Authors: Alyson Noel
Also by Alyson Noël
Art Geeks and Prom Queens
St. Martin’s Griffin
This is a work of fiction. All of the characters, organizations, and events portrayed in this novel are either products of the authors imagination or are used fictitiously.
FLY ME TO THE MOON
. Copyright © 2006 by Alyson Noël. All rights reserved. Printed in the United States of America. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles or reviews. For information, address St. Martin’s Press, 175 Fifth Avenue, New York, N.Y. 10010.
Design by Maggie Goodman
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Fly me to the moon I Alyson Noël.—1st ed.
1. Flight attendants—Fiction. I. Title.
10 9 8 7 6 5 4
For my mother, who never tried to clip my wings
And for flight attendants everywhere—past, present, and future
are owed to:
My mom, who encouraged me to soar, who never held me back, and who struggled to keep the nest so that I’d always have a safe place to land.
My husband, Sandy, who reads everything first, who will go any-where once, who can find the best restaurant in the most desolate town, and whose enthusiasm, optimism, curiosity, resilience, and never-ending quest for fun are truly inspiring.
Jolynn “Snarky” Benn, who can make me laugh like no one else, who personifies the definition of “fun,” whose trips to New York became legendary, and who knows how to pronounce “Jan-All of the amazing, hardworking New York flight attendants who can take the most dreadful hell trip and make it, well, a lot less hellish. Including but certainly not limited to: Kenny Blake, who
knows what really happened to Bud and Sophie; Justine Tumolo, who has the craziest stories of anyone I know; Nancy Lane, who packs the best candy and who makes recurrent a lot less miserable; and Cissy Shores, who has the amazing, almost magical ability to turn Podunk into paradise.
My uncle, Captain Dick Jarrell, who’s nothing like the guys in this book, and who’s the only person I’d trust to pack my parachute. His son Brad, the professional hero, his former flight attendant wife, Pat, and current flight attendant daughter, Kristy, who I wish I could’ve flown with.
Jackie Nunes, who joined me on my first three-month odyssey through Europe that left me wanting more, and who told me about the job opening that changed everything.
Michelle Lane, who keeps me amused and entertained from thousands of miles away, who happens to be a former f/a, and whose last name I borrowed.
My old friends from my Mykonos days, who so generously shared their island and their lives, and who taught me how to catch, pre-pare, and actually enjoy eating octopus.
My agent, Kate Schafer, who keeps me right on course with her uncanny wit, wisdom, and guidance.
All the good people at St. Martin’s, especially Sally Richardson, Matthew Shear, Jennifer Weis, and Stefanie Lindskog, to whom I’m completely indebted.
And, last but not least, in memory of Gary Edwards, who loved a good adventure.
When an airplane makes an
unscheduled landing into the
ocean, it is important to don
a life vest.
So there I was, awkwardly reaching for the
left outside my hotel room, determined to ignore the fact that my black, opaque, control-top pantyhose were seriously impairing my ability to breathe, when I heard the muffled sound of the phone ringing from the other side of the door.
Now, on any other day, I would have just grabbed the newspaper and made a mad dash for the elevator, since a ringing phone at 3:55
. can only mean one thing: that some overbearing, micro-managing, type-A Flight Attendant in Charge is trying to track me even though I still have thirty-two perfectly good seconds before I actually
to be in the hotel lobby.
But today was different. Not only was I a full five minutes ahead of schedule, not only was it my twenty-eighth birthday, but I also knew that by the end of the day I would be engaged to Michael, my boyfriend-slash-roommate of the last four years.
It had all started the day before I left on this trip. I was cleaning the bedroom and singing along to the latest U2 CD, and just as Bono and I shouted
“Uno, dos, tres . . . Catorce!”
my right hip
slammed into Michael’s flight bag, sending it soaring off the dresser and crashing to the ground.
Now I admit, up until that very moment his bag had never held much interest. I’d always thought of it as a briefcase, or a man purse—something completely benign but totally off limits. But as I stared at the wreckage spilled all around me, I instinctively dropped to my knees and examined each artifact as though it were the gateway to a secret world I never knew existed.
Oh sure, there were all the predictable items, like well-used navigational maps, half-eaten protein bars, his company photo ID, and a big yellow flashlight to be used in case of emergency. But there were also a few surprises, like the brand-new tube of Rogaine that landed next to the half-empty bottle of Levitra that was covering the red plastic card from a video store that obviously didn’t cater to families.
And just as I lifted his bulky, FAA-mandated flight manual I discovered a small, robin’s-egg blue box with a crisp white ribbon tied snugly around it.
My breath grew shallow, my heart beat faster, and my hands were actually trembling as I lifted that tiny box to my ear, shaking it ever so slightly as I imagined Michael kneeling before me, eyes misty with emotion, asking me to be his wife. . . .
And I was almost positive I would say yes.
So, anticipating an early-morning birthday greeting from my almost fiance, I frantically slid the key card back into the lock, hurdled over the mound of soggy white towels I’d left piled on the bathroom floor, and grabbed the receiver conveniently located next to the toilet. Before I could even get to hello, a disembodied, Southern-accented male voice said, “Hailey Lane? This is Bob in scheduling.” And the fourteen words that followed were the ones that flight attendants around the globe live to hear: “The rest of your trip has been canceled. You are scheduled to deadhead home.”
But even though I was expecting something great doesn’t mean
I wasn’t skeptical. “Come on, Clay, quit fucking around. I’m on my way down,” I said, peering in the mirror and smoothing my out-of-control auburn curls while checking my teeth for lipstick tracks.
“Ms. Lane, let me remind you that all scheduling calls are recorded,” said the unamused voice on the other end.
“This isn’t Clay?” I whispered, my breath caught in my throat.
“You are scheduled to deadhead on flight 001, nonstop from San Diego to Newark,” he continued, in a crisp, no-nonsense tone. “You will arrive at fifteen hundred.”
“Are you serious? You mean I don’t have to fly to Salt Lake, Atlanta,
Cincinnati before I get there?” I asked, still not totally convinced I wasn’t dreaming.
“I still need to contact the rest of your crew,” he said, beginning to sound annoyed.
“Okay, okay. Just one more question: Can I deviate?” I asked, fingers frantically reaching for my flight schedule book, trying to spin this into an even better deal for me. “Let’s see, there’s a nonstop landing in La Guardia an hour earlier. Can you put me on that instead?”