She had an hour to get ready. An hour and she would peak out the window discreetly, so as not to let him know she was waiting for him. She always enjoyed watching the sleek Jag pull up in front of her building. He wouldn't tell her where they were going or what the occasion was. She wasn't even sure if it was just them or if they were meeting people. He'd merely told her to dress up. Formal. She'd bought a new pair of shoes for the occasion. A present was in order for returning home.
She walked to her closet, surprised at how easy it was to get everything back into place. It seemed like she'd never left. And really, she hadn't, not completely. A part of her would have stayed here even if she hadn't come back.
"Just how formal is formal?" With no one there to answer her, she had to take a guess. She took out an evening gown. She couldn't remember why she had it, but she was fairly certain Big hadn't seen it. As a bonus, the new shoes would look fabulous with it.
Just under an hour later, she was dressed and ready to go. The eggshell colored gown was more beautiful than she'd remembered and the shoes did go perfectly. As much as they cost they should go with every outfit she had. That was the price she paid for having a footwear fetish. She glanced out the bedroom window and watched for the Jag to pull up. Much to her surprise, a stretch limo pulled up instead.
He looked up at her window, right at her, as if he knew she was there. She waved despite her usual qualms about him knowing she was watching for him. He still managed to take her breath away. He had aged some over the years, as had she. On him, it looked distinguished, sexy, and even worldly. He still had a glimmer in his eye that could make her heart melt or piss her off as she'd never been before depending on the situation.
She had always imagined that love was like that. What they had. Everything exaggerated. You fought harder but made up more intensely because of it. She looked forward to finding out if she was right about the elusive emotion now that she had it in her grasp.
She made her way to the door, which she answered in time with his gentle knock on the door. He wowed her close up more than he did on the street. It was like a knockout punch. Pow. He did that to her. And judging by the look in his eye she wasn't the only one feeling like that.
"Wow, you look great."
"Well," she said spinning around. She clutched the matching purse to her side and offered him a shy smile. "You said formal."
"I did at that."
"You look nice, too," she said, tucking some hair behind her ear.
"Thanks, but you've seen me in this before."
"I suppose I have."
"I've never seen you in that." He stood in the doorway, his eyes raking a devilishly delicious path along her body. The dress was rather plain to look at, but it hugged every curve she owned like latex, fanning out a bit at her feet to allow her to walk comfortably. "I'd remember."
He shook his head. "Yes."
"Well, I'm ready. You're not going to tell me where we're going?"
"I'm not. It's a surprise, kid."
"I love surprises."
"I'll try not to let you down then."
She smiled a little shyly. She still couldn't get over the fact he looked at her like that. Like she was everything. Other than his first wife, the women she'd seen him with were model types, gorgeous. While Carrie believed she was pretty, she was out of his typical woman's league.
He opened the door for her and she got in. Her eyes widened in surprise when she saw the girls and their guys all sitting there.
"Surprise!" The six said in unison.
"Oh my God!" She let out a squeal of delight, glancing over her shoulder at Big as she made her way to the seat leaving enough room for him to sit by her.
"You all knew about this and didn't tell me?"
"Why do you think I avoided talking to you the last couple of days," Charlotte said. Harry squeezed her hand affectionately. Charlotte wasn't great at keeping secrets, especially if she thought it was a romantic gesture. She'd likely think tonight was an opportune time for Big to propose. As thrilled as she would be about that, Carrie was willing to take her time and see this thing through the right way.
Sam handed Carrie a glass filled with what she assumed was champagne by the bubbles as soon as she was seated.
"Are we celebrating something?"
"Just your being back, sweetie."
"But I've been back for two weeks and we've seen one another almost every day."
"Yes, but this is our first night out on the town. All of us. And it's going to be fabulous. Just look at us. We'll set this town on its ear."
"We even braved a babysitter. A neighbor down the street. I figured she could handle both Brady and Mom. With help from Magda."
"Well, really, Magda's just going to spy for us so we know if we can hire the girl again," Steve added, looking a little sheepish at the admission. Carrie thought it was sweet, the way both of them worried about not just Brady but Steve's mom, too. Miranda wasn't planning on having a second child so soon, but she'd gotten one in a way.
"Wow," Carrie said, taking a quick sip of the champagne. It was the good stuff, not that she'd expected less from Big.
They talked and laughed as they rode through the streets of New York. There was nothing better than getting a group like them together dressed to the nines for a night on the town. Carrie barely paid attention to where they were headed. The limo pulled up in front of the Marriott Marquis. Carrie's heart leapt.
"We're going to The View, aren't we?" She squealed in delight, coming awful close to spilling champagne on her dress. "Oh, John, it's one of my favorite places."
She had been there before, but it had been a while. For some reason, it was never on their list of places to go. There was always something new to see, somewhere they'd never been before and The View wasn't a club hopping type of place.
The view of the city was breathtaking. If she'd thought it was possible she'd believe that John ordered the weather for the night. It was early spring, a time when cloudy and gloomy were the norm. Tonight, though, the sky was so clear she thought she could see to the other side of the city she loved so well. As the platform rotated, giving them a fully circular view, she started to tear up. This was where she belonged.
She regarded her friends, all dressed in much the same fashion she and John were. They were all overdressed, but this was New York, it didn't matter. As a group, they looked magnificent. John even handed their server a camera and asked her to take their picture.
She leaned toward him, a wide smile on her face as Harry spoke of Elizabeth Taylor's latest antics. She could just imagine how spoiled their little girl would be when they finally got her. A prouder set of parents she didn't think existed. After trying so hard, waiting so long Carrie was thrilled they were finally getting what they wanted.
Having kids was never something she'd thought of. They didn't really fit with her lifestyle. And how embarrassing would it be for her child to fess up to who his or her mom was and the type of column she wrote. She understood the happiness they brought her friends, though.
"This. Tonight. It's perfect."
He draped an arm over the back of her chair, bringing her closer. "We're not even done yet."
"Oh," she said with a pleased smile. She felt very much like a princess and didn't mind it at all. "Well, in case I forget to say thank you later then."
"We just wanted to remind you that you belong here."
"We did, huh?"
"Yes, we did."
He smiled, his eyes took on the emotional look he couldn't mask when she'd said or done something that moved him. He kissed her then. It wasn't a toe curling kiss, but a nice, leisurely meeting of lips. Slow, sensual, and dreamy like the jazz he was so fond of. It packed an emotional punch. And he hadn't even used his tongue.
They left and made their way to a nearby club that offered dancing. Carrie walked next to John, her arm linked through his. Between the eight of them, they had enough to talk about and laugh about to last for years. No one passing would think they were having a bad night.
It was a big deal to her, spending time with all of them. Until now, it had seemed like such a chore. John seemed to think he was intruding on her time with the girls. She imagined Harry, Steve, and Jerry felt much the same way. They were closer than family. You can't choose your family, but you can choose your friends and through thick and through thin they had stayed chosen.
Tonight, though, none of that was there. Perhaps it was only a temporary reprieve. She liked to think it was a portent of things to come. She was a package deal. No, she didn't come with kids or a psycho ex. But she held this city and these three women high in her heart. She couldn't have a relationship with someone who was unable to accept that. It seemed that she had found someone who not only accepted but also understood it.
They arrived at a nearby club. Appropriately, New York, New York was playing. There was no way he could have planned it, but it was fun to pretend he had. He grazed her forehead with a kiss.
She smiled at him, standing on her tiptoes to peak ahead of them in the club. John sought out her hand, his fingers twining through hers as they walked toward a free table big enough to accommodate all eight of them.
"Can I have this dance?"
"I thought you'd never ask."
She left their table, glancing over her shoulder at the others. They were smiling; Charlotte and Miranda had their heads together as they watched them make their way to the dance floor. She waved at them before John took her into his arms for the dance.
"It's good to be back."
"It's good to have you back."
"Mm, show me later how good?"
"Your place or mine?"
"I was thinking more putting the back of that limo to good use."
"You little vixen you."
"I know. What can I say?"
"You don't have to say anything. I like your idea."
She tapped her temple with a fingertip. "That's me, always thinking."
"Remind me to fill you in on a few thoughts of my own later."
"Will do," she said.
He kissed her then, deepening it as they moved to the music. She wasn't sure what song was playing, they were moving to their own music. And when he kissed her like that, as if she was the only one in New York let alone the world she knew what Frank meant about feeling like king of the hill. Big's kisses made her feel that way.
Story ©Susan Falk/APCKRFAN/PhantomRoses.com