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Renegade: Chapter 3

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“All passengers, Flight 9438 to Columbus, Ohio now boarding at Gate 24. I say again all passengers…”

The airport intercom punched its way through Sergeant Randall’s muddled thoughts, pulling him from his current mental stupor. He glanced back up at the large monitors mounted along the wall in front of him, each announcing a multitude of incoming and outgoing flights.

Another 35 minutes before it boards. That gives me… He glanced down at the cheap watch on the inside of his left wrist… just enough time for a snack.

He turned to survey the mass of humanity oozing through the airports corridors. The deli immediately behind his gate contained a long line full of impatient businessmen and families desperately trying to keep tabs on all of their children. Although ordinarily a very patient person, today was not a day which needed any added stresses. He walked down the concourse a few hundred feet and he found a small shop selling books, magazines, and a few essential snacks. The AirNews sign directly above the entrance flickered a bright pastel blue over incoming customers. He stepped inside and immediately spotted the snacks in the back corner.

One of God’s greatest gifts to man, food.

He chuckled under his breath and pulled two bottles of berry fruit juice from the small refrigerator next to the crackers. As he prepared to turn back around, his eye caught on something. He stopped, staring into the reflection on the glass door he was holding and trying to isolate what had caught his eye. There was several racks of magazines, an ice chest containing an assortment of frozen treats, a back wall filled with overpriced bestsellers, and the register. The young lady working the counter couldn’t have been a day over 17. She was petite. Cute features. Medium length brown hair pulled back into a ponytail spilled gently over her left shoulder. She wore a light blue hoodie with the AirNews logo plastered across the front.

Then he saw it. Her eyes. She may have only looked like she was in high school, but those eyes had seen much more. They had glimpsed things that few ever even hear about. Heroic men who would gladly lay down their lives for a cause they could not yet fully understand. Courageous women who stood behind those men, urging them not to back down, to fight and conquer and die for a hope. Children, too young to understand, who watched and waited patiently for their parents to return. She had seen battles and heroes and blood, beauty and grace, the profound effect of even the smallest whisper. There was a lifetime behind those beautiful sapphire eyes.

He turned and she quickly looked away. When she returned her eyes, they had changed. Gone was the fierce, majestic woman he had just witnessed; in her place stood a cute but very ordinary airport shop clerk.

“Is this going to be it today, sir?”

He quickly wiped the look of confusion off his face and smiled back, “I think that’ll do it.”

She quickly swiped the two items past the register, “That’s going to be $8.50.”

“Man, at this rate I’ll be broke by the time I land.”

She laughed and his throat caught, dropped, and then caught again. It was the most adorable sound he had ever heard.

“I’m so sorry, sir. If you’d like I can throw in this complimentary…” She quickly fished around the register area, “pen cap as a token of our deepest condolences.”

He watched her smile disappear into a look of completely insincere compassion. Her eyes sparkled as he reached across and plucked the pen cap from her fingers.

“I will. But only if it comes with your name?”

The moment it was out his mouth regret hit him like brass knuckles to the windpipe.

You’ve got to be kidding me, Randall. Since when do you flirt with strange women? Especially ones who look like they could still be in high school. You may not be old, but you’re definitely not that young anymore. Apologize. Now! Before you look like a complete creeper.

“Listen…”

She cut him off, “No need to apologize.”

A mischievous look crossed her face and she motioned him closer. He leaned in. She glanced left, then right as if she feared they would be overheard and then, with all the facial expression of a rock she whispered back, “It’s on my nametag.”

Oh, wow. You’ve really outdone yourself this time Randall. The one time you actually try to flirt you end up look liking a retarded pedophile. Smooth move, Ex-Lax.

He attempted a smile and quickly glanced down at her cornflower hoodie. Kira.

A beautiful name for a beautiful girl… No! You got to stop thinking like this, man. Not cool. Relax. Act natural. You’re a trained interrogator for Pete’s sake. Talking to a teenager should be a piece of cake.

“Anything else I can help you with?”

He’d been standing at the counter for just a moment too long. And now he looked like an even bigger dork.

“I’m sorry. I’m just really stressed out right now and you‘re beautiful and… well… I don’t even know what I was going to say next. I’m sorry. For the awkwardness. You have a great day.”

That smile exploded onto her already adorable face like full moon on a clear night. Her eyes twinkled and danced like stars waiting for their chance to shoot off across the sky. A grin cracked his lips. He couldn’t help it. That smile was absolutely infectious.

“You too, Josh.”

It didn’t hit him until he was back at his gate preparing to board that she had used his name. There was no way she could have known it. Was there?




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