The Hotel Magnate's Demand(2)

By: Jennifer Rae

Amy remembered the long flowing bohemian dress she’d chosen for the ‘formal wear’ part of the competition. She’d loved it. It had made her feel pretty and feminine and free. But the judges had called her a hippy, and apparently hippies didn’t win beauty contests. So she’d lost. But her mother had hugged her and told her she was cleverer than those silly judges and her father had insisted she was the most beautiful girl there.

Her parents were two more sweet, silly people in her life. Thinking she was so much brighter and cleverer and better than she actually was.

Perhaps that was why, Amy thought, she had a tendency to make bad decisions. Too many people telling her she could do anything. Maybe she needed to surround herself with some more realistic people. Grounded, sensible people, who didn’t hope for the impossible but had their feet firmly set on the ground.

People like Willa. Amy spotted her best friend as soon as she alighted from the small flight of stairs that led to the dark bar that had become her local in recent months. Willa’s bright smile caught on the light and Amy smiled. Funny, clever, crazy Willa.

Amy couldn’t wait to tell her friend about her latest mad scheme. Of course Amy would exaggerate and make it seem even more outrageous than it actually was. She knew that would make Willa laugh and she loved to make Willa laugh. Because that made Amy laugh and there was nothing Amy liked to do more than laugh. And go out. And work. And stay as busy as possible. Staying busy meant staying high. And staying high meant not thinking about things that made her sad.

A familiar fleeting pull swept through Amy’s stomach. It shot up her body like a firecracker, passed her brain and went straight for her eyes. Amy stilled. Gulped. Then shook her head. Shook the feeling away. Where had that come from? There was no time for sadness. No time for thinking about anything that made her unhappy. No time for thinking about all the people she’d hurt or those people who had hurt her. She wanted to have fun. She wanted to laugh. She needed to talk to Willa. Now.

With a somewhat forced skip in her step she headed for the banquette that held Willa and her boyfriend, Rob, as well as their other friends, Scott, Kate, Chantal, Brodie and Jess. Amy counted them all off in her head, knowing she was the last one to arrive. She was often the last one to arrive these days. Work was becoming more manic as she took on more clients but that was the way she liked it. Busy.

Amy stilled. She counted her friends’ heads again. There should be seven. But there were eight. Another head. An unfamiliar head. A male head with its back turned towards her. Amy wondered for a moment who the newcomer was. Their group was pretty tight. Newcomers weren’t usually a thing, and if anyone was to introduce anyone it was usually her.

Amy’s eyes skirted to Jess, who was looking at the newcomer with a strange, faraway look in her eye. Aha! That was it. Jess had invited a man. But that didn’t make any sense, because Amy had spoken to her this morning before dashing out through the door and Jess hadn’t said anything about a man.

Not that she had time to worry about Jess and her man or anything else. She’d won a massive contract. There were tales to tell and cocktails to be ordered.

Amy swung the Louis Vuitton bag she’d splurged on with her last bonus cheque onto the low seat the strange man happened to be sitting on and used her best PR voice.

‘Ladies and gentlemen, hold your applause, but I must inform you that you are about to share copious amounts of alcohol with Bird Marketing’s newest superstar.’

Everyone looked up and smiled at her encouragingly. Amy focussed on Willa, barely containing her need to say something outrageous and make her laugh. Willa had a strange smile on her face. A smile that wasn’t quite a smile. And her eyes kept looking downward, then scooting back up. What was she doing?

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