The Unhoneymooners

Page 9

An argument bubbles up in my chest, but he has a point. Even now, with a bit of mental rehearsal, I am sure the next time someone asks my name, I will shout, “I AM NAMED AMI.” Better than nearly spilling our entire cover story to a valet attendant, but not by much.

I reach into my purse for my wallet and pull out both IDs. “But put them in the safe when we’re in the room.”

He slips them in his wallet next to his own. “Let me do the talking at reception. From what Dane told me, the rules of this vacation are really strict, and even just looking at you, I can tell you’re lying about something.”

I scrunch my face, and then frown and smile in quick succession to try to clear it.

Ethan watches, expression mildly horrified. “Get it together, Olive. I’m sure it was on my bucket list at some point, but I don’t really want to sleep on the beach tonight.”

“Mele Kalikimaka” plays quietly overhead as we enter the hotel. Holiday festivity lingers post–New Years: massive Christmas trees flank the entrance to the lobby, their branches dripping with twinkling lights and the weight of hundreds of red and gold ornaments. Gauzy garlands and more ornaments hang from the ceiling, wrap around columns, and sit in baskets and bowls decorating every flat surface. Water from a giant fountain splashes into a pool below and the scents of plumeria and chlorine intermingle in the humid air.

We’re greeted almost immediately. My stomach twists and my smile is too bright as a beautiful Polynesian woman takes Ami’s ID and Ethan’s credit card.

She enters the name and smiles. “Congratulations on winning the sweepstakes.”

“I love sweepstakes!” I say, too brightly, and Ethan elbows me in the side.

And then, her eyes linger on Ami’s photo a moment before slowly blinking up to me.

“I’ve put on a little weight,” I blurt.

Because there is no good response to this, she gives me a polite smile and begins entering the information.

I don’t know why I feel compelled to continue, but I do. “I lost my job this fall, and it’s been one interview after another.” I can feel Ethan tensing at my side, the casual hand on my lower back clutching at my shirt until his grip must resemble a bird of prey trying to put a struggling field mouse out of its misery. “I tend to bake when I’m stressed, which is why I look a little different in the photo. The photo of me. But I did get a job. Today, actually, if you can believe it. Not that it’s unbelievable or anything. The job or the wedding.”

When I finally come up for air, both the woman and Ethan are just staring at me.

Smiling tightly, she slides a folder filled with various maps and itineraries across the counter. “It looks like we have you in our honeymoon suite.”

My brain trips on the phrase honeymoon suite and fills with images of the room Lois and Clark Kent share in Superman II: the pink fabrics, the heart-shaped tub, the giant bed.

“The romance package is all-inclusive,” she continues, “and you can choose from a number of amenities, including candlelit dinners in the Molokini Garden, a couple’s massage on the spa balcony at sunset, turn-down service with rose petals and champagne—”

Ethan and I exchange a brief look.

“We’re really more the outdoorsy types,” I cut in. “Are there any activities available that are a little more rugged and a lot less . . . naked?”

Cue the awkward pause.

She clears her throat. “You can find a more comprehensive list in your room. Take a look, and we can schedule anything you like.”

I thank her and chance a peek over at Ethan, who is now gazing at me lovingly—which means he’s planning the nonbuffet menu for my funeral reception, after he’s murdered me and hidden my body.

With a final swipe of our room keys to activate them, she hands them to Ethan and smiles warmly. “You’re on the top floor. Elevators are around that corner there. I’ll have your bags sent up immediately.”

“Thank you,” he manages easily, without spilling the details of the past year of his life.

But I’m pleased to see him falter in his smooth footsteps as she calls out after us: “Congratulations, Mr. and Mrs. Thomas. Enjoy your honeymoon.”

      chapter five

The lock chimes and the double doors swing open. My breath catches in my throat. Never in my life have I stayed in a suite, let alone one this opulent. I pour one out for Ami’s dream honeymoon and try not to feel grateful that she’s back in St. Paul suffering so that I can be here. But it’s hard; objectively this has turned out very well for me.

Well, mostly. I look up at Ethan, who gestures for me to lead us inside. Ahead of us is an absurdly spacious living room, with a couch, love seat, two chairs, and low glass coffee table on a fluffy white rug. The table is topped with a beautiful violet orchid in a woven basket, a complicated remote that looks like it probably operates a bionic housekeeper, and a bucket with a bottle of champagne and two flutes that have Mr. and Mrs. etched in the glass.

I meet Ethan’s eyes only long enough for both of our instinctive sneers to take root.

Just to the left of the living room is a small dining nook, with a table, two brass candlesticks, and a tiki-themed bar cart covered in all manner of ornate cocktail glasses. I mentally gulp down about four margaritas and get an anticipatory buzz from all the upcoming free booze I’m about to enjoy.

But at the far end is the true beauty of the room: a wall of glass doors that open to a balcony overlooking the crashing Maui surf. I gasp, sliding them to the side and stepping out into the warm January breeze. The temperature—so balmy, so not Minnesota—shocks me into a surreal awareness: I’m in Maui, in a dream suite, on an all-inclusive trip. I’ve never been to Hawaii. I’ve never done anything dreamlike, period. I start to dance but only realize I’m doing it when Ethan steps out onto the balcony and dumps an enormous bucket of water on my joy by clearing his throat and squinting out across the waves.

He looks like he’s thinking, Eh. I’ve seen better.

“This view is amazing,” I say, almost confrontationally.

Slowly blinking over to me, he says, “As is your propensity to overshare.”

“I already told you I’m not a good liar. I got nervous when she was looking at Ami’s ID, okay?”

He holds his hands up in sarcastic surrender. With a scowl, I escape Mr. Buzzkill and head back inside. Just to the immediate right of the entry, there is a small kitchen I completely bypassed on my way to the balcony. Past the kitchen is a hallway that leads to a small bathroom, and, just past it, the opulent master bedroom. I step inside and see there’s another huge bathroom here with a giant tub big enough for two. I turn to face the gigantic bed. I want to roll in it. I want to take off my clothes and slip into the silky—

I feel the tires come to a screeching halt inside my brain.

But . . . how? How have we come this far without discussing the logistics of sleeping arrangements? Did we both truly assume that the honeymoon suite would have two bedrooms? Without a doubt, we both would happily die on the Not Sharing a Bed with You hill, but how do we decide who gets the only bedroom? Obviously, I think I should—but knowing Ethan, he probably thinks he’ll take the bed and I’ll happily build my little troll fort under the dining table.

I step out of the bedroom just as Ethan is closing the wide double doors, and then we are sealed into this awkward moment of unprepared cohabitation. We turn in unison to gaze at our suitcases.

“Wow,” I say.

“Yeah,” he agrees.

“It’s really nice.”

Ethan coughs. A clock ticks somewhere in the room, too loud in the awkward silence.




“It is.” He reaches up, scratching the back of his neck. Ocean waves crash in the background. “And, obviously you’re the woman. You should take the bedroom.”

Some of those words are the ones I want to hear, and some of them are just terrible. I tilt my head, scowling. “I don’t get the bedroom because I’m a woman. I get the room because my sister won it.”

He gives a douchey little wince-shrug and says, “I mean, if we’re going by those standards, then I should get the room, since Ami got it partly using Dane’s Hilton status.”

“She still managed to organize it all,” I say. “If it was up to Dane, they’d be staying at the Doubletree in Mankato this week.”

“You realize you’re just arguing with me for the sake of arguing, right? I already told you you could have the room.”

I point at him. “What you’re doing right now isn’t arguing?”

He sighs like I am the most irritating person alive. “Take the bedroom. I’ll sleep on the couch.” He gazes at it. It looks plush and nice, sure, but it is still a couch and we’re here for ten nights. “I’ll be fine,” he adds with a hefty spoonful of martyrdom thrown in.

“Okay, if you’re going to act like I’m beholden to you, then I don’t want it.”

He exhales slowly, and then walks over to his suitcase, lifting it and carrying it to the bedroom.

“Wait!” I call. “I take that back. I do want the bedroom.”

Ethan stops without turning to look at me. “I’m just going to put some things in the drawers so I’m not living out of my suitcase in the living room for ten days.” He glances at me over his shoulder. “I presume that’s okay?”

He is so carefully balancing being generous with being passive-aggressive that I am all mixed up about how big an asshole he really is. It makes it impossible to measure out the correct dose of snark.

“It’s fine,” I say, and add magnanimously, “take all the dresser space you want.”

I hear his bemused snort as he disappears from view.

The bottom line is that we don’t get along. But the other bottom line is that we don’t really need to! Hope fills me like helium. Ethan and I can move around each other without having to interact, and do whatever we like to make this our individual dream vacations.

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