vacancy

When she finally stirred, light poured through the cheap blinds, draping the scratchy comforter on the hotel bed in even stripes of sunshine. Her head throbbed as the room spun around her. The stench of cheap bourbon and cigarettes hung in the air and mingled with something sweeter – like day old perfume or the lingering scent of shampoo on a pillow. It might have been mid-afternoon, but the clock next to the bed blinked 12:00 and gave no clues to the time of day.

Rolling onto her back and covering her head with a pillow, she groaned as snapshots of the night flashed in her head. A speakeasy with a password. A bartender with a crooked smile. And the darkest eyes she’d ever seen.

Trying to free herself from the memory of it all, she sprung up from the bed. Dropping two unsteady legs onto the floor and leaning on the doorway to the adjacent bathroom for support. She stumbled in, not quite willing to let go of the wall.

A shower. A shower would make her feel better. She turned on the water and sat dazed on the cool toilet seat as steam began to rise toward the hum of the fluorescent lights.

The water stung, pounding her shoulders in uneven bursts, but she didn’t budge as her wet skin turned pink in the heat. She looked unconvinced at the frail bar of cheap hotel soap. Surely it was going to take something much more substantial to wash it all away.

A good intention. A bad idea. A hotel with a room. A heart with a vacancy. And do not disturb. Do not disturb. Do not disturb.

But it was far too late for all that. She was more disturbed than ever before.

She tried to remember that saying about forbidden fruit, as she was fairly certain it would apply, but her mind was clouded and slow. All she could think of were the shape of the lips that bit into hers last night. The feeling of the tongue that swam inside her mouth. That made her body throb and her mind race. That made her want to somehow surrender and escape at the same time.

Stepping out of the shower she wrapped herself in a thin towel and avoided her reflection in the foggy mirror. She began piecing together her outfit, discarded haphazardly around the room. A black pump. A lacy bra. A braided gold hoop earring.

She spotted her top, halfway draped over the nightstand. As she grabbed it, a small piece of paper fluttered to the floor. Hesitantly, she bent down to retrieve it.

A receipt from the bar. With a note on the back in rushed red cursive.

We all make mistakes, love.

But please believe me when I tell you,

this is not one of them.

Jessica

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