Tara Maclay stood leaning against the counter top in her cramped kitchen, a half empty coffee cup loosely held in one hand. She stared at the opposite wall, seeing nothing, her mind replaying the events of the previous week.
Her boss had considered the invitation a godsend - an assurance that the shelter would be able to operate for years to come, even without any other donors. Tara's unease stemmed from the invitation being addressed specifically to her. As Assistant Director she was fully qualified to meet with potential benefactors, but the Donations Administrator or Managing Director usually handled the larger gifts. The letter had been clear, however. Either Miss Maclay agree to come, or another shelter would be the beneficiary of an extremely generous sum of money.
Tara took a sip of her coffee and rushed to the sink to spit out the lukewarm sludge. With a resigned sigh, she went to her bedroom to pack.
Dawn Somerset looked in dismay at the contents of her dresser, then back to the small suitcase lying open on her bed. Opening her closet, she shoved aside a row of hanging clothes and pulled out another - larger - suitcase. With a satisfied nod she began filling both.
Riley Finn turned off his hall light, locked his front door and pocketed the keys, hefted his large olive green rucksack over his shoulder, and strode purposefully to the cab waiting in his driveway.
Cordelia Chase waited for the chauffeur to open her door and offer his hand before stepping out of the limousine, never pausing in her phone conversation. She glided into the airport, not bothering to check that her bags were being attending to because she knew that they would be.
Xander Harris smiled at the ticket agent as he handed over his driver's license and placed his suitcase on the scale. Within a few minutes he had his boarding pass and was directed to the gate.
"This is the final boarding call for flight 333, non-stop service to Lima, Peru."
Anya Jenkins hurried down the ramp as the announcer's voice faded behind her. She took her seat moments before the door was sealed and the plane began taxiing back from the gate.
Willow Rosenberg frowned at the readout on her laptop. Careful not to disturb the computer perched on the fold-down tray, she twisted around it to reach for her briefcase under the seat in front of her. With her upper body leaning halfway into the aisle, she had just felt the handle when a pair of shapely legs stopped inches from her face.
"Need a hand?" the flight attendant asked, and without waiting for a response knelt to pull out the bag.
"Uh... thanks," Willow replied, blushing.
"How 'bout a drink?" the bottle blonde inquired.
"Oh... that's really... but I just got out of a relationship, and I'm not... are you supposed to be drinking on the job? Cause I know you're not the pilot, but-"
"I meant can I get you a drink."
Willow looked at the woman, horrified, but the stewardess seemed amused by the redhead's embarrassment.
"Scotch... rocks... please."
Daniel Osbourne sat glued to the window as he had for most of the flight. The salesman next to him continued to try to interest him in some insurance, oblivious to the fact that the young man had said nothing to him for the past several hours. As the wheels bounced and screeched on the tarmac, Oz turned to his neighbor and tilted his head toward the small window.
Buffy Summers tried to remember the little Spanish she'd learned in high school as she wandered through the airport in search of the baggage claim. Once she was reunited with her stylish luggage, she looked around for an information desk when she noticed a man holding up a sign with her name on it.
"Right this way, Miss."
Faith Johnson gladly allowed the driver to carry her bag to the waiting car, and smiled broadly when he opened the door for her.
"Thanks, Jeeves - love the service."
Ten black sedans, carefully spaced, idled along the waterfront as each driver awaited the signal to proceed. Once received, each car in turn approached the assigned pier, where its occupant was guided to the waiting yacht. For their trouble - and discretion - each driver was handed an envelope with enough cash to cover the fare a hundred times over.
When the last of the ten passengers was aboard and firmly told to remain in their stateroom for the duration of the voyage, the Eind van de Lijn sounded its horn and pulled away from the dock.