Come Fly With Me

3 July 2015: Hyatt Regency, Atlanta, Georgia

Rhiannon Worthy and Owen Asher sit at a table in a small bar across Peachtree Street from the Hyatt Regency, where they discovered they are both staying. They met at a party with family members and Owen offered to take Rhiannon back rather than have her daughter make a special trip downtown.

“Thank you for getting me back to my hotel and buying me a drink,” Rhiannon says.

Owen raises his glass in acknowledgement. “We had so few opportunities to talk at the party, I wanted a chance to get to know you better.”

Rhiannon leans back. “Well. Here we are.”

“I enjoyed meeting Abigail. Congratulations on raising such a brilliant young woman.”

“Yes. She’s my pride and joy.”

“Bet you’re especially proud she’ll be going to medical school.”

Rhiannon nods. “I am. Very much so. Mind you, I was never one of those young coeds who pursued nursing in the hope of snagging a doctor, but I will be delighted to be the mother of one.”

“It’s easy to see you care a lot for her.”

“It was always just the two of us. You and Steven seem to have a good relationship.”

“Now we do. It wasn’t always like that.”

Rhiannon leans forward. “So, Mr. Asher, what’s your angle here?”

“Why would you think I have an angle?”

Rhiannon takes a sip of her drink and smiles. “You’re not my first pilot, Owen. You flyboys always have an angle. Relationships are very easy to initiate when you can just hop on a plane the following morning.”

“I think you’re reading too much into this. Isn’t it enough I find you captivating?”

“Hmm. A woman very close to your own age, which, I’m sure isn’t your regular dating profile. You’re going to have to do better than captivating.”

“I’m stunned that you could think such a thing about me. True, we’re close in age, but what’s wrong with that? Seattle and Tacoma are right next door to one another, so we have the geographic connection.”

“And yet we had to come all the way to Atlanta to meet.”

Owen shrugs. “A happy accident.”

“Who was it who said there are no accidents? I’m on to you, Owen Asher. You’re not as suave and sophisticated as you’d like me to believe.”

“So, you’re a nurse and a detective, are you?”

“In my line of work, we need to wear many hats. We have to make quick decisions on people and situations, so gathering insights is important.”

“What does your insight tell you about me?”

Rhiannon motions with her drink. “You have a son in his late twenties in Atlanta, yet you’ve lived on the West Coast since the early nineties. Abigail mentioned you had a daughter but didn’t go into many details.”

Owen looks down. “Rebecca. Yes. She died in 2005. We didn’t have much of a relationship when she was growing up.”

“Sorry to hear that.”

“How I treated my wife and children is not one of my proudest moments.”

“You left them.”

“I did.”

“I sensed some uneasiness between you and Rachel.”

“My former sister-in-law. We’ve patched up our differences but it’s still difficult being around her at times.”

“Did your daughter’s sexuality have anything to do with your decision?”

Owen narrows one eye. “This isn’t insight. I’m guessing you heard more from Abigail than you’ve let on.”

“Okay, I confess I checked you out. So? Was that a factor?”

Owen leans back. “No. I didn’t know anything about that until after Becky died. It was all about me and what I thought I wanted.”

“Yes. I’ve heard that before. There was a time I was what someone claimed he wanted. Turns out his wife wanted something else and she had all the money.”

“I figured. You’re a single mother. Abigail rarely mentions her father, and when she does, it’s very clinical — meaning she either doesn’t know him or has a bad relationship with him.”

“It’s not a close relationship but they do communicate.”

“It would seem we both have checkered pasts.”

“Yours is a bit more checkered than mine. What are you hoping to accomplish with this encounter, Mr. Asher?”

“Some drinks and stimulating conversation with an intelligent, accomplished, and attractive woman.”

“Yes, I’ve heard that before, too. It probably won’t be as stimulating as you’ve hoped.”

“What would be the harm in seeing where things take us? It doesn’t need to be overly complicated.”

“It’s already overly complicated. You’re just the type of man I’ve avoided most of my life.”

“I see. Does it count that I’ve learned from my mistakes?”

“Maybe you have. Maybe you haven’t. I’ve definitely learned from mine. It’s going to take a lot more than a pleasant smile and plying me with alcohol to win me over. I’m not some sweet, young flight attendant awed by being in the presence of the almighty flyboy, Owen. I’m a working professional woman with lots of experience and a very low opinion of men who run out on their responsibilities.”

“And I respect that. I came to regret my actions very much and learned a great deal as a result. I totally understand your hesitation.”

“Yes. I’m sure you do.”

“Look, I don’t want to start a family with you, and I’m pretty sure you don’t want to start one with me.”

“Definitely not. Here’s the bottom line: I raised my daughter and have a rewarding career without a man present. What do you have to offer that will make my life more fulfilling?”

“Lots of fun with no strings and no commitment.”

“Anything else?”

“Companionship. Someone who understands where you’re coming from. We’re of the same generation. We speak the same language.”

“And yet, I’m still not hearing much that will hold my interest. There are millions of guys who fill all those qualifications, Owen, but who don’t have your track record.”

“All right. How about free airfare?”

Rhiannon leans forward. “Now that gets my attention. It would make it much easier to drop by the East Coast to constantly interfere in my daughter’s life.”

“I thought that might sway you.”

“I wouldn’t say I’m swayed just yet. Although I admit, you are reasonably attractive.”


“And the whole ‘no strings’ offer is extremely tempting. I wouldn’t expect anything more from you to be honest.”

“Look, we’re both at a point in our lives where we don’t really need anyone.”

“I’ll grant you that.”

“We have our own routines and I would never ask you to change that to accommodate me, nor would I expect you to do the same with me.”

“I am very set in my ways. Or at least determined to become more set in my ways.”

“Plus, Seattle and Tacoma cover a vast area, and I’m away a lot, so it’s not like we’re going to run into one another unless we plan to.”

“Keep talking.”

“I’m not looking for a soulmate and I suspect you’re not either.”

“You are correct.”

“So, what’s there to think about? We’re not two awkward teenagers feeling our way around our first crush. We both have our baggage, but we know about all that and would go into this with our eyes open and with clear guidelines on how we’ll proceed.”

“You make a good case. I’m open to further negotiations. How about we meet up in Seattle in about a week to see how we feel about it then?”

Owen raises his glass. “Sounds like a plan.”

Rhiannon clinks his glass with hers and they toast.

Rhiannon sits back. “So. Tell me more about this free airfare.”

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