Coffee, Tea? Or me?

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Part III

III

Lucy was lying in the bed of her hotel room in downtown Los Angeles, pack of crisps in one hand and remote in the other. She was zapping through the channels to find something decent to watch, maybe a true-crime show or some good old film she could fall asleep to. It had been a long day and she was exhausted, she didn’t know how some of her crew could find the strength to go out and party after a fifteen-hour shift, surrounded by people.

Youngsters, she thought settling for a crime TV show about cold cases.

Her phone dinged, she opened her Whatsapp notification and a photo of Jack holding a cocktail came up.

You should be out having fun babes.

Can’t. Too tired. Also, I think I win.

She sent the message along with a photo of herself munching on some crisps.

That’s an inglorious picture! And you’re missing out: it’s a very exclusive bar, might meet more celebrities...

Once a day is enough. I’ll leave the rest to you!

Oh, that’s sweet! Btw I think you should have kept James Kent’s credit card, could be having drinks on him right now!

You’re a bad person Jackie! But I like you regardless. I’m going to sleep now, I’ll see you tomorrow at dinner. Don’t get in trouble Xxx.

I’ll do my worst ;P

Lucy thought back at the flight that was now starting to vanish like a dream: the wine accident with the actor, their nice chat during her colleagues’ break. He had then lost his credit card in his seat (if she had that much money she would probably glue all her cards to her body), so she had called the number on the credit card to make sure they’d be in contact with Mr Blackwood and let him know it was in a safe place. A little trick she had learned a while back from another flight attendant. The number of people that forgot valuables on planes was shocking...

She yawned, she was exhausted. She put her phone on silent, turned the TV volume down to barely audible and fluffed her pillow ready for bed. This was her second favourite moment of her job: letting sleep take over after a long day, closing her eyes and letting Morpheus do the rest.

***

James walked into his room at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel, he removed his jacket and tie, undid the first couple of buttons of his shirt and finally sat heavily on the sofa facing the big glass door. He was exhausted and slightly drunk after spending the night at a dinner party with the actors who worked with him on his latest movie; the next week was going to be intense with the film promotion and interview panels and he was beyond excited as this was his first starring and directing role in a blockbuster of that proportion. He stood up with a sigh and walked to the minibar, he grabbed a beer from the fridge and took it to the balcony. The warm California breeze welcomed him and he stood still for a moment taking in the Los Angeles city lights and the hills on the horizon, all so different from the grey town in Dorset where he grew up. Despite being in the movie industry for years his career had been gradual and fought for and he still found himself incredulous at how much his life had changed.

He finally found a sun lounger and lied on it, opened the bottle of beer with his lighter, took a big gulp of the beverage then lit a cigarette, inhaling deeply and letting out a thick cloud of smoke.

Perfection.

As his phone vibrated he removed it from his pocket and checked the many notifications he had ignored while at the party: two missed calls from an unknown number, a text from his mom ”Saw Richard at the supermarket, said you grew up well after all. Dad asks when are you home for Sunday roast?“. He smiled sweetly and decided he would give her a call the day after. Then he moved on to some Instagram notifications from his mates, some pictures of them at the local pub watching a rugby match. He missed his friends; they had always been a close group and despite taking different paths in life they had always stuck together. His friends were really understanding and supportive of his lifestyle but kept him grounded as well, calling his bullshit whenever he acted out of the ordinary. With them, he was still that seventeen-year-old from a small town with cheeks bruised by rugby practice and some weed in his backpack to share with the lads.

He liked his friend’s picture and commented: Next match I’ll be there, save me a seat.

Then his phone started to vibrate again to an unknown number call, James frowned for a second then answered the phone with an inquisitive tone.

“Good evening Mr Blackwood this is Mark Poolan from AllBanks”.

James sit up straight and put off his cigarette

“I’m sorry to bother you at this time but I’ve been trying to reach you a few times these couple of days. It’s about your credit card”.

James immediately came back inside and grabbed his wallet.

“Is everything ok?” he asked with concern.

The man on the phone paused for a second.

“Are you aware you’re missing your card, sir?”

James opened the wallet and realized it was in fact missing.

He cleared his throat “Actually no sir, I’ve only just noticed. Are there any suspicious transactions?“.

“I thought so when I couldn’t find a lost or stolen claim for you. And no I’m actually calling to let you know that your card was found two days ago. A Miss Hamilton... Lucy from the airline called the number on it to let us know that she found the card and gave instruction as of where it can be collected at LAX airport”.

James let out a sigh of relief, scratching his head “Thank you so much for letting me know. I’ll be more careful in the future”.

“No problem at all Sir. Glad to be able to help”. The man reported where to collect the card and bid him goodnight.

James thanked him again and hung up.

What was wrong with him?

How did he not realize his card was missing? He recalled using it at the airport to buy a book...where he now remembered leaving it before it must have fallen out.

He sent a quick text to his agent asking him if he could possibly collect his card for him the day after while he was working, then headed back to the balcony and sat on the dock chair again.

Lucy Hamilton. James found himself smiling thinking about the girl who had really gone above and beyond on this occasion. He stared at the screen of his phone for a moment then quickly opened the search page of Instagram and typed Lucy’s name.

It was stupid, he knew, but harmless as this was just out of curiosity. He scrolled down the several accounts until he found a familiar face that resembled the flight attendant’s; he opened the page and there she was: Lucyindiskies. James smiled at the wit of the nickname and the reference to the Beatles.

He checked her page: ”overthinking is evil, naps are heavenly" stated her profile description, and he agreed with that. He clicked on the first picture and started scrolling down: the girl in her uniform in front of a pair of colourful wings drawn on a wall in Chicago, Illinois, her in a pair of jeans and a thick coat in Tiananmen Square, Beijing, with a group of friends on a white beach in Grand Cayman (his eyes lingered a little longer on her tanned body in a gold bikini and her sweet grin), hundreds of pictures in or out of uniform, Tokyo, Sydney, Cape Town, Paris, Seattle, Buenos Aires...then some pictures of breakfasts, afternoon teas and gym sessions.

James found himself browsing through the images for five good minutes, his face lit by the screen and eyes glued to that face that had caught his attention a couple of days before and struck him like lightning. He thought about hitting the follow button, what harm could it do?

Well that she thinks you’re a creep, you perv.

James shook his head.

He scrolled up to the top of her profile page on impulse, holding his breath, ready to press follow when a notification window appeared on his phone, he closed it and quickly closed the Instagram app too, putting his phone back in his pocket.

He lit another cigarette and finished his beer, then stripped to his underwear and went to bed.

He needed a fresh mind.

“Well thank you, James, for being with us today and answering some hot question about your upcoming movie, which again ladies and gentlemen, will be out on September the 13th. Don’t miss it!”

James and the show host both smiled at the camera until the red light went off then they shook hands and, after a short chat and a couple of pictures, James left the studio with his agent, Ian.

The man greeted him then handed a white parcel “If you really don’t care about your money, I’m happy to spend it for you”.

James blushed, feeling scolded like a child, and also like an idiot; he put the card safely back in his wallet and replied with sass “These things happen when you overwork me”.

Ian laughed and shook his head “Kids” he mumbled.

The actor sat comfortably in his agent’s car front seat turning the music volume up, around them the L.A. rush hour traffic was getting very thick, and James was preparing for a long car journey to the hotel.

His agent was on the phone so James took his mobile out and checked the time: 6.50 pm, too late to call his mother. He read the news instead, which as usual annoyed him and made him lose all faith in his country; he closed the app with a sigh.

He decided to write something about his movie on Instagram, maybe using an old behind the scenes photo, so he opened the app and there she was again: Lucy. Her profile still opened from the night before.

James stared at the screen for a moment until he saw a new photo that caught his attention, the girl with her colleague Jack in a Mickey Mouse ears headband. The man’s was made of rainbow sequins while hers was inspired by Mary Poppins, with a red bow and a small hat on the side. Her dark hair loose behind her ears and her eyes gleaming bright. The couple was smiling broadly and cheering with what looked like colourful slushes. They seemed to be having the time of their life, he found himself wishing he were with them...

***

Lucy entered the plane last, smiling at the flight attendants at the door.

The manager in charge greeted her and checked her boarding pass.

“Oh, Miss Hamilton we were waiting for you. I apologise for the inconvenience, the issue has been resolved and you have been re-seated in your cabin. Thank you for your patience. Please follow me to your seat”.

They shared a complicit smile and Lucy thanked him with a wink that nobody, except the man saw.

Lucy took her seat by the window in the last row of the First Class cabin, she tucked away her bags and jacket to perfectly follow the safety rules and made herself comfortable in the big chair.

A red-headed flight attendant approached her, introduced herself and offered a glass of champagne, a ritual Lucy had performed many times before.

She looked outside the big window and gazed at the red sunset sky, inhaling a deep sense of peace. Were days like these that made her job so worth it, balancing out the amount of whining, screaming and general body fluids that she had to deal with on a regular basis (way more than any person without children should have to endure, in her opinion).

The red-headed placed the flute of champagne and some peanuts on the credenza and left with a smile.

Lucy took a sip of the champagne and grabbed her phone to send a selfie to her best friend.

One notification.

James Kent wants to send you a message.

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