Rough plan in place, she started pulling together the contact details for all of them. Over an hour later, list complete, it was time to start making the calls. Summoning courage, she dialled the first and gave him her spiel.
‘But I heard there was a big bash there last night—extremely exclusive and no media present.’
She winced at the newshound’s tone. She should have foreseen this kind of questioning. But she tried to gloss over it—inventing excuses wildly on the spot. ‘There was a small function—the practice run, if you like. But this is the big one—the high-society event in the exclusive hotel that we’re ready to show to the world.’ Practice run? How ironic. And how on earth was she going to dig herself out of this?
‘Little late for invites, isn’t it?’ Smart Alec journalist wasn’t going to make it easy.
She knew he could smell a story, but she wasn’t going to give him the tale of her humiliation. ‘Things happen fast around here. If you’re not interested…’
‘We’ll be there. Cameras can access all areas?’
‘You won’t be able to film the actual party, but certainly the set-up beforehand and the arrival of the guests. Still shots are fine inside the ballroom but obviously after a while we’d like you to be able to relax and enjoy the party.’
She was able to use her name to speak directly to the best photographers and journalists working for the best magazines. The magazines all wanted an exclusive but she refused to agree to it. They were all welcome—it was up to them to get the unique angle.
She repeated the conversation twenty times over. And was mighty glad there were only that many at that tier of media that she had to deal with directly.
Other paparazzi photographers would come anyway once news was out there was a media junket—local and foreign freelancers would camp out, hoping to get the ‘shot’ of the party that could be sold on to the exclusive magazines, even though they might have had their own photographers in place. It was all about that one shot.
It took hours—factoring in time differences and the fact it was the weekend. Then, as she got each to agree, she had to organise flights and email through the details for them. It took many hours.
With a sigh she sat back and stretched. She’d spent a whole day working on the party—promising something amazing—and hadn’t even started planning it?
She choked back the nausea. And realised she’d only had orange juice all day. Never in her life had she sat so still and worked so hard for so long.
But it wasn’t enough.
She tried to feel better about it. The bones were there. Good bones. The hotel was incredible. The chef would put something marvellous together. Aristo itself was beautiful…but these people were expecting something else again. And she had no idea how she was going to do it.
The anxiety was really starting to eat at her when James walked in with a hint of hungry and desperate in his face. All thought of the party fled because he caught her eye and grinned so wickedly and immediately her blood was on the move and anticipation quickened her lungs. He still wanted her. He wanted her right now.
She stood, legs no longer feeling stiff but supple and limbered instead.
He pulled his shirt off and beckoned. She followed. He didn’t even need to say anything; she couldn’t help but follow.
They’d barely got to the bedroom when he turned her into his arms and ran his hands down her sides and kissed her.
‘So this is what you meant by “other duties as required”,’ she teased breathlessly minutes later, swirling her fingers into the light mat of hair on his chest.
Later he phoned down to Reception, to where a skeleton staff were working, and requested they go to a restaurant and get a selection of whatever the finest dishes of the day were.
She slipped on a summer dress and he pulled on jeans and they ate in the conservatory overlooking the vibrant, affluent city.
Revived, she slanted him a saucy look, put her hand on his thigh, feeling his muscles move, liking the way he responded so quickly to so little.
They hadn’t put the light on in their room so as night darkened the sky the city lights shone brightly—a very grown-up fairy-light display. They could see out but no one would be able to see them. Good thing, because by then they were naked and hot and dancing the most intimate of dances.
When she woke the next morning he’d already left the room. She stretched out a hand, could feel the lingering warmth on the sheet from his body. Could see the dent in the pillow pulled close to her own. She could really get used to this—the wild intimacy, the long cuddles… She froze. She’d better not get used to it —he’d already warned her it wasn’t serious, it wasn’t going to last. It probably wouldn’t last more than this week—until she stuffed up this next event. Sheer panic filled her. How on earth was she going to pull off another party—even better than the other night? With almost no money and no time. She pushed the panic back and resolved to work through one issue at a time.