well soon to be.” He did a half shrug. “I’m buying this place out.”
“Oh.” I glanced at my feet. “He never mentioned that.”
“He who, Y/N?”
“The guy I met. James March.”
“As in James Patrick March?”
“Yes? Why are you saying his name like that?”
“I think someone’s playing you, Y/N. James March, is the founder of this hotel. He died way back in the ‘30s from what I heard.”
My eyes nearly bulged out of its socket. “What?!”