This is a scene of when Kami and Liam first meet. Enjoy!
The boy slid into the seat next to Kami. She was very aware of him. He was even taller than she realized, now that he sat next to her. He smelled good too, a clean masculine scent. There was an awkward silence between them for a few moments until he broke it.
“Sorry to whisk away your seat mates, but one of them didn’t seem to appreciate not having his own seat.”
Kami laughed, relaxing as she glanced back at the little boy. He was standing in the window seat jumping up and down. His mother had an arm up supporting his back and looked much more at peace.
“He seems much happier now that he’s not constrained,” Kami said.
“Aren’t we all?”
“That was kind of you to offer her your seat."
“What do I need two seats for?”
“I don’t know. Kick your feet up. Catch a nap.”
“At the expense of that woman and her baby? No thanks.”
“Still, not everyone would have done it.”
“Maybe. My name is Liam, by the way,” he said. “Liam Mitchell.”
“I’m Kamilah Hassri.” She was glad her voice didn’t sound as shaky as she felt.
“So do you go by Kamilah, or do you have a nickname?”
“My friends call me Kami.”
“And do I qualify as a friend?”
“I don’t know yet,” Kami replied. She liked the way his mouth always seemed to be on the verge of smiling, and she marveled at how easy he was to talk to.
“Ah, the lady throws out a challenge. So what does it take to earn your friendship?”
“Nothing much—be willing to walk on hot coals, slay dragons, prove absolute loyalty by tasting any suspicious libations to make sure they’re not poisonous. The usual stuff.” Liam laughed as she ticked off her list.
“You are so random,” he said.
“You have no idea. So it’s my turn to ask you a question. What’s up with the winking?” She regretted saying it almost the moment it escaped her lips. It wasn’t like her to be so bold.
“I was bored. And intrigued,” Liam said, smiling a bit sheepishly. “I was curious how you would react.”
“You reacted just as I expected. You were embarrassed.”
“Actually, I was thinking ‘Who’s the perv who has the audacity to hit on a complete stranger?’” she said.
“Or that could have been it,” Liam laughed, flashing his strong white teeth with a lopsided grin that made her smile. “I was curious because you weren’t covered.”
“Not covered?” Kami’s voice rose as she looked herself over. Nothing was exposed. What was he talking about?
“No, not that,” he shook his head. “Your hair.”
“Oh, you mean I’m not wearing one of those scarves.”
“A hijab, right.”
The drink cart rolled up to their seats and a stern stewardess in a navy blue dress took their orders—a bottled water for Liam and a cranberry juice for Kami. She set the drinks on their fold down tables and moved on. He reached over and pulled back the tab of her juice, which Kami thought was strange. Maybe he was trying to be a gentleman?
Then he gulped a big swig of her juice!
“What are you doing?” she sputtered, outraged.
“Just testing your suspicious libation,” he said with a fake look of innocence. “I don’t think it’s poisonous, but maybe I’d better make sure.”
“Give me that,” she said grabbing his arm. How could she have mistaken him for a gentleman? “Since when is cranberry juice suspicious?”
“You never know. You usually get happy, chatty stewardesses, but that one? I don’t know. Kind of dodgy. She has assassin written all over her.”
“You’re so full of it. If you wanted a cranberry juice you should have asked for one instead of taking mine.”
“I didn’t. I just wanted a drink of yours. So are we friends now?”
“That little stunt definitely did not help you.”
“Blast. I guess I’ll have to keep trying. I don’t suppose there are any hot coals onboard, are there? Do you think I should call the stewardess over and ask?”
She shook her head, biting her cheek to keep from laughing. The boy was incorrigible.
He beckoned to the stewardess who didn’t look too thrilled to come. Kami was half-expecting a request for hot coals, but instead he asked for another cranberry juice. The stewardess rolled her eyes but handed him another drink.
“There you are,” Liam said. “Now am I back in your good graces?”
She opened the tab and nursed a long sip.
“Thinking about it,” she grinned.
“Are you always this happy?” Liam asked.
His question hung in the air, suspended, like a fine mist threatening to dissolve any minute. For the past few hours it was as if she was a different Kami, not the girl who’d spent countless nights worrying about her mother, praying she wouldn’t choke on her own vomit or drink herself into an early grave. Not the girl who stressed out over every test because she knew if she didn’t pull a 4.0 and bring in scholarships, she wouldn’t have a future. Not the girl who lived in a dingy trailer and wasn’t sure how much longer they could afford that.
She was just a regular girl having fun with a boy. Is this what it felt like to be normal?