Jane checked her phone for what felt like the hundredth time in five minutes. She had been sitting in the airplane on the tarmac at O’Hare for over an hour already. Her connecting flight to Boston was supposed to leave in 15 minutes. “There is no way I’m going to make it.” She thought to herself.
She was on her way back from an incredibly boring conference for security officers and cops in Oregon. She had been sent by her Lieutenant and Jane wondered halfway through her first day if it hadn’t been a punishment for something. She had waded her way through the thousands of square feet of booths and deflected offers for a drink or dinner from countless men, most of them older than her and balding. She had sat through all the requisite seminars and lectures before finally escaping to the gym in her hotel. It wasn’t like there was anything else to do in Oregon.
Jane mindlessly scanned her phone, checking her email. She sent a text to Maura complaining about the inefficiency of airports and travel in general. She didn’t receive an answer right away and she groaned, clicking her phone off and turning to stare out the small airplane window. She couldn’t see very much because it was seven PM and the middle of January in Chicago. The sun, if there had been one that day, had set hours before.
Finally an announcement came over the intercom on the plane.
“Ladies and gentleman we thank you for your patience and I am happy to inform you that we have just been given a gate assignment and we should be moving shortly. I apologize again for the inconvenience and we hope to have you at the gate momentarily.”
There was a smattering of applause and a few half hearted cheers. Jane shifted her messenger bag underneath her feet and shoved the paperback she’d brought along back inside it. She wondered if her she would actually have enough time to catch her connecting flight and make it back to Boston that night. A few minutes later the plane was in motion and pulling into a gate. Finally they stopped and all of the passengers began gathering their luggage and coats. Jane tossed her bag across her body and made her way off the plane as quickly as possible.
She finally disembarked and made it up the gangway and when she exited into the airport she saw that there were quite a few people milling around. She didn’t think much about it knowing that O’Hare was always a particularly busy airport. She found an arrivals and departures board and started scanning the flights. Finding her connection to Boston she saw the big red rectangle and knew that it wouldn’t be good. CANCELLED the box screamed at her. Only then did she realize that every other flight on the board had been cancelled as well.
“Great.” She groaned out load. “Just fucking great.”
Her phone buzzed in her pocket but she didn’t take the time to check it. She made her way to the Delta desk to see about rescheduling her flight for the next day, already cursing the fact that she would have to sleep in the airport overnight.
After waiting for a few minutes behind the other passengers from her plane that had their connections cancelled, she finally made it to an agent.
“Hi, I just need to reschedule my flight to Boston. The earliest one you have out tomorrow morning will be fine.” Jane said, plopping her bag up on the counter.”
“I’m sorry ma’am, but Chicago is seeing some intense winter weather right now. We are unsure if flights will be running again tomorrow morning.” The blonde agent said with what Jane could tell was a very forced smile.
Jane groaned again. “Seriously? How bad can it be?” She asked attempting to peer out the floor to ceiling windows next to her.
“Well so far the accumulation has been almost two feet.” The agent replied with the same forced smile.
Jane grumpily thought that only someone that worked for an airline could be so conditioned to smile even when announcing that two feet of snow had fallen in Chicago in one day.
Jane raked her hand through her curls and sighed. “Well, what should I do?”
“I can provide you with a hotel voucher for the night and you can come back tomorrow to see if we have any flights available.” The woman suggested, shuffling through papers on her desk. She pulled out the one she was looking for and handed it to Jane. Jane accepted it and thanked the woman because it wasn’t like she had another choice. She couldn’t very well blame the woman for the freak winter storm pounding Chicago.
She looked at the address on the hotel voucher and saw that at least it was close to the airport, so she might have a chance of making it there with all the snow. She headed down to the baggage terminal and picked up her bag then made her way out to the taxi line.
After driving only a few minutes on the ice and snow covered roads Jane was very glad that her hotel was almost in walking distance to the airport. She paid the cabbie and got out, stepping under the steel and glass awning of the hotel. She stomped the snow off of her feet and made her way into the ultra-modern lobby. She headed over to the check in counter and was greeted by the very cheery man working behind the desk.
“Hello!” He beamed. What the heck was it with Chicago and their happiness about the horrible weather? Jane wondered.
“Hi.” Jane replied handing over her hotel voucher.
“Oh, you don’t have a reservation?” The man asked, his smile slipping a little.
“No.” Jane replied. “I didn’t really plan to spend a night in Chicago. I was supposed to have a flight out tonight.”
“Well… I’m afraid that we actually don’t have any rooms left. We had quite a few reservations and then many people have been referred here from airlines.” He said offering a sad smile.
“Terrific.” Jane said sarcastically.
“I can provide you with a list of alternate hotels.” The man began but was interrupted.
Jane turned around bewildered, to see who could possibly be calling her name in the middle of an airport hotel in Chicago.
Jane caught sight of the teal blue designer dress before she realized who it belonged to.
“Maura?” Jane asked, surprised to see her friend there.
“Jane!” She said energetically, squeezing Jane quickly around the shoulders. “You’re staying her as well?”
“Well I would be if they had any rooms left.” Jane said, shooting a glare at the front desk clerk.
“Oh. Well you can stay with me!” Maura volunteered with a bright smile. “I’ve already got a room upstairs. My flight was delayed coming back from that Medical Examiners conference in Las Vegas.”
Jane had forgotten that Maura had gone to a conference the same week Jane had been.
“Oh. Well if you’re sure that it’s not a problem…” She trailed off uncertainly, glancing at the clerk as if checking to see what his opinion was. He was already occupied answering phone calls and typing on his computer.
“Don’t be silly Jane.” Maura continued and hooked her arm through Jane’s. “C’mon lets go leave your bag upstairs and then we can find some dinner.”
Jane grabbed her suitcase and wheeled it along beside them.
“I thought your conference wasn’t over until Monday?” Jane asked as they waited for the elevator.
“It wasn’t, but I decided to leave early after checking the weather. I wanted to try to make it home before this storm hit. Obviously that didn’t really work out.”
“Yeah, I guess not.” Jane said with a laugh. “You would be the one to check the weather of the entire country while you were in Las Vegas. You could have been at the casinos or a bar or something.” Jane teased Maura lightly.
“Well, I actually did play some slots, Jane.” Maura answered matter of factly.
“Really? What the penny slots?” Jane teased.
“Nickel…” Maura replied not immediately realizing that Jane that was teasing her. “Oh very funny Jane. I have gambled before.”
Jane snorted. “Yeah nickel slots apparently…”
They stepped off the elevator onto the 10th floor and Jane let Maura ahead of her to lead the way to the room. Maura fished in her clutch for her room key and slid it through the reader. She pushed open the door and held it open so that Jane could pull her suitcase in.
“Jesus Maura!” Jane said when she saw the gigantic two room suite that Maura had booked. “I bet your airline didn’t give you a voucher for this room.”
“Well no. I had to pay a bit extra for this.” Maura said, pulling Jane’s bag into the bedroom.
“Oh just a bit extra?” Jane mumbled under her breath, taking in the floor to ceiling windows in the combination living room and dining room. There was even a small kitchenette.
Jane admired the 50 inch flat screen TV on the wall before moving into the bedroom. Jane was greeted by the same huge windows in this room too and a low, modern king sized bed.
“Uh Maur… You know there’s only one bed in here.” Jane said peeking into what she discovered was the walk in closet off the bedroom. She had been looking for the second bedroom to the suite.
“Yes Jane. We’ve slept in the same bed before” Maura said as she wheeled Jane’s bag into the closet. “Besides it’s a king size, you won’t even know I’m there.”
Jane shook her head at the doctor’s eternal practicality and wandered into the attached bathroom. Most of the bathroom was taken up by a giant bathtub that reminded Jane of half an eggshell. There was also a walk in shower and double vanity with chairs.
“Jeez.” Jane muttered, wondering how much this suite really cost Maura.
“Jane?” Maura called from the other room. “Do you want to change so we can go eat dinner?” Jane glanced down at her worn jeans and t-shirt as she walked back into the bedroom.
“Where are we going that I can’t wear this?” She asked gesturing towards her clothing. Maura was of course wearing one of her incredibly expensive designer dresses and a pair of heels. But that didn’t mean much to Jane because she wore the same expensive clothes to work in the morgue everyday.
Maura looked her up and down with a frown.
“Fine. I’ll change.” Jane said. She walked over to the closet and pulled some black pants and a slightly nicer t-shirt out of her bag. She exchanged her tennis shoes for boots and proclaimed herself ready to go.
They made their way downstairs and Maura stopped at the concierge to find out about nearby places to eat dinner. Jane had wandered over to the front doors and was gazing out at the knee high snow drifts and the fat flakes still falling from the sky. She sighed, it didn’t look like they would be leaving Chicago anytime soon.