Based on the short story:
Lost Days Make for Memories and Souvenirs
My name is Marci. I work as a project manager for a small manufacturing firm. I travel as part of my job, though thankfully that requirement is not a large part of my job. Mostly I travel alone, though sometimes I do it in the company of my boss Marty, or one of my coworkers. Like most females, I don't like to travel alone, and for obvious reasons. There is the loneliness factor, of course, and the fact that I'm a single woman, unescorted, and therefore "fair game" for just about anyone. And of course it's not like I can walk into a bar and not become the instant (if sometimes fleeting), center of attraction. Restaurants are almost as bad. Shopping even has its issues. I don't know why men always peg you as out of state and hit on you like an unexpected but tantalizing species of fish found in their pond. It is so aggravating. Therefore, I make a point of not shopping, not going to bars, staying away from TGI Fridays and Red Lobster, (Applebee's is OK), and picking up any alcohol I want to drink at a 7-11 to take back to my room. And I never, ever stay at a cheap motel. Not even if I have to pick up the difference in price myself. And I stay out of hotel bars.
My latest adventure took me to Charleston, West Virginia. Charleston is the capital city of West Virginia, population 51,400, and home to one of my most difficult customers; hence, the visit. I booked my own room at the Holiday Inn, Charleston House, downtown. It was snowing when I flew out, and snowing, much harder, when I flew in. The drive from the airport to the motel took over an hour and left me wondering, quite irritably, why I was there. It was mid-January and mid-January is twice as miserable in Charleston as it is at home. I didn't know that, but I would soon find out.
"Thank you," I said, struggling out of the cab. The driveway was 2" thick in slush, and the wind made getting to my feet as dangerous as stepping unto a tightrope. Already growing dark because of the hour, the sky looked no more than 20' above the canopy. I was reminded of Biblical predictions. The cold was bitter, damp and biting. I huddled in my coat as the cabbie pulled my luggage from the trunk. He'd been surly the entire trip in because of the drive, and my tip did nothing to cheer him up.
"Enjoy your visit," he grumped at me. I stuck my tongue out at him as soon as he turned away, and then laughed when another guest caught me at it. I smiled at her and she grinned widely, nodding. The wind tried to separate both of us from our hats.
Because of the slush and wind, I let a bellhop bring my bags inside. The desk clerk offered the expected apologies for the local weather, made a show of confirming my reservation, and smiled at me more than he should have. He was cute, and I let myself flirt with him in return.
I am 30 years old, with chestnut-colored hair that I keep down to my shoulder blades. I like it this length because I can alternately sweep it forward onto my chest to hide my lack of boobs. I'm a 34B ... on a good day. I'm pretty enough, I guess; an ex-cheerleader who's managed to keep most of the attributes I had in high school. I've even grown a little bit up top. I've been told I have a nice ass and I do catch guys shooting looks at me after they walk by. My big complaint is that I still look like a high school girl, and constantly have to prove my age, even to clerks who've asked to see my ID before. They only shrug when I complain, or laugh. If I go out later to buy beer or a bottle of wine, I'll be carded. I never leave home without it.
"We have a nice bar," he said by way of invitation.
"You do?" I replied coyly.
He leaned forwarded, whispering conspiratorially. "The band sucks, but the bartender is a friend of mine and can be depended on to mix a good drink."
"I'm too young to drink," I teased. "I'm still in high school."
He eyed me critically. "Even if I hadn't seen your license, I wouldn't believe that. You look at least..."
"Fourteen?" I suggested, giggling.
He shook his head reprovingly. "At least 25."
I leaned forward and whispered: "My license is fake. I bought it at a yard sale last year."
"Maybe I should confiscate it then," he said. It was sitting on his keyboard, along with my company Visa card. He knew where I worked, and where I lived. He knew my telephone number too, and my true age. He knew a lot about me, I realized. I wondered if he knew I was becoming seriously attracted to him. Better put a stop to this, I thought. I held out my hand, and he looked disappointed.
"I'll think about you when I crack a beer later in my room."
He looked seriously disappointed now. Then he brightened. "You might want to reconsider that."
I knew what he meant. It meant that I would have to go back outside to the closest 7-11 or deli or whatever if I wanted beer or wine. The company frowned on raiding the mini-bar in the room, if there was one, so I'd have to pay that bill myself. I didn't enjoy paying the same for a 10 oz. beer as I'd pay for a 7-11 six-pack.
"It's pretty treacherous out there," he went on. "I think you should stick to the hotel bar or the restaurant. Play it safe."
Play right into your hands, you mean, I thought wryly. I wonder what time you get off? Doesn't the hotel look down their nose at fraternizing with the guests, though? That meant he'd have to take me somewhere other than the hotel bar or restaurant to wine and dine me. How convenient. No thanks.
"You know what? I think I'll go upstairs and call my boyfriend and ask him what he thinks I should do."
He grinned at me, half-chagrined, and half-amused. "Good idea. If you change your mind..."
I returned my license and credit card to my wallet, put my wallet in my purse, and slung my purse over my shoulder. "If I change my mind, I'll let you know, Chad." Grinning, I left the counter and followed the not-so-amused bellhop to the elevator and up to the 9th floor and down the corridor to my room. I was right on the end, as far from the elevator as possible. I wondered, casually, if that had been planned. I wondered again, what time Chad got off. Like I would. I laughed at myself, just thinking about it.
In the room, after tipping the bellhop, I went to the window and looked outside. The overcast looked no more than one foot above my head now and looked like a pregnant blanket. It was moments away from being dark. Lights came and went in the swirling snow; I could just make out the building across the street, another motel, and another down the road. Street lights illuminated millions of snowflakes. Chad was right; it was dangerous out tonight.
I closed the drapes and removed my coat and draped it over a chair back to dry. Then I called Nick.
"So, how's West Virginia?" he asked cheerily.
"Depressing," I answered in a grumble. "I wanna come home."
"Think you'll have a meeting in the morning?"
"I don't know how," I admitted, imagining the snow through the closed drapes. I undid the buttons on my shirt and let the front fall open. I scratched idly at the rim of my right cup where it lay against my skin. The bra was new, washed only once, and not yet broken in. I imagined Chad's fingertips sliding the shirt back over my shoulders, and sliding it down and off my arms. The idea gave me goose bumps.
"Marty should have called this off," Nick observed.
"No way to reach the customer," I pointed out. "Not on a Sunday."
"It's January. Marty should have thought of that."
"He didn't know," I said defensively. Nick was right though: Marty should have known this might happen.
I'd hoped he would change his mind this morning when I called, but he hadn't. He thought it better I be there, no matter what the case. Just in case. We didn't want to piss this customer off. Any more than he already was, anyway.
"You should just come home," Nick said.
"I can't. The airport's closed." That was a lie, which I suspected might just be true, or would be true shortly, with snow coming down in buckets. "We're still good for Wednesday night, though, right?"
"Of course. Unless you get snowed in."
I cringed at the thought. Snowed in for three days? In Charleston? Please!
"Problem is," he said doubtfully. "The forecast has deteriorated here too. They're saying we could get upward of a foot of snow tomorrow. And more on Tuesday." I grimaced. "Even if you can get out of there, you might not be able to get into here."
Oh, terrific, I thought.
"I could rent a car," I offered hopefully.
"You could do that. And drive across the mountains in the snow."
"Godammit," I groaned. "You're not helping matters any, Nick."
"Just trying to be realistic, sweetheart."
"I wanna come home!" I complained again. "Tuesday! Not some time next week!"
Nick laughed. "I want you to come home too. I miss that sweet little body of yours. I'm having Marcia-withdrawals."
"I'm having Nick-withdrawals, too," I admitted miserably. I remembered Friday night in bed, the way he-
Stop it, I thought. That's not helping matters any.
.... There is more of this story ...