What happens in the roaring twenties when a daredevil barnstormer falls in love with a wing-walking flapper threatened by dangerous men out to exploit her?
Orphan and wing-walker Gloria needs a job when her boss dies in a barnstorming accident. With no other jobs available, she sweet-talks Rand into letting her walk his wing. Flying Ace Rand fights wartime injuries that hamper his flying even as he works to gain the world-record for solo flight across the Atlantic. He bucks his wealthy dad’s plans for him to settle down, join the company, and marry a socialite.
Rand falls in love with the courageous, fun-loving, and daring Gloria. But Orphan Gloria’s experienced too many men who promise love and marriage and instead take advantage of her being alone in the world. She holds Rand at arm’s length. Without her knowledge, Rand protects her and makes sure she doesn’t starve. When Gloria’s offered a movie contract Rand knows he must intervene.
Kill Devil Hills, 1925
Gloria plodded from the bathroom into the bedroom. “Daisy, we’ve no food in the cottage, so I need to have a heart-to-heart chat with Mr. Rand Maitland. He’s exactly the type of older man I prefer to work with.” She bent to pat the blonde puppy’s head. No more fending off amorous bosses. “I need to find another partner like Buzz.” A tear slipped from her eye and wiggled down her cheek. “I miss you, Buzz. If you were still alive, I wouldn’t be in this mess. Thanks to Vincent and his lies, no other pilot will hire me.”
Gloria swiped a fist across her cheek to wipe the tears and snagged her only dress from a hanger, leaving the small closet empty. “I’ll force myself to be amusing and cheerful. Older men like that.” Anything to improve her chance of getting a job. According to Annie, Rand Maitland had been an ace fly boy during the war. She could trust his acrobatics.
She perched on the edge of the sagging bed, pulled shiny, silk stockings just above her knees and rolled in the garters. She stood and slid into the white dress that ended in a shocking way just below her knees. Well, older men liked that too. She’d need every advantage to capture this job.
Suited her just fine she didn’t need to flatten her bosom because God hadn’t overly endowed her. In her line of work a voluptuous bust got in the way. She reached behind her back to zip up her dress. Easy, because the fabric draped open to below her shoulder blades in the rear. Scandalous in the daytime, but she only had this one gown or her trousers. “Trousers won’t impress the old man, Daisy, and I can’t wear my costume. Being broke is just tedious.” She smoothed the drop-waist dress and settled on the edge of the bed to slip on red, high-heeled shoes. She stood and pivoted in front of her blonde puppy. “How do I look, Daisy?”
Though her might-be-new boss lived close, she’d borrow Annie’s Model T roadster. “Rand Maitland’s bound to have his Jenny tied-down near the sand runway, and I don’t want to get grit inside my only pair of dress shoes.”
Daisy raised a paw to be shaken. Gloria smiled, bent and shook the furry offering. She didn’t need the auto since Kitty Hawk wasn’t more than five hundred yards or so from Annie’s cottage near Kill Devil Hills, but Mr. Maitland would be more impressed if she drove. He mustn’t know how desperately she needed this job or he wouldn’t hire her. Her high heels tapped a determined rhythm on the uneven linoleum as she crossed the living room. She shut the door behind her and marched down the rickety wooden stairs to the beach. Stepping carefully to keep loose sand out of her shoes, she tiptoed around the cottage to where Annie had parked her Model T before she left for Europe. Gloria bent, cupped the crank handle on the front of the car in her palm, pulled the choke wire with her left hand and gave the crank a quick half-turn. The engine sputtered to life. Her shoes slipped on the sandy driveway as she minced on tip-toes around to the driver’s seat and climbed inside.
She drove close to the three bi-planes tied down just beyond a cluster of larger cottages on stilts. Too late to turn back. She’d forgotten to apply that new chalk-white face powder that was all the rage. Nor had she painted her lips red. She’d wanted that color to bolster her confidence and hide her pain. She shook her head and shrugged. Well, she had a stiff spine and didn’t need to paint on courage. She pulled up next to the closest home, stopped the automobile, turned off the ignition, set the brake, and slipped out the door. Just off the road, her red high-heels sank into loose sand. “Ain’t we got fun?” she murmured dryly. Her shoes had survived worse obstacles. These red high heels would outlast this setback too.
In the slanting morning light, three visiting biplanes cast long shadows. All the other planes, snug inside hangars, waited for tomorrow’s barnstorming show. A man wearing blue coveralls with his back to her, bent over the engine casing of the middle Jenny. Annie had mentioned Mr. Maitland named his plane Jazzman, so that big fella had to be the man himself, right where she thought she’d find him. Taking giant steps through the sifting sand between her and the hard-packed sand beneath the Jennies, she stopped directly behind him. She tugged her red cloche hat low over one eyebrow, held down the silky skirt flapping in the breeze, and straightened her shoulders.
“Hello!” She highlighted her voice to sound perky. Older men liked perky. The man grunted, tightened a bolt on the engine with a large wrench and then turned. She started, her hands flew up, and she almost lost her footing. Annie hadn’t mentioned her husband’s youngest brother was gorgeous. He flashed a smile. Dimples played around that dazzling grin and found an immediate place in her heart. He stared at her with eyes bluer than the bluest lapis. And he was no older man.
Too bad for her. She pressed her lips together. She’d so counted on Mr. Maitland being older. She’d learned her lesson about handsome men.
And she better make sure she remembered it.
Her husband is a retired Colonel, Army Special Forces. Her little brown and white Shih Tzu, Lily Valentine, shares her writing space, curled at her feet. She has four beautiful, talented children who keep her on her toes.
She’s traveled to every location of each book she’s written, and each book is a book of her heart. Besides her first love, writing, she enjoys travel, art, sports, reading, sailing, snorkeling, movies, and way too many other things to mention. Life is good.