Long Way Home (Chapter One, page 1 of 10)

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Heathrow Airport was not where Alexis wanted to be two weeks before Christmas. As she wheeled her Louis Vuitton suitcases behind her, she failed to appreciate the festive decorations and smiling travelers. Instead, she scowled at the perky and chatty students who were undoubtedly pleased to be returning home for a few weeks of parental attention and a much-needed cash infusion. Alexis was grateful that her student days were far behind her.

She wore what she considered to be appropriate travel clothes, a crisp, navy blue suit with sensible heels. For her, suits were like armor that she donned before going into battle. They also boosted her efficiency because she didn't waste time thinking about what to wear in the mornings. Every minute counted when you billed clients in six minute blocks. Alexis had a specific suit for each day of the working week and even the hangers were labeled and arranged by day. Since this was not a business trip, however, she'd only brought the suit on her back for the initial battle that, right now, she didn't want to contemplate.

Alexis stepped up to the first class counter with her American passport ready and was greeted by a plucky young airline representative.

"Good afternoon," the young woman said with a broad smile. "Would you like to place your bags on the scale, please?"

Alexis didn't return the smile. She placed her bags one after the other on the conveyer while the young woman busily typed Alexis's information into the system.

"And did you pack your bags yourself?"

"I'm a woman, aren't I?" Alexis drummed her nails impatiently on the counter.

The young woman smiled tolerantly. Sadly, she was accustomed to much worse behavior from some of her first class passengers.

"And did anyone ask you to transport any items for them?"

Alexis gave an exaggerated sigh. "Does anyone ever say yes?"

Although the young woman's smile had faded, she ignored Alexis's question and soldiered on with the customary questions. "Are you transporting any sharp objects?"

"Just my rapier wit."

"Indeed. And have your bags been left unattended at any time?"


The young woman gently exhaled, grateful for the simple answer. "You'll be in seat 3A today."

She handed over the ticket and Alexis snatched it out of her hand. Without so much as a thank you, Alexis stalked off.

"Enjoy your flight," the young woman called after her, her cheerful exterior fully restored.

Alexis strode through the long passages of the airport, her straight and steady gaze never wavering from the next few steps in front of her. Nothing caught her attention, not the man who tripped as she passed him. Not the crying family as they hugged goodbye.

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