Margie's New Man
© 2014 by Lu Erickson
© 2014 by Lu Erickson
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Margie Russo tugged again on her seat belt, snugging it up tight, even though the pilot had turned off the seat-belt light an hour ago. She glanced around at the total lack of concern that surrounded her--inane conversation in the aisles, people somehow finding the focus to not only watch, but actually follow, the inflight movie, attendants smiling and nodding absently as they glided through the plane. Didn't anyone here grasp that they were all encased in what, by the standards of the universe, amounted to a soda can sputtering through the air at 35,000 feet just waiting for the foot of God to drop-kick them back down to earth?!
If she'd just have taken that damn pill Liz had offered, she'd be blessedly deep in a drug-induced oblivion right now, instead of nursing a killer tension headache made worse by two cute little bottles of Jack Daniels (which should, by the way, come with the warning: The Surgeon General has determined that alcohol dispensed from containers manufactured by Lilliputians is still capable of landing the consumer on his or her respective butt).
Margie snatched the complimentary airline goody bag from the empty seat next to her and rummaged around for the complimentary breath mint--she'd already pilfered the extra complimentary pen and postcards. Although she'd never dream of committing such a breach in etiquette when sober, she couldn't at the moment figure out what was so terribly wrong about rifling through the bag that, while admittedly did not belong to her, did not belong to anyone else either.
"Is anyone sitting here?"
It took Margie an extra second or two to process the question. Her gaze retraced the deep resonant voice past the denim-clad thighs, over the understated burnished-gold buckle, up to the wide shoulders, and on to the well-defined lips that had spoken.
"Uh. No," she answered, gathering up her things from the seat and looking around for a place to stow them. Oh Lordy, here was one of the few, the proud, the beautiful. One of those men that were so good-looking, they made a woman nervous just to be in the same room with them. In her whole life, Margie had only known two before. Tony Lagomarsino from her high school oil painting class--a soulful-eyed cynic who painted a bowl of fruit in a way that had made her press her thighs together under the table. And Carl Jackson, an architect with a competing firm whose tanned, blonde-highlighted forearms reduced her to blathering idiocy whenever he asked to use the telephone at her desk.
Margie reached for the catalog of duty-free goods, trying to appear nonchalant and hoping that her Jack Daniels breath wasn't rising like a noxious cloud around her. He'd think that she was some kind of a drunk, or so neurotic that she needed a dose of liquid courage to get through a little transatlantic flight. Never mind that that was exactly the case. Well, she was never taking another drink. Never. Not even if she were gutshot in the middle of the Mojave Desert and the only way to numb the pain was to gulp the last swallows from a battered bottle of moonshine (the rest having been used to disinfect the wound, of course).
The pleasant smell of aftershave wafted over from her new seatmate. Margie shifted her eyes without moving her head. Damn. A gold band. But on his right hand. Now, what the heck was that supposed to mean? Wasn't the whole purpose of wearing a ring to give a clear signal to the world whether or not you were married? And here was this guy flouting centuries of tried and true tradition designed to spare civilized folk from the exact type of awkward moment Margie felt certain was right around the corner. What type of guy would mess with your mind like that?
Margie turned her head just the slightest bit, thanking God for her excellent peripheral vision. He'd closed his eyes! She ventured a full-on gander, taking in the just-right amount of dark stubble on his face, the shiny chestnut curl that circled the back of his ear--and the others that barely grazed the neckline of his sweater. His eyelashes were so long they almost rested against his cheekbones, and Margie fought the urge to run a fingertip along that ridge, feeling the soft fringe.
Margie exhaled a wistful sigh, wondering what it would be like to wake up in the morning and see someone that beautiful on the pillow beside her. She could see he was a man of strong commitment by the solid line of his jaw. He'd be the perfect husband--always ready to take out the garbage, he'd never use the last of the toilet paper without replacing the roll, and he'd sense without being told that it was the man's responsibility to scoop the dog-pooh from the yard and to squish all bugs over a half-inch that trespassed into the home. (Margie had been involved in two previous affairs of the heart and had no illusions about what really mattered in a relationship.)
Margie settled back in her seat, opening her eyes wide to shake the fantasy. Who was she kidding? The plane would land in two more hours, he'd wake up refreshed to collect his carry-on luggage and she'd haul herself out of the cramped seat to collect hers. She'd follow him out of the plane and, after a few glimpses of him at baggage collection, she'd never see him again.
She wondered now where he'd come from. He'd have had to spend the majority of the flight somewhere. Maybe he'd gotten tired of being fawned over in first class and decided to venture back into economy to do a little slumming. Or maybe he'd been in economy all along in another section of the plane and his seatmate--probably some attention-starved woman with the pathetic fantasy of starting a mid-air romance--had been so annoying he'd been forced to move.
His head slipped just a little on the backrest, bringing his face even with hers. Margie turned to look at him. Ah, perfection. Just the type of Nordic features she was attracted to, yet interestingly placed in a Mediterranean coloring. He must be a combo. Italian mother, Swedish father? Norwegian mother, Spanish father? She wondered if he were Catholic. That would certainly make her mother happy. Why, he wouldn't even have to be a doctor if he were Catholic.
He slipped a little more and Margie quickly faced forward, her breath catching in her throat as his head came to rest on her shoulder. She supposed she should gently raise him back onto his own headrest. She inhaled slowly, telling herself not to do anything rash. His hair smelled divine--a woodsy kind of shampooey smell. She turned her nose into it, taking a deep breath. His hair tickled her.
"Can I get you something to drink?"
Margie erased the scowl from her face before she faced the flight attendant, trying to remind herself the woman was just trying to do her job and didn't mean to intrude on their intimate moment.
"Actually, I'll have another Jack Daniels and seven, please." Oh, shut up, she told the little-miss-goody-two-shoes in her head, one more drink wasn't going to hurt anything.
"Anything for the gentleman?" the attendant asked sweetly.
"Oh." It would look like she had the right to speak for him, with his head nuzzled into her shoulder. "No, he's fine," she answered, feeling the warmth of his breath through the woven cotton of her blouse.
The attendant pulled her tray into place and set the drink in the round depression. He stirred on her shoulder and Margie froze, her hand suspended halfway between her mouth and the tray. A soft moan escaped his lips as he settled in again. Margie gave up on her drink for the moment, afraid that any movement might wake him. But just as she tried to relax in the chair, a hand flopped over the armrest and landed on her stomach.
Oh my God, Margie thought, she was going to be felt up on a plane by a sleeping man that she'd never even met. Was she just going to sit here and do nothing? She should have pushed his head back when he'd first invaded her territory, beautifully fragrant shiny chestnut curls be damned.
Her hand shot out toward her glass and she gulped a long swallow. Too much damn seven and not enough whiskey. She replaced the glass and was left wondering where to put her hand since her lap was already taken. Deciding that the armrest was as good as anywhere, she glanced down at her stomach and was struck by the magnificence of the human hand. The intricacy of the small bones and tendons, the pink-peach nails topped with slender ivory crescents. His fingers twitched against her and she ached to trace the ridges and indentations, to curl her fingers around his palm. One more drink and she just might do it. Her hand hesitated no more than a second before she reached for the glass and drained it.
She looked down again and slowly moved her hand towards his. She knew that the drink couldn't possibly have taken effect yet, but what the hell, she was really only looking for an excuse so that she could blame it on the alcohol when she later related the story to Liz.
Margie laid her hand over his and curled her much smaller fingers around his palm. Jesus, this man slept like the dead! Maybe she should feel him up--Liz was always telling her she was afraid to take chances. She almost giggled as she imagined slipping her hand under his sweater to explore the territory.
Margie glanced at her watch. Not much more than an hour until landing. They were probably somewhere over Seattle now. She wondered where he lived and what he did for a living. His fingernails were clean but she had felt calluses on his palm, just below the base of his fingers. Maybe he was a sculptor and used a chisel to sculpt huge stone masterpieces. Or maybe an archeologist who had to wield a shovel or pick to make wonderful discoveries. Oh God, maybe he was an real estate agent who golfed on the weekends. No. Absolutely not. Hands like his were meant for greater things. He was a sculptor. Definitely.
The sound of an elevator bell filled the cabin and Margie noticed that the seat belt light had come on. They'd begun their descent. She could feel anticipation bubbling up from the passengers--ten hours was a long time to be cooped up in a soda can. And yet she really hadn't minded the last two in the least.
The sculptor shifted on her shoulder and rolled back to his own seat.
No! Come back! But when he failed to pay any attention to her wishes, Margie did her own adjusting, noticing for the first time since he'd come into her life that her back had developed a kink. She arched, using the opportunity to sneak one last glance. He opened his eyes, and Margie saw their lovely shade of blue. She had wondered what color they'd be, what with him being a combo and all.
He gave her an absent smile and she put out her hand. "You've been a great travelling companion. It was a pleasure."
He frowned in confusion but accepted her hand just the same. "Yeah, sure," he replied hesitantly. But then he didn't really know what had passed between them, did he? Margie faced forward and gripped both armrests, never minding that she was only entitled to one of them.
The plane landed without incident, and just as she'd envisioned, he gathered his things and walked off the plane before her.
But not without leaving a little bit of himself behind, Margie discovered, as the cool air hit the damp little spot of drool on her shoulder.