From the book
The sign informing passengers to Fasten Seat Belts flashed on above Olivia's head and she automatically reached to check that her belt was in place.
"We'll be landing at Newcastle International Airport in fifteen minutes," the saccharine-sweet voice of the flight at- tendant announced smoothly. "Please ensure that all your hand luggage is put away in the overhead lockers and that your tray tables are securely stowed."
The aircraft dipped to begin its approach to the airport and Olivia's stomach lurched in protest. But it wasn't the amount of coffee she'd consumed that morning that was giving her such a sickly feeling. It was the knowledge that she was returning to Bridgeford after so many years that was tying her stomach in knots.
The landing was swift and uneventful. The airport was busy and the plane taxied efficiently to its unloading bay as passengers and crew alike began gathering their belong- ings together. There was little chit-chat. This was primarily a business flight, most of the passengers either on or re- turning from business trips, with only a handful of holiday- makers to make up the numbers. as her ridiculously high heels caught in the the stairway. But pride was a stubborn compan- Olivia was determined not to appear as desper- felt. walk across the tarmac and she was in the buildings, offering her passport for inspection and to collect her suitcase from the carousel. She'd one suitcase, leaving the rest of her belong- in London. Because that was where she was find herself an apartment, she told herself firmly. to Bridgeford was just to prove to herself--and there was no way she wouldn't recognise Linda. Whether Linda would recognise her was another thing altogether.
And then she stopped dead in her tracks, the suitcase she was towing behind her running on into the backs of her legs. But she hardly noticed the bump or the momentary discomfort it gave her. She was staring at the man who was standing at the back of the crowd of people, and, although she couldn't believe it, it seemed he was waiting for her.
She glanced quickly behind her, half convinced he wasn't looking at her at all but at some other person who'd followed her through the doors. But there was no one immediately behind her, no one else to coincide with his line of vision.
And then, to confirm her disbelief, he moved towards her, pushing his way through the waiting mob to fetch up by her side. "Hi," he said, taking the handle of the suitcase from her unresisting hand. "D'you have a good journey?"
Olivia stared at him blankly. "What are you doing here?" she asked, aware that it probably wasn't the politest thing to say in the circumstances, but she couldn't help it. If she'd been anxious on the plane, she was a hundred times more nervous now. Her heart was pounding, the blood rushing through her veins like wildfire. What the hell was Joel Armstrong doing here? She'd have expected him to avoid her like the plague. "Wh-where's Linda?"
If he noticed the stammer, he gave no sign of it. "At home," he replied evenly, and because he started walking away from her, she was obliged to follow him. "Your father's having a bad day," he continued. "She thought it would be wiser not to leave him alone."
Olivia blinked. She could have said all her father ever had were bad days in her estimation, but she didn't. She was too busy trying to keep up with his long strides. Trying to ally herself, too, to the man who was walking beside her. Fifteen years ago, he'd been little more than a boy. Now he was a man.
And what a man, she thought, permitting herself a covert look in his direction. he'd always been tall, but...