The Flygirl Trilogy book #2
Two women. The men they love. One desperate plan.
Pilot Tris Miles is finally getting the recognition she deserves. She is a trusted captain and confidante to her boss at Westin Charter Company, and mentor to her young, ambitious co-pilot Bruce. Tris is offered a coveted promotion and the opportunity of a lifetime—to fly a prestigious “angel flight,” transporting a critically ill woman from a remote town in northern Canada to the US for medical treatment.
But Tris needs more than professional success. Still alone almost three years after her lover Bron’s death, Tris meets Mike, a local pilot with a secret past he refuses to discuss. Their budding relationship stumbles when Mike gets hired by Westin Charter to compete for the promotion Tris was promised.
As Tris & Mike’s professional battle intensifies, their personal relationship deepens. Life is getting a whole lot more complicated for Tris, and it’s about to get worse as the angel flight embarks. No one could imagine what awaits them in Canada, and how each will have to fight for their lives on this mission of mercy.
Love. Loyalty. Obsession. What propels YOU?
Meet the two women whose stories intersect…
April 11, 2000
Testing . . . testing. Okay, it’s recording.
Erik, my love,
I can’t find the Glock.
It’s been in the safe since I first got diagnosed. Every now and then, I’d take it out, release the safety, and stick the cool muzzle in my mouth.
After you left last night, I kissed you again in my mind and went to the safe.
But the gun was gone.
I waited too long.
Do you know?
STRIPS OF PURPLE and gold stratus clouds stacked in an infinite sky led Captain Tris Miles home. Low rays of sun sketched the horizon outside the cockpit window, and behind her a swollen wall of snow buried the east coast.
She raised her arms above her head and closed her eyes. The left seat of the twin turboprop Royal 350 had molded to the curves of her body over time and held her like a hug. In the right seat a few feet away, her co-pilot Bruce Burkey had the controls. When her eyes opened a few seconds later, he’d configured the airplane for a graceful descent into Exeter International.
Bruce’s perfect approach ended in a soft landing. Tris took command and taxied to the ramp. After the ground crew guided the airplane safely into the Westin Charter Company hangar, Tris hopped off the airplane to finalize post-flight paperwork.
Long after he should have left for home, she found Bruce in the Royal’s passenger cabin, crossing the safety belts and lifting errant crumbs from the seats with exacting fingertips. Stooped over in the not-quite-five-foot-tall cabin, his lanky wide-shouldered build, deep-set eyes, and scraggly blond hair gave him the haunted look that had earned him the nickname Lurch.
“You know, the company hires people to do that,” she reminded her first officer. Westin Charter’s cleaning service brought the airplane’s interior back to showroom condition between flights.
Bruce bent over further to pick a couple of lint balls off of the worn carpeting, then moistened his finger to rub a smudge from one of the armrests.
“Bruce, go home. The cleaning crew will be in tomorrow.”
He frowned. “You know I’ll do a better job.”
Bruce surveyed the small but well-appointed six-seat compartment, shook his head, and grabbed the bag of trash he’d already collected.
“And anyhow, if I’d left it, you know you’d just have cleaned it yourself,” he said.
Tris had to laugh. “Probably.”
Bruce followed her down the plane’s air stairs. “Hey, great job this morning getting into Teterboro. First rate.” His remark bore not a trace of sycophancy. Tris had flown the early morning leg into the busiest business airport in the country and landed in New Jersey during a driving winter storm that had packed Runway One with snow.
“Our passengers had no idea how difficult that landing was. And you just slid it onto the runway.” He tapped his bottom lip with an index finger. “That’s the trick. You make it look easy.”
“Team effort,” she replied. “Hey. You know what they say,” Tris began their favorite bad-weather joke, born one morning when they had to dig the Royal out of a snowbank. “The crew—”
Bruce chuckled. “That shovels together . . .”
“Stays together,” they finished simultaneously.
Tris had hired Bruce herself, picking him from a horde of anxious, aggressive instructors for the coveted co-pilot job at Westin. And he hadn’t faltered, not once, had never been anything but a loyal, exemplary employee from his first day. He was meticulous about the airplane’s condition from nose to tail. This conscientious attention to detail was a crucial characteristic of an airplane captain, which he very much wanted to be.
Tris glanced at the clock on the hangar wall. She needed to change her clothes and hit the road in a hurry to make it to the cemetery before it closed.
“Want me to get a jump on the next trip, Cap? Get the aircraft ready for Lemaster?” He asked, although he leaned toward the exit door, the extended handle of his overnight bag tilted forward, backpack over his shoulder, right hand in his pocket clinking his keys and loose change together. She’d noticed he habitually kept his fingers moving, like Captain Queeg in The Caine Mutiny.
“Nah. I want you to head home. How long until the baby’s here?”
Bruce grinned. “Two months. Heather’s gotten really big.”
“I’ll see for myself in a couple weeks at your party.”
“Yup. We’re really glad you can make it. So, I’ll head out, okay?” Bruce gave a little wave when she nodded, and was gone.
Outside, the day continued its slow march toward night. The cemetery officially locked its gates at sunset. She’d snuck through a hole in the fence once before and learned the hard way that the footing around the graves was treacherous in the dark.
Adjacent to the hangar was a room that doubled as a flight-planning area and passenger waiting lounge. Walking in, Tris noted the ripped carpet, the old map of the City of Exeter that hung crooked on a wall, and the papers peeking out of drawers in the rusty file cabinet. It was a far cry from the clean, modern Tetrix flight department offices. But the dingy atmosphere was a fair trade to Tris—she was valued here, not undermined—respected, not bullied.
Westin Charter shared office space with Westin Flight School. The hum of flight instructors and their students discussing last-minute details, and the squeal of tires from a nearby fuel truck rushing to its next airplane, almost drowned out the sound of someone calling her name.
“Hello?” she called over her shoulder.
“Tris?” The husky voice with its strong British accent belonged to Phyllida, the company’s part-time dispatcher. It was a mystery how Tris could have walked right by without noticing her teased beehive hairstyle, purple “jumper,” as she’d say, and bright pink leggings. In contrast, Tris—her baggy uniform draped over her slim five-foot-seven frame, light brown hair lying flat against her head—looked frumpy indeed.
“Hey Phyll. What’s up?”
“Tris, I’m so sorry. I know you were looking forward to some peace and quiet, but I’m afraid Woody needs you to come in for a chat.” More than anyone, Phyll knew how exhausting Tris’s schedule was. But Tris was the company’s only captain, and more important, Woody’s confidante. If he needed her, she’d be there.
“Hey, mind if I change while we talk?” Tris headed to the ladies’ room and Phyll followed, folder in hand. “Do you know what about?”
“Of course, my dear. It seems we’ve been asked to do an angel flight, bring someone down here from Northeast Canada. Let me see . . .” her voice trailed off. “Oh right. Here it is. My goodness, I can’t pronounce the name of the place. I-Q-A . . .”
“Iqaluit. I’ve heard of it.”
“Brilliant! Well, yes, so, tomorrow at 10:00 a.m.?”
“Of course. I’ll be here.”
“Cheers, then.” Phyll walked away, her high-heeled boots quiet as they crossed the carpeted floor.
“Wait,” Tris called after her. “Do you know how we got this trip?” Companies that flew prestigious “angel flights,” transporting critically ill passengers from remote areas to big cities to get specialized medical attention, donated the plane and crew, so the trips were huge money losers. Compensation, such as it was, came through earned respect and attention from industry peers. Flying one could hoist Westin’s reputation above all other small charter operations at the airport.
“Not quite sure. The Chief Pilot of another company on the field called Woody today. I don’t recall the gentleman’s name.”
On her way out, Tris mentally ticked off the names of the other flight departments at Exeter who could have offered Westin Charter this trip, those that might have an office in Iqaluit.
Please let it be anyone but him, any company but them.
Her uniform shirt and pants carefully folded over her arm, Tris checked her watch again and walked briskly toward the car. There wasn’t time to worry about it now.
Today was Bron’s birthday, and he was waiting.
Thank you, R.D. Kardon and RABT Book Tours
About the author
Award-winning author Robin “R.D.” Kardon had a twelve-year flying career as a corporate and airline pilot. She holds an Airline Transport Pilot certificate and three Captain qualifications. Her travels took her all over the world in every type of airplane from small single-engine Cessnas to the Boeing 737. Robin earned her B.A. in Journalism and Sociology from NYU and J.D. from American University, Washington College of Law. A native New Yorker, Robin now lives in San Diego, California with her beloved rescue pets.
Her first novel, Flygirl, a work of fiction inspired by her own aviation experience, is Book #1 of The Flygirl Trilogy. It is a #1 Amazon Best Seller.
Angel Flight, Book #2 of The Flygirl Trilogy, examines the personal and professional pressures faced by Captain Tris Miles as she plans and executes a critical “angel flight,” designed to carry a critically ill woman from a remote area in Canada to the US for medical treatment while struggling with a new relationship.
Read about Robin’s writing process and early influences on BooksByWomen.org.
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