Trashed / Page 10

Page 10


Oh, this kiss. It has no end. It’s an ocean and I’m drowning in it.

And my hands? They’re gripping the soaked fabric of his shirtfront as if I’m holding on for dear life, as if he’s all that’s keeping me tethered to the earth.

I shiver, and he releases me abruptly and gasps for breath, almost as if he’s as blown away by the power of this thing between us as I am.

But that’s impossible.

“Come on. You’re shivering. Gotta get you warm.” He pulls me out of the dry warmth of the church foyer and out into the bucketing, howling, raging storm.

The sky flashes with lightning and shakes with thunder, and it’s not so much raining as upending the contents of a sea from out of the clouds. We run, now, hand in hand, barreling up the hill toward the looming white colonnades of the Grand Hotel’s world-famous porch.

We enter through Sadie’s, the nearest door, where all is white walls and black, white, and red checkered benches, and the scent of vanilla and baking pastries and coffee, and then we’re in the florist shop and it’s all geraniums and roses. I’ve never been past Sadie’s. You have to pay a ten-dollar fee to go past the front door, unless you’re a guest, and I’ve never had the time or inclination to spend the money merely to indulge my curiosity. Dripping with each step, shoes squishing, we go down a long marble-floored hallway, windows showing the road on one side, and shops on the other. The road is dark and glistening wet, flashing white with lightning now and then; a carriage passes, lit lamps on the back, and the horses clop-clop-clop along, tails swishing. There is a jeweler, a clothing boutique, a coffee shop, and then the front desk.

“Hello, Mr. Trenton,” the small Asian woman behind the desk says.

“Hey,” Adam responds, with a smile and wave.

There are whispers and mutters from the crowd standing around the front desk, people twisting and craning to get a glimpse of the Adam Trenton. A few people lift their cell phones and snap pictures, and a blonde girl of maybe fifteen or sixteen shuffles forward, offering a silver cell phone to him.

“Can I have your autograph, Mr. Trenton? Please?” She’s timid, and tiny.

I notice an immediate shift in Adam. He’s gone from lithe and loose to stiff and tense in the space of a breath. But I only notice that because I’m clinging to his arm. Outwardly, he’s smiling and taking the cell phone, digging a Sharpie out of his pocket and scrawling his name across the back. As if the one signature was a dam breaking, half a dozen people surge forward, shoving receipts and hats and tourist maps at him.

And he signs them all.

He smiles at each person as he hands them their autographed item, not once betraying any irritation or haste. A crowd has formed at this point, and I can see that Adam’s smile is becoming strained, even though he’s still signing and shaking hands and posing for pictures. I move to stand over to one side and try to be inconspicuous, melting back into the crowd.

“No more, no more,” a doorman says, cutting between the crowd and Adam and I. “No more, now, please. Let Mr. Trenton go on his way, please.”

Adam grabs my hand and pulls me with him as the doorman escorts us away from the crowd; another red-suited doorman keeps the people at bay. Adam hands the doorman a fifty-dollar bill as he calls the elevator.

“Thanks,” Adam says.

“Of course,” the doorman says, with a wide white grin splitting his black skin.

Adam pushes the button for the fourth floor and the elevator doors close in front of us. As soon as the doors are closed and the elevator is moving, Adam lets out a relieved sigh and leans back against the wall.

“Does that happen a lot?” I ask.

I knew he was famous, obviously, but I’ve never seen anything like that before, at least not in person.

He nods. “All the time. Happened once already today, when I was getting the fudge.”

“It looks exhausting.” I stare down at our joined hands, wondering why he’s still holding my hand.

He laughs, a harsh, sarcastic sound. “You have no idea. It was cool the first few times I got recognized out on the street, you know, but it’s just so tiring. It’s part of the gig, though, so I can’t bitch about it too much.”

“I was impressed, to be honest,” I admit. “You gave everyone your full attention.”

He shrugs, but his smile is bright and genuine, and a little shy, actually. “Well, they’re the reason I’m where I am, you know? They like my movies, they like me. So as much as I don’t enjoy it in some ways, because I can’t really go anywhere without getting recognized like that, I do love it, too. It’s a validation that I’m doing something right, I guess.”

“That makes sense,” I say.

The door slides open and Adam leads me off the elevator, turning right. Everything is green. The carpet is a deep forest green, and the walls are a pale mint, and there are framed photographs of woodcut artwork from hundreds of years ago lining the walls.

“This hotel is weird,” I say as we pass a replica of a Greek sculpture in a corner. “It feels like it’s…I don’t know how to put it. Like we’ve stepped back in time or something.”

Adams digs a key out of his pocket. It’s an actual physical key, not a swipe card like you see in pretty much every other hotel in the world.

“That’s the point,” he says. “That’s part of the appeal, why they can charge so much for the rooms and whatever. It’s an experience. You have to be dressed in formal clothes to even go down to the parlor level after six o’clock.”

“I’ve heard about that. I’ve never actually been in the hotel itself, though.”

“It’s kind of fun,” he says as he unlocks a door. It’s a double door, in the corner where the hall turns to the right. A sign above the lintel announces that this is The Musser Suite. “It’s kind of like being in a movie. We got here late yesterday afternoon, so we all had dinner down in the main dining room. I wore a suit and tie and everything, and it was very, very fancy.”

“Sounds like fun,” I say.

It does, too. I own one nice dress, and I never have an opportunity to wear it. I don’t even dare think about what it would be like to be dressed up and go down to the dining room on Adam’s arm. That’s not going to happen. He wants one thing from me, and once he gets it, he’ll send me on my way. That’s how this works, and I know it. Panic shoots through me as Adam leads me into the room, dragging me by the hand through the doorway and closing the door behind us.

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