A strong gust of wind buffeted the aircraft, dropping it a hundred feet. Faith tensed, dragging her thoughts back into the cabin. She looked at the horizon, cursing the band of clouds building ahead of her. Pockets of visible rain loomed over the flatlands periodically illuminated by flashes of bright lightning. She glanced at the map, gauging the distance to the small drilling station. It’d be tight, but she might be able to get back in the air before the storm reached the clearing.
Faith pulled more pitch and pushed the nose forward, gaining speed. It would only buy her a few minutes, but that might be all she’d need. The helicopter shimmied in the gusting wind, making her grateful she’d missed dinner. As strong as her stomach was, the constant turbulence grated on her nerves.
She cursed and lowered the machine, skimming across the treetops. An opening in the landscape blossomed into view, marking the cabin’s location. She lowered the power, broadcasting her intentions out across the radio as she readied the chopper for landing. Large drops of rain splattered on the bubble, distorting her view as she bled off the remaining airspeed and settled the machine across the small log pad. A flash of light flickered across the sky, followed by a low rumble.
She shut the machine down, not willing to chance the gusting winds. The men hadn’t so much as glanced out of the cabin windows, adding to her growing tension. If they didn’t get airborne before the edge of the storm passed over, they’d all be stuck for the night.
Faith jumped out of the helicopter, secured one of the blades as it slowed to a stop and grabbed the rifle out of the baggage compartment. While it was only sixty feet to the cabin, she never left the machine without it. Grizzlies were unpredictable this time of year, and she wasn’t in the mood for any more delays. She shielded her face against the onslaught of wind and rain, and ran for the door. How the guys hadn’t heard the chopper land was a mystery to her, but she’d tan their hides if they weren’t ready. They had five minutes—ten tops—to beat the weather before they were trapped. And as nice as it’d be to spend a night away from the camp, holing up in a drilling rig with two silver-spoon mama’s boys wasn’t her idea of fun.
She yanked open the door and stomped her feet on the rough, burlap mat as she stepped into the cabin, slamming the door shut behind her. “Why the hell aren’t you boys geared up and ready?” she snapped, leaning the rifle against the wall as she rounded the small corner that led into the main area. “I swear. I’ve already had to extend my duty time—if you guys strand me out here all night, I don’t care who your daddy is, I’ll…”
Her voice faded into a stunned silence as she stopped dead, staring at the dimly lit room. Dozens of candles wavered in the growing darkness, their tiny flames creating pockets of warm light, bathing the room with a cosy glow that made the shadows on the walls flicker and dance. A large blanket had been wrapped around the rig, hiding the dull metal and keeping the draughty air from swirling about the room. A small table and three chairs had been squeezed into one corner, while an oversized bed dominated the other. Pillows spilled across the duvet adding depth to the already thick mattress.
A flash of movement caught her eye and she turned as a shadowy figure stepped out from behind the rig, his brown hair flecked with red from the muted light. The tight feeling in her chest increased, and she blinked, not sure how she stayed on her feet as a wide smile broke across his face.