Stick to the Status Quo
“Do you want to shower first?” Sam asks as we enter our hotel’s room.
“No, you go, we have a couple of hours to spare, so I might go explore the hotel if you don’t mind. I’ll be back in an hour or so and shower afterwards, okay?”
“Sure thing!” She replies as she grabs a change of clothes and heads straight for the bathroom.
I walk over to the mirror, and arrange a few of my curls that have gone wild during our day exploring. I look a bit tired and sweaty, but that’s to be expected in a country where the temperature borders the 40°C all the time. I tie half my hair up to keep it out of my face, and run my hands through the front of my dress. I’m wearing one of my favourites today, it shows a lot of cleavage, but it’s not like I have a whole lot to show, so I don’t mind it. It’s black, with little red flowers and the bodice is tight and fitting, with a loose knee length skirt.
I fix the neckline so the lace of my bra doesn’t show, and I head out for a walk.
The sun is almost down, but there’s still enough light to see around as I find my way into the pool area. To my surprise, there’s no one here. I take my sandals off, sit down on the edge of the pool and let my feet soak in the cool water.
I keep telling myself it was a great day, but I need to shake off this annoyance that settled into me. I look at my smartwatch, still no messages.
What did Sam say today?
Is that all you ever think about?
Of course it's not. And I know she meant it as a joke, damn, I even laughed myself. So why does it bug me so much? We’re not all as lucky as she was to find a guy to have a 4 year relationship with… even if he ended up being an absolute dick. But my flings never last more than a few weeks before they all turn sour, they run away, or I find out they’re only in for the money. I see the look in their faces when I bring them home. And fuck, I admit a lot of them end up at home just to get a reaction out of my father… like that biker dude with all the tattoos that I took home a few years ago.
I laugh out loud at the memory.
“You have a lovely laugh, you know?” A voice says behind me.
I jump, startled, and I almost lose my balance a little as I turn around to look behind me and try to stand up all at the same time. Before I know what’s going on, a hand is wrapped around my wrist and helping me up on my feet.
“Wow, there you go sweetheart, that’s better,” he says as he steadies me by lowering that hand to my waist.
Holly fuck, did I just step into a movie?
I walk out of the shower with a towel wrapped around me, another one on my hair, and I drop on the bed.
There’s plenty of time until we need to leave, but I kind of wish I would’ve told Em not to go on that walk. I haven’t even started waiting and I’m already getting nervous that she’s going to take too long in the shower or something and we might miss the plane.
It’s stupid, I know it is, so to try and distract myself, I videocall mum.
“Hi, honey!” Mum picks up and seems so excited to see me.
“How are you doing, mum? What time is it over there anyways?” I say as I sit on the bed.
“Oh, it’s midday over here, what about there?” She says after checking her watch.
“It’s about 7pm, I’m waiting for Em to come back, she’s gone for a walk around the hotel before we have to head back to the airport.”
“Oh, you shouldn’t have left her alone, darling! You’re in a foreign country and you have no idea what could happen.” She’s shaking her head in disapproval, and I have to make a huge effort not to bolt out the door and start looking for Em everywhere.
“Mum, we’re inside a hotel, there’s security and everything, and it says online that it is really safe in here, I did research it,” I reply, but I realise I’m mostly trying to convince myself.
Mum goes on to complain about how many emails she’s gotten from the lawyer, but I tell her that we can talk about it later, I don’t want to stress over that right now. To my surprise, she agrees and starts talking about the places she remembers from Christchurch instead. She tells me to go see if any of the restaurants she used to go to are still open. Neither of us think they will, as most of the city had to be reconstructed after a big earthquake a few years ago, but I tell her I will check anyways.
By the time I’m off the phone, it’s been almost half an hour. I tell myself that if Em is not back in 5 minutes, I’ll go looking for her, even if she technically shouldn’t be back in another 10.
I stand by the edge of the pool, a stranger's arm wrapped around my waist, the hot night pressing over us… And honestly, I’m wondering what the fuck is going on.
“Uh, thanks?” I say, confused.
I look at the guy, and as my eyes adjust to the dim light, I realise he looks really familiar. He’s got dark spiky hair and dark eyes that seem to bear into my soul with their intensity. He’s only wearing a pair of yellow swim shorts, and his bare torso is merely inches away from me. I can’t help my animal instincts, so I look down at his mostly plane abdomen… not bad.
I look back up at his face before it gets too uncomfortable, and I side step to get out of his embrace.
“Pleasure to meet you,” he says with a half smile, and then it hits me.
“We’ve actually met before,” I say. “You’re the flight attendant, right? Lucas?”
He seems surprised for a second, but then he appears to recognize me too, and he smiles broadly.
“Oh, yeah, right! You were on that flight last night, weren’t you? With a friend?”
“That was me, nice to meet you too, I’m Emma.” It takes me a split second to go through my options: Shake his hand and keep it casual, then bolt and head to our room, take a shower, and get back on a plane. Or play the charm card and see where this leads me, which is what everybody would expect of me, cause flirting is my thing, right? I might have a cute story to tell later on.
I extend an arm and rest my hand over his shoulder.
“You did an amazing job looking after us,” I say with a cheeky smile as I let my hand drop, making sure I brush the length of his arm ever so slightly as I do. “You came here for a swim?”
“I did,” he says as he drops a towel on the floor and jumps into the water, head on. He dives deep, and swims to the opposite end of the pool. He gets out to take a breath, and then goes under again as he starts swimming towards me.
I can't just leave and not see if this leads anywhere, so I sit back where I was, dangling my feet in the water. Maybe I can get his number, if he lives in Buenos Aires I might run into him over there. He reemerges right next to me, and he lays his arms over the edge, his head resting on his forearms.
“Do you want to jump in?” He asks as he flips his head to get a loose strand of hair off his face.
Even though it's night time already, the air is really hot and sticky, so jumping in the pool sounds like the perfect plan. But I also need to be realistic, and the truth is, I have a plane to catch soon.
“I don’t have my swimsuit on,” I say with feign shyness.
“Oh, that’s not a problem with me darling, underwear is fine,” he says as one of his hands reaches over and caresses my calf underwater. "Or you could try skinny dipping if that's more your style." He adds as he runs that same hand through his hair and winks at me.
Damn, is this really happening? Did I just jump into a cheap porno or something?
“I don’t think hotel management would agree with you,” I reply.
I don’t really have enough time to get into such trouble. I mean, I thought the guy was cute, and I’m always in for an adventure, but I’m not too sure about any of this. I decide to use mine and Sam’s three question strategy for when we’re unsure about decision making. It’s something we came up with when we were kids, and we still use nowadays.
Is he hot? Yes, a bit.
Is he turning me on? Most definitely.
Do I have time for courtship? Not really.
That's two yeses..
“Oh, trust me, I’ve stayed here a thousand times, and no one comes around this area at this time,” he says.
“Well, I did,” I reply, stating the obvious.
Do I want to jump in there? Maybe.
Should I do it? Probably not.
Do I want to? A part of me does.
“You did indeed, and I’m glad you did.” He pushes himself up and stands in front of me, water dripping from every inch of his body. His little yellow shorts are in my line of sight, and they are almost see through now that they’re soaked. Awkward.
I look up at him, and I see that he’s smirking. He takes a step towards me, and I stand up, not sure what else I am meant to do.
“If you don’t want to swim with me, I can show you around my room,” he says as he runs a wet finger along my jawline and smiles.
Okay, I definitely did step into a parallel universe without realising. There's no way this is really happening, and I should probably pinch myself. I look at the time on my watch, almost as a reflex reaction.
“If you don’t have much time,” he says as if reading my expression while he wraps his arm around my waist, “I know every little corner of this hotel. We could sneak for a moment and have some fun together.”
He's pushing me towards the building lightly, and my mind is going a million miles an hour trying to process what I got myself into. Am I really about to have a thing with this guy? Is he really insinuating what I think he is? But what I’m mostly aware of, is the adrenaline rushing through my veins, the wet hand sending shivers down my spine.
I swallow hard, and I bite my lip.
"I don't have much time, my flight leaves tonight and I still need to shower and dine…" I say tentatively, not really knowing how to face this situation.
Despite all my experience, I've never had anybody approach me so openly. He clearly takes that as a yes, as he starts walking over to the hotel, his hand now on my hip, and almost sitting against my ass.
"I know a spot," he says. "I'll only steal a few minutes of your night, and I assure you you'll catch your flight in time."
We enter through a little side door that leads to a shower room, and he pushes me into a cubicle with a wheelchair sign on the door.
He closes the door behind us and puts the latch on. I can feel my heart pounding so hard in my chest. My animal instinct tells me that a locked door is a horrible sign, and that I should run away while I still can.
He steps around me and walks over to a wooden bench on the side, where he sits down.
“Come here, babe,” he says in a rough voice.
For once in my life, words have left me. I take a step back, unsure of what to do, and I can see his smile banishing slowly. Before I can think about it any longer, I turn around, unlock the door, and basically run all the way to the lobby and jump in an elevator as soon as the doors open up.
I half expect to see him coming after me, but thankfully, I'm still alone in the lift as the door automatically closes. Fuck.
What the fuck just happened? Did that guy really think he could just… we would… Do it in the toilet? I feel shivers running up my spine and I rub my arms trying to appease the goosebumps.
I’m so glad Sam wasn’t interested in the guy.