We may have been having our own Lucky 13 day, but from the very start, we felt more like a group of six lucky ladies, who traveled across numerous state lines to enjoy our own little piece of the magic as Cat Gardiner’s first modern JAFF publication turns two years old. There couldn’t have been a more magical place on Earth to recreate some of the best scenes between Darcy and Elizabeth, as the hunky, yet brooding NYC firefighter and the alluring kickboxing, public relations agent who become fast and furious enemies within the very walls of these haunts in NYC.
Cat planned a day for all of us that allowed us to meet old and new friends, while also connecting the dots between our beloved online friends. How fun to actually sit across from the very dear people who you chat with frequently through online threads, posts, and various reading groups. When I arrived in NYC ready to meet Sheila, I was beyond excited to meet my dear JAFF friends.
We met up at the Shanghai Cafe in lower Manhattan, which is a place with special meaning for Darcy and Elizabeth throughout the story. We can see a bit of this connection revealed here in this scene, which has them on a very romantic and thrilling date:
The theater was modern but intimate, not as large as she had expected, and Darcy had arranged for a side box for two. Nestled beside his seat, a large picnic basket filled with carefully warmed finger foods and chilled wine waited for them. She was amazed at how he could arrange for anything, even when The Garden had such strict security and restrictions.
So far, this incredible date was more than the fulfillment of attending the theatrical musical production she had wanted to see for a year, it was the myriad of things Darcy put into making the evening special for her. She felt like a princess when he helped remove her coat, and poured Chardonnay for them both, then shared a scrumptious meal of Szechuan noodles, egg rolls, ginger chicken and all types of dim sum with chopsticks.
Holding the small, white carton of Chinese potato salad, Elizabeth looked at the name of the restaurant printed in red on the side of the box. It read, Shanghai Café Deluxe.
She whispered to him in the dark, “I know this place. It’s Downtown on the Lower East Side.” Darcy couldn’t help smiling before he placed the beef teriyaki hanging from his chopsticks into her mouth.
“A friend of mine who lives down off Delancey Street recommended it.” “Wow, small world. I have a friend on Clinton.”
The Shanghai was a fabulous time, where we were able to all break the ice and get right into our love for all things related to JAFF. We had a delicious lunch, thanks to Cat, and shared some of our favorite tidbits from Lucky 13.
After we enjoyed our own lunch at the Shanghai, we headed over to Tenement Museum, which was around the corner from us and we toured a tenement apartment and learned so much fascinating information regarding the daily lives of our nation’s early immigrants. We were able to visit actual tenement apartments, which have been recreated as they were lived in by the many families that called these buildings home in the early 1900’s. If you ever visit NYC, I highly recommend this singular look at how these immigrants worked so hard to create what we now call “The American Dream.”
Just when we imagined a relaxing cab ride to Rockefeller Center, we somehow found ourselves engaged in a lengthy conversation about the best written mature adult scenes in JAFF! We laughed as we discussed and described our thoughts to the fullest extents possible, all while poor Sheila sat next to a cab driver who had to wonder what possessed us to discuss this in his cab. One thing was sure, I bet he gets his wife or significant other some JAFF books for the holidays, LOL!
We had a lovely time exploring all of the sights and sounds at Rockefeller Center, where we saw lots of holiday decorations and, of course, shared more about our JAFF world!
Before we knew it, we were at the infamous scene in Lucky 13 in the Promenade at teusche Chocolates where Elizabeth overhears Darcy’s snide insult, and unbeknownst to him, she’s heard it all.
Elizabeth cleared her throat and unnecessarily adjusted her eyeglasses. She unconsciously smoothed her hair, produced the lip balm from her coat pocket, and slid it over her lips.
Charlotte laughed, following her friend’s line of vision. “Oh, yeah … Is that our business meeting?”
A slow, distracted nod answered the query, and they both moved closer to the doorway with the intent of leaving but stopped short when they overheard the conversation unfolding between the two men.
“You’ll like our ad exec, Darce. We hit it off instantly, not to mention, I think she can get the job done expertly for the Foundation,” stated Rick.
Elizabeth grabbed the strap of Charlotte’s handbag – the one with Cyndi Lauper’s face imprinted on it – draped across her chest. She held her friend back from exiting the door but stayed hidden within earshot behind a tall display of red, foil-wrapped assortment boxes.
It was clear by the tone of the first words exiting the stranger’s mouth that he had a bad day. His mood certainly did not reflect the festive spirit around them or the excitement of putting together this campaign using his particular firehouse. That should be considered an honor any firefighter would jump at the chance to have.
The guy “Darce” groaned. “I never should have agreed to this. What was I thinking going along with this insane scheme of yours? This girl had better be a frickin’ marketing genius if I’m asked on my night off to tolerate these crowds in the freezing cold. She better be worth it.”
“Stop the complaining and lighten up. Trust me, this woman is worth your time. You won’t be sorry you came, both for the Foundation and for yourself.”
“I doubt very much she’s worth my time. Bookish, business professionals are hardly my type. Not to mention, your bizarre taste in women doesn’t lend you much credibility when it comes to setting me up. I don’t know why I trusted you.”
Mr. Happy looked at his cousin, giving Elizabeth a view of his profile. If it wasn’t for the distasteful downturn of his lips and his obnoxious behavior, her heart might well have thumped quite a bit.
That scene is so much fun, but we know it all goes downhill for our dear couple for a while from here; it’s a good thing they feel such an attraction for one another deep down inside!
Finally, after taking in our own pleasures of the sights and sounds throughout Rockefeller Center, we headed over to our final destination, the Pig & Whistle, where Darcy and Elizabeth shared a meal with Rick and Charlotte, with each one checking out the other’s finer assets:
The Pig & Whistle on 48th Street was a happening place since the fifties. Frequented by NBC
executives and TV personalities, it remained the restaurant to be seen at, particularly on a night when NBC was center stage hosting the tree lighting.
Although Rick, Darcy, Charlotte, and Elizabeth walked through the crowd in silence, that didn’t mean communication wasn’t happening between the longtime-paired friends. Charlotte continued to squeeze Elizabeth’s hand while Elizabeth tried to stifle her giddy excitement. Darcy aimed scorching glares toward his cousin’s humored expression. All knew that during the course of business, sparks of some sort – maybe all sorts – were going to fly. They were off to an auspicious beginning.
Rick had reserved a four-top table in the back of the classic New York pub-style restaurant. The girls slid onto the leather banquet below a painting of the Radio City Rockettes, and the men took the chairs opposite them in the aisle. As they took their seats, it didn’t escape Elizabeth’s keen observation that below Darcy’s leather jacket was one finely built GOD and, of course, purely for calendar purposes, she continued to admire him each time he glanced away from the table.
He did the same thing once she removed her wool coat and navy suit jacket to reveal her ivory silk blouse.
Both Rick and Charlotte noticed their friends’ surreptitious glances, and they immediately developed a silent language all their own. Eyebrow raises, heated stares, quirks to their lips, suppressed smiles and an unspoken agreement that the two intense individuals beside them had potential – for what – was yet to be determined.
Our time at the Pig & Whistle was such a terrific time, as we gathered in a large back table, and ate, drank, and talked JAFF to our hearts’ contentment. We shared so many wonderful reads between each other, became familiar with one another’s family members, sharing pictures on our iPhones and hoping that one day in the future, we will all be able to meet up again! We were the Lucky 6 in every way, bound together by our love for JAFF and our desire to share with Cat these memorable times between Darcy and Elizabeth, making them also our very own along the way.
They say parting is such sweet sorrow, and I could not have felt that more when we found ourselves saying our goodbyes on a rainy NY sidewalk, with promises for more great reads and hopefully, future great times together. I am so grateful for the friends I have made in the JAFF community, and the endearing characters I’ve met along the way, who I’ve not only grown so attached to, but that I have loved enough to spend my time walking in their footsteps through this city I love, embracing familiar and new sights through the eyes of an ardent JAFF lover. Lucky 13 has spread its luck in so many ways; it will always hold a tiny piece of my book-loving heart!
I want to thank Cat Gardiner for inviting me to join her for this amazing day and to all of the new JAFF friends I made on this day. You’re an awesome group of ladies! I hope you’re able to connect with some of your reading friends throughout this holiday season. I know I’d love to hear your plans in the comments section below!
I will have a review and a giveaway of an autographed copy of “Lucky 13” in an upcoming post, courtesy of the ever generous Cat Gardiner.