A light rain cascaded onto the windshield as Isaac pulled into the drop-off area of Albany International Airport.
"I really want you two to be careful." He reminded shifting the car into park.
Winnie took her attention from the passenger window, hadn't realizing she was in a trance.
"Of course, we will," Eliza chimed in, "We're city girls. Charlotte is hardly dangerous."
"Winnie?" Isaac asked drawing her attention, "Are you okay?"
"Oh, sorry," She apologized quickly, "I'm just a little nervous. It's been so long since I have seen them. It's just that everything is happening so fast."
"Just relax, love. You said they're like family. I don't think you have anything to be worried about. Perhaps, the ride there may be an issue." Isaac lifted her left hand to his lips.
"It will be fun, Win," Eliza pledged playfully.
Winnie nodded in agreement, "I know. You're right. Everything will be fine."
"Great," Eliza squealed, "let's go." She unexpectedly gripped Isaac from behind his seat to hug him.
"Easy, Liza." He breathed harshly. She barely heard his comment as she hastily exited his Jeep Cherokee.
Winnie chuckled at Eliza's impulsiveness as Isaac playfully checked himself for injuries.
Catching him off guard, Winnie leaned over and mercilessly placed her lips on his. She wrapped her slender fingers around his neck as if she couldn't get any closer. She grabbed at his knit cardigan, wanting him to meet her halfway. Though it wasn't expected, Isaac relished the act and continued with her. He didn't think Winnie was a prude by far, but this was just so unlike her. He gently placed his hand at the nape of her neck, but paused when she let out a light whimper.
"Win, I'm not going anywhere." He stated breathless. Winnie's cheeks inflamed with coyness.
The truth was that Winnie needed that kiss. It was a reminder of what she needed to come back to. Of course, she couldn't let those words escape her.
"Come on you two, we need to catch our flight." She teased tapping on the driver side window, "a little help with our bags would be much appreciated, brother."
"Are you okay?" Isaac asked hesitantly, "If you're going to start doing that, we may have to get married a lot sooner."
"I don't know what I was thinking," she stated shaking her head, "I'm okay. We just haven't been apart for any long length of time. These next few days are going to be torturous. I think I have abandonment issues."
"You do not have abandonment issues," Isaac stated squeezing her hand gently, "No one is going to leave you, Winnie."
"Sometime today would be nice," Eliza called from behind the car.
"You'll be fine. Now, come on before she kills us both." Isaac reassured.
They exited the car and Isaac unloaded their luggage.
"Really, Liza? It's just a few days," Isaac joked patting at the bulge that was hers.
"We don't know what the weather is going to be like. It's best to be prepared."
"Of course," Isaac replied sarcastically as he closed the trunk. He tugged at his sister and she enveloped him in open arms. He kissed the top of her head, "Try not to get in too much trouble."
He stepped toward Winnie and grinned, "Take care Ms. Foster. Please, keep her out of trouble."
"Sure thing Mr. Blanc, I guess this is goodbye," she joked in a dreadful British accent.
He reached for her and planted a light kiss on mouth, trying not to linger to long.
"I love you," he whispered delicately in her ear.
"Me too," she breathed into him.
Isaac released her slowly, not at all prepared of what was to come. Outside he was beaming with anticipation and comfort, inside he was an absolute wreck.
"Just breathe and relax." Eliza eased rubbing Winnie's shoulders.
"I can't," Winnie huffed, "I can't do this. My stomach is literally in a knot. And why are we shaking?"
"Win, calm down. You're psyching yourself out."
Winnie closed her eyes and cringed, "It's really hard to breathe right now."
"You are okay. Nothing is going to happen. I've been on a plane dozens of times. Besides, you're going to have to get over this if you plan on leaving the country for your honeymoon." Eliza reminded.
Winnie's eyes popped open, "I guess I didn't think that far. A road trip would be much nicer."
"Winnie, as being your maid of honor, I cannot allow you to take a road trip for a honeymoon. It's not happening. So, get it out of your head. We are going to relax and enjoy ourselves, capisci?"
"Eliza, I don't think I can. I am really going to be sick." Winnie gasped.
"Deep breaths, Win. Take deep breaths. We're almost at cruising altitude."
Winnie panted and breathed for a couple of minutes more before exhaling drastically, "I did it," She smiled sheepishly.
"I told you it would be fine. The next thing to worry about is the landing."
At this point the seatbelt sign had gone off, and the flight attendants were free to move around. "Would either one of you ladies care for a cold compress?" One of the attendant asked handing out a rolled up towel."
"No, thank you. We're okay." Eliza answered, and then turned her attention back to Winnie, "What do you think Charlotte is going to be like?"
"I don't know. I imagine it isn't too different from any other city."
"Yeah, but why do you think Jesse's family moved to there of all places." Eliza pressed.
"You know what, Liza? I'm not really sure…and what is with all the questions."
"I'm just trying to keep your mind off of how high we are."
Winnie dared not look down in fear of possibly losing her breakfast.
"Jesse and I were going to go to Paris." She mentioned under lowered eyelids, "He told me how amazing it was and how spectacular the view was from The Eiffel Tower.
"You sound like you really wanted to do that. I don't know how you would have faired with the height." Eliza joked.
"I'm sure I would have been great."
"Well, maybe you and Isaac can go on your honeymoon. Though I'm sure you would want to go somewhere warm."
"Maybe," Winnie replied softly.
Eliza paused making sure to choose her words carefully, "You missed him, didn't you. And don't lie to me. I'm not Isaac."
Winnie stared at her a bit confused, "Why does it matter. He left."
"Yes, but he also came back…twice, I might add. Yesterday afternoon, you sounded like he had been gone for good. Now, we're on a flight the next morning going to see his family."
"You didn't have to come." Winnie spat.
"I wanted to. Besides, Isaac would not have let you get on this plane alone."
"I would have ridden with Jesse."
Eliza rolled her eyes in sarcasm, "Oh, okay. Well, I don't think he would have like that either." Winnie sat in silence.
"Alright, I'm done. Just answer me something. You were so sure you were in love with Jesse, right."
"Yes," Winnie sighed.
"Now, you're in love with my brother?" Eliza quizzed.
"Of course, I am."
"So, does that mean that you have fallen out of love with Jesse? Is it even possible to fall out of love? It's not like you too broke up. He moved away because he had too."
"I care about Jesse in a different way, but I love and want to marry Isaac."
"I never doubted that, Winnie. I just want to understand what it feels like. I mean you were sure both times. I just have never felt like that. At times, I thought I was, but I never really knew for sure. It's just hard for me to wrap my head around."
"It's an indescribable feeling. Something you have to experience to completely know."
"So is sex." Eliza snickered.
"What?" She asked innocently, "I just can't believe you have waited this long. You're twenty four. I'm almost shock Isaac waited that long. He never struck me as being that patient.
"Liza, spare me. I do not need you to go into detail about Isaac's past." Winnie cringed.
"I'm sure he's already told you all about it."
"I care not to remember. We're just focusing on the future here."
"You don't have to worry about it. It's not like he's been with that many girls. He's only had a couple he was semi-serious about."
"Hmmm," escaped Winnie's mouth.
"Are you nervous at all?" Eliza prodded.
"Eliza, I don't want to discuss my future sex with your brother."
"You are, aren't you? It's okay. Sex can be scary, but it definitely isn't for very long. Besides, Isaac is loving and caring. He will make it worth your while."
"How can you talk about your brother in that way? I'm serious, Liza. It's a little weird."
"Win, you're like my best friend. You're practically my only friend. I need to discuss this with someone."
"Liza, the reason you don't have girlfriends is because you slept with their boyfriends." Eliza made a face as if she was hurt. "It's just a little uncomfortable because he's your brother. I guess if you're comfortable then it's not a big deal.
"So, you guys haven't done anything at all?"
Winnie wanted to roll her eyes. "No. Isaac respects me enough to know that I want to wait. I just can't see myself being like that with someone I am not going to spend the rest of my life with."
"Just because I like sex, doesn't mean I de-value it or that it means anything less. I eventually plan on getting married and settling down. I have my whole life ahead of me. And I actually slept with one of their ex-boyfriends, who I had happened to know most of my high school life and we dated for a little while after." Eliza reminded.
"Sorry, I didn't mean it that way." Winnie apologized.
"I wasn't completely offended. I know at times I'm a little rough around the edges. However, I do admire your ability and you wanting to wait. I think Isaac does too."
Winnie smiled lightly hoping this topic would end soon.
"So," Eliza started, interrupting her thoughts, "do you mind if I try to get to know Jesse."
"Really, are you that interested?" Winnie stared wide-eyed.
"Well, he seems very nice and he is so adorable. I'll understand if you don't want me to. It may be kind of weird. Besides, doesn't he have an older brother anyway?" Eliza teased.
"Liza? What are you thinking?" Winnie scrutinized.
"Nothing, I just want to have fun and get to know the Tucks. His brother's name is Miles, right?"
"I told Isaac you would behave. So, please do not try to seduce his brother."
"Shhh, Win. They're putting in 'The Social Network'. I love this movie. You know Jesse Eisenberg is kind of cute in a weird, dorky sort of way."
Winnie chuckled and shook her head, "Oh, Eliza. What would I ever do without you?"
Winnie was ecstatic to be on the ground again, considering the landing was a complete nightmare. She and Eliza made their way through the airport until they got to a row of empty seats.
"You look like you're about to fall over," Eliza observed, "Have a seat. I'll call Isaac."
Winnie inhaled and exhaled deeply. She wanted to tell Eliza her anxiousness had absolutely nothing to do with the plane ride. The time was almost here for her to see them again. Her heart was pounding outside of her chest.
"Hello, brother." Eliza sang.
Eliza paused and smiled at Winnie. Surely, Isaac was worried about them and didn't waste anytime asking a billon questions.
"Oh, we're fine. We just got off the plane and are about to head over to the hotel."
Winnie willed her heart to calm down. She didn't want to go into cardiac arrest.
"Tell Isaac I'm okay. I have to go to the restroom and I will call him when we get settled in our room." Winnie confirmed.
"She'll call you later. No, she's going to the restroom." Eliza declared rolling her eyes subconsciously. Yes, I'll call mom and dad later. He seemed fine last night." Eliza started tapping her foot and waved Winnie off, letting her know she would watch their things.
Winnie darted to the restroom being careful not to look so obvious to Eliza. She pulled out her phone and dialed Jesse.
"Have you made it?" His voice chimed inside the phone.
"Yes, we landed about fifteen minutes ago. I wasn't too thrilled about it." Winnie whispered.
"You're brave Winnie Foster. I knew you would be okay."
Winnie smiled to herself.
"I'm just now making it here myself. Mae is extremely excited. She wanted me to invite you and Eliza to dinner."
The nerves were setting in again, "Do you think she'll be angry with me?"
"Why would Mae ever be upset with you?"
"We're not together. I know they're probably expecting that. Did you tell them about Isaac?"
"It's none of their business. Besides in a couple of months it won't matter anyway." He affirmed suggestively.
"You really shouldn't say things like that." Winnie countered.
"I only say things I mean."
Jesse waited for Winnie to respond and when she didn't he continued.
"So, would you and Eliza like to join us for dinner? I promise I won't let it be uncomfortable for you.
"Well, let me pass the invitation to Liza. I'm sure she wouldn't mind though."
"Okay, you guys get settled in and I will call you when I'm in route to the hotel."
"I'll see you later," Winnie said trying desperately to hide the smile forming from her lips.
"See ya, Winnie." Jesse commenced.
Winnie sighed heavily and leaned up against the bathroom stall for support. Her head was a jumbled mess. She couldn't distinguish the feeling that was hovering at her heart, anxiety or excitement, maybe. Whatever it was, it was scaring the hell out of her. She quickly collected her bearings and exited the bathroom to start her journey.