The Suncraft arrived in Honololu just before noon. It took just over an hour to refuel and some of the passengers, Toby, Austin, Denise, and Penelope among them, went for a walk through the airport terminal to stretch their legs. Christopher had fallen asleep just before they had landed, and nobody wanted to wake him up. Astrid spent the time talking to the flight crew and going over the safety check with them.
“Look who I found,” said Penelope upon her return, pulling along a wiry young woman of medium height, with a strong nose, bright eyes, and massive waves of curly brown hair.
“Hello, Paige!” called Astrid, hurrying to give the newcomer a big hug.
Paige Liebowitz looked much younger than her twenty-eight years. She had been in charge of Maxxim world-wide construction projects for the past two years, but now, pending board approval, was the Senior Vice President of Construction, upon Astrid’s recommendation.
“Tell me you’re coming to Beijing with us.”
“I had to agree to come to stop Penny from whining about it,” said Paige, elbowing Penelope, whose sour face indicated that she was no fonder of Paige calling her by her childhood nickname than anyone else.
“Come on, boys!” called Paige, waving forward Austin and Toby, both weighed down with metal cargo chests. “Here comes lunch, dinner, and snacks for the rest of this epic voyage.”
The five of them loaded the food into the plane’s kitchen area and were ready by the time the aircraft was prepared to return to the skies.
“Wait! Denise came running across the tarmac, waving her hands. “Don’t leave without me!”
“Where have you been?” asked Astrid, as the door was pulled closed and the two of them maneuvered toward their seats.
Denise pointed to her face. The tiny gold ring that normally hung from the center of her nose, just above her full upper lip, had been replaced by a ring, that while no larger, featured a tiny round coral bead in the middle. It definitely made the jewelry more noticeable.
Astrid pulled out her phone and began typing.
“What are you doing?” asked Denise.
“I’m texting your brother that this wasn’t my fault.”
“No, you would never do anything as dangerous as help me pick out jewelry,” said Denise. “You’re all about throwing me into shark infested waters or killing me in a…”
She stopped and looked like she was biting her tongue.
“What?” said Astrid.
“I was going to say killing me in a plane crash, but I don’t want to anger the aircraft gods.”“Good thinking,” said Astrid.