Summary: Lisa watched him go, willing him to turn around and smile at her once more. Their small meeting had to have meant something, especially on the day of the funeral. He had surprisingly lifted her spirits considerably, something that not even her dad could have accomplished without a hefty bribe of cookie dough ice cream. He had even, without any knowledge, given her that small push to move on with her life. She recalled something her grandmother had told her during her visit two years ago.
"No matter who you meet in your life, remember that the tiniest, insignificant detail about them can make a bigger impact in your life than you could ever imagine."
Disclaimer: I do not own Red Eye, or Jackson, or Lisa. If I did, I wouldn't be writing.....
Author's Note: This is my first Red Eye fanfiction, and I would really appreciate any reviews! This story was inspired by many stories in the Red Eye fandom here at , so if there are any similarities between my story and another, apologies, but you inspired me!
Finally, a big hug and thank you to my beta BregoBeauty for all your intuitive insight and ever-so subtle attempts at making me a better writer. Any mistakes found are my own, and apologies!
Enjoy the story, and don't forget to leave a memento of your visit to this page!
The elderly lady smiled and gratefully accepted the book. Glancing back at the handsome man behind the young girl, she grimaced and turned to face the check-in desks. A short, worn-out looking woman from the airport staff hollered over the chattering of the crowd, calling for a re-route. A tall, bulky man slouched next to the young woman, his face contorting into rage as passengers behind him began to make their way towards the front.
"Uh, excuse me? You're letting them go, but we've been standing here for over an hour? How does that happen?"
Lisa silently watched, hoping he wasn't going to cause a scene. This man obviously thought he was speaking for everybody as he stared indignantly at the staff member. The poor woman feebly tried to placate him, but instead managed to further enrage him.
"Oh, so it doesn't matter that you cancelled my first flight, and then re-routed me twice…"
Lisa sighed and carefully wrapped her music player up.
"Just get your boss! This is ridiculous!" He waved his ticket in front of the staff member's face.
Leaning forward, Lisa raised her voice slightly, finding her hotel reflexes kick in.
"Sir, please don't make her do that. She's doing the best she can."
"I don't think I was talking to you," the man seethed, glaring down at her as if she were a child.
"No, I realise that, but –"
Lisa jumped and leaned back as the man menacingly turned towards her and raised his voice, "Listen, I'm just –"
A sharp voice cut through the older man's argument. Glancing behind her, Lisa saw a young man, no older than herself, dressed smartly in a suit with a newspaper held in one hand. She couldn't help but stare at him as he spoke, admiring the way his eyes glittered at the angered passenger. Lisa suddenly found herself attracted to this stranger with the face so handsome adorned with eyes so dangerous.
"Listen, she's the only one standing between us getting out of here at all and total anarchy," drawled the man behind her
"Yeah, but –" began the irate passenger, before wheeling round to stare into the younger man's face as he gripped his arm, his fingers clamped around in a vice-like hold.
"She's tired. She's been working for eighteen hours straight and she suspects we all hate her just as much as you do. What do you say we give her a break? Let her go back to a job which I'm guessing is a lot more thankless than yours."
Lisa held her breath, her mind reeling as to how straightforward this man was being. Glancing up, her heart stopped at how dangerous this man looked, his eyes icy, and his eyebrows slightly rose as if challenging the angry man. Opening his mouth, he quickly sighed and instead flicked his gaze over to Lisa before clenching his jaw.
"This airline sucks," he snapped childishly, before wrenching his arm out of the tight grip and stalking away.
Jackson smiled triumphantly, tucking his newspaper beneath his arm. He looked down at Lisa, who turned to glance at him, and grimaced, earning a small smile from her. Jackson clenched his jaw when she turned away, mentally composing himself. It was all an act.
Jackson watched as she rushed forward to hand the elderly lady her forgotten umbrella. When she thanked him, Jackson bobbed his head and replied. He was slightly caught off guard when Lisa thanked him, glancing at him only once as she did so. He wondered why she avoided eye contact.
"Ah, not at all. That was just back-up. You got the ball rolling."
Jackson glanced behind as he said this, his eyes automatically scanning and spotting the crowd for his own. He didn't linger for too long, knowing he would need to be as discreet as possible. Two of them were more than enough.
Lisa lifted her head and smiled, her eyes catching his. She quickly looked away and bobbed her head in acknowledgement, hoping that he didn't notice a small blush creeping up her neck.
"Yeah," she laughed, keeping her hands busy to brush aside nerves. "Reflex, I guess."
Jackson watched her carefully, noting the way she nimbly fiddled around with her belongings to make it look completely natural. Oh Leese, he thought, smiling.
"Oh yeah? Why is that?" he asked.
She sighed tiredly and said, "I work in a hotel. I deal with people like that all the time."
Lisa braved up and once more looked up into the beautiful eyes of this man. She could almost laugh aloud as to how he was desperately feigning interest, just to keep up conversation.
Well, you were the one who said 'thank you', smart ass. Deal with the consequences… she thought. Besides, there's no harm in a little small talk.
"Oh, the…the Marriott? The Hilton…?" he trailed off, gesturing for her to step in.
"The…Lux Atlantic," she sighed, nodding. "It's in Mi –"
"Miami, yeah," he finished. "I know it well."
Before Lisa could respond to that, he began to strike up a conversation with her. Their conversation drifted and she found them discussing nachos and the Tex Mex. Apparently, there was one right across from their gate.
"Save you a seat?" Jackson offered his mouth dry and his throat clogged up, forcing him to swallow. Smooth, Rippner. Impeccably smooth.
"Oh, eh…." Snap out of it, Lisa, it's not a date. He's just being friendly.
They both laughed quietly, the man looking away in embarrassment as she rejected his offer. He quickly composed himself and looked at her again.
"Yeah, you know, that was…I just thought that since we were on the same flight…I didn't mean to invade your personal space or…"
Lisa inwardly grimaced at her lack of control and immediately regretted her babbling. "No, no…"
Before she could say anything, she was being called over to the check-in.
"Uh, it's just….I have a few…calls to make," she lamely finished.
Jackson nodded his head and allowed her to quickly excuse herself, telling her to have a good flight. He watched her for a couple of seconds, clenching his jaw with his head held high.
All a part of the plan, he assured himself.
Lisa carefully tucked her airline ticket away and began to make her way towards the gate lounge. As she looked around for a seat, she overhead a middle aged woman ask her daughter if she was going to be okay. Lisa allowed herself to smile wistfully as she listened to the conversation.
"Are you sure?"
"Yes, I'm sure," replied the girl, Rebecca.
She glanced over at Lisa and rolled her eyes as if to say 'parents, honestly'. Lisa let out a small laugh as she recalled her father asking her the same question not long before.
"I'm eleven, not nine!" Rebecca sulked.
Lisa began to turn away when she spotted 'handsome guy from check-in line' sat alone at the Tex Mex bar. Lisa frowned slightly, noting the empty seat next to him. Had he saved her a seat in hopes that she would change her mind? He stared into the crowd and thoughtfully rubbed his chin. Was he thinking about her? She watched as the barman served him a plate of nachos, warning him it was hot.
Maybe I should take him up on that offer? She thought, tilting her head slightly.
Maybe it would do some good to her confidence if she did take his offer up. Lisa's lips stretched out into a thin line before she turned to make her way to the bathroom. In a moment of frozen shock, Lisa gasped as a cup full of iced mocha made its way down her blouse. The coldness of the drink shocked her so much, she couldn't even shriek out. The lady who spilled her drink began to make excuses and assure Lisa it was cold.
Really? You think? Lisa bit back her sarcastic reply.
As the lady apologised profusely, Lisa watched as she turned away and hollered for her husband.
"What you finished that one already?"
"Someone's wearing it!"
Gee, sorry to cause you such trouble. Lisa cleared her throat and swiped at a cold droplet slowly inching its way down her top. She glanced at Jackson and noticed he didn't notice the small exchange. He was busy munching on his hot plate of nachos.
Jackson drummed his fingers against the bar, casually picking out a nacho every now and then to quench his hunger.
"I did tell you to have dinner before you leave," a voice drifted over from Jackson's left.
Jackson barely flinched, instead picking up another nacho and carefully savouring the taste. He pretended to ignore the man who sat next to him, instead signalling the waiter for another drink.
"She's in the bathroom, Jackson. Elise distracted her to give us a chance to talk."
Jackson turned to his associate and watched him, his eyes cold.
"I already talked to you, Loren. Or are you forgetting your role of the irate passenger?"
Loren ignored his comment and reached over to sneak a nacho. "You're getting too close, Jackson. I heard the way you spoke to her after I left and –"
"I seem to recall that I was the manager. Correct me if I'm wrong but things go the way I want them to, you got that? I already had to deal with three of you, all of which were too close for comfort. Keep your distance and play your part, do you understand?" Jackson's eyes glittered as he stared at his worker, his jaw clenching in anger at having to speak to him in public. "Leave."
Loren huffed and jumped off his seat, stealing a handful of nachos. Turning to leave, he stopped and quietly said, "Joe called and said he noticed an agent. He thinks he and Dane are being watched."
With that, Loren turned to leave and left Jackson seething.
Son of a bitch, Jackson cursed. His appetite gone, he carelessly pushed away the plate and instead turned to his drink. If anything, he'd make sure this plan would be carried out smoothly.
Lisa sighed in annoyance as the stain from her blouse refused to wash away.
Out of all the blouses, it had to be this one, she thought. Throwing away the damp tissue paper, she quickly began to unbutton her shirt. Glancing at herself in the mirror, Lisa's eyes immediately dropped to her scar. It was a stark contrast against her pale body; above her breast, upraised and dark pink, it was a mark she would bear for her entire life.
She looked down at it grimly, wishing that she could one day forget about the past and how her entire life had changed after the incident. She looked at herself in the mirror again, this time making eye contact with herself. She looked tired. Her eyes lacked the fiery passion of her former self.
Looking away, she reached into her suitcase and pulled out another top.
Jackson tapped his fingers on his glass, watching the crowd again. To the casual observer he seemed to be simply watching. Taking a long sip of his glass, his eyes caught a small figure heading towards him. He turned his head slightly and found Lisa cautiously striding to the bar. He almost choked on his drink.
Straightening himself out, he looked eager as he spoke with surprise, "Oh, hi!"
"Hi. Ah, is this…taken?" She gestured to the empty seat.
"No, it's all yours," he offered, smiling triumphantly.
She sat down and began to, once again, shuffle her luggage around. He watched her carefully, noting the way she was uncomfortable around him.
"So," he began, a cocky smile forming. "Did you get your…calls….made?"
Lisa stopped and mentally slapped herself. Great excuse, wasn't it?
"Yep," she slowly said, nodding. "No more calls."
Looking away, she avoided eye contact. She could tell by the look on his face that he didn't believe one word of her excuse. By the way he continued to stare at her and smile mysteriously, she wondered if he was happy to see her accept his offer. Lisa found herself wondering if she could build a relationship with this man; the first to have caught her eye after two years of solitude.
"Good," he agreed. "What'll you have?"
Lisa sucked in a breath and glanced at the bar. "Oh, uh…no…it's…I'm okay."
"If I can guess," he said bluntly, leaving her no choice.
She was surprised, and a little weary, but agreed with him only to stall in hopes that their flight would be called sooner, rather than later.
He straightened up and made a face. "Um….I'm feeling vodka." She sat up straight and inclined her head. "Definitely sweetened." Lisa couldn't help but smile back at his smug smirk. "Um…Cosmo?"
He watched carefully, knowing what to expect. She indicated her head and began to say 'no' but stopped herself.
"No…way too common." She laughed at his comment, once again keeping her eyes downcast. "Screwdriver?" She made a face of disgust and they both laughed together. "No, no. Way too…boring."
And we all know how you hate boring, right Leese?
He sensed her watching her carefully, so he looked into the bar as if to narrow down his results. He saw by her body language how she had begun to relax around him as he played his game.
"So, that leaves me with the simplicity of the grapefruit…or the complexity of the pineapple…" he trailed off, thinking hard and drumming his fingers on the bar.
Lisa's heart was pounding in her chest. This wasn't possible, she thought. If he guessed correctly…
"Grapefruit sea breeze," he concluded, smiling as if he had known all along.
Lisa fought the urge to drop open her mouth in shock. This guessing game had been fun up until he had narrowed it down to the final two. Here he was, a total stranger, and he had guessed her favourite drink within a matter of seconds. No matter how attractive she found this man, there was no way she would give him the satisfaction of knowing he was right. His eyes narrowed slightly, before she turned to the bar, and kept eye contact with him, ordering her drink.
"Uh, could I have a…bay breeze?"
The bartender smiled and nodded, having overheard their conversation. The stranger exhaled heavily and pouted, looking extremely put out by his incorrect assumption.
"That's a very impressive talent, though," she assured, nodding. "Very close."
He casually shrugged and gestured with one hand. "You know…breaks the ice."
She nodded her head in agreement, the pair sharing a small laugh.
"So, are you headed home?" he enquired.
"Yeah…trying," she emphasised.
"Yeah, flying is so much fun these days, huh?"
She exhaled heavily. "Fun for me is just getting off that plane in one piece."
Define 'one piece'.
He twisted his face sympathetically. "Oh…fear of flying?"
"Yeah…just…just a little." She indicated with her index finger and thumb, half an inch.
Lie number two, Leese? What else are you gonna lie about? I know everything about you.
"Were you in Texas on…hotel business?"
Her smile dropped. "No…my grandmother died."
"Oh." He inclined his head in empathy.
"It's okay. She was ninety-one."
"Ninety-one?" He was genuinely surprised at that. "That's respectable. What was her secret?"
"Grape-nuts. And a guy named Duke." She smiled, shyly.
He grinned back at her, a little taken aback. "Uh….excuse me?"
"Yeah, she said the grape-nuts kept her arteries clean, Duke….helped with the rest." She gestured wildly and looked away, her face red from embarrassment.
Jackson couldn't help but smile at Lisa. He watched her closely, wondering what she was hiding besides her initial awkwardness. She was the first woman he'd met who had been shy about the topic of sex.
He laughed loudly along with Lisa. "Wow. A…dynamic woman."
Lisa looked up at him and saw his eyes bore into her own. Was he referring to her, or her grandmother? She suddenly found the need to talk about her grandma's life.
"Nothing fazed her, you know?" She saw she had captured his attention again. "She was so optimistic. 'Always look forward'. That's what she'd say."
Lisa looked up as soon as she'd heard herself say those words. She remembered when her grandmother had found out about the incident two years ago. She had caught the first flight to Miami and comforted her granddaughter, clucking about her like a mother hen. She had made up for her mother's absence, fetching her tea, talking to her, giggling like school girls as they watched the latest chick-flicks on DVD and admiring the handsome men. Before she had left two weeks later, she had taken Lisa's hands in her own and kissed her forehead, repeating to her the same thing she had said since she arrived; always look forward.
Lisa decided at that very moment, that she would look forward. She wouldn't let the actions of a madman ruin her life. If she wanted to come out of this a better woman, she would need to show herself that she could move on and overcome the past.
And maybe he can help me.
Jackson watched the barman place the glass down. He looked over to Lisa, carefully watching her accept the drink. He sat silently as she took a long sip of the drink and then made a face. He clenched his jaw as she brushed off the taste.
"That taste okay?" he asked, furrowing his brow.
"It's fine," she rasped out, a little too quickly.
"You sure?" She nodded. "Cause we can always get you that sea breeze…"
He trailed off, waiting for her to reply. He could tell she was a little more than irked at the fact that he was pressuring her about a drink. He couldn't understand the one thing about her. Why was she so adamant to ensure he was wrong? After all, it was only a drink. He found himself becoming angrier as she shook her head and tightly gripped her drink. He had to force himself to calm down and listen to her speak.
"You sound like my dad."
Your dad? Jeez, Lisa, not exactly who I wanted to be compared to…
"I say I'm fine, he says 'are you sure?'….I'm sure," she nodded at him, emphasising her point.
He bobbed his head. "Okay, I believe you."
They both laughed again. Jackson found himself relaxing more than he ought to have, realising Lisa was doing the same. Perhaps if this wasn't planned, things could have worked between them and this conversation and casual flirting could have been genuine.
Ah, Lisa, why'd you have to work at the Lux?
"The name's Jackson, by the way," he offered, extending his hand.
"Lisa," she replied, gripping his own hand in her own.
In that brief moment, Lisa found herself holding back a shiver as his smooth hand held her own gently. He casually brushed his fingers along her wrist, causing Lisa to suppress a gasp of surprise.
"Pleased to meet you."
"Is it Jack, for short?" she asked quickly, hoping to cover her reaction.
"No," he stated bluntly, his eyes icy blue. Was he angry? "I haven't gone by Jack since I was ten years old." She looked at him, curious. "Last name's Rippner."
He nodded his head and waited for her to reply.
"Jack Rippner…." She tested it, hearing it for herself. "Jack…the….oh!"
Realisation hit her as the name began to roll of her lips. He must have thought she was so stupid not to realise that in the first place.
"There you go!" he nodded and smiled, charming the worry out of her.
Lovely parents. "That wasn't very nice of your parents."
"No, no. That's what I told 'em…." He looked away as if remembering, then nodded his head. "Before I killed 'em."
He looked serious; his tone friendly as if nothing he had said was out of the ordinary for him. Lisa looked taken aback and let the smile fall from her lips, before she realised he was joking and laughed along with him.
"Well, if it's any comfort, my middle name's Henrietta."
She looked at him as he drawled out the name. He shrugged as if to say, 'not so bad'.
"But that's my grandmother's name, though. Was…" She shook her head as if to shake off the alcohol from the bay breeze, which she accused of causing her to forget the reason she was in Texas.
Actually, I blame you, Jackson, Lisa thought smiling. But I guess I can forgive you.
Jackson let the next set of words fall from his lips, surprising Lisa, and even himself.
"Well, here's to Henrietta, whose spirit is very much alive."
He lifted his glass, watching Lisa's eyes soften at his gesture and then follow his own movement. Their glasses clinked together and they drank, Lisa taking a long sip of her bay breeze. Jackson could only watch in amusement as she placed the drink down and sighed, licking her lips.
Jackson continued their conversation, casually glancing up at the TV screen as the face of Charles Keefe took over. He hoped that the plane would board soon. He had no doubt he'd be able to pull the job off entirely at the Tex Mex, but he'd prefer it when they were thousands of feet up in the air and she had nowhere to run.
Over the PA system, an announcement was made that the plane to Miami was ready for boarding. There was a sudden uproar of noise as everybody around Jackson and Lisa began to applaud and cheer.
Lisa and Jackson glanced at each other, both of them seeming rather reluctant to leave their places at the bar. Jackson almost wished they were simply strangers to each other, and nothing more. Lisa smiled reluctantly and lightly clapped, whilst Jackson gestured widely with his arms and nodded in acceptance.
"I guess that's us," Lisa sighed.
Jackson noted she seemed rather disappointed, and held back the urge to give her his number. Instead, he looked around the crowd again and found his comrades, playing along with the charade and clapping.
"Wonders never cease." Jackson exhaled heavily, and then noticed her glance at her drink. Mentally slapping himself, he stood and reached for his wallet. "Uh, let me get this."
"Oh, no. No. Please," she assured, standing and looking for her own purse.
"I got it. I got it." He pressed, holding his hand up and flashing a charming smile at her.
Caring, forthright, understanding, knows my favourite drink, a total gentleman, good looking and gorgeous eyes…this list could go on, Lisa thought, smiling shyly at him.
"Welcome." Jackson smiled nervously. "Well….so….uh…"
Neither knew what to say. Lisa smiled at Jackson who looked away quickly, grinning. Their awkward silence was suddenly cut short, much to Lisa's relief.
Jackson couldn't believe his luck. He almost swore aloud. He had ordered not to be disturbed until he called them. Rolling his eyes heavenward, he reached into his pocket.
"Can you hang on? I'm sorry," he apologised. Lisa nodded and waited for him to answer. "Hello? Yeah." He glanced at Lisa and then rolled his eyes once more, receiving a small giggle from her. "Can you just hold on?"
Lisa looked up at him. "Um, I gotta take this." Her mouth opened as if to say something, her face dropping as he spoke. "I'm sorry."
"That's okay," Lisa replied, inclining her head.
"It was so nice to meet you," Jackson said, his phone clenched tightly in his palm.
"Nice to meet you."
"You have a good flight," Jackson offered, not knowing what else to say.
Saying their last goodbyes, Jackson flashed a heart-melting smile once more, before strolling away, his phone attached to his ear in no time.
"Hey, yeah. Looks like we're gettin' outta here. The storm's moved on. No, there's time…"
Lisa watched him go, willing him to turn around and smile at her once more. Their small meeting had to have meant something, especially on the day of the funeral. He had surprisingly lifted her spirits considerably, something that not even her dad could have accomplished without a hefty bribe of cookie dough ice cream. He had even, without any knowledge, given her that small push to move on with her life. She recalled something her grandmother had told her during her visit two years ago.
"No matter who you meet in your life, remember that the tiniest, insignificant detail about them can make a bigger impact in your life than you could ever imagine."
Lisa sighed, leaning over to pick up her things. This man had made the biggest impact in her life since her grandmother, and for all she know, he could be married.
Way to go, Lisa. You really know how to pick 'em.
She turned and made her way into the gate.
"Sit tight outside the house until I give orders. Don't go inside, don't call, just keep yourself hidden. Nobody can know you're there, and yes I know what Loren told me, which is why you need to keep yourself on the low. You know we can't bring Joe into this. He's already being bugged, so keep it quiet." Jackson stood in line, keeping his voice low and thanking any deity about the screaming baby in front of him. "He's working on it. I gotta go, Dane. Yeah. Uh-huh."
With that, he terminated the connection and presented his ticket, flashing a devilish grin at a young woman patiently waiting as a relative boarded the plane. She spotted him and smiled, a tell-tale blush gracing her features.
Still got it, Rippner.
Author's Note: There's a little button just below this message....click it and it'll take you to a magical land!