This chapter gets a little bit of a mature-er rating than my usual. But not by much.
“What exactly do you mean by you ‘can’t seem to find the reservation?’ I called and made certain we were booked here before we took off!”
“Well, uh, sir, uh, there seems to be a, uh, computer malfunction?”
“It won’t, uh, turn on so I can’t see any reservations. The, uh, IT guys said it would be half an hour but, uh, it seems they lied. Our network is… It’s down, sir.”
“You don’t have paper records? This is my honeymoon, man, we’re in the honeymoon suite. Can’t you just give us the keys and we’ll sign in when your system is up?”
“I, uh, I can’t do that, you see…”
I really can’t be bothered to pay attention to pay attention to the inept guy at the desk. His computers will be fixed and he’ll remember how to function, eventually. I’m more interested in these ridiculously oversized chandeliers. I bet that just one of them could buy my house ten times over, and all the stone and metal work – I think it’s real gold – could buy Sunset Valley! I’ve never seen anything so beautifully ostentatious in my life, I hope our room lives up to the expectations set by the lobby. Mom’s plane tickets were for Bridgeport, the city of dreams, and just driving through town from the airport to the hotel made me feel tiny as an ant but alive like I’m right in the middle of everything. I can’t wait to explore this city, but first, I have a new husband (husband!) to explore.
Only another half hour of sitting in the opulent lobby before little plastic key cards were placed in the hands of the new Mr. and Mrs. Clarke and we were riding the extravagant elevator up to the honeymoon suite. Just outside the door Berjes bends down and scoops me into his arms. This means that he has to fumble to open the door while I hold on to him for dear life, but he carries me (giggling) across the threshold and into the rooms where we will spend our first days and man and wife together. The carpet is plush, the stones and wood are gleaming and there is wood stacked in the fireplace, just waiting for us. I’m not ready to unpack and settle in just yet, this is our wedding night. This is the night and I’m not waiting a moment longer than I have to. “I’m going to go slip into something more comfortable.” I murmur, trying to keep my voice sultry as I push my husband towards the bedroom. “I’ll be right back.
I’m pretty sure the bathrooms are just as gorgeous as the rest of the hotel, but I’m only paying attention to lacing up my corset as quickly as possible. I feel unbelievably sexy and just a little bit shy as I pose myself by the door.
“Hey yourself…” His voice is just as husky as mine and there’s as much lust in his clear blue eyes “Why don’t you come over here, hm?”
I sashay over to the bed, making sure my hips are swinging seductively and that his eyes stay on the prize. On me.
This is everything I ever thought it could be the passion and the romance, the intimacy… I’m almost glad Berjes made us wait. Almost. The heat of his body pressed against mine is driving me crazy, the way his hands are exploring every inch of me while I contend with his t-shirt; maddening. There’s too much clothing between us, too much space and I just… I want more. I want to make love to my husband. My fingers tug desperately at the flimsy cotton material and then Berjes pulls back. The desire in his face is almost entirely masked by uncertainty. “Lee… Lee I… Can we…”
I don’t let him finish. I can’t believe this!
“I can’t believe this! I just can’t!” I shove Berjes off of me and roll off the bed. Furious, I stride away from the bed, ranting the whole time. “Let’s wait Lee, not right now, wait ’til we’re married. OK Berjes, let’s wait. Well we’re married now! We’re married and you still don’t fucking want to be with me. What the fuck!” The anguish of his rejection is rolling off of my tongue as if it’s actually anger, and I can’t stop, I won’t stop until I’m out of his sight. “Waiting waiting and more damn waiting. Sex isn’t important, who cares what Lee wants, she’ll get over it eventually. Maybe we’ll consummate this in a couple years?” With that, I storm into the bathroom and slam the door shut behind me with all the fury of a grown woman throwing a tantrum.
I’ll take a bath and relax and then we can fight some more, won’t that be a happy honeymoon? There’s a whole separate room for the baths, the walls climbing with ivy and the sound of water trickling from fountains. The air is heavily perfumed and as I soak in the steaming water, the fragrance relaxes me and leeches away my frustration, leaving me with only sadness. The man of my dreams, the only one for me, and I’m… I guess I’m not for him. Why couldn’t he have worked this out 24 hours ago, before we said our “I do’s” or before he proposed – “Lee?” his voice breaks through my thoughts and I splash water onto my face to hide the tears that had been rolling over my cheeks. “Y-yeah?”
“Lee, I’m so sorry… So so sorry. I want you, I do! I never meant to make you feel unloved or unwanted. You’re damn sexy, I fight every second to keep my hands off of you. I wasn’t pushing you away, I was just…” his cheeks flare pink and he can’t look me in the eye “I wanted to ask to turn the lights off. It’s not you. It’s me. And your invisible camera and readers. Listen to me.” He crouches next to the tub, grabbing my hands in his and staring into my eyes. “I’m a little bit uncomfortable with strangers seeing my… My bits. It’s not you I’m pulling away from, it’s them!”
Lights out? Whatever… Bowchickabowwow!!
My eyes flutter open to the tempting scent of roses and double cinnamon soy lattes with strawberry swirls wafting through the sliding doors that connect the bedroom to a little private terrace. As I’m stretching out amongst the luxurious bed linens I see Berjes – my Berjes! – sitting amongst the blooms with an extra coffee mug on the table before him.
He smiles as if he can feel my gaze on him, but doesn’t look at me. “Good morning, lover. Sleep well?”
“Mmm hmm…” I affirm, but it’s only half the truth. I slept well, when he let me sleep, but that wasn’t often. Tired muscles buoy me as I stumble out into the morning, as does the sight of steam still rising from my cup. Hot coffee! “Mmm… My knight in shining pyjamas.”
Our first stop of the morning is the butterfly gardens, I’ve seen butterflies, I’ve seen gardens, I’ve even seen a greenhouse or two in my day, but never anything that’s all three and never anywhere more serene. Berjes and I walk in circles around the pavilion and ever circuit reveals a type of flower we’d never seen before or a glimpse of a zebra butterfly, disappearing into the foliage. We lose the whole morning, trying to coax the shimmering insects onto our fingers and enjoying the company. It’s only the rumbling of my stomach that reminds me that hours have passed since breakfast and it’s well past noon. When Berjes’s belly echoes mine, as if in response, it’s time to go and we head to the nearest eatery.
Much to my lovely husband’s delight, the first food vendor we find is a food truck… Understand this, readers, my man’s a bit of a food snob. I’ve never seen him eat a pizza he hasn’t made or a hamburger he didn’t grind the beef for and as a result I have to ‘sneak’ off to get my junk food fix.
“Pleeeeeeeeease?” plus puppy dog eyes equals sketchy street meat
I’m sure he will forgive me one day, but while we eat he casts such looks of disdain at the enchiladas on his foam plate and at his glowing bride!We decide on a movie, to cap off a beautiful day of wandering around Bridgeport. It hasn’t been super romantic, it hasn’t been full of excitement but is has been absolutely perfect. As it turns out, Berjes and I can be Berjes and I, no matter where in the world we are. From Shang Simla to Booty Bay, I know that our love knows no borders. Who else would take their brand new wife to see “Our Idiot Brother” on their honeymoon but the man who knows her best? We laugh from start to finish, and never once do I wish that we’d gone to a more romantic film.
The hotel dining room is nearly deserted when I stroll in, famished and ready to partake in a dinner that Berjes will approve of. A woman and her grand-daughter sit in the corner of the lounge but there’s not a bartender, waiter, hostess or other diners to be seen. Just me, the two ladies and a grand piano that’s beckoning to me from the small stage. If I need to wait to be seated, there’s no point in waiting idly. I approach the piano and smile to note that it’s the same make as the one I have at home, just black instead of white. If it had been white the dust sitting on it’s surface wouldn’t be so noticeable. I run my fingers over the polished wood, leaving parallel streaks on the neglected surface and can’t help but sigh. I bet it’s not even in tune any longer.
“Can I help you, miss?” The man must have footsteps like whispers, ’cause I never heard him coming.
“I… I was just admiring your piano. I’ve got one just like it at home, except white.” I admit, turning my back to the instrument and moving to leave the raised platform “My husband will be down from our room shortly, we’d like a table for two for dinner please.”
As if I’d never uttered the last sentence, the restaurant manager’s eyes begin to gleam in a way that makes me nervous. “So you play, then?”
“Y-yes, a little bit…”
“You must play for us! It’s been so long since we’ve heard music coming from this thing. It just sits and collects dust – as I’m sure you can see. Won’t you play a tune?”
My nightmare. “N-no… I’m a little rusty and my husband will be down any second.”
“Just a short number, surely he won’t mind waiting. Come now.”
“I can’t, I’m sorry, but no.” I wish my voice sounded firmer, as firm as the hand on my shoulder, trying to guide me towards the worn piano bench. All that’s firm about me is the way my feet are planted on the floor. I’m paralyzed by my fear that he’ll force me to play.
A moment later I’m surrounded. The older woman has left her grand-daughter to her cellphone and a young waitress has appeared to join her boss in haranguing me.
“Please dear, play something for us. I do so enjoy a good sonata.”
“Ohmigash you can play piano? That’s sooooo cool. Can you play One Less Lonely Sim?”
“You must play, this instrument should not go to waste!”
They’re unrelenting, demanding I play despite my increasingly timid refusals. Seagulls are flapping wildly in my stomach and my knees are weak, my head is full of their insistent pleas for just one song, but I know I can’t play a note for them… Imagine if I did!
I can picture myself, sitting on the leather with my fingers plunking out keys and it feels more real than the situation I’m in right now. My head is whirling and I can hear them laughing – cackling – as I press note after note. “She can’t play!” the manager exclaims. “Ugh! This is like, so bad.” from the waitress. “Terrible! Cacophonous noise! She’s abusing the instrument.” “Awful!” “Horrendous!” “Did she say she could play?! This is worse than rusty.” “This is hilarious, ohmigawsh she’s sooooo bad. I’m gonna put this on YouTube!”
I can’t breathe! I can’t play, I can’t breathe… I can’t! I… I…
“What the hell did you do to her?!”
A furious voice cuts through my panic. I’m backed into a corner, on the floor, an elephant on my chest, stars swirling in my head and my cheeks and knees soaked in tears.
“We just… We just asked her to play!”
“And she said no, didn’t she? But you three wouldn’t let up. Now look what you’ve done! Go! Get away from us! JUST GO!” He moves to my side, rubbing my back gently. “Lee, oh Lee… I’m sorry I wasn’t here sooner, baby. It’s OK, hush now, it’s OK.”
Berjes knows just how to calm me down, whispering to me in soothing tones as he guides me to my feet and holds me close to him. On our way out, I’m dimly aware of the manager apologizing profusely and assuring us that we’ll eat and drink on the house for the rest of our visit. We pause only long enough for Berjes to demand dinner be sent up to our room.
With dinner sitting in our stomachs and my nerves still shot, Berjes lights the fire and helps me into my most comfortable pyjamas before lowering me onto the tacky yet deliciously soft leopard fur carpet. We hold each other close and whisper sweet nothings in each others ears, stealing kisses and coaxing smiles until all my tension melts away. “My knight.” I murmur before he claims the my lips and like a romance novel he makes love to me on the pelt of a wild animal as we’re warmed by nearby flames. Our next day is much the same as the last; we wander the city and visit every attraction in walking distance of the hotel. Brunch at a nearby cafe is followed by a visit to the art gallery. I have high hopes but can’t find much art – it’s not even debatable, we have a better gallery back home. We visit every park we can find and tour the streets of the stars in a double-decked bus. We get directions from a stranger to the best views of the city and check the newspaper to see where the hotspots are… Tonight, I want to dance!
Back at the hotel, after a quick dinner at the hotel restaurant (with truly impeccable service) we’re back in our room getting ready for a night out. I pull on my slinkiest dress and spin before the mirror – twisting this way and that as I admire the way the fabric hugs my curves.
“If you don’t stop showing yourself off like that, we won’t be going out tonight.” Berjes warns me and I can see in his eyes that he means it.
“If you don’t get dressed, we won’t be going out tonight. Go put on something nice, won’t you love? I really want to dance tonight.” Truth be told, there’s a lot I want to do tonight and as I do my makeup I watch my husband get ready to go out and can’t help but wonder if it wouldn’t be more fun if we just stayed in and ‘danced.’
Tonight is the first night we do something that we couldn’t do at home. Sure, we can visit Corriente any night of the week, wander through the doors in whatever we wore all day and drink, dance and relax the night away but there will never be a bouncer turning away those who aren’t up to the expected caliber of their clients. Luckily, we have no such problem when we reach the nightclub. We watch couples get turned away before us but once Berjes has spoken to the bouncer, he ushers us in as if we’re VIPs! The room is packed with bodies, music is pounding and there’s hardly a seat that hasn’t been filled or a spot on the dance floor to be found. Everyone is dressed to the nines and I spy paparazzi in the corners, stalking the real VIPs as they seclude themselves in booths. The most popular people aren’t the celebrities, but the bartenders. We line up with the crowds to wait for drinks and watch in awe as bottles flip through the air and alcohol is lit on fire. Each cocktail is a spectacle and when ours are finally delivered into our hands (once we’ve handed over three times their worth in simoleans) and we take our first sips, I know we’ll be rejoining the queue shortly. They’re amazing!! Eventually, we hit the dance floor. Berjes is tentative at first, I think it’s something to do with his gender, but soon they play a song he likes and he’s shaking his hips just like the rest of us. As the night wears on, the crowd grows denser and denser and Berjes and I are pushed off into a back corner to continue to dance. The crowd has pressed close on all sides and I’m right where I always want to be, in the arms of the man I love, perfectly happy.
It’s already the wee hours of the morning by the time we arrive at the hotel. For hours we’ve been in the closest of quarters with one another and the most public of places. I’ve hardly gotten a kiss but we have exchanged plenty of smouldering gazes. The elevator can’t reach us soon enough and as soon as the doors start to slide shut behind us Berjes begins to make up for ‘lost’ time. Can’t get a camera in here!
We drag ourselves out of bed late in the morning, but I can’t feel guilty that we spent much of our last day in Bridgeport under covers. Eager for some glamour, we spend the day touring the studio lots and seeing where movies and TV shows are filmed. Stars and interns bustle around as we’re led through hallways and given sneak peeks into sound stages before ushering us out of the building and over to where they keep their larger sets. Armed with a camera, Berjes and I take full advantage of the freedom they’re giving us and shoot picture after picture of ourselves goofing around like we’re children.
When we’re eventually kicked off the lot night has fallen but it’s still too early for our vacation to end! We wander the brightly lit street until we’re lost amongst the skyscrapers. The stars that shine so bright at home are dim compared to the shining buildings, blinking signs and twinkling streetlamps. It’s like being in another world, full of hustle and bustle that doesn’t exist in Sunset Valley… A vacation from tranquility!
The sounds of live music call us down into a dingy basement bar, full of people and fabulous live music. I drop a tip and my business card into a hat on the ground – just because I’m on my honeymoon, doesn’t mean I have to stop scouting for talent. They won’t call, won’t come out to tiny Sunset Valley, but I wish they would. Berjes and I spend the rest of the night dancing with abandon like the rest of the patrons. A wonderful end to the very beginning of my life as a married woman. It’s been a great trip but I’m ready to get back home and see my new house and settle down with Berjes at my side.