Sandra Bunino and I have collaborated to bring you a FREE holiday blog serial that runs in 18 parts of usually less than 1000 words for each post—easy reading on your lunch break.
Prefer to read on a Kindle or Nook? No problem, just head over to Smashwords every Wednesday to download last week’s (parts 1 – 4) and this week’s (parts 5 – 9) volumes, FREE! I also post the volumes on ARe on Thursdays. Really, there’s no excuse not to read this serial!
And now, PART 9 of Second Chance Layover (Click title to read a quick summary of the story.):
“That’s my flight,” I whispered.
Cal’s touch left my face, and he took a step back. His Adam’s Apple bobbed as he swallowed hard. Had he been about to kiss me? “Good to see you, Charli.” He leaned over and pulled me into a one-armed hug, and kissed the top of my head. Like he would do to a little sister. “I’ll give you a call after the holidays.”
I hesitated. I wanted to link my hands around his neck and give him a kiss he’d never forget, like one of those dramatic breathless kisses the leading lady gave her hero in the movies. I certainly wasn’t looking leading ladylike standing awkwardly staring up at him with nothing to do but nod in acknowledgement. He winked and left me to board my flight. A shiver zipped up my spine as I watched him walk away.
The chatter of the people standing too close jarred me back to reality. My few hours in Cal’s and my private world had come to an end. Time to grudgingly shuffle onto an overcrowded airplane to spend the holidays in overcrowded condo with my family. I walked to the cattle line waiting to board.
A collective groan sounded throughout the terminal nearly drowning out the rest of the announcement. No flights would be taking off that night. The runways had been closed due to a losing battle with snow and ice accumulation.
I sprinted to the nearest ticket agent, and after a solid fifteen minute wait, got my tickets for a flight out the next day.
My mind shifted to the lone bright spot: Charli Tierney. I pulled out my phone and dialed her number. The call went directly to voice mail. I smiled at her goofy message and wondered if our game had used up the battery life of her phone. Worried that she’d be left stranded without her phone, I quickly scanned the gates as I dodged frustrated travelers.
I craned my neck over the crowd of people hoping I hadn’t missed her. I smiled when I spotted a familiar blonde dragging an obnoxious pink carry-on and moving away from an agent’s counter. She stared at her phone, oblivious to my approach.
“Hey, that thing works better if you turn it on.”
I whipped my head around, relieved to hear his voice. “Cal.” I glanced back at my phone and blew out a deep breath. “I’m just delaying the inevitable. You know, the call to Mommie Dearest. Somehow this will all be my fault.”
“She can’t possibly blame the Nor’easter on you.”
“Not the storm, but she’ll say I should’ve left earlier. She’ll bring up how my brother and sisters found ways to get to Aspen on time.”
“Is Duncan there yet?”
“He wasn’t when I called a few hours ago, but he probably is by now. Why?”
“Give me his number,” he said with a smirk.
I narrowed my eyes but gave him the number. Shit, I’d do anything if it’d save me from the wrath of my mother.
He waggled his eyebrows, and I giggled. He put his finger to my mouth and shushed me.
“Hey Duncan, my old friend. You know who this is?…Yes…Hey man, how’ve you been?…Well, funny thing just happened. Guess who I bumped into at O’Hare?…Uh, huh…yup.” He laughed and nodded his head. “Listen, they closed the airport and no more flights are leaving today. Charli’s phone died, and she’s with a ticket agent trying to get a flight out tomorrow morning. She feels horrible about being so late. Can you let your mother know? Yeah, thanks. I’m moving back to New York, so let’s get together after the holidays…Yes, of course, man…I’ll take care of Charli. She’ll call tomorrow. Okay … talk to you later.”
Cal winked and tapped his phone.
I breathed a sigh of relief. “I owe you my life.”
“I’ll settle for you having dinner with me, but first let’s get a place to spend the night. There’s a hotel in the next terminal. We’ll check in and get dinner, stay ahead of or avoid the crowds.”
“Yeah, right. The hotel is probably booked by now. I was about to lay claim on those chairs against the wall before they’re taken. Come on, there’s enough room for both of us.” I took his hand and turned toward a group of unoccupied chairs, but he wouldn’t move. My hand slipped from his.
“No need to do that. The firm I work for has a deal with the hotel chain. I reserved two rooms on the chance we weren’t getting out of here tonight.”
I cocked my head and smiled. “Really?”
He laughed. “I always prepare for contingencies. And I never joke about a hot shower and warm bed. Let’s go,” he said holding out his hand.
I slipped my hand into his and looked away as my grin broadened. So this is what it felt like having someone look after you. I liked the feeling. I liked it a lot.
Want more? Be sure to come back tomorrow for Part 10!