Honey packs everything she owns and heads to NYC to jumpstart her art career. Her cheating boyfriend is history, and she finally acknowledges the truth of her mother's mantra: Careers are forever and happily ever after isn't in their DNA.
All she needs is a job and a place to live. What she doesn't need is a taciturn, sexy, ballbuster but she's woman enough to know the difference between need and want. Isn't she?
Jake's childhood was marred by tragedy and his future hijacked to a promise born of guilt. His failure drove him to a career as a SEAL and a security expert.
But it's not enough. Now he'll give up his freedom in reparation for the life he lost. Honey may be the last sweet stop on the road to a joyless future. If it's what they both want, where's the harm in a no-strings affair?
Honey’s curiosity spiked when the car left Manhattan and entered the Bronx. There hadn’t been time yet to see much of Manhattan, and the only other part of the city she knew a little about was the part of Brooklyn where the ceramic co-op was.
Then she saw the lights and the sign: Bronx Botanical Garden Holiday Train Show. The driver pulled up to the curb. “We’re here,” Jake said, and then, “Surprised?”
“Yes, and intrigued.” Eyes wide, Honey scrambled from the car.
His smile was just as wide and almost boyish. “Good. Let’s go in.” He took her hand as they followed the sign toward the Enid Haupt Conservatory.
“Are we joining a tour?” Honey scanned the swathes of people milling about the entrance to the gardens.
“Nah, I have our tickets, and I know my way around. When I was talking to you about what you do around the holidays, it came to me that the only thing I did with any consistency was come up here with my dad to see the trains.”
Her heart—it stopped, then jumpstarted in a painful rhythm. Jake was sharing a personal memory with her, a tradition.
“We came here most of the years I was in prep school. Dad was fascinated by the work of the artist, a guy named Paul Busse who builds these. The track is about a half mile long. The whole train and all the surrounding New York City landmarks are made up of stuff you might find in a garden—twigs, leaves, acorns.”
“Wow. This is so cool. Look! A mini Statue of Liberty. This is really stunning, and then when you add the lights everywhere...” She spun in a circle, sighed. “I love it.”
“I know. I can’t believe the detail. I thought you’d appreciate what went into creating something like this.”
“This miniature version of iconic New York landmarks. It’s amazing.”
“And then there’s the train. I loved it here, so I wanted you to see. Whenever I would come up here with my dad, it was just the two of us. I could forget...everything else.”
Honey pictured the younger Jake, lanky like her brothers, wide-eyed, caught up in the coolness of what the artist built, but in the end happy to be with his dad doing something just with the two of them. Thankfully it was clear the elder Mr. Ricco, er, Riccobono, had had a positive relationship with his remaining son.
“They have a fire pit and a place to buy drinks. There’s also a shop. Do you want to check out the ornaments?”
Couldn’t he tell? Her heart was in her eyes. Oh, Jake.
“Sure, all of the above,” she said.
He wrapped his arm around her side as they meandered around the grounds of the gardens, under the holiday lights, weaving between families and carolers.
They wandered around for an hour before Jake called a halt.
“Part two of the evening is dinner on Arthur Avenue, which is the Bronx’s Little Italy. But they don’t take reservations at most of the restaurants, so...”
“Say no more. I’m ready. You had me at Little Italy.”
Grab your copy on AMAZON