This is just what I need.
White sand beaches. Palm trees. Two weeks, give or take a day, in paradise with gorgeous, available men wearing more suntan lotion than clothing.
I put down the travel brochure and glared at the motionless aircraft just beyond the window. Not that I could see it very well; its white fuselage was nearly camouflaged behind the snow that tumbled out of the gray sky and spun and swirled in the heavy wind.
A freak snowstorm when I was trying to get the hell out of here. Yeah, that was what I needed.
The other passengers milled around the gate, waiting with knitted eyebrows and folded arms. Anytime one of the staff members went near the microphone to make an announcement or call for a specific passenger, everyone stiffened and craned their necks, waiting for updates. Worried phone calls were made, tense breaths were taken and released, and the floor vibrated with the faint percussion of pacing feet.
A narrow aisle divided my row of stiff, faux leather chairs from a facing row. The woman sitting across from me between two bored-looking kids leaned forward.
“Do you think our flight will be delayed again?” she asked.
I glanced out the window once more. Though like our plane, the runway was barely visible, I hadn’t seen anything take off in at least two hours. I looked at the woman and nodded. “Probably.”
She pursed her lips. “Hopefully it won’t be long, then.” She sat back, staring out the same window and folding her hands in her lap.
“Guess we’ll see,” I muttered.
A few seats over from her, a good-looking guy with sandy blond hair and five o’clock shadow looked up from his laptop. He glanced at her, then me, and a vague look of amusement tried to curl the corner of his mouth before he turned his attention back to the screen.
I wondered how the hell he was so relaxed when everyone else walked the fine line between concern and panic. He was dressed like his vacation had already begun, not like someone stranded in Seattle during a surprise blizzard, unlike those of us who wouldn’t truly be on vacation until we landed in Honolulu. It wasn’t just the sandals, khaki shorts, and tasteful blue Hawaiian shirt with the top button undone, either. His feet were propped up on his suitcase and crossed at the ankles, the computer balanced on his knees, and he didn’t look like he gave a shit or even noticed what was going on all around him. He’d been there for the last hour or two, and he’d barely batted an eye when the first delay was announced. Nor the second. When the snow came down harder, he’d looked, but no reaction registered on his face.
At first I wondered if he’d had a few drinks or maybe thrown back a Valium like my mother always did when she flew, but that theory flew out the window when I watched his hands for a moment. Judging by the way his fingers moved on the keyboard, he was playing a game. It was easy to tell, even from here: the same keystrokes, over and over, and sometimes his brow furrowed and lips tightened as those keystrokes quickened. Then he’d exhale, shake his head, and punch in some other command before resuming the repetitive motions.
He was way too alert to be drugged but appeared, aside from momentary displays of frustration with his game, completely relaxed and unperturbed.
He must have been one of those people who didn’t get pissed off in traffic jams, either. One of those aggravatingly relaxed ones who just turned up the radio, tapped the beat into the steering wheel with his thumbs, all the while reminding himself over and over, “I’ll get there eventually, no sense getting stressed over it.” I, meanwhile, would be three cars back, white-knuckling the wheel and praying for sweet death if it meant not sitting there for another two minutes. Once our plane finally boarded and took off, this guy would probably be sound asleep for the entire flight while I drummed my fingers and tried in vain to get comfortable.
His eyes flicked up and met mine, and I quickly shifted my gaze away, my cheeks burning as I wondered just how long I’d been absently staring at him.
It wasn’t only his relaxed state that had drawn my attention. He was definitely easy on the eyes. The loose sleeves of his Hawaiian shirt were just short enough to hint at his well-toned biceps, and his sculpted forearms, tanned and lightly dusted with dark blond hair, didn’t belong to someone who spent all his time fucking off playing video games. His legs were similarly toned and bronzed. Chiseled jaw, prominent cheekbones, and—
And I was staring again.