“I do.” Emma stood behind the couch, shoving her laptop into her bag. Her long brown hair was pulled up into a high ponytail and she was dressed in jeans and a yellow shirt. Everything about Emma screamed, “sweet” and “dainty,” but the petite brunette could out-drink and out-cuss a sailor. She was a freelance programmer and aside from my daily calls to Kate, Emma was my close friend and chat buddy. So I had never been so happy to hear the words, “I’m just running late.”
Emma looked up, her big brown eyes going wide and taking in my hair, last night’s clothes, and the obvious lack of bra under my blouse. “Oh my God, you’re doing the walk of shame.”
“What?” I gasped.
“You are! The hair, the I-just-had-an-orgasm glow, and is that—” Emma looked closer and I slapped my hand over my neck. “Is that a hickey?”
“No.” It wasn’t. “It’s teeth marks. And I had three orgasms.”
“Three.” Emma took a seat and abandoned packing. “I want all the details. So spill.” Then her smile faded and she went serious. “Wait. Is this about Brain?”
“No,” I said too fast.
She raised a brow. “Really? Because you aren’t really a one-night stand kind of girl.”
“How do you know?” I asked because she was the second person in the past twelve hours to imply that.
“Because I used to be one and, trust me, you are not. So the fact that you had, what I am assuming was your virgin sail on the USS No-Strings, the same day that Brian elopes with the slut he cheated on you with has me worried.”
I sighed and sat on the couch next to her. She was right. I wasn’t the one-night kind of person. But for a night it had been fun, thrilling even. “It just sort of happened.”
“So, what exactly happened?” she asked with a smile and wag of her brows.
“I found out about Brian and Grace eloping, my mom texted and I guess my dad is getting worse.” I shrugged. “It was just one of those days. Then Mr. Preston came in—”
“I didn’t really get his first name. We didn’t share a lot of info.” I closed my eyes and pictured how he looked when I’d snuck out this morning. Stubble on his face, his hair messed from my hands, a small contented smile on his face, and that incredible body, naked for my viewing pleasure. “He came into the bar when I was heading out and we just kind of, clicked.”
“Are you going to see him again?”
“No,” I said. “He is a client, an important one by his room, and dating clients is against corporate policy.”
“What if he wants to see you again?”
Last night was amazing. But like the early spring sun blaring through the window, reality hit hard.
“Can’t happen. I could lose my job.” Not to mention the fact that I had a one-night stand and didn’t even know the guy’s full name. That could be a good thing though. He was just passing through. A jetsetter who held meetings in big cities and was gone before the week was through.
He had flicked a switch in me that disregarded consequence and gave way to stupid hormones. It had been so nice shedding all the stress for just one night.
The way he looked at me…as though he wanted to devour me. No one had ever looked at me like that, and it felt good. Still, I knew better than to jeopardize my career, especially when my parents depended on my paychecks.
“I need this job, Emma. I can’t afford to mess it up, no matter how sexy the guy is.”
“Well, that depends,” Emma tapped her chin. “How sexy are we talking?”
I couldn’t hide the stupid grin on my face. “Really sexy.”
She shrugged. “Then I think it was worth it. No offense, but you’ve been walking around like a zombie of misery and this is the first time I’ve seen you smile since I moved in. Everyone needs a break from reality every once in a while.”
I looked at my hands. I did need a break. Something in Preston’s eyes, in the way his heat surrounded me, and how the smell of him had every reasonable thought scattering out the window.
Getting lost, feeling alive, breaking the rules, I just needed it. Needed him. Truth be told I felt a little lighter this morning. But it was morning, and time to get back to my life.
Another soothing breath. How many times had I told my best friend Kate to just breathe? It was time I took my own advice and calm my nerves. In the middle of a perfect inhale, my phone rang.
I hustled to snatch it from my purse. Caller I.D. said it was the hotel.
“Hi, Megan, it’s Brooke. I need you to come in this afternoon please.”
“Ah, it’s my day off.”
Emma picked up her backpack and mouthed, “Gotta run. See you later,” and winked.
I nodded as she slipped out the door.
“Yes, well, something important has come up and I need you to come in at noon,” Brooke continued.
My blood froze. They knew. Somehow I’d had been caught and now I was going to lose my job. Bile rose in my throat. Had Mr. Suit told? Complained?
“I can’t today.” I really couldn’t. My dad’s specialist had agreed to call me at one o’clock and give me an update on yesterday’s appointment. My mom was counting on me and I couldn’t risk not getting back in time.
“I suggest that you find the time.” Brook lowered her voice and it sounded like she was cupping her hand around the phone. “The request came from high up.”
“You mean Bill?”
Bill Chappie was the general manager and never took time to converse with the lowers unless there was a problem. And apparently there was one and it started in the penthouse.
“No, Megan,” Brooke whispered. “I mean corporate. And it was red-flagged.”
My body shook slightly and I clutched the phone against my ear.
“N-noon is fine.”
“Good. And good luck.”
The line when dead, and so did my blood pressure.
“He wants you to meet him in his office,” Brooke said when I walked up to the front desk.
“Who wants me in what office?”
Brooke looked around and then lowered her voice. Though she and I technically had the same job title, she was twenty years older and had a mother hen vibe, which was oddly comforting.
“Mr. Strauss. He’s in his office in his hotel asking for you.”
“The office upstairs?”