I flew first class. I knew that the fewer people surrounding me, crowding me, on a sixteen hour flight the better. It was the same choice I always made when flying. I had been recruiting halflings to the school for the last few decades and that required a lot of flying. I had so many frequent-flyer miles that I almost never paid for the first class upgrade.
The woman sitting beside me smelled like she spent her life in a soap box. She had slathered every part of her body with some kind of flowery cream and her own natural scent was one glob of lotion away from being completely annihilated. My nose itched for her to take a shower with some plain ivory soap and let herself air-dry in the sun. The smells roiling off of her were so distracting that I didn’t notice the flight attendant offering me a blanket and some headphones.
The woman elbowed me lightly and nodded to the flight attendant. “You want your stuff?”
Her voice grated on my already raw nerves. She had been a smoker and her husky voice was anything but sexy. I shook my head and looked out the window. This was going to be a long flight.
The woman beside me wiggled in her seat, sending up a choking cloud of her noxious scent. I struggled not to sneeze. I didn’t need headphones, I needed nose plugs. I stared out the window, wishing for a flight that had barely begun to finish already.
“First time flying, sugar?” She asked with a Southern accent. She had probably been the belle of the ball in her youth, but looking at her now, she had used up her vitality on bad habits and bad men.
“Not at all,” I replied, trying to reign in the pheromones I knew were attracting her to me. I couldn’t do it, though. That wasn’t a power I possessed.
She smirked at me and tossed her shoulder-length bottle-blond hair in an attempt to attract me. “You’re looking out the window like you haven’t seen the sight before.”
I looked back to the window. A sea of white flowed around us as far as the horizon. The earth below could have disappeared altogether and we wouldn’t have noticed. “I like the clouds. They are more peaceful from above than from below.”
“You looking for peace?” she asked huskily. It was a not-so-subtle offer.
I sighed, turning away from the window and back to her. How not to be rude when it wasn’t her fault she was behaving like a lust-struck teen? “Isn’t everyone? I’m going to rest now. Looks like the movie is starting,” I pointed to the inflight-entertainment screen then closed my eyes. I wouldn’t be sleeping, but she wouldn’t know that.
Later, the flight attendant was back with drink offerings and I needed a stiff one. I opened my eyes again and flashed the pretty stewardess a quick smile. “Whisky. Whatever you have.”
She raked me with an obvious once-over and smirked. The woman beside me tisked under her breath and glowered at the flight attendant, but fortunately said nothing. All I needed was a cat-fight in the first-class cabin. I received my drink with a cup of ice and went back to staring out the window.
The voice that whispered to me came from the seat in front. I glanced up at a young woman with golden locks of tightly curled hair. She had a round face and a smile with perfect teeth and deep dimples. Her brown eyes sparkled with lust, but she was making an effort to reign in her desire. I could tell by the way she clasped the back of her seat with white knuckles that she wouldn’t normally have engaged a stranger on a plane.
“Hey yourself.” I gave her an appreciative smile. No need to harm a good-girl’s ego.
“You look like a model I saw at fashion week in New York?” It was an opening line and the lie rolled off her like a mess of white vinegar. I didn’t blame her for the lie. She wasn’t as experienced in the ways of lust as I was. She probably didn’t even realize she was lying.
I shook my head. “Not me. I’m a math and computer science teacher at a tiny school in the middle of nowhere France.”
Her eyes lit up and she slipped a pair of geek-girl glasses back on her face. “Really?! Me too! Computer science, that is. I was just at the seminar in Lyon. Did you go?”
I shook my head again. “No. I don’t usually have time for seminars and conferences. Are you heading back home from the seminar?”
She relaxed a little. Conversation about a topic she was comfortable with was beginning to dominate her instinct to bed me. “Yes. It was just a weekend trip, but my company sent me to learn what I could. I’ve already sent the summary in a power point presentation to my boss. So, what are you doing? Is this a vacation for you?”
I smothered a wince and closed my eyes briefly. I felt the change coming. My eyes switched between my normal blue and a bright green that would startle the girl if she saw it. The change was always preceded by a sharp pain in my temple. It only gave me enough time to close my eyes in the presence of strangers, but I was glad for the warning. As soon as the secondary pain ebbed, I looked at her again, assured of my eye color. “Not vacation,” I began with a deep breath. “My father called and I am flying in to Texas to meet him.”
Or die trying to avoid it.
The fasten seat-belts sign lit up and the pilot announced our descent into Madrid. The first leg of the journey was finally coming to an end. I breathed a sigh of relief and buckled in again. The girl in front of me sat back down and our conversation died away, a single moment of time I seriously considered wiping from her memory.