Twelve hours ago Dirk Caldwell would’ve never imagined another man making reference to his butt. Ever. It just wasn’t done. Then again, twelve hours ago he wouldn’t have pictured himself struggling to get inside a tiny, run-down, four-seater plane carrying his own luggage.
He would never have been anywhere near a man who’s idea of style was Wrangler jeans paired with scuffed cowboy boots, Nebraska Huskers t-shirt and a dusty camouflage baseball cap with the phrase “That’s Mr. Redneck to You” emblazoned on it. He hadn’t realized people like that existed let alone were allowed to hold a pilot’s license. Yet here he was bumping elbows, knees and any manner of body parts with him while juggling his way around the cockpit.
“Just toss yer’ bag back over there.”
Dirk looked in the direction the work-worn hand pointed and balked. He was supposed to put his $4,000 Bottega Veneta on top of a pile of dirty rags, maintenance manuals and something that looked like it came straight out of the engine of this nineteen-seventy something Cessna? Yeah right.
He surveyed the tiny plane, finally resigning to set his bag on the floor beneath the mess. The distinct sound of tape being pulled from its roll drew his attention back to the pilot in time to see him tear a strip free with his teeth. At least they were clean and in the vicinity of white.
The weathered hand held out the wide silver tape motioning towards the co-pilots seat populated by other such strips. With a sneer, Dirk took it and laid it across the most obvious spot.
“Good as new.” The pilot smiled and tucked the roll back under his seat.
Oh Christ! They were going to end up dead in a fiery inferno in the middle of some cornfield. Well, then he wouldn’t be any worse off than his brother. His chest constricted the instant he thought that. Danny. Tears stung his eyes, he swallowed hard and they disappeared.
Dirk loosened his tie. Not his favorite. He normally went for a flashier style, but it was a Christmas present from his brother and it just felt right to wear it for the occasion. The tears threatened again, he blinked rapidly, but they welled further. Thank God for his Ray-Bans. He quickly swiped a finger beneath them while pretending to check his pockets with the other hand.
“If you’ll get buckled up, the tower said we’re next for take-off.”
Dirk was grateful for the distraction. He wondered if the seat belt was also secured with Duct Tape. He wouldn’t be surprised. It was amazing this rattle-trap passed inspections, but then he wasn’t sure if privately chartered planes to nowhere had to go through inspections. Probably not.
The seatbelt seemed secure enough. At least he would be strapped in when they crashed. The pilot adjusted his headset and communicated with the tower. Dirk was surprised he actually used professional pilot jargon. Instead of “Gee, y’all we’re ready to git the heck outta here now”.
His estimation of a safe arrival notched up a fraction. Even though, his full attention was on the runway and horizon until they were safely up and cruising.
Dirk pulled his phone from his pocket with the intention of getting some work done, except it wasn’t working. He poked at the screen anyway. They hadn’t even left the state of Colorado and already he felt the constricting weakness of being disconnected from civilization. It was like being naked in the wilderness. He unbuttoned his top shirt button.
“Sorry you won’t be able to use that for a while, probably not til you get home.”
Dirk twisted his head to the pilot. “I’m sorry….” He honestly couldn’t remember the guy’s name.
“Clive.” The pilot nodded. “Name’s Clive.” He returned attention to the sky.
Of course it is. “Clive. I can’t go two hours without contacting my clients, let alone two days.”
Dirk didn’t like the assessing once-over he got from Clive. What did he know anyway? He probably communicated by smoke signal. Dirk adjusted his cuff links glancing at his watch.
“I’ll getcha there on time.”
Dirk looked sideways at Clive, whose concentration was still on the horizon and his gauges. If it weren’t for the sympathetic half smile on his face, Dirk wouldn’t have known the man said anything. He was really tired of those smiles; he had seen them on his girlfriend’s face for twelve straight hours. At least it looked genuine on Clive’s.
“Did you know Danny?”
“Of course.” Clive smiled warmly, as if remembering better times. “He was a good man.”
Dirk waited for him to say more, wanted him to say more, but Clive fell silent again. He seemed to be a man of few words, not something Dirk was used to. In his line of work people never shut up. They jabbered just to hear their own voice, thinking if they stopped they might disappear from the spotlight.
It was that very thing that kept him busy twenty-four hours a day covering media, defusing situations and bailing clients out of trouble or jail. So busy, in fact, he hadn’t seen his brother in more than a year. He hadn’t even met his youngest niece and she was nearly five. Not that Danny hadn’t asked him to visit; there just was never a right time. Public relations never slept.
When Dirk’s phone had rung two nights ago he thought that’s what Danny was calling about. Another trip. A vacation to Nebraska. Nebraska. Not exactly the ultimate dream destination. Corn fields and feed lots. Seemed like a place of misery to Dirk.
He had ignored the first call. He would listen to Danny’s lighthearted message and subtle plea later. He was making progress with a smoking hot redhead at the club and didn’t need any distractions. Of course in L.A. you never could tell what was fake and what was real, so smoking hot was all relative, but that was part of the fun.
Dirk loved his life. He was successful; at least it appeared that way. His bank account wasn’t too awful to look at. He worked and played with the rich and famous. They liked having him around and it was nice to be needed by them. He had been gifted with the amazing talent to twist anything into an advantage. He was the ultimate bull-shit slinger and the people loved him for it.
This book does have a few minor twists and turns that added interest to the basic storyline. Krista Kedrick’s easy-to-read style is quite pleasing and humorous. I review many books each week, and it is not often that I find a book that actually makes me laugh out loud, but this one certainly did. There is not much better than seeing a city slicker trying to fit in with the country folk. It does make for some humorous scenarios.
The thing I love about modern Western romances such as this is the “old-fashioned” charm. Everyone knows everybody else. Most people go to church and even profess a belief in God. They know what hard work is, and they believe in family values. This is something that most contemporary romances do not have, and it is refreshing to read a book like this. I certainly plan to read more in this genre and by this author!
I was sent a copy of this book in exchange for my hoenst review. I was not financially compensated, and all opinions are 100 percent mine.
Our wonderful author will be awarding an e-copy of Family Ties to one of my readers–all you need to do is comment! And if you want to follow the entire tour, click here.