"Have a good trip," Brett said. He proffered his cheek for a good-bye kiss, exactly the way he had every morning for the last twenty-nine years. "Call me when you get there."
Sandra gave him a peck on that soft place above his now almost-white beard. After all these years, she was the one going on a business trip. Brett's turn to be left to an empty house.
Her stomach lurched and her heart beat a little faster. Travel nerves, she told herself. A sense of freedom rose within her on the cab ride to the airport, and when she settled into her seat on the plane, she wondered what she was really going to do on this trip.
Three days away from her friends, her family, anyone who knew her. She forced herself to concentrate on the reason for the trip – to sit down face to face and iron out all those final details that telephone calls and emails wouldn't permit. Put the first edition of the new journal to bed.
"I need you here, where we can do it in real time," Jim had said. "Fly out for a couple of days, and we can probably get the whole thing finished. You can stay at my place—it'll be more convenient than a hotel. Everything's in my home office."
"I don't want to put you to any trouble," she'd replied. "Your wife doesn't need a houseguest."
"No problem. Katie will be in Brazil, so it's not an imposition. And it'll save a lot of commuting time."
She'd agreed, both out of a need to get the job done, and an unexplainable desire to work side by side with this man she knew only from e-mails and phone calls. Even when those e-mails and phone calls wandered into the personal arena, even with the occasional flirtation, underneath, it had always been about the work. Why should she think it would be different this time?
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