To my readers, please feel free to leave feedback for me so that I know that you liked my stories, what you would like to see, and perhaps maybe suggest one, or perhaps dedicate one to one of you. If you'd like to read it over and over again, favorite it and come back to enjoy it like an old friend. I look forward to hearing from you...K'Anne
Amy approached the departures listing carefully. She was very nervous but trying not to show her lack of sophistication in the crowded terminal. She read the listing for international flights and saw that her flight for Florence was still 'on time'. She knew she should go wait near the departure lounge and turned to do so and that's when she saw her. Probably one of the best dressed women she had ever seen in her life, the woman strode confidently across the busy terminal as though the masses should part for her, and they did. She was dressed in a dark wine colored suit that was expertly tailored to her body. Not overly tall she gave the appearance of a tall stand out person, more than Amy's eyes followed the woman. She wore a diamond bracelet on her right ankle and a matching one on her left wrist and around her neck. The earrings alone that she wore Amy would bet would have bought her a new car if they were real and she suspected they were. This was the stuff she read about in her romance novels, this was the stuff of legends. She was pretty enough but not beautiful. Her beauty was in her confidence as though life were being handed to her on a silver platter. Her persona commanded, no demanded respect and anyone who realized she was coming their way immediately afforded it to her without even realizing it. Amy couldn't put her finger on it and why it appeared that way but from the top of her perfectly coiffered head with it's beautifully styled brown hair to the elegant wine colored Prada shoes that Amy recognized from having poured over magazines for years she knew class and style exuded from this woman. She carried only a leather bag over one shoulder that was thin enough for a laptop and nothing else. She looked the consummate business woman.
The woman headed directly for Amy and she found herself unable to look away. At the last minute though she redirected her gaze and picking up her carry on bag, her purse, and her neck pillow she quickly got out of the womans way so she could read the departure schedule. She couldn't help looking over her shoulder though to gaze longingly at the woman, wishing she could look like that, exude that confidence and style. The woman didn't look much older than Amy's own hard won twenty four years. Amy turned to look where she was going and headed for the terminal that would take her on her dream vacation, the one she had saved up for for three hard working years at the 7-Eleven, working night shifts that no one else had wanted and putting in ridiculous hours so she could make her rent, finish school, and save for this trip which was a treat after all the years she had put in to obtain her degree. She had graduated with honors finally after going year round for the last few years with no vacations, no breaks, and now she could enjoy herself. It hadn't been easy with the crazy work hours and the intense class load she had at school but she had managed and she wasn't going to worry about a thing now that it was all over. She had her masters in education, she had a job waiting at the end of summer, she had quit her job at the 7-Eleven, and now she was going to the city of her dreams, Venice, Italy.
She had been disappointed to find there was no direct flight from Chicago's O'Hare International Airport to Venice, Italy. Instead she would fly into Florence and take either a commuter train or a smaller plane to Venice. She hadn't decided yet but that was okay, this trip wasn't regimented, it was flexible and she wanted to enjoy herself. No one and nothing was going to keep her from having a good time. She deserved it, she had waited her whole life for a trip such as this and she was going to enjoy every minute of it. She just wished she had someone to share it with. She also wished she had been on a plane before instead of choosing for her first flight the international flight from Chicago to Florence. The hours on a big jet she wasn't sure what she would do with them. She had already read the fashion magazine she had brought with her on the bus that brought her to the airport. She hadn't felt good afterwards, it had given her motion sickness. Now she wasn't sure it was motion sickness but excitement over flying for the first time or the trip itself. She wondered what she would do on the big jet. She went to sit in the lounge waiting for her flight to be called. She had gotten to the airport over an hour early as all travel since 9/11 required it. She had nothing to do but people watch and proceeded to do so. It was as she was watching the various travelers carrying their bags and hurrying about their business, children annoying their harried parents, business people non-challantly traveling as they had done hundreds of times that she saw the woman again. She couldn't help but notice her. She glanced around and saw that she wasn't the only one who noticed her either. There was just such an aura about her it screamed 'I'm special, look at me!' So Amy looked. And looked. The woman walked ever so gracefully as she entered the area where they all waited for their various planes to be called. Amy was sitting near the door that she assumed she would enter when her flight was called and she was amazed to see the woman walk up to the counter in her area and talk to the ticket agent. The woman behind the counter sat up straighter and rushed to assure her of something before saying something else. It must have been to the woman's satisfaction as she smiled kindly and it was in that smile that Amy melted. She was surprised at her reaction. She wasn't normally into women. She had in fact not dated in over four years, spending all of her time either working or going to school she had had little time to socialize but she had been in school and met people of all walks of life. She had been attracted to both men and women over the years, just hadn't acted on it for a very long time. She wondered at her fascination for the sophisticated woman. It suddenly occurred to her that if the woman was here in this area she too might be flying to Florence. Amy could see the Air Italia jet parked up to the concourse and men in yellow vests with ear protection doing their various jobs below it.
The seating area began to fill with others waiting for their flight and the woman took a seat, right next to Amy. It was then that Amy could smell her amazing perfume. It, like the woman, was sophisticated and expensive. Amy had gone to high end department stores in her life just to window shop and she knew quality when she smelled it. The girls behind those counters were always trying to spritz you so you might buy their expensive bottles of perfume. Amy had learned a few things about that over the years. It was a heavenly trip to smell the woman's perfume and something else, something Amy couldn't put her finger on. She exuded more than confidence. Amy felt a little uncomfortable to be this attracted to a stranger and then she shrugged it off, she was on her vacation of a lifetime, she would roll with the punches. The woman swung her case to her lap and opened it to reveal an Apple laptop. Amy knew that laptop, it had been in every electronics magazine and all over the internet, it had just come out a month or so ago and the woman's looked well used already. She envied the sleek case of the 17" screen. She knew it's incredible capabilities. She wondered what the woman did that she had to have an expensive computer like this. Amy found herself staring, waiting to see what she would pull up on the screen and then was surprised and a little disappointed when the woman pulled up a solitaire game and started playing. In a small corner she pulled up an instant message that read "are you coming?" She typed, "in Chicago now" and X'd out of the screen and closed her laptop in disgust before looking around. She did it so suddenly that she caught Amy staring at her. Smiling slightly she would have looked away but Amy was looking startled.
"Is something wrong?" the woman smoothly asked.
Amy looked up in surprise. The voice was clear and commanding but husky and alluring. It fitted the woman perfectly and she looked at her bemusedly for a moment before realizing that her question deserved an answer. She grasped silently for a second before saying the first thing that came to her mind "isn't that the new Apple?" she indicated the laptop that the woman had closed so abruptly. She felt like an idiot at the question.
The woman smiled slightly, instinctively knowing that it wasn't the computer that Amy had been staring at. She nodded and said "yes, I've had it awhile."
"But they only came out last month" Amy protested.
"Yes, that's true, for the general public. I was one of the lucky few to get one before they came out on the market" the woman said without a hint of bragging.
Amy was impressed. "How do you like it?" She would have given her eye teeth to have one. It would have made college life so much easier instead of having to trek down to the public or school library all the time to do her papers and research.
"It's a tool, it works" the pretty woman shrugged dismisively. Just then something beeped and she pulled from the laptop bag a smartphone. She smoothly touched the screen with her impeccably manicured fingers and read what was on the screen. She turned the phone sideways and slid out the keyboard from beneath it and tapped out a reply with her polished fingernails. She pushed send and then smiled absentmindedly before pushing the keyboard back and pressing a button that had the phone go dark before slipping it into a pocket of the bag again. She slipped her laptop back in the case and zippered the leather shut before looking up again to see Amy watching her.
"Do you use it for work?" Amy asked hesitantly feeling like a fool but wanting to talk to someone. She was becoming increasingly nervous as she waited for their flight to be called.
The woman grinned and answered "work, play, a little bit of both. It's really too much for what I need but it's got power for anything I wish to do" she said vaguely.
"Most people would give their left nut to have one" Amy said crudely and then blushed when she realized what she had said.
The woman laughed. It was cool and clear and genuine. It only surprised Amy more. "When you have something this elaborate, sometimes you realize what a waste it really is" the woman said quietly. She started to examine Amy in return curiously.
Amy squirmed realizing what the sophisticated woman was seeing. She was 5'4" in her stocking feet. She was wearing comfortable slacks and a pretty blouse but nothing like this woman's expensive tailored suit. Amy's mother had always drilled into her that she should dress nicely when she traveled so people would treat her better but she had never traveled before so this was a first for her. She wasn't much to look at with her dirt brown hair and her pale skin. A light sprinkling of freckles ruined what could have been an attractive face and instead gave her the girl next door look. She wore no make up since she wasn't sure when she would get to her hotel and didn't want to spend days with that goop on her face. She looked wholesome and boring next to this much more sophisticated woman.
"So your going to Florence?" the slightly husky voice inquired.
Amy shook her head "no, I'm headed for Venice but I couldn't get a direct flight."
The woman's lips smirked in a sort of smile "really, I'm headed for Venice myself."
"On business?" Amy asked to appease her curiosity about the woman.
"Yes and no, I've been summoned" she answered sounding a little annoyed.
Amy frowned at the word and asked "summoned?"
The woman looked away out the window past all the people that now crowded the waiting area and said "yes, my presence was requested" and left it at that.
Just then the announcement came over the public address system "Flight 292 to Florence Italy now boarding at Gate 11, all first class passenger please come to the gate at this time" the announcement was repeated in a couple of other languages for the benefit of their foreign passengers.
The woman rose at the announcement and looked down at Amy "well, have a nice trip." She hung the leather bag over her shoulder and walked away.
Amy felt like she had already lost a friend. The first person she talked to about her trip and she was walking away already. She felt gauche and unsophisticated next to her but wished she had said something clever and funny while she had been there. She wondered at the woman being 'summoned' but it was none of her business and she let it go at that.
It was at least ten minutes before they called for Amy and the others that would board the aircraft. When she handed her ticket in at the gate she was surprised when the ticket taker asked her to step aside.
"Ms. Gray?" a voice behind her addressed her.
Amy wondered what this was about as she nodded. She hadn't done anything wrong and she was already frightened.
"There was a problem" the male attendant informed her.
Amy's heart was in her throat, what could possibly have gone wrong? She had paid for her ticket six weeks in advance, her passport was two months old, she had her travelers checks in order and cash as well. She didn't know what 'problem' there could possibly be and she instantly thought of a hundred.
"We overbooked your row and a family is insisting on sitting together, they have small children" he told her apologetically "we have bumped you up to first class for the inconvenience" he smiled as he handed her a new ticket.
She looked at him in delighted surprise and stammered "th thank you!"
He smiled broader at her genuine enthusiasm and said "have a pleasant trip and thank you for flying Air Italia."
She walked with a bounce in her step as he escorted her to the gate in front of the other passengers lined up there who looked at her curiously and her ticket was processed. She walked down the companionway and onto the airplane.
"Ticket please" she heard an accent at the door of the aircraft. She felt so nervous. What if the first class ticket was a mistake?
"Ah Ms. Gray, welcome to Air Italia, this way please" the woman smiled once she read the ticket and realized it was first class.
She was shown to the front of the plane instead of the back. The chairs up here were the size of Lay-Z-Boy recliners and looked luxurious. Amy had researched this trip for a long time in anticipation of taking it as well as seen movies over the years so she of course knew there was a definite difference between first class and how they were treated compared to the rest of the passengers. She had allotted only so much for flying for her trip and had thought the extra expense unnecessary and exorbitant but seeing the seats alone made her think maybe this life wouldn't be so bad. Since she wasn't paying for the extra accommodation she would just enjoy it. As the stewardess escorted her to her seat she looked around in anticipation. She saw that there was already another passenger seated in the outside aisle seat and that the one by the window was still unoccupied.
"Excuse me Ms. Valour" the stewardess said to get the woman's attention.
It was then that Amy saw that the woman was the sophisticated woman she had so admired from the terminal. Amy didn't know if she was embarrassed or not at the fact that she would be seated next to her for the next 11 hours of the flight.
The woman looked up and immediately stood up with her bag on her lap to allow Amy to slip by to her own seat.
"May I get you anything Ms. Valour?" the stewardess asked as they both sat down in their seats.
"Bourbon and coke if you would please?" she said pleasantly.
"And you Ms. Gray?" Amy looked up startled, no one called her Ms. Gray.
"I'll just have white soda" she said confused. She hadn't thought about drinking on the trip and she wasn't sure she could afford it. Didn't they jack up the prices of things on planes and in hotels?
She concentrated on getting her seat belt around her. She knew from watching television and movies that they always had you put it on to fly, she wanted to be prepared. She also was painfully aware of the sophisticated woman sitting next to her and didn't want to seem to simple around her.
"First flight?" the woman asked her and Amy could have died, what had given her away?
Amy looked up into the most amazing eyes. She couldn't tell for a moment if they were brown or green, the mix was incredible. She finally realized the womans eyes were hazel and absolutely astounding in their brilliance. She gulped and nodded in reply and the woman smiled wryly.
"Wow, that was brave, you do realize this is an 11 hour flight?" she asked softly.
Just then the stewardess returned with their drinks and handed them each a soda filled cup. She also handed the woman a little bottle of bourbon.
"Thank you" they both said to the stewardess.
Amy watched as the woman effortlessly uncapped the bourbon and poured it into her soda and took a drink.
"So after Venice, where else are you going?" the woman inquired politely.
"How do you know I'm going to Venice?" she blurted before realizing she had told her in the terminal. Her face turned a few shades of red which seemed to amuse the sophisticated woman.
"Are you going anywhere else?" she asked.
Amy shook her head and then shrugged "I don't know, I've never been anywhere" she answered truthfully.
"And you chose Venice for your first trip anywhere?"
Amy nodded "it just seemed like the most incredible place on earth and I have always thought I'd like to go there."
The woman seemed to understand as she nodded thoughtfully. "It is very romantic, the history is incredible, I hope you will enjoy yourself. Are you going alone?" she guessed astutely.
Amy nodded "yes, that way I can do what I want, when I want without waiting for anyone else or their schedule."
The woman nodded in agreement. "Too bad that you can't share it with someone you love, it's terribly romantic."
Amy shrugged wryly "Ah well, perhaps someday."
"Your not involved with anyone, someone you could have shared it with?"
Amy shook her head "there has been no time."
"Your fairly young, what do you mean 'no time?'" The woman looked at her inquiringly.
"I've been studying to get my master's degree in education. I just finished. This trip is my treat for all my hard work and sacrifices from the past few years." She didn't know why she was sharing her life story with the attractive woman but her voice was just so soothing and her interest genuine.
"Wow, a masters degree at your age, congratulations. What will you be teaching?" Her eyes grew admiring and Amy couldn't help but respond.
"I will be teaching middle school aged children, fifth and six graders" Amy responded proudly.
"That's a hard age to get to pay attention. They are trying out their wings at that age, too young to be really teenagers, too old to be behaving the way they will" the woman said knowledgeably.
At Amy's amazed look she added "I had children that age once" she laughed and Amy joined in.
Just then they heard an announcement "this is Captain Fergonio, we will finish boarding in a few moments, please take your seats, the seat belt sign has just come on. Thank you for flying Air Italia."
The stewardess came by to take their now empty cups and they both placed them in the plastic bag she was holding.
"Do I have time to make a call before we take off?" the woman inquired politely.