Authors: Whitney Boyd
Salt Lake City, Utah
Copyright © 2012 by Whitney Boyd
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without the written consent of the publisher.
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, organizations and incidents are either products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events or organizations is entirely coincidental.
Cover design by Steven Novak
Book design by Marny K. Parkin
Print ISBN: 978-1-937178-28-4
o my wonderful mother, Deborrah.
Thanks for being my biggest fan!
“May I help you?”
The woman across the counter from me smiles, showing off both rows of her straight, too-white teeth. She brushes her curly blonde hair over her shoulder and blinks at me, her brilliant blue eyes clashing with the teal of her suit jacket.
She looks like the cheerleader type, and I suppress a small wave of jealousy. I always wished, secretly, that I could be an outgoing, gorgeous Barbie doll.
“Uh, yeah, I’m looking for a flight to—” I trail off and look hopefully toward the posters of beaches and cities that line the walls, trying to find inspiration.
The travel agent’s smile does not falter. She taps something into her keyboard and then looks up at me expectantly. “To where? What destination do you have in mind?”
I have many destinations in mind, but the only thing they have in common, the only important thing, is that they are far, far away from here.
She is still looking at me, and I realize that she is waiting for my reply. I pull my shoulders back a little and shoot her what I hope is a dazzling smile. A smile that says, “No, I’m not crazy, thanks.”
“No destination, per se, but somewhere warm, English-speaking, friendly, you know, like Canada, only tropical and where they don’t like hockey. Somewhere a person could disappear if they wanted to.”
I sound like a complete nutcase. I should clarify, say something that will make her realize I’m not a murderer or terrorist, you know, something that will make me seem completely sane. But I don’t want to lie. I’m not sane at the moment.
“No destination, but where you could disappear.” The woman echoes, shooting me a strange look. Her manicured eyebrows rise slightly. “What, a relationship gone south?”
I shrug. “Something like that.”
It’s actually a relationship that crashed and burned and derailed my entire life in the process, but I let the details slide.
Todd. There are a lot of four letter words that I could use instead of his name, but it takes too much effort to come up with them. Besides, the shooting pain in my chest whenever I think of him makes me lose focus.
The woman makes a sympathetic snorting sound. At least, I assume it’s sympathetic. “Men are scum,” she says wisely. She taps away on her keyboard again.
I shift from one foot to the other. I’m wearing my bright orange high heels. Alexander McQueen, I think, his latest collection pieces. They’re pretty awesome shoes, although not overly comfortable. My shins are killing me, but my feet and legs look amazing.
“All right.” She types and then clicks something with her mouse. The printer behind her hums to life and a couple sheets of paper spit out. She swivels in her important-looking leather chair and snatches them, spreading them on the counter in front of me.
I lean on my forearms and my eyes scan the various destinations as the woman murmurs inconsequential details about the weather and current economic situations.
Los Angeles, California—$590 plus tax.
No thanks. I know too many people who live there. Way too many. Plus Todd likes to vacation there with Carrie Underwood’s husband with the not-so-secret hope of getting his picture taken and plastered all over
magazine. So, definitely no to L.A.
Nassau, Bahamas—$932 plus tax.
Hmm, that’s nice and far away. But I might stand out too much. I’m a bit too high strung to relate to the chill, yeah-man mentality of the Caribbean.
Austin, Texas—$320 plus tax.
Texas is good. No huge hockey fans there. But I’m not that into beef, and isn’t that their big thing? Vegetarians in Texas might get shot.
Orlando, Florida—$90 plus tax.
I blink and reread it. No, I wasn’t hallucinating. It definitely says ‘Orlando, Florida’ and ninety dollars in the same line.
I am trembling. I’ve only been to Florida once before. It was two years ago, when Todd’s team had the game against Tampa Bay, but they got their trash kicked and I think Todd even got a concussion from an illegal play. Or was that the time he broke his ankle? Either way, he was damaged somehow and ended up in the hospital. I like Florida.
Besides, ninety bucks? How can you go wrong for ninety bucks? I point at the Orlando line and say, forcing nonchalance, “Looks like you have a typo here, ha-ha. Florida for ninety dollars?”
The woman nods her head. “A total steal, isn’t it?”
So it’s not a typo?
“How much is it with taxes? And when does it leave?”
The woman types again then looks up. “Total will be one hundred and forty dollars. It leaves on Tuesday morning at six, so you’ll have to be at the airport around five. Does that sound okay?”
I’m shaking. I take a deep breath. “Yes. Please book me on that flight.”
“I’ll need to see some identification.”
I reach into my wallet and pull out my driver’s license.
Eye color: Brown
Hair color: Brown
Height: 5' 7"
Weight: 120 lbs
The picture shows me grimacing like a mug shot, looking a lot like Jim Carrey in
. My biggest fear is that I look like this in real, everyday life. And it’s a perfectly justifiable fear, too, considering nobody ever looks twice at it when trying to ID me. It mustn’t be too far from the real me, which is a sad thought.
The travel agent takes the card, barely glances at my picture, and types the information into the computer. After about a minute the printer spits out papers. When she asks for my method of payment, I hand her a debit card. A few seconds later, everything is complete.
“All right, Miss Carter. This is your confirmation number. Bring these papers to the airport on Tuesday and they’ll give you the ticket. You have one bag paid for; anything more will be extra, payable at the airport.” The travel agent is very efficient.
“Thank you,” I say.
“Would you like me to make a reservation for a hotel room or give you information on rental cars?”
Crap, I hadn’t even thought about things like that. I think fast. I could use a hotel, at least for the first night. But a car? I better take a cab or I’ll end up lost and dead in some alley. Or something.
“Uh, sure, a hotel near the airport would be nice.”
While she types into her computer, I stuff my driver’s license, debit card, and wallet back into my Valentino purse.
“Here you are. You have a reservation at the Hilton that night. They have a shuttle that picks you up from the airport. Is there anything else?”
I shake my head no. “Thank you.”
I grab the papers she hands me and turn toward the door. My limbs feel like they are going to give way and I need to find a bench. I walk through the door into the huge, open mall. An elegant, wooden bench with some graffiti in black marker on the back is a few yards away. I make a beeline for it. I sink slowly onto the hard seat and bury my head in my hands.
I feel relief. I feel terror. I feel pain.
Am I seriously going to run away from everything?
I close my eyes and see an image of Todd, smirking and shrugging, getting away with yet another indiscretion. I see the people who I had thought were my friends turning a blind eye to it all, more worried about their reputations and losing their social status than thinking about me. I see our condo, the paintings, the furniture; everything that used to mean so much to me but now only causes me pain.
Oh, I’m going, all right.
And I’m not coming back.
My head is still spinning a few hours later as I climb the last few steps to the condo. I usually take the elevator, but today I thought the burn from the stairs would make me feel better. You know, clear my head and all that. I’m delusional. Somehow I feel worse than ever. My legs are killing me and I’m pretty sure the blisters on my feet have had babies.
When I reach the top step, I kick off my shoes and walk gingerly the rest of the way down the carpeted hall to the front door of our penthouse. I fumble with my keys then hear the little click as the deadbolt slides open. I push through the door and survey the white, modern room.
There is no sign of Todd, thank heavens. I couldn’t deal with another confrontation right now. Then I remember his team is on the road for the next few days, heading out to California somewhere. I’ll have the condo all to myself.