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Headstrong Joy Fuller knew she could never marry Brian Peterson. A brilliant doctor, Brian always wanted a society wife, not a tomboyish pilot. That's what Joy told herself twelve years ago when their breakup left her brokenhearted. After years of avoiding him, the two are thrown together on a seemingly routine rescue mission. But when her aircraft goes down in the Adirondacks, their very survival depends on whether ...
Headstrong Joy Fuller knew she could never marry Brian Peterson. A brilliant doctor, Brian always wanted a society wife, not a tomboyish pilot. That's what Joy told herself twelve years ago when their breakup left her brokenhearted. After years of avoiding him, the two are thrown together on a seemingly routine rescue mission. But when her aircraft goes down in the Adirondacks, their very survival depends on whether they both can get over past hurts and work together. If they can stop quarreling long enough, they might even just see that they're both still hopelessly in love.
"Go away," Joy Lovell grumbled as she pulled a pillow over her head and tried to hide from the ringing phone. But its insistent peal penetrated her consciousness and the thread of her favorite dream faded from her reach as her answering machine greeted her caller. Joy lay unmoving, hoping the dream would reappear and that the caller would go away. Today was her day off. She had no intention of moving for at least another hour.
"Come on, Lovell. I know you're there," Kip Webster's voice called to her via her answering machine.
"Pick up. I'm desperate here."
Joy groaned and pushed aside the pillow as she reached for the phone in spite of her plans. "You'd better be desperate about something important," she said into the receiver, then peered at the clock on her bedside table as she sat up, trying to kick start her brain. "Really desperate.You interrupted a great dream. I was in the middle of doing an air show with the Blue Angels." "Listen, I have a huge problem. I had an Angel Flight scheduled this morning. I'm supposed to fly a kid and his doctor up to Ogdensburg in northern New York state and bring the doc back again but I'm sick as a dog. I picked up that virus my sister's kids have been passing around. Even if I start feeling better, I shouldn't be near the patient. And you're the only one I haven't been near at Agape Air."
Joy frowned at the receiver, wakefulness taking over and letting her hear how shaky Kip's voice was. She flopped back against the pillows and thought about her commitment to Angel Flight and the sick children who needed her time. Thankfully she'd kept her plans for today to a minimum — lunch with her sisterinlaw and dinner at her mother's. Neither promise compared to her commitment to the Angel Flight organization or one of the patients it served.
Joy pushed herself back to a sitting position and picked up the pen and notepad she kept next to the phone. "Who am I flying and what time were you scheduled to meet them at the field?"
Less than an hour later Joy drove through the front gate of Agape Air just as the ambulance left. She rolled down her window. "Everyone get on board okay?" she asked the driver.
"They're all set. George said your pilot got sick and that you're filling in."
She nodded but saw something in his eyes. Worry, maybe. "Is there something about this patient I need to know?" "Nah. The kid's pretty well sedated. He only had surgery two days ago. His doc's just annoyed that you're late."
Joy grimaced, then winked at the older man. "Well, the doc will just have to get glad again, won't he? Kip didn't plan this to inconvenience anyone and he woke me out of a sound sleep not thirty minutes ago. I did my best."
"I hear ya. Have a good flight," the driver called and moved ahead. Joy shrugged and drove to her parking spot next to the hangar.
She breezed into the office. "Everything all handled, Uncle George?"
"Mornin', toots. It's all handled just like I promised." George Brady's fast, clipped speech had slowed and was slightly slurred after a recent stroke. "Plane's fine. All gassed up. Showed the doc around her and gave him all the emergency procedures. But listen, toots — "
Joy glanced at the clock over Uncle George's head, mentally calculating the trip and the return time. They really were running late. She reluctantly interrupted him. "There's no time to chat, Uncle George." She leaned over the counter to kiss his cheek after signing off on the flight plan Kip had already filed. She started for the door to the flight line. "I really have to get a move on."
"You need to know the doc is — "
"Annoyed. I know. I'll see you later tonight at Mom's," Joy called over her shoulder and pushed open the door.
"But it's — "
She couldn't hear the rest of what he said because it got mixed in with the familiar cacophony of engine noises bleeding in through the hangar door. Joy rushed out to the plane — a sweet little Cessna Caravan — and did her walkaround preflight inspection, then hopped into her seat and closed the door. She glanced back at her passengers. She could see the back of a white coat. The doc was turned away and bent over, examining the IV line on his patient.
Joy finished her preflight check without a word to her adult passenger. If he was in such a hurry, she wouldn't waste even a second on pleasantries. She checked the last item on her list, tucked the clipboard in the pocket next to her seat and started the engine as she radioed the tower to clear them for takeoff.
When the tower radioed the allclear, Joy shouted over her shoulder, "Are you buckled up, doc, and is your seat locked forward?" Then she turned to check that he'd complied with her instructions.
Every platelet in her blood froze in place.
Brian Peterson. Joy took in his tall, golden, handsome frame at a glance. He sat in the specially designed pivoting rear seat in the cargo area next to where Sean Boyle lay on a strappeddown gurney.
"What are you doing here?" she asked in her frostiest tone, fumbling for the manifest. She checked the information Uncle George left on the seat next to her.
"Zack Stevens is listed as the flight physician."
Brian's brown eyes glittered. "He's sick. I could ask you the same thing. I was told Kip Webster was the pilot."
"Kip picked up a bug, too." Joy used the time it took to toss the manifest onto the seat to regain her composure. She sucked in a deep breath before continuing. "It looks as if you're stuck with me, doctor. How's the patient?" She glanced toward the boy on the gurney.
"Sedated. He only had surgery day before yesterday, so try to keep it a smooth flight."
"Oops." She gave him a sarcastic smile. The first sign of trouble between them, twelve years ago, was Brian's refusal to fly with her. "There goes all those barrel rolls I had planned to entertain the kid. Maybe I'll get to them on the way home for your sake. Or are you still afraid of flying?"
"I was never afraid to fly. Just afraid of flying with a kid at the controls." His voice was laced with annoyance.
"Not to worry. I'm not a kid anymore. Besides I'd only go to the trouble to entertain a friend. You ceased to be one of those a long time ago."
Excerpted from Joy In His Heart by Kate Welsh Copyright © 2005 by Kate Welsh. Excerpted by permission.
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Posted May 10, 2014
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