The Hating Game Page 83

There’s no possible way to adequately end a moment like this. How does one transition back to reality? This hotel room needs a commemorative plaque.

“Oh shit! Breakfast is soon. We gotta hurry. I need to pack my bag.”

“Let’s skip it.” His hands toy with the curve of my waist and hips. Up, down. In, out.

“Your mom’ll be waiting. Come on.”

“No,” he yowls unhappily, and his hands slide up my shoulders.

“No,” I tell him in return and get out of the shower, evading his hands. I wrap myself in a towel and check the time beside the bed.

“Come on, fifteen minutes. Hurry, hurry.”

“I’ll book the room for another day. We can stay for hours. We could live here.”

“Josh. I like your mom. And I don’t know if I’m lame for wanting to make her happy, and I don’t know if I’ll ever see her again after today. I know she misses you. Maybe that’s my role in this whole weekend. To force you to be with your family again.”

“How sweet. Forcing me to do things I don’t want to. And of course you’ll see her again.”

“Fine. Put it this way. I was invited to breakfast and I’m going. I’m starving. You sexed all of my energy out. You do what you want.”

I manage to get some mascara on and half of my top lip done in Flamethrower. Then he eases up behind me and I look at us in the mirror.

The differences between us have never been more stark, or more erotic. The contrast of me against his large, muscled glory almost breaks my resolve. He gathers my hair away from the side of my neck and drops his mouth in a kiss. We make eye contact in the mirror and I let out a broken breath.

I want to tell him, yes, rent this room for the rest of our lives. If I had more time, I could make you love me. The realization has me by the throat.

I’d have to be blind to not see the light of affection in his eyes as he wraps his arms tighter and begins kissing the side of my neck. I’d have to be a thousand years old to forget the way he kisses me. It’s the fresh new bud of something that could one day be something remarkable, but I have severe doubts that it could survive in the real world. This bubble we’re in? It’s not reality. I wish it was, and I wish we lived here. All of this, I should say out loud to him, but I don’t have the courage.

I close my eyes. “We can have breakfast and then drive back to your apartment at warp speed.”

“Fine. Nice lipstick, by the way.”

I manage to get the rest done and I blot once. He takes the tissue before I can scrunch it up. He holds it up to admire it.

“Like a heart.”

“How about you buy a little white canvas and I’ll kiss it for you. Something to remember me by.”

I give him a cute wink to keep the tone light. The sarcastic rejoinder that I am expecting never eventuates, and instead he turns and walks out of the bathroom. When I come out a few minutes later with my makeup bag under my arm he’s dressed in jeans and a red T-shirt.

“I’ve never seen you in red. How come every color in the flippin’ rainbow suits you?”

He puts my cell phone near my purse, and the white rose he saved from his lapel.

“You just think they do.” He zips his bag and stands at the window, looking out at the water.

I dig in my bag for my own jeans and the black cashmere sweater I’m glad I packed. The air down here is colder, fresher than I’m used to. I’m getting dressed and he’s not watching. I hop slightly to get the jeans zipped up and he doesn’t turn. I loudly squirt perfume into my cleavage and he doesn’t even flare a nostril.

“Breakfast is going to be fine.”

“Yeah, sure,” he says faintly.

I stick my feet into some flats and decide to leave my hair in its big messy damp bun. I walk up behind him and hug his waist, resting my cheekbone against the lower curve of his shoulder blade.

“Tell me what’s wrong.”

“I’m a one-night stand. This is everything I’ve been trying to avoid. I’ve been trying to build something, not give you some sense of closure.”

“No! Hey. How have I made you feel this way?” I tug on his elbow until he faces me.

“You’re constantly talking like it’s already over. A lipstick kiss to remember you by? Why am I going to need reminding, exactly?”

“We’re not working together much longer.”

“I haven’t wanted you this long, and gone through so much, and given up so much, to have you for one night. It’s not enough.”

He’s right, of course. The interview result hangs over us like a scythe. A flash of impatience hits me.

“Can I stay at your place tonight?” It’s all I can think of to say. “Can I sleep in your bed?”

“I guess,” he says sulkily, and I tug him by the loops on his jeans over to his suitcase.

I look back at the bed. How so much could have changed in one space? Maybe he’s thinking the same thing. He kisses my eyebrow so gently I feel tears begin to prick behind my eyes.

I catch a glimpse of the receipt when we check out. It was roughly a week’s rent for this magical hotel room. He slashes his signature like Zorro onto it, and hugs me close. My cheek presses against his perfect pectoral.

“And did you have a nice stay?”

The elegantly groomed receptionist is smiling a little too widely at Josh as she processes the checkout. She seems to be willfully ignoring my presence, or maybe she’s just dazzled. I look at her slicked-back blond-coil hairdo. Her chalky pink lipstick is too bright against her tan. Hotel Barbie.

“Yes, thanks,” he replies absently. “Great water pressure in the shower.”

I look up at his face and watch the corner of his mouth quirk, the little smile line deepening.

The receptionist is definitely imagining him in the shower. Her eyes stray from bicep to computer screen. Screen to his face. She staples and folds and searches for the perfect little envelope for his receipt, even though the customer at the next counter didn’t get one.

She fiddles and does a dozen other little things so she can look at little segments of him. She tells him about their loyalty program and how his next check-in will be with a free bottle of wine, and probably her, draped across his bed. She reconfirms his address and phone number.

I’m gimlet-eyed with annoyance. He doesn’t notice, and begins kissing my temple. Who can blame her, though?

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