The Benson:Experiment in Terror 2.5

By: Karina Halle


The Benson

I have never been inside The Benson hotel before. Looking back, it’s kind of weird since I’ve lived in Portland for my whole life, but I guess there are a lot of things in your city you never see. Not the way the tourists do.

Tonight though, I decided I would be a tourist. Having a camera at my side would certainly help in that pretense. I smile up at the doorman as I make my way up the sidewalk, pausing briefly at the bronze plaque on the ground as I have many times before when walking throughout downtown, and then timidly walk up the steps inside.

“Good evening and welcome to The Benson ma’am,” the doorman says to me, cheery enough in his fancy, gold-gilded uniform. Still, I feel like he’s judging me and what I’m wearing; my Doc Martens still muddy from the morning’s rainfall, my maroon leggings with a hole in them and a scuffed leather jacket. I’m obviously not a guest here, not at one of the most prestigious hotels in the state of Oregon.

I give him a tight smile and walk past him into the revolving doors which sweep me inside. The lobby is surprisingly busy for nine p.m. as there’s a line at the vast checkout counter a few people deep, and the bar/lounge to the right of me is crammed full of swanky patrons swilling martinis. I barely have time to take in the understated grandeur and opulence of the lobby – which totally reminds me of the golden age of Hollywood – before a waving movement brings my attention to the bar again.

In the corner, swilling what can only be a Jack Daniels and Coke is Dex. Actually, he’s not swilling it. Rather, downing it in fast gulps and as soon as he sees he’s caught my attention, he waves the prim waitress over and orders another one.

I swallow hard, feeling all sorts of strange feelings rush up in my body. I’m nervous, I already was, but I’m excited too and though my breath catches slightly when I see him, it eventually flows out all hot, ragged and sparkling with nerves.

I haven’t seen Dex since we parted ways at the airport in Albuquerque. It wasn’t long ago, but it still makes me feel like I’m going on a first date all over again. Not that we ever were dating and not that (with his girlfriend Jenn) we ever would. But I can’t help the way I feel. Stupid. And in love with my partner.

I smile, broad and completely natural for him, and make my way to where he is sitting, at a small, white clothed table just big enough for two. Before I reach his side, I wonder if he’s going to hug me and before I can finish the thought, he stands up, stepping around the table. I am quickly enveloped into his arms. He smells like Old Spice and a bit like the hand-rolled cigarettes he picked up in New Mexico. His arms are strong and firm around my back. The hug is close, tight and genuine. I relax slightly, wishing we were somewhere else and not this busy lounge where people watch us with disinterest.

I am the first to pull apart, though I could have stayed in his arms all night. I give him the once over now that I am up close.

He looks pretty much as he did in New Mexico. The cuts on his face from the shapeshifter’s attack are faded; his moustache has been trimmed, almost gone, as is the scruff beard under his chin. His eyebrow ring glints from his black brow. His cheekbones are high, perhaps higher than before. I take another step back and see that he’s lost a little bit of weight. It shows in his face most of all.

“Checking me out again?” he says, his voice low, his lips snaking to the side in a smirk. There’s something off about him, but I don’t know what it is. Maybe it’s because, despite the closeness of the hug, there’s an awkward distance between us, like we aren’t sure how to act around each other now that the skinwalkers and Maximus and sharing a bed for a few nights are gone. We both almost died in New Mexico – I know it had an impact on us, but it doesn’t seem to have any bearing here in the swanky Benson hotel.

And then there are his eyes. Dex’s eyes are his focal point, the part of him that wins people over or drives them away. Dark chocolate, enigmatic and emotive. Sometimes they are ruthless, sometimes seductive. They are a mystery as much as he is and the one thing I can’t help from drowning in over and over again.

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