Treacherous Skies (Love Inspired Suspense)

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9780373675401: Treacherous Skies (Love Inspired Suspense)

After years of peace and quiet, Maya Carpenter thinks she's safe?that her drug-lord father's world will never catch up with her. Then she's abducted and secretly stashed on a plane. And once she and the test pilot who finds her land in the Keys, the real threat begins?.

Daredevil pilot Connor Jacobson is no one's hero. And this time, he's in way over his head. Yet he can't leave Maya to face danger alone. Besides, he has a few tricks up his sleeve that might keep them safe?as long as he's willing to put everything at risk, including his heart.

"synopsis" may belong to another edition of this title.

About the Author:

Elizabeth Goddard is the Carol Award winning author of over a dozen romance novels.  Elizabeth is a member of ACFW, RWA and Faith Hope and Love, the inspirational chapter of RWA. She has served in various capacities for all three organizations, including as board member of her local RWA chapter. Elizabeth graduated with a B.S. degree in computer science and worked in high-level software sales for several years. You can read more about her at ElizabethGoddard.com

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Belize City, Belize

Maya Carpenter glanced around the crowd in the Blue Moon Cafe, searching for her father, a man she hadn't seen since she was five years old. A man wanted in ten countries, including this one.

Though uncertain she'd recognize him, he'd said he would know her. A glance at her watch told her he was already twenty minutes late. This wasn't the type of circumstance that allowed for tardiness.

Something was wrong.

That meant he probably wasn't going to show. She'd spent a lifetime trying to escape her heritage, but he'd sounded so sincere on the phone two weeks ago—the first contact since she was five—when he shared that he was terminally ill and wanted to see her one last time.

In that moment, he'd been convincing, and how could anyone deny their father a dying wish? She hadn't even realized it until his call, but she needed closure. Maya had finally agreed, but now?

Doubts suffused her to the core.

She scraped her bag from the chair as she stood and rushed from the table in search of the door. She weaved her way through the dining patrons and dodged the tray-toting waiters until she spotted the exit.

Had she walked into some sort of trap?

But this was her father. He'd supported her mother fleeing to the U.S. from Colombia with Maya after the kidnapping that almost cost her life. He'd never harmed her other than with his poor career choice.

Outside the Blue Moon Cafe, she found the sidewalk rimming the street and hurried to the parking lot.

A black sedan edged to the curb next to her and she picked up her pace. The door opened and a man in a suit stepped out and into her path. She tried to skirt around him, but he gently grabbed her arm.

"Senorita Carpenter, your father," he said, his Spanish accent thick, and gestured to the inside of the vehicle.

She leaned forward to peer inside the four-door sedan and there, sitting on the far side in the shadows of the backseat, was Colombian drug lord Eduardo Ramirez. At least, she supposed it was him, though she couldn't really remember his face, and he would have changed after all these years, as had she.

Maya's pulse thrummed in her ears and dizziness swept over her.

He stretched his hand toward her, inviting her in. Either she was about to fill a huge hole in a lifetime of hurt and bring closure, or she was the biggest fool that ever lived.

She slid into the seat next to him, and the man on the sidewalk shut the door.

"Papa? " Uncertainty ripped through her as the endearment fell flat.

"Maya, my precious girl. It's been far too long since I've seen you." The man's laugh was warm and friendly, yet laced with menace. It was definitely not her father's but somehow familiar. "But no, I'm your father's worst nightmare."

"It's now or never."

Connor Jacobson peeled the catering van from his hiding place in the thick forest a safe distance from the airstrip where he and his brother Jake had remained undetected.

Throughout the morning, he'd watched the Learjet for the telltale signs it was being prepped to leave the country—pretending to deliver a catered lunch in order to gain access to the jet wouldn't work otherwise.

While he watched, the jet had been refueled and though he hoped to see someone perform a preflight check, getting by those armed guards would be tricky. Adding a couple of pilots into the mix might kill the plan completely. Connor didn't want anyone to get hurt, and that meant he'd have to move fast.

Troy McDaniels of Genesis Air Holdings, an aviation leasing company, had hired Connor to recover the Learjet, making him a Learjet repo man, of sorts.

At least for today.

The men with guns complicated what he'd been led to believe would be the simple recovery of a sleek, private Learjet costing in the millions.

People weren't usually willing to give up their expensive toys and apparently would go as far as hiding them, but employing a security detail to protect property that no longer belonged to them seemed a little extreme.

This was some serious on-the-job-training for Connor's first time, because Troy hadn't said anything about Uzi-toting guards. But Troy had suggested Connor consider using the element of surprise. Now he knew why.

The van bumped over the road, grating at Connor's already agitated mood. They hadn't bargained for this. If only he had more than two days to think this through, but he'd been informed that after that time the jet would be out of the country and more difficult to extract.

For the same reason, he'd wait to file a flight plan, and grab his clearance after takeoff. If someone got wind of his plans, the Learjet was as good as gone, taking his hopes for a future with it.

Gunning the van, he tossed a grin Jake's way, hoping to invigorate his brother, his face now a few shades lighter.

"I've come to appreciate that your charm has its advantages."

Jake had convinced a woman to let him use her catering truck for the morning, though some extra cash had been required to seal the deal. She'd been given the necessary directions about where to find her vehicle later in the day. That is, if everything went as planned.

Now that he'd seen just how remote this airstrip was, he wasn't sure they'd paid her enough.

"You're sure a plate of cupcakes is going to convince them?" Jake gripped the overhead handle as Connor floored it over the rutted road to the airfield. "I'd think that caviar would be more in line with what they're expecting."

"Relax. There are five plates of sandwiches that, for all they know, were made special for the rich and unscrupulous. They won't be able to tell the sandwiches are nothing more than tuna. Those will convince them if they question us, which they won't, and it only takes one platter to get us on the plane. Once we're on, there's nothing they can do unless they want to shoot holes in the plane. I doubt they've been given that authority."

Or at least he hoped they hadn't. At the moment, hope was all he had.

From the corner of his eye, Connor could tell that while his brother had agreed to come along at first, now he was losing his nerve—and fast. Connor had invited him for one reason—he needed a copilot to fly the jet and Jake was an experienced commercial pilot for Journey Airlines. Connor had dragged his brother away the day before he was to leave for his vacation in Hawaii. His only regret at the moment was potentially putting his brother in harm's way.

"Jake, we're posing as caterers. If they won't let us on, we'll think of something else. They're not going to shoot us for bringing cupcakes. Once we're on the plane, we shut the door and take off. Got it?"

"Got it." His brother shifted in his seat, appearing to grab on to the idea as though his life depended on it.

It just might.

Connor's pulse raced in his ears as he drove around the lone hangar on the remote airstrip. One of the guards came into view. The other must have disappeared into the hangar.

Connor parked the van near the door to the jet where the guard eyed them. Fortunately, he hadn't assumed an aggressive posture that signaled suspicion, and a quick glimpse told Connor the other one wasn't on his way back. Amazing what a van decorated in the flowering script of a catering business could do.

"Wipe your palms, buddy." Connor laughed as he spoke to Jake, hoping the guard standing like a sentinel next to the bird would see that he and Jake were good ole boys just doing their job.

Connor wondered if they were expecting the jet to be repossessed or if they were protecting the plane for another reason. If the lessee was mixed up in something requiring armed guards, it was none of Connor's business. He was just there for the plane.

When Connor stepped from the vehicle, he strode around the front of the van to speak with the dark-haired sentry. Connor tugged a slip of paper from his pocket and stared at it as though he needed confirmation.

"We're here to deliver food to a jet on this strip, and the N-number matches. Never mind there's only two jets here and this one is the only white Learjet with black-and-gold stripes." Connor laughed, but the guard didn't crack a smile.

He held out a pink-frosted cupcake with red sprinkles. "I was afraid we'd be late. You hungry?" he asked.

The guard eyed the cupcake then glanced over at the hangar. Finally he shook his head. "No."

Connor got the sense the guy wanted the cupcake, but thought better of it. Good. The man believed the story. "Suit yourself."

Jake got out of the vehicle, his demeanor a little too cautious for Connor, but then again, the guns should intimidate any normal person. He slapped his brother on the back and slid the side of the van door open to reveal the food. Each of them grabbed a tray.

The guard slid his key into the Learjet door, unlocked and tugged down the steps, then lifted the top section for them. Jake hopped up the three short steps into the jet and then made a show of entering the cabin to deposit the plate after which he would slip into the cockpit where he would begin the start-up sequence. It would take thirty seconds for each of the engines to start, but they only needed one to taxi the jet down the runway, putting distance between them and the guards, and they could start the other engine during the taxi.

Connor handed off one of the two plates to the guard, buying a little time. The guard hesitated at first then finally took the plate.

"Help yourself. There's an extra plate anyway." He gestured to the van. "Drinks are in the van."

He hopped up the steps and entered the jet, joining his brother. They had no more than ten seconds, if that, before the distracted guard noticed he'd been outma-neuvered.

When Connor spotted the guard heading to the hangar with the plate...

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