Authors: Lola Darling
By Lola Darling
THE HOTEL: BOOK THREE
Copyright © 2015 Lola Darling
All rights reserved.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents either are products of the
author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or
dead, is entirely coincidental.
Cover Design: British Empire Designs
If the room is a rockin’, don’t bother knockin’.
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been two days since Dominic discovered the secret I’ve
been hiding from him: that the first night we met, I was hired to get
compromising photos of him. Two days since he threw me out of the
Rexford hotel and swore he never wanted to see me again. Two days of
me wallowing in a heartbroken mess around my apartment until my
roommates must be sick of my forlorn crying.
going to need a Sherpa to come navigate this mountain of Kleenex.”
brushes wads of tissue off my bed before sitting next to me. I wipe
my eyes with the back of my hand and take the steaming mug she
offers. I think I smile. I don’t
know. My face is so tight from dried tears, I feel like I’ve
had botched plastic surgery.
in the mug?” I
take a sniff. “Smells
of my secret tea blends.”
with unicorn tears and rainbows?”
course. And also honey and green tea to soothe your throat.”
soft voice brings fresh tears to my eyes. I don’t
deserve her kindness. At least, that’s
how the sick, twisted sensation in my gut makes me feel. Because of
me, Dominic may lose control of the hotel. I deserve to be miserable.
I miss him. A hell of a lot.
plopping noise makes me look down, and sure enough, I’m
crying in my tea.
the mug and runs a hand down my hair. “I
know it hurts, Jules.”
against her shoulder. “It
feels like he ripped out my heart and stomped all over it then left
it bleeding in the gutter with all the Rexford’s dirty
see him every time I close my eyes—the
blend of shock and anger on Dominic’s
face as his ex-wife, Lillian, revealed everything. The way he looked
at me when I admitted I helped set him up. How he
when I tried to confess my feelings for him.
that moment, I lost everything. My internship, my career, and the man
get any worse.
call me back,” I
left messages.” It
dawns on me that I haven’t
checked my phone in a half hour. I scramble to get my cell, but Emily
do you know?”
just shakes her head, and I crumble a little more.
call, will he?”
tries to look supportive, but I can tell, she doesn’t
believe me. And if my ‘bright
side only, glass half full’ friend
find it in her heart to lie, there’s
really no hope for me. My heart cracks again. Dominic Rexford has
washed his hands of me. How can I blame him? I helped his ex-wife
strip him of control over his own empire. Thanks to me, he’s
lost everything that he held most dear.
just wish I’d
known. The first night we met, it was just a job: my cousin, Callie,
was sick, so I filled in for her acting as a honeytrap for her
private investigator boss. I was supposed to flirt with the target,
let them get photos of him kissing me, and make a quick exit. I
expect Dom to be so sexy, so magnetic –
all my rules
went out of the window when I followed him upstairs. It was just one
night, I told myself. Nobody would ever know.
realize that my incredible one night stand with him was going to have
consequences like this.
expect my love would ruin him.
the heels of my hands to my eyes, I force down another wave of tears.
never felt this way before, and I don’t
I need to do
to fix it any way that I can. But, how?
mean a thing compared to his lost empire. I don’t
think Hallmark makes a card for this kind of thing.
lean over the side of my bed and grapple for the neck of a wine
is the next one I reach for, and the one after that. I don’t
have to check the cookie bags or the pizza box on my floor. I know
stands and starts to collect the trash. “You’ve
gone on one hell of a broken-heart bender.”
not over yet.”
bypasses the mountain of snot rags to grab my garbage can. “Believe
it or not, you’ll
get through this, Jules. Things like this just make you stronger.”
would you know?” It
flies out of my mouth before I can take it back. Emily pauses a
moment, then keeps cleaning. “I’m
say quickly.” She
talk much about her romantic history, but I do know that some guy did
a number on her a few years back, bad enough that she won’t
even mention his name.
says with a supportive smile. “I
know that it gets better. Eventually.”
bedroom door flies open,
and Callie bursts in. “Ugh,
still wallowing? Come on, you’ll
be a public health hazard if you don’t
get out of those sweatpants.”
slump back down. “I
have anywhere to be, remember? I got fired.”
rolls her eyes. “Dominic
is a purebred asshole, and you don’t
need him, Juliet. Fuck him. And not in the fun way.”
disappears and comes back with not one bottle of cheap wine, but two.
not helping.” Emily
looks slightly disgusted. “She
needs to get up and take a shower.”
failing that, she needs to get drunk until she’s
ready to not be drunk anymore. It’s
a rule of break-ups. Didn’t
you read the girl code handbook, Em?”
not about to argue with Callie’s
wonderful logic. I open a box, pour some into a glass, and take a sip
before they stop nitpicking each other and look at me.
try to drink more, but it tastes bitter in my mouth. I remember the
sweetness of the wine Dominic and I drank while he fed me oysters in
Paris. And the wild sex in the alley after that? What I wouldn’t
give to turn back the clock and relive it again.
to have him next to me, to hear his voice.
a hundred shades of pathetic.
sappy look on your face has to stop.”
a bag of chips and hands them to me. I know it needs to stop. But
too soon. Truthfully, I’m
starving. A take-out container plops onto my lap. Pad Thai.
could seriously kiss you right now,”
I say, and
crack the top, reveling in the waft of peanut sauce and noodles.
wolf down the Thai. This, I can do: eat, drink, repeat, until my food
is gone. Now if calories would just take the pain away, I’d
be all set.
and if Dom would just talk to me. He still might not forgive me after
I explain, but I need to clear the air about everything. Thinking his
name brings the sadness back and boom, just like that, I’m
do this!” I
need to talk to him.”
not ready, Juliet. You have to give him some time.”
a noise from the living room. Emily turns. “What
was that? Did someone knock?”
brain is slow to register what she said, but then it does. And
my pulse picks up. We listen, and sure enough, there’s
a fast, light rap on the front door.
my God!” I
flip the covers off. “What
leap out of bed, then freeze. The sight of myself in the mirror is a
slap of reality. Bedhead hair, pallid skin, and these sweatpants. “I
see him like this!”
things out of my dresser before darting into the living room,
Cover Girl could come at you with a paint gun and it wouldn’t
drags me into my bathroom and turns into the pit crew queen of
hang-over desperation. In seconds, my face is washed, my hair is
brushed, and she’s
doused me with spray-on deodorant.
yoga pants and a tank top and I’m
as ready as I can be. I smooth my hands down my palms and eye the
front door. With a big breath, I throw it open…
not Dom, not even close.
are you doing here?” I
ask, gripping the doorframe for support. She looks perfect; of course
she does. Lillian is rocking a pair of black capris and a flowing
turquoise top that drapes off one petite shoulder. Her hair is
perfectly pony-tailed, her make-up flawless, and me? I’m
one step away from homeless.
thought it was time you and I had a little chat.”
missing a beat, she sashays past me and into the apartment. I follow,
here to gloat…” I
stop as I realize what a mess the apartment is, my own wallowing
debris taking over the couch and floor.
lip curls as she takes it in. “What
home you have.”
a snort from my bedroom door. “Seriously?”
glares. She folds her arms, and I half expect her to be wielding the
pocket knife she keeps under her bed. Emily is beside her with the
coldest look I’ve
ever seen on her innocent little face. Probably the wine, but I feel
a little mushy. My girls have my back and I love them for it.
ignores them and gives me a look. “Can
we speak alone?”
here to bring more humiliation and pain. What else would the ex-wife
of my former lover want?
think so.” With
a sweep of my arm, I gesture she should leave. But she just smiles
bigger, and man, I hate her.
wanted to apologize.”
gets me. “What
for? Ruining my entire life?”
know you really cared about Dom. When I saw those photos, and
realized you were still with him, I thought perhaps you were playing
your own game. Clearly, I was mistaken.”
this sympathy in her tone? It catches me off guard. She’s
the enemy. She caused this mess. Why in the world would she be
feeling sorry for me?
glance at Callie and Emily and ask them for a few minutes with my
eyes. They retreat into my bedroom, leaving me alone with the woman
who brought my whole world crashing down.
more going on between you and Dom than I thought,”
tense. He hates me. He won’t
even speak to me.”
has the grace to look a little sheepish—which
surprises me again. She looks me over, her expression going back to
friendly neutral. “So,
what are you going to do now?”
not sure I understand her question. My mind goes blank. “Um…
bender and then… I
know, brush myself off and look for a job?”
It comes out
just lost everything I cared about. What does she think I’m
going to do?
if I said you didn’t
need to look far?”
attention, Juliet.” She
gives a little laugh. “I’m
offering you a job. I want you to come work for me at the Rexford.”
blink, but I can’t
playing with me.
I now have a huge stake in the Rexford,”
with Xander supporting me with his shares, we have the majority to
make a real difference. I need someone who knows the insides of the
company, who can give me the advice I need. My personal liason,
assistant, advisor – call
it what you want. I’m
offering you three times your normal salary, and you’d
answer only to me.”