#BookExcerpt from #WheelerInDarkness 3 October

When Graham’s flight was announced, neither he nor Loren spoke as they gathered their bags and returned to the gate area. They held each other tightly until final boarding was called, when he drew away to caress her cheek.

“Love looks not with the eyes, but with the mind,” he whispered, his blue eyes welling up. “I’ll see you in my dreams.”

“In Cleveland,” she replied, but he didn’t move away. She kissed him, her arms circling his neck to deepen their connection, then broke away to gently press her forehead to his. “Go, before I don’t let you.” Loren gave him a little push even as her throat tightened.

Graham walked away from her but turned back at the gate. He gave a tight smile, a little wave, then disappeared through the doors. She closed her eyes and envisioned the pink jewelry box she had as a child in her mind.

I will not cry in public. Breathe. Let it in, then put it away. But the ache was still there. Letting out a soft groan as she picked up her bag, two young women standing near the seating area caught her attention. One was holding up her phone, and both of them were crying. Ah, fuck. Loren slung the strap of her messenger bag over her chest, eyeing the girls with a deep frown as they approached her.

“That was Graham Atherton, wasn’t it?” the blonde asked.

“That was the most romantic moment I’ve ever seen!” the brunette blurted out. Loren kept a tight rein on her emotions, but as she took a breath to speak, the blonde stepped closer to her.

“I recorded you, and I’m really sorry I did.” She turned her mobile around to show the thumbnail view of the video directory. “I haven’t shared it, and I’m not going to. Nobody needs to see it.” The girl selected the video and pressed delete, then went into her ‘recently deleted’ folder and deleted it permanently.

“Thank you,” Loren told them and turned to escape toward the exit. The long walk to International Departures gave her the time to pull herself together and once at her gate, she kept to the furthest corner of the seating area, away from the other passengers. She sat down facing the windows and put on her headphones and an unfamiliar song began to play.

I didn’t download James Arthur. Loren gaped at the title of the playlist. Graham’s Mixtape for his Lady Love? She let out a quiet sob and covered her face with her hands. She cried through three songs before her flight was called for boarding, and she didn’t care if tear tracks streaked her cheeks, or her eyes were puffy and bloodshot. Taking a deep breath, she gathered her bags and mechanically followed the other passengers into the queue. A flight attendant met her at the end of the gangway and accepted her ticket.

“You’re this way, Ms. Mackenzie,” she said and escorted Loren through the forward section where she stopped before a first-class capsule. “Here you are.”

Loren glanced around. “I’m sorry, but isn’t this first class?”

“Yes,” the attendant replied, smiling. “This is your seat assignment.”

“There must be some mis–.” Her mouth popped open, recalling Graham’s smirk when he relayed a message from Ron. “Oh, I can’t believe him.” She smiled at the woman. “I’m sorry. My mistake. What were you saying about the seat?”

As she got settled into her capsule with a glass of champagne, her mobile pinged a voicemail message from Graham.

He is the half part of a blessed man, left to be finished by such as she; and she, a fair divided excellence, whose fullness of perfection lies in him. I wish I were going with you instead, but if wishes were horses, beggars would ride. Three weeks, my love. Three more weeks and I will be in your arms again. I love you and have a safe flight.

“Damn you,” Loren mumbled, quickly dialing his number, but it went straight to voicemail.

***

Midway through his flight to LAX, Graham received an email from her.

My Apollo:
I held it together after you left, even when two girls came up to me to say they were sorry for recording us at the gate. But then I found a playlist on my phone that I didn’t make and started blubbering. Nobody’s ever made me a mixtape before so thank you. I’ve loved every song so far, which is surprising, considering what’s usually on my playlists.
And I’ve never flown Upper Class before, mostly because it’s a $9k upgrade. I can’t believe you did that and didn’t tell me but thank you. The champagne is good, and they’ll give you as much as you want, and I will be taking advantage of it. The little capsule thingies are neat too, but if you’re with somebody, you have to hang over the partition to talk. Kind of like the way some young actress in the next capsule has been talking to me non-stop since the plane took off. I even put the partition up, but she’s still talking. I have no idea who she is, and while she made sure to tell me all of the TV shows she’s been on, they’re American shows and I haven’t heard of them either.
But, if I were flying with you, I’d rather be in Economy so I could snuggle up with you.
However, if it wasn’t you that upgraded my ticket, then I’m going to have to track down Jude Law and thank him for being such a wonderful boyfriend.
Three weeks is too long.

He took off his glasses and rubbed his eyes against the sting. This hurts so much worse.

 

Buy a copy of Wheeler: In Darkness, There is Still Light HERE

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