Shannon is a young talented movie star celebrating the release of her new blockbuster. Jay is struggling to rebuild her life and hiding a dark secret. They meet and spend two nights together, forging a connection that neither can let go. With their lives heading in different directions, they agree not to stay in touch. Ten years later, with their fortunes reversed, they meet again and neither has been able to forget the other. Will this time be different? Can they have a real chance at love? Or will Jay’s secret and a tragic event pull them apart again?
The hotel phone was ringing. Shannon, still wrapped in Jay’s arms, untangled herself, reached for it, and knocked it to the floor. She was still tired from yesterday and last night.
“Shit!” She scrambled off the bed and picked up the phone. “Hello?”
“Hello, Ms Dempsey. This is your seven a.m. wake-up call.”
“Thank you,” she replied, heart sinking. She glanced over to the bed where Jay watched her, a look of sadness on her own face. “Hey,” she said as she put the phone down.
“Hey,” Jay replied softly. “You need to get ready. I’ll go.”
“No! I mean, it’s fine. I have the room until two thirty. Stay, enjoy room service, sleep.” She forced a joviality into her voice that she didn’t feel.
“I’ll stay until you leave then. I don’t want to be here after you’ve…” Gone. Left me. Back to your real life in Hollywood.
“Sure,” Shannon replied and nodded.
Jay watched as she went to the wardrobes and started throwing clothes into her suitcase. With a strange heaviness in her heart, she got up herself and pulled on her jeans and T-shirt.
She followed Shannon into the bathroom where they brushed their teeth together, an oddly intimate act that sent another pang of sadness through her.
Shannon gathered up her few toiletries, scooped them into a small designer bag, and zipped it up.
“You want tea?” Jay asked her.
“No, thank you,” Shannon said politely, without looking up from her suitcase.
Jay felt the distance growing between them. It widened gradually, as she sat on the bed, sipping tea, watching Shannon apply makeup, force tongs through her beautiful wavy hair, watching as it steamed itself straight.
She pulled on low-slung, tight jeans, high-heeled boots, and a skimpy T-shirt. Turning, she faced Jay.
“How do I look?” she asked.
Jay grinned weakly.
“That good, huh?” she asked sarcastically and turned away again.
“No, you look great. It’s just…you don’t look like you.”
Jay saw Shannon’s body tense and realised she’d said the wrong thing. Shannon spun around.
“How the fuck would you know who I am? Jay, we spent a couple of nights screwing. Don’t make it more than it is.”
Jay nodded and ignored the sharp stab of pain. Shannon was right; they didn’t know each other at all.
“I’m sorry. Now I’m the asshole.” Shannon walked towards her, but stopped when Jay held up her hand and stepped back.
“Don’t be. It’s true. We don’t know each other. We just fucked. A lot.” She tried a smile, but it felt wooden on her face.
“We could…we could keep in touch? Maybe?” Shannon asked.
“No, I don’t think so.”
Shannon winced. “You’re probably right.”
“It’s not that I don’t want to, but… I mean, come on, what would we talk about?” Jay asked.
“We managed okay the last few days,” Shannon replied softly.
“Shannon.” Jay walked towards her. She wanted to hold her, but instead, lifted her chin with one finger and brought her face up to meet her eyes. “What would we say to each other? ‘Hey, I won an Oscar!’ ‘Great, I stacked a bunch of shelves with baked beans.’ You see?”
Shannon nodded, and the look in her eyes told Jay she did see. She nodded again and put her arms around Jay’s neck. She kissed her gently on the lips. “I had a great time,” she whispered.
“Yes, me too.” Jay blinked once, then looked away, swallowing hard.
The phone rang again, then rang off. “That’s my car,” Shannon said, breaking the embrace. “Well, take care of yourself, Jay. If you’re ever in Hollywood, look me up?”
Jay laughed, although it felt dangerously close to a sob. “Yes, I will. Good-bye, Shannon.”
“Bye, baby.” Shannon left, wheeling her suitcase behind her. Jay sat down on the bed, feeling heartbroken and unsure why. You’ve only known her for five minutes. What is wrong with you?
It was this room. She had to get out of here. She waited until she was sure Shannon would not be in the corridor, then picked up her jacket and left, pulling the door shut hard behind her.
Eden lives in London with her partner and their small, earless rescue cat. She runs her own business, and when she’s not working or writing, can usually be found rowing up and down the Thames.