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Authors: M. Martin

Lost in Hotels

BOOK: Lost in Hotels
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A LOVE AFFAIRE IN THE MOST EXTRAORDINARY PLACES

LOST IN HOTELS

M. MARTIN

 

Copyright © 2013 M. MARTIN.

 

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, stored, or transmitted by any means—whether auditory, graphic, mechanical, or electronic—without written permission of both publisher and author, except in the case of brief excerpts used in critical articles and reviews. Unauthorized reproduction of any part of this work is illegal and is punishable by law.

 

ISBN: 978-1-4834-0411-0 (sc)

ISBN: 978-1-4834-0410-3 (e)

 

 

Because of the dynamic nature of the Internet, any web addresses or links contained in this book may have changed since publication and may no longer be valid. The views expressed in this work are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the publisher, and the publisher hereby disclaims any responsibility for them.

 

Any people depicted in stock imagery provided by Thinkstock are models, and such images are being used for illustrative purposes only.

Certain stock imagery © Thinkstock.

 

 

Lulu Publishing Services rev. date: 10/29/2013

CHAPTER 1
CATHERINE

I
WAKE UP ten minutes before the alarm in order to turn it off so it doesn’t wake Matt and especially not Billy. There is perfection to the morning stillness before the sun rises, before breakfast television programs fill the apartment, or coffee scents the air. These few moments in my life are just for me. I linger in thoughts and memories of people from years ago and the roads that led me to today.

I was the girl who was supposed to be the success story, the child the parents spent a little more for on college, on class vacations to Europe, and braces when there wasn’t even money to pay the rent. I was supposed to be the first female president—at least in elementary school—a doctor, an attorney, and then an English major to become a journalist. I was supposed to get that high-profile newspaper job that never came. Instead, I settled for a publishing job that allowed me to climb my way up to a good-paying job, and then to a magazine position where I am today. It sounds better when I talk it up than when I’m actually doing it day after day for the past seven years.

Then I approached that age where everyone around me was married. One by one, I traveled alone to the destination weddings of my younger sister, to my best friend in childhood, and even to my young assistant. It seemed every other colleague except me were married—even those other women in the office who were said too tough, too fussy, or just too dominant to ever find a man.

Matt is a perfect specimen of a husband in this prone state. Manly and vulnerable, he lies unprotected and motionlessness on his back, a single arm raised above his head, and his lips open ever so slightly with symmetrical inhales-to-exhales. My internal complaints about him not being driven, intellectually or otherwise, yield to my awareness that it’s been weeks since we’ve had sex. I dare not touch his unkempt hair that I constantly criticize, but it looks so perfect right now with its fine texture that falls to the side of his strong face. He has his father’s nose and his mother’s cheeks.

In sheets that are a good week past their need of cleaning, I opt not to do an inventory of the packing that I must do, or worry if there’s enough food in the refrigerator to last them a week. Instead, I remember the first time I saw his body, that sinfully toned specimen that reminded me of a mix of John-John and a burly Midwest football player with a painfully sarcastic grin and an inescapable charisma that made everything else about him seem unimportant. In a whirlwind romance, he made me feel like a woman and stripped away my fear of never being loved or having a family.

In a fuss-free city hall wedding and no honeymoon, he promised to make it up to me as we moved into my apartment, and he continued to search for work in an economy that underlined his lack of a college education. None of it mattered to me. I liked the availability of a man who would wake with me in the morning and be there when I arrived home from work. I didn’t worry about his wandering eye or finagling with coworkers, his word is unyielding and forever truly means until the end of time. Matt was the sure thing that came at the end of a series of relationships that never got past the second month.

He sleeps with one leg in and one leg out of the covers, and that school-boy erection that lets itself be known every morning like clockwork, even if I choose to ignore it or insist I’m too busy or too tired or too stressed right now. This is not one of those times. My hand slowly makes its way down his chest and caresses the lower part of his abdomen. Matt’s hand reaches over to cusp the back of my neck as we try not to interrupt the stillness of the morning. I gently explore his awaiting body as he jolts to attention with a single touch.

He pulls me in slowly as I roll over onto him and grab him firmly with my hand. The mattress creaks and even our inhalations seem loud; every noise amplified as our faces meet. Matt is more sexual in the morning, the circulation of a horizontal body sends him into an instinctual craving that begins to sweeten as his back arches and a slight dew covers his body against the pure white sheets.

I yearn for him to be inside me, to feel that connection I felt so strongly so long ago. I want him to take the lead, to allow me to be the woman and him the tending man as I forget the roles we carry for the rest of the day, even if only for a moment. Instead, I seem to almost drift away as he takes over with his own hand. He should be pacing himself and ravaging me on this last morning that we will be together for a week. All his pent-up emotion and desire should be thrust inside me repeatedly as we both lose ourselves in the ecstasy of the moment. That is not to be, yet again. The stillness of the morning echoes with just his climax, dirtying the furry trail just below his navel with a crescendo echoed by a guttural moan that carries through our small apartment.

As the only memory of the moment drips from him, stillness returns. He lies motionless on his back as I linger just a moment, and then he slowly pulls me up alongside him with a nudge of my arm. He sexually forgets me once again in this relationship, but I no longer know the words or confidence to let him know it. I return to his side and then edge out just a bit farther as we retreat to our own places and he falls back to sleep. His Midwest upbringing never taught him the reciprocal pleasures of a wife—something I didn’t realize until the initial lust and passion of our relationship waned into the malaise of marriage. Then without a moment for my breath to return, the other man in my life beckons. Our son, Billy, calls out in a high-pitched wail, exalting through the air in our tiny apartment as I rush to him during this “only part of the day I have to take care of him,” as Matt often reminds me.

Billy is the micro version of Matt, the two-foot wobbly version that has insisted since the delivery room that his needs be satisfied immediately or it’s hell to pay for everyone. After he had spent two days in the hospital, the nurses confided that he was one of the few babies they were somewhat happy to see leave. Although they said this with a laugh, we all knew he had a shrill cry that pierced ears and was impossible to quell. In the hospital, I couldn’t wait to hand him back after feedings, waiting for that adoration of a mother to set in day after day, only to agonize in a mix of guilt and frustration as I waited for that instinctual bond to initiate.

Billy would cry almost nonstop. We scoured the medical community for answers, from deafness to digestive disorders. Test after test concluded he was simply a fussy child and perhaps I was a hypochondriac. However, life has gotten better; the terrible twos and threes weren’t nearly as awful as what came before as Billy becomes more of a mini-man who wanders about our apartment as he wishes in our quest to keep him appeased.

I returned to the office after only thirty days of maternity leave. The day I returned to work, I actually cried in happiness. I finally had a moment of quiet and concentration. Every lunch was a delight, and moments spent working overtime were a reprieve from the chaos that awaited me at home. Matt would hand off Billy and all his demands to me at the door, and then he would check out for the rest of the night. My mother even thought it was too soon to go back to work, but that’s just her Jewish-mom mentality. I did have good reasoning and justification. I was the sole breadwinner, and with the magazine performing as it did in the months before the delivery, I felt there would be no job to come back to if I took much more time off.

Now I try to hush Billy back to sleep, but he wakes up ready to eat and cry. His cry is still more of a scream, like a cry you would generate if someone were suddenly to submerge you into ice-cold water in the middle of your deepest sleep. I quickly try to ready a cup of warm milk. This usually soothes his stomach, which may or may not attribute to his acid reflux, making him the way he is. It also may be that this is simply his personality, which I hope is not the case.

“Put some clothes on already,” I say as Matt passes by the kitchen to the bathroom, still semi-erect in front of our son.

He insists it’s okay among guys as he pees with the toilet seat down in clear view of our entire apartment. I think a level of modesty between parents and a child, especially at this young age, is essential. I don’t dare say that or Matt will run naked out on the balcony or come over and slap his dick with its dribble of urine all over the kitchen in a cute, but totally inappropriate rebellion. It often seems he is also a four-year-old, and I am the single adult who makes sure the parental dots are crossed, the bank account isn’t empty, and someone doesn’t merely wash, but also folds the laundry.

However, this morning isn’t about complaining. Even the annoyances seem endearing and essential as we bask in the pre-travel separation that makes this life feel like it’s emerging from its arduous phase and more the way I had imagined it would be in the beginning. This morning, he holds my hand a little longer and doesn’t run out for the newspaper or for a coffee.

“Today, I’m your personal chef,” Matt says, pulling on a pair of oatmeal-gray sweatpants.

“If only I had a bit more time to take you up on that,” I reply as I think of warm cinnamon rolls or a complicated tofu scramble.

His attention and affection has me wondering if I should have even agreed to this project in the first place. I didn’t have to take it, after all, numerous people in the office are single and better suited for these types of writing assignments, and they have bodies better suited for Rio.

“I can cook under pressure, don’t you worry. Today, I’ll make you anything you want for breakfast,” he says, grabbing me at the waist and pulling me so close that our noses touch. “Anything.”

“Anything, you say?”

Just as I say the words, a box of Cheerios falls off the counter and its contents scatter across the floor behind me. It takes but a moment to remember why I essentially begged for the assignment in the first place and how desperately I need a break, a momentary pause for myself, even just for a few days. The monotony of my life needs some shaking up from yet another weekend of pizza dinners, of watching reality TV with a man who falls asleep at 9:00 p.m., and another male who wakes at 5:00 a.m. to inevitably only be pleased by finding his favorite cartoon in these meaningless years of thankless, patient parenting. Having spent these last year’s essentially at home, what I really crave is a glimpse of the life I once knew with a little bit of pampering, thinking about something besides my husband and child, and with days that begin with a proper hotel breakfast of crispy toast, complicated eggs, and an intelligent article in the
International Herald Tribune.

“Yogurt would be lovely, honey,” I reply, knowing the mess a good omelet scramble would create and the likelihood that the pan would still be dirty by the time I come home in five days.

I’ve dreamed for months about having three days of continuous me time, and now just three hours until fruition, I sit somewhat dreading it all. The very process nauseates me as I plan my airplane outfit, double-checking my bag, and virtually fearing the idea of Rio.

Then the guilt sets in as I look at my two men, the ground to my earth without which I would wander through life as one of those working women who never find anything more than another job, never marrying, never belonging to anyone or anything. And instead of holding it with all my heart, here I am grabbing an extra swimsuit and contemplating fedoras, instead of reading to my son at night in his most formative years, or tending to my husband who spends every single waking minute in this apartment being both a mom and dad while I roam the world.

“Honey, your car is here … I think!”

Time trips my step in a crescendo of emotions. Billy screams at the top of his lungs and Matt rushes into the bedroom while I grab my laptop, triple check my passport, and stand at the threshold of our home. I am thinking what if the plane crashes or what if Matt dies of an unexpected heart attack in the middle of the night, or meets a woman at the grocery store who appreciates and has time for him.

Together we stand—this motley crew of former and future dreams—in a group hug. Billy screams in his usual fit of tears, and Matt manages to see through the noise and the speed of the moment to look into my eyes and make it all pass into the periphery for just a moment.

“I love you more than anything else in the world.”

His words manage to envelope all, including Billy who is hushed to stillness.

“I love you, too.”

“Be safe and come home quickly,” he says as I pull away wishing I had never asked for this assignment in the first place.

His words echo in my head as I take the two floors with the staccato-like thud of my over-packed suitcase dropping on every step, and I think of ways to call my editor and explain why I can’t go.

From our Williamsburg building and into the street, I look up at my home. It has never seemed more idyllic. The driver undresses me of my luggage, and I sink into the backseat of the bouncy black town car. My hand, sticky with Billy’s slobber and various hand lotions, grips the door strap and pulls it tight as my real world and life fade behind me. The car feels like an unfamiliar world, its fresh newspaper tucked behind the driver’s seat just for me, and windows free of smudges and stains that transport me to a life I had long ago.

BOOK: Lost in Hotels
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