Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Highlight: Come Fly With Me by Judith Whitmore

Come Fly With Me

Come Fly With Me is the debut novel from Orange County-based author Judith Whitmore. Inspired by her own life in the clouds, the story chronicles a woman coming into her own in a world where the sky is the limit. The award-winning, romantic novel makes a perfect beach read this summer.

Kate Randolph is young, rich and beautiful, and her passion is flying. In the air, she feels a freedom she experiences nowhere else, and it’s where she dreams of escape from her marriage to a cold, distant husband. Rick, her tough flight instructor, challenges Kate to trust her instincts and always rise to the occasion. A series of unexpected events forces both to look beyond the usual facades, and, as a result, Kate and Rick liberate each other. She rescues him in a harrowing mission to Southeast Asia that proves her mettle once and for all, and he releases her to be the woman she was meant to be, no holds barred.

Kate felt too keyed up to sleep.  Instead of settling into her room, she filled a crystal cordial glass with homemade orange blossom liqueur and wandered down to the beach, then sat on the low stone wall to watch the ocean.  Each cresting wave reflected moonbeams like Fourth of July sparklers.  She sipped the sweet spirits and made designs in the soft sand with her bare feet.  This was her special spot, where she came to be alone with her thoughts.  The sound of the surf calmed her restless heart.
                She set aside her glass.  Putting her hands, palms down, on the cool wall to support herself, she leaned backward to look up at the moon.  It was high in the sky, casting a silvery glow over the beach.
                “I need some help,” she whispered.
                She stared at the star-studded sky and waited, as though she expected the moon to answer her.
                I feel so alone.  She swallowed hard.  I wish I knew everything’s going to be okay.
                At that moment, a meteor shot across the sky.  Where it disappeared on the horizon, the figure of a man appeared strolling the beach at the edge of the surf. 
                Kate instantly recognized Rick.  What was he doing here?  She thought he had gone back to the guest cottage.  Her pulse jumped, and she sucked in a great gulp of air.  A voice in her head said, Run back to the house before he sees you.  But it was already too late.  He waved and came across the sand to sit beside her on the stone wall.  The butterflies in her stomach did barrel rolls.
                “I thought you were going to sleep,” she said.
                “I don’t like to go to bed right after I’ve eaten.  That was a great dinner.  Too bad your husband couldn’t be here.”
                “If he was, he’d probably be on the phone doing some deal, and I’d still be here on the beach alone.  Sorry.  I don’t mean to complain.”  She picked up her glass, offering it to Rick. “Would you like to try this?  It’s my specialty.  I make it with orange blossoms, sugar, and two hundred proof alcohol.”
                He took the glass from her, sending shivers up her spine when his fingers brushed against hers.
                “Thanks.”  Rick took a sip of the golden liqueur.
                A flush of delight shot through Kate like an electric current.  She had “the glitters.”  In high school, she and Janet used the term to describe excitement bordering on delirium.  Get a grip, she thought.
                Rick handed the glass back to her.  “That stuff is sweet.”
                Kate smiled.  “Once, Sam drank half a bottle.  Then he drove into town, wearing nothing but his boxer shorts.  I think that’s why he likes it here.  It’s so laid-back.  Nobody judges you.”
                For a while neither of them spoke.  They just watched the rolling waves sparkle in the moonlight.
                “I’ve always loved the ocean,” Rick said.  “My condo in Laguna is right on the beach.  When I get back from a long flight, I turn off my phone, sit on the terrace, and listen to the waves.”
                Kate nodded.  “When I was a little girl,” she told him, “I remember my mother taking me to Santa Monica beach.  She made egg salad sandwiches and put potato chips inside the bread.  We played this card game called Spite and Malice for hours.  It was the best time I ever had with her.”  Kate abruptly stood up.  “I didn’t mean to interrupt your walk.”
                Rick got to his feet, too.  “I was planning to go up to the end of the cove,” he said.  “Walk with me?”
                Kate smiled.  I’d go anywhere with you.  “Okay.”
                They strolled down to the water’s edge, heading for the rocks that marked the end of the private beach.
                “When do you think I’ll be ready to take my check ride in the Lear?” Kate asked.
                “As far as the flying goes, I think you could pass it now.  What we need to focus on is getting you ready for the oral exam.  You never know what they’re gonna ask.  You really need to be prepared.”
                “After I get my type-rating, my fantasy would be to have a job like yours so I could fly every day.”  Kate laughed.  “I think I’ll ask Bob Hansen for a position at Executive Air.”
                “I’m sure your husband would like that.”
                “He doesn’t even like me working at Safe Haven.” 
                They had reached the end of the cove.  “There’s a path over here,” Kate said.  She took the lead and headed toward a brick walkway that connected to the sand.  They meandered up the gentle incline until, after a short distance, the path split in two.  She pointed right.  “Follow this walkway and you’ll end up at the guest house.”
                Kate gazed at him, longing to touch him, to tell him how lonely she felt, and that she ached for him to wrap her in his arms and never let her go.  She took a step toward the opposite path.  “Well...goodnight,” she said.
                Rick smiled at her.  “Goodnight.”  He turned and walked away. 
                Kate paused, watching him until he disappeared around a cluster of palms.  The Gods have played a trick.  She still loved Sam despite his faults, but she sensed that the Fates now offered her an unexpected choice.  Was Rick the man intended for her?  Was he her true soul mate?

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