Though sitting in first class, Caroline and her escort deplaned last.
She’d sent word to her boyfriend that her hair was black now. She couldn’t bring herself to tell Paul about how the ordeal of the last few months aged her. Nor about the scars. Nor about the limp. What remained of the woman separated from her true love for so long was her 5 feet eleven inches of confidence and nervous excitement, a fine figure, long hair no longer dyed blonde and her love of the man who had moved Heaven and earth to get her back.
Federal agents met her in the corridor before the gate. Her escort with hand on his gun took extreme caution in identifying them before relinquishing Caroline to their care.
“Missy, I don’t know who you are, but your fiancée must have some serious political clout. We’ve turned everyone out of the terminal except for him and a few others.”
Caroline’s nervous excitement turned to joyous tears.
“What? No, he’s teaches classical studies at a junior college. I‘m an archaeologist. We aren‘t anyone.”
But, apparently Paul Lusigan was more than just a classicist. Caroline remembered that Paul was tall, but she never saw him wear his 6’2” so well. He wore a military uniform, a National Guard dress uniform she’d discover like his brothers. His salt and pepper hair now seemed mostly gray. Caroline gasped at how distinguished he looked. She glanced at his dimpled chin, expecting to see him biting his lip or smiling his slim smile. Instead, his grin was toothy. He was tan! He looked grayer because his hair was sun streaked. He was broader across the chest than she remembered. She failed to notice the pistol on his hip.
Caroline abandoned her escort. They peered around skittishly. She skipped into Paul’s arms to hide her limp. She laughed nervously, tears raced down her unkempt face. He returned her hug. When he went to kiss her blistered lips she wouldn’t let him go.
“You shouldn’t have done this. Now, they know who you are.” Caroline whispered glancing nervously about.
Paul smiled sweetly. “Yeah, it’s time they knew who you are.” Stepping aside, he continued, “Let me introduce my grandmother Maeve Lusigan Sienna and my Great Aunt Roxanne Scamander. Ladies, I’d like to introduce Caroline Hale the woman who with your blessing I will marry.””
“Oh dearie!” Roxanne screamed and shuffled forward to hug her new granddaughter-in-law.
The younger woman took a startled step back and then rushed into Roxanne’s big bosomed embrace. Her pale drawn complexion turned red. Her tears flowed harder and sobs broke from her shallow chest. “There, there dearie. You are safe now.”
Caroline rested comfortable in the older woman’s arms for sometime before fighting back her sobs. Sniffling back her tears she apologized to “Madam Sienna” over Roxanne’s broad shoulders.
The grave dark haired woman stood at a distance. Her narrow eyes, glanced around the room predatorily both hands holding onto a tan leather bag, easily large enough to carry her gun. She waved away the apology with a black gloved hand. “Call me Grandmother. I keep hoping one of my granddaughters-in-laws will. “
“It’s not got going to happen.” the redhead giggled into Caroline’s ear.
“I’ll leave you three alone for a minute and go calm my brothers down. They are dying to meet you." Paul said.
“Everyone wanted to meet you, dearie! We will take it slow." Roxanne gushed in way of an explanation.
Caroline watched Paul stroll over to his “brothers” who huddled giddily on the other side of the terminal. One threw a false punch, while the other began to tease him about his “gorgeous girlfriend.” She laughed and then turned to the older women. “How can I ever thank you?”
“When Paul and his older brother Deuce came to me all teary eyed, I was happy to help save the woman he loved.” Maeve pulled off a glove and a glacial white hand reached out to comfort the trembling girl still tucked in Roxanne’s left arm.
“How did you get me out of there?”
“We know people, dearie.” Roxanne told her with a wrinkle of her nose and a little squeeze on the girl’s shoulder.
“But, the government said they wouldn’t negotiate with terrorists. Did you pay a ransom?”
“Let’s just say, we negotiated.“ Maeve said rolling her black eyes as she preened her long blood-red nails. Her tongue poked mischievously around the inside of her mouth.
Caroline looked across the hallway, Paul gruffly got his brothers and cousins organized and quieted down. Her lower lip trembled a little. “I almost don’t recognize him.”
“He’s changed.” Maeve sighed pleasantly. “ It’s not that he didn’t love us or we him. He was just different from us. But, since you disappeared he’s rejoined us with a vengeance, he spends all his time with us. Deuce says, Paul never knew how much he needed family until he almost lost you, his family.