Bursting With Love

By: Melissa Foster

The Bradens, Book Five

Love in Bloom Series

Chapter One

THE ENGINE OF the small bush plane echoed in Savannah Braden’s ears as they flew past the edge of a colorful forest and began their rapid descent into the Colorado Mountains. September didn’t get much prettier than the bursts of red, orange, yellow, and green foliage that were quickly coming into focus. The plane veered to the right and then cut left at a fast speed, shifting Savannah and the other five passengers in their seats. Savannah clung to the armrest and looked out the window as the dirt landing strip came into view. The too-short landing strip. She’d been flying her whole life, and never had she seen such a short landing strip. Great. I’m gonna die before I even get to clear my head. She hadn’t seen the pilot’s face before takeoff, and now all she could make out was the back of his wavy brown hair, thick headphones over his ears, and a black T-shirt stretched tight over burly shoulders. She wondered what the man who was going to kill her looked like—and why the hell he thought he could land on a freaking Band-Aid–sized landing strip.

The couple in the seats across from her appeared far too calm in their hemp clothing and scuffed boots. They’d introduced themselves as Elizabeth and Lou Merriman, and they were traveling with their six-year-old son, Aiden. They seemed pleasant enough, but Savannah couldn’t help staring at the reddish brown dreadlocks that hung past their shoulders, as if it weren’t hair at all but thick, clumpy strands of the same prickly rope her father used back home on his ranch in Weston, Colorado.

“Do you mind?”

“Oh, sorry,” Savannah said, pulling her clenched fingers from the armrest that separated her from the younger, sullen man next to her with his tuque pulled down low and his shoulders rounded forward. He hadn’t said two words to her the whole flight, and she wondered if he was escaping civilization and had sworn off the opposite sex, too.

Savannah’s emotions were fried after finding her on-again off-again celebrity boyfriend, Connor Dean, in bed with another woman—again. Her eyes stung as she remembered the evening their relationship had come to a stormy end. A final end. On the recommendation of an article she’d read about how to reclaim one’s life after a breakup, she’d taken Friday off from work to go on this damn four-day survival retreat that the article touted as The best way to regain your confidence and reprioritize your life! The timing had been perfect. There was no way she was ever going back to Connor, and in order to accomplish that, she had to get the hell out of Manhattan. Connor was just charming enough to make her forget that she deserved more than a guy who still acted like a high school jock, always looking for the next good lay.

The plane descended rapidly, and Savannah pulled her seat belt tighter across her hips and closed her eyes. She felt her stomach flip and twist as the engines rumbled in agony. Then the wheels of the plane made contact with the dirt and the brakes screeched, sending her forward, then slamming her back against the seat.

“Shit!” Savannah’s eyes flew open. Everyone looked at her: the granola couple and their young son, and of course, attitude boy sitting next to her. Everyone except Josie, the young woman who sat across the aisle behind Elizabeth and Lou. She had her eyes clenched shut and was white-knuckling the armrest. I should have sat next to her.

“Sorry,” Savannah said with a cringe.

Savannah looked out the window, and the landing strip was a good fifty feet behind them, but at least they were alive.

Maybe this was a mistake.

The engine silenced, and the other passengers stood and stretched. Elizabeth and Lou collected Aiden and smiled like they hadn’t just seen their lives pass before their eyes. What is wrong with them?

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