The challenge for Irene was not to convince Helena that Pete and Claudia should go with her. After all, she needed someone to drive her to the bookstore. Claudia could help with everything else – which would prove to be a challenge because Helena and she had different interpretations of what that meant. To Claudia it meant helping her boss if there was an email glitch or explaining why you should wait to buy the I Phone with the newer ones coming out. To Helena it meant 'at my beckon call'.
"How do you propose to impart this wisdom?" Irene asked Pete, and added; " I would suggest subtly, of course."
"Subtly of course," said the man who thought yelling 'wassup' in a meeting was refined. But his heart was in the right place and he was, in a Pete sort of way, very charming with the ladies.
"Aha," the HR Director responded. "I hope they both come back alive," she said of her fellow staff members.
Helena shared none of Irene's anxiety about this trip. In the Brit's mind, the fact that she was going should impress Myka enough. Then to present her with a gift, not to mention her innate charm that wooed many a lover, would only bolster her chances.
"AARRGH!" was all Myka could say in response to her parents and she stomped upstairs before she said something she might regret.
"Does she seem a little moodier to you since she came back from New York?" her mother asked.
"More than usual? No, that's just Myka," Warren said. "What did she say about Sam?"
"Said she needs a break from everything," Jeanne shared.
"Oh that's not good. A guy like that won't wait forever. We're gonna have to talk some sense into her," her father lamented.
Myka knew her response was childish. It was only a book and surely there were others out there- maybe. She flopped down on her bed, exhausted from the morning in New York and the afternoon with her parents. Why was it that no one understood what she wanted? That book meant a lot to her, not just because it was so rare, but because it reminded her of a time when her father focused in on just her. Was she being selfish for wanting the thing that reminded her of that?
When her father would finish the chapter and say goodnight, Myka would imagine what it would be like to sit in her room with the author and talk about the parts she liked and the parts she had questions about. She was at a slumber party when she was in 7th grade and the topic finally got to who the girls would like to meet in person. Myka seriously couldn't think of anyone else – and admitted it was HG Wells. She could still remember how the room seemed to fill with laughter and how more than one girl said; "Oh Myka, you're so weird!" She never admitted to that fantasy again.
Myka decided she would give herself a few minutes and then put on her happy face and go back downstairs. She pulled out her phone and looked at it. Nothing. No texts from Sam which surprised her.
She told herself she was happy there wasn't anything from work – but the disappointment stung a little that not one of them checked to see how she was doing. "Not like they were my friends," Myka said out loud as she wiped a tear away. "I hardly know those people," she added trying to convince herself.
She was thinking of Pete and Claudia – but she really meant Helena.
Helena was at the airport along with her entourage.
Pete had been rehearsing how to gently broach the subject with his boss. "So speaking of trying to dig yourself out of a hole,' 'So you treated someone like crap and now you want to try and be friends' and 'Listen, you came to the right place. I'm like one stop shopping on how to win over women,' were just some of the opening lines he considered.
"Is he okay?" Helena asked Claudia when she noticed the facial expressions on her bodyguard.
"Define okay," Claudia said with a straight face.
The boarding started and no one had planned on Helena's interest in the flying machine. She had written about them – envisioned what they could do – around the time the Wright Brothers were making their first successful flight. To fast forward to jumbo jets was a sheer adrenaline rush for her. One of the reasons she agreed to have her own plane was so she would explore the machine and talk to the pilot about everything. Flying lessons was on her to do list, once she got things taken care of on the ground. Commercial airlines no longer welcomed passenger's curiosities and, in fact, are suspicious of them. Claudia assured them this was Helena G. Wells, the CEO and socialite who was asking why she could not visit the cockpit. The flight attendants recognized her and smiled, but ask the undercover air marshal to move his seat closer to First Class – just in case.
"She's like a kid in Disney World," Pete said of his boss who marveled at takeoff and could hardly sit down. How tempting it was for Helena to say to them all, "You don't understand. I wrote about this before it happened. I invented a rocket …..," but she knew she couldn't.
Pete fell asleep on takeoff, Claudia composed a text to Steve about her hasty leaving, and how it wasn't because she was obsessed with work. Maybe fibbing in text would deter the human lie detector machine.
Helena gazed out the window high above the clouds. She was glad that she was going to see Myka again so soon. She understood why Myka was upset, but perplexed as to how she could run home.
"Have we given any thought to the boyfriend showing up at the same time?" Claudia said to Pete when he woke up.
"Ah…no," Pete said.
Claudia jumped into action by using her phone that was under a blanket. "What? It doesn't really interfere with the instruments. They just say that," she assured Pete. A minute later she said with confidence; "No, he's still in DC. What? I may have placed a tracking code on his phone when you guys were all at the Waldorf from Myka's phone," she said to Pete.
Sam was indeed in Washington. He had taken an earlier flight home, still stunned by what had transpired. Maybe a little time away from him would help Myka realize her mistake. He didn't mind giving her time to think things over, but she didn't sound too optimistic about their future. How could that be? Sam couldn't figure it out. He and Myka got along so well, liked the same things, and wanted a lot of the same things. He supported her when she made the decision to go to New York, even though she didn't talk about it before.
Sam knew what he had done right, and there was no doubt in his mind Myka would see that. She just needed time.
Helena knew what she had done wrong, and there was no doubt in her mind, Myka would forgive her. It was just a matter of time, and Myka had had enough time.
Helena could admit that she was controlling sometimes, but usually it ended with positive results – the business deal was made, the love interest became her lover, the lover left when she was bored, the staff did as she asked. Why did Myka have such a hard time with the way she did things? Whatever the reason, Helena was willing to travel the 1635 miles to get Myka to understand.
Hours later, when the captain announced they were starting their descent, Helena turned to her staff members and said the agenda was to get the car and drive directly to the bookstore.
Claudia looked at Pete. Their plan was for her to go to the bookstore tomorrow. They needed time. There were going to have to be some delays. "You better start your coaching coach, in case I can't figure out how to stop all the traffic lights from the hotel to the bookstore," Claudia whispered to Pete.
"On it!" he said and got up to sit in the empty seat next to Helena. "How ya doin' boss," Pete said smiling, but his eyes were darting all over the place.
"Well, thank you, Mr. Lattimer, and you?" Helena asked friendly.
"Good, good. So listen, I thought maybe it would help seeing how you're going to see Ms. Bering and all, that maybe just maybe I could give you a pointer or two on how to handle the situation," Pete said not looking at her until he was done.
"You? Offer me? Advice?" Helena burst out laughing. "Oh, that is sweet, Mr. Lattimer, really very sweet." Helena genuinely appreciated it – but also thought it was ridiculous. Why doesn't he just offer the pilot a flying lesson while he's at it? she thought.
"No, I'm serious," Pete said lowering his voice.
"Darling, I do appreciate your effort and I know it comes from the right place in your heart, but I simply am not in need of any advice," Helena said calmly touching his knee.
This was not what Pete planned. Irene had said okay – she didn't say what to do if Helena refused.
"Uhm, I think you could do with a little guidance," Pete said.
Now Helena was losing patience. "Mr. Lattimer, I do beg your pardon, but I know a thing or two about people. I have no doubt that I possess the skills necessary to help Ms. Bering see the error of her ways," Helena said and now Pete was convinced more than ever she needed his help.
Pete really liked his boss, and he adored Irene Frederic. She was entrusting him to help Helena and that was what he was going to do – if it killed him. Sitting across from black steely eyes that glared at him made him think it might just take that. Maybe he would wait until she was restrained by a seat belt.
Claudia listened to the exchange and knew it was a matter of time before Pete was charred by her boss' sharp retorts. She was too busy trying to come up with a plan to delay the plane. The FAA did not take kindly to people messing with their aircrafts and Claudia did not want to do any prison time. This was going to have to come from a higher power.
"Time difference not enough," she texted Irene even though it was against the rules. "She wants to see her tonight."
"Stall her," Irene texted back.
"Really?" Claudia responded sarcastically.
"Yes," Irene replied, missing it.
"I've got to stop talking to people over 25," Claudia said to herself.
Myka pulled herself together, fearing she was spending too much time giving into self-pity and went back downstairs. She hoped her parents didn't barrage her with questions about why she was so upset – and unfortunately, they didn't.
Dinner was quiet that night as Myka didn't have the energy to ask questions. She helped her mother do the dishes and while they sat down to watch television, Myka went out for a walk.
"Take a jacket sweetie, it gets chilly," Jeanne told her. Myka instinctively picked up the jacket as she went outside. The street where the store and their apartment above it resided was empty now. Stores were closed and everyone was home. Myka walked to the end of the block and headed west – toward the park that surrounded the lake.
Myka admitted that the pain in her chest had softened only a little since she left New York, but convinced herself it would get better over time. But what if it didn't? What if she had made a mistake with Sam and he really was her one shot at marriage and kids and the white picket fence? Why couldn't she make that work? Why did she have to be so stubborn? As hard as she tried, Myka couldn't keep the negative questions at bay.
And what the hell happened to her with Helena? How did her feelings betray her like that? It was as if they disconnected from her brain and did what they wanted. She had never felt anything like that, and even now as she remembered that, she looked around to see if anyone could tell what she was feeling. There in the emptiness of the park, Myka sat down and grabbed her knees up to her chest.
She had to forget New York.
She had to forget Helena - period.
"No, I just checked, the store is closed boss," Claudia said to Helena with a straight face.
"Well find her parents' number. Perhaps they can tell us where she is," her boss instructed.
"Unlisted," Claudia lied.
"Well, hack something please," Helena said getting impatient.
Helena allowed them to drive to the hotel to check in, but when they were done; her one track mind was back.
She wanted to see Myka – period.
"I have to say boss, barging into the store is not the best idea. Why not wait until tomorrow, so that you can go in and get that book you ordered and then you'll have your chance with her," Pete said in the hotel lobby.
Helena was running out of patience with her staff that seemed to be getting in her way, instead of helping her.
"Please listen to me carefully. I need to get to Ms. Bering's place – now. I see no reason to wait until tomorrow when I can go now and talk to her. Can you give me one good reason why I should wait until tomorrow? Helena asked staring her staff down.
"Ahhhh…uhhhh…well ….," Claudia stammered.
Helena turned with the same hard look at Pete. He had a job to do. He opened his mouth, but nothing came out. Then he remembered how Irene told him - to be subtle.
Helena had made her point and done it well, so she started to walk away. Claudia looked at Pete as if to say – 'do something!'
Pete stepped away from her and yelled at his boss;
"You screwed up everything with Myka. You bullied her, played her, and were just down right mean to her. When you tried to fix it, you screwed it up worse. So that is why you have to wait until tomorrow so we can set the stage and help you as much as possible!" Pete said with zeal and then stepped behind Claudia for protection.
Helena turned back slowly to face her bodyguard. "Are you bloody insane?" Helena asked back, her hands on her hips defiantly.
"Boss…," Pete said and there was a long silence. "….She quit and left," he pointed out.
In spite of how ridiculous it sounded to Helena, she did listen. Perhaps – just perhaps – she needed some – a small amount of help. Helena took a deep breath because she was not used to conceding.
"And the store is closed and we don't know where she is, boss," Claudia added.
"OK, Mr. Lattimer, Ms. Donovan – I will accept your offer of help," she said and her entourage relaxed and smiled. "And God help you both if anything goes wrong," she added and they grabbed each other as their boss went to her room.
They updated Irene who reminded them not to assume their boss would stay put. Pete took of residence outside his boss's room. It turned out Helena didn't leave that night and slept peacefully – confident she could make everything right once she saw Myka.
Myka walked back when she was sure her parents had gone to bed. She got ready herself and laid down in her bed, the moon shining through her window and casting a light into her room. Myka looked at her desk – the light shining off of the note Helena had left for her.
Then something struck Myka suddenly. She jumped up and grabbed the letter. She looked at the elegant script and stared at the signature at the bottom of the page. Myka's eidetic memory recalled the signature in the book and she could compare the letters to the words in this note.
Myka would have to tell the buyer tomorrow it wasn't an original as they had said it was - it was a forgery at best. Her crazy former boss must have been signing old copies of her ancestor's books.
But why would she do that? Myka wondered. She regretted that she would never get the chance to ask Helena that question. Myka loved that book.
Now Helena had ruined that for Myka, too.