Lyle has booked a helicopter so he and Isabelle can ride to the rescue of a troubled friend’s baby.
Lyle took the baby from Isabelle while she climbed into the helicopter. Such a warm, trusting bundle. He glanced down at Tigger’s chubby face, nearly covered by blankets. Poor kid.
Had this been him, once upon a time? A baby given away by his mother? Had his mother cried like Beth?
He shook off the thought and handed the bundled-up baby to Isabelle so he could board. Draper closed the door behind them, then came around to hoist himself into the cockpit.
Isabelle bit her lip as she settled Tigger into her arms. “This is definitely going to be interesting. I’m a doctor, not a babysitter.”
“That’s why she chose you,” Lyle reminded her.
“Yes, but … Jim, what should I do with the baby? Car seat or lap?” Isabelle called to the pilot. She turned to Lyle, panic rising in her eyes. “Jesus, Lyle. This is a baby. I have a baby in my lap and I’m supposed to take care of him.”
Lyle squeezed her shoulder, then spread his hand across her neck, massaging lightly. “You got this. You’re a doctor. You’re a smart, compassionate woman.”
“But this is a baby. A completely helpless little being. In my lap.”
Draper turned toward the back seat and handed her a set of noise canceling headphones. He seemed to be biting back a laugh. “He’s fine in your lap, but put these on him to protect his ears. You weren’t expecting a baby for Christmas? Surprise.”
“No. What? Christmas? Oh my God. You’re right.” Her voice rose. “It’s almost Christmas, and now there’s a baby in my lap and I’m totally responsible for his health and wellbeing and how do parents do it? He hasn’t even woken up yet and I’m freaking out. Lyle, this is a disaster.”
The helicopter’s blades spun. Draper spoke into the comm, connecting with the local tower, and the chopper lifted into the air.
Isabelle clutched at her throat, hyperventilating. “We should go back. This is a bad plan. Beth didn’t think this through. She doesn’t know what she’s doing.”
This called for drastic measures. Lyle unbuckled his seat belt so that he could lean over and cup her face in his hands. It took a moment for her gaze to settle on him, but he waited patiently until it did. Her cheeks were cool under his touch, maybe from the wind on the beach, or maybe from sheer terror.
“It’s gonna be fine,” he told her. “You got this. We got this.”
Her breathing slowed, and the panic ebbed from her beautiful green eyes.
“Yeah. We. There’s something you don’t know about me.”
His gaze dropped to her lips, which were parted and slightly chapped. Awareness flashed in her eyes, and suddenly it was just the two of them, flying through the sky on a magic carpet, no baby, no pilot, just them. He brushed his lips against hers, the sensation perfect and exquisite, like an angel wing feather. The softest of sighs came from her lips as they parted even further.
Her eyelashes fluttered, the green of her irises darkened. Pure happiness flooded through him, something he felt…well, never, really.
If only they could lose themselves in the world of that kiss, truly forget everything else out there. If only he could use this small moment of vulnerability to reach inside Isabelle’s soul, to make a place for himself in her heart.
The humming of the engine brought him back to reality, along with Draper clearing his throat.
“Seatbelts, people. Seatbelts.”
Right. They were in a helicopter, flying back to Rocky Peak Lodge with a baby.
He drew away from Isabelle and settled into his own seat, refastening his shoulder strap. “The thing you don’t know about me is that I’m pretty good with kids,” he told her. “Or at least I used to be. Did my share of babysitting for foster families nine and ten. It’s been a while since I was around a kid, but I hear it’s like riding a bike.”
“Riding a bike?” She looked a little dazed by what had just transpired between them.
That’s what he wanted. More of that dazed look. More of those soft lips.More kissing. Much, much more kissing.