They reached London’s door first. “This is me.”
“Here, let me get that for you.” He went to put the card key in the slot. The door was already open, just slightly ajar.
“What’s the matter, Ace?”
“The door is open. Hello?” He placed an ear near the door and awaited an answer. None came. He eased the door open wider, stuck his head inside. “Hello? Ciao?” Then turned to London. “Wait here.”
As he entered the room, there was no hesitation in Ace’s stride.
London pushed the door fully open, entered the room and followed Ace’s eyes to a package on the hallway table. Patriotic colors of red, white and blue suggested the parcel had been sent from the United States.
She went over to pick it up.
“Don’t touch it. Don’t pick it up. This is gone past the actions of a love-struck fan and into straight stalker status. Your door was open. Either the person broke in or was a hotel employee with a key.” He pulled out his phone. “Carly, where are you? I need you in London’s suite. Now.”
Carly was there within seconds.
Ace jabbed at the package. “How did this get here?”
Carly’s eyes widened. “I have no idea.”
“The door was unlocked when we arrived. Do you have an idea about that?”
Carly shook her head. “No. I definitely closed the door behind me.”
“Are you sure?” London asked.
London walked over to the package.
“Don’t touch it, London.”
“I’m not. I’m just seeing who it’s from.” She leaned over to read the label and crossed her arms as she turned, a smirk on her face. “I think we can calm down, Ace. This has to be someone with a sense of humor, a harmless prank.”
“Why, who’s it from?”
“Emma Phan.” Ace didn’t laugh. “I’m a fan. Get it?”
“I get the name. Just not the joke.”
London talked Ace out of involving law enforcement but not out of questioning the doorman, concierge and front desk clerk. No one had handled anyone with a package nor seen anyone enter with package in hand. There were no cameras in the hotel lobby or hallways. The manager assured Ace he’d get to the bottom of the matter and report back first thing the following day. The package was given to the concierge unopened, with instructions to return it to its sender.
They headed back up to their floor.
“You need to move into my room.”
“Ace, that’s a bit drastic. Besides, with my parents coming over, it’s not a good idea.”
“Why not? They’re not staying here.”
“But knowing my mother, she’ll want to stop by. Why don’t I just keep my things in the room and spend the nights with you, like always?”
They entered her suite. Ace looked around. Now that the mysterious package was gone, the room looked and felt normal. He came over to stand in front of her, placed a finger under her chin to look into her eyes. “I’m going to have Samantha reschedule your interviews around tomorrow’s appearances, baller or not. You can get some sleep and have more time to spend with your parents. Okay?”
“If you insist. We have dinner reservations for eight o’clock. If you haven’t heard from me by seven, come wake me up.”
Three hours later, at seven fifteen, Ace knocked lightly on London’s door. No answer.
He knocked again. Still nothing. Pulling out the extra card key to her room that he’d requested earlier when they talked to the front desk, he opened the door and went inside.
“Hey, baller! London!” He walked through the living room and down a short hallway. “Thought you didn’t need to get any—”
Ace stopped in his tracks and stopped talking, too. The king-size bed was empty. London was gone.
“What do you mean, missing?” Ike Sr. bellowed.
“Probably not missing,” Ace amended, hating his poor choice of words. “I just can’t find her.”
“Do you normally call the police if a model can’t be found?” Ike’s question dripped sarcasm and disbelief.