Bedding the Secret Heiress(3)

By: Emilie Rose

“What and where will I be flying?”

Probably an albatross to some mosquito-infested, potholed, mud runway or an unheated cargo carrier to the frozen tundra, if her half brother continued true to form.

“Gage will use a variety of aircraft, depending on the length of his trip and the size of the team accompanying him. The majority of the time you’ll fly a small to midsize jet, but occasionally a helicopter or Cessna.”

Excitement gurgled through her before she could dam it. The job description sounded too good to be true—especially since Hightower Aviation limited its pilots to flying only one type of aircraft so they’d be familiar with the controls. That had been her primary grievance since she’d arrived. She lived for variety and loved testing the abilities of different airplanes.

Her half brother was being nice and bending company policy. Had his conscience finally kicked in? She studied his impassive face, not buying altruism as his motive for one second.

“Trent assures me you can handle whatever I need.”

Faulkner’s velvety voice snagged her attention, winching her gaze back to him. He meant flightwise, didn’t he?

Her stomach did a weird flutter thing that made her question the sanitation grade of the roadside diner she and her neighbors had stopped at for lunch.

“I’m certified to fly almost anything civilian with wings or rotors. Mastering different aircraft is kind of a hobby of mine.” More like an obsession. “What’s the catch?”

Did she imagine a quick stiffening of those broad shoulders? The slight hesitation as he pursed that attention-getting mouth? “If you fly for me, you’ll be on call 24/7, beginning tomorrow morning at five.”

Again, standard procedure for HAMC pilots. They all flew on four hours notice or less. Something wasn’t right here. “And?”

“You’ll be working exclusively for Gage.”

Trent’s statement had her head whipping his way as the meaning of his bombshell sank in. “You’re taking me off rotation?”

“I’m giving you a special assignment.”

The bully was farming her out to someone else, and there wasn’t one thing she could say about it in front of the client, unless she wanted to get fired for insubordination. She refused to mouth off and give Trent the satisfaction of an easy way out.

Gritting her teeth, she fought her seething anger. Being cut from the schedule was like being sent to her room or put in time out. And damn it, she hadn’t done anything wrong to earn such shoddy treatment. Working for only one client would limit her hours and her pay. Her mother would never allow—

No. She wouldn’t go to her mother. Their relationship was too new, too tentative and too volatile for Lauren to ask Jacqui to choose sides between her oldest son and her youngest daughter, and Lauren couldn’t afford to alienate her mother yet. This turf war was between her and Trent, and Lauren refused to let him win.

Tightening her grip on her helmet strap rather than around her half brother’s thick neck as she’d prefer, she stared him down. “I’ll be the pilot-in-command instead of first officer?”

Her idiot brother had limited her to flying as first officer instead of the pilot-in-command. She hadn’t flown in the copilot seat in years, and the pilots he’d made her fly with often had fewer qualifications than she did. But she’d accepted the entry-level position while she earned her certifications in the models and equipment new to her. She could endure any indignity as long as it benefited her in the end—even playing nice with her mother.

Trent tossed his pen onto his blotter. “None of the aircraft Gage has requested require a copilot.”

He threw her a sweet bone of concession to offset the bitter deal he was forcing down her throat. “None of your other HAMC pilots is assigned a one-on-one job.”

“My other pilots don’t have your…varied experience.” He made the comment sound like an insult instead of the compliment it would have been coming from any other employer.

Don’t let him rattle you. You know that’s what he wants. “How long is the assignment?”

“For as long as Gage needs you. Becky has your immediate schedule and plane assignments.” Trent rose and indicated the door, dismissing her.

She’d learned early on that arguing with Trent was a waste of time. Eager to escape the blockhead’s presence as well as see what and where she’d be flying, Lauren sprang to her feet. The upside was HAMC had some sweet planes that her brother had yet to let her touch. Maybe she’d get behind the controls of a few.

Faulkner unfolded his long body beside her, making her aware of his height and the smooth, athletic way he moved. He towered over her as he offered his hand. “I look forward to flying with you, Lauren.”

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