Stranded With The Boss(2)

By: Elizabeth Lane

 Intrigued, Dragan read the rest of the file. There were no details about her dismissal, only the date. That was a puzzle. Could part of the record have been deleted?

 The last entry showed a current address in Bellingham, Washington, a college town across the Sound from Seattle. Wherever she was living now, she’d have to show up in Anchorage for the trial. The question was did he care enough to clear his calendar to be there, too?

 Dragan closed the file and switched off the computer. He’d hoped his legal team could handle what he’d once viewed as a simple settlement issue. But he could feel himself being sucked into the drama. Facing Miss Tessa Randall, in or out of court, might be the only way to strengthen his case and prevent damage to Trans Pacific’s reputation. But before it could happen he needed a plan—and a way to find the missing pieces of her story. If he discovered that she’d been wronged he would do the decent thing, but only on his own terms. Whatever happened, nobody was going to blacken his company’s name.


Bellingham, Washington

Six days later

 This couldn’t be happening.

 Tessa fumbled in her purse for a bottle of ibuprofen, wrenched off the lid and glanced around the bustling air-charter terminal for a drinking fountain. Seeing none, she gulped two tablets dry, gagging slightly as they went down.

 Weeks ago she’d booked a single seat on the Alaska Airlines flight to Anchorage. Her parents had agreed to watch the twins for a few days while she attended the hearing for her lawsuit. Then her mother had tripped and broken her foot. To make matters worse, Tessa’s lawyer, Helen Carmichael, had warned her that if they went for punitive damages, the proceedings could drag on for weeks. Left with no choice except to take her toddler twins with her to Anchorage, Tessa had called the airline and tried to reserve three adjoining seats. There were no additional seats available.

 Helen, a silver-haired marvel of efficiency, had booked a charter flight for Tessa and the twins and arranged for housing and a daytime nanny in Anchorage. Problem solved. Or so Tessa had thought—until now.

 Fighting tears of frustration, she strode down the corridor toward the waiting area, where her friend Penny, who’d driven her to the airport, was keeping an eye on the twins.

 Strapped into their side-by-side stroller, Maddie and Missy were getting plenty of attention from passers-by. Dressed in identical pink coveralls, with their blue eyes and flame-colored curls, they were truly adorable. But when they were tired they could be cranky little hellions.

 They were tired now.

 At the sight of their mother they started to cry, bucking against the safety harnesses that kept them in the stroller. The closer Tessa came, the louder they screamed. Their little arms reached out toward her, Missy begging to be picked up and cuddled, Maddie just wanting to get loose and run.

 Tessa’s headache was getting worse and the ibuprofen wasn’t working fast enough.

 “What’s wrong?” Penny, a perky blonde with a husband and three school-age children, gave her a concerned look.

 Tessa shook her head. “You’re not going to believe this. My flight’s been canceled. Some kind of trouble with the plane.”

 “Well, if it’s their plane at fault, don’t they have to get you another flight?”

 “So far all the people behind the counter have done is shrug and roll their eyes. I’m going back in there again and pitch a fit until I get some results. It may take a little time. I just wanted to give you a heads-up.”

 “Don’t worry about me. I’ve got all the time you need.” Penny glanced at the two fussing babies. “Maybe if we wait, the little munchkins will wear themselves out and go to sleep.”

 “I put some snacks and juice in the diaper bag,” Tessa said. “That might help settle them down. Sorry about this, Penny. I know you’ve got other things to do.”

 “Don’t worry about it. And don’t come back here until you’ve got another flight.”

 The twins screamed louder as Tessa walked back down the corridor. Their cries tore at her heart but turning around to look at them would only make things worse. What a mess. Maybe she should’ve settled for the generous amount the Trans Pacific lawyers had offered her. But as Helen, a fiery advocate for women’s rights, had reminded her, there was more at stake here than money. Her lawsuit would make an example of Trans Pacific and set a precedent for future cases.

 Squaring her shoulders and setting her jaw, she marched up to the check-in counter for Northwest Charter Air, where she’d left her luggage. “This is an outrage,” she said. “I have a ticket and a reservation. I’m not moving from this spot until you find me another flight to Anchorage.”

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