(Post-A-Day Challenge, Day 21*)
Okay, yeah, I know. I missed posting the last couple of days. But that’s because the Hyatt management are a bunch of greedy bastards who have to squeeze every last red cent out of their guests. And, dear blogsphere, much as I love you, I wasn’t going to pop for an EXTRA $13/day for internets, for the three days we’re going to be here.
So I’m writing this now, and I’ll post it later. It still counts, right?
The Dragon, The Wench, and Her Wardrobe, Part 3
At 7:15, Cliff finally signed off on the last round of changes. Teri punched the button to cut the video conference connection, and we both sat back with a sigh.
She gave me a tired smile. “Thanks again, Maddie. I really couldn’t have done it without you.” She cocked her head, then pulled her laptop toward her. “What’s your hotel? In Boston?”
She gave me a wicked grin. “Cliff has frequent guest points at most of the major chains. He’ll never miss ‘em, and frankly, he owes you.”
“Teri, that’s not necessary, really….”
“Yes it is.” And she badgered me until I told her, then clicked away at her keyboard. “Okay, done. Now, let’s get some dinner in you and get you out to the airport.”
She trundled me down to the Sixteenth Street Mall, hauled me into Katie Mullen’s, and announced her intention to stuff me with bangers and mash and a pint or two of Guinness before sending me off. I relaxed into the pub’s familiar, cozy atmosphere—Teri and I often hit the pub for a pint after work on Friday nights—and felt the tension finally begin to ease from between my shoulders.
We’d just ordered and were halfway through our first pints when my cell phone rang.
I felt a warm rush of happiness as Paul’s voice, rich even over my tinny cell-phone speakers, poured out of my phone. But at the same time…Teri didn’t know about Paul, and she was looking at me inquisitively from across the table. “Er, hi.” I half-turned away from Teri. “What’s up?”
“Who did you kill?”
“Who did I…what?”
“I just checked into our hotel. When I tried to give them my credit card, they told me the room had already been paid for. And then, when I got up here…I know you can’t afford this. So who did you kill?”
I whipped my head around to stare at Teri. “Exactly what are we talking about, here?”
“It’s a two-room suite, Mads. On the club level. With a freaking hot tub.”
The corners of Teri’s mouth dropped, and she cringed into her seat. “How did you find out about that?” she asked in a stage whisper. “It was supposed to be a surprise.”
I glared at her. “I’ll call you right back,” I told Paul.
There was a pause from his end of the line. “Sorry. I caught you at a bad time, didn’t I?”
“Kinda, yeah. I’ll explain later.”
I made sure the call disconnected, then stared down at the phone for a moment. What was I going to tell Teri?
But she was a perceptive person, and she’d known me for several years. “You aren’t going to Boston alone, are you?”
I decided to brazen it out, and lifted my head to meet her eyes. “I’m meeting a friend there. We’re sharing a room.”
She evaluated me coolly, eyes narrowing, head tilting. “And your friend is male, or you’d have mentioned him sooner.”
Dammit. Sometimes it was like working for Sherlock freaking Holmes. “I—I….” I turned to look out the wide windows at the hotel across the street.
“I’m not here to judge you, Maddie,” she said, gently. “You’re a big girl, and even if you weren’t, I’m not your mom.” She stood abruptly and slung her purse strap over her shoulder. “I’m going to the ladies’ room. How long should I take?”
I glanced down at my phone. “Five minutes should be plenty. Thanks.”
She flashed me a wicked grin and was gone. I had Paul back on the line almost instantly, and explained about Teri, and Cliff.
“Well…I guess, as long as I know you aren’t bankrupting yourself for this, we might as well enjoy it, right? Besides, it sounds like you earned it.”
I rotated my other shoulder, feeling the knots in my neck. “I think I did. Hey, thanks for understanding?”
“Always, Maddie.” I could hear his smile. “Just hurry up and get out here so we can enjoy all this decadence, all right?”
“Be there as quick as I can.” I was still reluctant to cut the connection, but I could see Teri approaching. “See you in the morning.”
“I’ll be waiting.”