Chapter 2 Unexpected Encounters

1952 Words
*Shelby* “Todd?” I said, completely dumbfounded by the fact that my very recent ex-boyfriend was standing in front of me with his arm around Lauren. “Yes, I’m Lauren’s boyfriend. Lauren told me one of her old roommates would be joining us.” “Um, yes. I’m Shelby.” At first, I didn’t understand why Todd would act like he didn’t know me, but then a lump formed in my throat. Lauren said they had been together for four months. “Shelby, you should go get changed, and we can all go up to dinner together on the rooftop deck,” Lauren said, completely missing the strangeness of my interaction with Todd. Nodding, I glanced back at Todd and Lauren and quickly wished I hadn’t. Todd was kissing Lauren again, but he winked at me. “You are in the first room to the right, Miss Shelby,” a staff member said. “Thank you so much….” “There is an intercom in your room. If you need anything, just press the button, and someone downstairs will respond,” the staffer, whose name tag read Molly, said. I nodded and opened the door to my room. The size and luxury of the room were unlike anything I had ever experienced, with a king-size bed covered in a white silk comforter and a lounge area with two sofas. I sighed and threw myself onto the bed face-down in the comforter. It seemed like a bad dream that Todd was here, pretending he didn’t know me, let alone that he had dated me for two years.   We were comfortable, and our relationship was secure, or so I thought. It started with little things, like Todd bailing on plans we’d made and how he stopped inviting me to spend any time at his place. Aubrey was always suspicious of Todd, but I never questioned him. I knew, deep down, that he was cheating on me, but I went on pretending because it was easier than losing him. I didn’t have to pretend for very long, because he dumped me the day before graduation.   I’d cried for hours but I’d picked myself up the morning of graduation and packed away my pain. I would not let Todd, or anyone else, see me beaten; I thought maybe that would make me a good lawyer one day.   And now he was dating Lauren.   During college, we were very different people. Lauren attended NYU for the party life and never missed an opportunity to go out and have fun. I spent most of my time studying to ensure I didn’t lose my scholarship. Even though we had our differences, we got along for the most part, and while we were living together, we became close friends. I allowed myself a few more moments of self-pity before pulling myself off the bed. I made my way to my suitcase and rolled it into the connecting ensuite. Just as I finished touching up my copper tone eyeshadow, which complimented my red hair and gray eyes, I heard the click of the door latch opening. “Hey, are you ready? Everyone else is here, and we are all heading up to eat,” Lauren said while she burst into the room without bothering to knock. “Yeah. Perfect timing. I just finished.” I walked out of the ensuite and saw Lauren standing in a floor-length dress made of silvery fabric. She took one quick look at my outfit and said nothing, obviously unimpressed by my simple choice. I followed her out into the hallway, where three women and four men in black tie attire talked among themselves. Lauren made quick introductions, but the only name I caught was that of the tall brunette woman, Megan, the one with the private jet.   “Megan, how was the flight here?” Lauren asked. “Oh, it was the worst. My mom had to take the big jet to Japan for some business conference, so we were stuck with the little jet. Hudson nearly hits his head on the ceiling because it is so small.” Megan threw a seductive look at the tall man with blond hair and piercing blue eyes.   “Well, I am sure you didn’t have the worst flight. Shelby had to fly commercial.” Lauren said.   “You poor thing. I hear that’s horrible. Do you really have to sit next to strangers?” “Yeah, you do, but in first class, you have a lot more room to yourself,” I said, remembering how Lauren told me to tell everyone I flew first class, even though I didn’t.   Luckily, the one dig at me seemed to be enough for Lauren because she got distracted by Todd. “You are the sexiest woman I have ever met,” Todd said as he ran his hand up Lauren’s arm. I ate my meal in silence and tried my best not to watch Lauren and Todd. I made it all the way to the dessert course before I couldn’t take it anymore and quietly slipped away from the table. Of course, no one saw me leave; if they did, no one cared.     As the door closed behind me, a few tears started streaming down my face. I had to get back to my room before anyone found me crying. I was angry and hurt that Todd had been cheating on me the whole time, and now I had to spend my vacation watching him and Lauren together. I was so distracted in my thoughts that I ran straight into a rock-solid chest. All I could see was a dark suit jacket. I pulled back and continued to try to hold back my tears. “I am so sorry; I should have been watching where I was going,” I said while trying to plan my escape. When I looked up at who I had run into, I was met with the most dazzling eyes I had ever seen.   “Are you okay, Miss?” *** *Michael* Walking down the hallway, my mind was on how my quiet and relaxing vacation with my daughter had quickly turned into me hosting a summer-long party. I hadn’t intended for her to invite all these people. Todd, her new boyfriend, seemed nice, but I had just met him. Lauren was so spoiled. I wasn’t sure how that had happened since I’d only known her a few years. Before I headed to my stateroom, I figured I better play the welcoming host and go up to greet Lauren and her friends.   As I turned a corner, I bumped into someone. The woman had her head down, so all I could see was her wavy hair, a deep red shade I had never seen before. “I am so sorry; I should have been watching where I was going,” the red-haired beauty said. When her eyes finally met mine, I was surprised at the color, a light blue, glistening with tears. “Are you okay, miss?” I said in response. She, very obviously, was not okay.    “Yes. I’m just heading back to my room, uh, sir,” she said as she straightened up, obviously not wanting to be caught crying. “Oh right,” I said, suddenly realizing that she’d called me sir, so she must be one of the maids. “Before you do that, would you head up to my stateroom and unpack my luggage?”  “Oh… I am… uh….” She started staring at the floor and her cheeks flushed slightly. I stood waiting for her response. I thought it was cute how flustered she was. “Yes,” she stammered, her face flushing an even darker shade of pink. “Thank you so much,” I said with a smile. She turned quickly and headed in the opposite direction.   I couldn’t help but stare as she walked away. She had one of those figures that required a double take to fully appreciate. As she slipped around a corner and out of sight, I sighed, knowing I needed to make an appearance upstairs. I continued that way. I walked out onto the deck, where a large dining table was placed and decorated with an extravagant centerpiece. “Daddy!” Lauren screamed. It looked as though their dinner party was just wrapping up; waiters were clearing away everything from the table. Lauren ran over and hugged me. “Hello, sweetheart,” I said and kissed the top of her head. “Is everything going alright?” “Everything has gone perfectly so far. The yacht is so awesome; I think my friends could die out of jealousy.” I remained silent, not knowing how to respond to Laurens's need to be the envy of other people. I would leave figuring that out to Lauren’s mother, Marmie. We hardly spoke other than when she needed money from me, which was more often than I’d like. “Good evening, Mr. Astor,” Todd said as he made his way over and shook my hand. “It is good to see you again, Todd,” I said. “Likewise. I’d like to discuss a real estate investment I am working on for a client when you have the time. I would love to get your opinion.” “Of course. We can talk about it tomorrow night over some drinks.” I answered.    “I look forward to it, Mr. Astor.” I continued to greet Lauren’s friends and make small talk for as long as I could manage.  I made my exit by lifting a glass of champagne in the air and toasting, “To an amazing summer.” Lauren’s friends echoed my toast, and I slipped out and headed over to a hidden elevator, which went up one more floor to my stateroom and private deck. I opened the double doors to my stateroom and was slightly disappointed that the maid I had met earlier was already gone. My suitcase was missing from where I left it at the end of the bed, so she must have come and gone while I was greeting my guests.   I poured myself a glass of whiskey. Taking a long sip of my drink, I couldn’t stop my mind from wandering back to the maid I’d run into. Her black dress fit her slender frame perfectly and showed off her amazingly long legs. It’d been a long time since someone had caught my attention as she did. She did seem much younger than me, though. I wasn’t sure whether that would be a problem. I walked over to the screen mounted on the wall next to the door, and at the press of a button, the wall of windows at the far end of the room slid open, eliminating the barrier between my living room and private deck.   That feature was one of the main reasons I purchased this yacht. I thought there would be nothing better than feeling the ocean breeze and hearing the waves, even while hiding away in my stateroom.   I stepped onto my deck and could see the dinner party continuing without me one deck below. The muffled sounds of conversation and laughing were the only sound drifting up to me. I sat in a deck chair and threw back the rest of my whiskey.   I watched the white foamy wake following the yacht as we moved through the water. It was the only way I could tell we were moving as the sky darkened to a deep blue. I closed my eyes and imagined a pair of eyes staring back at me. A pair of enchanting gray eyes. 
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