Home > The Reunion

The Reunion
Author: Kiersten Modglin

 


Chapter One

 

 

Present Day

 

 

I didn’t want to return to Hotel Lilith.

Not after everything that happened.

Just the sight of it was enough to make my insides quiver, my fingers suddenly too cold on the steering wheel. I sucked my lips inward, chomping down with my teeth to calm my nerves.

It was all going to be fine.

It had to be.

I pulled my Lexus into an empty space—its caviar-colored exterior recently waxed. I should’ve flown in, to save myself time, but the idea of driving, of having a getaway car and direct path home should I need it, felt safer. I couldn’t decide whether to feel relieved or disappointed when there were no familiar faces waiting for me in the parking lot. On one hand, I wanted to show them all what had become of me. I wanted them to know I’d made something of myself. And the car that had cost more than my house growing up was one of the ways I’d planned to prove that.

On the other hand, I was in no hurry to see anyone I’d gone to high school with. In fact, I’d considered not coming at all. I didn’t want to. If it wasn’t for the nagging need to face what happened, face everyone again, I might not have.

I stepped out of the car and smoothed down my Burberry skirt before making my way toward the trunk.

The hotel was tall and gray, with several windows along the front and sides. The scarlet-shingled roof, brick foundation, and bright, neon red sign at the tallest point were the only color on the drab building. There were three separate wings, all connected by long corridors and breezeways. The sections on opposite ends sat forward several feet closer to the paved parking lot than the section in the middle, making it so the building formed a ‘U’ shape. Along the front of the middle section, a covered porch with thin, white pillars hosted four white rocking chairs.

The large sign that sat planted in the ground in front of the building matched the sign at the top of the building, though this one wasn’t lit up, but rather handcrafted. It had chipping paint and spiderwebs gathering in the capital L of the name Lilith.

I tugged my suitcase from the trunk and set it down. With my head held high and shoulders back, I walked toward the porch, the wheels of my luggage rattling along the pavement behind me.

When I reached the entrance, a man dressed in a sleek black suit with a red pocket square smiled politely, holding the door open for me.

“Good afternoon. Welcome to Hotel Lilith.”

“Good afternoon,” I replied, darting my eyes away from him with my chin tucked into my chest. “Thank you.” If he recognized me, he didn’t say so. These days, I was used to being recognized for different reasons than before. But meeting someone who didn’t recognize me at all was a welcome reprieve.

I strode through the open doorway, across the veined marble floor, and looked around. To my right, there was a long, black desk with red embellishments. The woman behind the desk looked as though she’d been built into the hotel’s aesthetic.

Her onyx eyes matched the black suit she was wearing, a uniform identical to the one worn by the man at the door. Her perfectly symmetrical and pin straight crimson bob was the same shade of red as her lipstick. Her ruby lips stretched into a smile to greet me.

The lobby smelled faintly of bananas, and my eyes traveled up the gray wall behind the woman, checking out the wide-screen television with the Hotel Lilith logo and today’s weather on its screen.

“Hello there. Checking in?” The woman drew my attention back to her and, as I reached the desk, I noticed her dark red nails, click-clacking along the keyboard in front of her, also matched her hair and lips. Had the employees dressed this way before?

I couldn’t remember.

There’d been too much on my mind that night.

“Yes.” I cleared my throat, leaning forward as I tried to keep my voice low. “It’s under Cait Du Bois.”

“Can you spell that for me?” she asked, her brow furrowed slightly as she waited for me to do so. Once I had, she nodded.

“Yes. There you are. Okay, it looks like we have you in a suite.” I detected a hint of reverence in her tone. “Will you be needing two key cards or just one?”

“Oh.” I clicked my tongue. “You’d better just give me one for now. I’m not sure if my husband will be able to make it or not.” It was a lie. He wasn’t coming. Why didn’t I feel self-assured enough to say that?

It was this place, I knew it.

No longer was I an adult, a mom, a wife, a bestselling author who toured the world and signed autographs for thousands. Here, I was eighteen all over again.

Reliving the worst night of my life.

She set to work, swiping a card through the machine in front of her and sliding it into a small envelope. She scribbled down the room number and passed it to me across the counter. “I’ll get someone to bring your bag to your room for you, is—”

“That’s alright,” I said, probably too quickly, then tried to recover. “I, um, I can get it myself.” She appeared startled by my interruption.

“Are you sure?” she asked, leaning over the counter to inspect my bag. “That’s what they’re here for.”

“I’m positive,” I assured her.

“Okay.” She seemed hesitant, but didn’t argue any further. “Your suite is on the third floor, take a right past the elevators. Is there anything we can do to make your stay more comfortable?”

“No, you’ve been great…” I glanced down, checking her nametag. “Marci. Thank you very much.”

“My pleasure. Thank you for staying with us. Please let me know if there’s anything we can do to make you feel more at home.” She twirled a piece of her hair between her fingers as I turned to cross the lobby toward the elevator.

I rode to the third floor in silence, sharing the space with just one other person, whose eyes remained locked on his phone. When we reached my floor, two older women entered without waiting to allow me off. The door had nearly shut before I could shove my way through.

“Excuse me,” I said as I went, already irritated.

I turned right, searching for my room number, the wheels of my luggage silenced by the hallway carpet. When I spied the number I was looking for, 333, I matched it to my card envelope just to confirm. I stopped, pulling out the key card and placing it to the reader.

As I heard the click, I lowered the card and pushed the door open, stepping inside. The room was oversized and airy, bigger than my first apartment, and carried the same vague banana scent I’d noticed in the lobby. I placed my car keys and sunglasses down on the entry table to my right, moving forward into the sitting room.

There were three gray couches, a red chair, and a TV stand, sitting atop an antique-looking rug that fit the place perfectly. The curtains were drawn, as I liked them, and I reveled in the fact that, for the next few days, I wouldn’t have to deal with my husband insisting we keep them open all day. I could sit in the darkness and relish every minute of it.

They say you should marry someone who can make you laugh. I say you should marry someone who shares your preference when it comes to blinds and curtains. There was nothing that could make us fight quicker.

I placed my suitcase onto the longest couch, running my hands along the sides to search for the zipper. Once it was opened, I pulled out my laptop case, checking over my MacBook closely. It held my latest manuscript, the one I was two weeks behind my deadline on. I should’ve opened the laptop and set to work straightaway, but first, I wanted to call home and let them know I’d made it. I placed the MacBook on the coffee table in the center of the room and closed my suitcase, crossing the room as I dialed his number and stopping in front of the mirror.

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