Melinda tugged her mother’s sleeve. “Mummy, the airplane was doing doughnuts, and I won!”
Ngaire looked at me, needing footnotes for that one. So I explained the game “Whoo!” and how to play it.
She stood still for a few seconds, digesting that. Then she said, “You wanna come round to my place, for tea?”
“You can’t get a cup in the airport?”
“Yank boy,” she sighed. “It means ‘dinner’. And getting invited to dinner must mean the same things in yank-land as it does here.”
“Oh. Like you’d like to show me your etchings.”
“Not sure what etchings are, so I can’t show you those. But you might get to see my arse.” She looked at me with mock-irritation. “Which, I probably have to tell you, means my ass.”
I’d thought Daphne had been pretty direct, when I first met her. She hadn’t given me much warning before she slipped into my bed. But Ngaire was off the scale. I wondered if all New Zealand women were like this, or if it was just grateful, still slightly drunk single mothers on airplanes. Or maybe it was just Ngaire.
I said, “I’d love that. Seriously. Once Melinda’s safely tucked up. But there are two women waiting for me, once I get through Customs, and I think they’d mind.”
She frowned. “Two women? Lovers? I mean, lovers of you?”
“Yes. It’s going to be the first time all three of us meet, though.”
“What? How’s that work? Have you just been doing netsex?”
“Well, I’ve been… I’ve spent real time with both of them. And I guess they’ve met each other, now they’re both in Wellington. I gave them each the other’s, oh, details. But we haven’t all three of us been together at once. So I’m afraid I have responsibilities.”
“You’re turning down sex with me, just for the sake of a threesome? Man’s crazy.”
I thought a threesome with Shar and Daphne was unlikely, much though I’d be open to it. But I was still going to be busy, whatever Daphne and Shar had worked out between them. I spread my hands. What can you do?
Ngaire grinned suddenly. “Well, my mother always said, if you want something done, ask a busy man. I want me done. Would you like my phone number?”
“Of course. But it’d be great to know someone who lives here. I’m from New York. Daphne’s from Glasgow, and Shar lives in Lima. Would you like to meet them?”
“You want your lovers to meet me? You’re a weird guy. I mean, I’ve just taken Melinda to up-state New York to spend time with her father, and he’s weird. But not in a good way. You seem kind of ok for a weirdo.”
“But yeah, I’d be happy to show you and your harem around. Wellington’s a cool city, but it really does help if you know people.”
Ngaire turned to the overhead lockers and and out took a red bag with big white spots, in the shape of a beetle, and gave it to Melinda. Melinda delved inside and took out a blue tiara and put it on. Then she slung the bag over her shoulder. Her secret princess identity was out. She was happy.
Ngaire delved a little further back for her own bag. Her t-shirt rose, revealing a tattoo on her lower belly, that said, “Property of the”. There was probably more, but that was below the hem of her jeans. I wondered if I’d get to read the rest of that tattoo. If Ngaire had anything to do with it, it seemed I would.
There was movement ahead of us. The people standing in the aisles were being allowed off. I picked up my satchel, from under the seat in front of me. Ngaire said, “You’re travelling on a Yank passport?”
“Ok. You’ll get through Immigration quicker if you say you’re with me. I can get you into the New Zealand queue, as my boyfriend. Ok?”
“Fine. And thank you.”
So we left together. When we were out of the plane and onto the gantry Melinda turned back to address the plane. She said to it, “Whoo!” Two of the hosties, who must have heard us playing the “Whoo!” game, said, “Whoo!” back. So she was even happier.
When we were walking away she got between me and her mother and took her mother’s hand. Then she took mine. I was surprised how pleased I was.