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“Let me get this straight,” said Carolyn, leaning forward in her chair. “You’d be willing to work for me – for no pay?”

Her interviewee looked coolly back at her across the portacabin table. “Yes.”

“You understand that when I say no pay, I mean exactly that? Not a penny. Zilch.” Carolyn paused. “Nada. Niente. I’m afraid I don’t know the German.”

“Nichts,” supplied her companion. “And yes, I understand you perfectly. I don’t want money; I don’t need a job. It would be more like a hobby.”

Carolyn pursed her lips. “I don’t think the passengers would find that very reassuring. How can I be sure you’ll be professional?”

“They’ll never guess I’m anything but an ordinary employee, paid to look after them properly. I can promise you that.”

A quiet settled over the room. In it, opportunity danced a tango with hope: they might not be done for, after all. MJN might actually start making money again. 

“We might give it a try,” Carolyn said. “It’s certainly…. Well, there are obvious benefits from my side. I just hope you realise what you’re getting into.” She gazed in mingled disbelief and thrill for a moment, then moved aside her clipboard and leaned both elbows on the table, hands clasped under her chin. “I’ve scheduled a flight to Oslo on Wednesday. You could come along, see how you get along with Douglas - Captain Richardson, that is. And of course there’s Arthur.” She murmured the next words through a wry smile. “Something of a dealbreaker in himself.”

“That sounds perfect.”

Carolyn sat up straight, and offered her hand over the table.

“Well then,” she said. “I bid you a tentative welcome to MJN Air, First Officer Gustava.”

As they shook hands, Theresa smiled. “Thank you, Ms Knapp-Shappey.”