“There are no direct flights from JFK to Anchorage,” the sulking woman at the flight desk informed Chase, “Your connection is in Seattle, and you best be hurrying, the flight is boarding real soon.”
Chase nodded and hurried to the security desk. She flashed her FBI badge, and then informed the TSA agent that she had a pistol to check.
“Yeah, we’re going to have to take you and your gun to security to check it over,” the man in the uniform informed her in a slow drawl. He was going on sixty and had thin, coppery hair. Chase considered that his hair might have been dyed to match his nicotine stained mustache.
“I’ve got a flight to catch,” she said with a frown. “Can we just hurry it up?”
The man eyed her up and down, taking in the full length of her black suit, the white blouse beneath. He did so in the most creepy way possible, and Chase bit back a scathing retort.
The man’s leer suddenly broke into a grin.
“Hey, aren’t you that Police Sergeant that told the woman of New York to be bitches?”
Chase’s scowl became a sneer.
Just my luck, I get the only asshole who remembers that.
Her mind flicked back to the day that she had stood atop the podium, then acting as NYPD Sergeant of the 62nd precinct. Her goal had been to prevent more women from being murdered, from their lips being painted red with blood.
FBI Agent Jeremy Stitts had been in the crowd then, looking up at her. And with all eyes on her, she had gone ahead and said pretty much exactly what the TSA douchebag before her had just repeated.
Use your gut, your instincts, Agent Stitts had instructed her, and her gut told her to inform New York, especially the women, to look out for themselves.
That had been more than six months ago; more than half a year had passed since she was the active Sergeant of 62nd precinct, and she had thought that it was all behind her.
Just my luck to meet the one man in New York who remembers…
The TSA Agent’s eyes flicked to the FBI badge that Chase still held open in one hand.
“Didn’t work out that good for ya, did it?” there was a twinkle in the man’s eyes that made Chase want to punch him. But that was what he wanted, too, she realized.
Instead, she put on her most patronizing expression.
“I’ll be sure to put a good word in for you when Walmart comes looking for a new security guard.”
The man stopped smiling.
“Off to the right,” he barked. “Cops, FBI, POTUS. Don’t matter. All guns must be inspected prior to boarding.”
Chase followed the man’s nicotine stained fingers toward a door marked SECURITY CHECK. Her only chance of making the flight now was if she was the only one in there.
Huffing, her lungs and legs burning, Chase made it to the gate just as the agent was announcing last call over the loud speaker.
“Wait!” she hollered as she approached. “I’m here! Wait!”
The gate attendant turned her back to her as if she didn’t hear, and started toward the door, pulling a keycard from her hip as she did.
You’ve got to be kidding me.
The security check hadn’t been empty; it had been packed. Her only saving grace was that she knew one of the inspectors, a cousin of Detective Simmons whom she had worked with back in 62nd precinct, and he had fast-laned her.
And yet, even after all of this bureaucratic bullshit, the woman was still going to close the door on her.
She was going to miss her flight.
Chase sprinted and somehow managed to slip a foot in the door before the gate attendant could close it completely.
The woman, who at this point, Chase was convinced was some sort of android continued to shut the door despite the presence of her foot.
It was heavy, and she winced when it pinched her Jimmy Choos.
“I’m here,” she huffed, holding the ticket out for the woman to see. The woman’s eyes moved from the ticket to Chase’s foot, then back to her face.
“Only this time,” she said sternly, as if she were offering parole to a two-time offender in a three strike state. She snatched the ticket from Chase’s hand, and then scanned the barcode with the handheld reader.
Chase wanted to come back with something witty, snarky, but she was too out of breath to say anything.
Which was probably for the best.
The woman pulled the door open just wide enough for Chase to slip through, and she hurried down the runway, a slight limp to her gait until the pain in her foot subsided.
Just when she thought her day couldn’t get any worse, Chase discovered that her ticket had her sandwiched between two men who looked like long lost relatives of Jabba the Hut.
Even at a hair over a hundred pounds, coming in at a generous five-foot four, Chase’s shoulders were so tightly squeezed between them that her breathing was restricted.
Thankfully, it was six am, and she was exhausted from her interrupted sleep and the run to and throughout JFK, and Chase managed to pass out even before the plane left the ground.
“Suit yourself, but it’s awfully hot out there. And in here—” the man gestured toward the interior of the minivan. As he did, a blast of cold air struck Chase in the face, even though she was standing more than three feet away. “—it’s nice.”
And there it was again, the charming smile, the comfortable, unassuming pose with his arm dangling out the window.
Chase wanted to get in the car, really wanted to, and she could tell by the way that her sister kept tugging on her hand, that she wanted to get in too.
Chase turned her eyes to the sun, squinting at the near impossible brightness.
“Suit yourself,” the man repeated.
Chase looked back just in time to see the man’s tinted window close before he sped off, tires squealing.
“C’mon, Chase, it’s soooo hot,” her sister whined. “Why cant we take the ride? He looks nice.”
Chase stopped and then squatted so that she was at eye level with her sister. Chase was only two years older, but Georgina was a good foot shorter than she was.
She grasped her sister’s shoulders tightly.
“Not everyone who offers you a ride is a good person, Jess. There are some people out there…”
Her sentence trailed off as her mind began to wander.
“You’re hurting me,” Georgina whined, as she squirmed beneath Chase’s grip.
Chase let go of her and stood.
“Sorry,” she grumbled. “Let’s go. It’s hot, and I’m thirsty.”