Trapped by The Mouse

Chapter Four

My day was rapidly unraveling, and maybe all this was just one huge pity party, but didn’t I deserve it?

While I appreciated his sentiment, and in a perfect world, or Nicholas Sparks novel, sure, what he said was perfect, but all he was doing for me was pushing me into wild and dangerous fantasies that I couldn’t afford to fall into.

“I once heard my mother say that love was a myth, just something people without money tell themselves to make them feel better about their circumstances.” Remembering that moment at my eighth birthday left me numb now.

He didn’t say a word, but he reached around me and pulled me close.

I was torn.

On one hand, how dare he?

On the other, perfection.

“I don’t really give a fuck that Charles has a kinky streak. So long as he isn’t asking me to wear that costume and smack his ass!” I pulled away enough to look up at him.

He chuckled.

“You’re a good girl.

”I pulled away and glared at him.

“Wait just one damn minute, mister. Is that a question or a statement?

”I was so over people judging me!

“Neither. Or maybe both. Sometimes, I just see things about people. You’re a good person, with a good heart. That’s not a bad thing.”

How was I supposed to argue with that?

Besides, he was right. I didn’t have a kinky or wild bone in my body.

“So why am I here then? Since you know so much.” I challenged him.

He looked at me for a long moment.

“It wasn’t a real question.” I tried to back away, but where are you going to go in coach?

“Yes it was.” He stated smoothly and confidently.

I felt put in my place. I felt like being very still so that maybe he wouldn’t look too deep and see how much nothing I really was.

He reached out and pushed my hair behind one ear.

“You saw an out. A moment. A window in the fire that is your life, and you bravely took it. You thought certainly this, that even your mama wouldn’t make you go back. You thought this was your out. Only when you went to your mother, you realized she was never going to see your marriage as optional, so you ran. You ran someplace where she couldn’t reach you. And now you’re hoping to find a way not to go back.”

I was gutted.I felt all the blood drain from my face.

I couldn’t say anything in response, even if I wanted to. I knew all the words would dry up and crack in my throat.

It was an overhead announcement that saved me and pulled me from the fugue I’d fallen into. An announcement about being rerouted… to Sanford?

“What?” I looked around the cabin expecting everyone to be freaking out, but no one seemed to care. “Where’s Sanford?”

Distress flooded me. Maybe it was dumb, but I needed things to go as planned. That shouldn’t have been too much to ask. I need reliable, planned, plotted, stable, everything going the way it should!

“I barely know Orlando. I can’t cope with a whole new city!” I sounded stupid. “I shouldn’t have done this.”

Pg 1

I started unbuckling my seatbelt as if I thought I was going to go up front and demand an explanation from the pilot.

He grabbed my arm and gently tugged me back into my seat.

“Calm down.” His words spoke authority and confidence.

“Is everything okay?” A flight attendant leaned in and spoke directly to me.

“I really shouldn’t have done this. I need to go back to New York. Right now.” I was completely serious, but the attendant looked at me as if I’d just grown two more heads.

“We’re fine.” He assured her.

“I’m not fine. I’m an idiot.” I was panicking.

He looked back at the attendant and softly reiterated, “We’re fine.

”I wasn’t fine. Aside from Cambridge, I’d never been anywhere without someone before. Maybe I should have gone to Gillie’s or Cranson’s and set an impromptu girl’s trip to Fiji in motion instead of this!

But I didn’t.

I picked Florida, and why?

Because no one I knew went to Orlando because… well, because it was Orlando.

I’m sorry, but kind of ew.

Florida is where all the crazies live, where the snowbirds go. Palm Beach was the only acceptable stop for my crowd. The only purpose for Orlando was if you had kids and needed to take them on the obligatory mouse trip. I wasn’t here to visit some dumb mouse!

“Calm down. Sanford is about forty minutes difference. Do you have someone waiting for you at Orlando?” He seemed so understanding.

“No. No one.” I thought about JB and decided to be truthful. “My friend has no idea I’m coming. In all honesty, I’m not even sure he’ll remember me. It’s been… a decade I think since I’ve seen him. But he sends me postcards! Always says, wish you were here… I think… maybe that’s what’s on the postcard. I don’t know. Hold on.”

I started trying to get my bag out from under the seat by pulling on it in a near hysterical fashion.

He grabbed my hand and again tried to shush me.

“Okay. Okay. It doesn’t matter.”

“The postcard is in my purse. I grabbed it as I left the penthouse.” I tugged at my bag one more time before he pulled me into his arms.

“I’ve made the biggest mistake of my life, haven’t I?” I didn’t wait for an answer. “He was just the only person I knew that didn’t live in the city.”

I was never closer to tears than in that moment, but I couldn’t. I couldn’t let them start or they’d probably never stop.

“I’m sure he’ll be happy to see you. I’m going to rent a car when we get to Sanford since mine’s parked at Orlando. I can give you a lift if you want.” He was being extra gentle now and that only made me feel worse.

“Taking rides from strangers never ends well.” I tried to be cute.I don’t think I made it.

“I promise not to ax murder you on account of I’m a musician and we treasure our hands. Ax murdering sounds like it would be hard on them.” He chuckled. Amused with his little joke.

I pulled away and mocked pain at his joke.

The pilot announced our descent into Sanford. I could feel the plane dip beneath my body, the pressure of landing and leveling off raising me up and pushing me into my seat.

“What kind of music do you play? I’ve raised a ton of money for orchestras.” I don’t know why I thought that would impress him.

“I just play guitar.” He shrugged. “Not a big deal. Now my brother… he’s a big deal.”

It was the first time I’d seen him look anything less than confident and composed.

“I can’t imagine anyone outshining you.” I couldn’t imagine him not being the brightest light in any room he walked into

He blushed again.

Pg 2

The freedom with which he expressed emotion impressed me. It was a level of honesty I wasn’t used to.

“You’re kind.” He pulled out his phone and looked at it.“

Actually, I’m not sure I am.” I muttered beneath my breath.

“Crap.” He looked at me and back at the phone. “Okay, offer for ride still stands, but it’s later than I thought and the extra time from Sanford is going to mean I’ve got to swing by work on the way to wherever you’re going. There’s a meeting, and even though these things are always stupid politics, not making an appearance relegates me to the worst schedule for months.”

Whatever was happening between us, it was special and romantic, but it was a fantasy.

I wanted to walk away at the airport and hold it as some magical memory forever.

Being practical, I had no idea where I was, or how to get to JB’s. The cash I had wouldn’t work on Uber and I begrudged giving it to a taxi service. On top of that, I didn’t have any cards to rent a car myself.

That didn’t leave me a lot of choices.

I was in so much trouble.

Self-inflicted trouble.

“I’d appreciate the ride. Thank you.”

He held out his hand to shake mine.

“Okay then, it’s a deal.”

“I don’t know your name.” We shared more intimacy on that flight than I had with probably anyone, and I didn’t even know his name.

I hadn’t wanted to know his name.

I wanted to relive the fantasy without the normality of names and occupations, but now I’d know both.

“Valentino Tanquerey. My friends call me Valen.” He squeezed my hand a little tighter.

Of course he’s Valentino Tanquerey.

Someone like this was never going to be Bob Smith.

I wondered if God was playing some weird joke on me.

“I’m Sabrina.” It was enough. I didn’t need him making some joke about how my last name summed up my entire life.

“It’s a pleasure, Sabrina.” He squeezed my hand once more, then slowly slid his hand away, leaving me tingling from the touch.

There was no artifice with this man. I don’t know what to do with that.

What I do know, is that I’m glad this isn’t going to end at the airport.

Trapped by the Mouse is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, locales, and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

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