Lisa ran her hand through her hair and stared at the flashing board in front of her, hoping that if she looked at it long enough she would realize it was a mistake. But the words in red remained unchanged, and she was forced finally accept that her flight had been cancelled.
"Just what I need…" she muttered as she pulled her gaze away from the screens. The past week had been rough and she'd been looking forward to getting home, even if it meant dealing with work and bills. She prided herself on patience, though, so no matter how annoyed she ever got she tried not to let it show. Slowly, she wandered off deeper into the airport, bumping against aggravated and rain-soaked people until she found the information desk. She walked up to the woman working there - Andrea, from her nametag - and, as habit would have it, mustered up her most charming smile.
"Hi. My flight was cancelled so I was just wondering how to go about arranging for another ticket?" She handed Andrea her flight information and watched quietly as the woman began clacking away at her computer.
"I'm so sorry, there's a pretty bad storm coming in that's grounded most of tonight's flights." Andrea said, shaking her head. "I'm afraid they're not going to start flying out again for another five hours or so, and it looks like your flight is being directed to #576, which boards tomorrow at 8:30. I can exchange your ticket for free, if that time works for you."
Lisa sighed and checked her watch. In just a few hours she was expected at the Lux Atlantic to greet the Senator, and God only knew she was the sole employee at that hotel who could keep his stay comfortable and most importantly private. But there didn't seem to be too many other options and she wasn't going to argue with the woman, so reluctantly she agreed to have her ticket exchanged for the 8:30 flight.
After pocketing her new ticket she drifted off to a quiet corner of the airport and pulled out her cell, dialing her coworker Cynthia. She sat down on the bench as the line rung and let her gaze surf the crowd. Families and businessmen hurried by in blurs of color and noise. Honestly, it was all giving her a headache. She was considered a people person but when it came down to it, she'd much rather keep to herself and avoid everyone else. Her eyes wandered to the left until it found a stable object she could observe, but she started as she realized the man she had found was staring at her. He was tall, with brown shaggy hair and eyes the color of ice. When he realized he'd been caught, he smiled and gave her a head nod, then shrugged off the pillar he was leaning against and walked away.
"Lux Atlantic Hotel, how may I help you?"
Lisa pushed down her surprise and focused her attention. "Hey Cynthia, it's me."
"Lisa! Don't worry, I'm getting everything ready now, I'm just waiting on the sparkling water. This man is so picky…"
Lisa smiled. She remembered just a few years ago when she was in Cynthia's position, scrambling to gather random items to satisfy her customers, stressing over little details. Not that she was ever able relax now. "Well I hate to break it to you but I think you're going to have to prepare for more than a meet and greet tomorrow."
There was a pause. "But wait, you're gonna be here, right? In the morning I mean? Leese I'm serious I don't think I can do anything other than show him his room, I'll mess everything else up."
"Don't think that way, Cynth, you'll be fine. Just remember to update his itinerary. The man you want to give that to is Lowell, not Keefe. And in the morning make sure the kitchen knows to prepare all of Mrs. Keefe's food with only organic vegetables, I'm not kidding when I say she'll notice. Oh, and clear the pool around ten tomorrow for the kids, they'll want to go swimming but the security detail doesn't like other people in the area."
"Oh God….ok, I think I got it. When will you be back? Please please please say soon…"
"I'll be in around eleven, hopefully, twelve at the latest. If you need anything or have any questions, call me. It's good publicity, having Keefe at the Lux, so I'd really like to keep him as a visitor, not to mention they're one of the few families I like."
"I'll be fine." She didn't sound convinced. "Have a safe flight, Leese, we'll keep things in check over here."
"Thanks, good luck. See you tomorrow."
She got off the phone and called her dad to let him know about the cancellation. When she was done, she checked her watch and sighed, counting another seven hours before she needed to be back. She grabbed her bag and decided to go back to the hotel for the night and hopefully squeeze in a few hours of sleep.
It was pouring when she walked outside to the taxi lot and within thirty seconds she was drenched to the bone. By the time she reached the hotel she was cold and anxious about both her flight and how Cynthia was going to handle the Keefes tomorrow. She took a deep breath. Her anxiety had been getting way out of control lately, no matter what she did to try and relieve it. This week didn't help what with her Grandmother's funeral and seeing her mother and dealing with arrangements for the Senator from a different state. So right after she checked into her room again she wandered over to the bar area and plopped down. She ordered her usual sea breeze and downed a large sip, sighing in relief as she felt the alcohol run through her system. She pulled out her trusted self-help book and flipped open to where she had left off.
"Dr. Phil. I've been known to turn to him in my spare time, too."
Lisa looked up at the voice and was surprised to see the man who had been staring at her in the airport. He was even more handsome up close. She laughed nervously, looking back at her book and shrugged a bit. "My dad's given me so many I could start my own library. After a while I gave in and started looking at them."
The man smiled and reached out his hand. "Name's Jackson."
Lisa took it and introduced herself. "Is it Jack for short?"
"No, no. I haven't gone by that since I was ten. Last name's Rippner."
Lisa repeated the name, looking for the significance, before it hit her and she winced visibly. "Oohh….that wasn't very nice of your parents."
"Yeah that's what I told them. Before I killed them."
Lisa laughed uncomfortably and reached out for her drink, both charmed and unsure of the man standing next to her.
"I don't mean to interrupt, I just noticed you sitting here and thought I'd clear the air. I know you caught me looking at you back in the airport and I'm a bit embarrassed actually. One of those awkward moments…"
Lisa felt her cheeks growing red but pushed forward. "Oh, no really it's fine. I'm just surprised to see you here is all. What a coincidence."
Jackson smiled and pointed to the seat next to her. "Mind if I join you?" He was incredibly handsome and pleasant, and though Lisa hated to admit it she felt herself feeling more comfortable holding a conversation with him. Jackson however seemed to take her hesitation as a no and looked abashed. "I'm sorry," he said, "I didn't mean to invade your space. I'll let you get back to your book."
In accordance to Lisa's character she immediately felt guilty and pushed Dr. Phil to the side. "No no, please, it'd be my pleasure." She smiled and pushed the chair toward him, which he took with a thank you.
"So was your flight cancelled too, or were you just getting in?" Lisa asked.
"Cancelled, unfortunately. Can't seem to catch a break lately."
"Ah, work, you know. Calls every minute of the day, never finding time to breathe…How about you? Cancelled?"
"Mhmm. I was headed back to Miami, but fortunately I don't have to wait too long to get back."
"Wait…Miami? Flight 1019?"
Lisa cocked her head and nodded, a shrewd smile on her face. "Don't tell me we were supposed to be on the same plane."
Jackson let out a laugh and put his hands up in an innocent manner. "I swear I'm not lying, that was my flight." His laugh died down and he squinted his eyes a bit suspiciously. "Wait a minute…you're not stalking me, are you?"
Lisa froze, not sure how to respond. She clumsily shook her head and let out an unsure "no" before he smiled and she relaxed, realizing he was joking. "Ugh," she put her hand to her forehead in embarrassment, "you got me."
"I'm sorry." He laughed and leaned against the bar. "So are you taking the 8:30 flight back tomorrow?"
She nodded her head while swallowing a sip of her drink. "Yeah, thankfully. My dad is probably worried sick, he hates when I'm away."
"Ahh, got it. Well does he have reason to worry about you?"
Lisa glanced up at him and thought about that. He seemed genuinely curious so she tried to give him a genuine answer. "Well even if he does, I mean…he's just gotta get used to the fact that life changes and sometimes things happen."
Jackson nodded and grew silent. Lisa found she was ok with the silence, it was comfortable. She almost enjoyed sitting next to this man, and felt as though she could open up to him, tell him things she hadn't told anyone and above that she found that she wanted to tell him. But before she had the chance to continue the conversation his phone began to ring. He drew it from his pocket and sighed. "I'm sorry." He whispered before he flipped open the cell.
"Hello?...yeah, hold on." He put his hand over the speaker and faced her. "I'm so sorry, I have to take this."
"Oh, it's fine! Really, go ahead."
"It was so nice meeting you." He stood and slid some bills onto the bar, effectively paying for her drink. "Hopefully I'll see you on the flight tomorrow."
She waved goodbye as he sped off, feeling a bit sad as she watched him leave. She let out a long breath and chugged down the rest of her drink. 'Always look forward' she thought to herself, feeling a pang of sadness as the thought of her grandmother came to mind.
She stood and began walking back to her room, feeling the mix of alcohol and fatigue hit her. 'Oh well' she thought, 'He was too charming to be real anyway. There was probably something wrong with him.'
Heyoooooo. So before I continue I just want to throw it out there that I have had a few drinks tonight so please ignore any mistakes there might have been. I didn't reread this and I'm feeling a bit cloudy. Anywho my last story I'm still working on, don't worry, but let's be honest it's pretty complicated and it got a little too conspiratorial for even my own taste, so I decided to work on just a simple rewrite and have fun with the world of Red Eye. The next chapter will get into more Jackson/Lisa I'm-here-to-get-you-to-do-something-evil type of thing, I just wanted to set up the beginning and see how realistically I could manage their interactions. Please leave a review! That would be mucho appreciated :)