Ellen checked her makeup. She fixed the collar on her shirt, then closed her compact mirror. With a sigh, she stepped into the lift and waited for the doors to close.
Terrence was in Room 818, waiting for her.
Funny how a string of text messages and a few phone calls had plunged her into her past. Funny how he still held that power over her, some twenty years on. But they were a magnet to each other. Their connection was strong, albeit skin-deep.
When the lift stopped on the eighth floor, Ellen walked out into the corridor towards Terrence’s room. The door was ajar.
‘Hello?’ she said. Her voice was quiet, throaty. Behind her eyes, she saw the two of them, young again, tangled and sweaty in each other’s arms. She wondered if it would be the same.
He was standing in the room, by the window. The city buildings behind him lit up the night sky, twinkling like diamonds. She gazed past him, over his shoulder to the skyscrapers. Standing tall, unwavering, solid, grounded.
Terrence moved towards her. Took her in his arms and began to kiss her. Deja vu overtook her body and senses; her legs trembled, her heart pounded with fear, desire, and…something she couldn’t name.
Her stomach roiled. ‘Wait.’ Ellen gently pushed Terrence away. ‘Let me use the bathroom. Freshen up for you.’
‘Of course. Take your time.’
Once in the stately bathroom, Ellen closed the door and stared into the mirror. Her eyes mocked. Her lips, full and glossy, pouted in shame. Turning on the tap, she let the water fill the sink and placed her fingertips in the cold, shallow pool.
And it hit her.
That feeling, the one she couldn’t name. Coldness. Dislike. Disinterest.
Why was she here? Terrence didn’t like her. She didn’t like him. Besides a strong physical connection, they shared nothing. She was not about to throw her personal growth and positive mindset—all that work she’d done over the last twenty years—away on a one night root with this joker.
Squaring back her shoulders, she looked in the mirror again. This time, the woman staring back cheered her. Ellen grinned and left the bathroom.
Terrence was naked, standing beside the bed, holding his tackle.
Ellen burst out laughing. ‘Sorry,’ she covered her mouth. ‘Sorry,’ she said again, composing herself. ‘This is not about you.’
But it actually was.
‘I can’t do this. I’m leaving.’
And Ellen walked out, taller, more self-assured than when she walked in the room, only ten minutes before. She didn’t look back.