The plan for the night was to lay low. My meeting isn’t until tomorrow afternoon so, tonight I can sit in the bar, have a quiet drink and people watch. God knows I’m watched everywhere I go, so sitting in this dark booth would hopefully be sufficient cover. At least, that was until I saw her.
She was sitting at the bar talking to the bartender when three guys approached her. At only 8:30, she was obviously more than a little tipsy. By the look of the smile on her face, and an amazing smile it was, she knew them. I watched them chat for a few minutes then went back to reading my script. When I looked up again, the taller of the three was hanging on her, and she looked to be rebuffing his advances.
Pulling my hat down a little lower, I get up and casually make my way to the bar to hear what they’re saying. I can’t explain why, but I feel a need to protect her. The bartender, whose name tag reads Laura says, “Come on guys, lay off. She’s had a rough day.”
“We figured something had to be up. We can barely get her to have a drink with us on a Friday night, and here it is Wednesday and she’s half in the bag,” the one to her left shoots back.
Hence why she is drunk right now. “Here, Quinn, drink some water.” Laura says as she slides a glass in front of her.
The guy hanging on her pushes it away and says, “Oh no. This is a rare event. We need shots all around.”
“Knock it off, Andy. She turns you down sober so, believe me, nothing will happen tonight.”
“Screw you, Laura.” Andy says as he spins Quinn’s chair around and tries to get her on her feet. She grabs on to his arm to steady herself and he uses the opportunity to get his arm around her waist. She tries to pull away but is unsuccessful.
Having had enough, Laura makes her way around the bar to stop him. He brushes her off and turns towards the main lobby. Laura looks at his friends angrily and says, “Seriously, you guys are just going to sit there?”
I’m not sure why, maybe it was the indifference of his friends or the fact that her beautiful smile slipped enough to show distress, but before I knew it I stepped forward. “I don’t think she’s in any condition to be going anywhere with you.”
Sneering at me Andy replies, “And I think you need to mind your own business.”
Laura comes to stand beside me and a flicker of recognition shows in her eyes, but she keeps it to herself. “Andy, so help me, I will call security on you,” she says as she pulls Quinn from his arms.
“Get off your high horse, Laura. Who died and made you the hook-up police?”
Stepping in front of Laura and Quinn I say, “Why don’t you have a little respect and call it a night. No one wants a scene here.” And with that he took a wild swing at me forcing my reflexes to kick in, and before he knew what hit him, he hit the floor. His friends jumped up, but my hat had come up enough for them to recognize me, so they mumbled apologies and dragged Andy up and out of the bar.
Turning back to the bar, I see Laura rubbing Quinn’s back while she drinks that glass of water. Looking over at me she says, “Thanks, I’ve known them for years but they get a little obnoxious when they drink.”
“Glad I could help.” Gesturing to Quinn I say, “She’s not much of a drinker, I take it.”
Huffing, “No, and I don’t know what to do. I can’t exactly put her in a cab and I’d put her in the office until close, but I’m new here.”
A crazy idea pops out of my mouth before I could stop it, “She could sleep it off in my room until you’re off work.”
Looking at me skeptically, “Really?”
No turning back now. “Yeah, I mean I’m just going over a new script anyway.”
“If you’re sure it’s okay, that would be a big help.”
“No problem.” I say with a smile.
* * * *
The image of a high school marching band flashes through my head before the pain strikes. Then when I try to roll over, the nausea would’ve knocked me on my ass if I wasn’t already lying down. I attempt to take slow, deep breaths to calm my system and that’s when the events of yesterday slowly come back bit by bit. Last week he was going to leave his wife, this week she’s pregnant.
When the white noise quieted down, I realized I must have said something to the effect of “Congratulations” because he was hugging me. Holding back tears in this moment is probably the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do.
“I wish it was you,” he whispered almost inaudibly. When he said that, I think I went a little crazy. I pushed out of his arms and fled the room. I didn’t stop until I got to Laura.
Groaning, I flop onto my back as the scene replays itself. I know I ran to see Laura at her job bartending in the new hotel downtown but, the rest is a complete blank. I’m going to assume she brought me home.
“Well, look who’s finally awake.” At the sound of a male voice my eyes pop open and, I swear, the sun pierced all the way into my brain. Shutting them again I cover my face with my hands. “Don’t worry I was a complete gentleman. I slept on the couch.”
Even though I have yet to see his face I think I know that voice. But there is no way this could be happening right now. Finally opening my eyes and able to focus, I look over at him and yes, it is in fact, Lucas Morgan the movie star. Seriously? How is it the one night I overindulge after the worst day of my life I wake up in a celebrity’s hotel room?
Handing me a glass of water and aspirin he says, “Here, this’ll help.”
I sit up gingerly and wash down the pills. “You expect me to believe Laura just let me come up to your room?”
Crossing his hands over his chest. “I’m offended. I’m a respectable guy,” he says with the most disarming smile I have ever seen. I give him a quizzical look over the rim of my water glass. “Plus, she had planned to bring you home, but by the time she got off work you were fast asleep.”
“What exactly happened?”
“From what little you told me, Tony’s wife is pregnant. And you tied one on in the bar downstairs, so I kind of figured out the rest on my own.”
“Oh my god, I’m so embarrassed.”
Sitting down next to me he says, “Don’t be. I’m not judging.”
“I guess that doesn’t paint me in the best light, huh?”
“On the contrary. I think that guy is a total dick and he doesn’t deserve you.” Shrugging he adds, “It happens. Cheaters have a way of sucking people in.”
Dropping back onto the bed I mumble, “I know. I suck.”
“I meant him. Are you cheating on a significant other?”
“No. But his wife doesn’t deserve what I did.”
“True. But I’m sure he was just as charming with you as her, so you shouldn’t beat yourself up. He is probably a master manipulator.” Sitting up I smile at him and go to stand. A wave of dizziness hits me and he grabs my arm to steady me. “Whoa, easy. You okay?”
“Yeah. I just have to go to the bathroom and drown myself in the toilet,” I say as I walk away. Then, before shutting the door I look back, “Nice to meet you by the way. I’m a huge fan.” I close the door on his laughter.
I cringe when I look in the mirror because I have no idea what is looking back at me. I never drink. After cleaning up and using the bathroom, I walk back into the bedroom.
“I appreciate you letting me sleep it off. I’ll get out of your way now.”
Winking, “Anytime.” Despite myself I laugh and walk over to sit on the bed to put my shoes on. He walks me to the door, opens it and says, “Take care now, Quinn. And do me a favor and lay off the booze.”
“Oh, I won’t be drinking for a while, if ever again.” I say as I step out into the hall.
Bracing one hand on the doorframe and the other on top of the door, he leans in to say, “Good. I don’t want to worry about not being there to protect you next time.”