Chapter 17 | Brando

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What am I doing?

      I can't do that. I can't just up and leave and go all the way to the front of the plane. My first problem will be getting my seatbelt off. It keeps me stable, safe. Nothing can go wrong if I keep this on. It's my security blanket, the training wheels on my first bike.

      But... Nick. He's so close. He's facing forward but I can somehow feel his breath on my face, his suffocating hands around my neck. I'll always be behind him for the rest of my life, won't I? Following him like a dependant sheep, forever jailed in the prison of his shadow, never to leave his sight or grasp. I'll drown if I stay here.

      My hands touch the cold metal of the seatbelt. It's becoming more difficult to breathe...

      'I can do this,' I mutter under my breath.

      'You can,' Daxten whispers in my ear. His encouragement means the world to me; he doesn't think I'm acting silly. The breath of his words sends a chill through my body. I feel him vibrate through the blood pumping into my heart.

      I feel my heart grow a couple of sizes bigger. Is this what bravery feels like? Is Daxten the one I need to push me to be brave?

      I swallow as I click the release button on my seatbelt.

      It comes free. I gasp and hold my breath. I don't know what I was expecting to happen, like maybe the plane would free fall or a bolt of lightning would strike me down like a wicked witch stepping foot on hallowed ground.

      The physical pressure is gone and yet I'm still frozen. I feel the beads of sweat roll down the sides of my face. An invisible weight keeps me in place.

      Then I feel a different kind of pressure. On my hand. His hand. Touching me. Rubbing me. I believed a bolt of lightning would strike the plane from the sky, but I was wrong. The lightning comes from Daxten's hands. He fills me with electricity, igniting sparks up and down my arms, my legs, my chest, my head – my heart.

      Now I feel like I'm flying. Truly flying, not stuck on a plane kind of flying. It's breath-taking, amazing, incredible, and I realize something. I realize that if I can take off my seatbelt – a seemingly small task but something that was astronomical for me – then I can do anything.

      I have been grounded by fear. Daxten has released me from those chains and now I'm flying. I'm no longer scared.

      'What do I do now?' I ask, noticing the smile on Daxten's face.

      We keep our heads and voices low, as if we are planning an escape from Alcatraz. When Nick looks in our direction, we disband our conversation and act as normal as we can. Daxten whistles, something I can't do. He's making us look really suspicious. Fortunately, Nick doesn't seem to suspect anything.

      'We need to sneak you in to first class and I'm sure Leah can help,' Daxten replies as soon as it's safe to do so.

      'You sure? She's done so much for us already...'

      'She's my sister, she'll do anything for me, and vice versa. Knowing her, she'll be racking up the bill of favors she's done for me and is keeping hold of the receipt until she needs me to do something for her. She'll enjoy the drama.'

      I don't want to take advantage of Leah's good nature, but brother knows best. 'If you say so.'

      'But first, we gotta sneak past the guard,' he says as he looks at the back of Nick's head. His head is down, possibly playing on his phone.

      'Maybe I can go to the toilet? I actually do need to go to the toilet actually, I've been holding it in since the airport.'

      'And I'll stay here for a couple of minutes and wait for the perfect moment to leave.'

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