Romance flies the friendly skies in this diverse collection of short stories from a talented group of best-selling and up-and-coming authors.
There’s something for everyone in this mile-high compilation – from a love story born in a blizzard to a steamy encounter spawned by a series of crazy events. For supernatural fiction fans, how about the tale of an airport that’s also a portal to another world… or a scheduled flight that takes a detour into an alternate reality?
From an unexpected trip that reignites a twenty year old flame, to a quirky liaison between a ticketing agent and an adorable doctor, Frequent Flyers takes you on a journey that will touch your heart and leave you flying high!
In A Midsummer Flight’s Dream, librarian Jolie Flynn has recently lost everything: her money, her house, her job, even her own name. When she has to fly to Öland, an island off the coast of Sweden, she bumps into Mattias during a layover. Twenty years ago, he promised to catch her if she fell, but he’s no longer the boy she knew from that magical summer two decades years ago. The attraction between them still burns hot as the solstice sun, and Jolie is reminded who she used to be, and that perhaps she hasn’t lost everything after all. Contains young lust, old books, and wild strawberries.
Öland, (pronounced err-lahnd) is an island off the southeastern coast of Sweden, a magical place that time, and for eleven months of the year, most of the world forgets. Iron Age and Viking people settled (or at least died a lot) there, and the island served as the Royal game preserve for centuries of kings. Nowadays it’s a folksy artist summer hideout, with huge parties at midsummer that go on for days.
I first was on Öland—which translates to island-land, Swedes being rather literal like that–in 1991, and I fell in love with everything: the sea, the stones, the history, and the people. Everyone is beautiful in Sweden, from the craggy faced great grandmothers with laughing eyes, to brash boys that stare openly while not saying a word, and gorgeous women with the innate ability make really funky sweaters look fashionable. If you don’t believe me, have another shot of aquavit and tell me there isn’t something charismatic about that guy over there, the tall one who has been watching you all night and doesn’t look away when you meet his eyes.
The sunlight is amazing in Sweden in June. All the clichés of the “land of the midnight sun” are true; it’s as if the sun is too excited to set, and doesn’t want to miss the festivities. I lost track of the hour when I was there, and the day, it was simply summer. A Midsummer Flight’s Dream is an homage to the island, and the airports that take us there and get us home.
“I can’t believe you’re doing this.” Lucky clipped the stop sign as she backed out of the lot of the bed-and-breakfast that had given me a discount rate for the whole month, and turned north. “You’re like one of those college students who hikes across Russia with nothing but a sleeping bag, so she can ‘discover’ herself.” My 35-year-old best friend was the one who looked like a college student, or even younger, with yesterday’s glitter still smeared on her eyes and her hair in pigtails. “I always thought that ‘discovering yourself’ was a euphemism for ‘figuring out how to masturbate,’” she said. “You’ve got cash, right? So you can eat?”
“Yes, I have money.” I didn’t tell her how little I had: $93 dollars in my bag, $80 of it in change, leftover from the last yard sale. Enough, at least, to get me there. “I have a place to stay, and there’ll be food.” I hoped. “I’m fine.”
Lucky picked up the coffee stirrer from her gas station cappuccino and chewed it as she turned on to Route 7, mumbling something that sounded a lot like “No, you’re not.”
I grabbed my carry-on, a blue canvas backpack faded with twenty years of hard use, the reluctant gift from a boy who hadn’t wanted me to leave. In the outside pocket, next to my e-ticket receipt and my passport, was a pack of stale gum. I counted sticks—two for each flight—and took the one left, unwrapping it partway. I held it up and tugged the plastic stick from Lucky’s mouth.
“Just promise me you’ll cut loose a little. Get your mojo back,” she said, folding the gum into her mouth. “Get drunk. Get laid, even. Seduce some rich married guy and do him in the airport hotel.”
“You’re telling me to be the ‘other woman?’”
“No! Of course not. No.” Then she groaned. “No. Nonono!” She grimaced at the rear view mirror, slowing to a crawl on the side of the road. “I’m so sorry, Jolie. I wasn’t speeding, I swear.”
I turned, looking over my shoulder to the dark green squad car of a Vermont State trooper. “It’s okay,” I told her, though it really wasn’t. The plane ticket cost me what was left of my settlement and my last paycheck from the library. I hadn’t been able to afford the missed flight insurance.
The police officer tailed us until we could pull off alongside someone’s gravel driveway, and then he sat behind us for ten minutes, while I counted my heartbeats and Lucky apologized every thirty seconds. Finally, he rapped his knuckles on her window.
“Going a little fast there,” he said, taking her license and proof of insurance. “Are you aware your left brake light cover is broken?” She shook her head, apologizing to him now, and he left after eyeballing her train pajamas. I checked the time on my phone—two minutes ahead of the time on the dashboard of Lucky’s car—and reread the email I’d received late last night.
“So you’re staying at your aunt’s house?” Lucky asked. “The one who sends you all the weird hats?”
“Yeah. Great Aunt Tove. My mom’s mother’s sister.” She made fancy hand-dyed yarns for fiber artists, and knit strange gloves and scarves decorated with seashells, some itchy and musky with homespun fibers, some softer than kittens.
Lucky looked at the side mirror, and tapped her fingers on the steering wheel. “Will you have internet?”
“I doubt it. I’ll be happy if there’s electricity.”
“Wait. Is this the same woman with the neighbor boy? From that summer?” she asked, and I nodded, running my fingers over the three embroidered crowns on my backpack. They had frayed, but the yellow was still bright under the thinning metallic threads. He had dark hair, green eyes, and skin tanned gold by the Arctic sun and the sea; he’d taught me how to fish and what the words on the menu at the cafe said and how to drive my aunt’s ancient stick shift Saab, and had refused to say goodbye. Lucky grinned at me and bounced in her seat. “Is he still there?”
“I don’t think so. Tove said he got married a long time ago. Before I did.” She’d sent me a picture, addressed to her in gorgeous feminine handwriting, a Christmas postcard of three dark-haired girls with wide-set eyes, so button-cute my heart cried sugar tears.
The officer tapped on the car window again, even though it was rolled down halfway. He handed her a slip of paper, explaining that she had ten days to fix the light, and then waved us on. We’d lost twenty-three minutes.