He looks hurt and a little shocked. “Why not?”
“Because, Andrew, I…well, I just won’t let you—now come here.” I cup my hands around the sides of his neck and pull him toward me.
And then I kiss him softly, letting my lips linger on his afterwards.
“What are you doing?” he asks, staring down into my eyes.
I smile sweetly up at him. “I’m getting into character.”
A grin tugs the corners of his lips. He turns me around and locks his arm around my waist as we head toward Bourbon Street.
MAYBE I CAN DO this with Camryn. Why do I have to torture myself and deny myself what I want most when it should be the time when I’ve earned the right to have anything I want? Maybe things will turn out differently and she won’t get hurt. I could go back to Marsters. What if I do let her go and I never see her again and then afterwards, Marsters realizes his fuck-up?
Camryn and I hit two more bars in the French Quarter and she managed to pass for twenty-one in both of them. Only one asked to see her I.D. and I guess since her birthday is in December the waitress decided to let her slide.
But now she’s drunk and I’m not sure if she’ll be able to walk back to the hotel.
“I’ll call a cab,” I say, holding her up beside me on the sidewalk.
Couples and groups of people come and go from the bar behind us, some stumbling from the doorway.
I’ve got my arm tight around Camryn’s waist. She reaches up a hand and drapes it over my shoulder from the front; she can hardly hold her head up straight.
“I think a cab is a good idea,” she says with heavy eyes.
She’s either going to pass out or throw up soon. I just hope she waits until we get back to the hotel.
The cab drops us off at the front of the hotel and I help her out of the backseat, finally just lifting her in my arms because she can barely walk on her own anymore. I carry her to the elevator with her legs dangling over one arm and her head lying against my chest. People are staring.
“Fun night?” a man in the elevator asks.
“Yeah,” I nod, “some of us can hold our liquor better than others.”
The elevator dings and the man walks out after the doors slide open. Two more floors up and I carry her out and toward our rooms.
“Where’s your key babe?”
“In my purse,” she says weakly.
At least she’s coherent.
Without putting her down, I pull her purse around from her arm and unzip it. Normally, I would crack some joke about what the hell she carries in this thing and if anything in it is going to bite me, but I know she’s not in the joking mood. She’s miserable.
This is going to be a long night.
The door shuts behind us and I carry her right over to the bed and lay her down.
“I feel like shit,” she moans.
“I know, babe. You’ll just have to sleep it off.”
I take off her shoes and set them on the floor.
“I think I’m going to be—.” She throws her head over the side of the bed and starts puking.
I reach over to grab the trash can pressed against the nightstand and catch most of it, but it looks like the housekeeper is going to be pissed in the morning. She throws up everything in her stomach, which surprises me because she didn’t really eat much today. She stops and falls back against the pillow. Tears, caused by the vomiting, stream from the corners of her eyes. She tries to look at me, but I know she’s too dizzy to focus.
“It’s so hot in here,” she says.
“Alright,” I say and get up to turn the AC on full blast.
Then I go into the bathroom and run a wash cloth under the cold water and then ring it out. I go back in the room and sit beside her on the bed, swabbing her face with the cloth.
“I’m so sorry,” she mumbles. “I should’ve stopped after the vodka shot. Now you’re cleaning up my puke.”
I wipe her cheeks and forehead some more, pushing away the loose strands of hair stuck to her face and then I swipe the cold rag over her mouth.
“No apologies,” I say, “you had a good time and that’s all that matters.” I add, grinning, “Besides, I can take complete advantage of you now.”
She tries to smile and reach up and hit me on the arm, but she’s too weak even for that. Her almost-smile turns into something anguished and sweat instantly beads on her forehead.
“Oh no….” She raises herself from the bed. “I need the bathroom,” she says, holding onto me trying to get up and so I help her.
I walk her to the bathroom where she practically throws herself over the toilet, both hands gripping the sides of the porcelain. Her back arches and falls as she starts to dry-heave and cry harder.
“You should’ve had that steak with me, babe.” I stand over her from behind, making sure her braids don’t get hit in the crossfire and I keep the cold rag pressed to the back of her neck. I hurt for her, just watching her body heave violently like that, but hardly anything being produced from it. I know her throat and chest and insides are going to hurt after this.
When she’s done, she lies against the cool tile floor.
I try to help her up, but she protests softly:
“No, please…I want to lay here; the floor is cooler on my skin.”
Her breathing is shallow and her lightly-tanned skin is as sickly pale as a pneumonia patient. I get a clean rag, soak it and keep wiping down her face and neck and bare shoulders. Then I unbutton her pants and carefully pull them off, relieving her stomach and legs from the pressure of how tight they were.
“Don’t worry, I won’t molest you,” I say, jokingly, but she doesn’t answer this time.
She’s passed out on her side with her face pressed against the floor.
I know if I move her right now she’ll probably wake up and start dry-heaving again, but I don’t want to leave her like this lying next to the toilet. So, I lay down beside her and I swab her forehead and arms and shoulders with the cloth for hours until eventually I fall asleep with her.
Never thought I’d intentionally sleep on a bathroom floor next to a toilet while sober, but I meant it when I said I would sleep anywhere with her.
THE DOOR TO MY room opens. Bright sunlight is shining in through a slim opening in the curtain on the other side of me. I flinch like a vampire at it, squinting long enough to turn away. It takes me a second to realize that I’m lying on my bed in the strapless top I wore last night and my purple bikini panties. The bed has been stripped of everything but the sheet I’m lying on and a top sheet that smells and feels like it had recently been washed. I guess I puked on the other one; Andrew must’ve gotten this one from housekeeping.
“Feeling any better?” Andrew asks coming into the room with an ice bucket in one hand and a stack of plastic cups and a bottle of Sprite in the other.
He sits down beside me and places the stuff on the nightstand, breaking the seal on the Sprite.
My head is pounding and I still feel like I could throw up again at any moment. I hate hangovers. I would rather fall down shitfaced drunk and bust my nose or something than deal with a hangover of this magnitude. I’ve had one like this before; it’s so bad that it’s not much different from alcohol poisoning. At least, according to Natalie, who actually had alcohol poisoning once and described it as ‘being shit on by Satan himself the next morning’.
“Not at all,” I finally answer and my own words send pain shooting through the back of my head and around behind my ears. I close my eyes tight when the room starts to double.
“You’ve got it bad, babe,” Andrew says and then I feel a cool cloth dab the side of my neck.
“Can you close that curtain? Please?”
He gets up immediately and I hear him walk over and then the sound of the thick fabric being moved until he gets it into place. I draw my bare legs up toward my chest, taking the sheet with me to keep myself partially covered and I lay in the fetal position against the softness of the pillow.
Andrew removes a plastic cup from its wrapping and I hear the ice shuffling into it afterwards. He pours the Sprite over the ice and then I hear a bottle of pills moving around in his hand.
“Take these,” he says and I feel the bed move as he sits back down and rests his arm over my leg.
My eyes crack open slowly. There’s already a straw poking from the top of the plastic cup so I won’t have to try lifting from the bed too much to get a sip. I reach out and take three Advil from the palm of his hand and pop them in my mouth, afterwards sipping enough of the Sprite just to wash them down with.
“Please tell me I didn’t do or say anything completely humiliating at the bars last night.”
I can only look at him through slit eyelids.
I sense him smiling. “Yeah, actually you did,” he says and my heart sinks. “You told this one guy that you were happily married to me and that we were gonna have like four kids—or maybe you said five, I don’t remember—and then this chick came over later and was hitting on me and you shot up from the chair and got in her face all white-trash-like—it was hilarious.”
I think I’m going to throw up now for sure.
“Andrew you better be lying—how embarrassing!”
My head hurts worse. I didn’t think it could get any worse.
I hear him laugh lightly and I open my eyes a little more so I can see his face more clearly.
“Yeah, I’m lying, babe.” He reaches up and moves the cool rag over my forehead. “Actually, you handled yourself very well, even all the way up here with me.” I notice him look my body over. “Sorry, I had to strip you down—well I enjoyed the opportunity personally, but it was in the line of duty. It had to be done, you see.” He looks all pretend-serious now and I can’t help but smile.
I shut my eyes and sleep another couple of hours until the housekeeper knocks on the door.
I wonder if Andrew has left my side much.
“Yeah, come on in and let me take her next door to my room so you can clean.”
An older lady with a bad red dye-job on her hair enters the room wearing her housekeeping uniform. Andrew walks over to me on the bed.
“Come on, babe,” he says, lifting me into his arms with the sheet still wrapped around my lower half, “let’s let the lady clean.”
I could probably walk over there on my own, but I’m not about to protest. I rather like being right where I am.
As we walk past my purse on the TV stand I reach out for it and Andrew stops, picking it up for me and carrying it out with me. I lay my head against his chest and drape my arms around his neck.
He stops in the doorway and looks back at the housekeeper.
“Sorry about the mess beside the bed.” He nods in that direction with a grimace. “There’ll be a good tip in it for you.”
He walks out with me and takes me over to his room.
First thing he does is close the curtains after he lays me against his pillow.
“I hope you’re better before tonight,” he says walking about the room as if he’s looking for something.