"Good evening, sir." The tall, dark-suited receptionist called from behind the dark walnut desk. "We have your room ready for you and your lovely wife. I'm afraid we were unable to provide the exact category of room you requested due to a clerical oversight. But I'm pleased to tell you we have upgraded you to the Juliet suite and at no extra cost to yourselves." He made the pronouncement with a degree of pride.

Derek, less than smartly dressed in jeans and a button-down shirt, narrowed his eyes at him in suspicion. "Juliet Suite?"

"Oh yes, sir. It's a beautiful room, very romantic." The receptionist reassured him. "All of our honeymoon rooms are. They are especially designed for our newlyweds with extra large beds, and a spa bath big enough for two." Derek got the impression the hotel receptionist was incredibly pleased with himself.

He turned to his wife. "Fancy that honey. One extra large bed and you get to bath with me."
His wife, immaculately dressed in smart slacks and a neat blouse glowered at him.

"You seriously think I'd share bath water with you?" Her tone was less than loving.

Derek coughed and smiled nervously at the receptionist before turning back to the pretty woman beside him.

"Now now, sweet pea, I know I forgot your birthday, but that was last week. Don't you think it's time you forgave me?" He questioned.

"Derek. I'm not sore at you for missing my birthday, I'm sore at you for not missing that bloody great tree!" The exasperation was evident in her voice. "We should be in New York right now. Not holed up in some hotel while the body shop tries to pull your fender back into shape." She sighed and rubbed the back of her neck as though it hurt. "I don't think my neck will ever be the same again."

Exasperation worked both ways. Derek sucked in air through his teeth and spoke without opening his mouth.

"Yeah well, toots. I gotta pain in the neck too." He looked pointedly at her and she glared back at him.

Feeling the drop in temperature, the receptionist quickly finished registering them and motioned for a porter to come and collect their luggage. He smiled wryly to himself as they made for the lift. That looked like a marriage made in hell, certainly not love's young dream, although they barely looked old enough to be married. He guessed they were former high school sweethearts or something. Maybe they eloped to Vegas. Whatever…it looked like they were already beginning to regret it. No wonder the original booking had requested a twin room! Oh well, maybe the sight of the Juliet room would spring some romance into the marriage…

Looking up as they waited for the elevator, he saw the wife smack the husband on the arm forcefully.

…or maybe not.

He wondered if he should warn security just in case.

The ride up in the elevator was a silent one. The porter felt the quiet keenly. He noted the attractive couple ignored each other as the elevator flew upwards. The husband rubbed his arm absent-mindedly and the wife rubbed her neck. He too like the receptionist could tell they were a young couple, the man looking twenty one and his wife the same or a little younger.

She was pretty. A slim brunette with clear blue eyes and the porter would have winked at her, but he sensed that even if the husband was no longer in love with her, he wasn't the sort of guy to allow anyone to ogle his property.

The ping of the elevator arriving at their floor brought all three of them to their senses and the porter shifted the cases in his hands and waited for the doors to open.

They made their way down the corridor to the Juliet suite and the young couple noted the thick carpet and expensive paint-job on the walls. They weren't used to this sort of luxury but this had been the only hotel in the area with a vacancy and they weren't paying, so what the hell!

The porter paused at their door, slipped the card key into the slot and with a practiced ease, managed to open the door and sweep into the room, whilst still carrying their suitcases. He paused a short way inside the door to rest one case on the little ledge designed to hold it while it was being unpacked, and then he stacked the other case beside it.

He moved further into the room, opening doors as he went.

"This is your bathroom with the shower and the spa bath. There are three speeds to the bubbles and the instructions are on the side. Your fresh towels are on the shelves over there." He moved on further. "This is your walk-in closet, containing your refreshment facilities, personal safe and, should you require it, the ironing board and iron. You'll see you have a fantastic emperor-sized bed, and the view from your balcony is spectacular."

The young woman walked to the full length window and pulled back the filmy curtains. Much as she hated to admit it, the porter was right. The view from the balcony was of the New York skyline some distance away. She sighed and leaned her head against the cold glass. It was getting dark already even though it was still early afternoon. By rights she should be having a shower in her small apartment and settling down to some serious studying, but thanks to Derek's erratic driving on obviously icy roads, they were stuck here until the garage could make his car drivable again.

As if life didn't suck enough as it was!

Turning back into the room, she saw her husband slip the porter a bank note and she raised her eye at the value. The door slammed behind the porter.

"What?" Derek asked. "It got rid of him didn't it?"

She rolled her eyes and looked at the enormous bed.

"You can have the bed." She said. "I'll take the couch."

The air was thick with steam, and the steady pounding on the back of her neck was heavenly. If she closed her eyes, she could almost forget that she was living this horrible existence. She leaned into the water and for a few moments imagined she was in the rainforest that the shower head was optimistically named after.

Outside the bathroom, Derek was pacing the bedroom, his cell phone to his ear.

"Yeah. I'm sure it wasn't tampered with. I just hit a patch of ice and the car skidded into the tree. It's fucking February after all." He ran his fingers through his hair.

"By all means, send someone to look at the freaking car if it makes you happy. Yeah I sound pissed. You try being holed up in a hotel room with a woman who hates you. What do you mean have I checked out the room? I'm sitting in it. Bugs? Seriously, have you seen this hotel. Believe me, there are no 'roaches here. Oh. Not those sorts of bugs. Well I'd look but I haven't got a clue what I'm looking for." He continued to listen and this time his movements around the room had a purpose as he listened to and carried out the instructions passed to him on the phone.

A while later, his wife stuck her head out from inside the bathroom, a fluffy white towel wrapped around her body and a smaller towel wrapped around her head.

"Close your eyes." She ordered.

"Why?" He retorted.

"Because I'm naked Derek and I have no intention of giving you a show."

He snorted. "I'm not into freak shows either, babe. There's a robe in the closet."

A moment later, he looked up suddenly aware she hadn't moved.

"What?" He grouched.

"Do you think you might possibly…I don't know…pass it to me?" she asked sarcastically.

Reluctantly, he stood up and moved to the closet, retrieved the robe and threw it at her. She caught it with one hand, the other still holding the towel to her body in a desperate manner. His eyes flicked briefly to her figure and despite himself when he turned away from her, he wore a large smile on his face.

She had an unbelievable body. Not that he'd ever seen it in detail.

The irony was, even though she was his wife. He couldn't lay a finger on her.

Fortunately, because she was his wife, neither could anyone else!

And that really was a reassuring thought, given her unimaginably bad luck (read appalling taste) when it came to matters of the heart. Did he have to mention Truman, anyone? Even after two and a bit years, the guy still left a nasty taste in Derek's mouth.

She emerged from the bathroom now wrapped in the robe, rubbing her hair with the smaller towel.

"Do humanity a favour jerk and have a shower." She requested. He shrugged. He had fully intended to, but her order had delayed it by another ten minutes. He kicked back on the gargantuan bed she had gifted to him and pressed the button on the TV remote, hoping for some sort of sport action. He wondered if he could claim it back on expenses if he watched some of the porn channels. Of course first he'd have to get rid of her.

A cushion sailed through the air and connected with his head.

"Look moron. I want to get dressed and I can't do that with you in the room. Go have a shower."

He didn't look up. "Let me see…NO!" He retorted, enjoying the way her eyes darkened. She was hot as hell when she was angry.

His wife rummaged in her suitcase, retrieving a set of pink panties and a bra.

"Fine!" She said. "Don't leave. Only don't complain about the view."

Deliberately, and very, very unexpectedly, she started to slip the panties and the bra on under the robe, and then even more unexpectedly, she dropped the robe from her body and walked across the bedroom again to search out something more substantial to wear.

With a loud yelp, Derek flew off the bed as though a raging husband with a 12-bore was after him, and disappeared into the bathroom. He slammed the door behind him, leaned up against it and tried to ignore the throbbing between his legs.

That…woman would be the death of him! He locked the door and climbed into the shower. The bathroom still smelt of her body wash – why couldn't she have used the hotel version? It was meant to be non-descript. Instead, he was standing in a shower with the shame of his attraction to his wife physically evident – and her smell was just making the whole situation worse than ever.

He sighed, thumped the shower on, and tried to think of something less attractive than the woman he was currently sharing his life with. It wasn't at all easy.

Left alone in the bedroom, Casey sat on the edge of his bed and laughed.