Carmen Before the Storm
With the time zone difference and our long flight, when we arrive in Barcelona, it's already the morning of the next day.
"Good day ma'am, how can I help you?"
"I have a reservation under Howard. Gabriel Howard."
"Let me have a look for you."
"Ah, here we go. You've booked the Presidential Suite."
"But...I definitely booked two rooms."
"Yes, the Presidential Suite has two bedrooms."
Oh shit. I think I've made a huge mistake with the booking. Fucking A! I didn't realize the bedrooms were within a shared suite. "Do you have any other rooms available?"
The hostess shook his head. "No, ma'am, we don't often have last minute availability, especially at this time of year."
"Not even a budget room?" Oh my god, what in the hell did I just get myself into? As I'm trying to find my way out of this misunderstanding, Gabriel approaches me.
"What's taking so long? What's this about budget rooms, Jade? Didn't you use the credit card I gave you?"
"I did, but we have a small issue. I seem to have booked us at the penthouse suite... to share."
"Jade, I'm your boss. This is a work trip. I thought I made the boundaries quite clear with you."
"They are! I didn't mean..."
"If I didn't know any better, I'd think you were trying to have sex with me."
"Mr. Howard!" I said in shock. "That's so untrue! I..."
He waves me off to shut up and bursts into laughter.
He's so screwing with me! "I won't lie, seducing you sure has crossed my mind. Haven't you thought about it?" I said with a cocky grin on my face.
"Maybe. But I don't mix business with personal pleasure. So please, behave yourself in my suite."
"Your suite? It was MY booking!"
"And my credit card. Anyways... I'll stay on my side, and you stay on yours."
"Perfect!" The receptionist cuts in, visibly relieved. "Let me have the concierge show you to your rooms."
The concierge takes our bags to the suite, and Gabriel and I pick our bedrooms. I spend a few minutes alone, trying to gather my thoughts. I hadn't expected to be living in such close proximity with him... We'll be sharing the bathroom. What if we run into each other in the middle of the night? What if he sleeps naked? I have to calm down. Now is not the time to let my imagination run wild with inappropriate fantasies. You're here to work, Jade.
Gabriel comes over and hands me my own key-card.
"Thanks. This is officially the most extravagant hotel I've ever stayed in. I'm not sure the firm will cover all of the costs."
"Don't worry about that. I've already covered it."
"Mr. Howard, you didn't have to do that."
"It's already done. And enough with Mr. Howard. From now on, just call me Gabriel Ms. Anderson."
Very funny Gabriel. Two can play at that game. But, he's paying for the suite, I have to contribute as well. "Well then, dinner is on me."
"Don't worry about it, Jade. Just enjoy the perks of the job. Anyways, we have limited time here and so much to do. Our meeting with Carmen Jones, the ex-wife, is tomorrow. I don't want to waste today, so I asked my local P.I. to drop by at the hotel bar."
"Private investigator. I have associates in different parts of the world. It definitely comes in handy." Of course you do.
He pauses at the door. "Make yourself comfortable and make notes for tomorrow."
"But what about sleeping off the jet leg?" "I slept on the plane. Didn't you?"
And with that question, I'm left alone with the legal files.
*When Gabriel returns, it's already afternoon. "Any luck?"
He nodded. "Yes. Carmen Jones plays huge into a prominent role in society, but she has a huge hole in her bank account. She has a clear motive to want all of that money but I'm sure if we can use that in court."
He looks at the room service meal I ordered while working.
"I see you already had lunch."
"Is that an issue?"
"No. I was wondering what to do for the rest of the afternoon. Have you been to Barcelona before?"
"I'm quite familiar with the city, so if you'd like, I could show you around.
It would be a huge shame to come all this way and not see what Barcelona has to offer, especially with Gabriel. "That sounds fun! I'd love to."
"Great, we'll go right away. First stop-Sagrada Familia!"
We travel like locals, on the Metro. At one point, the carriage is so busy that Gabriel's firm body ends up pushed closely against mine. His scent is intoxicating, and I bite my lip to keep myself from saying anything.
"Well, here we are. The Sagrada Familia. Gaudi built this as a cathedral for the poor."
The magnificent architecture takes my breath away. "I've seen photos of this place before. But in real lie, it's a million times more stunning. This isn't like any other cathedral I've seen before. It reminds me of a giant sandcastle."
Gabriel laughs, and there's a small glint of happiness in his eyes. "Don't judge it yet. Wait until we get inside. Come on.."
Once we're there, it's breathtaking. Crisp white columns twist and branch their way to the ceiling, where they've met with a design of geometric stars. Stain glass windows bring in what looked like a kaleidoscope of rainbow colors. I absorb the energy of the building, noticing Gabriel has also gone silent as he appears starstruck. But once he regains his composure, he continues to chat, taking on the role of my personal tour guide. I keep stealing glances at him, admiring his chiseled body and enjoying the ease and confidence which he carries himself with. He seems enthusiastic, almost charming. Clearing enjoying the role of being my personal tourist guide. We leave the cathedral and the large group of tourists, and take a walk.
"This spot is less known, but it's one of my favorite places in the city."
"It's so charming." I almost said romantic, but I got to stay out of that topic.
"So, you liked Sagrada?"
"Liked? It was AMAZING!"
"Gaudi was one of the greatest architects ever known."
"You seem to know a lot about him."
"I do. I traveled around Barcelona with my brother when we were students."
"I didn't know you had a brother."
"He's only, he has a wife and kids, and we don't see much of each other anymore."
"That's a shame."
"I suppose it is," he shrugged. "We traveled the whole country of Europe together."
"I didn't take you to be the traveling kind. You seem too dedicated to your work to time off for yourself."
"You're right. I put my work before anything now. I've changed a lot since I was younger."
"You shouldn't forget to let you hair down every now and then."
"That is much easier said than done."
"It doesn't have to be."
"Travelling the world isn't as enjoyable when you're doing it all alone." He leans closer, and for a split second, I was sure that he was hitting on me.
"Well then, it's a good thing you have an assistant who would be willing to renegotiate her contract so that includes mandatory holidays, trips abroad and sightseeing."
Gabriel steps back and laughs. "Nice try."
"I'm just looking out for you!"
"Yes well, I will pretend I believe you. Now, I don't know about you, but I'm getting hungry. Let's grab some food and head back to the hotel. I don't want us to be completely exhausted before our meeting tomorrow."
"Sure, I could do with a hot meal and an early night. The jet lag is killing me."
"You and me both. We'd better make it an early night. Just remember to print out the details of the August 6th phone call for tomorrow."
As I lie in bed that night, I find myself thinking about Gabriel again, almost anticipating another fantasy dream. It's torture, knowing he's only a few feet away from me, alone in his own bed. I wonder what he's sleeping in? Pajamas, underwear? Or maybe nothing. I bet his body is perfectly toned. I wonder what it would be like to slip under the sheets and press up against his firm chest as I pleasure him in a different area.
I slide my hand into my panties, and I bite my lower lip, picturing Gabriel naked. His large body could easily take over m own petite body. I'd want to appreciate every inch of him...I bet he's big and thick. I'd run my hands over every muscle. I'd run my fingers through his perfectly groomed hair and run my lips over his stubble jaw before letting him claim them with his mouth. In my fantasies, he wants me too. He can dominate my body until it begs for more. And if that day would ever come, I'd finally be able to sleep at night.
My alarm went off around 5:30 as I stumbled out of bed. I can't believe it's morning already. I didn't get much sleep last - not very helpful when we have an important meeting today. At least I unpacked my suitcase before I went to bed. I'll need to dress for success.
As I walked to the lobby in a sparkly somewhat see through shirt and dress-pants, Gabriel scanned me from my head to toes. "Is that what you're wearing?"
"Nothing, it's just that..." God, I don't know where to look when you look so hot in that outfit. "You definitely fit the part."
"Thank you. Shall we?"
"Why are we at a restaurant?"
"Carmen had a lunch appointment, which she insisted she couldn't cancel."
"Couldn't we wait until afterwards?"
"I've seen people pull this shit before. She's just trying to fool us."
And finally, Carmen Jones walks in, her lips pressed into an angry line.
"Good morning, Mrs. Jones. Nice of you to turn up half an hour late."
Rolling her eyes, she said "Can we just get this over and done with? Why has my ex-husband sent you to follow me?"
"We're here to ask you some questions about your daughter, Melany."
"What about her?"
"We want to know why you suddenly want custody of her. After all, she's almost 18."
"My circumstances have changed, and my partner and I are moving back to the United States. So naturally, I want to see my daughter as much as I can."
She's been rehearsing this bullshit with her lawyer.
"Could you please tell us why you haven't seen your daughter in the last 3 years, Mrs. Jones?"
"Before Byron and I got married, he made me sign a prenup. I was left with nothing after the divorce. My partner's family and livelihood were based here, so we had to move. But now we live a simple life."
According to Gabriel, she's lying!
"I would love to be able to visit Melany, but it would take us many months of saving up for a single return trip. I've asked Byron so many times for financial help so that his daughter could see her mother, but he's too much of a cold-hearted bastard."
"That's interesting since we have no records of even a single conversation between you and your ex-husband in the last 3 years."
"Okay, fine. I was too proud to ask for money."
"Were you too proud to pick up the phone to call your daughter, as well?"
"Melany and I have had issues, like in any mother-and-daughter relationship. But here I am, to right my wrongs. And what do I get in return? My ex's lawyer in my face!"
She sure is good playing the role of the victim.
"You made a phone call to Melany's bank account on August 6th to make an inquiry about her trust fund. Jade, please show Mrs. Jones the details of that call."
Fuck! I forgot to bring it this morning. I forgot to bring the evidence that's most important! What should I do? Shit! "I'm so sorry, Mr. Howard, but I haven't brought that with me."
He frowns at me, and I can't tell if he's more angry at me or disappointed. Carmen chuckles.
"Wow.. I thought Byron was making enough money to hire a decent lawyer. Is missing evidence as equally important in the courtroom?"
"Listen Mrs. Jones, whatever your game is, we're going to get to the bottom of it. No child deserves to be treated like a bank account."
"You have no idea what you're talking about."
"Oh, yes, I do. We'll see you in court."
"If it's going to be anything like today, I won't be worried."
We leave the restaurant, and I'm trying to keep up with Gabriel. I'm just as mad at myself as you are! "Look, I'm equally as disappointed with myself, honestly probably even more than you are. I can't believe how careless I was to risk the firm's reputation. I don't usually do shit like this."
"Save it. It's my fault." He turned around, cursing under his breath. "That's what I get for bring a shitty rookie just because she has a nice ass."
Did she hear me?
"Let's do this in private, I don't feel like making a scene in the public."
Offended by his comment, I walk angrily away from him despite hearing him telling me that he's sorry.
The second we're alone, he goes off. "How the fuck could you have forgotten the key fucking evidence Jade?!"
"Look, I didn't sleep worth of shit last night."
"That's a shitty excuse. We lost control and credibility all thanks to you. I'm not about to start losing cases because of you. You asked to have more responsibilities, but it's clear I can't trust you. You were unprofessional.
"Are you serious? What about that comment you made on the street? I'd say that's quite unprofessional."
"What remark? Do you have any proof that I said something inappropriate?"
He gives me a cold stare. "Give me one reason to not kick your ass to the curb for this case."
"I'm fully committed to the case, and I'll prove it. I'll stay up tonight and do extra work."
"So you can be even more sleep-deprived and make even more mistakes tomorrow? I've noticed your lack of focus even before this trip. You're often tired during the day."
" You're right. I've been struggling to sleep since I started this job."
If only the bastard knew what goes through my head at night.
I look away from him, unable to make eye contact. This is humiliating. I let my attraction get in the way.
"Jade, look at me." His voice is calm, almost gentle. "What keeps you up at night?"
I lift my eyes from the ground and lock my eyes with his. There's no doubt in my mind that he already knows why. I've seen the way he reads straight through clients. He picks up every cue and looks for the ways to express them. That's what makes him a great lawyer. That's what makes him intimidating.
His eyes briefly close, and when he opens them, he looks helpless. "For God's sake, Jade, why do you have to complicate everything? Why can't you follow rules like everyone else."
Suddenly, his hot mouth is on mine. My legs almost give in, but he's too quick to grab onto them. His tongue enters into my mouth, deepening the kiss, claiming every desire. I am almost lost in his pleading lips and intoxicated by his smell.
Gabriel Howard is kissing me, and I don't want him to stop. I want him in my bed. Tonight.