A Season to Celebrate(3)

By: Fern Michaels

“Well, thank you very much, ma’am. I sure do appreciate your kindness. And this comfort is heavenly.”

Allison headed toward the galley and reappeared minutes later with an icy cold beer and a platter of sandwiches.

Kevin was by no means a virgin, but he was unaccustomed to this kind of attention—even with his strapping good looks, he was surprisingly shy and unassuming. Noticing her name tag, he addressed her by name: “Allison. Thank you for making my journey home enjoyable. A man could get used to this! Don’t you go spoiling me, now!”

Thinking she could get used to a few more passengers like Kevin, she lightly touched his arm and lowered her voice. “If you need anything, just ring that bell.” She winked and turned her attention to the other passengers, who were noticeably antsy waiting for their unlimited supply of cocktails.

Reminding himself that this was “starting over” number three, perhaps it was time to begin looking at women from a different perspective instead of as heartbreakers. Even though the split with Melissa gave him the second start-over of his life, his subconscious continued to protect him from any sort of emotional entanglement. Allison’s kindness struck a chord. This was the next new beginning, and maybe, just maybe, there was someone out there for him. Someone. Obviously, not Allison. She was, after all, the first pretty woman he had encountered in a while, but he wasn’t going all gaga. No, she was there to remind him that there was hope. He laughed, and wryly observed to himself, Yes, old boy. You got a lot of catching up to do.

He settled into the lush leather seat, stretched his leg to a comfortable position, inserted the earbuds, and searched for a country music station. Contentment was beginning to envelop him, and he easily let it wrap him in its arms.

His long-overdue nap was interrupted by the flight attendant’s announcement: “Ladies and gentlemen, we are beginning our final approach into Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport. Please turn off all electronic devices, make sure your seat back is in an upright position and your seat belt is securely fastened. We should be on the ground shortly.”

This had been the longest part of his journey home. Almost ten hours. He had made his way to London via Germany, and before that from Istanbul. Four flights in almost twenty-four hours. It would be good to be on terra firma again. And this time in his home state.

As the plane touched down, the captain’s voice came over the intercom. “Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Dallas, Texas—the United States of America.” The cabin burst with applause as the captain continued: “And we would personally like to thank our military personnel for their service.”

Kevin was surprised at his own reaction of getting a little teary eyed. It had been a long journey—emotionally and geographically. He could barely keep himself from salivating, just thinking about his mom’s home cooking. When he had written to his family informing them he would be coming home, not just for the holidays, but for good, he jokingly said, “No parades, please.”

Once the FASTEN SEAT BELT sign dimmed, he walked back to his original seat to fetch his duffel. His drowsy seatmate had commandeered both seats and was sloppily draped across the armrest, still snoring, and drooling on his Avengers T-shirt, which was about three sizes too small.

Now Kevin was grateful to Allison for two things: reminding him there was an entire gender with which he could become reacquainted and for saving him from having some strange dude inadvertently snuggle with him.

As he stepped off the Jetway, he headed toward the baggage claim area, where his father had said he would meet him. Looking for the carousel that would be hurling his duffel bag, he heard shouts and cheers: “Kevin Matthews, you are great! Welcome home to the Lone Star State! Kevin Matthews, you are great! Welcome home to the Lone Star State!” There must have been over twenty people surrounding his mom and dad, both of whom were sporting handkerchiefs soaking up the tears of joy and relief. He hurried toward his mom, picked her up, and in good old-fashioned Texas style, gave her a spin that almost knocked his father over!

His mother clung to him as if she would never let go, until his dad had to pry her off so he could give his son the bear hug he had been longing for.