Chapter 43. Leaving on a Jet Plane
The limousine ride for Barbara was quiet, giving her a chance to think. The trip home to see Glenn filled her with excitement.
His family was hard-working and, while not wealthy, they wanted for nothing.
She wondered what kind of ring she might get. The last time they had spent a summer home, Glenn had negotiated to lease a three-wheel motorcycle from a company with full windshield and a trailer that folded out into a tent.
They had toured Canada that year and she found a ring with a star sapphire, surrounded by small diamonds as an engagement ring.
Glenn nearly fainted right then and Barbara laughed at his frugal soul.
‟A ring is a ring. I would love it no matter what.” She had told him when he got his breath back.
Afterwards, he walked into a smoke-shop and bought an expensive cigar, tossed the large brown stogie into a garbage can and took the small brass-colored paper ring off the shaft and put it on her finger.
‟I will replace it with a real one after we graduate.”
The ring had long since worn out, but it lasted for the length of their journey before they started as freshmen at their separate colleges. Still, she kept the wrinkled and torn paper-foil ring in between the plastic pages of a photo album.
It was exciting to think that the day was so close, and she had nearly altered her future.
*Mangled it, even!* Barbara thought to herself with a quiet laugh, a party with a strange man who ended up as a husband for a short time. But she was able to put her life back on track, and Tom was kind enough for one last favor and fly her to her hometown.
Tom said they could use an airport closer to home than going to a commercial airport. There she could take a taxi home instead of trying to have family take time to drive the hundred miles, pay for a bus, or try to find connections to land at the same airport. It was the best of all choices.
And she had no need to buy tickets.
The limo pulled up to the gate leading to the private area where the jet was. She could see it was the same kind of Lear jet as she had taken to Las Vegas with Tom.
The person that stepped out of the plane was none other than Captain Watson.
Regina Watson! This made Barbara smile, Captain Watson made Barbara feel motivated to make choices.
The limo pulled to a stop and the driver walked around and opened the door.
‟Thank you, Miss Grant.” He remembered her name despite not talking with her at all. Barbara was feeling a bit worried, she still did not see Tom anywhere when the limousine drove off.
‟Barbara?” Tom’s voice came from the building where Regina Watson was walking towards.
Tom stepped into the sunshine and smiled a wide smile. One would think they had not seen each other for weeks, instead of just that morning.
‟Let me get those for you.”
‟No, if you hurt your arm again, I’ll break your leg.” She warned him.
‟I have it.” A tech walked from the office behind Tom and took the bags that she was carrying.
A long hug from Tom, old friends. Lovers as of the previous morning, but no animosity.
She felt that pang of doubt that haunted her a few times when she molded her body to his for a moment.
Tom flinched a little.
‟What happened?” She touched his wounded arm. ‟Is it hurting?”
‟No, it actually feels pretty good, I wrote a few chapters this morning. A novel idea called ‟The accidental husband”.
‟You better not be using my name!” Barbara laughed.
‟Kidding, actually a fourth book to Steamland that’s in theaters. It will be the last one. I planned only three, but it began to come out of my hands this morning.” Tom smiled. ‟There was one in the middle that had needed to fill in some gaps. The mother’s point of view of losing her child to the abuse of government’s agent.”
‟Wow, sounds intense.”
‟I have a few folks proofreading it as of this morning.” Tom said as they entered the cabin of the jet. While they were settling down, a few more people climbed in.
‟I thought this was a private charter?”
‟It is, but they also chartered it. We are all going to the same place.” Tom smiled. ‟I would like to introduce you to a few writer friends of mine. Dee O’Kelley. He has written a few swashbuckler novels. The Porthos series, the musketeer that is also a kind of anti-hero?”
‟Haven’t heard of it.” She whispered to Tom after she shook hands with Mr. O’Kelley.
‟Phoenix Alexandra, she has written about a woman who becomes a private-eye after retiring from military special forces. She is doing well with that, it’s on the New York best-seller’s list.”
Barbara smiled and nodded hello to the rest of the group as they filed in. Six in all, the writers all chatted animatedly among each other on the upcoming book-con that they were going to attend in Seattle.
Tom smiled as the group settled in, Captain Watson finished her checks and closed the door.
The speakers overhead chimed on the small jet and the seatbelt sign illuminated.
Although a group, the chartered jet had few seats in relative terms, and was very comfortable. This was a different airplane that Captain Watson was in charge of. The seats were different, it was as if the group had wished for a family room with wings.
‟How do you know Tom, honey?” A beautiful woman asked Barbara.
White haired, but intense black eyes, she looked as if she had stepped off a farm. To call her elderly would have been wrong on a philosophical level, her eyes had seen much during the years of her life, but the life and light in them was piercing when she looked at Barbara.
‟We are friends, I helped her out with a problem at Ocean Bay University with Doctor Manga.” Tom chimed in when Barbara looked stuck.
‟Barbara, may I introduce you to…”
‟I know!” Barbara grinned. ‟Margaret Patrice! You are my favorite author! You wrote about Honey, the homeless dog.”
‟A young adult book, my answer to Old Yeller. That was a long time ago, my dear. I have written many since then.” She smiled. ‟And thank you for remembering me and your kind words. Are you going to Seattle with us?”
‟No, I am getting off near Portland, if Tom slows the plane down a little.”
The older woman laughed lightly, a sound of a person that enjoyed to laugh. Her eyes sparkled with good humor.
‟You should ask Tom out.” Margaret whispered in a conspiratorial tone to Barbara when Tom became deeply involved in conversation with Thomas Kraig who had written a fan-fiction of an established science fiction series that became a basis for an upcoming movie.
”He has been alone for far too long. I would do things with him, but alas, I have a family that might take a dim view of an old woman chasing the likes of a man who lives on a floating plane.” The wrinkles around her eyes smiled as brightly as her lips.
‟Flying boat.” Barbara corrected, and immediately regretted. ‟I’m sorry, he has jumped me for that a few times. It has become habit.”
‟Jumped you?” The sparkling eyes smiled with the dual meaning. ‟Have you slept with him?”
Another jaw-dropping moment that Barbara’s command of the English language failed her.
‟Maggie, Barbara is a bit of a wallflower, kinda shy and all. Are you intimidating her?” Tom leaned over and asked.
‟Not at all!” She laughed. ‟I think I was finding some details.”
‟No details to find.”
‟Maggie!” Thomas Kraig piped up. ‟Stop intimidating people. Forgive her miss…?”
‟Grant. Please, call me Barbara.”
‟Of course. Barbara. See Maggie, she is a sweet girl, not like us Bohemian Bull types.” It was Phoenix that had reined in Barbara’s favorite author.
Still, the white-haired author studied Barbara.
She knew there was something going on between Tom and Barbara, she was but a few hours late.
The flight continued with Phoenix looking at pictures on Barbara’s camera, her entire collection of paintings over the three years of fine arts studies at Ocean Bay.
An image of Tom without a shirt surprised them both and Barbara coudn’t get it off fast enough. Laughing quietly, Phoenix patted Barbara’s leg.
‟I saw nothing.” She whispered.
The overhead speakers chimed and the sign ‟Seatbelts” illuminated.
‟Ladies and Gentlemen, we are beginning our descent to disembark a passenger. We will be landing in about five minutes, our time on the ground will be about a half-hour.”
The last chance to hold Tom’s hand presented itself without being obvious.
It was one thing she was going to miss with all her heart.