A couple of times, on the way out of the airport, Allison started to say something to me, but her brain kept getting ahead of her mouth and she wound up sputtering off into gibberish and giving up. I sort of wanted to find out what she was trying to say, but it was loud and frantic in the airport so I let it go.
Tim began the introductions once we reached the relative quiet of the train platform. "Guys, this is our guide, Finn Riordan. Finn, I'd like to you meet my wife, Patti," he beamed, "our son, Peter; our daughter, Allison; and our bonus daugher, Macy."
"Bonus daughter," the handsome boy repeated, shaking my hand and looking me in the eye. "How lovely. I think you're the first one of those I've met, Ms. Macy." His accent wasn't what I had expected. It was Irish all right, but carried nary a trace of Lucky Charms. Instead, there was a certain depth, a certain deliberateness, to each word. I smiled. Before he released our handshake, he placed his free hand on top, holding my hand in both of his. Up close, his eyes were a clear and penetrating light blue and I froze in his gaze.
After a moment, he let go and moved on to greet Pete and Patti, and finally Allison, who was holding her breath. I don't know if he noticed. I heard her let it out after he had turned away to talk to Tim about our luggage.
"Oh my God, Macy, oh my God."
"Shh. Try to keep it together," I whispered, smiling. We had moved a few steps from where Tim and Patti were going over the day's itinerary with Finn. We stood next to a long bench. Pete had already gotten comfortable on it and begun to nod off. "I wonder how long the train ride will be. I'm definitely ready to get some sleep. Do you think we'll get to really do anything today?" For the moment, Allison just stared at me, wide-eyed and distracted. Where had my friend gone? She used to be so smart!
I looked at Finn for a moment. I had felt an immediate familiarity when he'd spoken to me. A strange, indescribable warmth had washed away the bout of homesickness I'd been feeling, and guilt now panged within me as I realized how easily I'd been made to forget, however temporarily, my longing for home and family. Especially since I knew there was no real connection between Finn and me. He was just good looking. This was obviously just a ridiculous hormonal attraction that I was mistaking for some kind of emotional...thing, and I had no intention of getting a stupid humiliating crush on this kid just because he was beautiful and older than me and had a sexy accent. No way, Jose. I reminded myself of how anxious I'd been just minutes before and resolved, out of loyalty to America, to start feeling that way again.
It was pretty easy, especially when the train arrived and the loud whistle startled me so badly I stumbled backwards and fell over my suitcase onto Pete.