The Good Luck Sister (Wildstone #1.5)(5)

He knew that was the smart thing to do. He shouldn’t have come to see her, but he was back in town now for the foreseeable future and hadn’t wanted her to hear about it from anyone but him. When he’d learned she was teaching art at the community college, he’d been so proud. Art had always been her dream and she was making it come true for herself. But no amount of internet searching could tell him the one thing he needed to know more than anything else. Was she happy? So he’d had to come see her in her element. “How about business?” he said. “I hear you’re a pretty fantastic graphic artist. I’m starting up a helicopter touring company with two buddies. Wildstone Air Tours. We need a logo.”

She turned away.

“I’m paying,” he said.

She froze and then slowly turned back to him. And just as it’d been yesterday at the first sight of her, it was like being punched in the gut.

In high school, she’d been skinny, favored all black clothing, and had an attitude to match.

She was no longer skin and bones, having filled out in all the right places. There wasn’t an ounce of black on her anywhere, but her attitude was still there and made him want to smile.

“Are you thinking about laughing at me?” she asked in disbelief.

“I wouldn’t dare. Are you interested in the work?”

“I’m angry, not stupid,” she said. “I’ll think about it.”

“Ball’s in your court.”

She nodded and . . . didn’t move away.

Ridiculously eager to make the moment last, he took a step closer, keeping one eye on the dog. “Vicious guard dog,” he said. “All what, four pounds of him?”

“Six pounds.”

Dylan eyed him. “If you say so.” He looked into Tilly’s eyes. “It’s good to see you.”

“Is it?”

“Yes. Very.”

She shook her head and turned away. “I’m going now. I’d say don’t call me, but that’d be a waste of breath since you won’t call anyway.”

He deserved that and a whole lot more.

Which didn’t explain the very rusty-feeling smile on his face.

That afternoon, Dylan stood in the center of the hangar in the small airport just outside of Wildstone, staring at the new big sign that read: Wildstone Air Tours. Just looking at it and the two helicopters in front of him had an unaccustomed feeling settling in his chest. Tentative excitement. Tentative, because things like hope and joy had been rare commodities in his life.

“We did it, man,” Penn said, coming up to his side and clapping him on the back. “From the suckage of boot camp to the suckage of Afghanistan to the suckage of South America, we pulled ourselves out of the ditches to become our own bosses, just like we always wanted.”

“Yeah.” Dylan shook his head. “Hard to believe.”

“No, what’s hard to believe is that our lives are finally going to be ours again. We might actually get some semblance of . . . normal.”

Dylan had to laugh. He’d grown up with a drunk of a father who de-stressed by beating on his family. Penn didn’t know his dad and his mom had taken off on him when he’d been young. “What do either of us know about being normal?”

“Good point,” Penn said with a shrug. “But it’s going to be fun to try, right?” He grinned. “Know what I’m going to do first?”

“Get laid?” Ric, their third musketeer, strode into the hangar.

“Yes!” Penn said. “That. It’s been way too long.”

“It’s been a week,” Dylan said dryly. “The walls in our new place are way too thin and she really liked your name.”

Penn grinned. “You’re just jealous because you haven’t had anyone like screaming your name in . . .” He looked at Ric. “Jeez, when was the last time our boy got some?”

“He’s definitely due,” Ric said.

“We don’t have time for that,” Dylan said. Not if they were going to make this work. He was pilot and business manager. Penn was pilot number two and their entire sales department—the guy could sell a whorehouse to a nun. Ric was the money guy. He’d come from money and tended to turn shit into gold. Together they held the lease on this hangar—which they’d been given a deal on through a contact of Ric’s. And by deal, he meant steal. They had a gratifying amount of new business clients interested. Giving tours for the local wineries. Tourist traffic at the beaches. And some taxiing of high profile clients back and forth from Santa Barbara, Los Angeles, and San Francisco.

If only half of it came to fruition, they might actually make it.

“There’s always time for the fairer sex,” Penn said.

“Or not the fairer sex,” Ric said. He’d broken off a longtime relationship with his last boyfriend about six months ago for cheating on him and was finally out of the dumps.

“No,” Dylan said. “Business first. We’ve got to get—” He broke off when someone else came into the hangar.

The three of them turned in tandem, surprised at the sound of heels click, click, clicking across the concrete floor. Feminine steps. The setting sun slashing in the doorway made it difficult to see beyond a curvy figure and . . . a tiny little rat on a leash. Hold up. Not a rat.

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