Aéroport Nice Côte d'Azur, as the second busiest airport in France, normally teamed with passengers hurrying to one of two terminals to travel all over the world. On a late Sunday night, however, there were few people roaming the glass rotunda of Terminal 2.
A tall figure, muffled in a long grey coat and kinte-cloth scarf, paced nervously by the Qatar Airways ticket booth, stopping occasionally to look out the windows past the quiet runways to the fathomless black expanse of the Mediterranean Sea beyond.
Finally, she sat down at a café-style table, by a closed lounge. She unwound the colourful scarf, revealing the dark skin and high cheekbones of central Africa, with short, curly black hair. Reaching into a large Burberry print overnight bag, she pulled out a laptop computer, and opened it up in front of her. As it hummed to life, she chewed her lower lip a bit, then, going into an email program, began quickly typing. A silver and bronze bangle bracelet quietly chimed against the table as her fingers flew over the keyboard.
After a few minutes, she turned off the device, stored it back in the bag, and resumed pacing as the sky lightened over the water.
~ ~ ~
The ringing of the doorbell startled Meaghan as she straightened up the living room.
Opening it, she found Shel, holding a half of durian in her hands. "I just bought one, and I know how much you like its buttery pungent goodness, so I brought you some. So who was the guy that took you and your sister out last night?" She bustled in, heading for the kitchen.
Meaghan followed her neighbour into the kitchen and sat down on one of the chairs. "Remember the guy I mentioned a week or so ago? He invited Tina and me to dinner last night. We went to Jambu's, and he apparently knows the owner. We had a nice time."
"So tell me about him. What's his name, what does he do, all the particulars. You know I worry about you going out with strange men." Shel expertly scooped the custard-like flesh into a bowl, discarding the sharp rind in the sink. After wiping her hands on a towel, she turned and accepted the business card from Meaghan.
"I've heard of this company. I remember something in the news that they were having some sort of dispute over the ownership of their oil fields. Did he talk about that at all? What did he say about his businesses?"
Meaghan thought for a moment, but couldn't answer her neighbour's questions.
"I don't really remember talking about any business related topics. We mostly talked about music, television, Tina's classes, things like that. Why?"
Shel shrugged. "Unless he has something to do with your company, I don't see why he would ask you out, especially under the circumstances that you met. It just seems odd."
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Meaghan privately agreed.
"Well, I don't believe you'll see him again here, unless he's still looking for properties. So, Shel," Meaghan smiled, "tell me about the guy you've been flirting with on the Internet." Shel had always lived in her home alone, so Meaghan was curious about what kind of man Shel was attracted to. As they dug into their bowls of durian, Shel began talking.
"Well, his name is Sam, and we've been talking for a couple of weeks now…"
~ ~ ~
Rickie was in his office, reviewing a contract to supply a French firm with palm oil, when there was a perfunctory knock on his door, and his father's assistant breezed in.
"It's the end of the day, and I figured you were still here going over the Pomme Verte proposal. What do you think of it?" Rickie looked up at JoAnne.
"Is that really why you came to my office?" He raised his left eyebrow. JoAnne grinned back.
"No, I just wanted to chat with you. Alright, to interrogate you. You came into work in a remarkably chipper mood, and I wanted to pump you for any juicy information. Is it the somebody that you met at that birthday party and won't talk about?"
Rickie asked, "Why, am I sparkling? It's nothing. I went to dinner last night with a couple of people I know. There were three of us, if you must know."
"Oh," said JoAnne, deflating, "I had hoped you love life was getting a kickstart. Anyway, before you leave, I wanted to give you the latest update on our talks with the Chen Dong group for the Balai oilfield exploration. They rejected our first offer, and plan to send us a counteroffer tomorrow. I just wanted to give you a head's up."
"What does my father think?"
"En Ahmad believes they want to formally dispute our rights to explore those fields under Chinese law, and are using this as proof that we weren't willing to negotiate properly in order to press their claim."
Rickie thought for a moment, and then nodded. "Okay, we'll see what they come up with tomorrow. Tell my father I'll talk to him once I review their proposal."
"And you'll tell me if you find that perfect girl, right? I have to meet and approve her. I know," JoAnne acknowledged his silence with a gesture, "my first love is Rain, but I still want to make sure she's good enough for you." And with a smile and a nod, JoAnne walked out, shutting the door behind her.
[A/N: Rain is a South Korean singer and actor]
After she left, Rickie thought about last night's dinner. With her lively sister acting as a chaperone, the conversation was safe, but Rickie still felt it was a success, seeing several fleeting smiles on Meaghan's lovely face, her warm brown eyes crinkling up at the corners.
He caught himself reaching for his phone; he balled his fists to resist calling her. He didn't want to seem too eager, even though he wanted to see her again.
He stood up, slid the rest of the papers into his correspondence basket, and gathered up his things to go home.