Disclaimer: I do not own the Timeless Series, I do wish that I owned Joseph!
I left my hiding spot and walked slowly—I didn't want to get cornered by Pamela—back towards the action. I was leaning against the stairway to the plane when I heard someone say "Doctor Moretti." It was a man's voice. I turned to see if he was talking to the Dr. Moretti. Sure enough, the limo driver was tipping his hat at a beautiful and very young woman. I couldn't blame him for pulling out all the gentlemanly stops—but who tips their hat these days? I guess I would too. She was gorgeous. Her long brown hair framed her tan, flawless face beautifully, and flowed in loose curls down her back. She wore a muted pink business suit that reflected the style of someone her age—slightly trendy—without being flashy or unprofessional. Her eyes were covered by sunglasses, but I'd bet my last paycheck that they were just as stunning as the rest of her. When Agent Morris mentioned the young doctor that would be accompanying us back to D.C., I had expected her to be in her mid thirties—that was young for a doctor, right? This woman couldn't be any older than her mid twenties.
She had the handle of her suitcase in one hand and was wheeling it towards the plane. As I quickly walked over to her to offer my assistance, chatter picked up over my ear piece as the others took notice of her stunning beauty. There was a barked order to "shut the hell up" over the ear piece and the annoying babble died down immediately. Agent Austin seemed more on edge than ever.
Man, I had a stupid grin from ear to ear. I couldn't help myself; this woman was beautiful, and apparently incredibly intelligent. It seems as though I might have met a woman who didn't fall in to my "one of two categories" and hopefully not the third—no one wants a stalker. She was obviously successful, and apparently not afraid of the supernatural. There had to be a catch, there was always a catch. She must either be a stalker or married. I stole a sly glance at her left hand. No ring. I sent a silent prayer up to God that she not be a stalker.
"May I help you," I offered.
She seemed to think about it for a second. Crap, did she catch me looking for a ring? But then she returned my smile and said, "That would be much appreciated."
"My pleasure." I would not allow the limo driver to one up me in the gentleman department. I took her suitcase from her. Holy Cow, it must have weighed a ton. I glanced down and noticed that it seemed to be bulging at the seams, ready to explode at any minute. Apparently she thought she was moving to D.C.
"Ladies first." I gestured with my hand for her to go ahead and then gently placed my hand at her lower back. I was trying to be a gentleman, I told myself. It was obvious I just wanted to be near her. What was wrong with me? I was glad she couldn't see my face fully, because the cheesy grin was growing in width.
I guided her up the stairwell and put her suitcase in an overhead bin. When I turned around I noticed that she had taken off her sunglasses. I was right, her eyes were amazing. She was taking in her surroundings; her mouth was slightly open and her bright green eyes were wide with surprise. Apparently this was her first trip aboard a lavish plane. I had to admit, there were perks when you worked for the FBI. The hostess approached us and, as I'm sure she was instructed to do, went right up to Doctor Moretti and offered her a drink. She declined.
I flashed the most dashing smile that I could conjure up and said "It was a delight to meet you, Doctor Moretti."
"You can call me Gabriella." Instantly her cheeks were flushed and she looked embarrassed. "I'm sorry, I didn't catch your name?"
"Agent Carter." Ugh, could my smile get any cheesier? I didn't seem to have any control over my facial expressions around this woman.
"Will I see you on the flight, Agent Carter?"
That look on her face … was she flirting with me? Well, two could play at that game. "You will, Gabriella." Gabriella, the name sounded delicious on my tongue. "You can call me Joseph, by the way."
My earpiece buzzed to life, several agents whispered at once. Apparently they were close enough that I'd be able to hear their voices without my earpiece if they weren't whispering.
"Reel it in, Romeo."
"Are you going to join the FBI mile high club?"
"Now I know why you don't like cougars, you like them just past puberty." There was no mistaking it, that last comment was Matt. I was going to give it to him.
Holding my expression as casually as I could, I said, "I've got to go, but I'll see you back here shortly." I threw her what I hoped was a flirtatious smile, then made eye contact with Matt and gave him the follow me or else look, and took off down the stairs.
Matt must have been up for a good fight because he followed after me. Once we were safely out of hearing range from everyoneI turned on my heels, poised to pounce. "What the hell was that?"
"Settle down, Carter. God, you should have seen yourself, she's already got you wrapped around her little finger. Everyone was staring. Pamela was fuming; I'd stay away from her for a while if I were you."
The mention of Pamela instantly dissolved my fury and I started laughing. Maybe there was a benefit to my public humiliation after all. "Ha, maybe she'll get the picture that I don't date grandmothers."
"I wouldn't count her out," he teased. "I bet she's got plenty of experience. I'm sure she could teach you a thing or two, Romeo."
Ugh, it seems that I've acquired a new nickname within the FBI. Great, just great. Well, I wasn't about to let a bunch of meddling co-workers ruin my good mood.
"Agent Carter, report to the briefing room." A voice squawked in to my earpiece.
"Gotta go, Matt. Tell the others to back the hell off if they know what's good for them." That was an order from Special Agent Carter—their superior.
"Whatever. We've got a long boring flight ahead of us and I think they're just warming up." Matt just laughed; I could see the new comments forming in his head. This was going to be a long flight.
I just shook my head and walked back into the plane. Several people gave me raised eyebrows, knowing glances, and I even earned a few high fives as I walked towards the rear of the plane. These people were all too well trained; they didn't miss any details. I stole a quick glance at Gabriella, who had settled into a couch with Agent Austin. They appeared to be having a deep, secretive conversation. Gabriella was listening intently to Karen, whose eyes were constantly scanning the cabin, searching for—well I didn't know what she could be searching for. As I passed by, seemingly unnoticed by them, the only part of their whispered conversation that I could make out was Gabriella saying "dark one" as her eyes darted around the plane, laced with panic. Dark one? Was that some new code word that I hadn't been informed of yet? It would be rude (and obvious) to stand and eavesdrop more, so I continued walking towards the rear of the plane.
As I entered the briefing room, Emily handed me a detailed itinerary for our trip, then lowered her voice to barely a whisper. "I suggested to Agent Morris that you would be a great pick for shadowing Doctor Moretti during her stay in D.C. She's not familiar with FBI protocol and will need a friendly face to show her the ropes." She gave me a knowing wink. Emily was fantastic. Her and her husband chose to not have children; she always said it was because the agents in our department kept her busy enough. She was our "office mom". Emily worried and fussed over us constantly, gave us advice, baked us cookies, and made sure we knew that we were always welcome in her home. She was in her early forties and was always interested in my dating life. Emily was one of the only people who understood why I was holding out for the right woman. "I thought you should handle reviewing the schedule with Dr. Moretti's assistant. Her name is Sally, you can't miss her; she's the one in the putrid green shirt with bright red, poofy hair."
"Emily, I owe you one. I mean that; you and Michael are going out to a nice dinner—on me—when we get home."
"Oh, well I asked Agent Morris if I could stay in Oregon for a few days. My mom lives here and I haven't seen her for months, so can I take you up on that dinner offer when I get back?"
"Absolutely! Have a great visit with your mom." Agent Morris would give Emily anything she asked for, she'd been his assistant for 20 years and was one of the best employees that the FBI had. I gave Emily a quick one armed hug and took off with the itinerary. My day was getting better by the minute. Not only would I have several hours on the plane with Gabriella, but I'd get to spend most of her time in D.C. with her too. Did I have a school boy crush or what?
Sure enough, it was easy to spot Sally. Her back was facing me as she made herself at home in one of the mini drink bars. Her hand was on the lid to a bottle of Vodka. Who does this girl think she is? "Excuse me, are you Sally?"I half shouted, hoping to scare her a bit. Instantly, her hands flew to her sides and her posture when rigid. Her eyes grew wide and she seemed to start sweating like a pedophile in a teddy bear suit. I had to stifle the laughter that was threatening to explode from me. Apparently, Gabriella had her hands full with this girl. "Hi, I'm Special Agent Carter, I'm with the FBI. You can call me Joseph." I held my badge out, just to taunt her a bit. She looked terrified, like I might arrest her for touching a bottle of vodka. I gave her my nicest, most genuine smile, feeling a little guilty for scaring her. "I'm sorry to interrupt, but I have the itinerary for your trip." She just grabbed it from my hand and tried walked to walk past me, apparently beyond embarrassed. I stepped to the side, blocking her exit. "If you're thirsty, I'd be happy to make a drink for you." I may as well earn brownie points with Gabriella's assistant. "I'm sure you're already twenty-one, so there's no reason to check your I.D., right?" Ha, this girl couldn't be more than nineteen.
"Um . . ." She seemed to be pondering whether or not I'd actually check her I.D. "Actually, I think I'll just have some orange juice."
I bent down to grab the juice out of the mini refrigerator when I saw Sally step closer to me. I glanced up at her just in time to see her expression change from timid and embarrassed to feisty, hormone-enraged teenager. I stood up immediately, orange juice in hand, and took a quick, seemingly involuntary step back, somewhat unnerved. She mirrored my step back with her own slow, deliberate step forward, while she took her free hand and ran it through her already poofy red hair, giving it the appearance of a lion's mane.
Shit, should I call for back up? Geez, what's wrong with me? I'm a trained FBI agent; I should be able to handle this.
Before I had time to turn and run, she took the last step between us and put her hand on my chest, pushing me gently against the wall of the plane. Instantly I froze—completely shocked. She did not just do that!
"You must work out, Joseph." She purred—or attempted to but it was more of a guttural growl—and then trailed her fingers down my chest.
This is not happening. My well trained mind kicked into gear and I did the only thing any self respecting FBI agent would do in this situation; I put my finger to my earpiece, put a serious look on my face, pretending to listen to an order, and said, "Yes sir, I'll be right there." Then I turned and bolted down the aisle.
Just as I was a safe distance from Sally I practically bumped into Emily, who was just getting ready to get off the plane.
"Hey Joseph, did yo—Joseph, oh my, are you all right? You're as white as a ghost." She flailed her hands uselessly around my face, apparently trying to find a way to fix me.
"Emily, do me a favor and keep that child away from the male agents on this flight. She's a piece of work. If she gets her paws on the wrong agent, we could end up with a sexual harassment suit on our hands." I laughed as I shook my head—finally able to see the humor in the situation.
She let out a nervous laugh, knowing exactly who I was talking about, but apparently appeased that I wasn't going to pass out or have heart failure. "Well, I won't be on the return flight, but I'll make sure that someone keeps an eye on her. What did she do to get you so worked up?"
"It was nothing, really. Here," I handed her the orange juice that was still in my hand, "have some juice."
She looked at me like I'd grown horns and said, reluctantly, "Um, thanks?" It came out more like a question. I knew I'd get a phone call from her later, making sure that I really was all right.
"I think I'll go touch base with Doctor Moretti now. I'll see you when you get back."
"Okay, Hun. Be safe."
"You know I always am." I gave her a quick peck on the cheek and went back to check on Gabriella.
As I walked up behind her, I could see orange hair rising above the top of the seat next to her and heard Sally's shrill voice. "And I have eleven toes … Are you even listening, Ella?" Ella, huh? What that what her friends called her? Hum, I'd hardly say that Sally was her friend … I think I'll stick with Gabriella—maybe Gabby if we become friends … or more than friends. I smiled at the thought.
"Oh, yes. Wait what did you say?" Gabriella's voice sounded distant, like she'd been daydreaming.
Sally just plowed on. "Since I'm on this trip, are you going to tell me what's going on? Something major must be brewing for the FBI to be swarming the place like they were. But that one FBI agent … Joseph? Meow."
I had to stop this conversation before it went much further. Unfortunately, I didn't get there in time to prevent Sally's hands from reaching into the air and clawing at it like a cat. Kill me now.
"Ladies," I said, unable to hold back a little chuckle.
I couldn't see Sally's expression, but I'd bet that she was mortified because she didn't even look back at me before she bowed her head and her ears turned an unflattering shade of red. Maybe I could save Gabriella from this conversation that she was obviously not interested in.
"Can I speak with you, Gabriella?" I asked, making eye contact with her.
"I'm just going to…." Sally pointed in the direction of the mini bar and jumped up from her seat and scurried away. Maybe she was going to get that Vodka after all.
Gabriella and I erupted into laughter at the same time.
"It's always a good day when you get clawed at. That happens more than you might think," I tried to play it off as a joke, but inside I was still a little nervous about Sally.
I sat down in Sally's seat, hoping to save her from her aggravating assistant returning to pester her some more. We were both silent, and I guessed that Gabriella's mind was occupied with her discovery. After a while, quite a while actually—long enough for the plane to take off and become surrounded by clouds, I noticed that Gabriella was staring past me out a window. She looked confused so I turned to see what she was looking at. Nothing looked out of place to me. "Gabriella? What's wrong?" Was I missing something? Had I slacked off on the job and missed something—some supernatural spirit attacking the plane?
"When did we take off?"
I relaxed instantly and smiled, apparently she was more engrossed in her thoughts than I had guessed. "We've been airborne for seven minutes."
I looked at her, worrying about what it was that had her so wrapped up in thought. Maybe her discovery was bigger than what we'd been informed of.
"What did you need to talk to me about," she asked.
"Nothing in particular," I said, flashing a wide smile at her. I hoped she would appreciate me saving her from her assistant, and not think I was being too forward.
She raised her eyebrows at me in question. Time to fess up.
"I was trying to rescue you from your assistant. I could tell that you weren't paying attention, so I thought I'd pretend I needed to speak to you," I confessed and laughed, thinking of how I wished someone had saved me from Sally earlier. "The few minutes that I talked to her were … interesting and I thought you might need a conversation rescue. Though, I didn't realize what kind of conversation I was walking into."
"Me either," she mumbled, seeming embarrassed.
"I've heard a lot about you," I said, hoping to get off the subject of Sally. I gave her a sideways glance, checking to see if she was listening.
"Oh yeah? And what's that?"
"You're a skeptic. That your job is to find the supernatural." I looked at her to try to gauge her reaction. Her expression was neutral, giving away nothing. I decided to continue, hoping to get more information out of her. "I heard that it is almost impossible to fool you."
She nodded, still appearing to be wrapped up in her thoughts.
I was not about to give up, I wanted to discover what made this beautiful woman tick, so I dug for more info. "This might be the real deal, huh?"
She stared at me for what seemed like a long time. For some reason the stare was not uncomfortable; she seemed to be deciding whether or not she could trust me with her secrets.
"Could be," she said in a doubtful voice. She didn't fool me for a second. I was excellent at reading people, and her facial expression told me that she was dumbfounded; completely shocked by what she'd discovered. I decided to drop the subject for a while. I didn't want to be pushy, so I leaned my head back against the head rest and saw that Gabriella picked up a book to read.
After several minutes, a hostess walked up to us and offered Gabriella a drink. She asked for cranberry juice. Hum, I would have thought she'd ask for a shot of Jack Daniels, just to relax her mind a bit.
I declined a drink, intent on peeling away the layers of this intriguing woman. I turned to look at her, hoping to claim her undivided attention. "So, what exactly do you do in the … fishbowl, was it?"
"Yeah. The fishbowl was kind of from a joke." She let out a musical laugh. "On a normal day—if there is ever a normal day for me—I do autopsies on bodies that are suspected, or deemed 'supernatural'. We have some very rich, very bored investors who pay us a lot of money to tell them 'no, he wasn't a demon, he just had a really bad skin disease' or 'yes, he was very hairy, but sorry, he was not a werewolf'. This is the first time that I have been completely baffled. Those …"
She hesitated for a moment, before starting up again, leading me to believe that she knew more than she was letting on, but I let her continue.
"bodies are different. I was actually scared for the first time since I started working at Zelko Corp."
"Really?" The thought of her in a lab, alone and scared, had me wishing that I could have been there to protect and comfort her. It felt strange, this desire to protect her; I'd never felt like this before.
"Oh yeah, the only other time I was remotely freaked out was by the feather man."
She looked like she was about to laugh, I could only imagine the crazy things that she had seen in the fishbowl; I laughed just imagining possibilities. "Feather man?" There was no way I was going to let her leave me hanging.
"Oh yeah. This moron had the brilliant idea to stitch feathers into his skin to make it look like he was a bird, or an angel … or who knows what actually goes on through a person's head like that?" She shook her head, appearing to be amused by reliving that spectacle. "And it wasn't like he was scary—but removing hundreds of long emu feathers from the guys back was horrible. To think that someone probably helped him with it or to think of the poor bird missing its feathers …" She shuddered a bit. Was she more freaked out by the naked bird or the feather man? "Never a boring day in the fishbowl."
"That sounds …" I wished I had left it at "Feather Man." I grimaced, thinking of the needle penetrating his skin over and over … I just nodded. There were no words … Fortunately she pulled me out of my horribly vivid mental slide show.
"So, Agen—Joseph, what do you do at the FBI?"
Why does my name sound so great when it comes from her lips? Ugh, I'm hopeless.
"I over see our P.I. lab in Washington. For the most part, I stay out of the labs. They creep me out, especially the experimental ones." She had rescued me from thoughts of the feather man and plunged me into memories of "alien" bodies floating in cryogen tanks—not the green martians you see on cartoons, but truly mystifying, frightening creatures. I shook off that memory, remembering that I was sitting next to an intriguing woman, who was patiently waiting for me to continue. "I mostly work in the field, overseeing the majority of our investigations. Usually my cases involve horrific deaths that have been suspected to be of the paranormal persuasion."
"In Georgia, one year, there were several deaths that the Christians were presuming were the devils work. I had the 'pleasure' to speak to some very … interesting people." I couldn't hold back the laugh that erupted from me as I remembered the man, dressed in, what appeared to be, a devil's costume from a Halloween store. The costume covered his skin from head to toe, only revealing his face under the hood. My encounter with him started out humorous until his anger erupted into fury when I didn't take him seriously. His skin began to crackle—sounding like a campfire coming to life—and I swore that I saw red glowing from beneath his skin, well not glowing exactly, but some red force seemed to be moving under his skin. My instincts were screaming—danger—and just when I'd been ready to pounce to defend myself, Agent Morris walked up behind the creature; the red suddenly disappeared from his face and he went back to just looking like a crazy man. I had brushed it off as my crazy imagination, but still to this day I wonder if I had encountered something truly supernatural. Of course I hadn't told anyone about what I'd seen; I didn't want to end up in a padded cell for the rest of my life—and I certainly wasn't going to tell Gabriella, although I had a hutch that she'd believe me.
"Even the coroner, a scientist, refused to work with the bodies, afraid that he would be infected. Infected by what? I have no idea. When it was all said and done, it was two kids who had joined a cult and took it too far." I still didn't believe that; I was certain that the creature had scared those kids into confessing to the murders.
"Really? A cult?" She asked, seeming amused.
"Stupid, I know." I shook my head, now questioning my own sanity. "They thought they were following the devils orders. If you believe in that stuff, perhaps they were."It would not be too far-fetched to believe that that creature was the devil. I suppressed a shudder, suddenly feeling thankful that I had survived that encounter. Someone must have been looking out for me.
"Perhaps." She said, seeming distracted now, staring out the window, over my shoulder.
Hum, I think it's time to lighten the mood. "I could really use a vacation," I sighed. "Do you like to ski?"
Her eyes darted back to me, making her look shocked. "I do, actually. I love it. Last year I went to Snow Bird in Utah. They have some amazing slopes."
I almost leapt out of my seat and pulled her into a bear hug. She was unlike any other woman I'd ever me. I'd have to upgrade Emily and Mike's dinner to include the theater also—she earned it for pulling strings for me. Even if Gabriella wasn't interested in a relationship, I had a feeling that I was making a new life-long friend … although, I bet she looked hot in her ski outfit. Most of the women that I had dated recently wouldn't even consider skiing—they said the ski goggles weren't very attractive—those relationships ended quite abruptly. "Really? I've never been. There are some places to ski on the east coast, but I've never had the opportunity to go. My brother lives in Colorado and invites me up every winter. My sister-in-law and their kids come with us. They are young, but enthusiastic about skiing. It's a joy to teach them some of my totally awesome tricks." I had to laugh at myself, remembering our trip from the previous year—my niece and nephew (the only humans on the face of the earth that could get away with calling me Joey) thought that I was the best skier ever; I had to admit, I was pretty good, but not nearly as good as they thought I was. It was fun to share those times with them; I didn't get to see them often, so I was excited to see them look up to me. I also enjoyed being a human jungle gym for them. My sister-in-law said that she loved having me around because it got the kids out of her hair for a while, but the truth was—I loved it. I could make snow angels, wrestle and tickle those kids all day and never get tired of it, plus I could skip a trip to the gym—they were a serious work out.
Gabriella let out a little laugh—probably picturing me falling on my face while showing off. Then suddenly her face went somber and she seemed pensive for a while. I wondered what could have pulled her out of our light-hearted conversation. Had I said something wrong? Her eyes eventually found their way back to her book. I decided to try to bring a smile to her face again. "Good book?"
She looked up at me, staring into my eyes—she seemed captivated. Maybe this really would work out. It was worth a shot.
"Earlier, your eyes were moving so fast that I didn't know if you were actually absorbing the information or not." I shot her a little smile to let her know I was teasing.
"Yes, it's great—about a vampire." She closed the book and held it up for me to see the cover.
"Vampires, eh? The skeptic reads books on the supernatural?" Was it a strange form of research? It seemed comical to me.
"Sometimes fantasy is better than reality." She barely whispered.
I could barely contain the shock on my face. Was her life hard? Had she been hurt by people? How could a book about vampires possibly be better than her real life? Oh, I was going to change that. It was my new mission in life—quite possibly the best mission I'd ever been assigned. I'd start my mission ASAP. I gave her, what I hoped was, a flirtatious smile and said "Maybe we should change that. I could show you the sights while you're in D.C. Your schedule doesn't bind you to the lab all day." Before she even answered, I was already trying to decide whether to keep the sight-seeing light and casual or to give it a romantic flare.
She looked at me for a few moments; her expression unreadable. When she finally answered, she had avoided my offer completely. "How do you know my schedule?"
I tried to hide the feeling of being stabbed in the gut from her avoiding my invitation by looking sheepish for knowing her schedule. "I gave the itinerary to Sally. And I was kind of curious about you. You aren't upset, are you?" Somehow—and I wasn't sure how—our flirting had taken a nose dive. If only I knew what was going on in her mind.
"No," she practically shouted at me. Women—who could understand them? I decided to ditch the sight-seeing idea; something about it seemed to embarrass her. I opted for a complete change of subject, something professional, work related.
"I wish that we could just know the truth. All this secrecy is rather annoying when you're the one seeking answers."
"Then I would be out of a job." She said, while laying her head back.
"True, and then I would never have met you. So maybe all these mysteries will end up being a good thing—"
My sentence was cut off as the plane shook with turbulence. Gabriella took a quick peek out the window and seized the armrest with superhuman strength, her tendons straining with her effort.
"Anxious, are we?" I asked, hoping to distract her. Turbulence was very common, nothing to get nervous about.
The plane shook again and somehow her grip got impossibly tighter.
"Scared of flying?" It seemed comical, this woman who dealt with supernatural phenomenons on a daily basis to be afraid of a little turbulence.
As the plane shook, yet again, she closed her eyes and began taking deep breaths.
"What is it then?"I couldn't get a clear reading on this woman. Most women in her position would have played the damsel in distress card.
"I have a fear of falling from heights." Her voice was laced with panic.
"I don't understand the difference." I laughed.
"Her eyes opened and stared into mine. "Put me in a plane, strap me up, or let me repel from a cliff—or hang me from a thirty story building—and I'm fine. It's when I'm not safe that I freak out. Heights are fine, until there is a risk of falling from them."
Before I could even tell her how safe this plane was, the plane rocked with more turbulence and she jumped. She may not have begged me to rescue her like most women would have, but the least I could do was offer to take her mind off of things.
"Maybe I could distract you," I said quietly, in what I hoped was a sexy voice. I slowly reached to release her death grip on the armrest. She looked in to my eyes as I took her hand; seeming amused and a little afraid. As she stared at me she seemed to be having some sort of internal struggle. Was she afraid that she'd die on this plane? Was she upset that I was holding her hand? I wasn't usually this forward with women—maybe I had upset her. I was about to apologize for being so forward when we were interrupted by the pilot. "Ladies and gentleman, we are entering into some really nasty storms. I'd like everyone to please buckle your seatbelts."
As the plane gave us another jolt, Gabriella yanked her hand out of mine and frantically began searching for her seatbelt. I watched her flail around for a moment, seized by fear, before I calmly (I was trained for situations much worse than this) reached over and found her seatbelt and buckled her in. "No worries. We'll be fine." I said softly to her, hoping to calm her fears by seeing how relaxed I was.
Suddenly I was made a liar—I stared out the window in shock as I saw the plane get struck by lightning. Typically a plane could withstand being hit by lightning, but we were instantly pulled into a flat spin before the plane began plummeting to the ground. We were up shit's creek without a paddle. Suitcases fell from the overhead compartments, hitting some of the passengers in the head. I couldn't waste time worrying about them though; Gabriella was in full freak-out mode, grasping wildly for her oxygen mask. I made sure she had hers securely fastened before I reached for mine.
Gabriella's eyes were shut as tightly as humanly possible when suddenly they flew open and her eyes shot over to Karen. I watched, dumbstruck, as Karen unbuckled her seatbelt and climbed over suitcases and a drink cart as she pulled herself up the aisle to us. Did she have a death wish? Well, I was fairly certain that no one would survive this crash whether they were seat belted in or not, but who on earth would abandon the sole safety device available to them? Karen had always been a little different.
I grabbed Gabriella's hand; I couldn't offer any hope, but I could be with her in our last moments together. We looked into each other's eyes, both knowing we were going to die. I couldn't bring myself to talk, though, I was too wrapped up in her stunning green eyes; she was beautiful even when panic-sticken. If I had to die today, this was the way to go: staring into the eyes of an angel.
Karen reached us then—breaking up our moment.
"Are you all right?" Karen yelled over the roar of the wind around the plane and the screams in the cabin.
Gabriella just shook her head back and forth, head still placed firmly against the headrest. "You're an angel," she shouted to Karen. "Can't you do something?"
An angel? Is this what Gabriella knew that she couldn't share with me? Or maybe Gabriella was crazy after all. I would have settled on believing that Gabriella was crazy if it hadn't been for Karen's reaction. Her eyes shot over to me, like she was terrified that I had just heard their big secret. I wondered if I looked half as flabbergasted as I felt. There was no hiding the complete shock on my face.
I'd like to give a huge thank you to lolafalana for betaing this chapter for me! You're awesome, lady!