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Authors: Annie Jocoby

Beautiful Illusions

BOOK: Beautiful Illusions
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Beautiful Illusions

Annie Jocoby

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter One

Iris

I woke up in a strange hotel room. Cotton mouth, a strange, sweet taste on my tongue, a feeling that every muscle was bloated and filled with liquid. My head was pounding, my hands shaking. My hair hurt, and the light streaming through the window was just.too.bright. I attempted to run one hand through my hair, but the hand was caught in a massive tangle. I pulled on my hair, then gave up. The tangle was not going to come out. I felt nauseated, and the sensation that came over me was that I was about to hurl. I swallowed hard several times until the feeling passed. I had no idea where the bathroom was, and the last thing I wanted to do was throw up in the bed. Where was I? And who was this guy in this bed? A head of dark hair, but the body was covered in a sheet. He was breathing heavily, evidently knocked cold.

I surreptitiously sneaked out of the bed, hoping that my
clothes were around somewhere. On tip-toe, I prowled around the room. It seemed to be a very nice room. A suite, in fact. I didn't have time to really look around, though. I had to get out of there. I got on my hands and knees, looking under the bed. Nothing was there. I crawled around the room, becoming frantic at the prospect of not being able to find my clothes. I finally got up, and tip-toed out of the room, and into the next room.

Through bleary eyes, my head pounding like a Stuart Copeland drum solo, I finally saw my clothes in a pile. My precious red Mary Jane Jimmy Choos,
which I spent way too much on, were next to the white sofa. My skirt and shirt were next to them.

I breathed a sigh of relief.

I looked at my hand, which was shaking. I didn't know if I was shaking because of the situation or because of the effects of the hangover.

Probably both.

I got dressed, then realized that I had no idea where my purse was. Panic started anew in my throat. By now, I was beginning to understand that this particular suite was gorgeous. Modern art on the walls, and the furniture was modern as well. Distinctively modern. Soft white leather, chrome feet. Marble coffee table in front. Enormous flat screen TV. There were orchids on a glass table by the window.

This guy certainly had
taste.

Just then I heard my ring tone. Radiohead's
Creep.
It was across the room, and I shot over to my  purse. My ring tone was so fucking loud! I immediately silenced it. But, the phone helped me find my purse, so there was that.

Then I crept out the door, shutting it gently behind me.

In the cab on the way home, I tried to piece it all together.

Where was I? I w
as doing shots in a bar. Happy Hour. I met a guy last night. Obviously. I couldn't remember much about him. I don't think that I could pick him out of a lineup at this point.

You're too old for this shit.
It had been a good ten years since I was in college, and college was the last time I had this kind of slutty one night stand.
I don't even remember why I started drinking so much. My thoughts were hazy, and I felt exhausted, like every cell in my body was filled with alcohol.

Let me see...I was going to meet a guy off the Internet. That didn't pan out. Of course. I don't think that he even showed up. And I...went up to a guy and started chatting with him
. Which was totally like me. When I am drinking, anyhow. Otherwise, I'm painfully shy and insecure about myself.

I didn't remember too many details. Everything was a blur.

I examined my phone, holding my breath.
Please, please, please let there not be any dialed calls late last night.
Shaking, I looked through my log of dialed calls. Drunk dialing would be just like me. There should be some kind of invention where the phone could tell if you have had a few too many and prevent you from calling anybody.

Nothing was on the dialed calls log.

I sighed in relief.

Then I just sighed.

I'm too old for this shit.

I looked again at the call log, to see who had actually called me this morning. It was my best friend, Debbie. I called a cab, then called her on my drive home.

“Yeah,” I said. “What’s up?”

“Hey there, girlfriend, how you doing?”

“Great, great.” Or, I would be doing great if I didn’t have the overwhelming feeling that I was about to hurl. The motion of the cab was literally making me gag.

This was going to be a long cab ride home.

“Oh, I did something really, really stupid,” I said.

“What’s that?”

“I met somebody and went home with him. I just got done taking the walk of shame, and I’m in the cab right now.”

“Groovy,” she said. “You need to get laid. How long has it been?”

“Since the early stone age,” I said. “At least. One thing, though.”

“What’s that?”

“I don’t remember any of it. I have no idea who was in the bed next to me this morning.”
Oh, god, this is so embarrassing
.


So, what are you doing now?”

“I gotta pit bull rescue to do. I really don’t feel like it. I just want to go home and go to bed. And puke. I need to seriously puke. But that dog needs me, so I gotta go.”

“That’s too bad. I was calling to see if you wanted to have lunch somewhere.”

“Maybe tomorrow. Sunday brunch maybe.”

“Sure, let’s meet for brunch.”

At that, we made a date to meet at a restaurant that was central to both of us. It’s a place that serves a hearty brunch buffet
. Right at that moment, though, any kind of food sounded unappetizing, to say the very least.

I went home, actually made myself throw up, changed, then went to the abandoned house where a pit bull was left in the basement after the owners were foreclosed. It was scary how many of these calls we get. I went to the house, permit to enter in hand, opened the door and went downstairs. There was a 9-month-old puppy down there, whining and barking. When she saw me, her entire little body squirmed with delight. I kneeled down, and she licked me on the face profusely. I had a bag of food with me, a jug of water and a bowl, and I fed her and gave her
the water. She wolfed down the food, looked to me for more, and gulped the water.

“There, there, my little one,” I said. “That’s all you can have for now, but you’ll get more in the shelter, I promise.
” She licked me some more as I unchained her, leashed her, put her in my car, and took her to a shelter. I had a large carrier in the car, and I could hear her whining.

I prayed that she would find a forever home quickly.

Pit bulls really are the sweetest dogs.

After my rescue mission, I headed home and passed out on the couch.

Oh, I’m never drinking again.

Chapter
Two

On Monday morning, I arrived at my law office,
where my assistant greeted me. Melinda had hair that was variously blue or green in the front, and when I called her, I was subjected to a Ramone's song. I didn't generally dig the Ramones. The Sex Pistols, maybe, but not the Ramones. Still, she was fun, cool and efficient. Everybody loved her, including me.

I noticed a guy sitting on the couch, in my peripheral vision. I wasn't aware that I had somebody coming in.

I looked quizzically at Melinda.

She motioned me to come a little closer. I bent my head down, then she said in a low voice “this guy's here to see you.”

I looked at the man, and my heart quickened. He was the most beautiful man I had ever seen. In.my.life. Thick dark hair. Eyes greener than I had ever seen. He looked at me, an impish smile on his chiseled face, and, when he smiled, I noticed that his teeth were perfect, like he spent his entire younger years in braces. He was wearing an expensive-looking tailor-made grey suit with a silk shirt underneath. Italian shoes.

I won
dered why he would be in my office. He definitely didn't look the type who would be slumming with a bargain-basement divorce lawyer like myself, or filing for personal bankruptcy. Those were my two major areas of practice. I did some criminal law, as well, and he for sure didn't look like the kind of guy who would need a criminal attorney. Well, maybe a white collar criminal attorney, but those are the big wigs in the high rises. I was as far from a big wig as you could possibly imagine.

At the same time, he looked so familiar....

No. It couldn't be.

Beautiful man stood up and smiled broadly.

Tentatively, I said “Hello. Can I help you?”

His smile disappeared. He ran one of his hands through his thick mane of dark hair, his head slightly cocked down, his mesmerizing eyes looking at me questioningly.

I drew a breath.

His face turned red. “Uh, I'm here to see you.”

“Oh, ok, sure. My office is right there,” I said, pointing to the door.

What the hell?

He followed me in. Files were piled on the desk and on the floor, and on top of the computer.

“Sorry about that,” I said, frantically taking the piles on the desk and putting them on the floor behind me. I was suddenly nervous, and had no real idea why. This guy was magnetic, so he made me nervous, but it was more than that. I couldn't quite place him, but my subconscious mind knew exactly who he was. My subconscious just refused to communicate with me at the moment. “Have a seat.”

He sat down on the red tweed chair. My office was small, about 10 x 10, which was all I could afford. Although I was an attorney, I definitely was not a highly paid one. I spent most of my time worrying about people who didn’t pay their bills, and chasing after them. Plus, my student loans from 7 years of schooling were choking the life out of me.

He still had a quizzical look in those beautiful green eyes.

Then he began. “You don't remember me, do you?”

I bit my lip and raised my eyebrows in an expression that said “no, sorry.”

He looked down. “I'm really embarrassed. I guess I didn't know that you were that drunk the other night.”

At this point, I could feel my heart in my throat. No. It couldn't be. Never in a million years would I end up with somebody who looks like him. Never. I must be on
Punk'd
or something.

Taking a deep breath, not really wanting to jump to conclusions, I said “I'm so sorry. I don't know what you mean.”

“Harry's Bar. You and I doing shots together. Any of this ringing a bell?”

It was my turn to be embarrassed. Actually, it should've been my turn to be embarrassed when I first saw him.
It was now becoming clear. I just didn't think that I would ever catch the eye of a guy like this.

And I really didn't think that I would ever see my hotel mystery man again.

“Um, did any of those shots happen to be te-killya?” I asked.

He smiled. “A few.”

I felt tears coming to my eyes. I had no idea why. I lowered my head, putting it in my hands, then peeked through my hands at him. He was smiling again, and I was completely captivated. God, this guy could completely light up a pitch black room. Just the same, ending up with him was a lucky shot on my part, that no doubt included beer goggles for him. I mean, I was halfway decent looking – could lose a few pounds -  but this guy belonged with a Kate Upton clone.

“Gosh, I'm so embarrassed. Uh, I didn't act a fool, did I?” Of
course I did. I usually did act a fool after tequila.

“Not at all. You came up to me, and before I knew it, we were chatting like we were old friends. We talked for hours about everything from liberal politics to Oscar Wilde. I was quite impressed with your knowledge of
The Importance of Being Earnest.
” He paused. “I think we even talked about the Kardashians.”

BOOK: Beautiful Illusions
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