One Year Later
I went through my checklist one more time and tossed a pair of extra contacts in just in case. When packing, contacts were always the most important thing on my list. Everything else I could buy once I got there. But spending the week in my glasses? Not happening. Bathing suits didn't mix well with glasses. Especially when you had to wear sunglasses too. A pair of sunglasses on top of my normal glasses was something I wanted to keep in the past. Buried somewhere next to colorful scrunchies.
I slid my checklist into a pouch in my suitcase so I'd be able to double-check everything on the way home too. My friends would most definitely make fun of me. They'd also thank me because of all the extra sunscreen I brought, though.
Kristen had specifically told me not to research anything about where we were going. I glanced over at my laptop. For weeks, I had listened to her. I fidgeted with the bracelet on my wrist. There were still ten minutes until the limo was supposed to arrive. I had spent the whole morning cleaning so that I could come home to a spotless house. That was always my favorite part about a vacation - coming home.
I was tempted to call and tell my friends I wasn't feeling well. My students always got me sick. If it wasn't the middle of the summer, it would have been a perfect lie. As it was, it was summer, and I hadn't left my apartment in days. So I hadn't even been exposed to any germs. There wasn't any way to get out of this. Besides, it was going to be fun, right? I hadn't gotten to hang out with my friends all at once in months. They were always so busy. And I'm pretty sure I hadn't been on a vacation since spring break in college.
I wish I had agreed to teach summer school. I rolled my eyes at myself. It was just one week. I needed this. My eyes wandered back to my computer.
Screw it. I turned on my laptop and sat down at my desk. I typed Blue Parrot Resort into Google and pressed enter. And...nothing. Nothing? I retyped it, thinking I had misspelled something. But the result was the same. Or, lack of result. Where the heck was Kristen taking us?
My phone started buzzing in my purse. I pulled it out and answered, balancing the phone between my shoulder and ear as I typed in the name of the resort again.
"You know, I thought for sure you'd already be down here waiting for us," Kristen said. "We're five minutes late."
"Oh, yeah. Sorry, I was running late." I switched off my computer.
"Daphne running late? I'm pretty sure no one has ever heard those words together."
I laughed. "I'll be right down, smartass." I hung up the phone and tossed it back into my purse. After double-checking that all the burners on my stove were off, I grabbed my suitcase and left my apartment.
The limo was pulled up next to the curb. Kristen opened the door, a bottle of champagne in her hand and a huge smile on her face. I guess the party's already started.
Layla poked her head out too. "Daphne!" she said even louder than Kristen had, and in a very awful British accent. I didn't know Layla that well, and for some reason she wouldn't believe that I was born in America. Apparently my name sounded too British or something. I blamed Frasier.
Yup, they're both drunk. They were also going to be thanking me for the bottle of Tylenol I had packed. "Hey, guys," I said and climbed into the limo.
Kristen threw her arms around me. "I've missed you, Momma Bear!"
I sighed. Not because I didn't miss her. I had just been hoping that maybe she had forgotten that terrible nickname. No one wanted to be the momma bear of the group. "I've missed you too. Wow, this limo is amazing." The last time I had been in a limo was for my prom. And I thought it was the coolest thing ever because it was a limo. Apparently it wasn't a very cool limo, because it didn't even compare to this one. Chilled drinks, fancy glasses, weird neon lights, and definitely new leather seats.
"Right?" Kristen said and plopped down on the seat next to mine. "The perks of having rich friends."
Layla laughed. "I'm not rich."
"We've both seen your house. Yes you are."
"I'm not even doing endorsements anymore. I'm focusing on my career."
"You can't win an argument against Kristen," I said. "If it was possible, there's no way she'd still be calling me Momma Bear."
"You don't have to tell me," Layla said as she poured me a glass of champagne.
"Oh, no, I'm okay," I said as she handed me the glass.
"Momma Bear," Kristen whispered very poorly and pointed at me.
"I am not." I grabbed the glass out of Layla's hand. "See? Drinking?" I took a tiny sip of champagne. It was only 10 o'clock in the morning. Why were we drinking anyway? "Does Alina know we're coming? I haven't seen her bakery since they expanded. I can't wait to see it."
"A," Kristen said as she held up her index finger, "Alina isn't in Wilmington, she's here in New York. Two, you have to go see the expansion, it's so cute. You're going to love what they've done. And C," she said, only holding up a second finger, "no, it's a surprise. We're kidnapping her."
I glanced over at Layla. She shrugged. I couldn't tell if it was because she agreed with everything Kristen had just said or because she was surprised by how drunk Kristen was too. "Okay," I said and grabbed the champagne bottle out of Kristen's hand. I didn't bother telling her she had enough to drink. I'd just hoard the bottle and she'd think I was being fun instead of acting like a momma bear. "So, where in New York is she?"
"We put her up in this hotel in Manhattan," Layla said. "She thinks we're just having a fun week in NYC. She's going to be so surprised."
"I bet. Where exactly is it that we're going again?"
"I don't know. Kristen wouldn't tell me either."
I turned back to Kristen. She shook her head and just smiled. "Don't even try. I'm not telling you. You'll find out at the airport soon enough."
"I tried to look up the Blue Parrot Resort and couldn't find anything."
"I specifically told you not to do that," Kristen said.
"Which is why you didn't tell me the real name of the resort?"
"Oh, no, it's real. You guys, it's the most crazy, secretive, exclusive resort in like, the world. We're so lucky that we got a room."
I laughed. "I'm sure if that was true, they wouldn't have let us in."
"Um...have you met Layla Torrez, sensational weather girl and former spokesperson for Sword Body Wash? And everyone who watched the ITAs knows Alina after that uh...performance. They're both famous."
True. "Fine. So they wouldn't have let you and me in then."
Kristen laughed. "Tim has connections."
"No. Kristen, please tell me you didn't let Tim plan Alina's bachelorette party. She's going to kill you!" Tim was Kristen's boyfriend. He and Alina didn't exactly see eye to eye on a lot of things.
"Of course not. He just recommended the location. And honestly, it sounds a lot cooler than what I had been thinking of doing."
"A fun week in NYC."
"Isn't that what she wanted?"
"Psh." Kristen waved her hand through the air. "She didn't know what she wanted. Trust me, this is going to be so much fun."
I fidgeted with the bracelet on my wrist. Kristen and I didn't exactly have the same idea of what constituted fun. But maybe this week was just what I needed.
The limo stopped outside of Trump International Hotel. Alina was standing by the doors.
"Crap, she wasn't supposed to be out here," Layla said.
"We can just go tell her to grab her luggage." I reached for the door handle.
Kristen slapped my hand.
"Ow." I wasn't sure why, but ever since she had started dating Tim, she had started slapping people. Apparently Tim was into that or something.
"She can't see us coming. It's supposed to be a kidnapping."
"But I guess even if she sees us coming, she won't have any idea what we're going to do," Layla said. "It'll probably be fine. And at least this way she won't be scared that she's actually being kidnapped by strangers."
Kristen nodded. "Okay, I guess this can work. I kind of wanted her to think it was real, but you're right. This is probably safer."
Before I could ask them what the plan was, they were already climbing out of the limo. Shit. I quickly followed them toward the front of the building.
When Alina saw us, a huge smile spread across her face. Her wedding wasn't for a few more weeks, but this was the only time the four of us could all get together. I couldn't help but feel a little bad. She had wanted a fun girls week in the city. And we were giving her...well, I had no idea what we were giving her. Kristen better not have planned anything too crazy.
Alina squealed. "You guys, I'm so excited to see all of you! What do you want to do first? I heard the musical..."
Her voice was muffled when Layla threw a black pillowcase over her head.
"What the hell are you doing?" I said, way louder than I meant to. And where the heck did that pillowcase come from? People walking by on the street were starting to stare at us. Even though Alina's voice was muffled, the thin pillowcase did not exactly cover up her screaming.
Kristen pulled the keycard out of Alina's pocket and tossed it at me. "Go get her suitcase. And check to make sure her passport is there. Bryce promised he would sneak it into the front pouch before she left."
But Kristen and Layla we're already pulling Alina toward the limo. Pretty much everyone on this side of the street was staring at us. A few people were on their cell phones. Were they calling the police? I didn't want to get arrested for pretending to kidnap someone. Or maybe it wouldn't even count as pretend. Technically we were taking Alina somewhere she didn't know without her consent.
"Daphne, let's go! Our flight leaves soon! Room 917!"
Crap! Now everyone on the sidewalk knew my name and my name alone. I couldn't go to prison! I turned around and ran into the hotel, almost knocking over an old man who was coming out.
"I'm sorry," I said as I stumbled into the hotel. I looked completely out of place in the ornate lobby. It was all gold and mirrors and there was a very judgy looking woman behind the front counter.
I smiled awkwardly and walked over to the elevator. As soon as the doors closed behind me, I leaned against the wall. What was wrong with my friends? You didn't have to throw a pillowcase over someone's head and lie to them in order to surprise them. We could have just told Alina where we were going and it would have been a surprise. Not that I even knew where we were going.
I shook my head as I made my way onto the ninth floor. According to the sign, room 917 was to the right. I slid the key into the lock and opened it up when the light turned green. If the cops weren't about to show up and my friends weren't waiting for me, I would have just stayed in this room forever. I walked over to the view of Central Park. It was breathtaking. I had never seen Central Park like this.
Focus. I turned around and found Alina's suitcase. It looked like she hadn't had time to unpack anything yet. I opened up the front pouch and found the passport exactly where Kristen said it would be. I smiled at the sticky note Bryce had left on it.
"I love you, Alina. And I can't wait to marry you. Have fun with your friends...but not like ITA tiebreaker fun. Just like, normal person fun. I'll be counting down the days until I see you again.
P.S. Hopefully this morning will tide you over until the next time I see you.
I stuffed her passport back into the suitcase. I couldn't deny the fact that I was envious of their relationship. Alina and Bryce were perfect together. Them together just made sense. It was never like that for me and any of my previous boyfriends. But I wasn't exactly sure why I was envious. It wasn't like I had been looking for a relationship recently. I was focusing on my job. It's the middle of the summer, liar.
I shook away the thought and quickly left the hotel room. I needed to get back into that limo before my stupid friends got me sent to prison.