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Authors: Chloe Glint

Nervous Flier

BOOK: Nervous Flier
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Nervous Flier

By Chloe Glint

Chapter One

Twenty-nine year old Noel stared out the window as the plane circled over the Chicago, Illinois airport. Down below, hulking buildings stood tall and grey. The plane began to vibrate as it dropped lower toward the ground, and she dug her nails into the black armrests at her side. Her heart pounded hard in her chest. Even her tiredness after flying hours and hours from Australia faded in the face of plummeting toward the ground and being engulfed in a massive explosion. As Noel squeezed her eyes shut in fear, the man beside her chuckled.

"Nervous flier, huh?" the man asked.

Noel's eyes flew open. She turned and looked at the man who sat next to her, which she had been avoiding doing all flight long because the man was sexy enough to melt the skin off of her face just by one glance alone. His hair was tousled and blond, his eyes were a deep green, and his jaw was covered in faint day-old growth. Despite his boyish qualities, his physique suggested that he was all man. Definitely not the type of person Noel wanted to get involved with when she was in the middle of hyperventilating. She had no doubt she had appeared idiotic all flight long with her deep breathing exercises.

"I'm Dawson," the man said, ignoring her lack of response to his question and continuing to pursue a conversation even as the plane jostled and turned her stomach into a thick stew. "What brings you to Chicago?"

"Um, is this really a good time for introductions?" Noel stole a fleeting glance at the ground below.

Dawson shrugged good naturedly. "Good as time as any. This is what I do whenever I go to the doctor to get a shot. I hate needles, but spending time chattering with the nurses always makes it easier. Talk to me a few minutes and you'll forget you were ever nervous."

Under normal circumstances, Noel found it hard to believe she would ever forget that they were heading toward the ground at a disturbingly fast speed. Dawson, though, was so attractive she could have been riding a raft in the middle of a volcano and she would have forgotten about the danger below.

"Well, I'm coming to Chicago to visit somebody. I'm moving here from Sydney." Noel shivered as the plane experienced turbulence. "What are you doing in Chicago?"

"Me?" Dawson acted surprised that she asked about him, as if he was the only one who had the ability to ask questions. "I'm a travel writer. I own my own magazine,
Over Frequent Skies
. I've been in Scotland for the past six months, then I spent some time in the Middle East. Now I'm finally heading back home. I'll accept work from freelancers for a while. I'm not as young as I used to be. I get homesick sometimes."

His words surprised her so much that even the plane's sudden drop didn
’t bother her. It wasn't the kindest thought, but Dawson's boyish features suggested a lack of responsibility. A man who had started his own magazine and made a living at it had to be responsible. She was impressed. It didn't seem fair that a man could be so gorgeous, nice, and smart. Then again, her boyfriend, Peter, was a stockbroker at an investment firm and had the looks of a rugged actor too. At the thought of seeing Peter after six months, a rush of pleasure washed through her stomach, but the plane dropping again quickly stole it away. Once again she focused on conversation, which, surprisingly, was helping her become sufficiently distracted, just like Dawson had said it would.

"What do you do?" Dawson asked after her moment of silence. "Are you planning on bringing any work with you?"

"Well…" Nervously, Noel tucked a light brown strand of hair behind her ear. "To be honest, I didn't plan that far ahead. One day I decided I was going to head to America, so I went. I probably should have looked into getting a job first, but I was swept away by the sudden momentum."

"Spontaneous woman, huh?" Dawson's grin broadened. "I can respect that."

"That's the odd thing." Noel bit her bottom lip. "I've never been spontaneous a day in my life until a month ago when I decided to do this."

"Sometimes you got to do what you got to do." Dawson shrugged.

That was when the plane hit the ground with a loud thud. Even though the plane only jostled a little, Noel jumped in fear, reached out, and seized Dawson's hand. Noel dug her nails into fine golden skin, but Dawson did not pull his hand away. The plane began to brake and the sound of loud squealing filled her ears as it slowed down. Noel let out a sigh of relief after several minutes had passed and the plane did not  combust. Beside her, Dawson chuckled again. Noel glanced down, saw that she held Dawson's—a stranger's—hand, and gasped in horror. She snatched her hand back and shot Dawson a scandalized look as if it was he who had grabbed her hand instead of the other way around.

"So we survived." Dawson whistled. "If you flew all the way from Sydney, this wouldn't be your first flight because this plane took off from Denver. Why were you so scared?"

"It was my third flight, actually. I had a lot of layovers." Noel blew out a sigh. "I guess I'm not destined to be a bird in a future life. I loathe flying."

"Don't know about that. It's just something you get used to. I bet you'd make a cute bird." Dawson winked. "So, I'll tell you what, Noel from Sydney. If you run into any trouble here, I want you to give me a call. America is different from Australia. It might be a difficult transition."

To Noel's shock, Dawson drew out a business card and handed it to her. She clutched it within sweaty fingers.

"T, thank you." Noel put the card in her pant pocket. "Why are you being so nice to me, anyway?"

After shrugging, Dawson leaned back. "I had a lot of friends help me when I first started traveling and writing. Ever since I got successful, I vowed that I would always do the same. And I mean it, you know. If you have any trouble, please don't hesitate to call me."

That meant a lot, but Noel doubted she would need his number. After all, she had Peter. Peter would take care of her. It may have been six months since they had seen each other, but he still wrote her a sweet, romantic email every night before she went to bed. She couldn't wait to see the look on his face when she arrived at his front door.


Noel stood at the front door of Peter's condo and gazed into his face. Peter was shirtless, shamelessly flaunting his perfect golden chest dusted with black hair. His fly was open, revealing black boxer shorts. His mouth was open wide and his dark brown eyes bulged out. His expression was not happy but horrified. It shocked her that Peter would open the door appearing like that. When the two of them had met in Australia while he was on a business trip, he had been so proper the entire time. Every consecutive visit after that had been the same. It was as if the world had taken one version of her Peter and had replaced him with another.

After Peter recovered enough to shut his mouth, he stole a nervous glance at his empty driveway as if searching for a car to escape in. Noel shuffled her feet, feeling as though she had been kicked in the stomach. Where was the romantic and passionate doorstep kiss? Where was being pulled upstairs where they would make love and he would ask what had taken her so long to come to him? Heck, at this point, she would have settled for a simple "hello."

"What are you doing here?" Peter asked, his voice developing an icy edge.

"I thought I would surprise you," Noel said, suddenly feeling shaky and nervous. Her hands trembled at her sides. "I thought you would be happy to see me. I'm your girlfriend, after all."

For a second Peter didn't say anything. Just as he opened his mouth to speak, an expensive silver car pulled into the driveway. A tall blonde woman in a purple silk top and black slacks climbed out of the car and headed for the stoop. Noel's stomach sunk with each step the woman took up the stairs. The woman paused when she reached the stoop where Noel stood and surveyed her.

"Honey, who is this?" the woman asked.

"Just a salesperson." Then Peter shot her a dark stare to suggest he would chop off her head and bury her in the backyard if she said otherwise.

"Oh." The blonde woman turned and gazed at Noel curiously. A slow smile eased over her face. A
smile. "Hi. This isn't really a good time. Today is our anniversary, so we have a reservation at a restaurant in fifteen minutes."

Then the blonde woman leaned over to Peter, ran her hand through his short dark brown hair, and delivered a kiss to his chiseled cheek. The action hurt her heart so much she had to take a physical step back in order to deal with the blow. Noel could feel the color drain from her face and heard her heart pound in her ears so hard that she could scarcely hear anything else. As she stood there, watching the size two blonde grasp onto the man she thought was her boyfriend, she felt so inadequate she wanted to crawl into a hole and die. Of course Peter wouldn't want a woman like her when he had a magazine perfect woman on his arm. Noel peered into the sky, shocked a hurtling meteor wasn't heading straight toward earth—and her. Tears crawled up her throat as she whirled around and sprinted toward the sidewalk as the woman cried out in concern from behind her.

As Noel kept running and running, she found that she couldn't stop, even as her lungs screamed and her jeans bunched around her thighs. She ran past the bus stop that would have taken her to her hotel. Her heart ached so much she wanted to rip it out and throw it on the ground so that way she didn't feel anymore. She ran until sweat poured down her back and she had to head toward a patch of grass where she dry heaved, sobbed, and then fell to her knees.

How could I have fallen for that jerk's lies? How could I?
Yet it was too easy to imagine the two of them walking hand in hand in Sydney, filled with laughter and good food and strong beer. It was easy to imagine Peter calling her beautiful, then cupping her breasts as he took her in bed. But she didn't want to remember those memories anymore. She wanted to erase them from her head. But she couldn't. She couldn't forget the hurt and mortifying embarrassment either. Not only had Peter used her, but she was likely the butt of his jokes too. She could hear his voice echoing in her head, imaginary words that he had likely spoken to his friends
. "There is this woman I met in Australia. Really dumb. She thinks I'm her boyfriend. Like I would ever date a woman like her."

With a groan of embarrassment and sadness, Noel shoved her fist into the grass and continued to sob.


That night, Noel collapsed onto her bed, then stared at the ceiling in a pool of sadness, embarrassment, and anger. There were so many things she wanted to do, all at the same time. She wanted to beg at the feet of Peter, head back to Australia with her tail between her legs, and show up at Peter's house with a baseball bat all at the same time. How could he do this to her? How long had he been with the skinny, model-esque blonde? Had he really cared about her in the beginning, or had he just been acting? The idea she had been played the fool from day one made her flip onto her stomach and pelt her pillow with rage. As she hit her pillow again and again, imagining Peter's gorgeous face with every swing, she felt her cell phone in her pocket vibrate. Swearing, she dug her hand in her pocket, then saw on the caller ID it was Peter. It made her sick that his name had been put under sweetheart in her phonebook
. Some sweetheart,
she thought bitterly, wanting to hurl her phone across the room. She just barely managed to contain herself.

As Noel stared at the phone and wondered whether she should pick it up or not, the cell stopped ringing and the message, "You've got voicemail," appeared at the bottom portion of her screen. After a remorseful sigh, she pressed the phone to her ear and then paused. When she heard Peter breathe, it stirred her heart, which in turn made her so angry she wanted to go right back to punching her pillow again.

"Hello, Noel," recorded Peter said. "I am letting you know that I did not appreciate your sudden arrival today. I was trying to figure out a way to tell you that I have a fiancé, Megan. You made it so hard for me to tell you because of your constant emails and texts. To be honest, you were clingy."

Noel thrashed and swore.
I was half a world away. How could I be clingy?

"I am letting you know what I should have told you from the beginning," Peter continued as angry thoughts danced in her head. "I am just not interested in bigger women. Your personality is all right, but I'm much more interested in Megan. Go back to Australia. You won't do well here."

BOOK: Nervous Flier
13.14Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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