A Brief Encounter At The Airport Leads to ???
|Here I am again. Another town, another trip, another hotel. Why do I do this? I liked the challenge of planning, organizing, helping out the clients; but not the hotel stays. If I hadn't spent so much time polishing my work, I might give it up and work at home, but that would be boring. Who was waiting at home anyway.
Grabbing the handle of my suitcase, I made my way out of the airport, hoping I could catch a quick taxi. My carry-on bag kept slipping off my shoulder, I had to keep readjusting.
“Can I help you with that? You seem to be having trouble.”
I looked up, a little embarrassed, and had to stifle my breath. Standing beside me was the most handsome man I had seen in a long time. I looked around to make sure he was talking to me. His dark piercing eyes crinkled, he seemed humored at my state of discomfort. A crooked smile on his gorgeous lips showed a row of straight white teeth. His slightly wavy black hair just touched his collar.
“Oh, you noticed,” I said. “Guess I packed too much in the bag.”
“Let me,” he said, and grabbed it.
“Thank you,” I replied, “I'm hoping to catch a taxi.”
We stepped outside and he flagged one down immediately. Any other time I would have been relieved. This time, I wasn't so sure.
“You must have the magic touch,” I smiled. “It takes me longer to get one.”
“I've had a lot of practice,” he said. “Here you go.”
I grabbed my carry-on and slithered into the seat. On the tip of my tongue was the question, “Where are you headed.” I never asked and felt a slight regret. Perhaps the love of my life had slipped away just as easily as he had slipped in. He stood there until I was seated, then closed the door. I gave a wave and sighed, thinking it would have been nice to have known him better. He waved back.
Once in my room, my stomach started to rumble. I had skipped lunch and found myself hungry. I peeked out the window and noticed a River Walk sign, maybe after dinner I'd walk. I headed downstairs to the dining room.
Once seated at the table, I ordered a drink and sat there studying the menu.
“Have you ordered yet? If not, perhaps I could join you. That is, if you're not meeting someone else or prefer to dine alone.”
OMG, I couldn't believe it. The same guy who helped me at the airport was now standing in front of me asking if he could join me for dinner. Had my luck started to change?
“No,” I said. “I mean, no I haven't ordered yet, and yes, I would love the company. Haven't I seen you before?” I laughed out of nervousness.
He laughed too. “Yes, it must be karma, we could have shared a taxi. I'm Ben Grant from Michigan, and you?”
“Lacy Tillman, Ohio.” I held out my hand. He let it linger in his for a moment.
“Nice to meet you Lacy.”
Talking with Ben was easy, like we were old friends. We talked about our careers and living on the road. Ben was so attentive, making me feel like I was the only woman in the room. Call me crazy, but I think I started to fall for him. After dinner and a drink I asked if he would like to walk with me.
During the walk, Ben grabbed my arm a couple of times, making sure I didn't slip on the rocks. I caught my breath each time he touched my arm. He told me about his family in Michigan. “Typical Midwesterners. Dad's a farmer and my brothers help him. Mom stays home. My sister Ann is married with four children. I'm the only one who decided to try something different.”
I told him I had one sister in Texas; that my parents were divorced and I had left home at 18 to get away from the constant bickering. I shivered as a blast of cold wind blew off the lake, scattering little droplets of water on my legs.
“Guess we'd better head back,” he said. “Tomorrow will be a long day for both of us.”
I nodded, thinking the time had gone by too quickly.
“Listen,” Ben said, back at the hotel. “I don't know if you're an early riser but I like a good breakfast. We could meet in the dining room. I enjoy your company Lacy, you've made this trip fun for me. How about 7:30?”
“Absolutely, I'll be there,” I said.
He wanted to see me in the morning. That was a good sign. I knew what I would be dreaming about that night.
Next morning I was up bright and early, taking extra time with my appearance. Ben was already sipping on coffee when I walked in. The conversation was casual, certainly not what I was hoping for. After breakfast, we said our goodbyes with just a promise of, “Hope to see you again some time.”
I dejectedly walked away when he called, “Hey Lacy.”
I looked up, my heart thumping, “Yes?”
“I should have asked you this before but I didn't think of it. I'm getting married at the end of next month. It would be great if you could come. You'd like Linda, my finance. Hang on a minute, I'll get you an invite.”
I had all I could do to keep a calm demeanor as he dug through his bag for the invite.
“Here it is,” he said, “please come.”
I smiled my best smile. “I'll try.”
I watched him walk away, then found the nearest garbage can where I pitched the invite.
“Maybe next time.” I thought.