Are you sure there’s no message waiting for Laney Carrigan?”
Laney leaned over the information desk at the Kailua-Kona Airport. “I was supposed to be met here . . .” She gestured around the rapidly emptying lobby. “By my Auntie Teah. Maybe she’s been delayed and she left a note for me with instructions?”
The airport employee, a willowy blond, craned her head around Laney at the line of people queuing behind her. She pointed down the corridor. “You can rent a car over that way.” She raised her gaze above Laney’s five-foot-three-inch height. “Who’s next?”
Laney tightened her lips. Dismissed. Again.
“Maybe an intercom page directing me to meet someone in Baggage Claim or Ground Transportation . . . ?” Laney sighed at the bored face of the woman and stepped aside as a middle- aged man wearing a flamingo pink aloha shirt shouldered past her to the front of the line. Grabbing the handle of her wheeled carry-on bag, she skirted past a group of Asian tourists who’d been greeted by hula girls bearing fragrant yellow leis.
No point in trying to rent a car when she had no idea where she was going. She paused in an out-of-the-way corner and fumbled in a side pocket of her luggage for her cell phone. Pressing the phone to ON, she waited for it to come to life.
Auntie Teah, whom she’d yet to meet, had assured her over the course of several phone calls that she would be here to welcome her long-lost niece to her ancestral home. An ances- tral home to which she’d not been given directions or an address.
Hitting the Rodrigues phone number she’d stored in her cell, she tapped her navy blue stiletto-clad foot on the shiny, white airport floor and waited for someone to pick up. And waited. After ringing four times, voice mail—a deep, rum- bling man’s voice—informed her that no one was currently at home—duh—and instructed callers to leave a callback num- ber at the tone. Laney snorted, not trusting herself to speak, thumbed the phone to OFF and stuffed it into her bag. She stalked down the passageway toward Baggage Claim.
Laney pushed her shoulders back, trying to ease the ten- sion of her muscles. As her brigadier father never failed to point out, when stressed, she hunched down like Quasimodo. And at her diminutive stature, there was no one Laney wanted to resemble less than that hunchback of literary legend. She scanned the dwindling crowd encircling the baggage carousel.
Where was her Auntie Teah? Her cousin, Elyse, or Elyse’s sweet little boy, Daniel? They’d promised to be here. Laney glanced at her black leather sports watch, noted the time in addition to the barometric pressure and altimeter reading. Her own barometric pressure rising, Laney shoved her bag to the ground, threw herself on top and faced the doorway. Nobody had ever dared ignore Brigadier General Thomas Carrigan.
Apparently, his daughter not so much.
She’d told her dad this was a bad idea, but he’d insisted she answer the inquiry in response to the information he’d posted regarding the scant facts they knew of her birth twenty-eight years ago. The website, which specialized in reuniting adop- tive children with their biological families, had been silent for months. And Laney was fine with that.
Abso-flipping, positutely fine with that.
She’d never been curious as to her biological family. She’d always known her real parents, Gisela and Tom Carrigan, adopted her when she was a few months old. They’d chosen her—as her mother had often reminded her. Loved, cherished, protected her. But Gisela succumbed to a lingering, painful death to cancer three years ago.
Then her dad—administrative guru to the five stars at the Pentagon, able to cut through bureaucratic red tape and leap over snafus in a single bound—had the bright idea to post a picture of the quilt in which she’d come wrapped on their apartment doorstep.
And voilá, a hit less than twenty-four hours later.
He did some checking—to make sure none of them were serial killers—and declared it would be good for Laney to plan a visit to their home on the Big Island. Good to connect with people who knew something about her family background. Good to fulfill her adopted mother’s last wish that she one day reunite with her biological family.
Laney swallowed a sob. She’d believed she’d already found her forever family. She glanced around the claim area. Her lower lip trembled at the sight of a suitcase going round and round the carousel.
Unclaimed. Alone. Like her.
She squared her shoulders. Who needed these people? The ones who’d abandoned her, deserted her. Left her behind.
Laney closed her eyes on the hateful, treacherous tears that threatened to spill out from beneath her lashes and wondered how soon she could book a return flight to D.C.
This had been a very bad idea.