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Authors: Mary Whitney

A Very Important Guest

BOOK: A Very Important Guest
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A Very Important Guest

 
   

By

 
 

Mary Whitney

 
 

 

 

eBook
Edition

Copyright 2012 by Mary Whitney

 

 

Cover Design by
Jada D'Lee

eBook Design by A. Mauren / AM Design Studios

 

 

All rights reserved. Except as permitted under the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976, no part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, or stored in a database or retrieval system, without the prior written permission of the publisher.

The characters and events portrayed in this book are fictitious. Any similarity to real persons, living or dead is coincidental and not intended by the author.

 

The author acknowledges the trademarked status and trademark owners of various products referenced in this work of fiction, which have been used without permission. The publication/use of these trademarks is not authorized, associated with, or sponsored by the trademark owners
.

 

To learn more about this author and her writing visit
www.WordyMar
y
.com

 

 

< >  < >  < >

 

 

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

 

I owe an island vacation to a few lovely people for their help with this story, including Alicia Washkevich
,
Anne Forlines, Caryn Stevens, Funmbi Elemo, Jada D'Lee, Jessica Sato, S.L. Scott, and The Writer’s Coffee Shop. Thanks to you all.

 

To my husband, I owe the world.

 

 

A Very Important Guest

 

Abby’s job sucked, but it was the perfect job for her. The monotony of housekeeping, the anonymity of an ugly uniform, and the solitude of the work allowed her to achieve two necessary goals. The first was to avoid too many personal interactions because her emotional capacity was spent long ago, and the second was to focus on getting her degree. Her class lectures streamed through her headphones, taking her away from the mundane work.

That day, though, her mind wandered from her lecture on the
Soviet Union
and back to the task at hand. Time ran short as she finished cleaning what had been a filthy room. The bathroom’s toiletries needed to be replenished, and the room still required a final sweep. Even the nicest hotel rooms were subject to the occasional stray condom wrapper. 

Poking her head under the bed skirt, she said in triumph, “Ah ha!”

As she snatched the black foil packet, she heard a male voice say, “I was told this room was clean.”

She scowled at the annoyance in the man’s voice. Looking up from the box spring, she found her composure and rose from her hands and knees. Without yet seeing the man, she said, “I’m sorry. I told them this room wasn’t quite ready.”

“How much longer?”

Forming a fake smile, she gave him a once-over. She was accustomed to guests forgetting she was a person first and a housekeeper second, and thus worthy of a hello. He obviously couldn’t see past her matronly uniform.

Her first impression of him was that he was tall and not far from her age—though he looked vaguely familiar and after a few seconds, decidedly handsome. She crumpled the wrapper in her hand and said, “Only a few minutes. I’m just finishing up.” She gestured to her left. “Please sit on the lanai. I can get you ice water or pog if you like.”

“Pog?” He raised his eyebrows.

“Oh. That’s short for passion-orange-guava juice.” She shrugged. “It’s a
Hawaii
thing.”

“Water will be fine. Thank you.”

His clipped tone jogged her memory, and when he strode past her, she remembered where she’d seen him before. The previous semester she took a class on the U.S. Congress, and one of the assignments was to watch C-SPAN. If the U.S. Senate was supposedly “the world’s greatest deliberative body,” Abby was sure the U.S. House of Representatives was the worst. She soon tired of the theatrics on the House floor, and instead spent most of her time watching the committee hearings where there was more content to the discussion.

As she grabbed a bottle of water from the mini-bar, she recalled his name—William Lloyd, a Democrat from
Ohio
. She’d watched him for hours one day as he’d interrogated the CEOs of the major oil companies, accusing them of price-gouging. At the time, she’d cheered him on because he was tough on the executives who seemed uncaring, and he was so harsh with them that halfway through the hearing she forgot how good-looking he was. Laughing to herself, she thought of how he’d just treated her. Maybe his treatment of the oil company heads wasn’t anything out of the ordinary. Maybe he was a jerk to everyone.

When she placed the bottle on the table next to him, he didn’t even acknowledge her. He simply continued his phone conversation while staring out beyond the shores of
Waikiki
. She smiled to herself as she confirmed that she’d guessed correctly. He was, in fact, William Lloyd, and he did appear to be sort of an asshole.

Rolling her eyes, she left him and finished her duties. Just as she completed the final touch of folding the toilet paper end into a neat triangle, she heard a rustling in the bedroom. She’d planned on a quick good-bye and exit, but as she walked out of the bathroom, she saw him thumbing through papers with a confused look.

“Can you tell me where the Iolani room is?” he asked with barely a glance at her.

While her ears suffered the reverberations of his horrible pronunciation, she gave him a quick smile. “It’s on the Mezzanine, and it’s pronounced e-o-lawn-e. ‘I’s are long ‘e’s in Hawaiian.”

He looked up from the papers. “Oh.” He seemed befuddled and stared down again at the page as if to confirm she was right. “Thank you,” he muttered.

“You’re welcome. Have a nice afternoon, Congressman.” She turned to walk out, and after a few steps, she had an urge to look behind her. Flipping her loose ponytail of black curls over shoulder, she glanced backward. The congressman still stood with his papers in hand, but he was now staring squarely at her with a puzzled brow. Not wanting to engage with the grouchy man, she swung her ponytail around one more time and closed the door.

 
  

* * *

 

Close to the end of her shift that night, Abby once again walked her floors, offering the nightly turndown service. By that late in the evening, the room numbers and their occupants had all blurred together. All she could think of was getting home and ending her long day.

When she knocked on room 828 and called out, “Housekeeping,” no one answered. An empty room was her favorite kind, so she happily grabbed a few chocolates from her cart, entered, and flipped on the lights. She announced herself one more time and again heard only silence.

With all the permission she needed, she headed straight for the heavy curtains to draw them for the night. As she strode past the bed, though, a glimpse of a man’s bare leg stopped her cold. Her eyes followed the lean leg up past the khaki shorts and over a bare chest, which while muscular, looked awkwardly pale to her island eyes. Despite his white skin, instinct told her an attractive man lay on the bed. She was eager to see his face, but her mouth gaped when she recognized him. It was Congressman William Lloyd in a deep slumber. One of his hands rested by his head, while the other held what looked to be a memo.

It wasn’t as if she’d never walked in on a sleeping guest. It happened often. Yet seeing William Lloyd asleep and half naked made her feel like she was doing something wrong. She slowly backed away so as not to wake him, but he stirred. Feeling like she needed a defense for being in his room, she reached in her pocket for one of the hotel’s goodnight notes that were left with the turndown service.

When his eyes fluttered open, she blurted, “Pardon me. I knocked, but no one answered. I didn’t think anyone was in the room. I’m just here for the turndown service.” She looked to her right and hurriedly placed the note and chocolates on the desk. “I’ll leave these here. Goodnight, Congressman.”

She turned on her heel, but she looked back when she heard him blearily say, “How do you know I’m a congressman?”

Flustered by his question, she doubted herself. “I beg your pardon. Perhaps I misspoke.”

“No, you didn’t, but frankly, even I don’t really know who or where I am right now,” he said with a giant yawn. Blinking at the light, he craned his neck looking on the nightstand for a clock. “What time is it?”

“It’s a little after eight, and you’re in
Honolulu
, if that helps.” She tried not to laugh as he scratched his head like a confused little boy.

“It does,” he said as he eased himself into a sitting position. “I’m late for dinner. I need to get going.”

As he sat up, Abby glimpsed at his chest again but quickly averted her eyes. She didn’t want him thinking she was checking him out, though from what she’d seen, she thought him worth ogling. She stared straight into his eyes and said, “Jet lag affects everybody. I’m sure you won’t be the only one.”

“I hope not.” As if he knew where her mind had been, he looked down self-consciously. “I’m sorry. I should put a shirt on.”

“Oh, don’t worry. It’s
Hawaii
. There aren’t that many places you need a shirt.” She chuckled, hoping to add some normalcy to the situation. 

As he reached for his shirt, she spied the open door and recognized it as a sign to leave. “Have a good night, Congressman.”

“Wait,” he said, tugging his shirt over his head. “You didn’t answer my question. How do you know I’m a congressman?”

“Oh. I’ve seen you on T.V. That’s all.”

“You have?” His face was askew in disbelief.

“Yes…” She pursed her lips to avoid adding a snide remark. He obviously didn’t think a maid would even watch the news.

Raising a hand as if to deflect her thought, he grimaced. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean it like that. It’s just that outside of my district I’m not normally recognized.”

She waited for a moment as she debated whether or not to believe him and decided he was probably telling the truth. Shrugging it off, she said, “It’s okay. I just happened to watch a lot of C-SPAN last semester.”

“You’re in school?”

“Yeah.” Though he hadn’t said it, she was sure he noticed her age and was wondering why she was
still
in school. She touched her ponytail. “I’m older than most of the students. It’s taking me a while. My family has had a lot of health issues.”

“I’m sorry to hear it.” He shook his head. “But you shouldn’t feel bad about your age. You’re getting your degree. That’s great. My dad didn’t get his until I was in high school.” As if he’d spotted something dangerous, he scanned her body from head to toe. “Not that you’re old, I might add.”

“Thanks. I’m twenty-six.” She looked at him cautiously, because it seemed like the rude man she’d encountered earlier that morning had been replaced by a much kinder one.

“What are you studying?” he asked, reinforcing her belief.

“Poli Sci, but I’m interested in International Relations.”

“Huh.”  He cocked his head. “Why that?”

“I grew up all over the world. My dad and stepfather were both in the military.”

“So, do you want to leave
Hawaii
when you get your degree?”

“Yes. Eventually,” she said with a wince. “I’m not sure when. My mom is sick.”

He stared at her silently for a moment as his expression turned to one of genuine concern. “That’s tough. What does she—”

“I really should leave. I need to finish this floor.” She didn’t want to hear his question—let alone answer it.

More silence ensued, and his expression didn’t change. He nodded, visibly understanding the command she had given him.
Don’t go there.
He cleared his throat, stood, and stretched again. “And I need to get downstairs to dinner, or I’ll miss the speaker.”

BOOK: A Very Important Guest
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