Former flames reunite at a relative and mutual acquaintance's wedding after a five-year separation, and all bets are suddenly off in this contemporary romance.
First appeared in July 2002 Issue #20 of Awe-Struck FLASH, the official newsletter of Awe-Struck E-Books, Inc.
© 2002 by Gracie C. McKeever
Rebeka Reynolds blocked out the noise of the jump plane's turbine, squeezing her eyes shut against the endless view of cotton-blue clouds outside. Ten thousand feet up and climbing. She tried to escape into a light doze, avoided glancing out the windows. Maybe if she were lucky she'd hit her REM sleep somewhere over the drop zone and her Tandem Instructor could wake her when it was all over.
His scent enveloped her now, a piquant mix of coconut shampoo and musk aftershave that wafted to her nostrils as Wiry Jamieson positioned himself behind her and settled his hands on her shoulders. "Sorry you made that bet yet?"
"Not on your life."
"Good." He slid his hands down and around to her front, expertly and securely attached her to him with the dual harness. "Not that you'd ever admit it anyway."
Five years in self-exile hadn't dulled his memory. He knew her too well, where all her buttons were, and when and how to push them. He knew how much she loved a challenge, how much she hated to lose, but more importantly, he knew how much she liked to wager.
Beck was the sort of individual who'd bet with a stranger waiting with her in a lobby on how fast an elevator would reach the ground floor. A dime, a quarter, a dollar-it didn't matter-if a challenge was to be had, Beck wanted in.
At her sister's wedding reception just last weekend she'd bet her ex, now new brother-in-law, which man at the wedding reception would catch the garter, which woman would catch the bridal bouquet. She'd even bet her sister how long it would take Wiry to notice and corner her in the crowded hall to try and reconcile.
She'd refused of course and that had been her first mistake-daring his male ego. Her second had been not recognizing a risk-taker and adventurer as big as she, one who'd stop at nothing to prove a point and get what he wanted.
Wiry slid his hands up her arms, lightly massaged her shoulders in what Beck knew was meant to be a comforting gesture, but in actuality had her heart racing faster than the thought of nothing more substantial than pollution standing between them and the hard asphalt once they jumped. She could feel his fingers against her skin, even through the reinforced nylon and spandex of her jumpsuit, his touch both encouraging and arousing.
Beck shivered at Wiry's proximity, his warm breath riding the back of her neck hard, rustling the ponytail bound at her nape.
"Why Rebeka Reynolds, I do believe you're nervous."
"Any sane being without wings would be."
Wiry chuckled, a deep euphonic sound that rolled down her spine. "But you do have wings."
Beck grinned, elbowed his ribs. "You got your way this time. Don't press your luck."
"It's gotten me this far."
"A bet's a bet, and I'm no quitter."
He leaned in to whisper against her ear, "Neither am I."
Before her sister's wedding, she hadn't seen or spoken to Wiry since her sophomore year in college, but it might as well have been yesterday when he'd stood in her dorm room, engagement ring in hand, momentarily stunned after her rejection.
Wiry had sworn back then he was willing to wait and that if it took him a hundred years, he would get her to the altar.
He urged her toward the plane's open door. "Remember what I told you."
Pressed close, her back cradled against lean solid muscles, Beck couldn't remember what bet she had lost last weekend that had her up in a plane with Wiry once again leading her toward a path she wasn't completely certain of following. But she remembered well why she'd turned him down all those years ago: he was overwhelming--too intense, passionate and serious. Back then she hadn't trusted that it could last, hadn't trusted Wiry not to let her down; he and his feelings for her were the only things in her life she hadn't been willing to gamble on.
Beck closed her eyes again, nodded and took a deep gulp of the cool air rushing at her through the open door. "Have fun."
"Always." Wiry took two steps forward, braced his hands on each side of the jamb behind her. "And I'm going to get you back."
She yelped, eyes wide as Wiry pushed out of the plane and sent them spiraling off into the clear blue yonder.
"Fun" didn't begin to describe their plunge through the sky, that initial ten-second acceleration to terminal velocity. And nothing she'd learned in Wiry's thirty-minute instruction had prepared her for the first breathtaking rush of descent, flying through the air at more than a hundred miles an hour, arms spread wide as if ready to hug the world, the wind rumbling in her ears.
Somewhere between the half-minute mark and Wiry's opening the chute, Beck remembered to breathe, panting as she watched the world spin around her.
Training automatically kicked in during the five-minute flight down as he let her steer the chute. She synchronized with his every move, felt more alive, in control and free than at any time in her life…except when she was with Wiry.
"We make a good team, Beck."
She thought the same thing, afraid to voice it, unable to completely trust him until she saw the neon-pink graffiti glaring at her from the asphalt as they neared the drop zone. Beck hadn't known the true meaning of "freefall" until she read the words on the note:
"Marry me, Rebeka Reynolds! I know we can work, W.J."
He murmured against her ear, "We're already in Vegas."
"How convenient." Beck smiled as they descended to a soft landing several feet from Wiry's proposal.
This time, she said yes.
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|Reviewed by Tami Ryan
|What a great story! So well written, and I smiled as it concluded. Good work, Gracie.
|Reviewed by m j hollingshead
|another good one, don't stop writing|
|Reviewed by Barbara