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Driving Her Crazy(5)

By:Kira Archer

The man gathered his family in his arms, giving them a lingering hug, and for a brief moment Cherice wished she were the one wrapped in that embrace instead of the bubbly-looking little blonde he was holding. Cherice tore her gaze away from the tender family moment, almost squirming in shame for ogling a married man. No matter how drool-worthy he was.

Another security guard opened up a second line and things finally started moving. The chiseled and very unavailable hunk got into line a few people behind her and struck up a conversation with whoever was next to him. Friendly, wasn’t he? Cherice looked down at her phone and sucked in a panicked breath. Her flight! She closed her eyes and sent up another quick prayer since the first one didn’t seem to have worked. If she missed that flight, she was toast.

Finally, she was a few people back from the checkpoint. She slipped off her shoes, and juggled them with her phone and id. As soon as she was close to the little trays on the conveyor belt she dumped everything in, pushing them as far ahead as she could get them. Maybe it would make the people in front of her hurry up. She was down to fifteen minutes until her flight departed.

She hefted her suitcase onto the conveyor and shoved it through the plastic square. Well, partly. Halfway through, the suitcase got wedged. Cherice shoved on the bag, trying to squish everything down so it would fit.

Finally, it popped through, nearly sucking Cherice in with it. Relief flooded her. Her mother always said to never check any luggage if you were flying commercial. You never know who could riffle through it on the way or if it would make it to your destination at all. Cherice shoved the rest of her belongings through the square and hurried through the metal detector, nearly swearing aloud when the damn thing beeped. A female guard pulled her to the side and asked her to empty all her pockets, while the people in line behind her sailed through without any problems.

“There’s nothing in my pockets. It was probably just my jewelry,” she said, removing the gold chain and bracelets. She’d give the damn things to her if the woman would just let her leave. “I didn’t think it was enough metal to set the detector off.”

“Sorry, ma’am, but we have to perform a search if the alarm is triggered.”

“Is that really necessary? I’m going to miss my flight. I’m sure it was just my necklace.”

“I’m sorry, ma’am. Just step over here please.”

Cherice stood rigid while the woman wanded her. She was quick, methodical, and totally professional, but Cherice was late and getting more so, by the second.

As soon as it was determined that Cherice was not, in fact, smuggling a weapon of mass destruction in her lacy underwire, she marched back to the screening area to retrieve her suitcase and handbag. Where yet another job-conscious security guard in plastic gloves was standing over it like a guard dog.

“I’ll need to search through your bag,” he informed her.

“Is that necessary?”

“Yes, ma’am. Sorry. Do you have anything sharp or liquid in here?”

“No. Not really. Just some lotion I think.”

He riffled through her bag, pulling out a few items as he went through it.

“I’m sorry, ma’am, but these items aren’t allowed on board,” the guard said, gesturing to a growing pile of her belongings.

It had to be some kind of weird conspiracy. “It’s just some hand sanitizer and fingernail clippers. I assure you I have no intentions of using those for anything other than nail care,” she said, trying for a playful smile. “Wait. Why isn’t the lotion allowed?”

“I’m just doing my job, ma’am.”

“I know, and I appreciate that. I don’t mean to be a pain, but really? I can’t very well moisturize anyone to death.”

He ignored that remark. “Anything over three ounces isn’t allowed. Any other liquid items should be stored in a clear plastic baggie. Do you have any items in your suitcase that might be a problem?”

She didn’t want to answer that but they’d already scanned her suitcase and were opening it, so she nodded. “My shampoo and face wash. Some perfume.”

He nodded and looked at his fellow guard who was already removing the items.

“Okay, the rest is fine.”

Cherice focused on taking deep breaths and swallowing the snippy remarks that she couldn’t help thinking. She was seconds from missing her flight and this had just gone beyond ridiculous. If she missed that plane, she’d never hear the end of it. Her parents had wanted her to come out a full week before her sister’s wedding, but the prospect of facing that much time being constantly reminded of what a huge disappointment she was had been too much to consider. She’d insisted she was too busy and flying in the day before would be more than enough time.