I missed last week, so I’m giving you a double dose this week. Enjoy, and please send me your comments or suggestions! (this is still very much a work in progress.)
If you missed the first two installments, start here.
“There she is!” Kelly, the front desk manager, sings as I walk through the front door of the hotel. Ethan dropped me off, which is the only reason I’m coming in through the glass and marble foyer that receives our guests. Normally employees park in the lot at the back of the hotel and enter through the back door into a dark hallway with hospital-taupe colored linoleum on the floors and the walls. Kelly presses the button hidden underneath the marble desk she’s standing behind and I push through the always-locked door into an unlit hallway the width of the desk. I know that if I let the door fully close behind me before I open the one in front of me it will become totally black, I will barely have enough room to turn around and I will have a claustrophobia-induced panic attack.
I pull the door in front of me open quickly and walk into what we call the “back office.” It is a room about six by eight feet with a computer and combination printer/copy machine along one wall. The opposite wall has a counter with a set cabinets underneath it. Hanging on the wall above the counter is a series of square wooden boxes the size of post-office boxes. Each of the employees is assigned one of these cubbies for their personal items. I toss my keys into mine. My backpack gets dropped on the floor next to the counter. Only on third shift am I allowed to keep it lying on the floor. When I work the evening shift I have to keep it in the locker room. I pull my name tag out of my cubby, attach it to my uniform jacket, and go out to the front desk.
“Where’s Daniel?” I ask, not seeing my co-worker who was supposed to be finishing out the evening shift.
“I had him take his bank up already. When he gets down here you can go get yours, then I’m out.”
On cue, Daniel walks around the corner followed by Simon, one of the overnight security guards. He smiles. “Hey sweetie, you ready?”
“Yep. Let’s go,” I say, pushing my way out the door and following him to the elevator. The money was stored in the business office of the hotel on the fourth floor. Each front desk person kept their own “bank” an envelope of six hundred dollars, in a safety deposit box. The money had to be deposited and retrieved by two people, at least one from security, so I had gotten to know all those guys very quickly. When the elevator door closes Simon steps in front of me, backing me against the wall. He puts one arm on each side of my head and leans down.
“How are you?” he asks nonchalantly, as if our faces are not just inches apart. I look at his lips. I can’t talk. I’m afraid if I open my mouth I’ll try to kiss him.
Simon’s tall, incredibly hansom, and very married. He was working my very first shift at the hotel and I made the mistake of asking Tilly, one of the other front desk agents if he was single. Instead of just telling me, Tilly said, “Why? Do you think he’s cuuuuuute? Do you want to kiiiiiiiissssss him? Hey, Simon! New girl here thinks your hot.” I learned very quickly that working in a building full of beds made people act like seventh grade sex-ed students. My face had gotten so red I could feel it in my ears. He milked it for several days, flirting just to see how quickly he could make my face go red. I was very disappointed when I found out he was married. Even though we had been working together for months now, I still could hardly look at him without feeling the color rise in my cheeks.
I duck out from under his arm and laugh as I shuffled to the other side of our three-foot cage. “I’m good. How are you?”
“I’m good,” he says, making his voice lower than normal so that it sounded gravelly. It was like someone had given him a list of everything that turns me on and he was checking each off. He puts his arm around me as we step off the elevator. He pulls me close, and my stomach flips as he rests his hand on it.
“Simon!” I say, pulling away. He laughs at my red face as he unlocks the office door and leads me to the safe.
“How’s your wife?”
We stare at each other for a moment, an unspoken challenge passing between us. We let it go, like we always do, and get my money out of the safe. He stays on the other side of the elevator on the ride down.
“Good Morning!” Sarah-Joe says brightly as I open the door. When I am lucky, she is just getting in the shower as I came home from third shift at the hotel. When I’m not, she is snoozing her alarm every nine minutes for the entire hour I have to nap between work and school. Today she is making breakfast. “Want some coffee?”
“No thanks, I’m going to try to get a little sleep before class.” I kick my shoes off in the little kitchen, using my foot to push them off to the side, close to the washing machine. “I’m going to wear those to school, so I’ll pick them up then,” I say, trying to fend off her instinct to pick them up for me. She does it anyway, following me into my room with them in her hand.
“No problem, I know how tired you are,” she says, placing them on the shoe rack behind my door. I stripped off my uniform and crawl into bed in my underwear and bra.
“Brad and I are making dinner tonight. He’s bringing Anthony. Remember, I told you about him, he plays in the guitar in that band…”
I nod my head, mumbling to indicate that I know who she is talking about. I keep my eyes closed, partially because I really am that tired, and partially because I want her to take the hint.
Sarah-Joe is a Music Business major at Belmont University with me, and, as far as roommates go, she’s okay. She resents that I don’t have to study more than a few hours a week to maintain my 4.0 GPA. I resent that she doesn’t have to work to afford her wardrobe.
Our bedrooms are separate, but we share all of the living space in the duplex we rent. She’s from Mississippi and is a true southern bell. Her parents pay all of her bills, including her credit card. They even deposit spending money into her bank account each week. She’s constantly inviting me out with her friends, even though she knows I have to work and that I don’t have a lot of money. She doesn’t understand what it’s like to make a budget and stick to it. When her bank account is low, she calls her father. When my bank account is low, I try to get extra shifts at the hotel.
“So you’ll be here? I really think you will like Anthony.” She’s moved farther into the room now, her voice is coming from somewhere near the foot of my bed. I open one eye and see that she is looking through my closet.
“I’ve got plans with Ethan tonight.” Instead of thinking about Ethan, my mind flashes back to the elevator and Daniel. I feel a pang of guilt, even though nothing happened. In a half-asleep daze, I wonder if he’s happily married. He never talks about his wife. Maybe they’re separated. I can’t believe I’m thinking these things. I have Ethan. I love Ethan. Right?
“Oh, too bad,” Sarah-Joe’s voice snaps me back to reality. “You sure are spending a lot of time with Ethan. How’s that going?” She’s still looking in my closet, oblivious to the fact that I want to sleep.
“It’s good. Do you want to borrow some clothes, or…” I let my voice trail off, once again hoping she’ll get the hint. I’m raised up on my elbow now, watching her. The coffee pop beeps in the kitchen.
“Oh! Coffee’s done. Do you want some?” She turns around and acts shocked to see me nearly naked in bed. “Oh, Addie! Are you tired?”
“A little bit. I’m going to sleep for about an hour before class.”
“Brad is on his way over. Do you want to put some clothes on?”
“Not really. Just don’t bring him in here.” I turn over, closing my eyes again and pulling my comforter up over my shoulder. “Please shut the light off when you go out.”
“Alright…” she lets her voice trail off. “You know, I’m glad things are going well with Ethan, but don’t you think he’s a little old for you?” I don’t answer or acknowledge that I’ve heard her. I know it won’t matter. Sarah-Joe is a master at the art of passive-aggressiveness. “You’ve been spending an awful lot of time together. I really think you’ll like Anthony. We’ll make some extra food just in case you change your mind. Six o’clock.”
She finally leaves my room, graciously shutting the light off as she closes the door. Ten minutes later Brad pulls up in his old car with no muffler. He rings the doorbell twice before she unlocks the door for him, then they talk and laugh for a few minutes before I hear her “remember” I’m home. “Sssshhhh! Addie worked all night.”
“Sorry Addie!” he yells.
I open my eyes, looking at the clock. Fifteen minutes left to sleep. I close them again and immediately fall back to sleep. When my alarm goes off I stumble across the room to shut it off, then into the bathroom, barely opening my eyes.
“Addison! Brad’s still here!” Sarah-Joe shrieks from the dining room table where her and Brad are sipping coffee in full view of the doors to my bedroom and the bathroom.
“Sorry,” I mumble, knowing we’re going to have to have a talk about walking around in my underwear later.