Nuance

Rory’s Story Cubes Mini-Story #24

RSC 24a

Photo by Jennie Coughlin

Mai emerged from the cockpit of the Citation jet and paused before heading down the short aisle. She slid into a seat at the club seating area, the table between her and Alexei.

Elbow braced on the window moulding, chin resting in his palm, he stared out at the sky. Despite the jet’s speed, the distant clouds seemed to crawl by.

No, he scowled. Great, she thought, four hours left in this flight, and I’m stuck with crabby Alexei.

“Coffee, tea, or me?” she asked.

His scowl deepened, but he looked at her and snapped, “What?”

“Trying to bring some sunshine to dispel the cloud over your head,” Mai said.

His left hand dipped into his jacket pocket. He tossed a tiny plastic bag onto the table, the white powder inside stark against the dark wood tabletop.

“You go through my luggage now?” she asked.

“Three years ago when you insisted you needed cocaine to restore your nerve, I didn’t like it, but I bought into your promise that it was for missions only. The mission’s over.”

“And?”

“And I think you’ve moved into recreational use.”

“Don’t be ridiculous.”

His eyes narrowed as he watched her, and she knew he watched for her giveaways, slight changes in her expression, a twitch of an eye or her mouth. She kept her expression neutral.

“If that’s the case,” he said, “you won’t have a problem with my flushing this down the plane’s john.”

“Be my guest,” she replied.

He snagged the cocaine from the table and headed aft toward the lavatory.

Mai shifted her gaze to stare at the clouds herself. Alexei could read nuance better than any person alive. She hoped the secret pocket in the jacket she wore was secret enough. He was sure to search that at the first opportunity.

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