I managed to sweet talk my manager into a pay cut if he allowed me to also work for room and board. I knew for a fact that the hotel had several smaller rooms, usually used during peak travel season. They were uncomfortable and cramped, and the hotel liked to charge weary travelers and arm and leg for them if they were desperate enough. The room was big enough for me to stretch my arms out in both directions, but it was really no larger than the janitor’s closet.
Was it sad? Yes. But I had too much pride to ask my family for help.
But on the plus side, I was never late to work because I technically never left. I liked to look for silver linings, even if they were barely there.
Since I worked the graveyard shift last night, I wasn’t scheduled to work until later that evening. I gladly took the free time I had to hop into a nice, hot shower. As the water trickled over my head and spilled down my shoulders and back, soaking my feet right through, I thought about William. I liked the sensation of his large hands on my body, adored how he tasted on my tongue. I was a little torn between wanting to see him again, and wanting to avoid him entirely. Last night was a fluke, a throwaway, casual experience. I wasn’t exactly in the right mindset or place in my life to actually consider anything more than that.
Last night had been fun, but I promised that that was that. I couldn’t risk losing my job over some guy. An incredibly gorgeous, sexy, built like a Michelangelo statue guy.
By the time my shift rolled around, I slipped into a fresh uniform and made my way to the receptionist desk. It was a nice, quiet Wednesday evening. The hotel lobby was ghostly quiet, and there didn’t appear to be much traffic just outside the hotel’s main doors. I wasn’t exactly dealing with a terrible hangover, but I was still grateful for the silence. My mind was still replaying my night with William over and over again in my head, and I much preferred to be alone with my thoughts than try and force a polite smile and deal with customers while partially turned on.
Yeah, no. That would be too weird.
Cathy was already busy filing paperwork by the time I clocked in. Her nose was still a little red and runny, dark circles beneath her eyes, but she looked a lot better than she had in days previous. Her bright red mess of curls was pulled up into a messy bun, strands of wild hair falling before her face. Her uniform was a little wrinkled, and she definitely looked like she could use some more sleep. She was absent-mindedly doodling circles onto the corner of a document she’d printed out. I wasn’t entirely sure if the cold medicine she was on had left her feeling a bit delirious or not.
She took one look at me and gasped, placing a sassy hand on her hip.
“Who was he?” she demanded. Her voice was crackly and weak. Her nose was probably stuffed up, too, because she sounded abnormally nasal.
I giggled uncomfortably. “I have no idea what you’re talking about.”
“I can’t believe this,” she muttered, trying to appear bitterer than she really was. “I call in sick and you still manage to get a good lay in. Where do you even find the time?”
I adjusted the fold of my shirt collar and cleared my throat. “Are we expecting any reservations this evening?”
“Fine, ignore me. I’ll remember that the next time you want to hear about the latest maid gossip. You’ll never believe what Sherry found in room twenty-seven.”
“What?” I asked, my curiosity a reflex.
Cathy clicked her tongue and shook her head. “Nuh-uh. You first.”
I pressed my lips together into a thin line. I loved hearing about all the sordid tales the cleaning crew had to share. People would be surprised at what the hotel maids knew. It was apparently very common for guests to forget their sex toys and other scandalous items. We obviously had to throw them away for sanitary purposes, but it was always a hoot to discover that the cute little old couple that checked in the previous night were busy getting their freak on.
Despite how badly I wanted to know what Sherry found, I decided against saying anything. I shook my head. “I think you’ve got a fever or something. I really didn’t do anything interesting last night.”
Cathy squinted at me like she didn’t believe me. She threw her hands up in the air and nodded in defeat. “Yeah, okay. Maybe I’m a bit loopy off my cough medicine.”
“Are you feeling any better?”
She made a sound that was halfway between a grunt and a cough. “I’m alive, I guess.”