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By the way, Greta – Volume 1

Chapter 1

 

By the way, Greta – A flight attendant's turbulent manhunt for true loveAt last she was finally seated in the airplane.

Tired, she leaned back, closed her eyes and relaxed – or rather, tried to relax. Hadn’t she just gotten off the other plane, which had flown from Chicago to Munich? And now, without interruption, she was flying back again, all the way across the big pond. At least she was headed to New York, her favorite city.

Just how crazy am I, actually? Greta wondered. Well, other people do much crazier things. Her friend Nathalie, for example, who just happened to stop by at Theresa, the best designer shop in the city three times last week, bought herself the same pair of shoes in three different colors. One has to understand, of course, that Nathalie doesn’t only have a shoe fixation but also a handbag and scarf addiction. She simply can’t do without “SPS” – shoes matching purse matching scarf. It never stops just at the shoes.

Nathalie was Greta’s best friend and confidante; they had known each other since their school days. Nathalie not only knew about Greta’s direct connecting flight to New York – she had actually supported Greta’s decision to take it.

Greta was twenty-seven years old and a flight attendant at Lufthansa Airlines. In her three and a half years in the job she had seen quite a lot - on board and along the way.  If, like this one to New York, a plane wasn’t fully booked, she could fly “stand-by” as a private passenger for only ten percent of the regular price.

Thus one could afford to treat oneself to such craziness once in a while, Greta thought. Yes . . . and besides, it wasn’t only her love of New York that led her to take the flight. It was also her love for Mike! These were two very good reasons to be sitting here, totally groggy after an eight hour night-duty flight, right?

Nine hours from now she would disembark, rested, wearing fresh make-up and perfume. And Mike will be waiting for me, passed through her mind . . . or maybe not? Perhaps I’ll have to visit him in the hospital? And then what would happen? Greta tried to calm herself. By the way, whatever happens is for the best! she said to herself. This pronouncement had somehow become her motto, similar to Scarlett’s in “Gone with the Wind,” who always said “Tomorrow is another day.”
But Greta was not a fan of waiting ‘til tomorrow.
He – Mike – was a new topic in Greta’s life.

Two weeks earlier Greta had been scheduled for duty in first class on a flight from Munich to New York, a real stroke of luck in this case. Usually, working in first class was very taxing and the passengers could be quite demanding: special requests always had to be tended to immediately. This time, however, first class was not booked to capacity and there was plenty of time to devote to the passengers and to organize the flight to New York in a more relaxed fashion.

Greta was standing between the rows of seats in first class in order to greet the guests, having assumed her usual, practiced Lufthansa-Welcome-Face, and she actually felt quite calm and at ease. She was already imagining herself in New York, shopping. This time she planned to get to Macy’s without fail, to take advantage of the Bobbi Brown cosmetic brand gift-sale, and finally to discover for herself the new vintage-boutique in the SoHo section of the city that Nathalie had pointed out to her in the last edition of the American InStyle magazine.

Then all of a sudden there he was, standing in front of her - tall, lightly tanned, athletic-looking, with a three-day-beard, wearing an absolutely cool leather jacket over a grunge-look T-shirt, and dark denim jeans. And cowboy boots!

Oops, Greta thought, a cowboy. He’s certainly going to be taking the connecting flight to Dallas. And where is his cowboy hat?
“Can I leave my bag down here?” the cowboy asked in absolutely accent-free German and pointed under his seat. O.K., Greta thought, so he’s not a Yank, and maybe I’m mistaken about the cowboy part, too. “Yes, you’re welcome to do so,” she said.  “You can place your bag under the adjacent seat too; first class isn’t full today and the seat next to yours is free.”

She moved somewhat closer to the man and smelled an indescribably delicious scent that the leather of his jacket gave off. But there was another scent besides . . . perhaps his after-shave? No, that can’t be, he’s got a three-day growth of beard.  Maybe his eau de toilette? Oh, well, it doesn’t matter, it’s delicious in any case, and it suited him.

Cowboy or not, the guy was cool!

 


Chapter 2

 

Greta went off to get him his “welcome drink,” a glass of Champagne, always served to passengers in first class.

In the meantime, the stranger comfortably settled into his seat and crossed his legs the way guys typically do: the knee angled to the side, the ankle positioned on the other knee, and then immediately opened a notebook. With the rays of the midday sun streaming through the window and touching his face, he had the aura of someone who had just disembarked from a yacht in Portofino: high cheek-bones that cast the rest of his face in a slight shadow, coupled with a golden tan, and the glimmering light in the dark amber eyes.

Seeing the notebook, Greta thought Oh! A workaholic! As soon as he sits down, he starts working.
No, he didn’t want the Champagne either — just some water.
Water!

Oh Greta, she thought, just stop now, inflexibly trying   to shove him into some cubbyhole in your mind, to stereotype him. Why have you been doing this nonstop since he’s been on board? Are you sort of attracted to him? No! Well, then — stop it, she scolded herself.

Greta got him the glass of water and tried not to let herself be distracted by this man. Then, to her relief, three additional first class passengers entered the cabin, and kept her busy, greeting the newcomers and fulfilling their requests.

Once everything fell into place, service in first class became routine: opening the bar; offering snacks and drinks; distributing the menus; and preparing the on-board kitchen, called the “galley” for short.
And yet . . . each time when she walked by the stranger there was this sensual, masculine leather-scent; the alluring, fascinating glance; the beautiful hands; and yes - his voice, deep but not smoky - also appealed to her. The man had quite a decisive manner. And he had just a tiny bit of an accent after all. But what kind of an accent?

He ordered his filet medium and otherwise seemed completely satisfied with the menu, without any additional wishes.
This was actually too bad, Greta mused, since it would perhaps have been a chance to have a conversation with him.
After the main course he refused dessert, but asked Greta for a cup of coffee.

“Do you possibly have a few chocolate pralines too?”
Almost in the same breath, he asked Greta if she knew a good bar in New York where one could go to have a few beers with a long-lost friend. It shouldn’t be too loud or too hip, but comfortable and with good food.
“Oh, yes,” she said, “I can recommend the Tribeca.” Greta had discovered the Tribeca only the previous week in New York. “It’s the new bar belonging to Robert de Niro,” she continued, “very comfortable, super food, great people, soft jazz in the background, and a really nice place to hang out.”

“Great. Sounds good, thanks very much,” he said. “By the way, I’m Mike Sloan.” He extended his hand.

“Greta Mayfield.  Nice to have you on board.” As she shook his hand, Greta found it a little strange. Passengers usually did not greet flight attendants with a handshake. But the gesture was gallant and definitely out of the ordinary. Possibly even something special?

“And how did you come across the restaurant?” Mike Sloan asked. “I was in New York just last week,” Greta said candidly, and began to describe her impression of the place and how she happened to go there: A colleague introduced her to the bar. She was enthralled from the moment that she arrived; it was exactly her thing.  Dim lighting, everything made of elegant wood and leather, a long bar, completely paneled with mirrors. The customers were very diverse, and the people were laid-back and not too young — there weren’t any kids.

“Wow, that sounds good,” Mike Sloan said, “I’ll check it out tomorrow with my friend. I was in New York the last time a year ago, unfortunately on business only . . . You know, the city evolves and changes so quickly that it’s sometimes really difficult to keep up with one’s favorites.”  Sloan also chatted frankly and without restraint.  “There was this breakfast place in SoHo,” he continued, “the Elephant’s Wedding, a real find! Not at all conspicuous, only eight tiny tables, but such a beautiful, lovely atmosphere and of course the food . . . poetry!”

Greta felt as if she were about to cry. This can’t be, she thought. He knew the Elephant’s Wedding?

The Wedding was her ultimate secret haunt and favorite breakfast place. She loved going there alone early in the morning and often had to wait in line at 7:00 a.m. to get a table.  The crowd was always large and their patience simply beyond belief. It was impossible to get a table after 8:00 a.m. without making reservations. Greta enjoyed people-watching at the Wedding, savoring her own thoughts, and absorbing the surrounding atmosphere. It couldn’t be a coincidence that Mike Sloan also knew this exact same place!

“Well, Mr. Sloan . . . perhaps you won’t believe this, but I happen to know the Elephant’s Wedding really well.”  As he looked at her in surprise, she had to laugh. “Yes, you are completely right, the place is a find.”
Greta smiled at Mike once more; suddenly she was in a very good mood and in high spirits. And that was the moment it “clicked.” Mike Sloan was definitely on her wavelength.
But Greta didn’t know it yet.

 


Chapter 3

 

Something like this hadn’t happened to her in a long time.

The last time it was Jonas: a junior banker in his father’s private bank, he was two years older than she. He had studied abroad, was good-looking, and a gentleman with an exemplary manner.
This especially impressed Greta’s mother, who was a real fan of Jonas. Not that it was really important to Greta, but it was nonetheless nice to see how her mother supported her in the relationship with him. He was invited to Mom’s far more regularly than other men in Greta’s life. And with great interest, Mom regularly inquired about Jonas. Everything seemed very important — all of their get-togethers and joint plans.
It became obvious however that Jonas, on his way to adulthood, had “delayed” his progress somewhat – that was Nathalie’s word for it – and sometimes still behaved like a teenager. Jonas didn’t quite know what he wanted, or who he was, and what his life would or should be. But Greta had to find that out for herself.

In the beginning everything was very easy and relaxed; it seemed as if the relationship was becoming something lasting, even possibly with a future. Then, after a few months, Jonas suddenly didn’t have time for Greta one day, supposedly because he was required to attend a tennis match with clients of the bank at the behest of his father. Subsequent dates with Greta were cut short and finally cut off without excuses. Jonas simply didn’t come by any more. Gone. Nada. Without saying anything.

At first Greta worried. An accident, or maybe a meeting that he couldn’t get out of? Soon it became clear, however, what the problem was. In short: The obligations in the evening and the tennis matches were – Anna. A model.

She was an ex-girlfriend of Jonas whom Greta knew. Jonas had continued to invite her to his frequent cocktail parties; she even came to Lake Como. Every year at the beginning of the summer season, Jonas gathered all of his friends there and an enormous party with all the bells and whistles ensued. His family owned a beautiful villa on the lake, with every conceivable luxury. It was very jet-set and very cool — a really great time. He had involved Greta in a new world, but then Jonas simply withdrew from her life. She was no longer able to reach him, neither on his cell phone nor by e-mail, and Greta was even removed from his Facebook page! She felt stupid, fat, dull, and down-hearted.

Oh, God, this can’t be happening! Thank heavens Nathalie was there for her. Who else!

Her bank account was drained by her visits to Theresa as the summer wardrobe was revamped; and excursions in Nathalie’s Gecko – a really hot convertible roadster that had been a gift from a crazy aunt – followed. Greta just had to have the new fragrance line from Jo Malone, and the crucial visit to Andi, Nathalie’s hairdresser, was booked. Oh, and yes, the new nail polish by Chanel and the handbag from Michael Kors also had to be bought. Three weeks later the world looked somewhat different -- a little better. Unfortunately, the bank account only looked  somewhat different.
But so what!

By the way, Greta thought, whatever happens is for the best -- not only in regard to the bank account, but also in respect to men and matters of the heart.

Greta’s deep-felt trust in God was her anchor in life. This very trust had often helped her find the way out of the depths of life’s problems, and look forward with optimism. Even when she was in the pits and the darkness wouldn’t lift, when everything was too much and she couldn’t get rid of the blues, she knew. Existentially and emotionally, she simply knew and could rely upon the conviction that it would all get better, that she would be taken care of because there was something greater than everything else. It wasn’t her duty to understand, but it was up to her to be able to accept.

Not that Greta was actually devout or a true believer in the sense of church and religion. She certainly wasn’t a regular church-goer and she wasn’t very spiritual. She had had her cards read now and again, but mainly for fun and because she was curious.

Nathalie was the driving force in this. Her friend had a distinct interest in psychology, in the esoteric, and sometimes she was really into ecology. When Nathalie was especially immersed in it, a visit to an occult-fair was on the agenda. There the two had great fun and allowed themselves to become completely engrossed.

Greta was always sure of one thing: In the universe everything is ordered in such a way that it makes sense, that she was being cared for, and that there was a plan for her life.

 


Chapter 4

 

Greta was still standing at Mike’s seat, listening to him continue to rave about Elephant’s Wedding.

Wow, she thought, immersed in her own thoughts, this is a man I would like to see privately, to get to know him. What  would it be like to meet him at Elephant’s Wedding and have breakfast with him – pancakes with huckleberries, caffé latte and iced yogurt? Completely caught up in her thoughts, she missed the fact that Mike had asked her a question.
“Ah, um, pardon me?” she stuttered in embarrassment as she searched for an excuse, “I didn’t hear you because of the noise.”
Mike smiled at her and slowly repeated his question. “You come to New York often, don’t you?”

Greta did not miss the twinkle in his eyes, and felt that he was seeing right through her. But how could he see through me, she thought, he doesn’t even know me. Yet she couldn’t let go of the strange feeling that Mike Sloan did know her somehow. It was a feeling that she sensed, uncanny but intriguing, like a child that knew very well that it was doing something forbidden but dared to do it anyway. Greta’s cheeks turned a soft pink. She would probably not be successful in keeping anything secret from this man.

“Yes, I often fly to New York three or four times a month,” she said. “New York is almost my second home – it’s a really cool place.” She smiled at Mike and waited for his reaction, searching his face for corroboration or disagreement. The thought that maybe he didn’t like New York as much as she did crossed her mind.

But Mike’s face brightened. “That sounds really cool. Super!” he said and grinned. Then he was silent for a moment and added, “But the flying back and forth must certainly be exhausting; and the time difference, the constant living out of a suitcase. Do you actually know where you are in the morning? What time of the day it is and whether you should have breakfast or afternoon tea?”

Greta was dumbfounded. How empathetic he was. No other guy had reacted to her job in this way. Usually she heard comments like, “Oh great – you’ve no doubt seen the entire world already,” or — “Who did you have on board, Brad Pitt?” – and “How is it with the pilots?” Or she heard, “Oh, a juice-pusher,” which was just mean, stupid, and common, and usually from some crude low-life and not somebody to whom Greta would want to devote any more time than it took to quickly pour him a drink. No, she was really surprised by Mike and took a moment to find the right words.

“You know . . .,” she began, “to live out of a suitcase can sometimes affect one’s spirit. Never having one’s own sheets or pillow, or one’s own dishes or bathtub . . . At some point I certainly will give up flying, but now all of that is part of my job and my life. And the time difference – one learns to cope with that. Yes, it’s tiring and sometimes exhausting, nerve- shattering, and perhaps even bad for one’s health. But that’s now a part of my life too.” Greta paused but saw no evidence of disinterest in Mike’s gaze, and so continued: “But to have the chance again and again to come to my favorite city – to New York – that’s a really great thing. The people there, the freedom, the shopping and going-out, the many aspects that are there to be discovered at every street corner, and to allow the city to surprise one again and again, the free spirit . . .simply the Big Apple. All of it is fun and something that I wouldn’t want to miss right now.” Greta began to gloat a little. “The amenities, too - I treasure being able to travel inexpensively, staying in beautiful hotels, living a cosmopolitan — in part, multi-cultural – life. It gives me the feeling of being free, of expanding my spirit and, as it’s sometimes described so nicely – to be ‘open-minded’.”

Greta paused and waited for Mike’s reaction. Had she been too open?  Was she being too personal? Had she exposed too much of herself?

Mike had become very still, focused on her, and then he suddenly felt close to her. How open she was, he thought, how honest and unafraid, simply to open up like this to him, a stranger, and completely without coming across as argumentative or conceited. One thing was already very clear: He was fascinated by her.

“You seem to have a genuine free spirit that you can enjoy to the fullest in your current profession.” He looked at her for a long moment and saw a woman apparently in her late twenties, dark brown hair, probably long and wavy but now tied in a knot at the base of her neck. Greta Mayfield was tall, with long beautiful legs that extended beyond her dark-blue skirt; she was well-built, with a bust-line that looked to be at least a 34B under her uniform; in short, a self-confident woman, natural and authentic. He liked what he saw.

He tried to imagine Greta in her everyday clothes: What was her style? Was she classic, a blazer-and-ballerina-flats – woman? Or boots and a leather jacket? A rocker type? Or did she have a natural style with Birkenstocks and flowered dresses . . .? Mike’s imagination provided him a nice trip into the various possibilities of Greta’s look.
Greta interrupted his conjecturing. “What will you be doing in New York – other than meeting your friend in a comfortable pub?”
“Oh, Mike responded, “I’m a web designer and am always traveling to New York on behalf of my clients. Actually I travel to New York and other cities in the USA more often than in Europe. This developed when I acquired my first client in New York and it snow-balled – one followed another, and finally I could hardly keep up. So I decided to take an apartment in the city. Thanks to my Green Card, it was no problem to stay and work there.”
“Oh, you have a Green Card. That’s a real advantage. Then you’re not an American by birth?”
“Yes, that’s right. My father is American.” He smiled at her and shrugged his shoulders, as if to say: Such is life.

 


Chapter 5

 

An announcement from the cockpit interrupted their conversation. “Ladies and gentlemen, this is your captain speaking. We have just learned from air traffic control that we are flying towards a hurricane. Please don’t be concerned, we will give it wide berth. You will have the chance, however, to be able to observe this natural phenomenon through the window from the safety of the cabin. We will alert you from here when the hurricane becomes visible. Unfortunately, as a result, our arrival time in New York has been delayed approximately forty-five minutes. In order to assure your safety, we ask that you now fasten your seatbelts and remain in your seats. Reduced service will continue to be available.”

Mike’s facial expression had suddenly changed: His brow was creased, his eyelids were closed, and his mouth was slightly open. With his shoulders pulled up, he almost looked afraid.
“Mr. Sloan,” Greta said intuitively, “don’t worry, you are safe with us. Would you like a cup of coffee or a glass of water?”
“Yes, please,” Mike said and glanced out the window with concern, “I would really like a cup of strong coffee.”

Greta immediately made her way to the galley. She placed the coffee on a tray and added several pralines and mini-biscuits. Under no circumstances did she want Mike to feel ill. Perhaps he’s afraid of flying? she wondered. There were quite a number of frequent flyers who had to overcome their fear anew each time they were about to climb into a plane – or who could only survive a flight with the aid of tranquilizer medications. More than once she had to assist passengers who were afraid of flying, and it worked best when she was successful in distracting them, mostly with conversation if time permitted.

While she was still preparing the tray for Mike, she  wondered a little about her own reaction. How important it was to her, all of a sudden, that Mike felt well on board! Her concern for Mike was essentially much greater than Greta wanted to admit to herself, and she quickly suppressed her feelings.

Then she remembered a passenger that she once had, Carmen, who was flying from Miami to Frankfurt – with an extreme fear of flying. The flight lasted approximately ten hours and the lady spent nine of those in the galley, where she hunkered down on a food container. Greta was completely occupied by her duties but just the nearness of the flight attendants, their diligent efforts during food prep and other services, the chatter and laughter between the dinner courses helped Carmen to endure the hours on board. During the short breaks in which Greta found time for conversation, she learned almost everything about Carmen’s life.
Upon arrival in Frankfurt Carmen gave Greta a big hug, thanked her profusely, and handed her a calling card: Carmen Wanold, Owner, CW Jewelry Design. “Send me your address,” Carmen said. “I’d like to make something for you.”

Just a few weeks later, as promised, a package arrived for Greta. The bracelet from Carmen was particularly attractive, a real “look-at-me” piece. Greta wore it happily and often and received many comments and compliments on its style. In the meantime, it had become one of her favorite pieces. She couldn’t wear it with her uniform, but as soon as she changed into her own clothes, the bracelet was a part of her outfit. It almost always fit with whatever she was wearing. Artistically fashioned of semi-precious stones -- blue topaz, rose quartz, and rosewood -- it was worked into small spheres, with sparkling stones inlaid between them. Looking closely, one could see animals and fantasy figures: elephants, frogs, the head of Buddha, snakes, and dolphins. It was a dreamy design.

On her way back to Mike’s seat, Greta saw that he was sitting upright, casting glances at the window but at the same time trying to concentrate on his laptop. She put the tray down and he looked up and smiled.
“Many thanks for the sweets,” he said.

“Perhaps the sugar will sweeten the rest of the flight for you a bit.”

“You managed to do that quite some time ago,” Mike said promptly, and looked directly into her eyes.

Greta blushed. She hadn’t expected the compliment. What do I say now, she thought quickly, and sought an answer. “Well, you know . . . sweets are supposed to stimulate the serotonin in our body. When we’re not feeling all that well, it can be quite helpful. For me, something sweet actually works very well, particularly when I have some kind of a strange feeling.”
Oh, man, Greta, she thought, what kind of nonsense are you blithering about?

She quickly walked away from his seat, looked around for something to do, but there was nothing that needed attention. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw Mike smile.

And then it happened.
One could hear a resounding thump, so loud as if a wing of the airplane had broken off. Everything that wasn’t well secured flew through the air. The passengers were screaming. The flight attendants who were still in the aisle busy pouring drinks, tried to hold onto the seats but fell to the floor, and two of them hurt their head and arm. Books, trays, magazines, drinking glasses, boxes, purses, shoes and blankets – simply everything not tied down -- flew around in the cabin. It was completely chaotic and impossibly confused.

Greta too stumbled in the aisle and could just barely clutch an armrest to save herself from completely losing her balance. But just a few seconds later, as the plane dropped  even further, it pulled her down to the floor too. She fell first to her knees and then lay between the rows of chairs.

What in the world was that!? She hadn’t experienced such an air pocket in a long time – must have been an offshoot of the hurricane. Keep your nerves in check and remain calm, she reminded herself. You’ve been prepared for this and trained on board. She sat up carefully, regaining her balance, and looked around.
Total panic had erupted in the cabin.
Chaos, horrified expressions, unadulterated fear and all kinds of questions: Was that it, or will there be another such air pocket? Are we going to crash? These questions weren’t just going through Greta’s mind, the passengers were screaming at her and bombarding her with them. She couldn’t answer even a single passenger because of the screaming and noise around her. At long last, there was an announcement from the cockpit:

“Ladies and gentlemen, this is your captain speaking. You have just experienced a classic offshoot of Hurricane Cesar. We ask that you remain calm. The plane was not in any way adversely affected by the air pocket. Our flight-safety staff on the ground has just provided us with a new flight route which will channel us into calm weather. Possibly encountering additional air pockets is not beyond the realm of possibility, however, and therefore we urge you to remain in your seats with your seatbelts securely fastened. The crew will endeavor to straighten out the confusion insofar as possible and to be of assistance to you if necessary.
If you now look out of the windows on the right side of the airplane, you will be able to observe Hurricane Cesar. In the meantime, we have attained sufficient distance to be completely safe and there is no cause for alarm. If you look closely you will be able to discern the whorls in the eye of the hurricane and its cylindrical form. Particularly beautiful is its impact on the water and the resulting turbulence of the sea. In approximately one hour we will land at John F. Kennedy Airport. The hurricane will not reach the coastline but a strong, stormy wind can be expected on land, with torrential rain. We hope to make the remainder of your flight as pleasant as possible and thank you for choosing Lufthansa. We look forward to welcoming you on board once again in the near future.”

During the announcement Greta got up and tried to get an overview of the condition of the cabin. And then she went over to Mike.

Mike was glued to the window, watching Cesar. Apparently he had not hurt himself. As she came toward him, he looked up and said in a calm voice: “You were right! Something sweet really does work. I’m feeling better.” He tried to smile. “Thank you – and by the way, too bad that we’re landing in half an hour. I would have liked to spend more time with you and learn more about your theory regarding sweets.” He looked out the window, smiled a little, and turned to Greta once more. “But maybe not quite so close to a hurricane. What would you say to getting together in a hurricane-safe place?”

 


Chapter 6

 

Greta was flabbergasted. Speechless.

After the hurricane scare and the fright of the passengers, the screaming, and the still hysterical individuals here and there, Mike is asking me for a date? It was an invitation to go out on a date, wasn’t it?
YES! she thought. I want to go out with you, hurricane or not. But then, suddenly, doubts began to creep into her mind.

But I don’t even know him. Maybe he’s a freak who’ll totally flip out and attack me. Ohmygod, now I sound just like my mother. No, trust your instincts, she thought, and admitted to herself: I would be very disappointed if I didn’t see him again, or if he told me that he’s married and his wife and three kids were waiting for him at the airport.

“I would like that very much, Mr. Sloan, and I’m glad that after such a turbulent flight, you’re still interested in spending more time with me. What would you think of breakfast together tomorrow?” As she spoke, her pulse quickened. She tried, however, to remain cool but couldn’t prevent the color from rising in her cheeks. Not that he should think “breakfast together” meant after a night together?  For heaven’s sake, Greta, how dumb are you, really! She shifted from one foot to the other.

Mike beamed at her, smiled a little again and dug around for a pencil and paper in his leather bag. Then he wrote down an address and a telephone number.
“Would you like to call me then?” he asked her directly, “or should we just meet somewhere?”
“I’d be happy to meet you at a breakfast place that you know, too,” Greta said. “Do you have any ideas?”
“There’s a very pleasant bistro around the corner from me with a few tables outside, and the pancakes with fresh fruit that Carlos makes are a poem. It’s not Elephant’s Wedding, of course, but also very nice. What do you think?”

In the meantime, Greta was completely convinced: Mike Sloan was not a freak; her mother wouldn’t have to worry.

“Yes, that sounds great. I’m looking forward to it. At what time should I be there?”
“Is 7:00 a.m. too early for you?”

“No, absolutely not. With the time difference, I’m usually awake by 4:00 a.m. anyway. Oh, no, Greta thought just as the words were leaving her mouth, he’s going to think that I want to meet him in the night. How can I babble so much nonsense? It’s got to be the hurricane that’s affecting my brain.

An announcement from the cockpit saved her:

“Please remain seated, fasten your safety belts, return your seats to their upright position, stow your service trays, and place your belongings under the seat in front of you.”

Until the arrival in New York, Greta was completely occupied with straightening-up and preparing for landing. But it seemed almost as if she were hovering above the still completely  chaotic cabin. She was so happy and full of anticipation about seeing Mike Sloan again. Mike was one of the first to leave the airplane. Greta had put on her blazer and stood in complete uniform at the exit to say good-bye.
“‘Til tomorrow, then,” she said.
“Yes, Mike responded, “I’m looking forward to it.”
He was almost off the plane, but turned around and said, “Oh, and maybe I’ll bring my friend along.”

Then he turned and disappeared down the gangway.