Read 2 Big Apple Hunter Online

Authors: Maddie Cochere

2 Big Apple Hunter (9 page)

The cab driver dropped me at the curb. I was surprised at the number of busses on the street. This must be tour bus central. I found the ticket office and paid my fare. The clerk gave me a
Hello, My Name Is
sticky tag with my name printed on it in large letters.

Back on the sidewalk, I looked around for the correct bus, but I wasn’t sure which one to board. I looked down at the name tag in
my hand, and the one thing I was sure about was
there was no way I was slapping th
e
tag on my silk dress.

An attractive, clean-cut guy, probably in his early
to
mid
twenties, approached me,
checked
the name tag in my hand, and said with a huge smile, “Susan Hunter. Hi, I’m Derek, and I’ll be your tour guide today. Our bus is over here.” He motioned for me to follow him.

“Hi, Derek,” I said cheerfully. “Thank you for the rescue. I had no idea where to go.”

“I thought you looked lost,” he said, “and we were waiting for you, so I hopped off to give you a hand.”

I followed him onto the bus, and a big cheer erupted from the occupants. I looked at Derek, and he was now laughing. The driver closed the door, and the bus
pulled away from the curb
. As I
looked around, I could see
the bus was entirely filled with guys. There were no girls at all.

Derek pointed to the front row seat across from his, “That’s your seat, Susan. You have the best one in the house.”

I sat down. I didn’t understand what was happening. Everything seemed legitimate, but something was definitely wrong.

Derek, still with the big smile on his face, spoke again, “You didn’t want to take one of those stuffy tours with all of those old people and kids, did you? We saw you standing
on the sidewalk
looking confused and decided to rescue you.”

It was dawning on me now. I had been hi-jacked. I looked around
again
. Every one of the guys
appeared
q
uite smug
,
like they
had
just swallowed the canary. I turned to Derek and asked, “Are you really a tour guide?”

“I sure am,” he said brightly. He
grabbed the microphone from the
wall and spoke into it. “Good afternoon, lady,” he nodded to me, “and gentlemen. Welcome to New York City’s finest Pub Crawl Tour. We have four hours of sight-seeing and pubbing ahead of us, and we’ll be at our first stop in three minutes.” The guys exploded into cheers and applause.

A pub crawl? What was that?

Derek sat down in his seat. I looked at him
with confusion
and asked, “Who are these guys, and why aren’t there any girls on the bus?”

He laughed again and said, “These are 25 of my best friends. We’re all enrolled in a culinary school upstate. I come into the city every weekend to give bus tours and make some extra money, so I talked all of these guys into coming in for my tour today.”

Culinary school. Darby would never believe this. “You’re kidding,” I said. “Why in the world did you grab me when you guys already had your day planned?”

“The bigger question is . . . ,” he leaned closer to me and a
sked, “why in the world is
a beautiful girl hanging around tour busses and looking lost?”

I laughed
. He was sweet, and h
is smiling eyes assured me
he posed no threat. “I’m in the city for the weekend with a friend who’s in meetings. I’ve only been here once before, and I didn’t get
to see much of the city
then
, so I thought squeezing in a bus tour would let me see more of it this time.”

He nodded his head. “Well, the vote was 26-0 to grab you off the street and steal you away with us. I hope you have fun. This is a great bunch of guys.” He stood up, grabbed the microphone again and faced everyone, “Here we are fellas. Stop number one.”

We were already pulling up to our first stop – a bar! The guys cheered again.

We unloaded onto the sidewalk, and Derek addressed everyone, “Ok, listen up. This is Susan Hunter. Susan, this is James, Stephen, Carlos, Sage, George … ” He rattled off all of the names of the guys. I knew I would have a hard time remembering even just a few of them. They all tried to push each other aside to come up to me and say hello. Some of them shook my hand, and one of them bowed. We were all laughing and quite loud when we walked into the pub. Oh! Now I get it. We were going to be drinking on this tour - pubbing. I ordered a glass of Chardonnay.

Three hours later, we had been to Wall Street, the Brooklyn Bridge, Chinatown, another pub, and Central Park. We took horse and buggy rides through Central Park. It was absolutely beautiful, but somewhat hectic. The guys acted terribly by jumping in and out of buggies and making whoever was sitting with me at the moment get out and trade. Every time a driver slowed down or stopped, it was like a fire drill. I couldn’t believe the drivers put up wi
th us, but Derek assured me
they were all tipped very
well.

The buggy rides netted me eight phone numbers and three recipes. So far, I had enjoyed this part of the
tour the most. I loved being
outdoors with the fall colors of the park, the gorgeous horses, their clip-clopping hooves
-
and being treated like a queen wasn’t too bad either.

There was one unsettling moment in the park. I could have sworn I saw the man with the Indiana Jones hat sitting on a park bench, but as we came nearer
,
he held his newspaper high, and I had no way of knowing for sure.

We were
now
disembarking from the bus again to go into Saint Patrick’s Cathedral. I didn’t know if it was such a good idea for 27 tipsy people to be going into a church. I hadn’t had anything to eat since a quick room-service breakfast with Darby, and I was starting to feel the effects of lack of food and a little too much wine.

The architecture o
f the church was amazing. I
passed the cathedral on my way to Saks earlier in the day, but didn’t have time to stop and take a good look at it then.
Derek proceeded to tell us
it was “. . . the largest decorated Neo-Gothic-style Catholic cathedral in North America.”

The interior was darker than I expected. When my eyes adjusted, I looked around at the high ceilings, the amazing architecture, and the beautiful stained glass windows. It was as though we had all been transported back in time. Someone
was playing the organ.

I slipped into a pew at the back of the church. It seemed appropriate to
say a prayer while sitting in the majestic structure
. I simply prayed for God’s will to be done in my life. That was another of hippie Aunt Charlotte’s pearls of wisdom, “God is not a vending machine
,” she used to say
.

Don’t be asking for things you want, just ask for His will to be done in your life, and you’ll fare much better.”

Derek slipped in beside me. “Do you like it?” he asked. “I never get tired of coming here. It seems so removed from the hustle and bustle of the city.”

“It’s really beautiful,” I said as I looked around
admiring my surroundings
. I suddenly stiffened. On the far side of the church, a few pews ahead of us, sat
the
man with an Indiana Jones hat
. Was
he
following me? What if he was a pervert?

Derek noticed the change in my demeanor. “What’s wrong?” he asked.

I pointed to the man in the pew, and whispered. “I think he’s following me. I saw him this morning when I was in a café, and maybe again in the park, and now here he is yet again. It might be nothing, but what if he’s a pervert and stalking me?”

Derek
saw the
man, frowned
, and said, “I’ll see what I kind find out.” His frown turned to a smile
as he said to me
, “It’s time to round up the guys and go. We have one more stop.”

Most of the guys from our group walked out with me. We stood on the sidewalk chatting while waiting for Derek. Five minutes later, he and the rest of the guys came through the doors and broke into a run down the stairs. Derek was motioning for all of us to
hurry
to the bus.

Once again on the bus, the driver pulled out for the next stop, and all of the guys cheered. Derek was laughing.

I looked at him skeptically and asked, “What happened back there?”

“The pervert has been locked in a confessional,” he said with a big smile on his face. “Don’t ask any questions, but he won’t be able to follow you from here.” I know my eyes went wide, and I let my mouth hang open for a second. I didn’t quite know what to make of what he had just done, but I’m pretty sure I was grateful.

Our last stop on the tour was the final pub. Derek dutifully gave us the history of the bar. The guys drank more beer, and I drank more wine. At least we had the good sense to order some snacks.

When it was time to board the bus again, I deferred. The hotel was literally two blocks away, and it was already after 6:00. I didn’t want to be late getting back to the room. I turned to Derek and said, “It’s only a short walk to my hotel, so I’m going to leave you now. Thank you for kidnapping me and showing me such a good time. I had fun, and I’ll never forget you and your friends.”

He made my departure announcement to the group, and I was overrun with kisses on the cheeks, good-byes, handshakes, more stolen kisses, five more phone numbers, and six more recipes. Derek handed his number to me last. “Susan, if you’re ever in New York City again, look me up. I’ll show you the entire city and a lot more.” He planted a kiss squarely on my mouth, pulled back, and gave me a huge grin. The guys cheered.

My confidence was at an all-time high as I walked back to the hotel. Derek and his buddies had been a blast. I had never had so much attention from so ma
ny great guys at one time
. If I weren’t so in love with Mick, I would definitely want to use some of these phone numbers.

I stopped at the concierge desk and waited while my shopping bags were retrieved. I took the elevator to the 16th floor and was greeted by a butler who offered to carry my bags. I declined and hurried to our room.

It was 6:25. It was close, but I wasn’t late. I
let myself into the suite and walked in
to the living
room. I noticed right away
something wa
s off. Furniture was slightly moved
, and a desk drawer
was open
. I walked into the bedroom and saw Darby standing by the bed. He was looking around
the room
and appeared confused. Our clothing was strewn across the bed and about the
floor.

Darby looked
at me
, shook his head,
and said, “Our room’s been ransacked.”


No!
” I said in disbelief. “Why would someone want to go through our things?” I was shocked to see my bras and panties flung to
one corner
of the room.

He
looked at my shopping bags and then back at me as if trying to make some type of assessment. “Were you in the room at all during the day?” he asked me.

“No,” I said shaking my head. “I went shopping and then took a bus tour of the city. I stopped
here
at the hotel for two minutes, but didn’t have time to come to the room. I left my bags with the concierge until just now.”

“Help me look around,” he said. “Let’s see if anything’s missing.”

I set my bags down and started picking up my clothes and folding them. I checked the dresser for any remaining items and then checked the bathroom and the powder room. “I’m not missing anything,” I told him walking back into the bedroom. “Are you?”

“Nope. Not a thing,” he said. He
finished folding his clothes and putting them away. “I’ll talk to the hotel manager later and ask if they’ve had any problems with rogue staff. It does appear to be a m
aid or hotel worker who
tried to
quickly
work the room for valuables.” He sat down on the bed, smiled at me, and asked. “Did you have a good day today? Were you afraid?” He was smiling now.

“I wasn’t afraid, and
I had a fantastic day. Look
what I bought at Saks!” I was excited as I opened my bags to show him my new suit and jacket. I didn’t want him to see
the cashmere outfit until I
put it on for the evening.

“I love th
is
jacket,” he said with approval. He picked it up and
studied the cut
. “Even I’d look
good in this.” He held it up over his chest
and looked in the mirror with a big smile on his face.

“Oh, stop it!” I laughed at him. The winter white did look wonderful against his tan skin.

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