KATIE MADE HER way to the back of the plane. Lightheaded, heart still racing, she stood in the galley and spotted a tray of water set out for the passengers. A nagging thirst that was brought on by the intense dream from which she had just awakened consumed her. After three cupfuls, her tongue no longer felt like cotton still clinging to its boll. However, the water could not satiate the vivid images that were still swirling in her head. A dream, more like a nightmare, had been the cause of many sleepless nights of late. The best she could recall, it had been about two months since they first started.
“Excuse me,” Katie said, returning to her seat.
“You okay?” Spencer stood up to allow her to squeeze back into the middle seat.
Flying home, or at least close to it, was not something she relished or did frequently. Her current destination was as close to home as she had gotten in the last three years. However, the upcoming nuptials of her dearest friend was the reason this time. It just happened to be that Sam lived near her childhood home.
“I’m okay; I just needed some water,” Katie replied.
The flight was packed when they had boarded in Sacramento this morning. And that was after the sold-out flight from San Diego. Traveling from southern to northern California could sometimes be as difficult as a cross-country flight. Then, there was the forty-five minute drive to the suburbs outside of town, where Sam and her fiancé called home.
“Another dream?” Spencer asked.
She only nodded and shrugged her shoulders. Her post-nightmare routine—leaping out of bed, eyes, full of terror—was becoming something of a habit with which Spencer was growing accustomed. However, its occurrence during a brief nap was something new. Her fatigue was crossing into new levels of desperation.
The plane began its descent, the left wing tilting up towards the blue sky, high above the clouds to make the turn into Eureka. The jet engine groaned and a swift drop in elevation sent a shot of adrenalin through Katie’s body. Landing wasn’t as bad as the taking off; nevertheless, her tolerance for flight had decreased significantly over the past several years.
“I’m glad your parents will be at the wedding. It’s important for you to see them,” Spencer said.
Katie only tightened her seatbelt and prepared for the landing.
Rio Dell was a small town and was even smaller when Katie and Sam were growing up. Everyone knew each other, as was often the case in rural communities. So, when Sam mentioned she had sent an invitation to Katie’s parents, she was not surprised. Slightly disappointed, but not surprised. She knew it was Sam’s plan to get the three of them in the same room. A plan she might regret.
The wheels made contact with the runway in a rough fashion, forcing the plane to bounce up and down. As it slowed down, the drag pulled the plane forward. Relieved that she had touched ground, Katie opened her eyes and released the death grip she had on the arms of her seat.
“Come on, this’ll be fun!” Spencer patted her shoulder.
His sardonic wit was a quality she only mildly appreciated and this wasn’t one of those times.
“Sure! I’m looking forward to it.” She returned an equally ironic smile as they deplaned.
They were a good match for each other.
In the baggage claim area, Katie saw Sam in the distance and headed her way. Arms open and flashing her sparkling smile, Sam seemed thrilled at the sight of her old friend. Katie’s eyes brightened in response as she was both genuinely happy to see her friend and grateful the journey was over.
“How was your flight?” Sam asked. “It’s so good to see you!”
“You too, Sam; you look beautiful. The flight was all right. You know me, not much of a flyer.”
Spencer collected the bags from the conveyor and approached the two of them. “Hi, Sam, long time no see.” He leaned in for a hug from the waist up; appropriate physical contact for his girlfriend’s female friends.
“It has been a while. I’m so glad the both of you could come,” Sam said.
“Are you kidding? You know we wouldn’t miss your wedding.” Katie glanced around. “By the way, where’s Jarrod?”
“Oh, he’s driving around the airport, waiting for us to go to the curb. He didn’t want to pay for parking.”
Katie raised her eyebrows at Spencer as they followed Sam out of the terminal.
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Genre – Mystery / Thriller / Suspense
Rating – PG