The second they were parked at the curb, June popped the trunk and hopped out of the car. She hoisted both of the suitcases out and promptly wheeled them over to the outside check-in counter. Per the arrangements she had already made, she also handed her keys to the valet. June normally would have parked at a nearby place and taken a shuttle to the airport, but she didn’t particularly care about saving the company money when she was about to be laid off anyway. Might as well treat herself to the executive travel experience. It also worked out in her favor once she settled on her plan to have a later start to the morning.
Meanwhile, Elizabeth was more delayed in her exit of the vehicle. After finishing up an email she had been drafting, then hesitating at the thought of being seen in PJs and braided hair, she eventually mustered the energy to open the door and step out onto the curb. It’s not like a couple of low-paid airport workers were going to care about how she looked when they probably saw hundreds of people every morning.
By the time she saw what June was doing, it was too late. Both suitcases were already on the conveyor belt; short of leaping over the counter with lightning speed and likely getting security called on her for doing so, there was nothing Elizabeth could do but watch helplessly as the bags disappeared from sight. “June!” she snapped, “What the fuck?!”
“Language, Miss,” June replied, “And please step away from the car. The valet needs to take it, and we need to get moving.”
The contrast of being called out for cursing while being addressed like the superior she was made it difficult for Elizabeth to figure out how to get on her assistant’s case in regards to the correction. Instead, she chose to ignore that bit and get to the more important matter. “I need to change,” she reminded June, sharply gesturing to the awkward PJs/heels combo, “How am I supposed to do that without my suitcase?”
June calmly replied, “And you will change. When we land. But right now, we’re late, remember? We need to prioritize making our flight, Miss. If we have extra time at the gate, maybe you can find something from one of the shops to tide you over.” She didn’t mind offering up the partial solution, mostly since Elizabeth likely would have come up with it herself upon walking past one of those places. It wasn’t going to happen, regardless. June had timed out this whole sequence ahead of time. To the best of her ability, of course, as airports were always unpredictable to some degree. They were flying first class, which meant they were boarding earlier than most of the other passengers. Maybe her boss would have a couple minutes to grab an overpriced coffee, but not even the cushion June had baked into the morning would be enough for Elizabeth to go shopping for clothes.
While it was a solution, it didn’t change the fact that Elizabeth’s appearance was a far cry from her usual look. “Why didn’t you just wake me up earlier?” she scowled. Her silk pajamas were thick enough that her nipples probably wouldn’t show through, but kept an arm firmly crossed over her chest anyway. June couldn’t have at least grabbed a bra from the suitcase before handing it over? “The whole point of staying at your place-”
“Elizabeth, what did I just say? Come on, we need to get moving.” After cutting her off, June grabbed her hand and gave a forceful tug towards the nearest set of sliding doors.
Slightly stumbling forward, as she hadn’t been prepared for the sudden momentum shift in her heels, Elizabeth quickened her pace to match June’s while yanking her hand free at the same time. Amidst everything else, she once again failed to register the direct use of her name. She was too busy being appalled at the invasion of her personal space via the patronizing gesture, yet ultimately bit her tongue about the whole thing. At some level, June was right. They needed to hurry if there was a risk of missing their flight, and reaming her assistant out in the middle of the airport was hardly a productive use of her time. Elizabeth just had to file away a number of thoughts for later; she also couldn’t make a scene on the plane, but she’d be more than happy to yell at June once they arrived at their hotel.
The PreCheck line was annoyingly long, no doubt due to how so many people had wisened up to making the investment of time/money to travel more efficiently. Elizabeth and June still got through everything decently quickly, only to be faced with their gate being almost completely at the end of their terminal. There was no time for coffee or shopping. When they finally made it, the gate agent was in the middle of announcing that they would begin boarding shortly. From June’s point of view, they were right on schedule. Had security taken longer, they would simply have gotten in line with one of the coach groups halfway through the boarding process. One way or another, they certainly wouldn’t be straying from the area now.
If Elizabeth was thinking more clearly, she might have realized that there was a way to do some speed shopping. Their bags were already checked, so it would simply be a matter of getting on the plane last and taking her first class seat without any worries about not having enough space for her things. Except she was a young woman who was used to certain privileges, and a concept like that didn’t remotely cross her mind when she was accustomed to being at the front of the line and settling into her spacious seat right away. Already accepting her fate as she and June took their places behind the first few groups that out-tiered first class, Elizabeth also started feeling more self conscious about her attire now that she was standing still and not rushing through the airport.
In an ideal world, Elizabeth would be enjoying the perks at the front of the plane while June was crammed in the back with all the other coach passengers. Unfortunately, a trip like this called for their time on the plane to be spent reviewing everything for the upcoming conference. Though Elizabeth was determined to take all the credit for herself, she would still need to fall back on June for some of the finer details of their presentation. There was just too much information for one person to memorize. Or, perhaps, too much for Elizabeth herself to keep organized in her head on top of everything else she had to deal with at the company.
Of course, there was only so much preparation Elizabeth could handle. Thirty minutes into the flight, she was done going over talking points. Between an early morning, a slight hangover, and the perpetual embarrassment of traveling in her pajamas, she felt a lot more interested in a power nap to rest up for the coming day than to hear another minute of June’s endless stream of presentation notes.
June was just as prepared to anticipate her boss’s needs as she was for their big pitch later. “Something to relax?” she asked, pulling out a small bottle of pills. They were more for the sake of relaxation than sleep, but June assumed that Elizabeth was tired enough that it would more or less have the same effect.
“Whatever,” Elizabeth muttered. She held out her hand. At this point, she was well accustomed to June being a diligent assistant. Noting the brand on the bottle, and not thinking anything about the offer beyond the general purpose of the tablets, she popped back two of them and resumed browsing the morning’s emails on her phone.
It didn’t take long for her to drift off.
June remained quiet and still for a few minutes after seeing Elizabeth close her eyes. Once her petite boss’s breathing settled, June murmured her name and gave her shoulder a gentle nudge to ensure that she would be out for a little while. With a faint smirk, June picked up Elizabeth’s phone from the tray table and placed it in an outside pocket of her own bag. Next, she slowly and carefully reached down and retrieved Elizabeth’s purse. Though she was tempted to pilfer through it, there was always the risk that a passenger or flight attendant would notice what she was doing. June was clearly traveling with Elizabeth, but a poorly timed comment could easily mess up her latest idea. So instead, June merely opened her larger bag and stuffed Elizabeth’s purse inside.
Without her more personal possessions, it would be difficult to do anything without June’s help. ‘You can’t go on a shopping spree without your credit cards,’ June thought to herself in amusement. And without a phone, there would be no online rush orders sent to their hotel out of desperation. Elizabeth could try to compel June to do this or that in order to rectify the situation, but June had plenty of excuses locked and loaded. She was just a lowly assistant, after all. Elizabeth was the one trusted with the company credit card, and June’s personal card was reserved for emergencies. No, this didn’t qualify as an actual emergency. It would be so easy to play dumb while still doing her best to ‘help.’
She let Elizabeth sleep for the remainder of the flight. At this point, it didn’t matter if her boss was well rested or not. The necessary pieces were in place for Elizabeth to have a terrible business trip, and June was quite looking forward to seeing her attempt to make a professional presentation in the most ridiculous outfit. If June played her cards right, maybe the braid could even stay in.
The rumble of the plane landing was enough to make Elizabeth stir. Right away, June lied and said there would be a minor delay on the way to the gate, and Elizabeth could keep resting if she wanted to. It didn’t take much convincing. Elizabeth was still groggy from her extended nap, and ended up closing her eyes and dozing off again until it was actually time to deplane.
Then, it was only a matter of rushing Elizabeth out of there. “We have to hurry, Miss. I already ordered us a ride; there’s barely enough time to grab our luggage.”
If Elizabeth were more awake, she would mention how it didn’t make sense to get a ride while they were literally still on the plane. When being rushed by her pushy assistant, however, all she could do was get up and leave the aircraft. As soon as they reached the new terminal, Elizabeth realized that she now just had her PJs. Her purse was still under the seat, and her phone? She couldn’t remember if it was in the pouch in the seat in front of her or if she had put it in her purse before falling asleep. “Wait!” she exclaimed. Stopping in place and nearly causing a collision with the person who was briskly walking behind her, she blushed and stepped to the side before telling June, “My purse.”
June cocked her head to the side, feigning confusion for a moment. Then, glancing down at Elizabeth’s midsection, she said, “Oh! You forgot it on the plane?”
“Because you practically shoved me out of my seat!” Elizabeth snapped, “I need to-”
“Elizabeth, wait.” Grabbing the shorter girl’s arm to stop her from fully turning back towards the jet bridge, June said, “You can’t just go through the gate again. Security won’t allow that.”
“It’s fine. Do you at least have your phone?”
“No!” Elizabeth exclaimed. Gesturing to her silk-clad body in a similar manner to before, she said, “I don’t have anything, June.”
June sighed. “There’s no reason to freak out, Elizabeth. Why don’t you go sit down for a minute? I’ll ask the gate agent what she can do.”
“It’s ‘Miss Elizabeth.’”
“Uh huh. You’re not exactly dressed for a title like that, Elizabeth. We can worry about the professional stuff once we’re settled at the hotel and not on a time crunch, yeah?”
It might have been the first time her assistant had ever ignored her. Rather than apologizing or submitting, June fucking dismissed the blunt correction. And reasoning the reply by referencing the pajamas? That was hardly Elizabeth’s fault. And it didn’t matter. This was a business trip, and she was still June’s superior.
Unfortunately, Elizabeth didn’t have a chance to express any of that. June was already walking towards the counter to speak with the agent behind the desk. Awkwardly tagging along to listen in wasn’t an option, though Elizabeth also didn’t want to helplessly sit down. Splitting the difference, she merely stood a few meters away with her arms crossed, impatiently waiting for the situation to resolve itself.
After a minute or two, June returned to where Elizabeth was standing. “No one saw anything like your purse left behind during the initial cleaning sweep of the plane,” she said, “The gate agent is going to double check with the crew, but every minute we spend here interferes with our itinerary. I have all the necessary contacts in my cell, and I think the hotel charges the company directly? It may be best to keep moving for now. When they find your possessions, I’m sure one of their shuttle drivers would be able to deliver them to where we’re staying.”
“And trust some random person with my stuff?”
“At this point, some ‘random person’ is going to be handling your purse no matter what. That’s what you get for leaving it on the plane, Elizabeth.”
Scowling in frustration, Elizabeth said, “I told you-”
“That it’s my fault? You had plenty of time to collect your things after we landed, and you really should have noticed your purse down by your feet. Honestly, it’s a bit immature to blame everyone but yourself for something like this. Now, let’s go. By the time we get to Baggage Claim, our suitcases should be ready to pick up. Or, if you really want, we can wait around and you can explain to the higher ups why you missed the first meeting of the trip?”
Elizabeth didn’t know what to say. Obviously they couldn’t miss that meeting, but they also weren’t on that tight of a schedule. At the same time, their itinerary hadn’t accounted for her current appearance. She definitely needed to shower at the hotel the moment they got there, as she hadn’t gotten the chance earlier, and the lack of a watch or cell phone was going to make it difficult to keep tabs on the time.
When Elizabeth didn’t respond right away, June decided for them. “Come on. I already gave the agent my business card. She’ll call me the second they find your purse. You, of all people, should know that I always answer my phone in a timely manner.” It was a subtle way to reference her assistant status to contrast the recent way she had been speaking to her boss.
There wasn’t any more arguing or complaining to be done. June was already walking towards the nearest sign pointing towards Baggage Claim, and her parting words had made it sound like things had already been decided. Even though Elizabeth was supposed to be in charge. By the time she decided to follow, she was lagging behind. Being separated from her phone was the biggest blow; not only was it a really personal device, but it’s also where she did most of her work from when traveling. And, on top of that, she wouldn’t be able to communicate with June or anyone else if they were separated. Elizabeth didn’t have anyone’s numbers memorized, which left her completely reliant on her assistant at the moment.
As for their luggage, June was right. By the time they reached the carousel, the area had mostly cleared out save for the few that took their sweet time getting through the airport. Their ride had been waiting for quite some time, and June nonchalantly chastised Elizabeth for the late fees that had stacked up. Again, who orders transportation while still on the plane? At that point, Elizabeth was too annoyed to comment on the blame. She just threw her suitcase in the trunk and got in the car.
Thankfully, both the hotel and the conference were rather close to the airport. Their drive was quick and painless, as was the check-in. While June would have been taking care of that under normal circumstances, it felt way less like a boss/assistant dynamic when Elizabeth had to awkwardly wait around behind her in PJs just like with the gate agent. Once their reservations were found and they were given the set of card keys, Elizabeth made a beeline for the elevators before anyone else staying there for the conference saw her.
She was beyond ready to actually get ready for the day, and to look like the professional young woman she was supposed to be. The good news was, she and June were sharing a suite, rather than a simple hotel room. Separate bedrooms, as Elizabeth wasn’t about to sleep in the same room as her subordinate. Of course, she didn’t mind splurging on such things when this whole trip was on the company’s dime.
A quick skim of the space showed that the bedrooms were nearly identical. Seeing as it didn’t really matter, she picked one at random and tossed her suitcase on the bed and unzipped it in order to find something suitable for the first evening of the conference. When she flipped open the top, however, her eyes widened in shock.
Elizabeth didn’t recognize a single piece of clothing.
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