Turbulence, page 23
“I want you here,” he repeated. “I need you to be here. I can’t look after Sam by myself.”
If he’d told her that he’d won the largest lottery pot in American history, she couldn’t have been more surprised. “You decided to take Sam?”
“On a trial basis. I convinced Crystal that Sam needed to be in familiar surroundings while he was recovering, not penned up in the city with no friends around.”
“She agreed?” Dana couldn’t believe it.
He nodded. “As I said, this is a trial run for all of us. If we don’t have too many problems, and I suspect that Sam will knock himself out so that we don’t,” he added wryly, “we’ll figure out a more permanent arrangement. Who knows? Sam may decide that living with his great-aunt Sybil will be better than living with me.”
Dana chuckled. “Somehow, I doubt that.”
He grinned. “I do, too. Knowing Crystal the way I do, I suspect Sam’ll live with me for as long as he wants.”
“That’s great, but I don’t understand. You were so certain….”
“I was,” he agreed. “I thought I could say goodbye, but the thought of watching you or Sam walk out of my life didn’t set well. All I’m asking for is a chance to see if the two of us can work on a similar agreement.”
She hesitated. Could she stand the uncertainty of simply being a test? Could she uproot herself on a whim? For a possibility?
“I know you’ll be giving up a lot. Your job in Courage Bay, your family, but deep down, in some part of you,” he thumped his chest, “aren’t you willing to take a few risks if it will give you what you want?”
Heaven help her, but she was. Courage Bay would always be home, but what was there for her now? Starting over, starting fresh in a place she could call her own was suddenly appealing.
“I don’t have a job,” she reminded him as reality surfaced. “I’m not independently wealthy.”
“I checked with the fire chief in Alice after I’d hashed out the details with Crystal. He has an opening in his department. If that doesn’t suit you, there are other towns with regular fire service coverage.”
“You’ve thought of everything.”
“I tried,” he said honestly. “Something this important required more than leaving the particulars to chance. It’s up to you, though, Dana. You have the final decision.”
She stood in the clearing, listening to the birds chirp as she weighed her choices. If she participated in his so-called test run, she risked losing Micky in a few weeks or months, and that would devastate her. Yet if she walked away now, she’d lose him for sure.
When she considered it in those terms, her doubts disappeared.
“I’ll want you to fly us back to Courage Bay for the Labor Day holiday with my family,” she said.
His eyes lit up as he nodded. “Wherever you want to go.” He paused, as if hesitant about what her answer had meant. “Then, is it a deal?”
A smile as big as the joy in her heart burst across her face. “Yes.”
He held out his arms. “You won’t regret it.”
Dana dropped her helmet and walked into his embrace. He smelled smoky, but he was solid and sincere, and that was all that mattered. The rest, as they said, would come.
As he tipped her chin so their lips could meet, one thought ran through her mind.
Let the adventure begin.
Six months later
DANA TAPPED HER FINGER on the counter, impatient for Alex to come to the phone. She heard several of her former Courage Bay colleagues yell out his name in the background before a door slammed and a heavy tread signaled his arrival.
“Shields,” he barked.
“Alex? It’s me, Dana.”
His voice took on a warmer tone. “Dana! How are you? Have you turned into a Texas cowgirl, yet?”
She laughed. “I’m working on it. Hey, listen. I’m calling because I want you to do something for me.”
“Circle May 21 on your calendar.”
“Okay? What for?”
She held out her hand and eyed the pearl ring that Micky had given her for her birthday. “My wedding.”
“Ah,” he said in a way that sounded so familiar. “Then he’s the one.”
Dana peered out the office window of Flynn Charter Service to wave at the man she loved and his shadow, Sam, as they tinkered on Maggie May. “He is.”
“I’m happy for you, Dana. Really happy.”
“Thanks, Alex. I’m going to call the moms and dads, but I wanted you to be the first to know.”
“I appreciate that. Tell Micky that if he doesn’t treat you right, I’m coming down there to bust his pretty face. He might be from Texas, but I can take him.”
She laughed. “I’ll pass along the message.”
His voice grew serious. “You’re okay now, aren’t you?”
Dana recalled that long-ago conversation at the Courage Bay airport. Alex would always be a friend, but Micky? He completed her in a way she’d never known possible.
“Yes, I am. In fact, I couldn’t be better.”
Copyright © 2004 by Harlequin Books S.A.
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Jessica Matthews, Turbulence
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