By the time I got to the Hilton Hotel, I was seriously out of breath and looking supremely unprofessional. The young doorboy (whose golden name tag said ‘Beck’) tried to suppress a smile as he held the doors open for me.
I paused and looked over at him. “Yeah, how’d you tell?”
His gaze roamed over my wonky shoes, sweaty shirt and flushed cheeks. “I can tell.”
Was I that obvious? Great.
“Umm. Do you know where I’m meant to go, or?”
The boy motioned towards the reception desk. “Ask Ciara, she’ll know.”
He chuckled and tipped his hat. “Enjoy your first day.”
The door closed behind him, and I was left all alone in the cool foyer.
I tottered up to the front desk and rang the bell. A girl my age stuck her head around the corner of a doorway behind the booth and smiled.
“Hi there! You must be Emma!”
She was wearing the same uniform clothes as I was, but had somehow managed to wear it elegantly, and looked pretty, like she fit in with all the fancy décor of the hotel. Her black hair was neatly twisted into a bun and one curly stand hung loose, giving her the elegant look of unsymmetrical chic. The wide smile she gave me was friendly enough, so I took her outstretched hand and shook it, nodding.
“That’s me. Nice to meet you.”
“I’m Ciara.” She tapped her shiny badge with a manicured finger. “Come on in, just behind here.” I walked through the door she held open for me, and looked around at the little desk.
“You’re a little late - that’s okay though, no need to worry. I’ll look after you.” She winked at me, and I grinned sheepishly.
“Actually, I’ve been assigned your buddy for the summer, sooooo --“
Ciara kept on chattering animatedly, but I didn’t mind. She was eager, and I was only too happy to share her excitement. It was a relief, after the morning’s encounter with that Ashton.
I began to imagine spending the rest of the holidays working with Ciara. We’d become good friends, and spend the hours messing around like those girls in the Malteser ad. The day was definitely looking up.
“Just chuck your bag and stuff in here, you can access it any time. It’s kinda like our common room out there - the door code’s written there.”
Ciara kept on talking as she pointed to a little stick-it note on the corner of the desk. I jumped. It said 5SOS.
I blinked, and looked closer before letting out a breath of relief - it said 5505. What was wrong with me?
“Uhh, Ciara?” She snapped to attention and giggled.
“Sorry, am I going to fast?”
I blushed. “No, no, it’s fine. I was just wondering - what exactly is my job here?” I sounded so lame, and I instantly regretted asking, but Ciara just grinned and took it in her stride.
“Emma, I’m so sorry! I tend to talk heaps, don’t I? It’s not normally this bad, I’m just all flustered this morning because there’s a special group of people coming - OH MY GOD. Stop!” She whacked her forehead.
“Concentrate,” she muttered to herself.
“Okay. Your job for the next month. Act as receptionist, kitchen staff, cleaning staff, wherever you’re needed the most. Every morning, you gotta check in here, before 7 o’clock,” she winked at me, “and read this register - it has all the important info on it that you’ll need to know. Kinda like a daily announcement sheet for the staff.”
With a swift click, she brought up a spreadsheet on the computer next to her. I could see highlighted notices and a flashing box labeled “RECEPTION”.
“You mark yourself into a job like this.“ Ciara neatly clicked on the box, and it stopped flickering. She typed my name in under hers.
“Today, you’re just on the front bench with me,” she added, in case I hadn’t got it (I had).
“I’ll explain the other stuff later - we’ll always share jobs, so if you need a hand -“ She grinned up at me and held out a palm. “I’m here to help.”
It’d been only half an hour, and I already knew what Ciara’s favourite colour was, what primary school she went to, and that she had a crush on Beck, the doorboy I met earlier. She and I were sitting at the front desk together, eating lollies from the vending machine and talking about the summer to come.
“So what made you choose this job? I mean, you obviously had a lot of choice, out of the whole Sydney area...”
I laughed. “Actually, nah, not really. I’m just trying to get enough money so I can study in America. I really want to go to college over there - it’s like my dream. And opportunities were really thin on the ground this summer.”
Ciara nodded slowly. “Makes sense. I mean, Sydney’s gonna be really busy for the next month, and we’re definitely going to have our hands full!”
“Why?” I raised an eyebrow.
“Um.” She giggled, and rubbed her cheeks. “Do you know 5 Seconds of Summer?”
I groaned and whacked my forehead. “Oh please.”
Ciara shot me a look. “They’re great, Em. Honestly, I’ve never known a more sincere, funny, amazing, wonderful, HOT group of boys in a band together. Their music is, like -“
She held up her hands in an “oh my god wow” gesture and I laughed.
“Okay, maybe they are to you. But hey, you don’t know what happened this morning...”
I was about to launch into the full story when Beck came running up to the desk from outside. I snuck a glance at Ciara just in time, and saw her cheeks light up.
“Oh, hi Beck,” she said casually, as if she couldn’t care less. He smiled at her, out of breath.
“Hey Ciara. Um, you guys may want to get ready.”
“Why? What’s going on?” I looked over his shoulder and saw a bunch of girls outside the doors, singing something loudly.
“...standing there, in my American Apparel underwear...”
Ciara stood up and wiped her hands nervously on her skirt.
“Oh my god.”
Beck nodded, and grinned. “Don’t get too excited. They’re due to pull up-“ he looked down at his watch, “right about now.”
As if on cue, a familiar black car drew up to the front of the Hilton, and Beck moved back to the door. Ciara brushed her hair out of her face and shot me a quick smile.
“Just act normal,” she whispered. I frowned. What the hell?
Wait on a second. Special guests, Ciara said. Fancy cars on the street. Screaming girls. Of course. I put the pieces together, knowing what was about to happen next but really, really, REALLY not wanting to believe it.
Out of all the places in Sydney with vacancies for a summer job, I choose the one accommodating 5 Seconds of Summer.
'Us.' Ashton walked up to the counter and grinned again, before I remembered who I was talking to, and where I was.
I forced a smile onto my face and made myself look him in the eye. Those deep brown eyes. It didn't help. 'Hi, welcome to the Hilton. My name's Emma - can I help you? Are you checking in today, or just enquiring?'
I heard Ciara suck in her breath next to me, and I kicked her under the desk. She seemed to realise she was staring unabashed at the group of boys (especially the blonde one...) and abruptedly stood up, exiting into the kitchen with a nervous smile, and a nod of her head. I was sure I’d be hearing about this later.
'In the order that you asked, thankyou for the welcome, nice to meet you again, yes - you can help me. We'll be checking in this morning, but I'll also be enquiring about the name and hotel room number of your friend there.' His eyes twinkled and I resisted the urge to just turn around and walk away.
Ignoring the last part, I put my training to work. 'Ok, if you'd just fill out this form please. I'll find you your room key and code. Sorry, what's your name again?'
He grinned, and put on a horrible accent. 'Joe Bloggs. I'm from Alaska and I'm single. These are me’ mates,” The crazy-haired one waved jovially from behind him, “and we love Australia.' Ashton wiggled his eyebrows at me. He was unbelievable.
I pretended to check the register, not looking at him. 'I'm sorry, there must be a mistake. There's no 'Joe Bloggs' here. Are you sure this is the hotel you're looking for?' Please say no. Please say no.
'Yes. And Emma,' he dropped his warm, strong hand on mine as it lay on the desktop, 'you know my name. Don't try to pretend, please. However cute it may be.' Another infuriating grin.
'No problem Ashley.' I smiled at him defiantly and pulled my hand out from under his. His eyes flashed for a second, but when I looked up, they were that deep brown again. I tried to focus on the computer.
'Now, would that be under Ashley, Conceited Snob, 5 Seconds of Stupid or whatever else it is you call yourself?'
He laughed and shrugged. 'One of the above. I don't know - take a guess.'
I found his booking and inspected the screen. Oh crap.
'You're here for a whole month?!' I blurted it out and then clapped a hand to my mouth. I was talking to a Hilton guest, and a member of one of the biggest bands of today. Lucky for me, the security was too far away to hear. What was wrong with me??
He calmly looked me over. 'Yeah, 4 weeks from today.' A small smile tugged at the corner of his lips. 'Happy that I'm here so long?'
I flushed. 'No. More or less, the opposite.' Before he could say anything else, I rambled on.
'Your rooms are on the top floor, level 5 on the elevator. The gym, pool and spa are two doors down from your en suites and you're welcome to use them at any time. Breakfast is from 8 o'clock, and goes until 10. The numbers for room service can be found in your room. I'll call the doorboy to collect your luggage.' I waved at Beck and he walked over, lifting his hat to the boys, and began to pick up some of the suitcases lying on the marble floor.
I continued. 'Here's your room card. If you forget it, the code is C306. It's written on your receipt.' I thrust the card and paper into his hand, and turned around, ignoring the little shock of electricity that jolted up my arm when we touched. 'Have a nice stay.”
'Emma. Emma! EM-MA!'
I ignored him and walked straight into the common room, shutting the door behind me. 'What happened?' Ciara was looking at me with wide eyes, but I had no voice. 'Are you okay Emma?'
Dropping into a chair and covering my face with my hands, I tried to think. 'I don't know,' I whispered. 'I don't know.'
wooo, 2 chapters in two days! i’m really happy haha :) hope you guys are liking it - thanks so so much for the reads and likes, love you all. update coming soon x
also, pleaspleaseplease help me get my story out there - i’d love you guys to tell your friends if you like it, and give me feedback xx