DISCLAIMER: The characters in this story belong to me or them or no-one, I'm not sure, but as long as they get to have a little fun I'm sure they won't sue.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
"I hate you!"
The words reverberate through the corridor and explode into the opulence of the reception area, causing all but the most hearing impaired to turn and stare in my direction. I would have shrugged, and pretended to be as baffled as everyone else as to the origin of the scream, but I've found that it's very difficult to pull off such a move if you're wearing nothing but a towel and the imprint of someone's hand across your cheek.
I've been called worse. Admittedly, not while sneaking through the corridors of a posh hotel, while being watched by half of London. It's a novelty I could do without, to be quite honest, which is why I'm almost relieved when Grace arrives and drags me, not quite kicking and screaming, into her office.
"What the hell is going on!"
It seems that I am destined to be screamed at by beautiful women today. At least Grace hasn't thrown anything at me... Yet.
"A slight misunderstanding with one of the guests."
Her eyes, normally so warm and inviting, flick from my face to my towel, and suddenly I feel as if I've been soaked in freezing cold water. The urge to apologise, not just for the scene I helped create, but for the sex and debauchery that preceded it, feels heavy on my lips.
"I'm sorry." She's not, technically, my boss. "It didn't mean anything." And she is most certainly not my lover. "She came on to me." But it makes no difference to the guilt eating away at my gut.
The muscles at the side of her jaw tense and I sink slowly into the nearest chair to await my fate. "You slept with a guest at this hotel?" She looks pissed. "A female guest?" Livid. "And, what? You decided to enact some sort of lover's tiff in the middle of the hotel's reception?"
"It was not a lover's tiff." I'm a grown woman, I don't have tiffs, or anything of the kind. "We simply had a minor disagreement as to the longevity of our relationship."
"You shagged her and dumped her?"
I can't help but smile at her assumption, correct in this instance, that I'd been the one to do the dumping. "Something like that." Anonymous sex with someone you've just picked up in a hotel bar is not, in my opinion, the basis for a lasting relationship, and anyone who thinks differently needs their head examined. "She was a little crazy."
"To sleep with you she must have been."
That hurt. "I'll have you know that I'm very good in bed." Something I've been trying to prove to her for the past three years to no avail. "If it was an Olympic sport I could win medals."
Her lips don't so much as twitch in a smile. "I know that you hold the record for most one-night-stands in human history." She makes me sound like an old slapper, which I'm not, well, not exactly. "But if it's at all humanly possible, could you keep your libidinous activities away from the hotel? We do have a certain reputation to maintain and it is not conducive with half naked women running around the corridors being chased by their one-night-nightmares."
"I'm not a slapper." If she'd give me half a chance I'd prove just how faithful and monogamous I could be. "But if you live and work in a hotel it's only natural that your love life is going to spill over on occasion." She lives and works here too, of course, but for all intense and purposes she might as well be a nun.
"Some of use don't find it difficult to separate our love lives from our work lives." The muscle at the side of her jaw is jumping around like crazy and I'm half afraid that she's going to have a stroke. "You cannot keep doing this."
"I don't!" This is the first time, as far as I can remember, that I've been chased from a hotel room, semi-nude, by a screaming harpy. "The woman was deranged."
She's breathing hard and, despite the circumstances, I have the irrational urge to push her up against the wall and kiss her senseless. "This kind of behaviour is unacceptable." She'd probably call security and have them escort me from the building. "I am going to have to speak with head office." Or save time and deck me. "You're bringing the name of the hotel into disrepute."
I drop my towel.
Her jaw slips off its hinges and dangles precariously low as she stares at me in abject horror. I would be insulted but my heart is too busy breaking to let a little thing like that register as more than a blip. "It wasn't my intention to harm the good name of the hotel." I wish I was wearing armour to protect myself against her deadly glare. "I was just lonely." I move forward. "And horny." A step further. "And tired of waiting for you to notice me."
The slap, when it comes, brings tears to my eyes.
"Oh my God!" She looks as shocked as I am at her behaviour. "I'm so sorry."
I retake my seat and let the tears fall. "My fault." I'm an idiot, what did I expect her to do when faced with a naked and clearly insane woman in the full throes of lust induced psychosis. "My higher brain functions tend to shut down when you're around."
"I can't believe I did that." God, she's so beautiful, I can't believe how royally I've cocked things up. "You have every right to report me for assault." She's so earnest and proper and, God help me, I still want to kiss her. "It was inexcusable."
"S'okay." I can't stop the tears from falling. "I've had worse."
I know if I don't say the right thing she's going to beat herself up over this for days, until she does something really stupid, like resign. Facing her everyday, after making such a complete tit of myself, might be difficult, but nowhere near as difficult as facing a day without her here to remind me of what I can never have.
"I'm sorry I scared you."
She's shaking her head but I don't know why.
"I can have my desk cleared by the end of the day."
"No!" She looks angrier than when she slapped me. "I don't want you to leave." Now, she's pacing, and I'm starting to worry. "I just want you to stop sleeping with all these women." She stops and stares at me. "It's bad for the hotel."
I want to crawl away and die in a corner somewhere. "I'm sorry." If I was dressed I'd be out the door and halfway to my room by now, but she's standing on my towel and there is no way I'm wandering the corridors buck naked. "Can I have my towel back?"
The heel of her shoe grinds into the plush fabric and I get the distinct impression that she's imagining my head as she does so. "You cannot walk around the hotel in a towel." She starts tugging at her shirt, the buttons giving way to her demands with some hostility, before ripping the garment from her back and throwing it in my direction. "Put that on."
The shirt falls to the floor, my motor skills having deserted me at the first glimpse of Grace in her bra. I open my mouth to speak but my last spark of sanity forces my lips closed before I can say anything juvenile and inappropriate. Unfortunately, my restraint doesn't last long, "Fuck me."
Her eyes widen and I can tell she's trying to work out if that was a request or exclamation; to be honest, I'm still trying to work that out myself. She goes back to ignoring me and battling with her clothing and soon her skirt is on the floor and she's kicking it in my direction. "Hurry up and put those on."
This was definitely not how I imagined getting into her knickers. "Okay." Her shirt is a little tight across the chest, but I force down the witty - at least in my mind - comment I was about to make and quickly slip on her skirt. "Ta-da!" I want to twirl and make light of the situation but the scowl on her face keeps me rooted to the spot.
"You can borrow my passkey." She throws it at me. "Return it and my clothes within the hour."
I know that if I leave now I will have forever doomed our relationship - professional and personal - to the bowels of Hell. "We should talk."
"We've been talking." Her anger is spreading in a red wave across her chest. "You think your behaviour is acceptable and I don't." Her nipples are erect and begging for attention. "End of story."
It would be a lot easier to argue with her if she didn't turn my nerve endings to mush, but then again, I probably wouldn't feel the need to argue my case if she didn't make my blood boil with lust. "I'm in love with you." It's true. Yes, I have a major case of lust induced stupidity where she is concerned, but at the bottom of that is a big gooey mess of unrequited love. "I know it doesn't excuse what I did..."
"You slept with another woman!"
"...but it gets awful lonely waiting to be noticed and sometimes my inner fuck-up just won't stay hidden and I end up doing something monumentally stupid." I once stayed up all night, drinking vodka, and writing her poetry. Now that was embarrassing. "I am sorry."
She lets out a sigh. "Being sorry is all well and good, but I need you to reassure me that this type of thing won't happen again."
"It won't, I swear."
"I wish I believed you." She pinches the bridge of her nose with her thumb and forefinger and I realise I've probably given her the mother of all headaches. "I like you, you know, I always have, but I could never be serious about someone who treats relationships and sex in such a cavalier manner." I can't blame her, I wouldn't want to date me either. "I'm sorry."
I pick up the passkey. "I'll bring these right back." The thought of facing her again makes me feel sick but I can't leave her stranded here without her clothes. I get to the door but can't bring myself to go through. "What would it take?" I ask, my eyes fixed on the door. "For you to believe that I was serious."
I can hear her breath expel in frustration and I know I'm only delaying the inevitable, but if I knew what it would take, I could at least try. "How about no more naked corridor hopping?" She's being facetious, which probably isn't a good sign, but I'm prepared to wait for a real answer. "Or, I don't know, actually asking me out on a date."
It couldn't be that easy, could it? "A date?"
"A real date," she clarifies. "Not some weakly conceived prelude to meaningless sex."
I would feel insulted but she's just describe every date I've had for the last three years. "Paint-balling?"
That actually provokes a laugh and I turn just in time to see her smiling. "You're not serious?"
"Can you think of anything less like a prelude to meaningless sex than dressing up in combat gear and pelting each other with paint?" Okay, dinner with my mother, but I don't want to traumatise the poor woman. "It's also a great way to relieve stress."
"I'm not stressed."
Lucky her. "Is it a date?"
She looks as if she's been caught in a trap of her own making. "I suppose so." I just know there are a thousand and one caveats she wants to add, but somehow she manages to refrain. "But I'm not sleeping with you."
I can't restrain the smile that is threatening to consume my face. "Whatever you say."
As I slip out of the room I can't help saying a silent 'thank you' to my screaming harpy, for the small part she played in getting me this chance. I know the odds of anything more meaningful than paintball sized bruises coming from this opening are slim to none, but it's still a chance I didn't have an hour ago, and I plan to make the most of it, even if it means giving up sex for the foreseeable future. Damn, but love can be cruel.
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