Sampler: Claire’s Ticket Out by Cindy Davis

There wasn’t even time for her life to flash before her eyes.  Payton’s last thought before the jet plunged into the ocean: Aden, I love you.

One woman bent on revenge. One unsuspecting. Is one man enough to keep them apart?

Claire blames Payton for the fact that she’s been locked in an asylum for nine months. When a fellow inmate jokes that she and the bailiff look alike, she devises a plan to escape using the woman’s identity.

Though it’s been almost a year, Aden still loves Payton. He decides to find her and propose. He arrives at her parents’ home hours after she leaves for Rome, and just hours after Claire wreaks havoc on her family.

Payton’s plane goes down, and she is rescued by a fishing captain who urges her to stay with him until she’s well. While she recovers, he does everything to thwart anyone’s attempts to find her.

Claire and Aden are both focused on finding Payton. Where will their paths cross? Who will live to see the future?

Cindy Davis

Sampler: Claire’s Ticket Out

The plane bumped again. Darned turbulence. Happened on every flight. Each time it brought unwanted images of death in a flaming inferno screaming into her head. And each time the visions were for nothing. Planes crashed far less often than cars. She’d always loved flying—except for the turbulence.

Somehow, she managed to look calm—at least she thought so—spread her fingers nonchalantly on the armrests when the fingernails wanted to dig into them, and flexed her jaw when the muscles wanted to clench as tight as her fingers.

An attendant’s voice, thick with an Italian accent, came through the speakers. “Folks, we will be in Rome in about thirty minutes. Please make sure your seatbelts are fastened, your seats are in the upright position, and tables are locked in place. Thanks for flying with Alitalia. We hope your stay in Rome is enjoyable.”

All around, bodies stirred and stretched. Clothing rustled. Chairs bumped upright. Tables latched into place. Payton joined the preparation for landing.

The plane bumped, knocking a passing attendant against the aisle seat. “Attendants, please take your seats and buckle up,” came the captain’s voice. The attendant righted himself and scurried to make sure everyone obeyed the disembodied voice.

Was Payton imagining a harried tone to the captain’s words? No, he was probably tired. It was, after all, an overnight flight. The plane bumped again, this time hard. This time she kept busy…using hand sanitizer, running a brush through her hair, plucking off a hangnail.

What was the point pining for Aden? He was seeing someone else. She’d blown it. Let it go. Get on with life. Perhaps she could find a sexy Italian stud. What did Kee call them? Italian stallions. What movie had that come from? Darned if she could remember.

If Aden wasn’t forever material, so be it. The only one wanting her to settle down was her family. She was happy being single. It meant she could concentrate on having fun in Italy. Fun=Sex. It had been Kee’s favorite saying the past weeks while the planning for the trip was underway.

Fun=Sex.

Payton laughed internally. When was the last time she had sex? It had, of course, been with Aden, and just during the trouble with Claire—which put it at almost a year ago. She sighed. Maybe it was time for a good old-fashioned fling with an Italian stallion.

The next burst of turbulence was accompanied by a distinct downward shift to the plane’s momentum. What the hell was going on?

After the dip in altitude, the plane didn’t level off. As a matter of fact, it seemed as though they were in a shallow nosedive. She wasn’t the only one to notice. All around, people wore expressions of round-eyed concern, arms clutching belongings in white-knuckled fingers.

Payton opened her window shade. Bright sunshine flowed in. In spite of the warnings to keep them shut, her fellow passengers opened theirs also.

The next moments were a blur. The pilot announcing there were mechanical problems but he felt certain they could make the airport. Passengers sobbing to God. Attendants racing around stowing loose items and instructing everyone to put their heads in their laps. Why? So they could kiss their asses goodbye? What the hell? Not that if something was happening she’d want to see it. She wouldn’t.

What did people do during times like this? She wasn’t a praying person. What good would it do?

The plane was at a 45-degree angle now. Payton didn’t try to disguise her hands gripping the chair arms, or her jaw clenching tight.

She’d heard it said that, at times like this, your life passed before your eyes. But none of it replayed in her head. For the most part, life had been good, no question. She wanted to talk to Jackie, to at least say goodbye and sorry for getting you into this mess but by the speed at which the Tyrrhenian Sea was approaching, there wouldn’t be time. Especially not enough time for her life to flash before her eyes.

Payton’s last thought before the jet plunged into the ocean: Aden, I love you.

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