The Trouble with Flying

By: Rachel Morgan


On the other side of the empty seat, Aiden’s eyes widen.

Oh wow. Crap. I did NOT just say all of that out loud!

I did.

“So … turns out this might be a therapy session after all,” Aiden says.

“No, no, no, I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have said any of that. My sisters are awesome and I love them and … I’m just sad about my holiday ending and because I don’t know when I’ll see Julia again.” And because in less than twenty-four hours I may have to face Matt.

“You know, we’ve still got a couple of hours left of this flight,” Aiden says, “so if you need to talk about—”

“No. Seriously. There’s nothing to talk about. Forget what I said. The depressing parts, I mean. You can remember the rest of it. If you want. The happy stuff. The zoo biscuits and the Barbie dolls.”

Ugh, I need to shut up.

Aiden twists in his seat so he’s facing me, then leans his head against the seat. A half-smile lingers on his lips. “You intrigue me.”

Blank.

Blank.

After what seems like an eternity, I manage a strangled giggle. “I—what? No I don’t.”

“You do.”

“No. A girl with blue and purple streaks in her hair and weirdly shaped scars on her hands who hints that she may have been brought up on a pirate ship is intriguing. A girl who swears you to secrecy before telling you that her brilliant scientist parents are trying to prove time travel exists and she’s on her way to witness them testing their very own time machine on a human for the first time is intriguing.”

Aiden smiles, revealing that cute dimple of his again. “You have insane stories like that going on in your head all the time. That’s pretty intriguing.”

“Or just weird.”

“I like weird.

“Well … I … like …” Guys with messy hair, cute dimples, and charming British accents.

DO NOT SAY THAT OUT LOUD!

“I guess I like weird too,” I mumble.

“And you like biscuits from the zoo—whatever those may be.”

“What? No, okay, zoo biscuits are not biscuits you get at the zoo. They’re vanilla biscuits with a brightly coloured layer of hard icing on top of them and a white icing animal on top of that.”

“Sounds healthy.”

“They’re not. My mom tells me my teeth are going to fall out every time she sees me eating them.” I shrug. “I try to restrict my zoo biscuit intake. It’s tough, though.”

“You see?” Aiden says, his eyes twinkling. “Intriguing.”

I groan. “I think I need to get you a dictionary for Christmas.”

“Oh, we’re exchanging Christmas presents now, are we? I was under the impression our relationship was going to last one flight—two, if we’re on the same plane from Dubai to Durban—and then I’d never see you again. But if you want to get me a Christmas present—” a sexy grin slides onto his face “—we may have to arrange a secret rendezvous on Christmas Eve.”

My breath catches somewhere between my lungs and my mouth as my brain processes Aiden’s words. He’s also going to Durban? What if I bump into him? What if he really does want to arrange a secret rendezvous? Would I say yes?

“Sarah? That was a joke.”

Right. Of course. And there are more than three million other people in Durban, so bumping into him is unlikely. And a planned meeting wouldn’t be a good idea because I’d just have to say goodbye to him in a few weeks when he returns home.

And there’s Matt.

Possibly.

UGH!

Aiden leans over to pat my arm. “Relax. I won’t force conversation on you any longer than I have to.” He checks his watch. “Only a couple more hours.”

“I’m also flying to Durban,” I blurt out.

“Oh, great.” His face lights up. He winks. “If you’re really unlucky, we’ll be on the same flight.”





As it turns out, luck has it in for me: Aiden and I are on the same flight to Durban. Our seats are far apart, but if Aiden has anything to do with it, he’ll figure out a way to fix that. Which means my conversation nightmare will continue for another eight hours and forty minutes. Only … it hasn’t been a nightmare at all. More like one of those odd dreams where you wake up feeling happy and you can’t figure out why because the vivid wisps of dream are already fading, but you know there was something amazing about it.

“Okay, we’ve got about two and a half hours to shop up a storm before we need to board the next flight,” I say to Aiden as we ride the final escalator up into Dubai International Airport’s duty-free shopping area. We join the throng of passengers pushing trolleys, pulling suitcases, and perusing electronics, scarves, nuts and a hundred other things for sale. Different accents and languages weave through the air around us, mingling with the overpowering scent of too many perfumes.

“Is it always this busy?” Aiden asks. His backpack is slung over his shoulder, and he’s pulling my wheeled carry-on suitcase behind him.

I tuck my handbag securely beneath my arm; this is a pickpocket’s paradise. “I think so. I’ve only been here once before—on the way to England—but it was just like this.”