I roll my shoulders back, already grinning. I know that tone of voice. Easy, turn on the charm and diffuse the anger. I know it will work. It always does.
The scotch is swimming through my veins, making me loose as I turn around and look up. Whatever witty comment I had catches in my throat.
"Well?" Layla presses, and I can tell by her voice that she has her hands planted firmly on her hips. But I'm not looking at her. I'm distracted by the six foot five, broad shouldered body guard-like man standing behind her.
"Well what?" I ask, still staring past her, folding my boarding pass and placing it inside my jacket pocket. I loosen my tie. It's suddenly very hot.
"Where've you been, Danny? You're almost an hour late."
"And does that really surprise you?" I gesture towards the obscenely muscular man, "was it necessary to call security?"
Layla narrows her eyes at me and I realize I've said something wrong. The body guard, half smiling, extends his hand toward me.
"Eddie," he says, "Layla's boyfriend."
I don't know whether to laugh or cry.
"Of…course you are." I extend my hand toward his to shake. His grip is tight. Really tight. I grit my teeth and attempt to smile through the pain. "Nice to meet you."
Still shaking Eddie's Hulkish hand, I throw a glance toward Layla with one eyebrow raised. She must know what it is I'm thinking because she gives me a dirty look.
She rolls her eyes. "Let's just go, okay?"
She hoists a carry-on bag onto her shoulder and turns her back on me, facing Eddie. I watch as he wraps his arms around her waist and squeezes her. She has to stretch up onto her tip toes and he has to bend his neck down at an awkward angle to kiss her. I don't know why, but the scotch has got me feeling like this is hilarious. I start to laugh but quickly stifle it as Layla throws another glare my way.
I clear my throat again. "Ready?"
She nods, disentangles herself from Eddie's arms, and walks toward me.
"So," I say, grinning sideways at Layla as we board the plane, "this is going to be fun, huh?"
She doesn't smile back.
"Come on, Lay," I drape an arm loosely, awkwardly, around her shoulders. She stiffens noticeably but doesn't shake me off. "Shouldn't we just make the most of this? I mean, neither of us wants to be here and-"
"Don't," she picks my hand up off her shoulder with her thumb and forefinger and lets it drop, "call me that."
I frown and fall out of step with her, letting her walk a few feet ahead of me.
"Well aren't you just a bundle of fun." I mumble, unbuttoning my shirt collar and beginning to take off my loosened tie all together. "You know, it isn't too late to cancel. We haven't actually found our seats yet. What's a few hundred dollars down the drain? Petty change, really."
"Petty change?" Layla glances over her shoulder, a smirk on her lips. "Petty change made you call your ex-girlfriend and beg her to take this trip with you?" She shakes her head. "Besides, it really isn't petty change to me. We can't all be movie producers."
"Executive producer, actually." I correct her, smiling. The people in front of us are walking extremely slowly. I wish they'd hurry. All I really want to do is sit down and fall asleep.
"You know what, whatever Danny. Just keep your hands where I can see them."
I laugh, and the warmth from the scotch is buzzing in my head. I wait until we locate our seats to lean forward just slightly and place my lips directly behind her ear. I let out a small breath. Her body tenses.
"Don't flatter yourself."
I wait for her head to whip around, for her to fire insults at me, for the string of profanities that always follows one of my snide remarks. But nothing happens. She doesn't do anything or respond in any way.
Keeping her head level and her eyes forward, she finds her seat and sits down, angling her body away from mine.
I frown and take my own seat. I'm not sure what's worse – Layla's reaction to me, or my disappointment at the lack there of.
I'm fuming as I take my seat and turn to stare out the window.
I don't want to be here. I don't want to spend the next seven days with my pig of an ex boyfriend. My head is reeling with an internal monologue that would make even the pettiest of people cringe.
Who does he think he is, anyway? The past nine months haven't changed him. They haven't made him suddenly better than me. So where does he get off making an asinine comment like that? Don't flatter myself? Well that selfish, crude…misogynistic son of a bitch can just take that executive producer position of his and shove it up his-
"You changed your hair."
I blink, completely caught off guard. I turn in my seat just enough to get a good look at Danny's face. He's laying back in his chair, his eyes squinting, half open. He looks half asleep.
"What?" I ask, one eyebrow raised. I'm still angry.
Danny lifts one lazy hand up and touches the bottom layer of my hair. "Your hair is different."
I'm shocked. I nod, half smiling. Danny smiles sleepily back at me (he couldn't have gotten more than three hours of sleep last night) then proceeds to say "It's shorter" just as I'm saying "It's longer".
"It's longer," I say, sighing and leaning my head back against my chair. "I let it grow out."
"Did you?" He's squinting at me, obviously barely managing to stay awake, let alone pay attention. "I liked it better blonde."
I close my eyes.
"My hair has never been blonde, Danny."
He pauses, still squinting, then reaches up to touch it again. "Are you sure?"
I shake his hand off and glare at him.
"Yes, I'm sure."
I reach down and unzip my bag, pulling out a trashy romance novel and a box of Hot Tamales. Beside me, Danny begins to snore softly. Finally.
Shortly after Danny falls asleep, the plane takes off.
I'm not sure exactly how long the flight lasts. I put in my head phones and fade in and out of sleep. At one point I wake up with my head on Danny's shoulder. Hoping he hasn't noticed, I sit up hurriedly and switch positions, leaning my chin onto my left hand and closing my eyes again.
I'm woken up for a second time by a sharp elbow in my ribs. Half asleep, I sit straight up and glance around me. People across the aisle from us are putting their trays up, and adjusting their seats. The flight attendants are waking up and down the aisle with trash bags and fake smiles.
I stretch my arms out in front of me and blink the sleep out of my eyes.
"There we are, Sleeping Beauty." Danny says, and I can see him smirking at me out of the corner of my eye. "Gosh, you look adorable with that red hand print on the side of your face."
Not looking at him, I smack him hard in the stomach with the back of my hand. He coughs a little with surprise.
"Gosh," I mumble, "you'll look adorable with that red hand print on your stomach at the beach tomorrow."
Danny laughs, his hands on his stomach. The sound is slightly breathless. He grins at me. I get butterflies, and instantly want to smack him again.
I glare sideways at him.
"Do you know how to get to the resort from the airport?" I ask, standing up and hoisting my bag onto my shoulder.
"We'll give the address to the cab driver." Danny says, grabbing a hold of my bag and lifting it off of my shoulder and onto his.
I roll my eyes, hands on my hips.
"You know, I can carry my own bag." I hiss.
Danny smiles. "I know." He steps out into the aisle and starts to walk toward the front of the plane. "That doesn't mean I'm going to let you."
He's halfway through the entrance gate by the time I've gotten my purse down out of the overhead compartment and managed to catch up with him. I'm annoyed, but I'm not one hundred percent sure why.
"You're so difficult sometimes." I wait until he's stopped for a moment to take a look at the arrows pointing our way to baggage claim before quickly grabbing back my bag. It seems heavier this time.
Danny looks at me, and a trace of the annoyance I feel is evident on his face.
"I'm difficult?" He folds his arms across his chest. "Layla, I was just trying to help. I always used to carry your bags on trips."
I shake my head and start off in the opposite direction, where the arrows said we should go. This was a mistake. A huge mistake. Not like I hadn't known that from the beginning, but if I hadn't been in such a hurry to prove Eddie wrong I would have realized it and acted on it sooner. I close my eyes for a second and wait for Danny to catch up with me. Tears of frustration start to build behind my eyelids.
I blink them away when I hear his footsteps come up behind me.
"Are you sure you don't just want me to carry it for you?" He asks in my ear, and I quickly shake my head no.
"I'm fine. We're almost to baggage claim anyway." I manage a hard smile in his direction. "Maybe I'll let you take the heavier one."
Danny chuckles, the sound familiar and low. I ignore the flutter in my stomach and start walking at a slower pace toward the escalator. I don't know how I'm going to make it through this week if things continue on in this way.
I pull my cell phone out my pocket and turn it back on. Six new messages, all from Eddie.
"The boyfriend call yet?"
I snap my phone shut.
"Nope," I lie, feeling embarrassed. We descend the escalator and approach the first baggage claim we see. "This is the one."
I stand a little ways behind Layla as we wait for our bags, watching her from the side. She seems distracted- and not in the normal way. I start to think that maybe my digs are getting to be a little much for her. She shut down when I asked about Eddie. Lied when I asked if he'd called.
"So," I begin, "are you at least looking forward to seeing the room? Supposed to be really nice." I laugh to myself. "Killer mini bar."
Layla smirks and looks at me out of the corner of her eye.
"Mmm, yes. Because getting drunk solves all life's problems , huh, boozie?"
I glare at her and set my bag down on the ground, next to hers.
"Huh," I fold my arms over my chest, "didn't think you noticed."
"Hard not to notice when you smell like nail polish remover."
"I only had a few drinks in the car on the way to the airport," I object, annoyed, "no way you could smell it on me. You're bluffing."
I'd forgotten how easy it is to tell.
"Are you going to pick my bag up, or what?"
I grin back and lean forward, watching for her familiar suitcase to come past us. It's red and white polka dots. She's had the same one since we were in college.
I take ahold of suitcase and lift it up to set it beside us on the floor. Beside me, I hear Layla's phone buzz in her hand. She quickly snaps it shut and slips into her purse just as I look down at her hand.
"Everything okay?" I ask, one eyebrow raised. I look up and meet her eyes for a second before she nods and turns away from me.
I turn back to the baggage claim and watch for my own suitcase to come by. I smirk to myself when I pick it up and set it down on the floor beside Layla's. It's roughly half the size.
"You know we're only staying for a week, right?" I ask, lifting up on the handle of the red and white bag. It has to be over fifty pounds.
Layla nods. "It doesn't hurt to be prepared."
"There is such a thing as being over prepared." I grip the handle on the suitcase tighter and lean down to grab mine. Layla gets to it before I can. I watch as she grips its handle, hoisting her own carry-on bag over her shoulder.
I stare at her. She stares back.
"What?" She asks.
"You're going to carry my suitcase?"
She rolls her eyes.
"You can't carry both yours and mine, Danny. I have arms. I can use them."
I squint at her, shrug my shoulders.
"You're a woman."
So we walk from baggage claim to ground transportation, hail a taxi, and take the thirty minute ride from the airport to the resort in complete, uncomfortable silence. It reminds me of how it used to be- in the few months before we finally ended things. When things got really bad.
That's what did us in. The silence. We weren't the type of couple to fight, neither one of us enjoyed confrontation. The fighting didn't seem to start until after we'd already broken up.
That's when things got worse.