Chapter 1—


Evelyn Rankin shuddered in disgust. She'd always hated them. The incessant delayed flights and layovers, the valley of takeoffs and landings, and always, but of course, the proverbial break up.

The long distance relationships, here established, that never failed to fail and the split of romance, ruination of love.

Not that Evelyn believed in such a thing – or at least she chose not to practice it. Romantics called her a cynic; she dubbed herself simply as a realist.

Realistically, she knew the truth. Love hurts. It's messy and makes people do crazy things, out of character things. It changes a person.

And personally Evelyn was pleased with herself as she was. She didn't need to go wide-eyed and mad over some boy. A trite relationship. She liked to think she had enough control of her own emotions not to fall in love.

Fall? How silly. Everyone knew love was a choice, not unpreventable, and it was a choice she wasn't willing to make.

Evelyn gingerly laid a hand on the car door, which promptly stuck with rust. She pushed hard, leaning into the door until it fell open nearly causing her to land on the cement. Brushing herself off she exited the cab pulling out suitcases behind her.

So, with all her qualms about airports – the fact that she was deathly terrified of flying not the least on that list – why did she find herself at O' Hare, the huge airport of Chicago?

The answer was clear. Opportunity.

As Evelyn strode towards the sliding doors a homeless man strumming blindly at a violin jerkily shoved his hand in her face, demanding she grease his palm. Evelyn hesitantly tossed a few coins before scurrying away.

He would've made more money selling the violin, she thought bitterly.

Evelyn's eyes danced around furtively. The atmosphere of this place left a bad taste in her mouth. Too many people's feet had walked on the floors she now stood on. She felt like she was covered in grime, just from being in a place like that.

God, it made her nervous. She twirled a strand of reddish-brown hair around her forefinger.

"Would a beautiful lady like you, need assistance towing this here luggage?" a man with a mustache and raucous southern drawl asked Evelyn, placing his hands over hers on the suitcase handle.

She cringed away from his cold hand, determined not to let her feeling of disgust show on her face.

"No thank you," Evelyn bit back icily, her voice sounding harsh and defensive, even to her. She brought her possessions close to her, and suspiciously eyed the man. Wasn't he slightly too far north to be talking with that accent?

This man screamed 'axe murderer' or 'rapist.' He even had knobs curling the tips of the dead caterpillar on his face and she just had a vibe about this man. As these things went Evelyn was rarely wrong.

"I meant no harm miss," he said, talking down to her as if she were an infant, "It's what I'm paid to do." The criminal flashed her an ID, 'Bob,' how cliché, and a smile.

"Erh- I knew that," Evelyn snapped haughtily, turning slightly pink around the collar, "I just don't need your help." She clambered off in embarrassment dragging the clunky suitcases behind her. As she left, Evelyn could hear the man's scratchy laugh and feel his eyes watching her. She flushed further.

Evelyn didn't dwell on it. She had a long flight ahead of her, eight hours and ten minutes and then a layover to be exact. Of course to make the flight she would need to find the gate first. Damn, it was so elusive.

She glanced up and stopped, sighing in relief. Finally, she was here. As soon as she got past security she would kick off her shoes in the terminal and relax.

Her eyes lightened a tinge in anticipation as she approached the gate entrance. The time was here; finally she'd be rid of this country and its buffoons, if only for a year. She checked her bags and headed determinedly to the terminal.

"Miss, can I see some form of ID?" Prepared, Evelyn slid the security officer her driver's license along with the plane ticket. The uniform clad woman 'tsked' in vague approval before allowing Evelyn to pass.

Now, for the x-rays, she thought with little excitement. Evelyn was so close to being free. So… close…

Evelyn begrudgingly slipped off her heels, offhandedly pleased that she'd opted to paint her toe nails a pretty red the night before. She tossed them into a Tupperware where her purse and jacket lay, to be examined for a drug test and run beneath the scanner.

Geez, these airport people were uptight. She wondered how many people they actually caught hiding drugs in their shoes.

Barefoot and perturbed, Evelyn trudged through the metal detector. Of course, as such was her luck, it went off, blaring in a rampage. Evelyn pinched the bridge of her nose in frustration, trying not to let herself get so worked up over something like airport security.

"Please remove all jewelry or anything else that might set this off, ma'am," a young decent looking guard said. He winked suggestively, wagging his eyebrows at her and she grimaced, taking a small step away from him.

Evelyn unclasped her watch and bracelet to be held in a container but left a ring on her right ring finger, sure it wouldn't set off the alarm. She almost never took it off and didn't plan to start now.

In obvious mockery of our heroine's character, the metal detector beeped viciously again as Evelyn stepped through it. A line of other college students was starting to form behind her.

"Remove all jewelry," the guard persisted.

Evelyn angrily added her emerald ring set in silver to the container's contents. Was she the only one who realized there was no way that was making the alarm blare?

Evelyn warily crossed the evil threshold once more, this time feeling especially bare, only to set off the alarms yet again.

"What, do you have a metal plate in your head or something?" the young guard asked tactlessly.

Evelyn glared coldly. "No."

"Then I guess I'll have to strip search you." Her eyes bulged incredulously. He was decent looking but not that decent looking.

A laugh sounded behind Evelyn and she whirled around to pinpoint its location. She couldn't but picked up on the fact that more detectors were being opened to make the process quicker.

"I was just kidding," the guard answered with a pout, apparently miffed by her disbelieving looks and the person nearby who thought he was a comedian.

She sincerely hoped the guard wasn't trying to look sexy with his macho stance and pouting face, because to Evelyn, he more resembled an angry two year old. The sexy cop look doesn't work for airport security.

"Good," she snarled.

"Come this way." The guard took up a half-professional attitude, leading Evelyn away a few feet to be closer inspected.

A few people who had been blocked behind her cheered appreciatively. The line would start moving again now.

"First," he said, and he was back to the flirtatious tone, "stand with your feet shoulder-width apart." She scornfully obliged lifting an eyebrow. The second command caused her eyebrows to snap and furrow together. "Now, remove your belt."

If she hadn't known better she would've thought the man was hitting on her. Especially with the husky voice and lustful glances he threw towards her.

Every thing within Evelyn wanted to hit the man extremely hard and then promptly retch all over his shoes. If she'd never heard the command in other airports, Evelyn would've been well on her way to performing those very actions.

Instead, Evelyn obeyed without a word. The guard waved a handheld detector over her body, arms, and legs, pausing momentarily at spots that made her eye him distrustfully.

When the detector remained silent and the guard had examined her, a little bit too thoroughly in Evelyn's mind, she was handed her belongings.

The obnoxious guard handed back her purse and other belongings smiling seductively and said, "We had to confiscate your nail clippers and file. Can't have you stabbing other passengers. Pleasure doing business with you."

Evelyn snatched away the purse and shuffled away feeling completely violated. She had just been reminded of another reason why she entirely detested airports. If it hadn't been shot before, dealing with that pesky guard killed her mood completely.

A girl laughed boisterously a few feet away.

"If they get too horny just kick 'em in the balls. That's what I do with my dogs at home." Evelyn turned and laughed with her, easing her tension.

"And I had thought he was trying for subtlety," she countered sarcastically. Evelyn sat beside the girl in the leather chair of the terminal.

"Jordan," the girl introduced herself, offering a hand.

"Evelyn Rankin." She shook it firmly.

"Ooh, first and last, do you trust me so much already?" Evelyn raised an eyebrow skeptically, surveying the girl in front of her.

"I think you're the first person to ever think I was too trusting."

"Evelyn, that's a pretty name," Jordan continued oblivious to all but her rambling, "Can I call you Eve?"

"Oh, God no. I hate that name. If anything else I go by Lyn, but my full name will suffice," she said.

"Lyn." Jordan tried the name out, testing how it rolled off her tongue. Evelyn couldn't help but think she was odd.

"What's your orientation?" Jordan inquired next, as if it was on the usual list of questions one asks a stranger to break the ice.

Jordan looked as if she felt totally at ease with herself, but Evelyn on the other hand, was suddenly noticing how tight her shoes fit on her toes and how sticky the leather seat felt on her arms.

"Excuse me?" Evelyn stuttered.

"You heard me," Jordan quipped, "don't be shy."

"Um. I don't really… date, but if I did I suppose the person would be a he," Evelyn answered sitting on her hands to restrict them from reaching to her hair.

"Damn. Just checking," Jordan said. "I won't try to jump you or anything, I just think you're cute."

"Thank you?"

"Stop it, that blush is adorable. And yes, it's a compliment," Jordan said to Evelyn.

Whistles and howls sounded from across the terminal and both girls, one amused, one slightly bewildered, turned to see what was causing the commotion. A large group of the students were circled around one guy. He was raptly holding their attention, as it seemed that they hung on his every word.

"And then what did you do to her, man?" one guy asked.

"Oh, I don't think I should say," the center of attention answered.

A load of 'c'mon'sand 'let's hear it Adam's echoed around the circle. Evelyn rolled her eyes, forgetting about her previous embarrassment.

"If there is one thing I can't stand," she started.

"It's macho, popular, jock boys left over from high school?" finished Jordan, interested.

"Yes. Exactly," Evelyn said slumping backwards against her chair.

"Isn't that stereotyping? I mean, not that I don't agree, but I get stereotyped all the time and it sucks," Jordan commented intelligently.

"It's not like we can get away from stereotyping, we do it in our sleep. I'm just not fighting it in this case. Trust me, I'm getting this vibe. That guy is a prick," Evelyn said assuredly.

"Sure, why not." They were comfortably silent a few minutes before Evelyn spoke again. She was still thinking about that boy, which, she figured, in annoyance, is exactly what he would want.

"Not everyone here is going on to Italy, right?" Evelyn pondered aloud.

"Right. Half are getting dropped at the layover in Paris," Jordan said.

"Well maybe if I'm lucky he'll be staying there," Evelyn mused. She was pretty sure her already foul mood was making her more prejudiced against the boy than she usually would be, but she didn't care.

"He's not," Jordan said firmly without thought.

"How would you know?"

"Our parents didn't think we would want to get sent to the same place. The point of studying abroad besides absorbing the country is kind of getting away and you can't do that with sibling running amuck on campus," Jordan said, "I'm staying in Paris, Adam is going on to Italy, like you." She smiled warmly.

Evelyn sat speechless and gaping, feeling her shoes get even tighter on her feet and her hand escape from underneath her to her hair.

"I am soo sorry," Evelyn babbled apologetically. She was definitely the most tactless and idiotic person around.

"Don't worry about it Lyn. Just because he's my little brother doesn't mean he isn't ever a prick." Jordan grinned wryly now.

"Still, I feel like an ass, and-"

"Really, don't worry your pretty little head, darling."

A voice on the intercom interrupted Evelyn's apologizing fit, much to Jordan's relief, seeing as she wasn't upset. Jordan found the whole situation since spotting Evelyn to be a bit amusing.

Besides, Evelyn had only voiced preconceived notions that always followed Adam around. If he didn't have such a large head… But he was her large-headed little brother, whom she loved dearly.

"Boarding call, for first class. We are now boarding first class." The voice over the intercom eerily sounded like Ben Stein would if he were on cocaine. It was almost ominous.

Ominous? Airport announcers were not supposed to sound ominous. They really knew how to add to Evelyn's mounting fears.

"That's my cue," Jordan said.

"You ride first class?" Evelyn asked in surprise.

"God no, I'm in college, not rich. I'm checking up on little Adam before I leave. Would hate to see he's surgically attached himself to some slut." Jordan's eyes flashed protectively in a way that made Evelyn weep for any girlfriend he might have. She then smiled amiably.

Evelyn liked Jordan's honesty and found her to be an overall nice person so she acted slightly more impulsively than she usually did. As Jordan stood, shouldering her carry-on, Evelyn piped up.

"Give me your phone number." Jordan smiled at her amusedly.

"I take it I would be pointlessly getting my hopes up to think you've changed your mind?"

"What?" Evelyn asked momentarily confused. Her face got hot then, "Oh, no! Not… I just don't have any friends right now and I thought-"

"Boarding call for rows 25 through 20. We are now boarding rows 25 through 20." Evelyn shivered involuntarily at the creepy voice and checked her boarding pass. Row 16.

"You thought it might be helpful to have someone to call when everyone in Italy turns out to be lame?"

"Well… yeah," Evelyn answered sheepishly.

"Don't take it back, I think it's sweet." Jordan grabbed Evelyn's hand and fished in her bag for a pen. She tore the cap off of her pen with her teeth. "Here. Call me if you need anything. To talk or if you decide to transfer to Paris."


"Pleasure doing business with you," Jordan said huskily, swaggering away in an imitation of the annoying guard/ molester. Evelyn laughed heartily at her back, the first laugh all day, but it was cut short by the recurring ominous voice.

"Boarding call for rows 19 through 14. We are now boarding rows 19 through 14."

She gripped her armrests automatically. Evelyn was getting on a plane now. Without her parents.

Maybe it's pathetic for a nineteen year old to still desire her parents for safety on a plane ride but clearly Evelyn was not like every nineteen year old. Different from most nineteen year olds, Evelyn was shaking with fear and silently praying she would sleep through the entire flight.

I can do this, it'll be easy. Reassuring thoughts. Sure, like I believe that. I'm going to die. I am walking to my death, right now.

Evelyn shuffled slowly towards the woman collecting boarding passes, which would inevitably guide her to the metal attachment leading onto the plane.

She most definitely was frightened for her life, positive she would die. Even though most people didn't see plane rides as a risk Evelyn knew better. The others were clearly insane.

But what's the point in living life if you don't take risks? …Right?

A/N: First chapter of a new story. Thought I would put it up now. Tell me what you think. R/r!