and into the lobby. As she passed in front of the enormous gilded mirrors, she seemed reflected in sepia. A vision from the past. Gentle waves of nearly golden hair framed her face and her eyes seemed huge, illuminated. She paused before one, examining this vision of herself. An arm brushed against her back. “I’m sorry” a handsome man said to her, pausing to glance backward at her sincerely if tipsily, then kept on his way. Abruptly she felt cold, acutely aware of her outlet-store clothing and discount-store shoes. Before she’d left her room she’d felt so confident, only now the lying mirror told the truth and her unruly hair and bespectacled eyes reminded her that she was out of her element.
By the fourth drink her pleasant haze had returned, lifting her mood and arcing her lush lips into a smile. She laughed freely now. Nobody seemed to notice that she wasn’t one of them, that she had scraped her way there by working double shifts at the store and cutting back on everything that wasn’t on the “just about to go bad” rack at the grocery store. It felt worth it now. In this glamorous hotel, with these glamorous people, she was finally able to relax and join in the crowd. The now-drunken young man who’d bumped into her near the elevator was chatting her up, looking sincerely into her eyes and touching her hand, leaning ever closer.
She woke up to harsh sunlight in her eyes. In her haste last night she’d left the curtains open, taking in the view of the city while her companion took her breath away. She turned, smiling sleepily, to where he was lying in bed. Except he wasn’t there. Moments later he emerged half-dressed from the bathroom, running his fingers through sink-wet hair. Eyes slowly acclimating to the brightness, she sat up and studied his body through his clothes. Took in the lines of his shoulders, the angle at which his back became his waist, followed until it again became his thighs. She smiled, blushing at the remembered sight of those thighs the night before.
As if he could sense her gaze, he stiffened, turned to her. His eyes wandered with his voice and his face told her what he didn’t need to. “About last night, ahh, it was fun. You’re a really nice girl Cindy. Just, I was drunk and I’m seeing this girl…” He trailed off, returning to his gathering with more urgency. Awareness struck her again and she pulled the sheet to her body and covered her breasts, holding the cool Egyptian cotton to her body with her arms.
The door closed behind him, leaving her alone in luxury and beauty and stark silence.
“Stephanie” she said softly. She willed her voice not to crack even though her throat burned. “My name is Stephanie.”