At last Cassidy staggered off the plane, her legs barely able to function properly. She had the urgent need to pee. After going through customs she found a restroom and saw herself in a mirror for the first time since leaving North America.
Stale, recirculated airplane air, confined space, sleep deprivation and crossing an ocean obviously did not do wonders for one’s appearance. Not that she usually cared about that kind of thing, but come on. She looked like a creature straight out of the movie Zombieland: red-eyed, pale skin, and with a decidedly funky aura. And her hair…even under the best circumstances her hair was about as easy to tame as a horde of flesh-hungry zombies.
With a groan she splashed water on her face, wrestled her hair into a braid and popped three Altoids into her mouth. It wasn’t much, but until she had her luggage it was the best she could do. She only hoped Ms. Gatwick would be understanding enough to take her straight home and to a hot shower.
Cassidy joined the thousands of people navigating the ginormous airport’s maze of corridors. She didn’t know what she’d expected, but most of the people looked and dressed just like Americans. Well, maybe not Americans from Paris, Texas, but big melting-pot cities like Dallas or Houston, for sure.
She got to baggage claim to find the hundreds of bags from her flight already circulating around the turnstile. She cringed when she spied her own from a hundred feet away. Unfortunately, there was no mistaking the 1970’s guacamole-colored Samsonite suitcase she’d had to borrow from her Memaw. To make it worse her Papa had strapped two bright red and yellow bungee cords around it to be sure no one would “poke around” in her stuff. It looked like a rejected pinata from a Cinco de Mayo festival.
She slunk to a spot in back where the fewest people stood before claiming it, then walked towards the exit area where loved ones and other stood waiting for arriving passengers.
With nothing more to go on than the description from Mrs. Gatwick's e-mail, Cassidy scanned the crowd looking for an elderly female holding a sign with her name on it. When she didn't find anyone, she flipped open her phone to make sure there wasn't anything saying Mrs. Gatwick would be late. Then she decided to open Facebook to check the IKC page and let the girls know she'd arrived somewhat intact.
While she was posting, someone bumped into her and she glanced up from her phone. She caught a glimpse of her name scrawled across a white piece of paper. However, the person holding it was neither old nor a lady.
Those were the only words that formed in her mind when she saw him. Tall and tanned, in a clean, white tee, frayed cargo shorts and flip-flops, with golden streaks in his tousled, sun-bleached hair setting off deep-set hazel eyes to perfection, the guy looked like summer at the beach.
Their eyes met and he started walking toward her.
“Are you Cassidy?” he asked in a rumbly, Aussie accent.
“Y-yes,” she managed to croak.
He smiled, a wide, eye-crinkling grin punctuated by a gorgeous little dimple on his left cheek. “I’m Lucas.”