Read No Show Online

Authors: Simon Wood

Tags: #Thriller

No Show

BOOK: No Show
13.86Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

The characters and events portrayed in this book are fictitious. Any similarity to real persons, living or dead, is coincidental and not intended by the author.

Text copyright © 2013 Simon Wood

All rights reserved.
No part of this book may be reproduced, or stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without express written permission of the publisher.

Published by Thomas & Mercer
PO Box 400818
Las Vegas, NV 89140

ISBN-13: 9781612184074
ISBN-10: 1612184073
Library of Congress Control Number: 2013936445

For Mum and Dad

Thanks for never stopping me from doing what I wanted to do—not that I gave you much of a choice about it anyway.































he F
sign went off with a ping. The passengers on the packed 747 from London rose to their feet, removing carry-on luggage from under their seats and the overhead bins. Everyone moved with the customary jet-lagged weariness, except for Terry Sheffield. The second the jumbo’s wheels touched the tarmac, he buzzed with excitement. He was here—San Francisco. His Plymouth Rock. A new life with Sarah awaited him on the other side of those aircraft doors. God, he couldn’t wait to see her. After six months of jumping through US Immigration’s hoops, he was free to begin his life in America with his wife.

They hadn’t seen each other since the honeymoon, six months earlier. They’d kept their relationship alive with regular phone calls. They’d accepted the harsh reality that it would be a struggle from the outset, but that didn’t mean they’d found it easy. It was the price of a transatlantic love affair.

None of that mattered now. He was here and Sarah was waiting and nothing could stop them.

The aircraft doors opened, and he filed off the plane with his fellow passengers. He slogged his way through the tedious process of collecting his backpack from baggage claim and submitting himself to the usual unwelcoming grilling by immigration—this time a little extra hostile since he had a green card
in hand. It was an agonizing forty minutes, not helped by the arrival of three other international flights only minutes apart. As he finally passed through US Customs, he wished he could have brought a bouquet of flowers through with him, but bureaucracy won every time. Sarah would have to make do with just him. Wasn’t that gift enough? He smiled when he thought about using that line on her.

Terry followed the signs for the exit and entered the crowded arrivals lounge. Hundreds of people eager to meet a friend or loved one packed the large area. Their excited voices echoed off the walls as each new face stepped through the doors. He couldn’t contain his excitement and had no control over the dopey grin he put on for the world to see. He scanned the sea of faces for Sarah. He expected her face to jump out, but he saw nothing other than wall-to-wall strangers. He slowed his pace and took a longer and more careful look for Sarah, but he still didn’t see her. She wasn’t there.

Her no show was a punch in the gut. He couldn’t believe she wasn’t here on time. If the situation were reversed, he would have been camped out in the arrivals lounge for hours.

He was overreacting. It wasn’t a big deal. A traffic holdup was no doubt responsible. He knew from his previous visits that Bay Area traffic was a drag at the best of times, especially with the bridge construction delays. She was probably caught up in it somewhere. That was reality, but he wasn’t interested in reality. He wanted illusion. Today was meant to be flawless—the ending to a sappy Hollywood movie. Her lateness had killed the moment. Traffic snarls hadn’t been part of the plan.

He rode the wave of passengers through to the other end of the arrivals lounge. He still didn’t see Sarah, but it was impossible to make out anyone with so many people still pouring in. Even if Sarah arrived now, she’d be looking for him in the wrong place.

He felt pretty dumb standing there with his backpack slung over one shoulder and his carry-on bag over the other. He didn’t
have much to bring with him. His possessions had been shipped over after he’d sold his house in England and Sarah had moved into their new home.

He dragged himself over to a bank of pay phones. They were the only option available to him until he got himself a cell phone in the US. He pulled out his wallet and dug out a piece of paper with Sarah’s phone numbers. No, he had to stop thinking that way. Her phone numbers were his phone numbers too. He smiled, lifted the receiver, and pumped in assorted quarters and dimes collected from his earlier visits to the States. He punched in Sarah’s cell number, but the call went straight to voice mail.

“Switch your cell on, Sarah.”

“Hi, you’ve reached Sarah Sheffield.”

He smiled at the sound of her voice. It was good to hear it even if it was a recording. He got a kick out of her using his last name. It made their marriage real. After so much red tape, their relationship seemed more like a paperwork exercise than a real marriage.

“I’m not here right now, so leave me a message.”

“Hey, I’m here. Where are you? I’ll be waiting, but don’t make me run off with a different woman, okay? Look, this place is a madhouse. Even if you’re here, I can’t see you. I’m going to find a Starbucks or something. When you arrive, have me paged. Can’t wait to see you. Love you.”

He burned the rest of his loose change calling the home number. The phone rang until the answering machine kicked in. At least that meant she was on her way and not at home with her feet up. He left a brief “where are you?” message and hung up.

He bought a coffee and wandered back to the arrivals lounge. He found a spot away from the madding crowd and leaned against a pillar. He sloughed off his backpack, letting it tumble to the floor, and dropped his carry-on next to it. He used his backpack as a seat.

He eyed the doors leading into the arrivals lounge, hoping to see Sarah charging toward him, full of apologies for being late. Instead, he saw his fellow passengers on the London flight pass through arrivals.

Ten minutes passed. Then twenty. With each passing minute, the tedium of watching lovers reunite, friends welcome friends home, and business travelers connect with their counterparts irritated him. He checked his watch again. Another thirty minutes had passed. He struggled to believe the traffic was so backed up that she hadn’t arrived yet.

He went to the information desk and had Sarah paged three times over a twenty-minute period. Each page went unanswered.

“She’s probably stuck in traffic,” the woman at the information kiosk said. “She’ll be along soon.”

He’d broken a twenty-dollar bill when buying coffee in order to get more change. Cash in big bills was all he had. As yet, he didn’t have a credit card or a bank account in the US. He used the change to call Sarah on her cell phone again. He got her voice mail.

“I hope you’re close to the airport now. I’m starting to get a little lonely here. Just hurry up and get here.”

He nursed his coffee for over half an hour and listened closely to every page, but none were for him. Concern crept in now. What if she’d gotten into a crash on the way over? It was an irrational conclusion, but it wasn’t beyond the realm of possibility. He could see it. He’d been a total airhead all day thinking about their reunion, and Sarah wouldn’t be any different. She might not have been concentrating on the road. The problem was, if she’d gotten herself mixed up in a crash, there was no way she could get word to him. He hoped he was overreacting.

He finished his coffee, tried Sarah’s cell one more time, and got her voice mail yet again.

“Hey, Sarah, I’m worried about you. I know you can’t get ahold of me, but I hope you’re okay. If you’re on your way here, turn around. I’m going to grab a shuttle home. See you in a few.”

The word sounded good. This country might be foreign, but with Sarah at his side, it was home.

He had her paged one last time with no result before asking the information person to tell Sarah, if she came looking for him, that he was making his own way home. It wasn’t great, but he’d covered all the lines of communication he could.

He followed the signs to the bus courtyard and got on a shuttle van service that went as far as Sacramento. He gave the driver his new home address in Edenville. He didn’t know where Edenville was, just that it was somewhere between San Francisco and Sacramento. Sarah had lived in San Francisco until they’d gotten married. Upgrading from her apartment to a house wasn’t an option with San Francisco real-estate prices, so she’d settled on Edenville. Besides, she’d wanted a fresh start for the both of them. If they were starting a new life, they should do it in a new home. He’d only seen the house in Edenville in photos Sarah had e-mailed to him.

Terry paid the driver, who loaded his bags into the van. Once Terry had taken his seat, the driver slipped out of the airport. Besides Terry there were only four other people in the van—a couple and two lone travelers.

Progress was slow through San Francisco, but Terry didn’t mind. It allowed him to focus on the vehicles coming the other way. He knew it was stupid, but he hoped to see Sarah’s car heading toward him. He even looked at stranded cars on the side of the road in case one of them was Sarah’s. But he didn’t see Sarah speeding toward him or marooned at the side of the road.

A scary thought hit him. Could Sarah have developed a nasty case of cold feet? Six months of separation gave her plenty of time to rethink things. He’d be a liar if he said flickers of doubt hadn’t visited him from time to time. He hadn’t heard any worry in her voice during their phone calls, but it didn’t mean she hadn’t been harboring fears. This would be a shitty time to find out—after he’d gotten married, sold his home, dumped his job, and drawn
a line under his life in the UK. He had visions of her hiding out in the house, ignoring his calls.

“Please don’t be standing me up, Sarah,” he murmured.

The woman sitting next to him on the shuttle asked him what he’d said.

“Nothing,” he said and squeezed out a smile.

“What’s that accent—Australian?”

“No, English,” he answered and found himself mired in a conversation about her desire to visit Britain one day. It took him ten miles to break free of the exchange.

BOOK: No Show
13.86Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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