After just a couple of minutes, the mysterious landscaper appeared, which he was thankful for because he wasn’t sure how long he was willing to wait around. He saw her wave through the crowd first, pulling her luggage. Her dress was bright and floral and flowed smoothly with her movements as she stepped up to offer him her hand. At least she didn’t seem upset that he was late.
He looked from her face which practically glowed like honey to her hand. He eventually took it, his long fingers enveloping hers.
“I’m Hamal. We’ve been emailing,” he told her, pulling his hand back and discarding the board with her name on it in a nearby trash can. “I’m sorry for the delay. One of my people should have been by half an hour ago, but they can’t seem to keep time,” he grumbled. He reached for her luggage, pushing the bar down and simply picking it up like it was nothing. Then he led her out into the parking lot where his car was parked.
He didn’t say another word to her as he popped the trunk and loaded up her things before rounding the car and opening her door for her. He was moody and controlling, but he was also a gentleman. Once she was inside, he made his way to the driver’s seat and started the car which purred almost silently.
“I have you set up at a five star hotel close to Mr. Anand’s estate so the commute won’t be too bad. I have a driver assigned to you, though it won’t be the one I sent to pick you up today since he insists on not doing his job.” He sounded so calm as he spoke, but there was an underlying storm.
The drive out was not nearly as bad as the drive into the airport and it was only fifteen minutes to the hotel. He really hadn’t been planning on getting her checked in and playing chauffeur, but this is how the day turned out. And he might as well do it himself since no one else wanted to put forth the effort.
He reversed his previous action, opening her door and taking out her luggage. Her hardly glanced her way the entire time. When they entered the hotel and they approached the receptionist, she looked at them and smiled.
“Room for two?”
“No,” he corrected. “I’m checking her in for business. Under Hamal Rashid.”
The woman looked at her monitor and typed a few keys. A few more. She started to look nervous, having already gathered that you did not want to make this man angry. “I- I’m so sorry, sir. But it doesn’t look like there are any reservations under that name. What company is it for? I could search that way.”
“Rashid Funeral Services,” he said, biting back his anger.
She typed a few more words and shook her head, biting her lip nervously. “I’m sorry, sir. Are you sure you made the reservation?”
Hamal sucked on a front tooth, pissed. “No. Not anymore. Are there any open rooms?”
She shook her head. “Not with the funeral. Everyone has been coming to gather outside the estate’s gate to watch.”
“Sorry for wasting your time,” he said and lifted Paige’s luggage once again before heading back out the door and taking her back to the car. Behind him, the receptionist seemed to deflate with relief that he wasn’t going to explode on her.
He knew it wasn’t her fault, though. He knew exactly whose fault it was. The same failure who missed his appointment to pick Paige up from the airport…
“Excuse me,” Hamal said, after letting her back in the car. He closed the door and pulled out his phone, calling the man.
In short, he was fired. The long version was Hamal yelling at him through the phone. How could he forget to book the room? Hamal had given him a very detailed to-do list and he had failed to perform the two most important items on it.
When it was over, he returned to the car and pulled out of the parking lot. For a long moment, he didn’t say a thing. He needed to calm down. He was far too angry. Finally, he spoke.
“We’ll have to figure something out for you tomorrow,” he said. The sun was starting to set. “If you have a place in mind, I can take you there, or you can take the guest room back at my flat.”
If things had gone smoothly he wouldn’t even have to be [i thinking] about entertaining someone at his place. But this is what he got for trusting someone else with something as important as this.
“Never again,” he mumbled to himself. “I will never again let someone else do the important work. Today has not been a good representation of my services,” he told her. “There are some people who owe me some favors. Tomorrow, all of this will be fixed.”