Chapter Sixteen

I was on a plane to Scotland, sitting next to Damien, who was both the man of my dreams, and the most infuriatingly mysterious individual I had ever met. He was also apparently a very welcome distraction to most of the young, pretty, and overly-perky flight attendants, who stopped at every possibility to crowd over me while speaking in low and much too friendly tones to a less-reserved-than-I-would-have-liked Damien. I wanted to shove my left hand into their faces and wiggle my ring finger while yelling at the top of my lungs that he was mine and they should bugger off. Even if it was a fake engagement, they didn't know that. Of course, neither did they seem to know that I existed.

But after a few minutes of pouting, I had the sense to forget about Damien's flirting and start worrying about more important things. Like the fact that I was on my way to Scotland to see the family of a man who I really wasn't sure I knew well enough. Or the fact that I was still slightly tipsy from the Margarita. Or even just the fact that I was on a plane. A plane that could very well decide to stop flying and plummet thousands of miles to the earth.

It was not a thought I could deal with calmly. I had a fear of heights, and a fear of close spaces- these two things reared up their ugly heads just in time to join with the panic of meeting my boyfriend's family for the first time, and I didn't realize I was squeezing the circulation out of Damien's arm until he told me to breathe.

"Should we order you another drink, loosen you up a bit more?" He slowly massaged my hand as I tried to corral my thoughts and force air into my lungs.

"What, and be completely drunk by the time we get there?" I shook my head violently, and immediately regretted the action. My stomach seemed to connect with the movement and threatened to heave its contents onto the seat in front of me.

"It couldn't hurt, love." He tucked a wayward curl behind my ear. "Besides, it's a long flight. You'll sober up before we arrive."

I contemplated it as well as I could with my fuzzy brain, but before I answered him, he'd ordered me a drink. It came swiftly, as we were in the first-class seats and the flight attendant had an obvious crush on Damien, and somehow I gulped it down without tasting a thing. I had no idea what he'd gotten me, nor did I care by the time the drink was gone. I was fully and completely beyond caring about anything at that point, except for the very exciting button on Damien's coat sleeve that mesmerized me with its intricate lion detail.

How Damien still found me attractive, I'll never know. I only remember being very happy to be seated in such comfortable seats, and the profound thought that if I married this man, Edna would be my fairy-god-grandmother-in-law. Then I dropped into a deep and dreamless sleep, only to wake a few hours later with the urgent need to pee. And perhaps throw up.

Climbing over Damien, who was asleep beside me, I tried not to trip over nothing as I made my way to the lavatory at the back of the plane; the one in front was occupied and my needs were too pressing to wait. Most of the plane's occupants were asleep, snoring, dreaming, or even whispering odd sleep-phrases in their seats, for which I was very grateful. I didn't want anyone to see me in my current state, as I was most certain that my face was probably green and my entire person contorted in order to keep all of the liquids inside my body until I reached a toilet.

It wasn't until I sat that the headache came, and with it were all of my doubts and fears.

What was I doing? I wanted to run back home and talk this over with Amy; she hadn't been home when I'd gone to the apartment to pack, much to my current dismay. I'd only been able to leave her a note as we ran out the door. At the time, it ha been exciting and romantic. After Damien had convinced me to go, I was gung ho to get away with the man of my dreams.

Now, however, I was feeling sick, I had a headache, I was scared to death of meeting Damien's family, and I wanted nothing more than to lay somewhere and cover my head until it was all over. There were too many questions unanswered, too many fears unsmoothed, too many scenarios that ran unchecked through my tired and overactive brain. Unable to hold back my emotions, I put my face in my hands and I cried. It was much less one of those silent, elegant sessions wherein the woman sheds a few tears and is done, and much more an uncontrollable blubbering that ruined my mascara and blotched my face with red.

I've never been good at crying gracefully.

When someone knocked on the door, I didn't have the sense to semi-composedly answer "just a minute" or "someone's in here." Instead, I squeaked a startled and emotional "what?!" in a voice that was altogether too wobbly and broken to disguise the fact that I was in tears.

After a short silence, a smooth Scottish voice came through the door. "Macy, is that you?"

"Yes," I replied dejectedly. It was a good thing I had already done my business and was fully prepared to leave the lavatory. I sat on the lid of the toilet, not wanting to leave the miniscule compartment until I was fully composed. Like that would ever happen. Everyone would be able to tell I'd been crying for a few hours after the fact.

"Are you okay?" Damien sounded very concerned. "You haven't… lost your stomach, have you?"

Sniffing, I shook my head. Then I realized he couldn't see me. "No," I replied, "but I may have lost my nerve."

He was quiet again. Then he jiggled the door a little. "Are you decent?"

I frowned a little, hiked myself up to look at the runny mascara and red, puffy eyes, and swallowed. "Uh… yes…"

"Let me in?" he asked softly.

I snorted a little as I remembered our escapade in Edna's bathroom. "We wouldn't both fit in here."

He made a small sound; whether it was a chuckle or a grunt of agreement, I couldn't quite tell. "Well, then come out to me before the flight attendants scold us for holding up the bathroom and lingering the aisles."

Resigning myself to the fact that I wouldn't be able to hide my tears, I grabbed a few squares of toilet paper, rubbed the trails of mascara from my cheeks, dabbed some cold water under my eyes and on my nose in hopes of reducing the redness, and fixed my crazily curling hair. It defied the pins, but for once looked decent enough to leave hanging. Then, with a deep breath, I unlocked and slid open the door and stepped out.

Damien immediately pulled me into a tight hug. It was exactly what I had needed, although I hadn't thought of it before now; tucking my head under his chin, I wrapped my arms around his waist and closed my eyes. For a few seconds, I felt safe and secure. He said nothing. Somehow he knew that I just needed someone to support me, and my panic softened to a nagging worry.

After about a minute of silence, he pulled back a little. "Will you survive?"

I sucked my lower lip in and blinked as a few more tears escaped. "Can we turn around and go back?"

"Shall I ask the pilot the redirect the plane?" His smile was not mocking, rather as though he was trying to lift my mood with the humor in the ridiculous question.

Shaking my head, I did my best to hold back the tears. "I guess not."

"Come on." He finally released me from the embrace and took my hand. "Let's get back to our seats and talk about it, yeah?"

"Yeah…" I followed him through the aisle, so focused on not tripping that I didn't notice he'd stopped until I ran into him. And then I did giggle. In a threateningly hysterical way. "What's holding you up?" I whispered, as there were several sleeping people around me.

He simply leaned to one side and let me look around him; an elderly man was hobbling out of his seat to head for the forward lavatory. The suspenders holding up his pants had come undone on one side, and his slacks sagged slightly; it shouldn't have been so funny to me, but it was. I covered my mouth as Damien and I walked slowly behind the man.

When we finally got to our seats, I was on the verge of hysteria; still tearing, still giggling, still covering my mouth as all the pent up emotions surfaced at once. Damien could only watch with amusement as I tried to get myself under control.

"I take it you're feeling slightly better?" he asked me while he studied me.

I could only shake my head. The giggles meant absolutely nothing; my fears were not yet allayed, and the panic was still there beneath this humored façade. Finally, I made the rounds back to relative calm- outwardly, anyway- and I took a much-needed breath.

"So." He wiped the wet tracks from my cheek with his thumb. "What are these for?"

Searching for a coherent answer, I could only come up with the answer, "a lot of things." When he raised an eyebrow, I went on. "I'm tired and scared and … when I start crying, I just can't stop- that's something you should probably know." I rubbed my eyes, glad to feel the last of the tears dry up. Now, I was just a puffy red stuffed-up mess. "And I have so many unanswered questions; I don't know you half as well as I want to or should…"

He had not let go of my hand yet, and the way he rubbed my fingers with his thumb was comforting. "What do you want to know?"

I asked the first thing that came forward from the jumble of thoughts. "What's your favorite color?"

He touched the corner of my eye gently. "This one."

"Uh…" I blinked. "Red?"

His chuckle made me blush. "Green."

My eye-color. I wondered briefly if it had anything to do with me as I stored the information, or if it had been his favorite color long before he'd known me. I decided not to ask and live in the dream world that he liked me so much he'd noticed my eyes and changed his favorite color to match. "What kind of school did you go to?"

"I went to a few boarding schools." His expression told me it wasn't a fond memory. "I was expelled once for fraternizing with the girls."

That, I could see. "How many girlfriends have you had?"

"Enough to know that you're the perfect one."

The answer silenced me for a moment, but then I shook myself. I would not be charmed or distracted away from my chance to ask him questions this time. For the next hour or so, I grilled him on every possible thing I had ever wondered about him, from food preferences- potatoes prepared any which way were his favorite- to most embarrassing moment- walking in on a strange woman in the bathroom when he was seven- to whether he wanted kids and how many- yes, five-, and everything else in between. He was a gem, my Damien, raised to be polite to all women and respectful to his elders, taught the difference between a funny joke and a bawdy one, instilled with the tendency to shower affection and hold his temper.

And with all of the good-boy traits, he had a nice dash of the devilish charm, a pinch of mischief, and a slightly daring edge that kept him from being too goody-two-shoes. He was, evidently, the perfect man.

Whatever Violet had been warning me about, I no longer cared. He was slightly too good to be true, but I wasn't about to refuse such a man as this when he was within my reach. By the time I was tired enough to doze off again, I was sufficiently reassured that I was safe with Damien. I knew him so much better, and though I hadn't asked about his family in detail yet, I was now comforted with what I did know. Even if there were still warnings floating around in the back of my mind.

With all this goodness happening, something was bound to go wrong sometime soon.

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Well, hey there. I suppose I should just warn you that this will probably be the only update for a long while. I've been distracted by something else. And yes, I know this chapter is quite short. :) Still... it's progress! Right? ;)