Laurelyn Prescott

I am sick of being on this plane. The four-and-a-half-hour flight from Nashville to Los Angeles was fine. The layover was tolerable, thanks to the airport bar. But the last leg of our flight to Australia is becoming more and more unbearable with each passing minute.

I try to calculate how much longer it is until we land in Sydney. My exhaustion makes it difficult for me to do the simple equation in my head, but it looks like it’s still almost two hours until I will feel solid ground beneath my feet again. I sigh and tell myself to be patient. I’ve made it this far. I can take another two hours. I mean, I don’t really have a choice at this point, right?

I look at my best friend sleeping in the seat next to me and I’m irritated. Addison has slept most of the flight, leaving me to entertain myself. She offered to share her Valium, but I declined, certain I wouldn’t need it. Wrong.

I climb over Addison and take a walk up and down the aisle to stretch my legs, which helps me feel better. Upon returning to my seat, I decide reading will help pass the time, so I grab my e-reader and pick up where I stopped on the slutmance I’d started earlier. Only at chapter six and of course, the woman is in love with the hot new guy but is in denial. How typical.

Chapter twelve is winding down when the pilot announces that we’ll be landing in Sydney in ten minutes. Addison doesn’t stir, so I put my naughty tale away and nudge her, knowing it will take the next ten minutes to get her out of her drug-induced slumber.

“Wake up, Addison. We’re almost in Sydney.”

She barely stirs so I nudge her again. “Addison. Get up. We’re in Sydney. You need to get buckled for the landing.”

She lifts her head and stares at me with unfocused eyes. She straightens in her seat and takes a moment to get her bearings. “Wow, that went faster than I expected.”

“I guess so since you were in a freakin’ coma. It was the longest thirteen hours of my life. I didn’t sleep a wink the whole flight because I was too busy wondering if we were going to end up being shark food.” That came out a little pissier than I’d intended.

“Well, there’s no reason to be miserable when you don’t have to be. You should’ve taken a happy pill and then maybe you wouldn’t be so cranky right now.” She won’t have to offer twice on the flight home three months from now. Lesson learned.

Buckled into my seat, I squeeze my eyes as the plane’s wheels screech against pavement. Our fellow passengers erupt into cheer and clapping when we’re safely on the ground. I’m not the only one glad to be getting off this plane.

We collect our three months’ worth of luggage and take a seat in the terminal to wait for our last flight. With an hour layover, I decide to visit the airport bar. “I’m gonna grab a much-needed and well-deserved toddy.”

Addison’s phone rings and I recognize her brother’s ringtone. Before she answers, she gives me a warning. “Be back in thirty minutes or I’m sending security for you.” I don’t reply in words but make sure she sees the hand gesture I have for her.

The airport bar isn’t far from our terminal and I plop down on a stool. “What can I get you?” I might not be able to tell by my surroundings, but I know I’m in Australia when I hear his accent.

“I’d like something from a local brewery. I tend to favor lighter flavors.”

He serves me a pale ale from a Sydney brewery. It’s stout, but good.

I sit at the bar enjoying my ale. The bartender doesn’t try to talk about where I’m from or where I’m heading. He appears to be in his fifties, so I can only assume he’s heard more shit than he’d like over the years and thus isn’t interested in mine. Works fine for me.

When I finish, I go back to where Addison is guarding our huge pile of luggage. “Was Ben calling to check on us?”

“Yeah. He was making sure our flight was running on time. I told him to expect us to arrive around three. He said he’s bringing a friend to help with our luggage.”

I see how many bags we have and I swear we look like a traveling band of gypsies. Most of it is Addison’s, but I have my fair share—there’s no way to pack lightly for a three-month stay. “That’s not a bad idea.”

“He’s my brother. He knows how high maintenance I am.” I sit and prop my feet on the suitcase in front of me. “He didn’t say it, but he’s really excited to meet you.”

He’s really excited to meet me. This is a huge red flag. I hope she isn’t thinking of playing matchmaker.

“Don’t you dare even think about encouraging him.” I’m not interested in dating anyone right now. She knows this better than anyone. This whole Australia gig is about getting away from all that shit, not finding another pile of it.

“He hasn’t dated many Aussies while he’s lived here. I’m just saying you shouldn’t be surprised if he tries to start something with you.”

Oh, hell no. We’re not even there yet and she’s already trying to hook us up. “It’s not happening, Addison.”

“You’ll be living in the same apartment with him for the next three months. Who knows what could happen?”

Okay. Now, I’m getting pissed because it feels like I’m being ambushed. “I might not know what will happen, but I know what won’t, so forget it.”

“Fine, fine, I won’t mention it again. Ben wants to take us out tonight, but I know you haven’t slept much. I told him you might not feel like it.”

“Maybe I’ll feel up to it if I can catch a power nap on the flight to Wagga Wagga.”

This time it’s Addison nudging me when our flight is preparing to land. “Laurelyn. Wake up. We’re finally here.”

I sit up and fluff my long brown hair. I look terrible when it’s flat and I’m sure it’s lying against my head after my nap.

I couldn’t have slept more than forty minutes, but I welcome the overall refreshed feeling it brings—except for my mouth. The combination of mouth breathing, beer drinking, and lack of oral hygiene during our travels has skunked things up. I don’t want to meet Addison’s brother for the first time and have him question which end is my face. “I need some gum. Do you have any on you?”

Addison reaches into her purse and holds out the lime-green pack in my direction. “Doublemint work for you?”

I take two pieces because I’m fairly certain it’s going to take two shots of Doublemint to do the job. “Thanks.”

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