argyle_princess: (flirty)
[personal profile] argyle_princess


Hannah has staked out a spot in the hotel’s lobby, with her laptop on her knees and her coffee near at hand. Her mother is up in the room, napping, and Hannah is taking advantage of the free wi-fi, catching up on her e-mail, sending cheerful New Year’s greetings to Emily and Hilary and Brennan and even Sam.

They’re here because her mother decided they were going to experience some actual winter weather this year. But neither of them is much of a skier, and neither of them really likes actual winter weather all that much. So it’s shaping up to be five days of lounging, which suits Hannah just fine.

It’s restful.

Or it was, until . . .

“What do you mean, our room isn’t ready? We have a reservation, a confirmed reservation. Ashton is tired, she wants to lie down, I demand that you get the manager immediately.”

It’s one of those things you can’t not look at; the volume alone demands attention. There’s a woman with elaborate highlights and an inexpertly done nose job (Hannah can tell), shouting at the reception clerk, with an over-dressed, tantrum throwing girl of about six in the floor by her feet. (Hannah is guessing the little girl is the previously mentioned “Ashton.”) There’s a man, about fifteen years older than the woman, muttering ineffective reassurances. There’s another girl, probably about thirteen, studying her own nails with a practiced, polished, perfect boredom.

And there’s a guy, about Hannah’s age, leaning back against the reception counter and watching Hannah, appraising and appreciative, not bothering to be even a little bit subtle about it. And when he sees her looking back, he grins.

Hannah’s gotten looks (and grins) like that since she hit puberty. She’s also gotten very good at ignoring, dismissing, and shooting down the looker, in the last couple years. But this one doesn’t quite cross into a leer, and they’re not in Neptune, and he is, frankly, hot. So she meets his eyes, smiles once, and then goes back to her e-mail.

When, five minutes later, she glances back at the reception desk, the woman is still fuming, the man is still muttering “now, darling” every few seconds, and the little girl is still screaming. The other two are now in some kind of whispered conference, but he seems to know that Hannah is watching, and he winks at her. She laughs and shakes her head.

After ten minutes, the manager is there, the woman is starting to calm down (though Ashton is still crying), a room has been found, apologies issued. Hannah checks her watch, throws away the coffee cup, shuts down her laptop. Time to go wake up Mom.

“Excuse me,” someone says, and Hannah turns to find the boy from the reception desk.

“Yes?”

“I need you to settle a bet for me,” he says, smiling.

“And what’s that?” Hannah asks.

“Danielle – that’s my sister – she says there’s no way I’m going to be able to talk you into kissing me.”

It’s a line that, at home, would get a guy laughed at, at best, and more likely get him disdained into next month.

But here, Hannah just raises one amused eyebrow “Yeah? And what do you get if you win?”

“A kiss from a beautiful girl,” he says, promptly.

“And what else?”

“Two hours of not having to babysit my incredibly bratty half-sister.”

Hannah looks back at Ashton, whose tantrum still hasn’t quite subsided, and at Danielle, watching them and working at making it look like she’s not.

And then Hannah sets down her laptop case, steps forward, and kisses him, in much the way reunited lovers kiss at the end of a war movie.

“Enjoy your two hours of peace and quiet,” she tells him, noting that Danielle is now staring in open-mouthed amazement. And then she picks up her laptop and heads for the elevator.

“Hey, wait,” he calls, and she looks back over her shoulder at him.

“I’m Nick. Any chance of spending part of that time – or all of that time – with you?”

“Maybe,” Hannah tells him, as the elevator arrives. “See you around, Nick.”

And once the elevator doors are closed, she laughs all the way back to the room. She paints her toenails a sort of ice blue while her mother reads the restaurant guide and they debate their options. Hannah stays in such a good mood through dinner that her mother comments on it.

It's only later -- much later -- when she and her mother have given up on finding anything they want to watch on the hotel TV, when she's almost asleep, that it occurs to her that that had been the first time she'd kissed anyone since she's kissed Henry goodbye.

After that she's awake till very late, or somewhat early, depending on how you look at it.

Not because this realization has been profound or distressing or upsetting or earth-shattering or just generally big.

But because it hasn't really been any of those things.

And she kind of wonders why not.

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Hannah Griffith

June 2009

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