Love Affair in Las Vegas

By: Rachell Nichole

Chapter One




This was it. She had finally made it to the spot she’d been fighting five years for. Dawn Jansen looked at the ticket in her hands for the hoteliers’ conference in Las Vegas. She laughed at herself and then covered her mouth. Shit, don’t wake up, don’t wake up. She held her breath as the tension ratcheted in her neck. After a few beats of blessed silence, she sighed. Waking up Hailey would not go well. She had a lot of work to do tonight to get ready for the conference, starting with finding someone Hailey could stay with. But who was going to take care of her four-year-old for three or four days?

Dawn tried to contain her excitement as she crept like a ninja around her small one-bedroom Queens apartment. She had honed the skills of moving with complete silence after the first six months of Hailey waking up at every whisper. Being a single mom was tough, no matter how old the kid was, but those first few months of being alone in that studio apartment with a screeching banshee almost broke her. It was only with the help of a few gracious neighbors who just wanted the screaming to end, and her friend Faith’s constant late night chats that she’d been able to survive. Eventually, she’d found the right way to get Hailey to sleep through the night, and they had both been much happier.

Four days in Las Vegas. There was no way she could bring Hailey with her. Not to a professional event. Most people didn’t even know she had a child. A couple of girls at work, her old housekeeping crew, Faith, of course. They knew, but not anyone else. Except, of course, her mom. But they would be the last-resort babysitting option. She would ask Faith first.

Hey, chica, huge mondo fave to ask? She texted Faith.

Her phone was on vibrate, but she worried even that might wake Hailey.

Sup, mama? What you need?

Four days of babysitting so I can go to the conference in Vegas next week?

She didn’t bother with small-talk. Faith could either help or she couldn’t.

Sorry, boo, no can-do, I’m covering all week for Sheila.

Duh. Dawn had just finished the amended schedule for next week after Harry finally gave her the okay to go to Vegas. The hotel’s owner had been forcing them to run a skeleton crew for months now, and hadn’t even pretended to hire someone to fill Dawn’s old front-desk position when he finally gave her the title of Manager.

No worries, dude. I’ll figure it out.

You better. Don’t you miss that conference, girl.

Dawn snuck into a corner in the small apartment, the farthest from the bedroom Hailey was sleeping in, and dialed her mom. If she whispered, she should be okay. The bathroom was right beside the bedroom in the apartment, and with the paper-thin walls, she’d wake Hailey for sure. The phone rang so long that she was sure Rhonda wouldn’t answer.

“Hello?” Rhonda said. “Dawn, is that you?”

“Yeah Mom, it’s me,” she whispered. At least at this volume her mom wouldn’t accuse her of having a tone. Well, maybe.

“What’s wrong?”

“Nothing, Mom.”

“Then what’s with that tone? Why you whisperin’?”

So much for that. “Hailey’s asleep, and I don’t want to wake her, that’s all.” She tried to keep the frustration out of her voice. She forced a smile, like she did on the phone with customers who were giving her a hard time. It would be heard in her voice, even if the person on the other end of the line couldn’t see her face.

“Well, if you didn’t insist on living in that postage stamp apartment in that hellish city, it wouldn’t be so easy to wake the baby, now would it?”

“She isn’t a baby anymore. And even if I lived in a 5000-square-foot home, she’d still wake up every time I sneezed.”

“Well-”

“So, Mom, how would you like to spend some time with Hailey next week?” It was rude to cut off her mom, but Dawn couldn’t take much more needling. She was the terrible daughter who’d moved away to the big bad city in search of her own life and left her mom behind in a small town upstate outside of Cooperstown. She knew that. She didn’t need her mom’s constant reminding. She gazed out the small window. It wasn’t a great view into the alley below the building, or at the neighboring brick which could almost be touched if you reached out far enough. But it was better than no windows at all.