A wall of cloth before my eyes foxed me for a moment, and then I remembered. It was the back of a sofa.
I turned to Luke who was lying behind me, partially spooned into my back in order to make the most of the limited space we had. He was already awake, staring blindly at the ceiling. He turned, gave a small, wry smile and yawned widely.
We had hoped that Rosie and Lulu would have called it a night at some point and retired to the bedroom so that we could make good our escape, but no such luck. They lingered on the sofa for hours, chatting and laughing as they downed the Romulan ale. As the night deepened and a chill set into the air, they retired only as far as the log fire where they snuggled beneath blankets on the rug, at which point we were forced to listen to their love-making.
I had put my fingers in my ears to try and shut it out, but failed. Those noises will live with me forever. Even now, I blush every time I think of it and have no idea how I'm going to be able to look Rosie in the face ever again.
Anyway, as we lay there, cramped and stiff, we could hear Rosie and Lulu packing their things up and preparing to leave. Apparently, Lulu is an astral chemist and had managed to wangle a twenty-four hour break to meet up with Rosie for their anniversary. Both then had places to be: Rosie on the Earhart and Lulu, the Interplanetary Science Centre on Empathos IV.
They had a final kiss and a cuddle and, at last, left the room. Even then, we waited a good few minutes to make sure they weren't coming back before emerging from behind the sofa.
"You prat!" said Luke.
"Yes, I know. You don't have to rub it in. Come on. Let's get out of here."
Like criminals, we skulked out of the suite and back towards our own rooms. Our route back meant that we passed Rutter and Luke's room first, but when we arrived, we found it empty bar the housemaid who was cleaning it. She was very sweet and handed Luke a little note from Rutter. He opened it and sighed deeply.
"What is it?" I asked. "What does it say?"
He handed me the note.
Have no idea where you are, but hope it was worth it because you're running late. Had to vacate the room so I've packed the rest of your stuff up and will meet you in Al and Jen's room. If you're still not back in time, I'll get your stuff onto the Earhart for you, but I'm not signing you in. If you miss the boat, that's your tough luck, mate!
"Oh knickers!" I mumbled under my breath, and Luke then gave me the wickedest smirk you ever saw.
"What?" I asked, suspicion rising in me.
"Oh, nothing," he said, his broad grin tainting his words, but as he turned from me, I grabbed his arm.
"Hang on!" I said. "We can't go to my room together. They'll get the wrong idea."
"You're right," smiled Luke, pulling a face and then, as I dropped my guard, he yanked himself free from me and fled.
"Luke! You ...!" I shouted as I ran after him, but he had reached my room and pressed the chime before I could stop him.
As I skidded to a halt at his side, Al opened the door. A look of startled amusement spread over her face as her eyes flitted between the two of us. She smiled humorously and stood to one side allowing us to enter.
Inside, our cases were all packed and ready to go. Rutter was sitting on a sofa with his feet up, sipping a cup of green tea. He looked up and laughed loudly at us.
"Where the heck have you two been?" he jeered.
I opened my mouth to speak, but nothing came out. What could I say?
"Yes, Jen," piped up Luke smugly. "Where have we been?"
He was wearing a lop-sided smile, so cheeky that I felt a strong urge to slap it off his face. I chewed on my bottom lip.
"No! Don't tell me!" shouted Al, holding up a hand to stop us. "Come on! We're late!"
She picked up her bags and pushed her way past me. Rutter did likewise.
"Would you like me to carry your bags for you?" teased Luke as he picked up my holdall along with his things.
"No!" and snatched my bag from him before stomping out of the room in an angry sulk. He caught up with me quickly enough though.
"Why did you say that?" I demanded.
He face shrugged.
"Dunno, but maybe it'll make you think about your actions before you go steaming in next time."
"You know they'll talk."
"They'll talk anyway."
"Yes, but now they'll have something to really get their teeth into."
"So what would you suggest, Jen? We can either tell them the truth—"
"No way!" I bellowed. "What happened last night stays between the two of us! We must never speak a word of this to anyone!"
Luke readily agreed.
"So does that mean we lie? Because if you think I'm going to lie for you, you're wrong. I'm not saying I'd never lie for you, but not over something as trivial as this."
And he was absolutely right of course.
"No," I agreed reluctantly. "I'm not going to ask you to lie."
"Then we just let them talk. And the more we feed them with possibilities, the more they'll think there's nothing going on."
I thought about it for a moment.
"Oh! I see! Reverse psychology!"
"Yeah. I knew you'd get it in the end."