Chloe smiled politely as she slipped the pink sweatshirt on. The name printed on the back was ‘Office Bike’. They weren’t allowed to choose their own name, of course. Still, it could have been worse: Di’s sweatshirt said ‘Bitch-Ho’, and Jo’s, whose hen party this was, proudly displayed the title, ‘Bridezilla’. Ushma had the most pleasant moniker with ‘Virgin Queen’. Jo’s sister, Glynis had ‘MILF’ printed on hers, which Chloe felt flattered her rather, but Jo had insisted on it.
They’d started drinking at Gatwick Airport, before their morning flight; continued on the plane with two white wines each. The flight only took two and a half hours. Once at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol, Chloe took charge, as chief bridesmaid. A taxi took them to their hotel where she did the talking at reception.
“Sorry, madam, but we have no reservation under that name.” The lady spoke in perfect English with only a vague hint of a Dutch accent.
Chloe suddenly regressed to being a humiliated, naughty child. She felt the judging stare of the receptionist as she stood in her ridiculous pink sweatshirt. She had no idea what to do.
“Which travel agency did you use? I could phone them for you, if you like.” The lady smiled with only her lips. “Do you have the number?”
Chloe blushed as everyone turned to stare at her. She’d not thought to bring contact details. It hadn’t occurred to her.
“I booked online and can’t remember the company name.”
“Oh, Chloe!” Glynis chided. “Told you I should’ve organised this trip.”
The others sighed and gave her irritated glances.
“We do have two rooms I could let you have. They are a bit more expensive and the only ones available tonight. Would you like those?”
The other four nodded.
“Not much choice is there?” Glynis mumbled.
“That’ll be two hundred and eighty Euros, please.” The lady tapped on her computer as Chloe held out her debit card. None of the others offered to pay their share. Chloe put in her pin number and hoped the bank wouldn’t charge too much for going overdrawn. She took the receipt, printed on watermarked, cream coloured paper.
“I’ll need all your passports, please,” the receptionist announced. “And your rooms are on the third floor.”
Once they had the key cards, Glynis dragged her case towards the lift on the other side of the lobby, huffing and puffing loudly.
“The elevator is out of order today.” The lady pointed to the red carpeted stairs.
They eventually found their rooms. Jo and Glynis shared one, while Chloe, Ushma and Di were round the corner in another.
Di bagged the sofa bed, leaving Chloe and Ushma sharing the double bed.
Chloe had a need to voice her irritation. “I expected some kind of an upgrade, at least. This is just another cramped room with no floor space.” She twisted her mouth and stopped to get a response. She got none. “Still, it’s gonna be such a cool weekend.”
“Someone check the mini-bar,” Ushma ordered, jumping onto her side of the bed. “Any vodka in there is mine.”
“See if we can clear it out in the first five minutes,” Di grinned without irony.
Chloe laughed aloud, wondering if the cost of the whole mini-bar would go on her debit card. To her relief nobody moved.
“So what’s the plan, Chlo?” Ushma asked, stretching languidly on the bed.
“Find a good bar and get Jo pissed.”
“A bar with lots of fit blokes, hopefully,” added Di.
“A male strip joint?” Chloe suggested.
“Yeah, to start with,” Di said. “But those places are just full of desperate slappers and sad biddies —”
“Like us, you mean?” Chloe snorted with laughter, making Ushma giggle.
“Speak for yourself,” Di answered, looking away.
“Says the girl with ‘Bitch-Ho’ on her back,” Ushma said, sending her and Chloe into convulsions.
“Whatever.” Di held up a hand and went to fill up the kettle.
“Okay,” Chloe said, regaining control of herself. “So we get Jo pissed, take photos of her in various naked, embarrassing positions, then post them on Twitter and Facebook?”
Ushma gave her a high-five.