We hung out with the boys for the rest of the day, Jess getting progressively closer – literally – to Kyle, while Denny was happy to laugh and mess around with me after he’d picked my brain about who Theo was and whether he should be worried. I’d laughed it off, but he must have sensed my conflict because he didn’t make a pass or push his luck the whole time we chatted and laughed in the sun. I was grateful. So were the few girls sun-bathing nearby who Denny gave the eye a few times. The fact that I wasn’t bothered spoke volumes. I couldn’t think beyond Theo’s summons to dinner and whether I would be going, but I kept my frustrating debate to myself. When Jess had asked what went down with him, I’d given her a condensed version of the truth, and I neglected to mention Theo’s dinner request. We’ve saved forever and waited just as long to have this holiday. I feel bad enough that Theo has showed up and interrupted it. I won’t give Jess reason to believe it will be ruined beyond that. No dinner.
I make a conscious effort not to get totally wasted, sipping sensibly for the rest of the day. I need to keep my wits about me. Jess, however, doesn’t take it so easy. She’s well and truly pissed as we wander through the casino floor, heading for the elevators that’ll take us up to our room. It’s six thirty p.m., and the atmosphere around us is pumping.
‘I had the best day,’ Jess slurs, punching the call button for the elevator. ‘Let’s shower and head out.’
I laugh as we enter the lift. ‘You sure you don’t need a power nap?’ I’m hoping it’s a resounding yes, because I’m feeling sluggish after a hard day sunbathing, socializing, and pretending I’m not in internal turmoil.
‘Hell, no.’ The doors close and carry us up to the twelfth floor. ‘If I sit down, I won’t get up again. Power through.’ She raises her arm to cheer herself on, and then staggers back. I catch her just before she hits the wall.
‘We’ll head out at midnight.’ I try to reason with her. If we go out now, I’ll be carrying her home by eleven. ‘Denny said things only get going then, anyway. Have a nap.’
‘No.’ She’s adamant, leading the way when the doors open, zigzagging down the corridor. ‘No one sleeps in Vegas.’
I smile with an exasperated shake of my head and take the key card from her fumbling fingers when she fails after three attempts to get it in the slot. ‘There.’ I push the door open and let her go first before following her in. ‘I’m going to jump straight in the shower,’ I call.
‘I’m going to find the Red Bull.’
I close the bathroom door behind me and turn the temperature dial of the shower to cool, quickly stripping down and hopping in. I groan, letting the water rain all over me for a few relaxing moments before I wash my hair, shave, and scrub.
I jump out and grab a towel. ‘All yours,’ I say as I leave the bathroom, coming to a stop at the sight of Jess sprawled on the bed. My shoulders drop, and I heave a deep sigh. She’s unconscious and snoring lightly. ‘No one sleeps in Vegas,’ I say to myself, pulling in my towel and settling on my bed, annoyed that I’m now more than awake after my shower. I flick on the television and scroll through the channels a few times, hoping tiredness will return soon and I can join Jess for a few hours’ sleep before we head out.
Fifteen minutes later, I’m still wide awake and getting quite pissed off about it. ‘Jess.’ I shake her and get a few snorts in return. ‘Wake up.’
Nothing. She’s out for the count.
I growl to myself and flip on to my front, burying my face in the pillow. This isn’t good. I have nothing to focus on except the images in my head. Of him. ‘Damn it,’ I mutter, glancing at the clock. Seven o’clock. I roll over and stare up at the ceiling, my thoughts speeding into overdrive.
Just do it, I tell myself. Open your mind. I have two choices. Meet him, or stay here and drive myself mad thinking about him. I sit up abruptly, my eyes darting around the dim room. This is crazy, but no matter how hard I try to push him away, the bottom line is, I want to see him. For my sins, I want to see Theo Kane. Test him. Try to figure him out. Explore the insanely deep effect we seem to have on each other.
I jump up before I can change my mind, and fly to the wardrobe, flicking through the hangers of clothes. After too much deliberation, I settle on a cream – probably too tight – cap-sleeved dress and some muted gold sandals. Keeping my foundation light, my green eyes heavy with smudged grey eyeliner, and my lips bare, I scrunch my waves into a tousled mess and run fingers coated in serum though the ends, giving it extra shine. I stand back from the mirror, chewing my lip, nervous as shit. But I have to do this. I’m going around in circles and Theo is following closely behind. Bite the bullet. Dip a toe. See what happens.