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The Accidental Honeymoon
By Portia Macintosh
HarperCollins PublishersCopyright © 2017 Portia MacIntosh
All rights reserved.
'What have you got in here, a body?' the hotel porter asks as he places my suitcase on the floor.
'Ha, ha, ha,' I laugh politely, but the worried look on his face suggests he would actually like an explanation.
'I did a bit of last-minute holiday shopping on my way here,' I tell him. Well, what I actually did was buy myself the best part of a whole new wardrobe. In an inexplicable moment of madness I bought everything I could get my hands on that was distinctly 'not me'. I left home for my trip without the suitcase I'd already packed with my usual, demure, conservative clothing. Instead, I bought a new one and overstuffed it with short, low, brightly coloured, cheaply made alternatives.
'Good for you,' he replies. 'I thought maybe your fiancé was in there.'
'Ha, ha, ha,' I laugh again, this time a little more genuinely as I fantasise about John being stuffed in a suitcase.
'So, let me show you around the room.'
I glance around my corner suite at the Black Diamond Hotel. It's still daylight, but even so, the view is amazing. The first thing I do is head towards the window to take it all in.
'First time in Vegas?' the porter asks.
I nod my head.
'I figured so when I heard your accent. Well, you're in for a treat when it gets dark. This is one of our best rooms for admiring the view. This over here is your bathroom.'
The porter gestures towards a door. I pop my head inside. Both the floor and wall tiles are black, flecked with colourful sparkles that twinkle the second he flicks the light on. There's a huge rainfall shower and an even bigger bath. Even the toilet is fancy with its silver mosaic finish, resembling a disco ball.
'It's very nice,' I tell him.
'And back in the bedroom, the mini bar and safe are down here.' He gestures to a cupboard. 'And the TV is inside this cabinet.'
'Awesome,' I reply, struggling to hide my indifference.
'And here is your bed, obviously. It's a super king, with Egyptian cotton sheets. The rose petals were a request by your fiancé - you're a very lucky lady.'
I smile as I reach for my purse to tip the porter.
'Thank you for all your help,' I tell him, handing him some money.
The porter takes it and thanks me, but he doesn't leave the room. Instead, he hovers in the doorway.
'Is everything OK with your room, Miss ... er ...?' he asks.
'Georgie,' I reply. 'And it's great. Thank you.'
Still, the porter lingers.
'It's just ... you don't seem very happy with it,' he persists.
'Honestly, the room is perfect.'
He furrows his brow, unconvinced.
'Well, OK then.'
'OK then,' I echo.
I force a smile, holding it only as long as it takes the porter to close the door behind him. Finally alone, I crouch down on the floor next to the inviting-looking bed and start picking up the pink and red rose petals that have been scattered around the room. I place the ones from the floor on top of the bed before scooping them all up together. I glance around for a wastepaper bin, but it turns out that's the only thing this room doesn't seem to have. There isn't a bin in the fancy bathroom either. I just need these rose petals out of here. The sparkly toilet literally catches my eye, so I dump the petals inside and flush. I'm walking out of the bathroom when the sound of the toilet spluttering catches my ear. I glance back at it and realise I've blocked it, the water having risen all the way to the top. Brilliant, wonderful, marvellous. Just when I thought things couldn't get any worse.
I massage my temples for a moment, wracking my brains for a solution. I am a strong, independent woman who doesn't need a man. Glancing into the toilet, full to the seat with water, completely out of my depth, I realise I might not need a man, but I definitely need a plumber, and it could well be a bloke. First, though, I need a drink.
Seeing as I'll be spending the entire evening in here alone, I may as well pillage the mini bar. I grab all of the tiny bottles of booze and line them up on the desk in front of me.
I tap a finger on the bottles one at a time, trying to figure out which one to have first. I land on a miniature bottle of gin, remove the lid and toss the contents down the hatch. 'Argh!' I say out loud. I'm not usually one for drinking spirits neat.
I cast an eye over the snacks in the mini bar, umming and aahing over whether to eat the honey-roasted nuts, the vegetables chips or one of the many bars of chocolate. I shrug my shoulders, grab them all and dump them down on the bed, but as I go back for the tiny bottles of booze, I notice something else in the mini bar. I take the can from the inside door and examine it. It's some energy drink-looking thing called Ecstasy. I hate energy drinks, so I quickly return it, except, as I place it back down, I hear the contents rattle. What could it be? Not drugs, surely. This is a beautiful hotel, and they couldn't guarantee their guests would keep quiet about such a thing. I cock my head with curiosity, taking the can back out. It's black, with fancy red writing on it, and not a whole lot of other information. Curiouser and curiouser, I pop the top off and peep into the rabbit hole. Unable to make anything out, I pour the contents into my hand, only to cause them to spill out all over the desk. It all happens so quickly, but as the silver bullet inside bounces on the desk a couple of times, it activates the power and causes it to vibrate. The bullet pauses on the edge of the desk, but only for a second before the powerful vibrations send it flying off behind the furniture. As I take stock of the other items - a condom, a small tube of lubricant and a blindfold - I realise this is some sort of sex kit, and that the vibrator that came with it (no pun intended) is currently lodged behind this big, heavy desk, vibrating loudly against the wood.
I move quickly, but it's no use. I can't reach it. Damn this stupid bodycon dress I bought today, that I can't bloody move in. Thinking fast, I slip the dress off, allowing me my usual full range of body movements, and lean over the desk, reaching behind it to try and grab the offending vibrator.
There' s a knock on the door.
'Just a sec,' I call back. I can feel the vibrator with the tips of my fingers, but I just can't get a hold of it. Just one big stretch and ... oh God, my hand is stuck. My bangle is caught on the back of the desk. When I took off my clothes to try and reach, I never even thought about my tacky new accessories.
Whoever is at my door knocks again.
'Coming,' I snap loudly, in case they didn't hear me the first time.
If I can just wiggle my hand free and turn this thing off.
'Hello? Miss. Georgie?' I hear the porter call as he opens the room door.
'Oh my God, what are you doing in here?' I call back.
'You said "come in",' he replies. 'I.'
He falls silent the second he lays eyes on me.
'I said "coming",' I say softly, attempting to bury my probably very red face in the desk.
'What's ... er.'
The porter is clearly lost for words.
'I'm stuck,' I tell him simply.
He rushes over and pulls the desk out from in front of the wall. I free my hand before snatching the vibrator, turning it off and quickly grabbing the bed sheets to save me any further embarrassment - as though that might be possible.
'"Come in", "coming" - I guess it's the accent,' he says awkwardly. He glances around the room, taking stock of all the alcohol, junk food and sex aids scattered around. Having just seen me bent over the desk in my underwear, trying to retrieve a loudly buzzing vibrator, I can only imagine what he's thinking. 'Erm, anyway, I have some good news. I know you said everything with the room was fine. Anyway, I don't know if that's good old English manners or what, but I told the manager something wasn't right and he asked me to give you this voucher for a fully comped three-course meal in our restaurant tonight, for you and your fiancé - and a bottle of champagne for now.'
He smiles widely and theatrically.
'Thank you so much,' I reply, touched by his gesture. I tighten the bed sheets around my body - lest he see me in my underwear again - before taking the vouchers in one hand and the champagne in the other. I place them down on the desk before wrapping my arms around my body self-consciously.
'And here are some chips - on the house. We wish you and your fiancé the best of luck in our casino.'
I take the chips from him. As I glance down at the numbers, I realise I'm holding $1,000 worth of chips.
'Are you having your champagne now, or are you waiting until your fiancé gets here?' he asks.
'Oh, now,' I reply, a little quicker and more keenly than I probably should have.
'Would you like me to pour it for you?' he asks, although I can tell he wants to get out of this room just as much as I want him to.
'It's fine, thank you. I can handle things from here,' I reply.
'I'm sure you can,' he replies - probably sarcastically. 'Well, I promise not to bother you again in another ten minutes.' Bloody hell, is that all it was?! 'Is there anything else I can help you with?' 'No, thank you,' I reply. 'Actually, yes, wait ...' I call after him. 'I blocked my toilet.'CHAPTER 2
Trust is a funny, fragile thing. You know what they say about trust? How it's hard to gain, easy to lose and impossible to win back? There's a lot of truth in this. We take our time getting to know potential partners, holding back from fully handing ourselves over to them until we feel as confident as we possibly can that they won't break our hearts. And then, if they do ... well good luck trying to have a healthy relationship after that because those things can never be mended - least of all by the people who broke them. Even when it comes to friends, we don't trust them immediately. We wait until we've achieved expert-level BFF status before we share our deepest and darkest secrets with them.
Yes, trust is hard to earn ... unless you're a hairdresser. A hairdresser is basically a very cheap therapist who can somehow simultaneously solve your problems while telling you exactly what you want to hear to feel better, and they can give you a self-esteem boost not even the most talented, most qualified therapist could achieve.
The hotel salon is exactly like every other salon I' ve ever been in. The decor is modern, the lighting is kind, the music is whatever is in the charts - playing a little too loudly, but it' s being drowned out by the usual hairdresser chatter.
One of the girls who works here is telling the room she's worried her boyfriend might leave her.
'Have you tried talking to him?' one customer with rollers in her hair asks.
'A little, but you know what men are like,' she replies. 'He's always been quiet, not really into sharing feelings.'
A heavily pregnant hairdresser chimes in: 'You can't just ask men questions and expect answers, everyone knows that.'
As she says this, she gesticulates a little too wildly for my liking, given she's working with scissors so close to a lady's eyes.
'So, what do I do?' the girl asks.
The pregnant lady is probably the oldest stylist here - probably only in her mid thirties, but she seems like the mother hen of the place. I scoot forwards on my seat a little, ready to listen to her advice.
'I'll tell you exactly what you do,' she starts. 'Go to the store, buy a pregnancy test, bring it here - I'll pee on it for you - then take it to him and see what he says. If he's a good man, he'll stand by you. If not, you're better off without him.'
I don' t know what I find more alarming - that this lady is willing to give her pee to anyone who wants it to manipulate their man, or that no one else seems to find this advice weird.
The girl with the problem nods thoughtfully.
'You think you've got problems,' the lady with the rollers starts, ready to one-up the girl with boy problems. 'Eighteen years I've been with my lousy husband and he forgets our anniversary.'
Her strong New York accent commands the room, and suddenly her problems take precedence.
Pregnant hairdresser thinks thoughtfully, tapping her comb on her pursed lips.
'No sex,' she concludes. 'It's the only way to teach him a lesson.'
'Honey, didn't you hear me? I said we'd been married eighteen years. We don't have sex! ' she replies with a cackle.
In the mirror in front of me, I see the lady behind me twirl around in her chair.
'This is men for you,' she shrugs, her French accent strong, but her English perfect. 'My boyfriend, he just gambles all the time, he has no time for me. Right now he is in the casino and he thinks that he can just give me money, send me here, and it will be fine. It's not fine.'
'No, it's not,' Liv, the lady who is about to do my hair, agrees.
We all live thousands of miles apart, but we all have the same stupid man problems. That said, I think I can top all of them. In the age-old words of the internet: hold my beer - or my third glass of complimentary champagne, more accurately.
'I caught my fiancé cheating on me,' I say quietly. 'Literally, like I walked in on him doing it. With his assistant.'
For the first time since I arrived, no one is saying anything. Nothing but the whirr of a hairdryer and the dulcet sound of Justin Bieber's latest hit can be heard. Then the responses come all at once. Gasps, expletives and questions from all angles.
'His assistant?' Liv shrieks.
No one ever really stops and thinks about what they'd do if their significant other cheated on them, do they? No one has a contingency plan in place, in case of adultery. Some might say cheating is cheating, whereas others might see the difference between a drunken one-nighter and full-blown affair. Not only was my fiancé stone-cold sober, but he was at it in my bed - probably still warm from my getting out of it.
'What happened?' Liv enquires gently.
'I got up for work, had my breakfast, got dressed and left the apartment with my fiancé fast asleep in bed. He doesn't work office hours, so when I go off to work, he's always still in bed. While I was on the way to work, not long after I left actually, I just decided I'd go home. I had loads of things I needed to do before this trip, but that wasn't the reason. I just decided I didn't want to go to work that day.'
The women look at me, puzzled.
'You were suspicious?' Liv asks.
'I wasn't,' I tell her honestly - at least, I don't think I was.
I should have known that moving to LA with dreams of becoming an actress was a long shot, but I had big dreams when I was younger. Instead of becoming an actress, I simply wound up becoming someone's other half.
I work temp jobs, just taking whatever I can get whenever I can get it. A short-notice job came in for yesterday morning, filling in for a receptionist in a law firm. Work has been in short supply recently, so I accepted it, safe in the knowledge I could finish at lunchtime and then go home to pack our bags, ready for travelling today.
Perhaps on a subconscious level I knew something wasn't right, but I don't think so. I really did think we were happy.
'I just didn't want to go to work,' I say softly.
'Well, thank God you didn't, honey,' New York lady says. 'You're so lucky.'
'Yeah,' I reply, although I don't feel it.
'So you thought you'd come to Vegas to forget about him?' she asks.
'Not exactly,' I reply. 'We were supposed to be flying to England in the morning. I've been a bit nervous about it, so my fiancé booked us a romantic night here, to get the trip off to a good start. The plan was to fly from LA to here, spend a night having fun and then head back to the UK for a family wedding. But now it's just me, and the hotel and flights were already booked, so here I am.'
'So you're on a romantic trip alone?' 'I am on a romantic trip alone,' I repeat. 'And open to whatever you suggest as far as my hair goes.'
Liv teases my shoulder-length, mousy-brown hair with her fingers and pulls a face.
'It's not that this isn't nice,' she says tactfully. 'It just doesn't go with that smoking-hot outfit you're wearing. ' I glance down at the gown I'm wearing to protect my clothes and cringe as I think about what's lurking underneath.
When your heart has been broken, you don't think straight, do you? Bad ideas seem like good ideas. Perhaps it's a way of protecting ourselves, but we immediately snap into this 'I have to show him what he's missing' mode. Whether it's to prove a point to our exes or ourselves, I don't know, but that's what we do.
John is a well-known orchestral pianist (well, well known if you're into that sort of thing). I played the role of his girlfriend perfectly, dressing and acting the part, which is probably why I'm acting out now.
Excerpted from The Accidental Honeymoon by Portia Macintosh. Copyright © 2017 Portia MacIntosh. Excerpted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers.
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