Christmas at Terminal One
Christmas at Terminal One
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- Forced proximity
- Airport meet cute
- Romance writer finds love
This Christmas, love takes an unexpected flight.
Claire and Jack, both bound for New Jersey just days before Christmas, find their plans disrupted by an overbooked flight. Enticed by the promise of a cozy hotel room and complimentary meals, they each decide to stay an extra day in Munich. Claire's financial worries drive her choice, believing her career is on the brink of collapse, while Jack simply seeks adventure.
As the magical Munich winter unfurls before them, their paths collide in a whirlwind of misadventures and laughter. Amidst the Bavarian scenery and holiday festivities, an initial misunderstanding soon turns into a serendipitous encounter.
With each shared moment, laughter, and stolen glance, Claire and Jack discover that the unplanned detour in Munich has given love a chance to blossom. Can the enchantment of Christmas and the charm of Munich ignite a romance that will last a lifetime?
Join Claire and Jack on a heartwarming journey of unexpected connections, laughter, and love in this sweet romantic comedy set against the backdrop of a Bavarian winter wonderland. “Christmas at Terminal One” is a story of hope, unexpected chances, and the magic of the season, where love truly takes flight.
Start reading Chapter One...
Start reading Chapter One...
If only the loose wheel on her suitcase would just give up the ghost and fall off already, then this trip would be complete. Claire dragged the offending piece of luggage through the terminal, fighting against the one wonky wheel that kept trying to pull her in the opposite direction.
It was as if the wheel were a symbol of everything that had gone wrong in the last six weeks. The European tour that Claire’s publishers had arranged for her hadn’t been anything like the book tours she was accustomed to in the United States. And it wasn’t just about the fact that so much of the communication was done through translators—that part, at least, she could get used to. It was more the fact that she had been so utterly alone throughout it that was starting to sting now.
In the interest of Velvet Leaf Publishing’s budget, presumably, Claire had been traveling alone, without a familiar, friendly face joining her from start to finish. The English publisher of her books had arranged the tour stops in London and Edinburgh, and the company that owned her German translations had covered Berlin, Frankfurt, and Munich. At the other stops, she had more or less been on her own.
And, apart from the days she had spent in Ireland with her best friend Emma and Emma’s new husband Connor, Claire had gotten…lonely. She wouldn’t have admitted it out loud to anyone who had asked—and her parents and her brother had asked, almost as if they (or really just Jeremy) were teasing her. She had laughed it off—“Can you imagine? Me, get lonely?”—but it hadn’t stopped her from testing the waters with Bianca, her agent, to see if there was any chance of cutting the tour a bit short.
“I promise we’ll have you home in time for Christmas,” Bianca had said, “But I can’t do any better than that.”
“Really?” Claire had asked, trying to keep the disappointment from her voice. “Don’t these kinds of things get canceled all the time? I’m sure they’d understand at the Munich Book Fair. Who’s coming there to see me, anyway?”
“You’d be surprised. Your books, especially Moonlit Melodies, have really been taking off in Germany. And even if we wanted to bring you home early, the travel arrangements are already made and paid for.”
Claire scoffed at the memory. “As if Velvet Leaf doesn’t have the money to pay for a flight change.” But as she approached the counter to check in for the flight, something in that statement hit her in a different light. “Wait. Does Velvet Leaf not have the money for a flight change?” As she looked back, the notable lack of Bianca joining her on the tour stuck out, as did the fact that the hotel rooms she’d stayed in hadn’t exactly been the peak of luxury. And what about the fact that she’d been sitting in coach on the flight over? That didn’t seem like the kind of thing an international bestselling author should be doing.
She handed over her passport to the woman on the other side of the check-in counter. If Velvet Leaf was in a financial crisis, they’d tell her, right? Did authors usually know before their publishing companies folded, or did they find out at the same time as the general public? And if Velvet Leaf was about to go the way of the dinosaurs, what did that mean for Claire? Sure, she’d built up a good career for herself as a writer of romance, but none of it would have been possible without Bianca and Velvet Leaf Publishing.
Claire was so lost in her thoughts, so consumed by catastrophizing what now seemed to be the inevitable end of her career and sole source of income, that she stepped away from the check-in counter with her brand new boarding pass in hand and no memory of the interaction with the friendly employee who had sent her suitcase on its merry way.
It would be so incredibly inconvenient if Velvet Leaf was about to go belly up. She shook her head at the thought. And here it was, just a few days before Christmas, which was notoriously the worst time to receive that kind of news.
And also the time companies were the least likely to want to deliver that kind of news, which might explain why no one has even dropped a hint that something like this might be about to happen, warned the part of her brain that loved to give her additional reasons to feel anxious.
“Awesome,” she said out loud to herself as she bumbled around in search of the security entrance that would take her towards her gate. “Nothing like the Christmas miracle of wondering if you’re about to be out of a job. Or the New Year miracle of finding yourself jobless right in time to mess up all your New Year’s resolutions. Seems like I should maybe be resolving right now to, oh…I don’t know, manage my finances a little better?” While the future of Velvet Leaf Publishing was out of her control, the thought that had Claire in abject terror now was the fact that her checking account currently had $25.17 in it, thanks in no small part to some financial decisions that had seemed responsible only when her future career prospects looked a little more certain.
The world of publishing hadn’t turned out to be quite as glamorous as Claire had imagined back when she was a middle school student writing fan fiction about all of her favorite characters. It wasn’t as if, up until this point, her advances had been six-figure ones, and it hadn’t turned out that all she had to do was write the book and everything else was taken care of. Case in point, she was currently schlepping her over-packed carry-on luggage through the Munich airport after spending the last six weeks doing anything and everything Bianca and Velvet Leaf told her to do.
No, there was no assistant running ahead of her to the private jet to put the champagne on ice before she got there, never mind the fact that there wasn’t even a business class ticket with her name on it. She’d be in coach, and if the accommodations from the rest of her travel were any indication, she’d be sitting in a middle seat between two armrest hogs, within smelling distance of the bathroom. If any of those components of her flight weren’t there, there was a very good chance it would upset the delicate balance of the universe, or at least that was what Claire would tell herself when she was sandwiched between two immovable and unconscious passengers, counting down the minutes until her feet touched firm ground again and she could use the bathroom without having to ask anyone’s permission.
The line for security stretched nearly to the check-in counters, and Claire groaned as it came into sight. This was what she got for traveling so close to Christmas, not that it was her decision to do so. She dropped her bag onto the floor as she found her place at the end of the line, welcoming the break for her shoulder, which she massaged. Her bag hadn’t been this heavy when she had left New York six weeks ago, but there wasn’t any way she could have avoided it. After all, what was she supposed to do while touring so many fine European bookstores…not pick up a book or two at every single one? Blasphemy.
She had stocked up on English books with different covers than she’d seen back in the States, as well as German, Spanish, and Dutch editions of some of her favorite books. Even if she couldn’t read them—though she would give the Spanish one the old college try and see how her high school studies still held up—she couldn’t resist them. There were books in her suitcase, and once it had approached its weight limit, the spillover had found its way into her duffel bag, and now her arm was protesting.
She nudged the bag forward with her toe as the line moved slowly. Looking around, she let herself wonder what stories were unfolding around her at that very moment. Who was flying across the country or across the world to make a grand gesture? Who was heading home to see their family for the first time since a big, dramatic blowout had torn them apart? Who was anxious about flying, but was about to be comforted by the friendly and attractive passenger seated next to them? That was the thing about writing—and about writing romance, in particular. Once you started looking for stories around you, you realized they were everywhere. There were more stories begging to be written by her than Claire could possibly write in her lifetime, and there was something about that thought that was comforting, even if at the same time she felt the sweet frustration of never being “done.” She could never use up all the stories, all the inspiration that came her way.
The first time the announcement came, Claire thought nothing of it. “Attention passengers. Our flight today is overbooked. We are looking for two passengers to take the same flight tomorrow. You will be put up in a hotel overnight, and you will receive meal vouchers, as well as a payment of 500 euros. Please come see me at the counter if you are interested.”
Claire gave a mild “hmm” and looked around to see who was going to take the flight crew up on the offer. It sounded great…for someone else. Maybe someone had been feeling disappointed that their time in Munich had been so short and would love the chance to spend another day in the city. Or maybe an anxious traveler would be eager to delay the inevitable. Or maybe that extra cash would be just what someone needed…
“Hmm indeed,” Claire murmured again. Extra cash. Did she need extra cash? If her fears were accurate and she was, in fact, about to be left high and dry, then wouldn’t any extra cash in her pocket be the sort of blessing she shouldn’t dare turn down?
But she didn’t budge from where she stood. No, more than she needed a little extra money, she needed to be home. Sleeping in her own bed, and not in yet another unfamiliar hotel room. Eating a proper breakfast—a bagel sandwich, thank you very much—instead of whatever the aforementioned hotel room had offered. Besides, there were only a couple days left before Christmas. If she didn’t leave now, she might not be home in time.
She craned her neck as she surveyed the crowd to see who would approach the counter. But while she saw other rubberneckers doing the same, she didn’t see anyone take a step towards the uniformed woman at the counter.
Finally, she saw a man approach the counter, and she felt simultaneous relief and disappointment. Someone else was taking the offer, which meant she didn’t have to. But it also meant she didn’t get to. That she wasn’t going to be thrust into an adventure.
But when, after the conversation was finished, the man returned to his seat, took out his phone, and began tapping on the screen, any hint of disappointment Claire had been feeling was gone. The man wasn’t taking the deal from the airline, depriving her of a potential adventure. He had simply been speaking with the flight crew about…well, any of the other reasons a person would approach that counter. Maybe he was looking for an upgrade—good luck, the flight is full, buddy, she thought—or maybe he wanted to check his carry-on luggage through to his final destination. Or an update on their departure time. Or…or…or…
Claire shook herself. Now wasn’t the time to make up stories about strangers, even if airports were prime story harvesting grounds. The point was, she wasn’t going to get the satisfaction of knowing what the man had been speaking to the uniformed woman about, and did it really matter? It was probably something mundane, ultimately a letdown. She doubted he was an air marshal, checking in to see if there were any suspicious passengers on that day’s flight. She doubted he was arranging an elaborate in-air proposal for his partner, who would be arriving any moment from his connecting flight and…
These were all great beginnings of a story Claire might want to write someday. That was, of course, if she was in a position to keep writing. Between the uncertain future of Velvet Leaf Publishing and the fact that she’d spent so much time recently in promotion mode rather than in drafting mode that she wasn’t sure she even remembered how to write a sentence or a paragraph, let alone a novel…
Well. The odds of Claire Davis writing an airport meet cute or a proposal at 30,000 feet anytime soon were slim.
The woman at the counter spoke into her microphone again, repeating her earlier announcement. This time, the amount of euros offered had increased to 800 per person.
Claire’s pulse picked up, the beat echoing in her ears even though that seemed physically impossible. That money would make a big dent in her rent, and she could use the help after straying out of her budget (and not just a little) to buy Christmas gifts for her nieces.
She found herself once again searching the crowd, both curious to see who would approach the counter and anxious that someone else would claim the prize before she had a chance to do so.
Wait. Do I want this? Is that what this feeling is? she wondered to herself. More than that, am I going to act on it?
And without fully realizing what she was doing, she was taking her carry-on bag in hand, and walking towards the counter.