Once inside the airport James wandered through the concourse until he found a shoe shining station. He obviously wasn’t the business type that usually occupied the space but he still had the desire to look nice from head to toe. As he sat there while the young foreigner made his living he saw Maggi amble by. She had far less wind in her sails than she did when he first laid eyes on her that afternoon.
Maggi drifted down the concourse until it made a corner and then she was gone. Once James’ shoes were nicely polished, he tipped the man well and made off in that direction. He finally found her at the bar of a dimly lit restaurant. He could tell from the shape her body made that something was wrong. He turned around and went back the way he had came just as she turned around to watch the weary travelers trickle by. Her heart skipped a beat at the glimpse of her in -flight companion.
Ten minutes later as she sat staring into the brightly colored martini in front of her, a bouquet of flowers appeared next to Maggi. “Happy birthday.” James said, holding out the flowers for her to take. Maggi just sat there on the bar stool with her mouth hanging open. James set the flowers down on the counter, sat down himself and motioned to the bartender. “Whiskey, please.”
“Oh my god these flowers are gorgeous! Thank you so much!” Maggi gushed. “They’re alright. Can’t get much at the airport. I’m glad you like them though.” James said as he sipped his drink. “How did you know it was my birthday?” She was starting to become overwhelmed by the gesture and the events of the evening.
“You told me.” James said cooly as he guided her from her perch to a small table in the middle of the dining area. “Two menus, please.” he said to a passing server. James pulled out her chair and helped her scoot in then sat across from her. “What? When?” Maggi asked. “On the plane. Three waters,” he said as the menus arrived. “Three?” she asked. “One for your flowers,” he said with a wink.
“What are you in the mood for?” James asked. Maggi blushed a little as she tried to find something to say. Her thoughts weren’t on food but the stranger across from her that was pushing all the right buttons. The waters arrived and James thanked the person then took several drinks from one glass. He then removed the plastic cellophane from the flowers, placed the stems in the glass and fanned out the flowers making them into a presentation.
“Well?” James asked. “They look amazing!” Maggi replied. “Not the flowers. Dinner.” he said gesturing to the menus laying on the table. “Oh!” she exclaimed, “I’m not very hungry.” “Really?” He raised a quizzical eyebrow. Maggi looked at the folded card board and traced the letters of the restaurant’s name with her fingers.
“You know that I’m buying you dinner, right?” James asked, frowning a bit. “No! You don’t have to do that- ” “No, I don’t.” he interrupted, “But I would like to.” “Why?” Maggi asked. She’d never been treated so generously by a stranger. “For your birthday,” he said matter-of-factually. “But you already gave me flowers and- ” “and now I’m buying you dinner. If you’re really not hungry, that’s fine. I am. Please join me so that I don’t feel like a pig.” He smiled at her as he argued his generosity.
“Alright,” Maggi agreed, picking up her menu. They both ordered the steak, his medium well, hers medium. “Where to from here, Maggi?” James asked. “I don’t know,” she said sadly “they cancelled my flight and the next one out isn’t until in the morning. They gave me a voucher for a room but I don’t have any of my things. I had to switch flights in Dallas and everything went on a different flight. I don’t have my glasses or a change of clothes or anything!”
“Do you have contacts?” James asked, redirecting the conversation slightly. “Yes,” she said “but I can’t wear them all night. And they really should be in some solution. Which I also don’t have.” Maggi was breaking down again.
“Do you like art?” James asked, changing the subject completely. “Yeah, I guess so.” she said tentatively. “I know somewhere we can go once we’re done here,” he said. “Okay…” Maggi wasn’t sure she trusted James enough to leave with him, but then again he had done nothing but impress her so far.
to be continued