“Ow!” A suitcase landed on top of my shoulder as I attempted to wrestle my carry-on into the overhead bin.
“Sorry about that.” The man behind me didn’t sound sorry, but I held my tongue. It was going to be a short flight, and I’d endure a little inconvenience since it was getting me one step closer to my dream.
I side-walked into the seat row and found my spot next to the window, adjusting the shade to hide the sun from my eyes. I turned in time to see the man who’d accosted me with his suitcase dropping into the seat next to me. I shifted and gave him as much room as possible. He was well over six feet tall with long legs and broad shoulders so this wasn’t going to be a comfortable flight for him no matter what I did.
“I really am sorry about that suitcase. I thought I could catch it.” His brown-eyed gaze landed on my face, and one corner of his lips quirked upwards in a half-smile. “I guess I’ve never been good at deducing the speed of gravity.”
Surprisingly, I smiled back. “It’s okay. I doubt it’ll even bruise.”
The flight attendants began their safety presentations, but I’d been flying for most of my thirty years and had them memorized. Apparently, so had my seatmate for he hadn’t changed his focus.
“You look familiar.” The minute the words left his mouth, he held up one hand. “I swear that’s not a pickup line. I really have seen you somewhere before.”
“If you watch WTCL News, that’s where you’ve seen me.” An anchor for the past two years, I’d just been offered a prime position with a larger news station in Charleston, SC.
He snapped his fingers. “That’s it. Julianna Bridges.” He extended his hand. “Doug Rickards. Nice to meet you.”
I took his hand in mine, and the warmth of his palm unnerved me. Quickly withdrawing, I pretended to make sure my seatbelt was snug when the plane began accelerating down the runway. The force of the takeoff pushed me back against the seat. Seconds later, we were airborne, and I glanced at Doug, surprised to find him still watching me.
He didn’t apologize for staring. “You had the biggest smile on your face during takeoff.”
“Did I?” My face flushed. “I’ve always loved flying. There’s just something about soaring high above the clouds, leaving all of your worries far below.” Realizing I was babbling, I lowered my gaze and tucked a strand of hair behind my ear.
“Can I buy you a drink, Ms. Bridges?” The husky rumble of his voice made my toes tingle.
I’d never met a man on an airplane before. I mean, I’ve met men, but none that I’d consider dating. But this one... I realize he’s waiting for my response. “Absolutely, and it’s Julianna.”
He pressed the overhead call button.
Feeling a bit like a giddy school girl, I asked, “So what is it you do, Mr. Rickards?”
“It’s Doug, and I’m the news director for WDBD in Charleston.”
My heart shot up to my throat then the smile faded from my face. “Which means you knew all along who I was. Why the ruse?”
His eyebrow lifted. “Ruse? I’m not following you.”
“Really? You don’t know that I’ve just been hired to work for WDBD as the six o’clock anchor? That wouldn’t be something that would get past the news director. In fact, I believe all new hires have to be approved by you.” My ire rose with my voice. “I’ll bet you even engineered our seat assignments, didn’t you? Well, let me tell you this, Mr. Rickards, whatever game you’re playing, I’m not interested. We will be business colleagues and that is it.”
With a sniff, I sit back against the seat and try to stare a hole through the window. It’s only when I hear chuckling that I shift my glance. He’s laughing. At me. My temper boils, and I wonder if I should tell him right then and there that I won’t be taking the position after all.
“Ms. Bridges,” I correct icily.
“I suppose I should have added that I’m the outgoing news director. My successor hired you.”
“I’ve taken a position at a rival station.”
“Oh.” I want to sink into my seat. “I see. I suppose I should apologize. I mean, I do apologize. I’ve always made jumping to conclusions an Olympic sport.”
“Does that mean I can still buy you that drink or maybe dinner once you get settled?”
“Let’s start with the drink.” I turned in the seat to face him. “If that goes well, you’ll know where to find me.”
My thoughts, experiences, challenges, and goals. Right here. At least once a week or so. Oh, and opinions, too. Those will definitely come in. Join me!