Authors: Jennifer Echols
Tags: #Romance, #Contemporary Women, #General, #Paranormal, #Fiction
“I was just kidding about that,” he grumbled. “Alec and Grayson live with their mother, and Jake is in college.”
The roar of the engine filled the cabin while I thought about what I was really trying to ask him. Finally I said, “It seems like they would be in Heaven Beach every chance they got, wanting to fly with you.”
“That’s my fault,” Mr. Hall said shortly. “I made a mistake.”
I shouldn’t have asked, and now our conversation had gone awkward. I racked my brain for something to say, some question to ask about flying or the airport or anything except his sons.
“A very, very bad mistake,” he said. “I’ve been trying to make up for it, but some things you can’t make up for.” He shifted in his seat and stretched his arms above him, which for him might have meant he was trying to escape whatever bad memories haunted him, but for me meant he was nowhere near saving us if I moved the yoke the wrong way, and I had better keep the airplane steady.
” he exclaimed, “what a pretty day to fly.”
I flew us all the way back to Heaven Beach. Then he made me say, “Your airplane,” and he took over. But he talked me through the landing, telling me every move he made and why. The plane touched down so smoothly that I knew we were on the ground only because I heard a new noise, the wheels on the runway. He let me drive the plane to Hall Aviation—
it, rather—and showed me how to power it down. We pushed it back into its place in the hangar.
As I was hauling the big metal door closed, I heard him say, “Well, hey there.” A middle-aged lady slipped through the side door. She was dressed in a trim jacket and wore a carefully teased hairdo, heavy makeup, and flowery perfume, like she’d just gotten off work. He kissed her on the cheek and led her by the hand over to me.
“This is Sofie,” he told me. “Sofie, meet my new student, Leah.”
“Hello, Leah.” Sofie held out her hand with glossy red nails.
I wasn’t sure what to do. My only experience with polite adults was working for them in the office for the past month, and they hadn’t held their hands out to me. I guessed I was supposed to shake her hand, which I did.
She let me go and grinned at me. “Look at that big smile! You had fun up there.”
“Yes, ma’am.” Funny—people commented on my face a lot. I was pretty, apparently. I could also pull off a very convincing go-to-hell expression. But nobody ever said anything about my smile.
“Same time next week?” Mr. Hall asked me.
I felt my smile melt away. “Uh.” I wanted so badly to fly again next week. If he’d let me, I would have flown again tomorrow. Better yet, right now. But saving the money for a second lesson would take me more than a week.
Almost immediately he said, “We’re in the off-season and business is down. I’m running a two-for-one special. Next week is free.”
“Cool.” This was charity, I knew. I took it without arguing.
“We’re headed to dinner,” he said, jerking his thumb over his shoulder. “Want to come with us?”
I glanced at Sofie, who still grinned at me. She didn’t mind me tagging along on their date. I minded, though. I’d blown almost all my money on the lesson, and I couldn’t let them pay for my food. That was too much charity at once. “Thanks so much,” I said, “but my mom probably has dinner on the table waiting for me by now.” I almost laughed at my biggest lie of the day—further from the truth than my boyfriend Grayson, more outrageous than a forgery—and hurried out the side door.
On the sunset walk home, I stopped to unlock the office and snag my bottle of water from the reception counter. I’d never understood why someone would pay soda price for water. Or for soda, for that matter. I bought one bottle of water, took it home with me each night and washed it and refilled it, and replaced it only when the peeling label threatened to give away my secret. But not today. I did buy a pack of crackers from the machine in the break room. Sometimes when my mother appeared at the trailer, she stocked the refrigerator for me. I doubted she’d done that today, since she was out of money and she’d been so focused on the TV. My stomach rumbled at the thought of the real dinner I’d passed up with Mr. Hall.
As I walked past the dark Simon Air Agriculture hangar, I popped the first cracker into my mouth. I craved a cigarette instead. But I had become a pilot today, and now I had something real to look forward to.
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Pocket Star Books
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This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
Copyright © 2013 by Jennifer Echols
Such a Rush
copyright © 2012 by Jennifer Echols
Dirty Little Secret
copyright © 2013 by Jennifer Echols
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First Pocket Star Books ebook edition May 2013
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