Excerpt: Louisiana Latte by Rebecca Henry

Deb felt her skin crawl with immobilizing fear. She had two choices, either get off the plane or die in her brand-new Gucci stilettos. — Louisiana Latte by @rebeccahenryaut 3/7

Prologue

 In 1989, at the age of twenty-two, Deb was enrolled in Embry Riddle Aeronautical University learning to fly commercial planes. But somewhere between dating her yuppie fiancé and planning their wedding in Chicago, Deb developed both agoraphobia, a fear of open spaces—and claustrophobia, a fear of closed spaces.

I blame the yuppie.

Deb’s life switched lanes on that flight from Syracuse, New York, to Chicago. The yuppie placed so much pressure on Deb, what with the wedding arrangements and meeting his wealthy, stuck-up family, that as the plane sat on the runway, something came over Deb. Her chest tightened. The sounds of the cabin crew preparing for takeoff faded, replaced by Deb’s pounding heart. And around the time the announcements came on, Deb felt trapped, like bait on a fishhook. The Boeing 737 transformed into a metal tin can with wings, and she was locked inside. 

Deb peeled her fingers from the plane’s armrest to take Adam’s hand in a death grip, seeking comfort. If she could, she would have crawled in his lap. He watched her like a zoo animal from his wide first-class seat, motionless in his neatly pressed J. Crew shirt. “Why is your hand so clammy?” Adam winced. His face was freshly shaven, and he smelled of sex and desire. He looked like a catalogue model, seductive and pensive. Tall, dark, Italian and handsome… and rich. Deb’s favorite combination.

The temperature rose, and Deb sighed loudly as her seatbelt cut into her curvy hips. With one hand in Adam’s, Deb dug at the offending belt with the other, her entire body trembling with anxiety. Adam’s eyes narrowed as he watched her place a manicured finger to her neck to check her racing pulse. Her throat tightened.

Now the yuppie was openly staring, his lip curled in annoyance. “What are you doing?” Adam asked. “Just leave it alone.”

But the cabin seemed to darken, and Deb took deep breaths, exhaling as she fanned herself with her free hand.

“Deb, stop that. People are looking at you,” Adam growled as he twisted his hand from Deb’s clinging death grip. He searched for an unoffending surface to wipe his hand off. Finding none, he swiped it down the leg of his ironed jeans. “And where are our hot towels?” he whined. “This is supposed to be first-class.” 

Adam hated scenes and cared deeply about what strangers thought of him. Petulant, he stared at the wide television screen in front of him. He had become increasingly annoyed at Deb’s dramatic behavior since they got engaged.

Deb looked over at the man she was going to marry. “Nope! Not flying today!” she chirped.

I dragged a down pillow from the penthouse’s luxe, fluffy king-size bed over my face to muffle the sound of my sister’s cries for help, but she was relentless. “Yoohoo, Becky Boo! Are you out there? I need you!” My sister’s desperate pleas carried across the hardwood floors from the steaming bathroom.

I moaned and threw the pillow covering my face to the floor. I must have dozed off. What time was it? “Yoohoo, Becky Boo!” I heard Deb call. Nope. No luck that she’d give up. I rolled off the bed and padded across the plush rugs to the bathroom. The shower was still running, and I figured Deb needed me for something desperately pressing, like getting a bottle of shampoo out of her overnight bag. I walked into the open bathroom. Why doesn’t Deb shut the door, I wondered for the thousandth time.

“Deb, you need something?” I asked, leaning against the granite counter.

With a level of relief usually reserved for firefighters who just rescued lost or stranded children, Deb cried, “Oh, Becky, there you are! Yes! I need help.”

I rubbed my tired eyes, drowsy and confused. “Okay, do you need shampoo?”

“No, Becky, I need you to come here.”

I blinked. “Like to the shower?” I could see Deb’s outline on the other side of the white shower curtain, her tan body in perfect silhouette. What does my sister want now? I wondered. I checked the rings of the shower curtain to see if they were loose. Nope. Not the shower rings.

Deb stuck her head out from around the shower curtain, her wet hair plastered to her shoulders. “Yes, come here! But don’t look at me. I’m naked.” She disappeared again into the shower.

I shook my head in bewilderment. “Okay, Deb! Here I am, right outside the shower,” I said, skittish. What now?

The curtain moved again, and this time a long, tan leg emerged. A stiletto was strapped to her foot.

I stared at the dangling foot in front of me, trying to make sense of what I was seeing. “I don’t understand, Deb.” I inched a little closer, eyeing the stiletto like a snake about to strike. “Did you forget you were wearing shoes when you got in the shower?”

“Oh God, no!” Deb exclaimed as if I were the one being ridiculous. “You can’t go barefoot in public showers, Becky. You’ll get warts. I never shower in hotels without wearing my shoes. I don’t want to catch athlete’s foot!”

Rather than point out that this was not a public shower, but actually the most expensive hotel room I’d ever been in, I sighed. “Why didn’t you just borrow my flip-flops?” I asked. I weighed leaving and going downstairs, but curiosity got the best of me. I had to see how this one played out.

“Gross,” she scoffed. “You know I don’t do flip-flops. Flip-flops are for prisoners and college freshmen. Becky, listen. I need you to hold out your arm.”

I took a step back, breaking my stare on her soaking wet stiletto. “For what?” I asked cautiously.

“I can’t shave my legs while standing on one foot in these heels,” she huffed. “I’ll fall over and break my neck! Please, just stick out your arm so I can grab onto it. Pretty please? I’ll be super-fast.”

I stayed perfectly still, like an animal hoping to escape detection. My eyes were once again locked on the wet stiletto. Maybe if I don’t move she will forget I’m here.

“Becky! Please! This is an emergency!” She jiggled her soaking high heel in emphasis. “I’m going to injure myself if you don’t help me. It will only take a minute, I promise.”

Resigned and reluctant, I slowly reached my arm inside the shower curtain.

“Becky, make sure you don’t look, okay?”

I sighed and rolled my eyes so hard I saw the back of my brain.

“Remember, I’m naked,” Deb reminded me through the curtain.

“Okay,” I mumbled instead of pointing out that she was not naked, she was in fact wearing shoes that cost more than a month of groceries. In the shower.

So there I stood, a silent human handrail while Deb shaved her legs in six-inch designer shoes. I briefly wondered who served as Mariah Carey’s hotel shower handrail, and if she was less trouble to travel with than Deb. Who knew a business trip to Louisiana would require so much diva maintenance?

Louisiana Latte
by Rebecca Henry
Genre: Romantic Comedy

In 1989, at the age of twenty-two, Deb was in a life or death situation. As the engines started, accompanied by the fasten seat belt sign, Deb felt her skin crawl with immobilizing fear. She had two choices, either get off the plane or die in her brand-new Gucci stilettos. Deb couldn’t get on a plane for love that day, but she could do it twenty years later for money. Money was worth dying for.

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Rebecca Henry is an American author living in the UK. Her books range from vegan cookbooks to fantasy to sci-fi to Rebecca’s latest release with Urban Edge Publishing, Louisiana Latte: A Chick Lit Comedy About Sisters, Stilletos, Coffee, and One Fabulous Diva! You can find all Rebecca’s books on Amazon.
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