A burly man in a blue jumpsuit, carrying a coil of electrical cable over his arm and a coffee cup in his hand smashed into Gerald, splashing coffee down the front of his freshly pressed white dress shirt. As he tried to pull the scalding heat from his torso, a cab whizzed by sending an arc of rainwater over his just dry-cleaned suit pants, splattering them with mud.
A delivery boy trying to make his way through the crowd, skidded inches from Gerald who had to jump out of his way and in so doing fell backwards into a cement planter whose pants had just been watered He felt the dampness soaking clear through the pants fabric and into his boxer briefs.
He was about to call it quits and head back home when he heard pounding on the window behind him. There was Rosa, his beautiful dream girl, staring at him with a wild look of fear of confusion etched on her lovely face. Soaked boxers be damned, he had a duty to see to his lovely damsel in distress.
He pushed from the planter, hiding his muddy tush as best he could with his briefcase as he pushed through the front doors of the building. It took him a few moments to wind through the bevy of cords and reporters stationed outside the large room where they staged displays for the window. Once there, however he ran into another obstacle, more unusual than what he’d seen thus far. Blocking the entrance to the room was an elderly woman, legs locked, her gaze steely, and her arms crossed over her ample chest. She reminded him of his Aunt Agatha.
His disheveled appearance he knew wasn’t much help as he stepped ahead of the crowd.
“I need to get inside.”
“Yeah, that’s what they all say,” the old woman replied, her eyes raking over his muddy, wet with coffee and Miracle Grow mulched apparel.
“You don’t understand, this is about Rosa, she needs me.”
One silvery brow arched as she peered over her strange purple glasses.
“Very well and how long have you known Ms. O’Flannery?”
Was this a game? Gerald was getting frustrated. This old broad was about as nosy as his Aunt Agatha, too.
“Listen, Rosa and I have worked together a very long time. She just knocked on the window and I could see by the look on her face that she was in trouble. Now if you don’t let me in there, I’m, well…I may have to get-physical.”
The old woman smiled, her blue eyes twinkling.
“That’s what I’m hoping,” she muttered as she stood aside and let him enter.
There was a rush of young men to the door and he heard the woman from behind as the door closed.
“Sorry guys, private shoot going on. Don’t make me get out the flying monkeys, now move on back.”
“I haven’t found the right one yet.”
“Excuse me?” He pushed his glasses up the bridge of his nose.
“I haven’t found my Royal Prince.”
He thought for a moment and realized it was for her ad.. “You mean, for your presentation?”
She held his gaze. “Of course that’s what I mean, right. What happened to you?”
“Um, it’s a long story. You see, I was walking down the sidewalk when—”
“Gerald, I haven’t got time, its nine-fifteen and I have to make my presentation to the board in forty-five minutes and none of these men are good in bed.”
She waved her clipboard under his nose.
It was his turn to be surprised. “My, you work fast.”
She slanted him side-glance. “Funny. But the truth is, none of these guys meet the standards of the—”
She stopped short, chewing on the corner of her lip as she often did when she was thinking. He had the sudden urge to want to make her stop thinking all together.
“Of the?” He waited for her to finish her thought. But he was willing for her to take all the time she needed. He enjoyed simply standing near to her like this.
She groaned and dropped the clipboard to the floor. He stopped to pick it up and she took it from him without so much as a thanks.
“Uh,” Gerald blinked, “anything I can I do to help?”
“Yeah, well, you don’t happen to know any good-looking guys, do you?”
Ouch. “Uh, well, what about me?” It was a bold move, even for him. He felt as naked as a Thanksgiving turkey.
“What about you?” She rubbed her temple. “Oh, well of course, I’ll give you credit for whomever you can find. Time is of the essence and its better that we present this ad together than neither one of us having a plan.”
“What makes you think I don’t have my plan ready?” he answered frustrated that she didn’t get that he’d offered himself for her ad.
“Gerald, please, I don’t have time for this, are you going to help me or not?”
He put his ego aside. “Give me five minutes. What does the guy have to do?”
She slapped the clipboard to his chest. “You think you can handle that?”
He gazed down at her warm, dark eyes, the color of his Starbuck’s Espresso. “Yeah, I think I can.”
“Great. I don’t know who you have in mind, but right now Gerald, you are my knight in shining armor.” With that, she reached up on her toes and kissed his cheek.
The next moment, she was gone.
“How are we doing, FG?” Rosa inched to her side and whispered as her gaze roved over the crowd.
“Piece of cake. I haven’t had this much fun since the dwarves got rowdy at the Royal wedding and they had to call us in for crowd control. Gingerbread men can get pretty crazy. My guess, it’s all those spices.”
“I think we may have this handled. Gerald said he’d find me the right guy.”
“And you trust this Gerald?”
Rosa frowned at her fairy godmother. “Well, yeah, he’s a geek, but he’s trustworthy and he works very hard. He won’t let me down.” Rosa paused a moment as she thought of her response. “I haven’t always been very nice to him and that makes me feel bad. Maybe when all this is over I can do something to make it up to him.” She shrugged.
Her fairy godmother smiled bright. “Yeah, well, maybe. I’ll take care of this crowd and you take care of the reporters. What’s our time?”
Rosa glanced at her watch. “Nine-twenty five.”
“Let’s do this,” her fairy godmother stated commando-style.
With the reporters appeased, the models dismissed, and the crowd beginning to disperse, Rosa took a deep breath, pleased that her fairy godmother had magically seen to the breaking up of the crowd in less than two minutes, thirty-six seconds.
Rosa scurried inside the room, closing her eyes and the door simultaneously, drinking in the quiet of the photo shoot area. She heard the muffled sound of a man’s voice and curious, began to follow it. There was a lot less chaos going on, less people falling over one another and she offered up silent thanks to Gerald for getting things under control so efficiently.
She’d have to be sure to take him up on that lunch he was forever trying to ask her for, if, in fact, he ever asked her again. Perhaps she would first need to take the plunge and apologize for her standoffish behavior.
Rosa stepped around a drapery and her heart came to a sudden standstill.
“Can we drape that just over his hip, we want to entice, not shoot a porn movie here, people.” The photographer snapped off another few pictures oblivious to her presence. She stepped from the shadows, her eyes glued on the gorgeous man propped up in the ‘Royal Slumber’ bed, his muscular torso and washboard abs contrasted against the thin white sheet.
“Gerald?” It came out in a whisper. Damn, Gerald cleaned up good, real good.
His gaze found Rosa’s from across the room and he gave her a smile that made the back of her knees weak. It spoke to her of passionate nights, arms around her to keep her warm, a friend to come home to every night.
“That’s it! That’s the look, hang on to that Gerry, that’s perfect. Ok, kids, that’s a wrap folks, we’ve got our ad.” The photographer passed by Rosa with a wide grin on his face. “Not sure where you were hiding him, darling, but he’s dynamite. Don’t let that one out of your sight.” He left the set with the rest of his crew, leaving only Gerald and Rosa staring at each other.
His smile held, but he didn’t move.
“Is this ‘I’m-waiting-for-you-only” enough?”
Rosa went weak and swallowed. Oh yeah, it was. Unfortunately, it appeared he’d failed the magical prince part of the test. Her heart squeezed tight.
“You’re perfect, absolutely perfect.”
“Well.” He grinned as he rubbed his hand over the sheet beside him. ”That’s something you may have to find out for yourself.”
Rosa sucked in her breath at his bold statement. She already had a delightful image of the two of them, but she didn’t know how to tell him about her godmother’s ‘magical system.’ What if Gerald was only her ad knight and not her Prince Charming?
“Um, are you quite comfortable then?” She took a few steps stopping short of the end of the bed.
He shifted his legs beneath the sheet and it caused Rosa’s blood to heat.
“As much as a guy can be stripped down next to nothing in a room full of people and you?” he asked with a lop-sided grin.
Rosa shivered. Still as much as she was attracted to him at this moment, he hadn’t passed the test of the ‘pea.’ Her faery godmother stated clearly that her Prince would be susceptible to even the slightest discomfort beneath the mattress.
A lump formed in Rosa’s throat as she prepared to let him down easy. “There’s something I have to tell you, Gerald.”
“Okay, but come here, I have something to tell you first.” He glanced over her shoulder, as though making sure they were alone. Rosa moved to his side, holding herself stiff from the urge to attack him.
“Closer, so I can whisper this, I don’t want anyone to hear and I’d appreciate it if what I’m about to say stays between us? Promise?”
His face was inches from hers, his aftershave and a scent of rainwater fogging her brain. She nodded. What a shame to find out that after all of this Gerald really wasn’t her perfect match. Maybe her faery godmother was having an off day.
“You have the most fantastic eyes for a woman,” Gerald reached up and lifted tendril of hair over her shoulder.
“Gerald, please what is it you wanted to tell me?” Keeping her hands off him was proving more and more difficult.
Okay, frankly have you ever laid on one of these mattresses? They are the most ungodly awful things on the face of the planet. I’ve never felt such a lumpy mattress in all my life.”
Rosa sat at the edge of the bed and stared at Gerald. “You’re serious? You’re absolutely sure about this? Totally uncomfortable?”
He laughed and shifted to face her.
“Yeah I wouldn’t lie about that.”
She flattened herself against him knocking him to his back. “You are my prince.”
“I’ll be anything you need,” he whispered just before he kissed her.
In the shadows, Rosa’s fairy godmother grinned as she held up the shiny green pea and dropped it into her bag. She pulled out her knitting and happily secured the first of many dreams come true for Rosa.