Dan and Steve, two ships passing in the night, so to speak, find each other and a lucky penny before heading into a private airline-club room. Their encounter is brief yet intense, the attraction off the charts, but the lay, like the layover they’re both on, is all too short for either of their liking.
Fate, plus a little bit of luck, brought them together, but will they ever dock at the same port again?
Note: This short story was originally published in the charity collection, Love Is Proud.
Red-eyes, the very bane of my existence.
Careerwise, I was frequently required on both coasts, but I chose to live on the west one rather than the east. The weather was nicer, the men were hotter, and I’d take earthquakes over sleet anytime.
On that particular run, I was leaving on an almost-midnight flight, having to be in New York for an early morning meeting. Slogging through the airport, barely even aware of my surroundings, I’d come to the sad realization that the United terminal had become my veritable second home. Collapsing onto a too-hard seat, my briefcase toppling to the worn carpet, I stared downward and sighed.
It was then I spotted it: a shiny penny, face up, brimming with good luck.
Superstition taking hold of me, I bent down to retrieve the auspicious object. Suddenly, my head, already foggy from lack of sleep, came crashing, whammo, into a surprisingly solid object. When the stars stopped their clockwise spin, and with my hand rubbing my aching skull, I peeked through my squinting lids.
A man sat crouched on the ground in front of me, a smile on his face and the penny held firmly in his grasp. “Finders keepers,” he proclaimed while rubbing his temple, wincing as he did so. “Sorry,” he quickly added.
I laughed, despite the dull throbbing in my noggin. “Guess we both need all the luck we can get, huh?” I asked, standing up to offer him a hand, helping him back to his feet.
“Childhood habit,” he replied, his grip tightening in mine, until we stood face-to-face, his dazzling blue eyes inches from mine, as blue as his, his breath smelling of cool peppermint.
“Same here,” I said, my own breath growing instantly shallow as my heart began a beat-laden samba. “And sorry, as well.”
The handshake kept going, moving in auto-repeat. Flesh on glorious flesh. Our eyes stayed open, locked, not a blink, not a shift up or down or to the side, laser-locked, neither wanting, it seemed, to break contact.