Stranded with the Boss
She has the final say on who gets to keep their job, but he has one last chance to change her mind…if they both don’t lose their hearts first.
With hundreds of jobs on the line at a cheese factory he manages, Travis Thomas has to convince the company’s owner to change her mind about selling the plant and closing it.
Jordan Harris owns the largest cheese factory on the west coast and she’s in Getaway Bay to sell the company to the highest bidder, because the plant has cost her more time, money, and energy than she has to give. And if people lose their jobs? Well, that’s business.
Travis travels with her as the expert on day-to-day operations while she just understands the bottom line. When they end up stranded on a deserted island together, the pressures of profit and production melt away. Jordan begins to see Travis as a caring, capable man, and she questions whether her business choices are the right ones.
Can Jordan and Travis navigate survival on the island and find a solution that benefits everyone? Or will they come away with broken hearts in the name of business?
Selling her father’s pride and joy was the last thing Jordan Harris wanted to do. Nothing could make her excited about it, not even the Getaway Bay, Hawaii meeting spot for the arrangement.
Plus, she hated the humidity. Hated with the passion of a thousand particles of hot sand.
Her first time in the Hawaiian Islands shouldn’t be filled with negativity, yet she couldn’t help it. Nothing was going the way she wanted and now that she was getting closer to the meeting, she had to worry about her hair and the way she looked.
Jordan sighed, tracing her fingers nervously through her fighting hair. She never allowed the natural curl to come out. After only six hours in the island’s humidity since landing on Oahu and then another flight to the big island, she had a nervous frustration that she had lost control of the mass. Once she lost it, she would never be able to regain it. She tugged on a curling tress and scowled, pulling her rolling suitcase along the marble tile behind her.
The plush lobby of the luxury resort promised change and possibility with set up lounges, open floor plans, and an easy-going sensation to the formality of the five-star, five-diamond resort. If she weren’t there because of the business trip, she wouldn’t have come. That fact made her sad. Why did she focus on business so much when there was an entire world out there for her to discover?
She could do anything, if she just had the opportunities that money would offer her. Money without debt would be the best thing for her future – for the future of the employees at Harris Cheese and Dairy, Inc. Jordan owed it to them to at least try to keep the company afloat. Unfortunately, in this instance, she had to sell the company. Afloat meant she wasn’t at the helm. As sad as that made her, she had to tough it out and do what was best for them.
She tried not to stumble as she crossed through the lobby. Emotionally, she wasn’t ready for the trip. She didn’t want to face what was expected of her. To do what was right. She paused in front of the bank of elevators, taking a shaky breath as she pushed the up button. She ignored her reflection in the shiny stainless steel
A soft ding announced the lift’s arrival and she nodded at some kind of internal pep talk she hadn’t quite figured out the words to. A man in a navy-blue suit stepped on moments after her. She turned and faced the front of the elevator, smiling pleasantly as he nodded her way.
A good-looking man with blond hair and striking eyes, he lifted his left hand and adjusted his tie. Twinkling under the lights of the lift, a wedding band caught Jordan’s eye. Of course, he was married. Jordan wasn’t only unlucky in business, but also in love. The man motioned toward the box strapped to the carry-on luggage. “That’s a large chunk of Harris cheese. Do you always travel with it?”
Startled, Jordan glanced down at the sample box she’d brought with her to display the goods to the potential buyers, Sampson and Stinson. Splaying her hand, she shook her head, mindful that her curls were slowly getting out of control. “No, these are for a potential buyer of my company.” She glanced at him, taking in his curious gaze. “Would you like to try some? There’s no way they’ll eat all of this.” One thing Jordan was proud of was her father’s cheese. He’d known his stuff, leaving a legacy behind she couldn’t possibly live up to.
Jordan slid the top of the oak-barrel box open and reached inside the shoebox sized container. She pulled out a packet of samples featuring eight of their best cheeses; gouda, Havarti, sharp cheddar, bleu, mozzarella, feta, pepper jack, and a simple mild cheddar. They had other specialties like a wine-infused cheddar spreadable cheese, but to get a real taste for the business, they just needed exposure to the bread and butter of their products.
The packets held one-inch squares of the cheeses, labeled with their age, name, and the logo of Harris Cheese and Dairy. They were organized in a small cardboard box and then wrapped in more cellophane. She handed one package over to the man who took it with a question in his eyes.
Jordan slid the lid shut and stood, flipping her annoying hair behind her shoulder. Laughing, she waved her fingers at the cheese packet. “I’m not hitting on you or anything. I can see you’re married. I just love sharing my dad’s cheese. I promise, a little slice of the cheddar and you’ll feel like you were there and wish you had been.” She winked and looked back at the digital numbers announcing the floors they passed.
“Thank you, that was very kind.” Humor twinkled in the man’s eyes. He glanced up as the door dinged, announcing their arrival on the concierge floor.
Stepping off the lift, she tipped her hand back at him and smiled. “Have a nice day.”
“Good luck with your sale.” The man lifted the packet in a wave as the doors slid shut, obscuring him from view.
Jordan’s smile slipped from her lips. “Thanks.” Selling. That’s right, she was supposed to be selling. For some reason his wishes for good luck slammed it back into reality. Mentioning it to him had been like a mere breath, just part of her words and didn’t really seem to have any real consequence.
Good luck on her sale. A huge part of her wished it wasn’t going to happen – that part was her heart and didn’t get a huge chunk of playing field in the decision department. She took another huge breath and retightened her grip on the handle of her luggage. Her side purse swung softly at her side. She hadn’t unhooked it from around her neck and right shoulder since leaving Oregon late the night before.
Approaching the concierge club room, Jordan rehearsed in her head over and over her introduction. Hello, I’m Jordan Harris, CEO and current owner of Harris Cheese and Dairy, Incorporated. Please, try some cheese. No, maybe she wouldn’t lead with try some cheese. She blinked hard. That shouldn’t be her main concern right then.
The club room doors pushed open with little pressure on the handle. A whisper of the panel gliding across the carpet was the only sound. Should she have knocked or something?
Inside, the chairs and tables set up in small groups around the room were empty. Even the concierge desk stood isolated with no one in the main seat. Jordan stopped abruptly. Lifting her wrist, she glanced at the dainty silver watch on her wrist. True, she had to be one of the last people alive that actually relied on a watch to tell time, but it was a piece she couldn’t function without.
Two-thirty-three in the afternoon, according to local time. She’d set the watch to the correct time on the plane when she’d asked a flight attendant what the time was in Getaway Bay. Two-thirty-three. She’d thought she was running a bit behind, but she was still twelve minutes early. Just because she preferred to always be early, didn’t mean anyone else did. It was a discourtesy, but not a deal breaker.
The buyers weren’t Jordan’s concern. She had twelve-minutes to produce the head manager of the Oregon ranch into the concierge club room when the meeting was supposed to start, or she would be met with a lot of questions from the buyers that she would have no way to answer. While she was raised in the business, she didn’t know the current operations.
Not only did she want to get the meeting over with, but she wanted to spend as little time with the ranch manager as possible. “Where are you, Travis Thomas?” She tapped the toe of her Mary Jane heels and folded her arms. She couldn’t stare at her watch, and yet, she couldn’t not watch the time. What kind of an impression would it leave, if they weren’t both there on time?
Plus, now that she was there in the club room, landed safely in Getaway Bay, and not rushing or trying to squash her emotions about the sale, Jordan could study the butterflies in her stomach. Travis Thomas. He started at Harris Cheese and Dairy, Inc. as a stable boy and back when the company’s official name was Harris and Son. Just Harris and Son. Back when Jordan’s older brother had been interested in running the business.
Back before the family fallout when he’d left the family in a lurch.
Jordan had been in high school, still gangly with shiny braces and frizzy hair she could never figure out how to control. At the farm, she’d helped out, sitting with the cows. Cooing and petting the baby calves had actually been her job. She’d been paid to show up and be around the business, even though she would never actually be on the name plate.
The business name change had been a slap at Bryson, her brother, and things in the family had been on the rocks ever since. The easiest way to describe it was to say she went from being one of two children to being considered an only child.
She’d escaped the family drama around the animals and great people at the farm. Travis had always been there, friendly and helpful, moving up through the ranks. Always off-limits and that was fine by Jordan. She didn’t believe in mixing business with pleasure. She couldn’t. There was too much at stake with regards to the business. As long as she stuck to her plan, everyone would be fine.
Every summer since, she’d seen him at the company and, annoyingly, he’d only gotten better looking with age with his dark hair and even darker, somber eyes. He didn’t seem to have much regard for her, though, which was fine. It was all fine. She didn’t care that he pretty much ignored her whenever she was around. Jordan didn’t need to worry about Travis and what he thought of her. She didn’t need to worry about him at all. She needed to focus on selling the company and improving the lives of those around Harris Farms.
Squashing the butterflies flapping around her stomach, Jordan focused on the upcoming meeting. She needed Travis there for one thing – to be her expect on the ranch. That was all. Then he could go back to Harris Farms and Jordan could do something else. She couldn’t go back home after selling the family business and property. She had nowhere to go back to after she sold the land and everything.
Stepping further into the room, Jordan looked around. Cream colored walls and carpeting subdued the bright splashes of coral and sea green on the pillows arranged on the couches. A trio of flat screen televisions hung discreetly from the wall perpendicular to the concierge counter. Set up on the cream and gold granite were a coffee service and a glass dome covered silver tray filled with cookies and brownies.
Loose leaf tea in large glass containers took up the space on the other side of the counter with glass coffee mugs etched with the Sweet Breeze logo.
How was it possible that Jordan was all alone in there? Not one sign of anyone else coming or preparations for a meeting. Nothing.
The smell of hibiscus flowers subtly gave the room a tropical feel while being fairly neutral in atmosphere. Her hair stopped fighting her, and Jordan reached up, running her fingers through the long strands again and again. She had to at least try to get the tresses into some semblance of straightening.
Her phone buzzed and she released the handle of the luggage to check her phone. Pulling the cell from the side pocket of her small purse, Jordan rolled her eyes at the text from Travis.
I’m in the lobby. They won’t tell me where to meet you since I don’t have a room here. Can you come get me?
She had to seriously run and fetch Travis like she was some kind of messenger girl or something. The only way she knew it was Travis revolved around direct texts from him for more information before leaving for the business trip. He hadn’t called her by her name or even said anything remotely charming.
Her lessons learned; 1. Travis was better looking than he’d been when he first started at Harris Farms; 2. His charm hadn’t stayed with him.
Jordan couldn’t help wondering what else had changed.
She glanced at her wrist again, noting that only a minute had passed on the dime-sized face. Okay, she had time to run down to the lobby and retrieve Travis. She wouldn’t mind checking in with the receptionist to see where the concierge was. Maybe they had a different room on the club floor for meetings. If that was the case, then Jordan needed to find out where that room was.
Why didn’t Travis have a room at Sweet Breeze? Where did he think he was staying? He wasn’t staying with her. Maybe she needed to get him a room, too. He was there for business. The company could certainly pay for him to have a room while he was there on business. She thought for sure the accountant had given him the information he needed, but it was the first time she’d overseen any business trips for Harris Cheese and Dairy, Inc.
I’m on my way.
What if he had texted her to go out to eat or something? She thought she’d banished those girlhood crushing fantasies a long time ago, but apparently not. Even a fleeting thought of a possibility had her shaking her head. She didn’t need to be ridiculous.
Jordan tucked the cellphone back into the side of her purse and turned back to the door. She had only a few minutes to get downstairs, snag Travis, check with the receptionists, and get back up there with time to set up the cheese. She could do it. There wasn’t a lot to do.
She took a deep breath and
stepped smartly into the hallway and back toward the elevators. Watch out, Travis Thomas. Jordan Harris is
all grown up and not taking any lip from anyone. Hopefully, her hair didn’t
get any crazy ideas.
Travis Thomas ran his fingers through his thick, wavy hair. The one trait his Italian grandfather hadn’t been responsible for. No, Travis’s thick hair came from his mother’s Irish side. His temper came from his grandfather.
“I’m sorry, sir. We don’t have any reservations in the concierge club rooms for this afternoon.” The blonde receptionist smiled prettily at him, as if she knew just how to curve her lips and bat her lashes. Of course, she did. She worked in hospitality. They were trained on making sure the guest was always taken care of.
Nodding tightly, Travis lifted his beeping phone. Jordan Harris would be right there. Adding to Travis’s frustration was the fact that he’d had to contact Jordan at all. The woman had no idea what she was even doing and yet, there she was, running the show.
How was that just? He’d worked for years to get into the position he was in and now he had to answer to the teenage girl who had stared after him with doe eyes as he’d worked in the stalls, the girl who had gone off to college and returned with a Master’s Degree in Business but no experience working with the people or running a company. Both things Travis had extensive knowledge in.
Smiling distractedly at the receptionist, Travis turned from the granite counters and hiked his backpack higher on his shoulder. They were only supposed to be there a couple hours for the meeting and then Travis planned on returning home.
A text from Bartholomew, his assistant-supervisor, kept Travis from anxiously scanning the lobby of the resort.
It wouldn’t be the first time you were railroaded by the Harris family.
Travis closed his eyes and nodded, clenching his jaw at the memory. When the elder Harris had died within the last year, Travis had expected to be made into Operations Manager of the entire Harris company. He’d been preparing for the position his entire time with the farm. The jarring announcement that Jordan would be taking over and calling the shots had split open all of Travis’s dreams.
The boss’s daughter hadn’t been there during their discussions and plans. She wouldn’t know what was needed in the spring or in the fall. The last thing she would know to watch for was the lowing of the cows when they were anxious about the weather or a predator. No, Jordan Harris would look at her graphs and her spreadsheets and she would turn the entire company on its head.
Exactly as she was doing now.
Travis moved across the lobby and leaned against a column made out of some kind of rock – not marble and not granite, but filled with a shiny material that made it look iridescent. He rubbed at his forehead, tired after the long day of travel and not looking forward to the night he had ahead of him in the airports again.
At least the hotel they were meeting at was classy and elegant. Travis enjoyed the scenery of the hibiscus flowers out front and the subtle touches of the culture throughout the decorations and leis on peoples’ necks. Even he had a white and yellow lei draped around his neck, the scent soft from the real flowers.
“Mr. Thomas.” A woman stood before him with a rolling luggage in one hand and the other extended at waist level to shake his hand. But that wasn’t possible. The woman before him couldn’t be Jordan Harris.
No, this beauty had curly, unruly hair that refused to stay in the half-updo and tumbled about the woman’s shoulders. If it was Jordan, she’d loosened the reins on her control a bit and allowed herself to unbutton the top two buttons of her white blouse. When she’d been younger, the promise of a womanly shape had been apparent under her overalls and t-shirts. That shape had been fully realized and Travis set his jaw to the side, annoyed that he’d realized it.
He didn’t want to see her curves or the fact that with her natural curls coming out, Jordan gave the impression that she was fiery and full of energy. That was more distraction than Travis wanted at that point in time. No, he couldn’t have soft thoughts toward her. She was selling the company and everyone was going to lose their jobs.
Keeping Jordan at arms’ length would be the smartest thing he could do for his future.
Travis reached out and clasped her fingers cautiously. “Ms. Harris?” He didn’t want to make any assumptions, but there was no one else he was supposed to meet – even if she was different from the woman he’d been expecting. To be fair, he hadn’t seen her since the year before when Mr. Harris had been alive and running the company as he saw fit. She’d been at a distance and so tightly wound with her hair in a bun and a pant suit that fit her just so but hid her femininity with straight lines and somber colors. For a moment, he wished the woman in front of him was a different person, someone he could pursue something with.
No one wanted to be attracted to the controlling shrew he’d discovered Jordan to be.
“It’s nice to see you again.” Her formal words set the tone and Travis tried not to smirk. He hadn’t been close enough to Jordan in a few years to see the appealing development of small freckles across the bridge of her nose or the fact that her eyelashes didn’t need makeup to frame her eyes with attention-getting thickness.
He agreed with her intention to keep things professional between them. He could handle that – preferred it anyway.
They shook hands and Travis ignored the awareness that sparked in the skin that touched her. Being aware of Jordan wouldn’t do. His attraction to the young woman had never been convenient, it was even less so currently.
Jordan looked around, motioning toward the busy but relaxed environment of the lobby level. “I wasn’t expecting you to be down here. Why didn’t they let you come up to the club rooms? You said something about not having a room?”
Jerking a thumb over his shoulder, Travis arched an eyebrow. “The lady said nothing is scheduled for the club room today. I have no idea what’s going on. I’m here for the appointment and that’s it. I’m headed home afterwards tonight on the redeye.” He wanted to get back home and get on with finding a new job. Wasn’t that what he needed to be prepared for? A takeover usually ended in lost jobs. “I don’t need to stay that long to get my job finished.”
Why wouldn’t they replace him with someone more comfortable with their current operations? It would make sense to make a lateral move from their current employees – whoever they were. He still wasn’t sure who the potential buyers were or what made them tick.
“Did you bring the factory breakdown files I asked you to present on?” Jordan moved to stand beside him, and leaned her luggage against the column. She studied him expectantly, glancing at her watch and then scanning the lobby.
“I did.” Not that they would do any good. A person couldn’t get a feel for how a factory or farm worked based on paperwork. It just wasn’t possible. Something Jordan would know, if she would spend any time at all on the floor of the farm.
Jordan’s eyes grew round and she held up a hand. “Wait a minute, back up. Did you say they don’t have anything scheduled in the club rooms today?” Something sparked in her eyes. Her shoes clicked on the marble floor as she stepped around Travis and spoke to the woman at the counter, only a few feet from where Travis stood. “Excuse me. I’m here for the Sampson and Stinson meeting with the Harris company?”
The receptionist tapped a few buttons and lifted her gaze to Jordan’s. “I’m sorry, ma’am. That meeting was cancelled about fifteen minutes ago by Mr. Stinson.” She smiled apologetically and looked at the woman behind Jordan as if to excuse Jordan from her desk.
Pulling out a cellphone from a slim purse hanging from her shoulder, Jordan avoided Travis’s gaze. A definitive pink crept up her neck, cheeks, then forehead. She punched some buttons harder than necessary and held the phone up to her ear. After a moment, she straightened. “Yes, Mr. Stinson, this is Jordan Harris. We have a meeting scheduled in the next few minutes and I was just informed by the receptionist that you canceled a bit ago. Can you please verify what’s happening?” She stared toward the ground, focused without seeing on the rock designs.
Travis shifted, his work boots rubbing on the shiny, hard surface of the floor. He adjusted his backpack up higher and tried not to stare at the coral color to Jordan’s oval nails or the golden tan tone to her skin. He had no business inventorying her like cattle brought to the farm.
She was out to sell the company and Travis had to make sure that didn’t happen. He tried listening to the conversation, but wasn’t able to hear the other end. She nodded her head as if Mr. Stinson could see her. Then she spoke. “I understand. Okay, tomorrow will work. I hope he feels better. Thanks.” She hung up, leaning her head back and sighing. After a minute, she looked back at Travis. “We have to re-schedule. Apparently, Mr. Sampson got food poisoning at a sushi place on Oahu. He’s still getting treatment right now.”
Travis’s jaw slackened. “I have a plane to catch.” He hadn’t come prepared to stay longer in the islands than absolutely necessary. He’d only packed a pair of swim trunks and sandals in case they’d finished the meeting early. He didn’t want to go down to the beaches of Getaway Bay in his jeans. He’d never been to the tropical state before and he at least wanted to fit in a quick swim in the water.
Jordan waved her hand in the air like his plane didn’t matter. “I understand. I think you should stay for at least a night, maybe more. The company will foot the bill since you came because of that.” She half-shrugged as if trying to deny her disappointment, but it was clear to see. “I’m sorry for the inconvenience. I wasn’t planning on staying long, either.”
Relieved at the delay for at least another day, Travis sighed. Everyone at Harris Cheese and Dairy, Inc. had their jobs for another day. He hadn’t stopped the sale, but at least he had evidence that they had another twenty-four hours before any real plans needed to be put into play. He could make something work. He could come up with a different plan by then. He had to.
They shifted on their feet, uncomfortable in the silence. Travis opened his mouth to ask if they should go to dinner or something. Before he could ask, Jordan’s phone buzzed in her hand.
“Excuse me.” She lifted the cell to her ear again, her brow furrowed. “Mr. Stinson, yes. Okay, yes, actually that sounds doable. Okay, we’ll grab a car. See you soon. Thank you.” She lowered the phone and turned to inspect Travis. Cocking her head to the side, she gave him a small smile. “Want to ride in a private plane to Oahu? They’re willing to fly us there so they don’t waste anymore of our time.” Hope sprang anew in her eyes, captivating Travis with a lessening of desperation he hadn’t realized he’d seen in the depths of her gaze.
“Okay, sure.” Another plane ride back to Oahu. At least Jordan had offered to have the company put him up for a couple nights. “Actually, I would like a room, then, if that’s okay.” He needed to make sure he had a place to stay before cancelling his flight and rescheduling.
“Of course. I’ll get you one before we head to the plane.” She paused. “Wait, just so we’re clear. You’re getting your own room. You won’t be staying with me. Right?” She chewed on her lower lip, pulling a fully developed curl until it was straight and then letting it spring back into the corkscrew shape it had.
Where had Jordan’s thoughts gone that she needed to clarify they were in separate rooms? Maybe the crush the young girl had for Travis when they were teenagers hadn’t completely dissolved. Maybe he could use that to his advantage and talk her out of selling the company. The hour flight would have to be enough time to convince her to do something else, anything else.
He chuckled. “Darlin’, you would know, if we were sharing a room.” He winked and motioned for her to lead the way.
The way she embarrassed and flushed was definitely something Travis wouldn’t get sick of watching.
Until she sold.
The drastic pendulum swing from dashed hope to open possibilities was exhilarating. A plane. Sampson and Stinson were sending a plane! They must be interested in the company. It could be a guaranteed sale! Excitement coursed through Jordan, tingling out to her fingers and toes.
She was sticking with the story that her excitement was from the potential sale and not from so much close time with Travis. He’d never been interested in her when they were younger, she should be aloof and unavailable now.
And she was! Unavailable, anyway. She had already been too cordial and informal since seeing him. She’d have to brush up her professionalism. She glanced at him over her shoulder as they walked through the lobby to get a car. Earlier she’d been able to grab an Uber from the airport. Self-consciously she reached up and patted her unruly hair. Her mother had once told her that if she couldn’t control her hair, she’d never be able to run a company.
That had stuck with Jordan. She’d tamed her hair in the most strident of winds and straightened the curl to the flattest line imaginable. But there, in the humidity of the islands, she was fast losing her grip and the curls were becoming more unstable with every passing moment.
Maybe in the controlled atmosphere of the plane, she would be able to plait her tresses into a thick braid. Maybe. Her heels clicked on the marble, the sound becoming flatter as she transitioned to the concrete curbing outside. Jordan touched her hair again. Why was she so nervous? She shifted her luggage from one hand to the other and motioned for the bellman. After asking for a car, she turned to Travis and smiled.
He nodded in return, then looked past her, like he had better things to do. There was nothing better to be doing, they were both waiting for the same car to go to the same plane, to accomplish the same thing. Same.
The bellman motioned toward a small Honda Civic pulling up to the bellhop station. “Here’s your ride, miss.”
Jordan nodded, pressing a five-dollar bill into his hand as she passed by. Travis reached forward and opened the door, smiling softly as she murmured her thanks. She had to climb into the car, probably sit by him as they rode out to the airport. It wasn’t a long ride, but it was long enough they couldn’t just sit in awkward silence – surrounded by the most beautiful, romantic scenery known to popular culture.
She slid into the backseat, pulling her carryon in beside her and setting it in the middle of the seat. If nothing else, she could at least establish boundaries.
Black and white dreadlocks draped around the driver’s shoulders, moving as he turned to watch Jordan climb in. “Aloha. Two passengers?” A gold hoop accentuated his thick bottom lip and the mahogany tone of his skin glistened in the afternoon sunlight.
Jordan cleared her throat and nodded. “Yes, please. Two. We need to get to the private sector of the airport. Hangar three.” She glanced at Travis as he watched her through the open door. After a moment, he shut the door and climbed into the front seat. Jordan’s lower jaw dropped and she snapped her mouth shut. She didn’t care where he sat. It was probably better he sat in front, then she wouldn’t have to talk with him.
Somehow, though, the move felt deliberate – like he was establishing lines between them, lines you would draw between enemies or something.
Were they enemies?
They couldn’t be. They worked for the same company. They both wanted what was best for the employees. Didn’t they? What if Travis didn’t? What if he wanted to sabotage the sale? Maybe he wanted the company to hit rock bottom so he could buy it for pennies on the dollar at auction.
Jordan’s mind flew over all the possible scenarios. She chewed on her lower lip and watched out the car window as they sped past palm trees and sand. Yellow and pink flowers speckled the bushes, blurring as Jordan couldn’t seem to focus on any one blossom.
Not one word passed between them. The driver seemed to sense the undefined tension and kept his own conversations to himself. By the time they pulled up to the hangar, Jordan’s nerves had stretched and she could feel her fatigue from traveling and the emotional strain from having to sell.
She didn’t want to sell.
Paying using the app on her phone, Jordan thanked the driver and climbed out of the backseat, ignoring Travis and pulling the luggage along beside her. The box on top of her luggage clunked and she leaned down to make sure the top was closed. Eight packets of cheese and three containers of chocolates. She had enough snacks there to convince the buyers that they needed Harris Cheese and Dairy, Incorporated for their very own. If not, she could console herself with some of the luxury chocolates.
The over-sized hangar doors stood open with a small four-person plane ready to go. A man with aviator glasses and a button-up white shirt and black tie ushered them inside and up the rolling steps. “We need to get in the air. There’s a storm coming and we want to get ahead of it.”
Bending down to fix her sandal, Jordan caught sight of the Uber driver pulling back out of the airport drive. The mention of the storm had her wondering if she’d made a good decision to leave the hotel.
“Are you ready, miss?” The pilot held out a hand to help Jordan up the small flight of steps.
Smiling at her absurd nerves and their insecure display, Jordan nodded. “Of course. Thank you.” She didn’t mention the storm or the nerves fluttering in her stomach. She resolved to ignore Travis throughout the flight. It couldn’t be more than forty-five minutes. The island hopper flight she’d taken early that morning hadn’t been more than that. They were going to the same place.
Travis claimed the seat beside her, his large strong hands resting patiently on his knees after he buckled himself in. He stared out the window, ignoring her and every chance he had to talk.
Disappointment curdled in her stomach. Jordan didn’t enjoy confrontation or discord. She longed for everyone to like her. Her mother called her a people pleaser in a tone that suggested it was worse than the debt the woman had helped place them in. A people pleaser. Was it really that bad?
The pilot pushed some buttons and moved some things around and the plane rolled smoothly forward. Out of the window, Jordan watched a worker roll the stairs from its position by the plane’s body and then pull off his gloves and slap them against his thigh.
Travis’s thigh was broader, more muscular. Jordan’s eyes widened and she glanced sharply in Travis’s direction. Had she spoken out loud? Heat flooded her cheeks. Flustered and more than a little irritated that she seemed to be politer than Travis, she leaned toward the side and spoke with a raised voice. “Are you going to be surly through the meeting?” She tried lilting her words so he would think she was teasing, but there was too much worry in her stomach to tolerate much joking.
Slowly, Travis turned to face her. “I’m here because I was asked to show up and do something for Harris Farms. That’s it. This isn’t a social visit or anything like that.” He studied her, then tilted his head to the side. “Do you think I want to be here? I don’t want everyone to lose their jobs or anything else that comes with sales. You want the money and that’s it. I think it’s sad that you aren’t even waiting for the requisite year after his death before selling all of your father’s wishes.” His lip curled in disgust before he turned from her, muttering. “Always were the spoiled little rich girl.”
Spoiled. Little. Rich. Girl.
Jordan stared at his profile for a painful moment, blinking back frustrated tears. He had no idea what she was going through or what she’d had to deal with growing up. The impertinent man had no clue what her father had left behind or that more than half of their accounts had closed because of the things her father had done in his old age. He wouldn’t let anyone else be the public face of Harris and that had cost them.
He’d laughed when Jordan had mentioned the closing accounts. Cheese is a necessity. We won’t run out of money. Her dad had no regard or memory of what it’d been like in the beginning. She’d loved him, but she didn’t learn how to be frugal because of his example. She’d learned in spite of it. Her mother was just as bad, if not worse, enabling his spending and more of her own. They didn’t seem to understand that you couldn’t thrive, if you had nothing to invest.
So, there she was, working to fix what he’d broken and Travis had no idea. He blamed her. What did he think she was doing, liquidating the company for fun? He had no idea how much she loved that farm and the people who worked there.
He had no right to call her a spoiled little rich girl. She shopped at thrift stores and sewed the clothes that needed fixing. She portrayed herself as being well-off because that’s what was expected, but with no money to pay bills and collectors calling, Jordan was so far from rich and it was all thanks to her parents. There was nothing spoiled about it.
She’d even fancied herself in love with Travis when she was younger and more naïve. The moment of silence stretched between them and she could feel her chance to stick up for herself slipping away.
What would she say? How did she respond? Did it matter? When it came right down to it, did it matter what Travis thought? A teeny part of her whimpered in her heart – yes, of course, it does. Travis didn’t approve because he thought she was betraying her father and the people who worked at the farms. Jordan understood that because she felt the same way.
But they needed their jobs and actual paychecks, things Jordan couldn’t guarantee after the next three months. She went to open her mouth, say something, say all of it, but the plane dipped. The turbulence stealing her voice.
The plane rose again, the pilot unfazed and Travis unmoved. Was she the only one worried? Another bump in the air and the plane dipped then rose. Jordan winced, swallowing her gasp and gripping the armrest of her seat. Staring out the window didn’t help as large voluminous clouds stormed toward the big island, toward them.
Everything would be okay. The leather seats and the wood paneling inside the plane screamed money. Gold accent trim and a minibar only finished the statement that someone with money owned the plane. Jordan shifted in her seat and reached up to work on her hair. Nervous habits could comfort easily and Jordan worked on her curls not only to straighten the mess but to give her the grounding sensation the movements would lend.
Swallowing, Jordan glanced worriedly Travis’s direction. Was she the only one seriously concerned? The plane dropped fifteen feet before catching the air and climbing into the wind. Jordan shrieked with her lips closed, shutting her eyes and slamming her head against the back headrest. She let go of her hair and squeezed both armrests like they would help control the plane. She wasn’t a pilot, but maybe he needed faux help.
Warm fingers closed around hers and she slowly opened her eyes to find Travis watching her, worry in his gaze. “Are you okay? We’re going to be fine. It’s just a little turbulence.” His deep voice was devoid of all censure as he lowered his tone.
Jordan blinked, nodding her head. She licked her lips, her voice hoarse as she tried to speak. “I… I’m not a fan of flying.” Her throat tightened and she tightened her hold on his fingers. As much as they were at odds with each other, she was grateful for the reminder that she wasn’t completely alone.
The ride seemed to even out and Jordan slowly released Travis’s hand. Smiling timidly his direction, she crossed her leg over her knee and tried to settle into her seat. Travis moved his hand as he pulled out his phone and texted someone. Jordan could have turned her head and read the conversation, but she didn’t feel like breaking the tiny truce they seemed to have called. Plus, it wasn’t any of her business and she didn’t care. Part of her wanted to know if he was texting a woman. Had Travis ever married? She’d never seen a ring, but that didn’t mean anything. What if he had a girlfriend or a fiancée? Jordan had never asked and right then, the situation didn’t warrant it.
They had about thirty minutes left in the plane. The rate they were flying, they should reach the island before the storm caught them. Jordan closed her eyes. She could do it. She could make it. Going over her sales pitch a few more times would help pass the time.
She’d grown up on the farm. If she couldn’t sale it, nobody could. Even the information they would need from Travis wouldn’t matter, if Jordan couldn’t sale the small town feel and the deep-blooded loyalty of the people who worked the farm and lived in the small community. The people were all that was important. Jordan could sale them on that. She could convince them that the people were the most important part of the business and the buyers would protect them. They would see that.
Clinging to that was the only thing keeping her focused on the sale and not running the other way in doubt.
Selling was a necessity and if she had the guts, she’d tell that to Travis. She’d tell him that it didn’t matter how seductive his gaze was, or how strong his jawline, or thick his hair, he couldn’t know what was going on inside the actual business part of the company. He knew the cows, the production, the reactions of the cattle and the employees. Travis had no idea what paid the bills or kept him in his job.
Jordan had a sinking sensation that even if he knew, he wouldn’t care. Something in the way he’d eyed her had left her feeling like she would never be good enough in his eyes.
That thought left her feeling
worse than the turbulence could.
Turbulence caused a small ache in his stomach from nerves. No one loved a rocky plane ride. A small plane handled turbulence even worse than a larger plane. To distract himself, Travis reached for the glossy magazines tucked into the leather side pockets on the wall beside his knee.
No matter what happened, he couldn’t turn and stare at Jordan. There’d been genuine pain on her face in response to his words and Travis couldn’t take back what he’d said. He meant it, albeit not quite as harshly as he’d stated it. He opened the shiny cover, randomly flipping pages as he struggled not to notice Jordan’s proximity to his leg and arm. Her aquamarine eyes were captivating and Travis couldn’t hold onto his resolve while she stared at him with the long lashes framing the blue. Not looking at him would be the smartest defense. Don’t look. Don’t look.
Some small turbulence caught his attention, but not enough to warrant more hand-holding, much to his regret. Touching her had been the high point of the trip so far. Well, touching her and the brief moment he’d thought the sale had been cancelled. There was no justice in the world that their goals in life had to be completely opposite each other.
The headline caught his eye as he paused on a page. The picture of a man and a woman in an almost-kissing position above the words You’ll do anything when you love him. Love. Everything seemed to revolve around love and emotion and depending on someone else.
Wasn’t that the truth? Too bad Travis didn’t have enough time. He could have turned on the charm he used as a manager and convinced Jordan she loved him. Maybe then he’d have enough pull with her to change her mind about the sale.
Cancelling the sale was the most important thing to him. He had to make sure he saved everyone’s jobs. He’d known some of those people for almost twenty years. He owed them his best effort. The families with small children who were kept alive by the one income coming in. The generations of workers who worked there, had always worked there – or so it seemed. Ogling Jordan and her gorgeous hair and deceptively sweet smile was not giving them his best effort. He owed it to all of them – himself included.
He stared at the article on how to get what you wanted from someone who loved you. His phone buzzed, again. Bartholomew had reached annoying-status with his constant check-ins for updates. Travis swiped the phone and opened the messaging app. Bart’s text got straight to the point – like usual.
Well? What’d they think?
Travis shook his head, his thumb moving over the touch screen keypad as he texted back.
They are flying us to Oahu to meet with them. Not sure what came up. I need her to fall in love with me. What I wouldn’t give for more time to make it happen.
Travis could feel Bart’s disbelief with his next text.
What!? Why would you want that? Has the island romance gotten to you already?
Grinning at his friend’s obvious surprise, Travis shook his head.
No, not because I want her to, but because then she would do whatever I wanted. I could ask her to not sell and she wouldn’t sell. Ideal, right?
Bart answered quickly.
That would be ideal. Good luck. Let me know how it goes.
Travis replied in the affirmative and tucked his phone back in his pocket. He wasn’t sure what else he could do. He’d told Jordan as bluntly as possible he didn’t agree with what she was doing. Honestly, Travis only wished he’d told her sooner. All of the rumors about the sale hadn’t seemed real. Travis had always thought Jordan held more respect and sentiment for her father than that.
But the call from her office that he join her on the trip was enough of a wakeup call he couldn’t deny he’d been wrong about her all that time.
He closed the magazine. There was no way he had time to make Jordan fall in love with him. They had about twenty more minutes before they would land in Oahu. Judging by the darkness of the clouds ahead of them, it wouldn’t be too soon.
More turbulence rocked the plane and the pilot turned, yanking his sunglasses from his nose. He yelled above the noise from the steadily louder engines. “We’re turning back. The storm is coming in fast and they’ve closed the airport for a possible hurricane.” He flipped them the hang-ten sign and turned back to the control panel. Over his shoulder, he called out, “Why don’t the two of you get your floatation devices ready. You probably won’t need them, but just in case. They’re under your seats.” He stopped talking and pushed more buttons.
Travis glanced at Jordan, his brow furrowed. She had a white-knuckle grip on the armrests. Eyes wide, she looked at Travis and tried to shake her head, but her lips trembled. After a moment, she spoke. “I don’t like planes.”
The blunt statement drew a startled laugh from Travis’s lips. He sat back in his seat, reaching out and taking her hand again in his. He nodded, too. What else was there to say? It wasn’t like he loved planes. He wouldn’t say he did just to be contrary. Travis didn’t work that way.
Coconut and vanilla filled the air with a heady scent. Jordan looked around, briefly releasing Travis’s hand and reaching for her purse hanging by her side. “My lotion spilled, I think.” She righted the bottle and tucked her back tighter to her side, then reclaimed Travis’s hand as if he were the lifeline for her safety.
He didn’t mind. Surprisingly. A wave of protectiveness washed over him and Travis had no doubt that he would throw himself on a shark for her. In that moment, she made him feel like a big, strong man and that was headier than anything else.
Suddenly a stark silence filled the air, replacing the increasing thrum of the engines. The pilot’s voice cut through the quiet. “Mayday, mayday. We’re going down. Mayday, mayday.”
Jordan’s grip tightened on Travis’s hand. A slight sob escaped her and Travis turned to face her, concern eating away at his insides.
“It’s going to be okay. We’re going to be fine.” He glanced forward, watching as the plane swirled into a nose dive then leveled out into a glide. They pressed their backs into their seats and pushed their feet onto the floors. “We’re going to be fine.” Except Travis wasn’t sure who he was comforting, Jordan or himself.
He didn’t want to admit it, but he didn’t have anyone he wanted to call, no one to say goodbye to.
The plane took a sickening twist as the wind grabbed control of the wings and the vessel dropped closer to the ocean’s surface. There was nothing else in view, just water and gray clouds. They’d turned around to head back to the big island, but they were somewhere in between.
“What if we crash and there are sharks?” Jordan no longer had her eyes open. Her whisper was barely loud enough to be heard over the rattling and slamming of the shaking plane parts. The pilot yelled repeatedly into his headset as he fought with the steering console.
Travis’s stomach hurt and he wanted to lean to the side to throw up, but he was afraid they’d crash before he could finish and he would die in the middle of throwing up. He couldn’t do that. That wasn’t an option. He couldn’t do anything close to that.
“Do you think we’re going to die?” Jordan’s whimpered words came out like a plea and Travis couldn’t help turning his head to the side, his cheek pressed into the cushiony head rest.
He stared into her ocean-blue eyes. “I’m not sure. Do you need to call anyone?” They had moments before crashing and Travis wanted to distract her but he couldn’t lie. Not right then. Not when he could be meeting his Maker any moment, any heartbeat.
She laughed-sobbed, like it was its own sound and explained so much. “My parents are dead. My brother won’t speak to me. I don’t have anyone.” Shrugging, Jordan raised tear-filled eyes. “What about you? Anyone special you need to call?”
If they weren’t hurtling toward the ocean waves, Travis could almost pretend that she was interested in him, asking him if he had anyone at home that would get in the way. He shook his head, but didn’t shake the hold he had on her gaze. “No one. I’m alone. There’s no one.” He couldn’t let go of her hand, even if she would let him. He couldn’t.
He suddenly didn’t want to die alone. He’d lived alone. He couldn’t die the same way. He licked his lips. “If I had someone though, I wouldn’t call them. I wouldn’t want them to be scared or worried.”
Jordan chuckled and rolled her eyes. “I would. Telling them one more time that I loved them would be the most important thing to me. Just once, you know? That’s all you want to hear. How much you mean to them and that in the very last moments of their lives, you’re all they thought about.” She blinked tears back and Travis couldn’t help wondering if she was thinking of her dad.
Travis turned toward her, his right shoulder up from the chair. He lowered his voice. “Jordan, never doubt that you were very important to your father. I worked with him daily and he talked about you often. He loved you. I know that.” There, maybe that was enough of a good deed he could die without regrets.
But as he watched the tears fall down her cheeks, along the sides of her soft bow-shaped lips, Travis realized he would die with more regrets than he could list in days.
He didn’t have days. A loud roaring noise filled the cabin and Travis wrapped his arms around Jordan, very protective of her small frame. If he had a second chance, he might pursue his attraction to her, he might be very blunt in his thoughts about the sale, he might do a lot of things.
But right then, in that space of time, Travis could only wrap his arms around her shoulders and pull her close so neither of them would die alone. She smelled even better up close. Why hadn’t he taken the time to get to know her.
Rushing, roaring, a high-pitched wail and some kind of a yelling that Travis finally realized was him filled the void around him. Too much noise. Too much pressure. Was that Jordan screaming? No. He couldn’t differentiate the sounds. He couldn’t tell what was pushing on him.
The nose of the plane crashed into a wall of water and Travis’s head jerked forward, then slammed back.
Everything went black.
Groaning, Jordan slowly opened her eyes. Water lapped around her waist at an angle, cloying and warm. She was leaning against Travis, the plane positioned at an angle that left her side of the seats up a little higher than Travis’s side.
Disoriented, she gasped, holding her breath in case the plane continued sinking. She was in the plane, wasn’t she? What had happened? One moment she’d been clinging to the seat as the plane rocked back and forth in the sky and the next, she’d had her arms wrapped around Travis – then nothing. Odd how she’d turned to Travis for comfort when he’d been berating her shortly before.
Travis! Jordan turned her head to the side, reaching for him before she even saw him. “Travis?” His head lulled to the side and a thin rivulet of bright red blood trickled down his temple to his cheek. “Travis?” But his eyes were closed and Jordan bit her lip. He was out, dead or alive, she wasn’t going to be able to wake him right then.
The movement of the water in the cabin echoed, lapping here and there. It was eerily quiet, other than the sound of the waves on the plane and Jordan’s faster breathing. She swallowed, trying to calm down so she could hear better. How vulnerable were they?
She searched the inside of the plane for something, anything that would tell her what had happened. Little light came in through the buckled door which had been bent in half and opened.
The sun was going down and she probably only had an hour before dark. How long had they been there? They’d were flying in mid-afternoon, and now with the sun going down, they had to have been sitting there for a number of hours. At least they’d been protected by the body of the plane. Were they sinking at all?
Where was the pilot? There was no sign of him and Jordan wasn’t sure she wanted to go to the front to confirm his absence. She needed to take an inventorying, figure out what they were going to do. She had to figure out who was alive and who was worth saving. She didn’t even know what parts of her worked and what didn’t. She wouldn’t be doing much of anything, if she was injured.
Could she move her legs? She wiggled her toes in her heels, under water. The movement created more waves inside, making the sounds more frequent but softer. She lifted her feet, straightening her limbs the best she could until she ran into the toppled over minibar fridge. The cabin was much more confined than she’d originally thought.
Claustrophobia worked its way up her throat and she stifled a scream. She wanted to claw her way out of the plane, but she forced a deep, steadying breath. The plane wasn’t going anywhere. She wasn’t going anywhere. She had a little bit of time to figure out what to do. She reached up and pressed against her forehead where a dull throb worked to make itself known.
The water wasn’t getting any deeper and the plane seemed to be stable. Maybe they’d crashed in shallow water or maybe it was low tide? She wasn’t sure how those things worked. She lived in inland Oregon all her life. The movement of the ocean wasn’t something she was familiar with. The recognizable trait of the ocean was the waves beating against the side of the plane. They must be wedged in wherever they were since the waves weren’t moving the body of the wrecked plane.
Blinking past a haze in her vision, she leaned closer to Travis, reaching out to shake his arm. “Travis?” She couldn’t get him awake. Tentatively, she pressed her fingers to his muscular neck, hoping she could find a pulse and that she was in the right vicinity. A steady thud-thump beat against her fingertips.
Okay, he was alive. Jordan took a deep breath. He was alive. She leaned her head back against her seat and forced back a sob of relief. She wasn’t completely alone. Even though he was knocked out, she had someone with her.
She had to get them out of there. She had no idea how much time they had or even where they were. She could move him. Looking him up and down, she scrunched her nose. Yeah, she’d be able to move him, but it would be hard. Thankfully, the water would help with buoyancy. She’d worked on a farm her whole life. She was strong, but it’d been a while since she’d hauled a calf around a barn. And Travis was in a whole different weight category from a calf. Solid muscle did that to a man.
Getting out of her seat would be the first step to getting further information on where they were and what their situation was like. Reaching under the water, she worked on the clasp of her seatbelt, moving and adjusting until the belt itself unsnapped.
Freed, she slid from her seat, moving to her knees in the warm water to work on Travis. She would have to mess with his belt area. Heat flushed her face as she worked on the belt under the water. She couldn’t see all the way and hopefully she didn’t touch anything inappropriate. What if he woke up? She glanced repeatedly at his face to make sure he didn’t stir. She couldn’t believe what she was doing. Why couldn’t his belt have snapped on impact or something?
After a few minutes, Jordan worked him free and he slumped to the side away from her. A bright red mark branded the side of the plane where he must have slammed his head when they’d landed.
Jordan’s breathing sped up as she scrambled around the cabin. The pilot had said they had floatation devices but she couldn’t really hear his directions clearly as he’d yelled at them. Wait, what had he said? She could focus. He’d mouthed something. Could she remember something she wasn’t sure she’d heard? She would need all the help she could get to get Travis from the plane to wherever they were going. Plus, he was bleeding. What if his blood attracted sharks or other predators in the water? What if they were coming now?
Her hands fluttered in front of her and she clenched her fingers into her palms. “Stop.” She had to talk herself out of losing it. She paused her frantic movement. Think. There was nowhere really to store anything.
Maybe it was under the seats. She moved to kneel in front of her seat, putting the water closer to chest level and felt carefully around the legs of the chair. A tab stuck out and she got a hold of it and yanked. The device slid easily from its spot under the seat and rose to float on top of the water. It wasn’t very big, but she unfolded it and created a larger surface area. If she used two of them, she might be able to keep Travis’s head above water and the majority of his torso from dragging.
Standing, Jordan bent her head and waded deeper into the waters, closer to the front. Taking a deep breath to steady her nerves raging out of control, Jordan stepped into the cockpit and stared.
He wasn’t there. No one was there. The glass was broken out of the windshield and she could see down into the multi-surfaced scenery of a reef. Blue and yellow fish swam in front of the windshield. An orange star fish clung with confidence to an outcropping of rocks that dipped down and then dropped off into darker water. Anything could be out there.
But they were on a reef. They couldn’t be too far from land, then. Okay, that helped her get control of her sanity. That was okay. She could work with that.
Moving back into the cabin, Jordan worked through the weight of the water toward the door which was up at an angle. The whole plane had landed just off-centered, making Jordan walk at an incline. She reached up, using the edge of the doorway to pull herself to the edge and look out.
The door faced a small strip of land and a long golden beach that stretched about the length of a football field before turning around a ledge of black volcanic rocks and disappearing. She couldn’t see any buildings or anything, but maybe that meant they were on the north side of the big island or somewhere that was less populated?
Jordan didn’t know. She had no way to tell which direction they faced. Her head hurt and she hadn’t completely gotten herself oriented with water all around her and shock setting in.
The light dimmed a bit more, awakening even more adrenaline inside of Joran. She had to hurry. If nothing else, she had to get to the beach with Travis. They could figure things out from there.
Her head hurt and her chest felt like there was a vice around it. Maybe her nerves were going to knock her out. She’d heard of that, but she’d never experienced it before. She’d never experienced anything like this before.
Reaching forward, she kicked bags to the side and gripped Travis by placing her hands under his armpits and pulling him to face away from her. She wrapped the floatation device from under his seat under his upper back, securing it with the ties that felt like they were more paper than plastic. She didn’t care what they were made of as long as they stayed on.
Travis breathed, but didn’t stir as she tugged and pulled him to the side of the plane. She worked him around in the water, using it as much as she could to maneuver him where she needed him. She only had about eighty feet to Travis from the plane to the shore. She could do that.
Ignoring the pain in her temple and a sore ache developing in her upper back, Jordan backed out of the plane. She pushed the door open as far as she could and tugged and pulled and worked until Travis plopped out of the door into the waves beside her. Water splashed on her face and she wiped it from her eyes. She couldn’t touch. No biggy. She didn’t need to touch. She just needed to be able to get Travis to shore. She could do that.
The second floatation device would help and she’d left it inside the plane. Jordan sighed. What was she doing? At least she had him out. She reached back into the plane and felt around until she had her floatation device in her fingers. She pulled it out, wedging it beneath Travis’s waist. The water was going to get more and more shallow as they got closer to the beach. He’d be harder to drag, if he was lower in the water.
Scanning the water all around them and off into the horizon, Jordan tread at the warm ocean, feeling with her feet for the reef she knew was there. She couldn’t be that far from touching depth. With Travis half out of the water, Jordan didn’t wait around. She pushed him ahead of her, kicking her feet as hard as she could. Not much happened with her heels on, but she didn’t dare take them off in case the coral or rocks could cut her feet with sharp edges.
Away from the protection of the plane, Jordan dodged waves as they came after her, random heights and timing. She took in mouthfuls of salt water, spitting it out as she pushed and prodded Travis ahead of her. Gasping for air, she stepped forward, still trying to find a hold on some kind of surface beneath her.
Her foot hit something solid. Then her other foot. She was on tip-toe, but she could reach. Pushing Travis harder, Jordan fought the darkness struggling to take over her vision. It wasn’t night time darkness she tried to overcome. No, it was something splotchy and dark that covered her vision with a red haze.
She got a better foothold and lunged forward, using her legs more as she shouldered Travis’s body closer to shore. They were almost there. She grunted and groaned. What was she doing? She could do it. She was almost there.
Waves that weren’t higher than three feet crashed onto the beach, sucking back to gather again. Jordan placed Travis into position and the waves pushed him up on the sand, his feet dangling behind him. Up on the sand, Jordan got her hands under his armpits again and waited for another wave to help her as she pulled him further from the water.
With his lower half still partially in the water, Jordan dropped Travis’s upper body onto the beach and collapsed beside him. They were both soaked and covered in sand and crispy salt-water lodged clothing. Jordan was too tired and hungry to care what she looked like.
She was too tired to check Travis much more than to make sure he wasn’t going to get pulled into the water and that the wound on his head was superficial. That was as far as she could go.
Pulling him from the plane and through the water had burned through the extent of her energy stores. She slumped down beside him, resting her head on her arm and staring toward the sun as it dipped beneath the line of the ocean on the horizon.
People would be looking for them, right? They had to be. They’d been in an expensive plane. They were supposed to be at an important meeting.
Jordan half-heartedly reached into her pocket and felt around for her phone. Nothing. Where had it gotten to? Travis had tucked his phone into his pants pocket. She felt around weakly, not sure she cared about the phone right then. When her fingers closed around his cell, a burst of adrenaline shot through her. Was his phone waterproof? Could she call for help before she inevitably passed out?
She swiped the screen, pushing buttons, anything to make the screen light up. Squinting at the black glass, Jordan sighed. She’d have to wait until the phones dried out. Would they? Or would salt water have more lasting damage on a device than some standard tap water you could dry out with a jar of rice?
Well, Jordan probably wouldn’t get a chance to test it out. There wasn’t any rice around right then and even if there were, she didn’t have the energy to put everything together.
The sun was gone and while the moon would lend light enough to see by on land, there wouldn’t be enough light to watch for any dangers in the water. She couldn’t get to the plane to check for food or a first aid kit. She couldn’t do much of anything right then.
Laying there beside Travis,
Jordan couldn’t help wondering if she’d only shifted them from one place to die
to another place to do the same thing. Her eyes drifted shut and she gave in to
the darkness pushing to claim her.