Read an Excerpt
Four Days, Five Nights
By Christine Flynn
Harlequin Enterprises, Ltd.
Copyright © 2003
Harlequin Enterprises, Ltd.
All right reserved.
It was time to go home. Past time. He had put it off long enough.
Nick Magruder ignored the knot the thought put in his gut as he strode across the tarmac of the tiny Harbor Island
airport. The crisp sea air filled his lungs. The cool October breeze ruffled his dark hair. He had been seeking escape
when he'd headed for the relative seclusion of the San Juan Islands in northwest Washington, but he'd never intended to
stay. Certainly not as long as he had.
It had already been six months.
Reaching the tail of the plane, he dropped his bag by the boxes he'd carried there earlier and opened the aft cargo
He was going to miss this place. The people. The freedom. But things were beginning to get complicated. He had found
the escape he'd sought when he'd looked up Sam Edwards, an old buddy from flight school, and learned that the guy was
short a pilot. The charter airline Sam co-owned with his partner, Zack McKendrick, had them working day and night to
keep up their schedules. With nothing else he wanted to do, Nick had stuck around to help them out - which had worked
out fine until Sam asked if he would be interested in staying on and buying into the business himself.
Nick had told him that he really loved the flying. He liked working with both men, too. But he'd never intended to
remain. Sam knew that. Nick had left a lot unfinished when he'd headed there, and he had his own business to resurrect.
Sam hadn't pressed. But Nick had the feeling he'd been about to. That was why he'd told them a few days ago that he was
leaving now that their busy season was over. He had no business letting his roots grow any deeper there. Especially
since it wasn't only Sam hinting that he should stay.
Just yesterday, Maddy, the local cafe's loquacious owner, had suggested that he pay a call on the new woman on the
island. The lady had arrived three days ago, a veterinarian from Los Angeles who had apparently tended the pets of the
rich and famous in Beverly Hills.
Maddy - a redheaded busybody with a huge heart - had been possessed of some "feeling" that he and Dr. Melissa Porter
would hit it off well. Mrs. Sykes, the mayor's wife, had walked into the caf� and into their conversation just then and
immediately informed him that Maddy had "feelings" about anyone single and breathing and insisted that he'd be wasting
his time going after the newcomer. What he needed to do was find himself a nice local girl because the woman who'd
taken over the old vet's practice wasn't going to last out the winter. Not only was she terribly young, she had never
practiced on her own and had no experience at all tending the injured wildlife Doc Jackson had always included in his
practice. The mayor's wife had also been suspicious of the new vet's reasons for taking the job. It was her contention
that a woman didn't move that far from everything familiar unless she was running away from a man. Or looking for one.
Nick's only thought on the subject was that there were other reasons a person might seek such distance. But he'd kept
that observation to himself. Dr. Melissa Porter wasn't his problem. And, since the mayor's wife wanted to introduce him
to her niece, and Maddy wanted to match him up with the good doctor, it was definitely time to move on.
The only thing he had to do before he could do just that was deliver the plane he was loading to the aviation mechanic
in Seattle who did Sam's yearly maintenance inspections.
Edgy, hating the feeling, he picked up a box containing parts of the plane's fuel pump that had been changed out and
lifted it into the open cargo hold. He truly didn't care about anything other than getting the leaving part over with.
Now that he'd decided that was what he was going to do, all he wanted was to get back to Denver, deal with everything
he'd walked away from and get on with his life. He'd put it on hold long enough.
He reached for the box containing the farewell gifts of island memorabilia his friends had given him last night, then
turned when a flash of crimson on the narrow airport road snagged his attention. A red truck with a cargo top pulled to
a stop by the hangar an instant before a petite blonde wearing a baseball cap, jeans and a quilted vest darted into the
He knew the office was empty. Sam had taken off at dawn on a mail run that took him to a dozen of Washington state's
more remote islands. Zack had left shortly after him on a charter to Anchorage. The secretary that the men had finally
broken down and hired was on a long lunch break. The fifty-something former police dispatcher from Tacoma had left a
note on the pilot's bulletin board saying she had an appointment to dye her roots that she'd forgotten about. Since
she knew Nick was flying out about now, he suspected she just didn't want to have to say
He actually appreciated that she hadn't been there. He was going to miss the tough old gal, but he was lousy at
The woman who had bounced into the office, bounced right back out - and headed straight toward him since he was the
only person around.
"Excuse me?" he heard her call as he lifted in the box and climbed in after it.
"Hi," she said, flashing a smile when he glanced from his crouch inside the hold. "I'm Melissa Porter. Mel," she
amended. Her glance skimmed the side of the six-passenger plane, taking in the E&M Air Carriers logo emblazoned in blue
below the two side windows. Except for two private planes parked farther away, there was no other aircraft in sight. "I
have a flight to the Olympic Peninsula at one forty-five. Is this my plane?"
She hadn't had to identify herself. Even if he hadn't seen her name on the day's flight schedule, he would have known
who she was by the long ponytail swinging out the back of her cap. That sun-streaked hair screamed California blonde.
His eyes distractedly swept her face. Beneath the brim of her khaki-colored cap, her features were as delicate as a
cameo, her skin as fine as porcelain. With her eyes obscured by blue-tinted sunglasses, he couldn't tell what color
they were, but her lips were lush and a shade of ripe peach that practically begged to be tasted. The rumors were
right. She was cute. Very cute. And young.
"Sorry. This plane is going to Seattle."
"Not the peninsula?"
"Sorry," he repeated, and turned to snap security straps into place to keep the little load from shifting. "Sam's your
pilot. I'm sure he'll be here soon."
He double-checked the clips, gave the load a shove to make sure it wasn't going anywhere. After he delivered the plane,
he would grab a ride to the main terminal at SeaTac. The maintenance facility was on the airport property. Since his
flight wasn't until six o'clock, he had plenty of time to catch a shuttle.
"How soon will Sam be here?"
He plucked a number out of the air. "Within the hour, I'd imagine. Make yourself comfortable in the office."
Figuring that should appease her, he turned to the cargo door, braced his hands on its threshold and moved from a
crouch to standing upright on the asphalt.
She hadn't budged. She was also smaller than he'd first thought.
Excerpted from Four Days, Five Nights
by Christine Flynn
Copyright © 2003 by Harlequin Enterprises, Ltd..
Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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