Friday, December 4, 2009

Change of Plans by Jenna Byrnes

She dozed, but never really slept. Lights in the gate area dimmed, but people still came and went throughout the night. Occasionally she'd glance up at the TV screen, where the Doppler radar indicated snow falling and more was on the way in the greater Denver area.

Tom spoke quietly every now and then. Kelsie answered in a soft voice. People around them seemed to be sleeping, but she wasn't sure how they managed. The floor was hard and her back ached. Even leaning against Tom's warm form, she was cold and uncomfortable. She yawned as shivers ran through her.

He rubbed her arms with both hands, then tucked the blanket under her chin. "Want your coat on?"

"Nah. I want to be in Florida. Or back home, where I don't have to keep my guard up. My backpack is cutting into my side, and the floor is killing me."

He nuzzled his face in her hair. "Funny, I was just wishing for a nice soft bed, myself."

"You could have had one," she said regretfully. "You should be at a hotel with your friends right now."

Touching her chin with one finger, he gazed into her eyes and smiled. "I meant you and me. The only person I'm interested in being with is you, alone, somewhere private."

Kelsie inhaled. She felt the same way, secretly wondering if she was crazy. She barely knew this guy, but all she could think about was getting naked with him and wrapping their bodies around one another.

He hesitated. "Unless I misread your signals. Was it my imagination that you seemed to want me as much as I want you?"

"You didn't misread anything." She hung her head, embarrassed.

"Hey." He touched her chin again, lifting her face to meet his. "I know it seems fast, but we might not have a lot of time here, Kelsie. I want to make love with you."

"I don't know." She wanted it too, but quickie, one-night stands weren't usually her style.

"Have you ever been with a guy?" He mistook her hesitancy for something else. It made her laugh.

"Yeah. Jason Rutledge, star quarterback for the McPherson Bulldogs football team, after the Homecoming game. I let him score, and he went for the extra two points. It was a pretty great first time."

Tom laughed. "Was that your only time?"

"No. There've been a few others. I've never been with someone I just met hours before. And never with someone I probably won't see again. That's what has me uneasy."

"It's spring break! Weren't you prepared to go to Florida and have a little fun?"

"Um, yeah, with my cousin at Disney World. We're going to spend a couple days at Daytona Beach, but mostly we have a Mickey Mouse vacation planned." She gazed around the crowded airport. "Or we did have, anyway."

He squeezed her shoulders. "We can still salvage this vacation. You may miss a couple days at the happiest place on earth, but I'll bet I can make you pretty happy right here. I know a few things that Mr. Toad doesn't about wild rides."

Kelsie slapped his chest playfully. "You're nuts. I can't believe I cuddled with you all night long."

"Wait until you see what I have in mind for later." He raised his eyebrows up and down.

She grinned and shoved him away. "Sleep. All I can think about is getting some decent sleep. Maybe some coffee and something to eat."

"I need to use the john first." He stood, offering his hand and pulling her up.

"Go ahead, I can wait."

"Thank you." He took off for the bathroom and she glanced around. People were beginning to wake up, but no one was manning the ticket counter yet. Maybe they had time to eat before checking on their flights.

Tom returned and Kelsie grabbed her backpack, heading to the bathroom. She used the toilet then washed up, splashing water on her face and brushing her teeth. She looked and felt like hell, but it couldn't be helped. Sleeping, sitting up in an airport, did that to a person.

Tom waited for her outside in the lobby, and they returned to the restaurant for toast and coffee. When they'd finished, they strolled back to the ticket counter and waited for it to open. He looked around nervously, seeming to scope the place out.

"That security guard was right," she commented. "There are a lot of people patrolling here."

"Sure are," he replied, continuing to look around.

The clerk appeared and the ticket counter opened. Tom was first in line, and asked about their flights.

"The airport is still closed," the clerk told him. "Until the snow stops, we can't give you any information on when you'll be leaving."

"So we have to sit here and wait?" he asked incredulously. "We spent the whole damn night here, and we're no closer to leaving then we were yesterday."

"I'm exhausted," Kelsie tugged at his arm. "Can we find somewhere to sit?"

"One minute," he told her, and turned back to the clerk. "What happens when the airport reopens? Do our flights have priority over scheduled flights for today?"

The woman got a funny look on her face. "Actually, sir, they don't. We'll run the flights as they were scheduled today, and try to rebook all of yesterday's passengers on them somewhere. It might take a while to catch up."

He spoke slowly and firmly. "So you're telling me, when the airport reopens, we still have to sit around, waiting until you can rebook us on another flight?"

"We'll get to you as quickly as we can, sir. Some people on today's scheduled flights won't show up, so we'll fill their seats. People who went to hotels will be accommodated when they return. Those people sitting here waiting usually get the first seats out."

"So we could leave, and when we come back, you'll find us flights?"

"Yes sir. We don't even know when the airport will reopen at this point. We hope it'll be today." She shrugged.

Tom looked at Kelsie, and caught her mid-yawn. He turned back to the clerk. "We're exhausted. Sleeping on your floor isn't as great as we thought it would be. What are the chances of finding us a hotel room?"

"Probably pretty good. Lots of folks will check out this morning."

"Can you try, please?"

"Certainly. One room?"

He glanced at Kelsie again, then nodded to the clerk. "Yes. One room will be fine."