I heart vegas, p.1

I Heart Vegas, page 1

 

I Heart Vegas



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I Heart Vegas


  Lindsey Kelk

  I Heart Vegas

  Dedication

  Faster, faster on your feet …

  For Ryan

  Contents

  Cover

  Title Page

  Dedication

  Chapter One

  Hands on hips, I stood in the middle of the…

  Chapter Two

  Jenny Lopez was, as far as I was concerned, the…

  Chapter Three

  ‘Basically, there’s just no reason to give you a visa.’

  Chapter Four

  ‘Are you shitting me?’

  Chapter Five

  ‘And then Jenny had to fire me but it was…

  Chapter Six

  When Monday rolled around, I was all business. Being the…

  Chapter Seven

  Bright and early on Thursday morning, I kissed Alex goodbye…

  Chapter Eight

  And then things went from bad to worse.

  Chapter Nine

  ‘Oh, honey, what are you wearing?’

  Chapter Ten

  The next morning I woke up bright and early at…

  Chapter Eleven

  ‘It’s my own fault,’ I slurred into my cocktail. ‘I…

  Chapter Twelve

  Without a working phone, I hadn’t heard from Alex, but…

  Chapter Thirteen

  The ride back to the hotel was frustratingly short, but…

  Chapter Fourteen

  Jenny let me use her phone to call Alex on…

  Chapter Fifteen

  Everything that happened after leaving the Venetian was a blur.

  Chapter Sixteen

  Shoeless, bagless, cashless and Alexless. I slouched over to the…

  Chapter Seventeen

  The first thought that ran through my head was how…

  Chapter Eighteen

  The huge free-standing mirror was angled right at me when…

  Chapter Nineteen

  I didn’t tell Jenny about the win until we were…

  Chapter Twenty

  ‘And then what did he say?’

  Angela’s Guide to Vegas

  Acknowledgments

  About the Author

  Other Books by Lindsey Kelk

  Copyright

  About the Publisher

  CHAPTER ONE

  Hands on hips, I stood in the middle of the living room and surveyed my work. Excellent. The Christmas tree was up, champagne was chilling in the ice bucket and the apartment was, hmm, passable. As long as no one turned the big lights on. Alex would be impressed. Almost as impressed as the random man on Kent Avenue staring up into our window, surveying my pants. Shit. If I was going to insist on walking around the house in my knickers, we were going to have to get curtains. I staggered backwards, trying not to trip over in my borrowed high heels and hit the light switch. Another bright idea, Angela, I mentally slapped myself as I stumbled straight into the kitchen counter, banging my knee hard as I went. Because nothing went as well with black lace lingerie as a purple throbbing bruise, did it? Surely most twenty-eight-year-olds had grown out of being such an incredibly clumsy cow. Surely most twenty-eight-year-olds didn’t wander around in the pitch black wearing four-inch heels. Surely most twenty-eight-year-olds weren’t like me.

  There was a reason for my playing peep show. Alex, my lovely boyfriend and quintessential rock god, had been away touring the Far East for exactly forty-three days, and he was due home any minute. Having had far too long to think about how I would welcome him back, I’d let Jenny, my best friend and quintessential sex kitten, talk me into a sultry seduction scenario over one too many afternoon cocktails. Although now I was here, trussed up like a chicken, I couldn’t help but feel he’d have been as happy with beer and a pizza. Served me right for meeting her at the bar at Hotel Delmano on a Wednesday afternoon. I was so weak in the face of peer pressure. And Pinot grigio.

  ‘Alex gets back tonight, right?’ she had asked.

  ‘Yep,’ I had replied.

  ‘Big plans?’

  ‘Beer. Pizza. Lovely sit down. He’ll have been on a plane for a billion hours.’

  ‘Really?’

  ‘Yes.’ Pause. ‘Why?’

  ‘Dude, if my guy had kept his pants on for an entire month while he was on tour in Japan, where all the groupies live, well, I kinda think he’d be expecting a more exciting welcome home.’

  At which point she removed her spike-heeled, black patent leather Louboutins, forced them onto my feet and a plan was born.

  ‘Too late now, Clark,’ I whispered to myself, rubbing my knee and hobbling over to the sofa to arrange myself in what I hoped would be a sultry fashion. Sexpot was not my natural setting. Not that I wasn’t excited to see him. My ‘ladyboner’, as Jenny would call it, was at Thumper levels. I was twitterpated out of season. Seriously, I was just about ready to knock Alex right off his feet the second he walked through the door, but I still wasn’t convinced spending twenty minutes trying to fasten a pair of suspenders onto seamed stockings (after spending twenty minutes trying to get the seams straight in the first place) was a good use of my time. Not least of all because for most of that twenty minutes, I looked less like Dita Von Teese and more like a very slutty dog chasing its own tail. Why were these things so hard to put on? How was putting your neck out fastening the bastards supposed to put you in the mood? There was also the fact that there were a lot of other things I probably should have been doing with my time. Like Christmas shopping. Like looking for work. Like cleaning the bathroom for the first time in three weeks instead of going in, pulling a face and shutting the door. Lots of things, really.

  But now wasn’t the time to worry about that, I told myself as I lowered my arse onto the couch, trying to fan my dark blonde hair out around my head and position myself so as to avoid any and all exposure of cellulite. Which was basically impossible. The clock on the DVD player flashed nine p.m. Alex’s flight was due into JFK at seven-twenty. He would be walking through the door any second. I yawned and tried not to fall off the sofa. It had been a long hard day of procrastination. Any second now he’d be home. Any second …

  ‘Dude, hit lights?’

  Keys jangled in the door. I rubbed my eyes, leaving big black smudges on my fists. Keys? Burglars? Burglars with keys? I noticed the champagne bobbing around in a bucket full of water. What time was it? And why was I semi-naked?

  ‘Where do you want this?’ The voice again, this time definitely inside the front door. With very little time to make a decision, I decided to stay on the couch and hide. I really wasn’t dressed for vigilantism. Batman hardly ever wore heels, after all.

  ‘Uh, just drop it anywhere. Angela?’

  Angela? That was me! And that voice belonged to Alex! It wasn’t burglars, it was …

  ‘Woah, dude!’

  The living-room lights flickered into life, revealing me on the couch in all my sultry glory. If looking like a very confused, cut-price hooker with messed up eye make-up and a little bit of drool on her pillow was in fact sultry. Judging by the expressions on Alex, Graham and Craig’s faces, it wasn’t. Of course he’d come home with his band mates. And a four-way with my boyfriend, his gay drummer and super slutty guitarist, who I was almost certain must have at least one STD at any given time, really wasn’t in my plans for the evening.

  ‘Oh, Angela.’ Graham, gay as the wind, turned away immediately. Craig, straight as a die, grinned from ear to ear. ‘Nice rack.’

  ‘Craig!’ I couldn’t even look at the giggling guitarist. ‘If you want to keep your balls, just stop bloody laughing.’

  I pushed myself up, performing a very clumsy fan dance using the sofa cushions before tripping over my own shoes and landing in a graceless pile at the foot of t
he Christmas tree.

  ‘Alex?’ I called, face in the floor.

  ‘Angela?’ he replied. I could tell he was trying not to laugh. Twat.

  ‘Could you turn the lights out, please?’

  ‘Absolutely.’

  The living-room lights dimmed, and somewhere inside my shame I heard him herding the others out of the apartment. Much to Craig’s dismay. A healthy combination of humiliation and the throbbing pain in my knee kept me face down on the hardwood floor while I waited for the click of the lock. At least my Christmas tree smelled nice. That was something.

  ‘Hey.’

  I opened my eyes to see a pair of knackered Converse by my side, followed by a pair of bright green eyes covered by a floppy black fringe that was considerably longer than the last time I had seen it.

  ‘Hi.’

  ‘Nice outfit.’

  ‘Thanks.’

  ‘The flight was delayed,’ he explained. ‘I thought you’d be asleep.’

  ‘Well, I was …’

  Lying side by side on the cold floor wasn’t quite how I’d envisaged this welcome working out. Well, sometimes it was, but mostly I’d hoped we’d make it to the bedroom. Or at least stick to the sofa. Alex reached out a hand and wiped away some of my smudged mascara.

  ‘I missed you,’ he said.

  ‘I missed you too.’ I really was going to need to ice my knee. ‘Probably should have stuck with the beer-and-pizza welcome-back, shouldn’t I?’

  Alex hopped up and reached down to grab my hand. Wobbling to my feet, I let him wrap my arms around his neck before draping his own around my waist, hands resting on my hips. Staring up at him, I couldn’t quite catch my breath. Even after dating him for more than a year, even after living with him for the last few months, it never failed to delight me just how bloody hot Alex Reid actually was. His hair was messy, his bright eyes a little bloodshot from his long flight, but he was still so beautiful. High cheekbones, full lips, pale skin. I wanted to lick him. Sometimes in public. But I didn’t. Mostly. And he was mine.

  He leaned forward and rested those lips gently against mine and I felt a shiver all over my body that had nothing to do with standing around in my pants. Well, maybe it was tangentially related, but it didn’t have anything to do with being cold.

  ‘Now, you know I love pizza,’ he whispered into my ear. ‘But it can wait until tomorrow. I really, really missed you.’

  Wrapping me up in another kiss, we staggered towards the bedroom door, Alex shedding clothing as we went, me trying not to let my knee give out. So the evening hadn’t gone quite according to plan, but as long as I was getting the result I was after, who was I to complain?

  A few hours later, I was rudely awoken by a throbbing pain in my left kneecap. I bent my leg slowly, wincing through the pain but too tired to get up and take painkillers. When I wasn’t in agony, this was my favourite way to be: not quite awake, not quite asleep, watching Alex dream away on his pillow. It was like watching an extremely attractive puppy take a nap. He stirred in his sleep, turning towards me, hair post-coitally mussed up, and his foot brushed against my bare leg while he made tiny sleeping noises. I’d got so used to having the bed to myself, the thrill of waking to find Alex beside me wouldn’t let me go back to sleep. Instead, I lay and looked at him, fighting the urge to wake him up just so I could see him smile.

  These few months had been amazing. At first, the idea of moving in with him terrified me. I’d lived with someone before and that had not gone well, but touch wood, I’d been here for a while now and we were still in a good place: Alex was still putting the toilet seat down and I was still shaving my legs every day. Domestic bliss. I snuggled up against him and sighed happily when he draped a hand over my hip, his warm legs curling up under mine, his bare chest pressed against my back. This was how it was supposed to be. This was how it would be. For ever.

  Alex Reid was a heavy sleeper at the best of times, but adding jet lag into the mix? He was going to be out for at least twelve hours. Which gave me almost enough time to clean the apartment. Obviously, my charms had kept him distracted the night before, but in the cold (below freezing, in fact) light of day, I saw my hovel through new eyes. It was amazing what sort of a sty you were prepared to live in when it was just you. When Alex did finally surface, I wanted him to be happy about coming home, not trip up over the pair of tights I’d taken off on the sofa three nights before during a mega Harry Potter movie marathon that ended when I passed out on the sofa at two a.m., too tired to crawl to bed.

  I managed to clean the bathroom, sweep the living room and scrub the kitchen before I accepted I was going to have to brave the frigid outdoors. My constant need to have the heating on full blast all of the time meant that leaving bin bags full of rubbish in the apartment was not a possibility. The word ‘fester’ had been bandied about once before, and there was very little a bottle of Febreze could do when you had four-day-old sushi going manky in the corner.

  Wrapping Alex’s giant Brooklyn Industries parka over my shorts, T-shirt and ancient cardigan Uggs, I shuffled out of the door and down the hallway with two giant bin bags, trying not to breathe in as I went. Fucking hell it was chilly. I cracked open the front door, chucked the rubbish as close as I could to the kerb without hitting the great big man walking his teeny dog and slammed it shut on the frosty clouds that had been my huffs and puffs. And then opened it again on a very angry-looking postman.

  ‘Sorry,’ I said, holding my hand out for either the mail or a slap on the wrists. ‘Cold.’

  ‘You think?’ he said with chattering teeth and a filthy look.

  I’d dismissed the idea before, but maybe I couldbe a postman. I watched him hop back on his bike and pedal furiously away. Obviously I would have a super-cute vintage fixie instead of the regulation red road bike. And possibly a nicer outfit. But it could be good: I’d get some exercise and be a vital member of the community. As long as no one wanted their post delivered between November and March. Or before midday. But as I was holding three envelopes in my hand at ten a.m. in December, that seemed unlikely. I reluctantly added ‘postman’ to the list of unsuitable jobs along with accountant, physicist and barista. Nine times out of ten I couldn’t remember what I’d gone into the kitchen for, let alone how three thousand people a day wanted their Starbucks.

  The need for work was becoming pressing. I still had my column in the UK edition of The Look, but that really wasn’t enough to live on and my savings were running dry. I really needed more work here in the States, but I was struggling. At first I’d put it down to a slow summer. And then a hectic autumn. And no one hired at Christmas. Fingers crossed January would bring something exciting, otherwise I was going to be finding out the difference between a venti wet latte and a grande Americano very soon. But still, at least I had post.

  Everyone alive knows there is nothing more exciting than post, especially at Christmas. Two of the envelopes had a distinctive Christmas-card vibe to them, one with British stamps. Too impatient-slash-lazy to go back upstairs to open them, I perched on the step, knees pulled up under Alex’s coat, and tore into them. Ahhh, merry Christmas from Louisa, Tim and the Bump. The second was a Christmas card from Bloomingdale’s. What lovely people, I thought happily; must pay them a visit as soon as I find the credit card I begged Alex to hide from me before he went away and have since spent weeks tearing the place apart to find. The third envelope was distinctly less seasonal – white oblong, too thin to bear goodwill – but while I was there, I figured I may as well open it.

  And immediately wished I hadn’t.

  I scanned the letter quickly, feeling sicker and sicker by the second.

  Dear Ms Clark,

  We have been informed that your employment status has changed … As such your L-1 visa has been revoked with immediate effect … Thirty days to leave the United States … Please contact the following department with any questions …

  Your visa has been revoked.

  Thirty days to leave.

&nb
sp; Standing up, I floated back up the stairs, my fingers skimming the wall as I went. Was the plaster always this bumpy? Were there always so many steps? Fumbling with my key in the lock, I let myself back into the clean, sparkly apartment. It seemed smaller. The Christmas cards slipped from my hand and clattered lightly onto the hardwood floor as I moved through the rooms. Eventually I came to a standstill in the bathroom before a sharp stabbing pain in my stomach brought me to my knees and, without really knowing what was happening, I threw up, INS letter still in hand. Thirty days to leave.

  Minutes or hours could have passed, I wasn’t sure, but eventually the trance subsided and I was left sweaty, tear-stained and broken on the bathroom floor. I read the letter once more, looking for something I hadn’t seen before – a side note, a postscript, anything that didn’t say I had to leave the country in a month’s time. But it wasn’t there. How could such an important, life-changing message be so brief? America was the land of opportunity, of ‘How can I help you?’ and ‘Have a nice day’, not ‘It’s been fun, now piss off’. This wasn’t possible. I left the letter on the cold tiles and pulled myself up, gripping the sink with my clammy hands. A few splashes of water to the face later, I was able to look in the mirror. I did not like what I saw. And apparently neither did America.

  ‘OK,’ I told myself. ‘This is going to be OK. We’ll sort this.’

  Even my reflection didn’t look convinced.

  There was only one thing to do. I engaged my last three working brain cells to remember where I’d put my phone and pressed my speed-dial.

  ‘Angie?’

  ‘Jenny,’ I whispered. ‘I need you.’

  CHAPTER TWO

  Jenny Lopez was, as far as I was concerned, the luckiest girl who ever did live. Now, she would tell you that everyone makes their own luck, but after you had nodded sagely and agreed, she would then go on to tell you how she was dating a Swedish male model whom she had initially offended on an epic level by assuming he was gay (I might have suggested it first, to be fair), was living with a female model who shared her shoe size, was never there and was stupid enough to pay three-quarters of the rent, and, if that wasn’t enough, she had lucked into an amazing job organizing events for one of our best friend’s PR firm. I was very proud of her. I was also, on occasion, ever so slightly jealous. A feeling that didn’t exactly go away as the lift doors opened into Erin White PR to display a life-sized black and white photo of a half-naked Sigge, Jenny’s boyfriend, advertising a very scanty pair of pants. English usage. There were some things you never needed to know about your friend’s boyfriend, and as far as I was concerned, the contents of his Calvins was one of them. But it was a bit late for that. Jenny was an oversharer.

 
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