Second Chance Layover — Part 1 (FREE Holiday blog serial)

Did you have a nice Thanksgving? Did you go shopping today? Are you sick of leftovers yet? Whew! With Thanksgiving later in the month this year, we have even fewer days to Christmas shop.

Good news is Sandra Bunino and I have a treat for you starting TODAY (Black Friday which, like the store sales, actually started on Thursday) and running every weekday until Christmas Eve. We’ve collaborated to bring you a FREE holiday blog serial that runs in 18 parts of usually less than 1000 words for each post—easy reading on your lunch break.

I hope you’ll make Second Chance Layover a part of your daily routine, but if not, there’s always the weekend to catch up. (Click title to read a quick summary of the story.)

Prefer to read on a Kindle or Nook? No problem, just head over to Smashwords every Wednesday beginning December 4th for the weekly digest to catch up.

And now, at last, I present PART 1 of:

Second Chance Layover

Cover1Charli ~

An army of disgruntled passengers had settled in for a long wait in the gate’s packed waiting area. Without an empty seat in sight, I wrinkled my nose at bodies sitting and even lying on the worn carpeting. Didn’t they know about all the germs embedded in the carpet fibers? Gross.

At an unoccupied pillar, I converted my hot pink hard-sided carryon into makeshift chair. I fished my iPad out of my purse and refreshed the airline website.

Delayed.

The word blinked in red on my screen. Over the hum of activity, I heard a newscast from one of the overhead television monitors. A severe snowstorm had left its immobilizing effect from Canada and into the Midwest. I blew a long breath through pursed lips, imagining my mother’s rant: Abby and Erin arrived before the storm, because they had nonstop flights. Sure, because Abby and Erin married into money and didn’t work, not to mention worry about spending extra on nonstop flights. I scrimped to afford my midtown apartment, the exorbitant rent worth every penny.

I rubbed my left temple, laid my phone on my thigh, and scrolled to “Mommie Dearest” in my contacts. The reference always made me laugh, especially since it bugged my mother so much. Eileen Tierney’s parenting style was nothing like Joan Crawford’s, however she bore an uncanny resemblance to Faye Dunaway. Abby and Erin inherited her classic good looks and natural grace. The ‘perfect gene’ skipped me, the middle sister. I favored my father’s side of the family—good Irish potato growing stock with wide hips and the ability to drink most men under the table.

Phone to my ear, I pinched the bridge of my nose. “Hey Mom. I’m stuck at O’Hare on a layover…yes, the storm…I know…I had to work. Listen, I need to cut this short because I’m trying to save my phone battery. I’ll call when I know what time I’m due in. Love you.” I rapidly tapped the ‘End’ button. Did I imagine the ringing in my ears? I’d bet a million dollars my sisters and father were getting an earful of Eileen’s shrill voice. Duncan would be taking his sweet time in arriving as usual. I was always late; but my brother was always later, even though he never seemed to get reamed like I did. I guessed because he was my parents’ only hope of carrying on the Tierney name, not that enough Irish Tierneys didn’t already walk the Earth.

I snapped open my suitcase and pulled out my laptop from a padded interior pocket before making a second call. After powering up, I switched back to my phone and scrolled to “Master of My Universe” in my contacts. With a chuckle, I hit the ‘Send’ button.

Henry picked up on the first ring. “I thought you were on vacation?”

I snorted. “Vacation is planting my ass in the sand with an umbrella drink. I’m going to the Tierney family ski condo, also known as hell. Let’s just say I’m on an anti-vacation.”

“Okay then, I thought you were on your anti-vacation.” His voice was flat, but I’d bet the store his mouth wore a hint of a smile.

“I’m stuck in another type of hell: O’Hare Airport. But good news, I have my laptop. Give me an assignment.”bigstock-Ohare-Airport-33566192

Papers shuffled in the background, probably the ‘fluff piece’ pile on the corner of his desk. “Ah, I got something here. I was going to give it to Tiffany, but it’s perfect for your situation. There’s this website called Meet-And-Go dot com where you can meet random strangers at the same place such as airports, bars, museums, parks, whatever. Go on and see if you can hook up with someone at the airport.”

My eyes widened. “Hook up with someone at the airport? What? Are you pimping me out now, Henry?” I grinned picturing old Henry turning a deep shade of red.

“Not ‘hook up’ as in ‘hook up’. Go find a friend, Charli, then write about it. I’ll run the story as a human-interest piece. We need some fluff pieces next week. There’s always a lull between Christmas and New Years.”

“When am I going to get something with real meat?” I had paid my dues in research and editing. I was ready, but convincing everyone else was the challenge.

“Let’s see what you do with this, and we’ll talk after the New Year. Merry Christmas, Charli.” Click.

I typed the website into the address bar and hit ‘Enter.’ The shining point of this assignment? Stealing from Tiffany, the Queen of Fluff. She would have loved the assignment, loved yet another chance to flaunt her stuff.

I opened an account on Meet-And-Go.com and added enough personal information to give me access to the next screen. The long list of members’ claiming to be at O’Hare and looking to meet others amazed me. So many people on the site. Interesting.

The challenge lay in finding the one least likely to be a serial killer. Oh yes, players abounded on Meet-And-Go, pictures and all. Pass. I hated when people tried too hard. I scrolled down and scanned the list. Someone’s hometown of Upstate New York caught my eye, and I clicked on the profile for BroadwayBoundJD. Kind of skimpy. I guessed he shared my hesitancy about sharing personal information with strangers. I clicked on the message option and typed.

****

Want more? Tune in on Monday for part 2!

Be sure to leave a comment. There **might** be an extra something in it for you later on…like say, an Amazon gift card for one lucky commenter each week. 😉

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