Romance Fiction posted February 22, 2021


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One Sunny Night-Chapter 5

by Alaskastory


In a full-length, three-sided mirror, Danielle spotted her frowning face. She resolved to pull away from the mysteries in Stewart Bryant's life and simply washed up in one of two sinks. She resisted the whirlpool tub and the shower showing sprays on all three sides. From an array of high-quality beauty supplies she renewed her lipstick, then brushed her hair vigorously until it fell in naturally soft, light waves.

Before leaving the bedroom, she wandered past an empty walk-in closet, large bureaus, and through a sliding door that led onto a deck. Beyond neglected flower boxes she could see a complete view of a natural forest. With a sigh, Danielle knew this bedroom was the most beautiful one possible, yet sadly empty. Shrugging, she assumed Starla would soon change that.

She walked toward the living room and met Stewart carrying a large box. "There is a quick meal Mary Frost left for us. She is my housekeeper and cook who takes care of everything. She's off weekends but always leaves whatever I may need."

"Sounds lucky for you, Mr. Bryant."

"After our adventure today, I hope we can switch to first names. Agree to that, Danielle?"

Hurriedly she muttered, "Fine,....Stewart." His tone of amusement made her face flush. She looked away. "I was shown to a remarkably large and beautiful master bedroom."

His eyes widened. "Starla took you there? Well, it hasn't been in use for over a year. My ex-wife couldn't face a second Alaska winter."

"Oh, I'm sorry."

"Don't be. It was a mistake to expect a New York City gal to live through dark winter months here. We're both better off." He turned to walk away. "Let's load up this box."

Danielle followed him to the kitchen where he opened a well filled refrigerator. Regretting how she had stirred a sad memory, she changed to a more formal subject. "Yesterday, an article in the paper mentioned your effort to solve generating electricity problems in remote villages."

"Did it surprise you that a coal miner could make a conservative statement?"

"If conservation promoters and development masters work together, chances for betterment growth might be more likely."

With his head tilted, as if on thought, he lifted the full box. "Let's get going."

In an open jeep they rode to a runway at the side of a narrow-gauge railroad track. Stewart explained this was where supplies were off-loaded from the train and flown to people living in isolated villages.

The runway was bordered by half a dozen light aircraft securely tied down. Stewart parked the jeep beside an impressive Cirrus SR20, painted in silver artfully trimmed in shimmering blue. Danielle snapped pictures as Stewart checked over the plane. They boarded through overhead doors on both sides. Stewart set the supplies in two backseat chairs.

"This plane of yours is the most gorgeous one I have ever seen."

"You been on other private flights?"

"No, never."

"In some way, this will be a first time for me too."

"What do you mean by that, Stewart?" A slight shock swept over her.

"There's no one in the back seats. It's just you and me." Smiling, he reached for his seat belt. "Buckle up."

Danielle's jangled nerves aroused her. She took in a deep breath and repeated in her mind that Stewart Bryant was a man she would know only one day and never after that. As the engine began to run, she vowed to focus on nothing but the flight. She watched as images appeared on an amazing panel where this pilot pressed buttons to register the flight and to check all functions. In minutes they began to roll on the runway, then rise into the air where both sound and grandeur grew.

She took pictures of the ranch below them. Then she snapped the views of rivers, lakes, hills and mountains. The solidly snow-covered range with Denali, best known as Mt. McKinley, appeared in brilliance under a clear blue sky.

Stewart pointed at his screen map that noted the names of mountains, towns, and rivers. "So far, we've been looking down on the Chulitna River. Before long you'll see two more in the dam plan. The Susitna and Talkeetna."

In time she noted, "I think I see those three rivers now. Wow, they are large, very large. I didn't expect that."

"It's the destination for the new dam. There's a hill I can land on. Good place for a professional photographer."

Danielle held her breath as the plane swooped down toward swift running water, then tilted one way then the other. The wheels bumped onto a rough surface and slowly came to a stop.

The pilot clicked off the engine. "Ready for a second picnic today?"

Renewed thoughts of noontime embarrassment with Curtiss forced her to resist Stewart with a most businesslike expression. "That will be fine."

She took pictures of the amazing rivers far beneath the hill before sitting with Stewart where he spread out a blanket and poured a dark red wine in two glasses. "This is an awesome place. The mountains above, rivers below, and the ground is filled with bushes. Mostly blueberry, right?"

"Ah yes, only two or three weeks they will be ready for picking. Wild cranberries after that. I watched you happily snap a few shots of those."

"They do bring back happy childhood memories."

"Your life in Kansas? Tell me how you lived as a child there and what it is like now as an impressive researcher." Blueish-grey eyes surveyed her as he tipped his glass.

Playfully, Danielle clicked her glass with his. She then briefly told him her childhood story of raspberry picking. Next, she mentioned that her current life in Kansas City was with her long-time friend, Ginger. "She and I have been buddies since grade school." The way Stewart showed intense interest made her hesitate. "But right now, instead of boring you with endless stories, I want to try for another shot over there on that side."

"Okay, Miss Storyteller, I'll get us ready to leave since it's about eight. Should get you back by midnight."

A cool wind began to stir. Danielle zippered her jacket as she hurried to a rocky edge of the slope. Her snapping camera circled in many angles before she noticed Stewart hurriedly hustling strongly toward her. She turned away to reject admiring the approach of some superhuman. At that moment she spotted an exciting scene of two small bears groping playfully in the bushes.

"Two sweet, little bears right there." She clicked on her camera. Then it suddenly slipped away as she toppled into Stewart's firm grip.

"Get running, now!" With a yell and tight grip Stewart grasped her, forced her to run downhill over rocks, moss and trampled brush. At the plane he shoved her in, slammed the door shut, then circled to the pilot side.

"What are you doing?" Her moan went unheard until he reached his door and hustled inside. With a frown she blasted anger. "Just baby bears......"

His wide eyes stared past her. "And a great big mama!"

"What?"

She turned to her window and faced a terrifying bear with teeth and claws inches from her. She screamed in panic and twisted herself into Stewart's arms. Squirming, she clung to him tightly.

"You're safe now, Danielle." He gently caressed her. "The mom will give up on us and get back to her babies. Look, now she's down off the plane."

"That bear would have gotten me. It would have happened if not for you...." Panic left her shivering. Her pleading eyes stared into his.

"You are so beautiful," he whispered as her lips rushed up to his.




Preceding chapters: From a Kansas Company, Danielle is on Alaska project where she meets friends (avoids romance) at University, reevaluates Kansas boyfriend, and is attracted to adventure flying with Stewart.

Character List:
Danielle LeRoy, main character
Stewart Bryant, new man in her life
Dr. Burns, college professor
Curtiss Hicks, friend at work
Social Friends: Ron,Gabe,Ivar,Rhonda,Dixie
Mr. Wright, company owner
Kevin Harbeson, boyfriend in Kansas
Ginger Kellar, housemate in Kansas
Starla Frost, young pregnant woman
Peter: worker on ranch
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Artwork by alaskapat at FanArtReview.com

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