Authors: Kiki Abbott
As she lay in her bed trying to remember the kiss, Jaxie realized Crane must like her a lot to jeopardize his position with the show by kissing her. She was sure that she fell asleep with a smile on her face.
* * * *
“Good Evening Ladies, Liam,” Crane stood at the front of the room where everyone had been assembled. “Liam, as you know, one of these lovely ladies has to leave tonight and it’s time to make your decision.”
Jaxie thought she saw a flicker of amusement in Crane’s eyes as he spoke. This was the moment she would stand up and ask to speak to the show’s host in private but Crane turned quickly and exited the room. Jaxie rose from her seat on the couch and followed Crane out of the room to the hall. She could hear the murmurs behind her. The other girls would be wondering where she thought she was going. Just as she reached the hall that separated the living room from the vestibule, she called his name. “Crane.” He turned around. A cameraman followed her and swung around in front to film her face. “I mean David, can I talk to you?”
Several more cameras joined in to film, not wanting to miss whatever was about to happen. Even though they stayed far enough away to allow the conversation to feel private, both knew they were wired for sound and cameras were pointed at their faces.
Jaxie moved in. She wore a silver jumpsuit that Phillip had made and insisted she showoff before she left the show. “You look smoking hot,” he’d said with the fashion confidence of someone who’d spent their career dressing women. If ever she was going to get Hollywood offers for a cooking show, the silver jumpsuit was bound to help.
Crane looked at her like he had no idea what she’d say to him privately with the cameras rolling in a semi circle around them.
“I want to leave the show. I can’t stay.” She shook her head, not sure how much to say on camera. Three crew members rushed in, hovering near her words.
“Get Liam,” someone whispered just loud enough for them to hear.
Jaxie looked around at the other staff members. “I’m sorry,” she said, but obviously this was good stuff because several of them had smiles and twinkling eyes as they scurried around to get every moment, every shot for the show.
“Are you sure about this, Jaxie? We’re going to bring Liam in here and there’ll be no turning back once you tell him. Have you thought about this decision?”
She nodded. “I am positive that I need to leave.”
When Liam arrived, they filmed the entire thing outside on a poolside couch. They positioned the two contestants just right, set up lights, and told Jaxie to go ahead.
“Liam, you are such a wonderful man.”
Was that a little smirk starting on his lips? She continued. “I just can’t stay here anymore knowing what I know.”
He took her hand, and his face told her to continue.
“I can’t get involved with another football player right now. As you know, my last relationship was with an athlete and that was disastrous. Bad combination.”
She continued. “There are some ladies here who truly deserve you, who have feelings for you, who gave up everything to be here. I feel like we made such a wonderful friend connection that it’s dishonest to risk one of them going home tonight.”
Liam smiled and agreed. “I’ll miss seeing you in these dresses though.”
They laughed, stood, and he graciously hugged her to his muscular chest. “I understand.”
After walking her outside and putting her in the limo, Liam would return to tell the rest of the girls what happened.
Someone had been sent to pack her things in the bedroom she’d just exited and Jaxie was glad she hadn’t spread out like some of the others. Purposely she’d consolidated all her clothes that day, knowing she couldn’t hint at packing but still made sure it would be easy to make a fast exit.
They filmed her explanation again in the limo where a producer sat across from her, asking questions, prompting her to say something more dramatic. She couldn’t say what wasn’t true at this point, but she also couldn’t admit she came on the show with Brent in mind. On the way back to the hotel, she almost laughed to think that she was actually happy to be out of her relationship with Brent.
Back at Hotel W, without so much as a purse, Jaxie was let into her room, told to wait for her things and she stood looking out the window of her deluxe suite wondering what to do with her life and career. Thoughts of the kiss with Crane couldn’t be buried and until she knew what that meant, she wouldn’t leave L.A. As producer, he might be angry she’d left the show, she wasn’t sure. Staying on would’ve assured them more time together but in a dishonest light.
Two hours later she’d taken off the silver jumpsuit and slipped into the hotel robe, pulled down the covers and was watching TV when she heard a knock on the door. Finally, her luggage. Slightly peeved it had taken so long for someone to bring her things, she opened the door. The first thing she saw was the leopard print of her suitcases, then the man standing beside them.
‘Foxy.” Crane wore a look on his face that Jaxie would’ve said was part amusement, part question.
“Grain.” She couldn’t help it when her smile refused to be subdued. “Can you come in? I was just about to open a bottle of wine and talk to myself.”
He stepped forward, kissed her lips lightly. “Mind if I listen? Maybe have a drink with you?” He took her in his arms. “I’m not here on business Jaxie, and I want you to know I am not married. Got that?”
They smiled at each other like two love struck teenagers. “Got it.”
“And I need to be honest with you about something.” He pulled her luggage into the room. “But first, I need you to get into some clothes if you expect me to be gentlemanly.” He pointed to her suitcases.
She shrugged. “I’ll get into jeans but I’m kind of hoping you won’t be a
He poured them each a glass of wine while she changed her clothes in front of him and the smiles and suggestive looks couldn’t be contained. “Not fair,” he shook his head and tried to look away, unsuccessfully. “Jaxie...” He advanced and stopped her from pulling the jeans up any further. They stood staring into each other’s eyes, asking permission, and giving themselves to each other.
She stepped out of the jeans and kissed him, deep, exploring him with her tongue. It was everything she could do to not tell him how she felt. Kissing him like this, was as good as she’d imagined while lying in her bed in the Bachelor mansion. Better. He kissed like a god-damned wet dream and she felt her knees go weak. Luckily Crane had a hold of her and they moved to the bed. He lowered her to the chenille bedspread and lowered himself onto her waiting body. She unbuttoned his jeans and yanked them down in one felt swoop. They grinned at each other like college kids.
“You okay with this, because another minute and I don’t know if I can stop,” he asked.
“You better not stop.” Jaxie’s eyes widened and she pulled his face to hers.
They undressed each other hastily, sliding over each other, tasting, grinding, unable to contain the primal emotions that had risen.
When he slipped inside her, the look in his eyes said pure heaven and Jaxie felt the same way. All she could think about was how right it felt to have Crane in her, becoming a part of who she was. They reached a climax too soon but she knew there would be many more moments like this and years of making love with David Crane to look forward to.
Later, they lay in each other’s arms, enjoying the closeness they’d both craved for the last two weeks. “You said you had a secret. What is it?” She left the bed to retrieve their glasses of wine that had been abandoned in a frenzy of sexual precedence.
“Firstly,” his eyes twinkled at the sight of her naked body. He took his glass as she slipped in beside him. “I guess you could tell that I have a fierce hankering for you.” He motioned to his crotch area and smiled. “And I got this crush the first time I saw you on T.V. which was about five months ago.” He paused to let her do the math. “You were doing a restaurant review in Seattle.”
“What?” She stopped with the goblet midway to her lips.
“I was in Seattle on business, saw you on T.V. in my hotel room, asked around and found out you were Brent’s girlfriend. I was disappointed but not overly so. Still, there was something about you that just reached through the screen and grabbed me by the heart. I couldn’t stop thinking about you when I got back to L.A. a few days later.” His eyes looked misty. “You were talking about an Italian restaurant and describing their cannelloni. Do you remember?”
She nodded. “I loved their lobster cannelloni.”
“Yes, the lobster, and you were laughing with the anchor man about the little claws on the lobster and you got giggling and couldn’t contain yourself.”
“Oh, God, that was so funny and so unprofessional. But so funny.” She thought she might’ve been fired for that moment until the station got so many calls that night about making the whole of Seattle laugh along with them.
“I tried to forget you and thought I did a pretty good job. But when I found myself back at the Seattle station, I asked again, hoping you and Brent had broken up.” He shot her a look and her eyes widened.
“That was you in Seattle three weeks ago at the station?”
He nodded. “That was me. And when you phoned me the next day to say you wanted to be on the show I was happy, and kind of sad that you’d agree to do this type of show. Remember I asked if you were single because I’d heard you weren’t and you assured me that you were ‘free and clear for takeoff’. That’s what you said.”
Jaxie laughed. “I didn’t know it was you who I spoke to.”
He continued. “I know. I picked you for the show and went to the airport to get you hoping that if I got to know you, this hold you had on my heart would lessen.” He shook his head. “I didn’t really know you, after all.”
“Not at all!” She was shocked he’d base his emotions on that one moment on T.V. that everyone saw who watched the news that night.
“Turned out I liked you even more, once we had dinner at Giuseppe’s.” He drained his glass. “I felt like I was doomed. You had no clue, seemed excited to be on a dating show and I had to stand aside.”
“Poor Crane!” She took his hands in hers, kissed his knuckles and pouted. “I liked you too, did you know?”
“I didn’t. I just thought I was a big fool until you said you wanted to leave the show. But by that time you’d told me that when you kissed Liam you thought about someone else.”
His smile was gorgeous. Perfect teeth, beautiful lips. “Ah, that’s good news.”
“Is that all?”
“Not quite.” His expression was serious as he looked down where their hands were joined. “I have two daughters. Six years old and almost eight. They are the world to me.”
She could see that. “As they should be.” She could guess what was coming. The girls came first. He was a parent. If she was going to fall in love with him, she had to accept that. And she would.
“I’m a package deal with two little girls, two dogs and a cat. Oh, and a few fish and a hamster and various relatives who live close and have helped me with the girls since Jenny’s death.” He looked almost apologetic. Before she could tell him that it sounded like heaven to her, he added one more thing. “And the big finale is ... He looked at her like this next sentence would probably break them both. “If we are going to be together, I can’t help get you a cooking show.”
She nodded. That didn’t matter so much anymore. “It’s okay.”