It had hit him a few hours ago, like a fool who had only realized the humor in a joke told long ago. It'd been in the meeting, trying desperately to salvage his company, when he'd realized that being alone wasn't working.
It was a small tip from Michael, first, telling him that Becky had found out about the client poaching Alicia had done. Then it was a phone call in the middle of an important business meeting, one of the many meetings scheduled for the day, from Suze, one of Becky's friends. Suze had told him that Becky was planning to leave England—today.
Now he was looking around the crowded airport, searching for her. The airport terminal was familiar to him, a veteran of out-of-country business trips, but it was full of people and noise. Where was she? He pushed past tired-looking travelers, most of whom were pulling suitcases and looking harassed, trying to see the check-in desks. He shrugged his shoulders uncomfortably in his suit; there'd been no time to change out of it. Up at the check-in desks, there were still too many people for him to see Becky. Where was she?
He saw a flash of orange as a woman in a garishly colored suit ran towards the departures section of the terminal, then off to his left a family of five, the children wide-eyed with excitement, their parents weary. There was still no sign of her.
With a heart-leaping second, he saw her—dressed fashionably, of course, but much more simply. She was at the check-in desk, evidently getting the luggage checked in, and talking easily with the woman behind the counter. A copy of the Financial Times was tucked casually under her arm.
He got to her side as she finished checking in and turned away from him, evidently having missed his approach.
"Becky," he said, grabbing her arm. She turned in surprise, expression blanking as she saw him. "I need to talk to you."
When she looked like she wanted to refuse, he added, "At least let me buy you a drink," and led her gently towards the food court.
"There was something more important," he said, in reply to her question of why he was here. True, his company—Brandon Communications—was desperately in need of help, but there were some things that came first.
He tried to get her to work for his company, if only she would stay in England. He told her that her imagination and ideas would be a great asset, and that he had been looking for someone like her, but she refused, politely.
"Is it the job Michael offered you? I can give you better than that," he said. Afraid he sounded like he was pleading, he stopped talking. Becky was already shaking her head, though he could see she was weighing it.
"I have to go to America. And I'm not taking Michael's offer," she said with finality. He knew then that it was no use. She had made up her mind. Sometimes, he knew, she would dither and half-decide and then back out, but when she made up her mind she did it.
It felt like déjà vu; she was leaving him again. Except, last time, he had not tried to chase after her—and that had given him the hope that maybe she might come back if he did. But he had tried, and now she was leaving.
With clumsy fingers, he pulled from his back pocket the Denny and George scarf that had been the beginning of their relationship. He gave it to a stunned Becky. It was light silk, sliding out of his hands as easily as water, leaving only an impression of loss.
I am sorry for the readers who have been waiting so long--yes, I did have an excellent summer. I hope you enjoy this chapter; I'm not sure I will write any more.