Oct 072011

AT THE FAR END of the hotel lobby was a mirrored wall, and Charlotte watched herself and her two companions as they checked in at Reception, seeing what the staff and guests must be seeing. She tried it through their eyes – two sharp-suited older men and a rumpled girl, flushed and sticky and grimy from the train and cab rides that had brought her here. What conclusions could be drawn? Surely only the right one. The reflection of the senior man – she still did not know their names, though they knew hers – bent to sign something on the desk. The receptionist beamed brightly and glanced at her, curious. She knew. Charlotte sought some comfort in the junior man’s eyes and found it; there was kindness as well as command and tension in those wells of blue. ‘Enjoy your stay,’ the receptionist said, and to Charlotte the words seemed to drip with arch knowingness. The senior man took the keycard from her. ‘I’m sure we will,’ he said. (Read the rest of this free extract…)