The shrill trilling of my phone ringing ricocheted off the hotel room walls, jerking me out of my deep slumber. My hand shot out, reaching for it on the nightstand instinctively, and I groaned when I tried lifting my head to answer. It felt like there were tiny elves with icepicks dancing on my brain, and they were digging those little fuckers into the organ as they sang their merry song to a rhythmic, pounding beat.
Jesus. I really need to drink less.
Needing the sound to stop as soon as possible, I slid my finger across the screen and brought the phone to my ear at the same time that I licked my lips in a futile attempt to get some moisture back into my bone-dry, rancid-tasting mouth. Since I was lying face down on the bed, I spoke half into the pillow as I took the call without bothering to open my eyes to check who it was.
Judging by the harshness of the light hitting me even through my eyelids, it was already late in the morning or maybe even early afternoon, and I was not about to risk exposing my sensitive retinas to direct sunlight right then.
“Hello?” I mumbled, my rough scratchy voice a dead giveaway that I hadn’t been up for long. “Who is this and what do you want?”
“Good afternoon, sunshine,” Colt practically sang to me. I winced and yanked the phone away from my ear for a second before bringing it back when I heard him speaking normally, albeit way too cheerfully, as he continued. “How are you feeling, cupcake? You don’t sound so good.”
“I don’t feel so good.” I yawned and stretched my free arm above my head, then flopped onto my back. “You’re a newlywed. Why are you calling me instead of doing whatever it is people who got married yesterday do the day after their wedding?”
“We were worried about you,” he said after a brief pause. “What happened to you last night? You left the reception early and we didn’t see you again.”
My brows twitched together as I realized I didn’t remember. I gently lowered my hand to my forehead as I came out of the stretch. “I, uh, I’m not sure, but that was one hell of a party. Congratulations again, man. When are you guys leaving for your honeymoon?”
“In a few hours. I just wanted to make sure you were still alive.”
“Barely.” I sighed, flinching as I finally decided to try cracking my eyes open. I slammed them shut again immediately when it felt like there were reinforcements for the elves in my brain coming down on the rays of sunlight. “Thanks for checking on me, but don’t let me keep you from your new wife. Speaking of her, if memory serves, I wasn’t the only one who left the reception early. I’m pretty sure I recall seeing you two leave shortly after we got to the hotel. Everything okay?”
“Everything is so good.” He lowered his voice, and I imagined him cupping his hand around his phone and ducking his head as he tried to hide whatever he was about to say. “Emma just needed me for a few minutes, if you know what I mean.”
“Colt!” she shouted in the background, and the faint sound of a scuffle broke out between fits of laughter before he was back.
“Sorry. It seems my brand-new wife is a bit of a prude. It was our wedding night, honey. Everyone knows what we did when we disappeared, and then again when we got back to our room later, and then again this morning, and—”
There was more laughter as Emma cut him off, and despite the hangover of epic proportions I was becoming more aware of as every second ticked by now that I was awake, I smiled. “You guys should get back to doing your thing. Enjoy the honeymoon.”
“Thanks, bro,” Colt managed between fits of Emma’s giggles and laughter of his own. “You know you can call me if you need me, right? We’re going away for ten days, but I’ll have my phone on me and then we’re back home in Rockdale if you want to come down for a visit after.”
The sound of their merriment subsided while he spoke, and I sighed, rubbing my eyebrows with my thumb and forefinger before I risked opening my eyes again. I blinked against the harshness of the light, but I needed to hunt down some painkillers, and in order to do that, I’d have to suck it up for now.
“Thanks, Colt. I might take you up on that sometime, but I’ll let you guys get settled in first. The last time I was in Rockdale, you may remember that things didn’t go so well for me. I’m pretty sure I owe half that fucking town an apology and I don’t know if they’re ready to hear it just yet, so I’ll stay away for a while.”
“I know how bad you were hurting,” he said. “So does everyone else who’s important. Don’t let that keep you away. When you’re ready to take some time off to come see us and your brother, you just let us know. Our door is always open to you.”
“I’ll keep that in mind.”
He chuckled. “You do that. In the meantime, take care of yourself, okay? You’re a great guy and you’ll meet that special someone soon. Just don’t drown yourself in a vat of whiskey before you get there.”
“I’ll keep that in mind, too.” I laughed softly, but even though it’d been humorless, it still hurt, so I shut it down. “Send my love to Emma and have fun while you’re away. You two deserve it.”
I rolled over in bed, another groan escaping me with the movement, but then I saw something I wasn’t expecting. A dark-haired woman was sleeping next to me, her shiny black strands contrasting sharply with the white linen. Fuck. I’m not alone.
“Uh, Colt, I’ve got to go.”
We said our goodbyes as I tried to wrap my head around the fact that I’d brought a girl back to my room with me last night, and it was also then that I realized I was naked.
As if I needed to confirm it, I lifted the covers and glanced down, whispering a string of curses when I found myself looking down at my bare junk. Shit. Fuck. Please let there be a condom somewhere.
My head was screaming at me, though, so I prioritized the problem I could fix over the potential one I couldn’t. It was too late to go back in time to use protection if I hadn’t done it, but I could track down those painkillers before I tried to figure out if I might’ve made a baby with a complete stranger in Las Vegas. And don’t even get me started on the fucking diseases…
Carefully climbing out of bed, I headed for the bathroom and started looking around for something to take for my splitting headache. I couldn’t find anything, however, since it was a hotel room and one that looked like it’d been hit by a party tornado to boot. Empty bottles of champagne, balloons, stuffed animals, and our clothes were strewn everywhere. Mercifully, I spotted a few condom wrappers in the mess as well.
Settling for gulping down a few glasses of water in the bathroom, I felt a little better for having quenched my thirst. Then I brushed my teeth. Returning to the bedroom once I was done, I pulled on a clean pair of boxers and walked over to the windows, pulling the curtains open more than just the sliver they’d been before.
The woman on the bed let out a long, low groan, pulling the sheet over her head to block out the light. Although I had sympathy for how she was feeling, it was time for her to leave. My flight was taking off in a few hours, and I still had to shower, pack, and track down my brother and his wife to say goodbye to them in person.
My friends would be headed back to New York later on today as well, but since Scott and Teddy lived in Ohio, I wouldn’t be seeing them again soon.
When the woman failed to emerge from underneath the sheet, I cocked my head and cleared my throat. “Did I somehow manage to bring a vampire home last night?”
Finally, she lowered the sheet enough to peek out at me over the top of it, and I was struck by the vibrant green of the eyes staring at me as she looked me up and down. She raised a hand to shield her face from the sun, blinking hard a few times before she frowned. “I wasn’t a vampire yesterday, but it sure feels like I might’ve been turned into one last night. Who are you?”
“Reece Walsh,” I said, introducing myself and feeling a little weird about it since I was pretty sure I knew her on a carnal level. “And you are…”
I let the sentence hang in midair, and she cleared her throat, sitting up a little straighter as her gaze swung around to take in the carnage in the room. “Constance. I would say that it’s nice to meet you, but I’m just not sure if that’s true right now. Did we do all this by ourselves, or was the rest of Las Vegas in here with us last night?”
I chuckled, rocking back on my heels as her name and the light attempt at a joke shook loose a flashback. Dancing drunkenly with Constance in my arms, slurring and stumbling as we threw our hands up in the air and laughed.
“You’re CeeCee,” I said suddenly. “I think I remember giving you the nickname because I couldn’t quite say your name correctly, being so drunk.”
“I don’t think I’ve ever drank that much in my life.” She frowned, then reached for her phone on the nightstand and let out a cry that startled the hell out of me. “Dear lord. It’s two in the afternoon.”
Her eyes went wide as they flew back to me, a wildness I didn’t understand creeping into them. “Why didn’t you wake me up earlier? Holy baloney. I need to go.”
“I didn’t wake you up earlier because I just woke up myself.” I watched as she unlocked her phone, obviously not needing to go so badly that she left before reading her messages.
A shriek ripped out of her the next second, so piercing that I was pretty sure my eardrums exploded. All the blood vanished from her face as she stared at the screen, frozen so completely that she wasn’t even blinking anymore.
Jolted, I rushed back across the room to the bed. “Constance? Are you okay? What the hell just happened?”
Slowly, she lifted her gaze to mine as I sat down in front of her on the mattress. Her skin was about the same color as the sheet and her eyes were glazed over with shock. “Reece Walsh, was it?”
Her long black eyelashes batted as she blinked rapidly. She extended a shaky hand toward me, and when I took it, she shook with me while saying the words that brought my world crashing down around me. “It’s nice to officially meet you, Reece Walsh. I’m Constance. Constance Walsh now, it seems, since we got married last night. I’m not entirely sure what one is supposed to say to your new husband the afternoon after the wedding, but do you think we can get some coffee? I would suggest something stronger for the occasion, but I’ve just sworn off drinking for the rest of my life, so caffeine is going to have to do the job for alcohol today. What do you say? Help your wife out, would you?”
As she finished her sentence, a burst of hysterical laughter came out of her, and then she bolted out of bed and stumbled over a few things on her way to the bathroom. She slammed the door behind her before I heard the lock clicking into place. All of that before I’d even started breathing again.
We’re married? I sat there numbly, dropping my head into my hands. I gripped my hair and wondered what the fuck my dick and the bourbon had gotten me into last night.