The Player's Ex

Chapter One


I tapped my heel rhythmically off the floor of the airplane, driving all my nervous energy into it.

“Alice, stop.” My Mother snapped, not looking up from her phone. I ignored her, and kept jiggling my knee up and down. I hated flying, although I should be used to it by now. The thought of being so high above the ground freaked me out, to be honest.

“Alice, I said stop it!” I made a face at my mother’s still bent head, and chose to look out of the window instead. Bad idea. I felt my stomach churn as I surveyed the ground, so far beneath us. The little fields were like jigsaw puzzles, intricately fitting into each other, perfect. Beautiful. Not beautiful enough to keep me from feeling sick though, so I hurriedly switched my gaze to the front of the cabin.

“Alice, whatever is the matter with you? You’re so fidgety.”

“I just don’t like flying, that’s all.” I mumbled.

“Fine, just stop being annoying. We have a very important few days ahead of us, and I need this flight to get my thoughts in order.”

“Oh yeah. I’d forgotten about the stupid dinner.” I muttered to myself, rolling my eyes.

“Alice, it’s not ‘stupid’. It’s the most important thing that’s ever happened to me, and I won’t let you spoil it.”

I’d almost forgotten that we weren’t going to New York for a holiday. Mum had been invited a ‘prestigious’ dinner, and according to her, it was the perfect time to introduce her work to some of the world’s finest designers. Mum was a fashion designer you see, and in the past few months, she’d started to get noticed. It was only fair, I suppose, after all her years of hard work. I just wish that she didn’t have to include me in so much of it.

What asset was I to her work? I was the guinea pig. According to my Mum, I was ‘young, fresh, and relatively pretty.’ My mother didn’t like to shower me with compliments, as you can probably tell. Dress me up in something nice she’d designed, bring me along, make me talk about what a brilliant person Mum was, and voilá! Deal closed. So when I heard about this thing in New York, it was bitter sweet.

On one hand, I’d always wanted to go to New York. On the other hand, and according to Mum, I was what would flaunt her work just right. I was to wear one of her newest creations, make myself up, and wrap the men around my (well adorned) little finger. Which was really kind of creepy, if you think about it. I suppose I should try to be a little happier, I was getting to wear a nice dress after all. And big heels. Oh god. I really hadn’t thought this through.

“Eh, Mum?”

“Yes dear?” She kept on tapping at her phone screen, thoroughly engrossed in whatever was on the darn thing.

“What hotel is the st-I mean, amazing opportunity of a dinner in?” She frowned at me before answering.

“The Regal Hotel, I think it’s called? It’s on 5th Avenue.” I nodded, faking understanding.

“Oh, ok.” We then lapsed into one of those awkward silences where you don’t know whether to continue the conversation or just shut up. I chose the latter, and took out my iPod. I stuck my headphones in, and settled down for the long flight ahead.


I gulped, and looked in awe at the towering hotel in front of me.

“Uh, Mum? You didn’t tell me that we were staying in the carbon copy of Buckingham Palace!”

“Don’t be stupid Alice, this isn’t Buckingham Palace.” My Mum hissed. “What did you expect, a hostel? This dinner party is important, therefore important accommodation. And for heaven’s sake, put down your bag! At least try to look like you know what you’re doing!” I hurriedly dropped the bag, on my foot no less. I cursed myself under my breath, and mentally hopped around on one foot.

“Would you like me to get that for you miss?” A voice asked. I looked around for the source, and found a pair of beautiful blue eyes twinkling down at me. I stared, open mouthed at them, and finally composed myself, in order to take a better look at their owner. A boy stood in front of me. He was in a porter’s uniform, and couldn’t have been much older than me. His close shaved hair was very dark, and he had a tanned complexion. He spoke with an American accent, but I couldn’t tell where from.

“Alice!” Mum nudged me. I started, and looked around.


“That handsome porter has just taken your suitcase!” It took me a second to comprehend what she said, and then I searched for the boy. Sure enough, there was Mr. Nameless making his way towards the grand, gold doors of this hotel. I followed him, almost tripping up the steps in my haste.

“Hey! You, Mr! Wait!” he turned, and grinned. Dropping the suitcase, he stood beside the doors, waiting for me. I caught up, and stopped, clutching my chest. “T-thank you, eh,-“

“Eric.” Cute Porter continued to grin lopsidedly. “But shhh…I’m not mean to ‘converse’ with guests.” He put air quotes around ‘converse’, rolling his eyes. I smiled. I liked his guy.

“Well, don’t worry, Mr-er, I mean Eric. I won’t distract you from your job.” He beckoned for my to follow him through the doors, and I did, my eyes widening in shock.

The reception area of the hotel was bathed in a warm yellow light, coming from the huge chandelier hanging from a gold ceiling. Pillars were stationed around, flowers tumbling from baskets placed on tables, and plush red chairs were dotted here and there, with important looking people lounging in them. Wow.

“So, miss, where are you from?”

“Oh no, you can call me-“ Eric’s eyes widened, and he tipped his head in the direction of the desk. A stern looking lady stood behind it, her beady eyes observing all that was around her. My mouth formed an ‘O’ in realisation, and I quickly back tracked.

“I’m from Ireland.” Eric nodded politely, and started to walk away.

“Hey, where are you-”

“I’m going to place your luggage in the correct area, Miss. Please follow this gentleman to the check in area. I’ll be back in a minute.” He mouthed the last part, and nodding, I fell into step with the random ‘gentleman’ who had been pointed out to me. He looked down at me in surprise, and I shrugged my shoulders. I spotted my mother standing stiffly at the desk, stress written all over her face. I don’t know what she had to be worried about. After all, the main weight of this dinner was resting on her teenage daughter’s shoulders.

Yeah, she had nothing to be worried about at all.

“Alice, there you are.” She said, faking happiness. I noticed the beady-eyed receptionist out of the corner of my eye, staring us down. I chose my reply with care.

“Sorry Mother. I was just admiring the beautiful painting over the mantelpiece. It’s quite, eh, exquisite.” The picture was in fact a nude painting, and there as absolutely nothing exquisite about it at all. My mother rolled her eyes, and the receptionist smirked. God, this was going to be harder than I had thought.

“Alice, just do me a favour and go and fetch my bag from that porter over there please.” She pointed towards Eric, and I started to bound over, then remembered where I was, and switched to a stiff half run instead. He grinned at me, as if to say, you’re going to get on great here.

I bent down, and scooped up my mother’s leather handbag. Rummaging inside it, I dug out her purse. I counted out some random change, and held my hand out to Eric the porter.

“Here you go.” He smiled, and as he took the money, I felt him stuff something onto the palm of my hand. I quickly curled my hand into a fist, and smiled at him as he took off with the rest of my luggage. When I was sure that no-one was looking, I uncurled my fist, and stared at what Eric had given me. ‘I never did find out what your name was…maybe I should get to know you better –Eric’ Underneath his words was a number, obviously for a mobile phone. I felt my hands start to shake, and I knew I had gone white. The blood was roaring in my ears as I stared at the words over, and over. ‘Maybe I should get to know you better?’

No. I wasn’t ready.

“Alice!” My Mum was beckoning me over, so I stuffed the paper into my pocket, and went over to her. I joined her as she stood waiting for the elevator.

“Did you tip the porter Alice?”

“Hmmm.” I replied distractedly, focusing on the elevator doors. I can’t just forget about what happened, I thought, over and over. I may have forgotten mentally, but emotionally, the scars were still there.

“Alice, are you even listening to me?”

“Eh, yes…er, What?” Mum rolled her eyes, and dropped the level of her voice.

“Look Alice, I saw what happened back there. That porter may be out of your league, a bit middle class, too-“

“Mum. Please. Spare me your observations on society.”

“Ok, ok. Basically, what I’m trying to say is that you can’t let, that boy hold you back. You need to get on with your life. And refusing a date isn’t the way to go about it.”

“I haven’t refused. Yet.” I muttered the last part. No, I hadn’t refused Eric’s offer, but…I probably would. Because, if I’m not ready, what’s the point? The time for me to get out again will come, but for now, I’m perfectly happy to sit around, keeping my own company. Truth was, I was scared of getting hurt again.

Really scared.