Your feet naturally padded down the familiar halls you’ve grown to love. Your mother—an angel in your innocent eyes, was in fact a drug addict, resulting in your current temporary living standards. She would brush you and your younger brother from the room so she could ‘Rest’, and during that time you would play hide-and-go-seek.
You pushed your dainty body between the ice machine and the open hallway. Your brother’s heavy footsteps passed the vacant hall you hid in. Hiding places were a challenge, the halls had no corners or little spaces you could crouch in, and the hall you chose was completely out of use…so you couldn’t sneak into a room even if you wanted to. But thankfully for your slim shape you slipped into the small space, hoping your brother wouldn’t catch you. It came as a surprise to you that the hotel even had an ice machine, but you questioned no further as it was a perfect hiding spot.
Hide-and-go-seek was always more fun in your old home, stairs and little rooms were throughout the house—but what really made the game fun was when your father joined. That was until your final game in that house. Your father decided to hide outside, you spent hours of your time searching under every branch and every little hole you could find.
you never found him.
Sometimes you prayed that he was still hiding, but the reality of it all…he left. You were 12; you weren’t oblivious…you knew your mother was unstable, and you knew he wasn’t going to come back… all you wanted to do was convince your mother that the worst was over.
Your brother’s shadow fell on top of your crouched figure, to contain your giggles, you covered your mouth.
“Found you!” He squealed, and in one swift movement you were out of the small space and running into the delta of the halls.
Everything suddenly became a blur, your vision a congregation of shapes, finally became stable as the blood rushed from your head. Although you were slim, your underweighted body was the reason for your lack of stamina. Your eyes trailed beside the oddly designed walls, all-changing as you turned corners. Your brother—fit for his age, was right on your tail. A quick turn down another hall sent your brother to an alarming halt. While your brother backtracked into the hall, you took the opportunity to push your feet to their maximum. Your feet begged for a small rest, as they stung every time you stepped. Looking back, you noticed your brother picking up the pace, with a smirk mischievously forming on his lips. Midway during your attempt to turn your head back, your face collided with a hard surface.
Jolting back from the impact, a hand helped you regain balance. Your brother’s shoes behind you slowly skidded on the carpet floor to a stop. You looked forward but had to tilt your head up because the man in front of you was much taller than you were.
“Y/N, running in my halls again I see?” He questioned, making his raised eyebrow show slight irritation.
“Right…sorry Mr. March, I promise it won’t happen again” You flashed him the same smile you gave him the last time you were in this position,
“That smile seems alarmingly familiar, I’m assuming this will be a daily routine?” Mr. March tried to hold his firm stare, but let a small smile crack… feeling bad for being so harsh on you.
“Sorry Sir,” You mumbled, looking down at your shoes,
“Sir? You make me feel old,” His chuckle made the atmosphere more complacent,
“Look up child, a lady keeps her head high…and her hands out of her pockets” Your gaze fell on your hands that were stuffed into your jean pockets, you quickly removed them and placed them on your sides.
“Ah, that’s better” He smiled, placing his hand on your shoulder,
“Promise me you won’t break anything?” He smirked,
“Especially that vase, oh…it must be as old as me,” He eyed the vase that was placed accurately in the corner of the hall.
“I’ll make sure to break that first” You replied, giving him another smile.
“Well, it didn’t mean that much to me anyway”
Your brother walked up to you and Mr. March, rather impatiently.
“Right…well I’ll leave you two to continue to cause ruckus in my halls,” Mr. March leaned on his cane, placing all his weight on it… your eccentric mind thought of it breaking and Mr. March falling on his face…hearing him uncomfortably mumble;
A giggle left your lips and Mr. March studied your sudden outburst.
“What is it child? Is it something on my face?” He wiggled his moustache resulting in another giggle,
“Nothing Sir…I mean Mr. March, we’ll see you later!” You said before running down the hall, followed by your brother.
The stay at the Hotel Cortez was temporary; your mom finally admitted her problem and found treatment shortly after. You were 22, in your third year of university and living under your own roof…
“It’s a long drive boo,” Your mother said over the phone,
“Stop at motel or something, a day late won’t kill anyone”
You placed your phone between your shoulder and ear as you made a turn,
“Are you sure? If I drove all night I would probably make it by 7” You asked,
“Are you crazy!? Stay at a Hotel Y/N, I don’t want you driving this late” a groan left your lips,
“But mommm” You whined,
“What did I say about whining? Stay at a hotel and we’ll meet Sunday, night!” And with that, the line went dead.
Arguing with your mother was pointless, when she had her mindset; there was no trick around it, your arguments usually ended with;
“Y/N, I brought you into this damn world and I can take you out!”
You found an empty hotel parking lot and decided to stay there for the night. Locking your car, you dragged your suitcase to the entrance of the Hotel.
Once you entered, the familiar scent filled your nose…it was the Hotel Cortez. The sign was faintly flashing its name, and the outside was slightly renovated. You were surprised you didn’t realize it was the Hotel from the beginning, which embarrassed you.
“Y/N” The sweet voice of Liz Taylor filled your ears, her smile welcomed you.
“Liz” You greeted, as you were pulled into a comforting hug,
“It’s been 10 years, where on earth did you disappear to?” Liz poured a drink but stopped before the liquid left the mouth of the bottle,
“You’re over 20 right?” She eyed you, impatiently shaking the bottle,
“Yes Liz, I’m 22” You replied,
“Then how the hell old does that make me?” Liz questioned, before pouring the liquid into the glass,
In one swift gulp, the glass was empty,
“Thanks for the drink Liz, but I better get going” You jumped off the stool and headed to the receptions desk.
A familiar greeting came from Iris—minus the booze, but she happily gave you the room you shared with your mother and brother, 10 years ago.
Making your way out of the elevator and into the native hallway, you hear heels lightly scrape the floors,
“The linins! I can get these stains out! Don’t worry sir, you wont even know they were there!” Ms. Evers trotted from the corner and scurried past you,
“Y/N, good to see you again” she said, almost completely out of breathe, and in seconds her small frame was around another corner, and out of your sight.
Ms. Evers was always in a hurry, and frankly very fidgety, but one thing you knew was whenever you saw Ms. Evers, Mr. March followed right after.
“Ms. Evers! Don’t forget to bring extra sheets! This ones going to be one hell of a me-“
Mr. March stopped in his tracks as his eyes fell on you, his face stayed baffled as you slowed to a stop.
“What was that, Sir?” Ms. Evers returned, popping her head from out of the corner,
“Nothing” Mr. March said quietly. Ms. Evers sighed and headed back towards the direction she came from.
“Young Y/N,” He greeted with a sloppy smile,
“I’m surprised you actually came back…I mean this hotel is marvellous but…” He trailed off,
“You’re back” the sloppy smile stayed,
“How did you know it was me?” You giggled, stepping forward,
“Even a blind man could remember you, and he would say how gorgeous you’ve become”
Biting his lip, he skipped forward; his hot breath touched your skin, sending shiver’s to dance down your spine. His secretive aura was always something that intrigued you, even when you were small.
Mr. March reached for your hand, and placed a gentle kiss on it. His gesture wasn’t the reason for the butterflies in your stomach, it was his eyes that discreetly watched you as he did, and you couldn’t help but feel your heart pound.
“Care for a drink?” His hand stayed locked with yours, lightly caressing the back of your hand.
“I would Mr. March but—“
“James” He corrected,
“James,” you amended,
“But, I have to leave early tomorrow to visit my mom, I’m sorry” You said, removing your hand from his grasp,
“Very well,” he inhaled sharply, and exhaled.
“Y/N” he said, regaining hold on your hand,
“You know you’re always welcomed into my hotel? This can be a place of comfort if you’d like…free of charge” He emphasized the last part, by giving you a warm smile.
“I normally don’t do this but, there’s something about you,” his voice softened, as his hand found your hips,
“You’ve become such a beautiful young lady, Y/N,” With his free hand, he placed loose strands of hair behind your ear, and gently cupped your cheek,
“You’re simply exhilarating, my darling” James held his bottom lip between his teeth, and his eyes bounced from yours to your lips.
“Such a gentle soul”
The sudden urge to kiss him, or even watch as he felt the same surprised you. The moment you saw him, as unquestionably yet questionably youthful he looked, you felt your heart race, it was something unexplainable, and simply something you couldn’t understand. Soul mates were something you never believed in, but what you felt made you question the whole myth of it all.
How was he still young? His looks remained unchanged since the last time you saw him…10 years ago.
“How are you still young?” the question left your lips without notice, that was until his expression changed to astonishment.
He looked down,
“You’ve seen enough evidence to know what’s impossible becomes very possible here” He said, lifting his head,
“I’m not what you think I am, but I was once,” He continued. You tried to remove yourself from his grasp, but he held tighter,
“I died, in 1925” The sentence rendered you speechless, as if you felt his hands turn ice cold as he said that.
“But, my feelings for you would not have changed, dead or alive,” He added, releasing his grip, but kept it firm…in a reassuring way.
“You made me feel loved, when you were just a girl, you weren’t scared of me, you treated me like no one ever treated me before,” He swallowed hard, you saw the hope in his eyes that you would listen to him,
“And now, a grown woman, seeing you tonight made me realize what those feelings really were” His voice was low, but quiet.
You’ve never seen him like this, he was always the energetic, yet odd owner of the hotel, who you considered a friend when you were younger, but now…you considered being more.
“Y/N,” He said, with his hand still on your cheek, and his breath still hitting your skin.
“Sir!” He was cut off; his jaw clenched as he hesitantly removed his hands from your skin,
“What is it Ms. Evers” He answered, irritably.
“The sheets” she said, uneasily.
“Right” He whispered.
“I must head off,” He continued, caressing your cheek quickly with his thumb,
“It was nice seeing you again,” You smiled, breaking the silence,
“It’s always a pleasure” His eyes fixated on you, he leaned on his cane and gave you a wink before walking past you, whistling almost inaudibly.
“I do hope we can continue this…if you ever consider returning”
“My offer still stands,” He said,
“Goodnight, young Y/N” he chimed to you. You turned to return the dismissal but his figure was nowhere in sight, but somehow, if you listened carefully…his soft whistles permeated your ears.
You’re a loner. You keep your distance. You travel freely through foreign lands. You’re rootless. You’re very comfortable here with your glass of Scotch, but you’re just as comfortable sleeping in a cave with rebels or sharing dinner in some hole-in-the-wall noodle shop. Your closest friends are strangers. You understand that tight bonds can make you vulnerable, so you’re careful not to have any. And that’s why you’re so conflicted about me. You need me. And you hate that about yourself, because it makes you vulnerable.