“Ladies and gentlemen this is the final boarding call for Air Midwest flight 252 non-stop service to New York-La Guardia Airport. All ticketed and confirmed passengers should now be on board east concourse Gate 16.”
He cursed as he walked as fast as his long legs would carry him. It had taken longer than he thought necessary to get through security, and that was on top of having to sit in stalled traffic for forty-five minutes before he made it to the airport. He already didn’t want to take this trip, but luck seemed to be stacked against him. His boss would have his head if he missed this flight, and he really didn’t want to deal with that…it was bad enough when he had to deal with the man on a personal level.
“Wait,” he yelled as the gate agent readied to close the door. “I have a ticket, and I need to get on that flight.”
“Ticket and I.D please,” The agent sighed with frustration. This was highly irregular, but it was just one passenger, and one more minute was not going to put the flight behind schedule.
He thanked the agent and showed her his I.D, and his ticket. She smiled and took the ticket to the desk for a moment. He frowned at her, wondering what she could be doing. He really needed to get on the plane; this was so not his day. “Miss, I really have to…” he started but he stopped when she came back over to him.
“I just moved you up to business class, have a safe trip and welcome aboard flight 252.”
It never failed. No matter how many times he made this trip and no matter how often he boarded an airplane he was always apprehensive. He didn’t like to fly, but his boss always insisted that he do so. He didn’t like aisle seats and he hated being seated in the center row. It was always suffocating, yet that was always where he ended up sitting. The flight attendants smiled at him as he passed them by, and he caught the gaze of one in particular and he paused as he took in the softest brown eyes he had ever seen. There was a hint of green in them, and he had to bite his lip to keep from licking it.
“May I help you sir,” the brown eyed attendant asked.”
“Uh…yes I need help finding my seat if you don’t mind please.”
“May I see your boarding pass?”
Their fingers touched as he handed over the ticket and he was sure he felt a spark of something course through him. Momentarily he wondered if perhaps he had rubbed his feet on the rug, though he was sure that wasn’t the case.
“You’re in Business class,” the attendant explained as he pointed. “Seat 3E is to your left. Can I take your coat and would you like anything to drink before we take off?”
“I don’t suppose you have scotch,” he asked as he relinquished his coat to the flight attendant. He was rewarded with a smile as he was given back his boarding pass.
“I’ll be right back with your drink…Colin.”
It was on the tip of his tongue to ask how he knew his name, but the flight attendant was gone. Colin shook his head and found 3E quickly. He sighed contentedly as he took his seat and fastened his seatbelt.
It didn’t take long for the brown-eyed attendant to return with a drink and a smile. He handed the glass to Colin, complete with napkin and a stir stick, and once again asked if he needed anything before they took off.
“No, I’m fine thanks,” Colin replied suddenly feeling shy under that intense gaze. The attendant smiled and headed back towards the galley. Colin could hear the agent who had helped him earlier speaking, and he knew it would be time for the aircraft to push back from the Departure Gate fairly soon.
It was a few minutes later when he heard the aircraft door being closed followed swiftly by the sound of the PA system turning on. “Ladies and Gentleman the main cabin door has been closed, at this time all cell phones and other portable electronic devices need to be powered off Flight Attendants prepare your doors for departure, cross check, verify straps and standby for all call.”
Colin checked to make sure his cell phone was set to airplane mode and patted the bag that held his laptop. His seatbelt was secure and he placed the drink in the cup holder and waited to hear the captain’s announcement.
From his vantage point he could see into the forward cabin. The flight attendant he spoke with earlier was taking the jumpseat and he turned and smiled in Colin’s direction as the plane backed away from the Gate. Colin returned the smile and lifted up his scotch glass in salute before taking a drink. He was beginning to feel a little better about flying, and he didn’t mind that he had an aisle seat.
“I see you’ve relaxed a bit,” Colin heard the voice and looked up from the report he was reading. The flight attendant was smiling down at him, and Colin thought he saw a glint in those expressive eyes.
“I am actually,” Colin smiled back. “Thank you for…” he stopped he wasn’t sure what he was going to say there. Somehow looking out for me didn’t seem like the right thing to say.
“Don’t mention it,” The attendant smiled. “I’m glad I could help. Would you like another scotch?”
“Can I ask you a question?”
“Sure, give me a minute okay? Do you want that scotch?”
“Yes please thank you.”
The attendant smiled and handed him his drink before moving along the aisle. Colin sipped on his scotch and allowed the alcohol to loosen him up. He wanted to know the flight attendant’s name. If he had already said it he couldn’t recall or he must have dozed off or something. With that voice there was no way he would have forgotten had he heard it.
“What,” Colin said taken off guard by the attendant’s presence. Maybe the scotch was getting to him; he hadn’t even realized the man had returned.
“You had a question for me?”
“Oh yes,” Colin laughed at his silliness. “I um wanted to know your name. I mean it doesn’t seem fair that you know mine, and I don’t know yours.”
“You’re cute,” the attendant chuckled and Colin blushed. “My name is Julian.”
Colin took the hand that Julian offered and shook it easily. Julian’s handshake was firm and Colin once again felt a bolt of electricity when they touched. He pulled his hand away and took another sip of his drink, needing to focus on something other than that gaze.
When he dared to look up again he noticed that Julian was back on the jumpseat speaking with another one of the flight attendants. As if he knew Colin was staring he turned and smiled in his direction. Colin returned the smile and decided that the least he could do was talk to the guy.
“Are you enjoying the flight,” Julian asked before Colin could gather the courage to speak.
“Yes, actually I am. How about you?” Lame question Payne! He scolded himself.
“Actually I am, thank you,” Julian replied and Colin wondered if he realized just how much his smile could light a room. “I think this has to be my favorite itinerary. So what takes you to New York?”
Colin groaned. “I’d rather not think about it.”
“Sounds exciting,” Julian commented. “I take it you aren’t going for fun?”
“Hardly,” Colin laughed. “Just business. I’m dreading my meeting actually. I’d much rather sit back, relax and watch a good movie or something.”
“That sounds nice,” Julian sighed. “What do you do?”
“What?” Colin asked confused.
“Your job,” Julian laughed. “What kind of business do you run?”
“Well I don’t run it exactly, but it’s a publishing company run out of Chicago. We deal with everything from print publications to electronic publishing and web design too.”
“Sounds very productive…but you don’t seem to like it much,” Julian observed.
Colin shrugged. “I like my job…just not the traveling, though I should be used to it. We traveled a lot when I was a kid…”
“Well moving as a kid is not the same thing,” Julian interjected. “I mean it can’t be fun moving around, never knowing if you’ll have time to set down roots, or if there’s even a point in trying.”
Colin was taken aback by how easy it seemed for Julian to read him. That was exactly how he felt about moving around so much. “Did you travel a lot?”
“No,” Julian laughed. “I lived in the same hometown for my entire life, until I moved to Chicago and became a flight attendant. “Now I’ve seen places I never thought I’d see.”
“It must be nice.”
“It would be nicer if I had someone to share it with,” Julian mused before turning his attention elsewhere.
Colin sensed some melancholy in that statement, but he didn’t think it would be polite for him to ask. It was nice of Julian to talk to him like this, and he didn’t want to burden him more then was necessary. After all Julian did have a job to do, and other passengers to take care of.
He spent the remainder of the flight talking to Julian when he was sitting in the forward cabin. Julian was so easy to talk to, and he made Colin feel completely at ease about the upcoming meetings he needed to attend. When they weren’t talking, Colin couldn’t help but watch Julian work along with the other flight attendants. It was obvious that his new friend was the guy in charge and he seemed to get along with everyone. The time passed swiftly and the announcement was made that they would be touching down in New York LaGuardia within the next thirty minutes.
Colin was surprised to realize that he was disappointed with that news. He had been speaking with Julian again when the captain’s announcement came over the PA system. They were in the middle of a discussion about sports and why it was fun to root for the underdogs. It was amazing to Colin just how close he felt to Julian, no matter how ridiculous that sounded. They even liked the same teams. Colin was intrigued and wanted to find out what else they had in common, but he didn’t see that happening, and that made him sad.
As the plane prepared to land, Colin listened to Julian make his final announcements. He had a feeling that he would be hearing that voice in his dreams that night. It was just the perfect blend of subtle and sexy with a hint of authority. There was something sweet about that voice and Colin planned to listen to it for as long as he dared.
“So,” Julian said settling down on the jumpseat yet again, “Best football movie ever made?”
“Um, I’d have to say Friday Night Lights.”
Julian laughed. “That’s not classic enough. But it’s a good one. Rudy was better.”
“No way,” Colin retorted. “Nothing beats Remember the Titans.”
“No, I got it…Varsity Blues!”
“I had a crush on James Van der Beek,” Colin said before he could stop himself. He blushed as he realized his blunder.
“Me too,” Julian chuckled. Colin looked up and locked eyes with Julian, and it felt like they were lost in their own world for a brief period of time. The plane landed and Julian stood from his seat and started thanking everyone for flying Air Midwest, and wished them a safe trip. Colin stayed in his seat and watched Julian work. He didn’t care that he was going to be cutting it close with time; he wanted to talk to this guy until the last possible second.
“Do you want to catch a drink or something?”
“Don’t you have a meeting to get to,” Julian smiled genuinely.
“It can wait a few minutes.”
“Well I do have time until my next fight…but you are getting a soda and it’s my treat. If you’re meeting with bigwigs you don’t need to have a buzz. That’s for after the hard meeting.”
Colin laughed and they resumed their conversation over coffee in the LaGuardia airport.
Colin thought the world would be a better place if he got to talk to Julian every day. It was such an effortless thing; sitting in a coffeehouse booth at the airport talking about everything from their childhoods to their favorite meals. It was all surface stuff, nothing too heavy, they were getting to know each other and that suited Colin just fine.
“I have to get going,” Julian said frowning at his watch.
“Are you headed back to Chicago?”
“No,” Julian shook his head. “From here I am heading out to Atlanta, and then I have to go back home. I’m not looking forward to that.” He frowned and pulled some cash out of his pocket. “The coffee is on me, thank you so much for spending time with me, Colin. Don’t get too bored with your meeting.”
“Maybe I’ll see you when I fly back to Chicago,” Colin said hopefully.
“Bye. Julian!” He called as it occurred to him that he hadn’t asked the guy for his phone number. Julian turned around but before Colin could call out to him again he was swallowed by a sudden crowd of people. When the crowd passed Julian was gone, and Colin realized he had to rush too. He had less than an hour to grab a cab and hightail it to his meeting. His boss would throttle him if he screwed this up. It was time to get down to business…and he needed to get that flight attendant out of his head. He mused that it wouldn’t be that hard…after all the likelihood that he would see him again was slim to none.