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Nick slumped back in his first class seat and closed his eyes. 35,000 feet below him the Nevada desert sprawled lazily, its canyons and gullies reaching like fingers to scratch the back of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. It had been seven hours since he called the airline and made his reservation; eight hours since he left Hannah and Jack in his mother's living room; ten hours since Brian had read him Cassie's letter... and still the words looped over and over in his mind. She was gone. Opening his eyes as the air hostess and her drinks trolley rattled past his seat, Nick sat up and bent his head to look out the window. The miniaturised landscape so far below him seemed almost stationary, though he knew it raced by at 500 miles an hour and would be drastically different the next time he cast a downward glance. Squinting into a valley, he felt his life doing the same. He felt trapped, standing barefoot in the kitchen while his mother told him of Hannah's arrival in Florida, but knew now that his kitchen - his entire life - would be completely different the next time he gave himself opportunity to look. With a sigh he turned away from the window and let his head fall against the back of his seat, wishing he had left Hannah under better circumstances.

Ending his phone call with Brian, Nick had paused on the deck for a moment collecting his thoughts and trying to calm the furious pounding of his heart. As he entered the kitchen, Hannah had looked up from the newspaper and eyed him questioningly. Nick had slipped wordlessly back into his seat at the table, acutely aware of Hannah's eyes on his shaking hands as he wrapped them around his coffee mug.
"Is everything okay?" she had asked.
Nick had focused all of his attention on the cup before him as he shook his head.
"No, everything is not okay," he had replied through gritted teeth. "Cassie's gone."
The words, hanging in the air above the table, had dripped with Nick's frustration.
"She's gone?" Hannah echoed carefully. "I'm so sorry, Nick."
"You're sorry?" Nick had almost spat the word, as though it left a bad taste in his mouth. "What the hell did you think was going to happen when you turned up here with a baby?"
Hannah had met and held his stare across the table.
"Don't you dare," she had begun. "Don't you dare try and make this my fault. He's your son."
"So you keep saying!" Nick had shot back, his voice raised and filled with anger. "Until there's proof of that, he's nothing to me and neither are you!"
Hannah had watched as Nick stood up and roughly pushed his chair in. His back turned to her, he had run his hands through his dark hair and tilted his head back, quietly struggling for breath.
"I'll call some clinics about paternity tests," Hannah had said evenly.
With a sigh, Nick had placed his hands carefully on the countertop and let his arms take most of his weight.
"I think you should just leave, Hannah," he had replied, his shoulders slumped and his head bent. "Dad will organise the test. I have to go back to LA."
Hannah had sat in silence, staring at his rounded shoulders and lowered head. He looked smaller somehow - defeated by the situation spiralling out of control around him.
"Well, what should I do? Do I wait for you here or go back to New York?"
Nick had sighed again, his back still turned to her.
"I don't... I could be a few days in LA - a week, maybe," he had replied eventually. "Just go back to New York. I'll have Dad organise for the test to be taken there in a few weeks."
Hannah had not replied and when Nick turned to face her, her seat at the table was empty. He had found her in the living room, stooped over the crib and gently stroking Jack's cheek.
"Don't bother, Nick," she had replied without lifting her head. "You've made your feelings perfectly clear. We'll be out of your hair in a few minutes."
His arms folded across his chest, Nick had watched as Hannah bent and gently lifted Jack from the crib. With little more than a grumble, the boy had snuggled in under his mother's chin and continued to sleep peacefully.
"Could you call us a cab, please?" Hannah had asked, still not looking at Nick as she picked up Jack's bag and slung it over her shoulder.
Nick had nodded wordlessly as he left the room.

"Ladies and Gentlemen, this is your captain speaking. We will shortly be beginning our descent into Los Angeles where the temperature is currently 84 degrees..."
Nick sat up in his seat and leaned forward, craning his neck to see out the window. As he had expected, the landscape had changed, the parched earth of the south-western states replaced by the liquid expanse of the Pacific Ocean as the plane banked and began to descend. He hoped, peering down at the coastline, that Cassie had not left California. The sooner he found Cassie, the better. Because only when he had fixed things with his wife could he begin to fix things with the mother of his child.