Prologue: Landing in Paris
"Ladies and gentlemen, we will be arriving in Paris shortly; I ask at this time that you take your seats and fasten your seatbelts. Return tray tables to their original position and please turn off any electrical devices you may be using. We should be landing in the city of lights in approximately forty minutes."
Layla returned the microphone to its original place on the wall and sat herself back behind the curtain in anticipation. She had lost count at how many times she had been to Paris, or any other international location for that matter, but it was Paris alone that still inspired excitement for her.
Layla watched out the window as the buildings began to come into focus. It was awe inspiring how beautiful one city could be, mesmerizing and inspiring. As the Eiffel tower came closer into view she heard a bump behind her.
"Would you mind topping of my brandy honey?" Layla turned towards the source of the silky smooth drawl, shooting up an eyebrow at the dashing smile currently hovering over her.
"Sit back in your seat Mr. Buchanan." Layla turned back and faced forward, avoiding the smiles dark penetrating green gaze.
"Oh honey, I've told you already, you can call me Alex." Alex Buchanan tipped his glass at Layla, winking in a suggestive manner.
"I don't believe I will Mr. Buchanan, now if you will kindly return to your seat before I lock you in the restroom."
"Ooo, does this mean you will finally let me join the mile high club love?" Alex wiggled his eyebrows at Layla, leaning his six foot two frame dangerously close to her.
Layla rolled her lips inwards, biting them together in an attempt to keep from laughing. She patted her auburn hair, wrapped tightly into a low set bun, and slowly turned to the handsome face now inches from her own.
"Mr. Buchanan, I must remind you, again, that sexually suggestive comments made towards the crew will not be tolerated. We value you as a frequent flier therefore I will not toss your mangled body out on the tarmac, but should you not return to the first class cabin and sit back in your seat immediately, I will be forced to seat you in second class next time, right next to someone I'm sure you'll enjoy." Layla returned Alex's grin with a wicked one of her own, emphasizing the last part as the threat it was meant to be.
Alex smiled as he stood back up, waiving his hands in surrender. "Okay darling, I'll return to my seat, didn't know you could bite so hard." He winked at Layla again, giving her an appreciative glance that lingered just long enough to indicate his intent.
Layla watched Alex make his way back through the hanging curtains into the first class cabin, resuming the front row seat he normally reserved for his business trips. He had been a regular since she started stewarding on the international flights, his job taking him to countless exotic locations. Though Alex had consistently used his charms to draw her attention, their flirting never went past a professional point.
As Layla watched the landing strip getting closer out the window her mind was drawn back again to the memories she struggled to forget.
The lights of a night cloaked Paris reminded her of the fireflies that circled near the lake bordering on her hometown, twinkling in the crisp darkness like a thousand stars. The green grass and thick trees that carpeted the outskirts led onto cobblestones streets still remaining from the town's original inhabitants. The colonial homes were spread far apart, the lack of fence leaving them undefined as to where one ended and the other began. The main part of town would shut down early, only a single dim streetlight at the corner of Main giving any indication that the sleepy town was inhabited.
It was here in the town of Geneva, centered in the densely populated core of New York state, that Layla left behind the secrets, lies and pain that even the skies were not far enough to rid her of. It was in Geneva that she was born, it was in Geneva where she was raised, and it was Geneva that haunted her still when she allowed her mind to wander.
The plane landed with a slight bump, jostling Layla back into the reality of Paris. She waited a moment before pulling back the curtain slightly to peer into the front cabin. Her curiosity was greeted by Alex's trademark smirk, just before he pointed down at his seatbelt and gave Layla an enthusiastic thumbs up. She rolled her eyes and sealed the view from him, unbuckling her seatbelt and grabbing the microphone again.
"You may now unbuckle your seatbelts and restart your cell phones. We ask that you wait patiently for those in front of you to grab their carry on and disembark. We thank you for flying Maverick airlines today. Whether it is business, pleasure or you are simply returning home, we hope you have a wonderful stay in gay Perriere, La ville de l 'amour, the city of love!"