I freeze with my hand on the door handle. Is it him?
My hand slips from the handle. What is he doing here, at that time? I am sure this is not even his floor. I would know.
I turn to look down the brightly lit corridor. He is a few doors away from mine, bracing himself with a hand against the wall. I watch as he sways, his legs buckling even more under him. His white button down is crinkled, he has loosened his silver tie and left his jacket somewhere but he still looks handsome as shit.
The words blur into each other, I can barely make out what he says. I cannot help but be surprised that he knows my name and forget any clever retort. Instead I nod feebly.
He scrambles to push away from the wall and starts walking towards me. I do not seem to be the only one who has had too much alcohol this evening. His gait is even more hazardous than usually, his knees seem to touch and he is barely keeping attention on where he places his feet or lifting them much, instead drags them over the thick carpet. I am prepared to see him fall down face first any moment.
Miraculously he makes it without an incident to where I am rooted in front of my hotel room’s door and slumps against the wall next to it. He turns his head towards me, his cheek pressed against the tapestry, catching his breath.
I know. Everyone knows him.
He grins and tries to shake some of his shoulder long, white blond hair out of his face without falling over. “Nice dress.”
I roll my eyes and hope I do not blush. What the fuck, I do not even like him. Do I?
“You have nice…” He reaches out, arm flailing and I take a step back, mortified.
Well, that settles that. I never liked him. “Good night, Joey.”
I try to open the door and squeeze through but he is faster than I anticipated, coming after me, preventing it from closing again while he latches onto the handle and the doorframe.
“You know Donavan?”
Of course I do. It is hard to miss the flock of admirers following Joey when he parades… well, wobbles… around the conference that his filthy rich father sponsors.
I squint at him, angrily, my arms crossed. I can feel the headache building behind my temples already.
“Joey, please, it is late. I want to sleep.”
“Me too.” His body is sagging a little. I do not think he will be able to keep upright much longer.
“Then go to your hotel room, which is not this one because I know that you share one with Donavan.”
“Donavan has a key.”
I sigh, trying to slowly close the door on him. “So what? Don’t you have your own?”
“Na… it’s… did you know… the door cannot be opened… from the outside if it is locked from… the inside?”
“If the key is still in the lock, probably, yes. Why?” But it already dawns on me. Really?
His grin is hungry. “Why won’t you let me in your room? It looks… cozy.”
He makes a move as if to step past me and reflexively I slam the door shut into his face.
I hear a shout and rumbling, muffled by the closed door. Staring at the plain white surface I briefly consider just turning around and going to bed. The perfectly made up sheets are calling for me from behind my back. But then again I do not want to have to step over Joey’s dead body in the morning.
I open the door to check on him.
It is a sight to behold. Joey lies sprawled on the floor, a confused look on his face as if he is trying to remember how he ended up down there. When his eyes meet mine, his brows furrow. “What the f-fuck, Jackson?” he spits. “Is this h-how you treat a Malloy?”
I snort. A brief pain shoots through my head. Bed. Definitely. “That’s how I treat everyone who tries to break into my hotel room.”
He struggles to sit up, failing at the first attempts, then manages to roll over on his stomach and get his knees under him. He growls and cranes his neck to look up at me. “Could you please fucking help me get up?”
I am tempted to demand a nicer tone from him but somehow watching Malloy’s precious son crouched on his knees in front of me, shaking from the effort, I sense the insecurity behind his manners.
I step to his side and hook one arm under his left elbow. He grabs my other arm with his right hand and pulls himself up, panting. I try to step away as soon as he is upright but he clings to me, his trembling body pressed to mine. I remember he usually uses a cane and wonder where he left that.
“C-Can I sleep in your room?” he mumbles in my ear, trying to straighten. His knees keep bend to a certain degree. I realize he would be taller than me could he stand fully straight.
I cringe away from his breath. He reeks of alcohol. I cannot fail to notice that his icy blue eyes are beautiful close up, though. “No, Joey. Definitely not. Wake Donavan, for god’s sake. Or go to some of your other servants, I don’t care.”
“They are not my servants,” he slurs. “They… well… Donavan sleeps like a stone and the others’ rooms are in the other building.”
He sniffs and readjusts his weight, swaying again. I bring up my hands; ready to wrap them around him should he fall. For now my shoulder seems to be enough for him to steady himself.
I do not say anything because first, that had not occurred to me before and second, the tired expression crossing his face is so unusual for pretentious Joey Malloy it completely takes me by surprise.
Who can withstand these huge blue puppy eyes? I sigh. “Yeah, okay. But hands off, understand?”
He grins happily and nods. “Understand. Completely.” He snickers when he looks down at his hands still grabbing my shoulder and I roll my eyes.
Turns out, Joey is too exhausted and the walk to my bed too long for him to master on his own and in the end I prop him up as best as possible while we make it there together. He is mumbling unintelligible praises in my ear and practically doing zero to help move his body, his legs getting all tangled up once or twice and nearly tearing us both down. I am sweating and swearing when he finally falls down on the bedside that I currently do not use. Groaning, he keeps lying there unmoving, his eyes closed.
I realize he has already half fallen asleep. Or fallen into a coma. I roll my eyes, sigh and grit my teeth but then I crouch down to remove at least his shoes before he sleeps next to me. They are nice, shining black leather shoes, most probably handmade and expensive as hell, and my alcohol-drugged brain needs a minute to undo the laces. I wonder if he ties them himself. There are strange plastic molds in some way attached to his feet but I decide to not explore any further and lift his legs up on the bed. It is a strangely intimate procedure and I feel heat pooling in my stomach. What is happening to me?
His legs seem stiff and still will not straighten, they fall to the side as soon as I let go. To prevent him sleeping totally twisted I wrench two of the many pillows under his knees, one under his head and pull the blanket over him. As I stand above him, contemplating the sharp cheekbones in his face he stirs and his eyes flatter. I find myself crouching down to him, trying to understand his slurred whisper.
“You have nice… birds.”
I blink and look down the front of my green dress. It has two birds on it, their feathers shining red sequins.
I smile despite myself. “Sleep, you fool.”
--> Part II
--> Part II