Book 1 in the Alaska Matchmakers Romances
He’s an Alaska pilot. She needs a ride. There’s just one catch …
Rachel has a mission: get to her brother in small town Alaska and bring him home. She has a job to return to as soon as possible. Even a handsome pilot can’t distract her, and romance isn’t on her schedule.
Noah flies for work and play. Ready for a vacation, he accidentally ends up in an adventure with Rachel. His mother’s been busy matchmaking, but Noah and Rachel may have a way to get her to stop. If they can keep their hearts out of it.
If you enjoy Hallmark movies, Alaska, and sweet romance with a dash of fun, Accidentally Matched and the Alaska Matchmakers series may be right for you. Pre-order today to get your copy of Accidentally Matched.
You may have met Jonah’s brother, Adam, in Crazy About Alaska. Adam has four brothers and each will find love in the Alaska Matchmakers Romances.
This is a standalone book which is part of a series. It’s clean and wholesome with no sex or swearing. The author is from Alaska, so she knows the real Alaska.
Rachel Fitzpatrick leaned against the small airline’s counter. “I can’t get to Talkeetna today?”
A man with a full head of gray hair and weathered skin stared at her. “No, miss. As I said, we have no available pilots right now to fly you to Talkeetna.” He gave her a satisfied nod, as though he knew he had communicated the facts in a way that she would finally understand.
“I had a reservation.”
“For yesterday. That pilot is out on a different run right now. He won’t be back until late.”
One flight delay had led to an overnight stay in Seattle, and here she stood. “I had hoped the reservation would move me higher on the list.”
He shrugged. “Not when everyone’s out on other runs.”
“Is there a bus?”
“Perfect! Where do I catch it?”
“Downtown. But it’s only during the summer months. There’s a train too.”
As excitement grew again, she tamped it down. “Only in the summer?”
“It occasionally runs in the winter. It will be close to a week before its next trip to Talkeetna. You could drive.”
Polite as she preferred to be, even she couldn’t hold back a groan. “I haven’t driven in years. There isn’t a whole lot of need for a car when I live and work in Arlington, Virginia.”
The man nodded, but in a hesitant way, making her wonder if he knew where Arlington was.
“That’s just outside of Washington, D.C,” she explained.
“Ahh. Well, I’m sorry, miss. I can’t help you.”
Rachel wandered over to one of two chairs pushed against the wall, apparently their waiting area. It seemed it wasn’t easy to get to Talkeetna. She wished her brother hadn’t found a way.
The man at the counter waved at someone behind her, so Rachel turned to see who. A woman about her mother’s age had entered the hangar. The woman’s forest-green sweater had a pattern of daisies woven into it, and her purse had a bouquet of flowers embroidered on the navy fabric.
As Rachel turned to walk out of the hangar, hoping to find a hotel near the airport—one that would have a shuttle service—she passed the woman.
“I love all the flowers.” Rachel gestured at the sweater and purse.
The woman stopped. “Excuse me?”
Her startled tone assured Rachel that she had offended the only Alaskan she’d spoken to other than the man at the counter. As she opened her mouth to apologize, the woman interrupted.
“You like my flowers?”
“They’re cheerful. And I can use some cheer right about now.”
“My family does not love my flowers. I’m Karen.” The woman extended her hand for a handshake. “Karen O’Connell.”
“Rachel Fitzpatrick.” Rachel shook her hand. Expecting that to be the end of it, she turned once again toward the door.
“Do you need directions?”
Rachel stopped and faced the woman. “Only if you can tell me how to walk to Talkeetna this afternoon.”
“That isn’t going to happen. It’s about a two-hour drive.” The woman looked her over, seeming to take her measure. “Are you going to meet your boyfriend in Talkeetna?”
Rachel laughed. “No. My brother.”
The woman nodded slowly. “I imagine you’re in a hurry, though, to get back home to your boyfriend.”
Was the woman fishing for information? The last thing she wanted in her life was a matchmaker, but she didn’t have it in her to lie. “I’m not dating anyone.”
The woman’s smile grew broader. “I may have a flight solution for you. Let me talk to Amos over there and see if he’s thought of this.”
Karen marched up to the counter, and after a brief conversation with Amos, they both turned toward her and grinned, which unnerved her. Then Karen pulled out her cell phone and made a call. Sliding her phone back into her flowered purse, the woman marched back to Rachel.
“We found you a ride to Talkeetna, and it’s leaving in about half an hour.” Karen handed her a piece of paper that had a series of letters and numbers on it and a man’s name—Noah. Rachel looked from the paper to the man behind the counter. Since no one else was in the place, she called out to him, “You know that he’s a good pilot?”
“None better. He’ll get you where you’re wanting to go.”
The woman patted Rachel on the arm. “Noah is my son. But I have a favor to ask of you.”
Oh, so she was matchmaking. Rachel wouldn’t go out with her son even if he did seem to offer the only access to Talkeetna today.
But Karen’s next words surprised her. “I’d like your help in playing a small joke on him.” The woman raised her eyebrows and grinned.
Not a date then. “What kind of favor?”
“Your name made me think of it. Can you do an Irish accent?”
Rachel leaned back and looked the lady over. This must be the strangest request from a mother. Ever. But if it was the ticket to Talkeetna and David, why not?
She shrugged. “My dad’s side of the family is from Ireland. I’ve been there quite a few times. Yes, I can do a better than average Irish accent.”
Karen grinned. “Excellent. Watch his expression when you meet him. Then maintain that accent the whole time.”
“He won’t be upset when he finds out, will he?”
“Not a chance. All of my boys love a practical joke. Besides, he’ll never know. You get on and off the plane as an Irishwoman. I’ll tell him later.” She rubbed her hands together with glee.
“He’s at his plane now. I can run you over there, or you can walk to it in about ten minutes.”
Rachel felt the weight of her journey and the amount of time it had taken her to get there. Karen seemed nice, and she appeared to know the owner of this charter company well, so she would trust her. “A ride would be great, thank you.”
Noah stared at the phone in his hand and sighed. Then he put it back into his pocket. Family got him to do things he wouldn’t do for anyone else. He had brought his mother into Anchorage for a larger city shopping trip, and she planned to take a commercial flight home tomorrow with her purchases. But now she wanted him to give a ride to some woman who appreciated her flowers. He knew from experience that rarely happened.
When a woman chose to dress in floral from head to toe and decorate everything she could get her hands on with flowers—well, everything her husband and five sons would allow—it took a special someone to appreciate that. In his experience, that special someone was usually in his grandmother’s age group. Which wasn’t an insult to anyone that age, but extensive flowers seemed to appeal to them more than they did to a twenty-something.
He stowed his backpack on one side of the backseat and moved his ice chest to the floor to make room for his passenger. After closing that door, he went around to the other side of the plane to double-check that Zeke, his Belgian shepherd, was securely strapped in.
“Are you excited about our trip, boy?” He took Zeke’s panting and the lick he swiped across his cheek as an affirmative. His dog liked nothing better than running down trails, jumping in streams, and stopping to sniff the air to see if he could find any other animals on it. Throw in a dog treat every now and again, and he was in doggie heaven.
Out of the corner of his eye, he saw his mother’s white rental car pull up in front of his plane. When he turned to the car, and the passenger door opened, he knew he’d miscalculated. Somehow, his mother had actually found a woman his age who liked flowers, a pretty redhead who had a city look to her.
His mother walked over, the younger woman following. “Noah, I’d like you to meet Rachel.”
Rachel extended her hand to him. “I’m pleased to be meeting you.”
Noah froze. “You’re Irish?”
The woman hesitated, seeming not to know what to do with her hand. Noah shook it as she smiled hesitantly and replied, “Aye.”
His gaze shot to his mother, who stared at him with a smirk on her face. She knew his soft spot for Irish accents. His grandmother had come from there, and he had many happy childhood memories surrounding her. Even when visiting her now as an adult, he more than any of his brothers loved listening to her voice and the lilt of her accent.
Noah blinked and studied the woman in front of him. Her red hair was pulled up in a bun on top of her head, not one of those newer style messy buns, but a tight, almost Victorian bun. She had dressed appropriately for Alaska in a heavy jacket with a sweater peeking out at the neck, jeans, and sneakers. All appeared brand-new.
“Well, if everything is set, I’ll leave you two to get going on your flight.”
Noah’s gaze turned to his mother, and he narrowed his eyes. She was matchmaking again.
She had the nerve to grin at him. “There aren’t any problems, are there, Noah?”
If he refused to take this woman to Talkeetna, the direction he was flying anyway, it would be mean. His mother knew he didn’t have that in him. He’d been played by the master. “I think you’ve done all you need to, Mom.”
She gave him a small wave with her fingers and said, “I hope so. I truly hope so.”
He and Rachel watched his mother’s car drive off. Then they turned to each other.
Rachel spoke before he had a chance. “I appreciate your flying me to Talkeetna. But I don’t want to be a bother to anyone. Please tell me if I need to find a different way to get there.”
Okay. So he was the jerk of the hour. “It’s no problem. I’ll make a short stop to drop you off there, and then continue on. I’m going fishing and camping in that general area for a week.” He smiled to reassure her, and she smiled back.
“I’ve never been in an airplane this small. Not even close. It looks too small to fly.”
He laughed. “This Cessna 170 is closer to the size of a bird than a 747 and birds fly well. It’s safe and also fun to fly.”
As he settled Rachel into her seat, he saw Zeke leaning forward to catch her scent, but Rachel didn’t seem to notice. His dog must have approved, because if he hadn’t, he would have barked up a storm. That was one point in his mother’s favor.
Rachel fidgeted nervously as he climbed into his seat and put on his seatbelt and headset. While he went through the preflight checklist he’d committed to memory, she quietly said, “The man from the charter service said that you knew how to fly well.”
Noah laughed. “I learned to fly as soon as I could. I’ve logged many hours in the air and flown in weather that you can’t even begin to imagine, in both civilian and military planes. That experience is what got me my job as an airline pilot.”
Rachel swiveled toward him. “That’s your job? I’ve never known anyone who flew for a living.”
In spite of his annoyance with his mother, Rachel’s accent made him smile. “I’m never happier than when I’m sitting in an airplane soaring through the air.” He clapped his mouth shut, realizing he’d given away too much of himself to a woman he had just met.
She settled back into the seat. “I’m glad to hear it.”
Rachel sat up straight and stiff when he called “Clear!” out the window and then started the plane. With the prop spinning, he taxied over to the edge of the runway and requested permission to take off. When they rolled onto the runway, Rachel’s handwringing returned.
“Don’t worry. We’ll be in the air soon.”
“If your words are intended to reassure me, you’ve missed the mark. I don’t like to fly.”
Noah grinned. His mother had gotten this completely wrong. She needed to add “love of flying” to her list of matchmaking requirements. Feeling set free from any expectations of his mother, he pulled onto the runway.
Noah was handsome when he smiled, but she wouldn’t let that thought go any further. She had one reason for coming to Alaska. She had to stay focused.
The plane moved faster and faster and faster down the runway until it lifted off, exactly as a large plane would, but it felt somehow more real when the runway and the sky were inches away from her. The plane climbed up into the clouds, white swirling around them, then it popped above them and into sunshine.
“Wow! The sun is shining!”
Noah laughed. “The sun is always shining. Sometimes you have to get beyond the clouds.”
She turned toward him. “Is that a quote from someone?”
An odd sound came from the backseat, almost a whimper.
“What was that?”
Noah pointed to her right. “Grab a treat out of that bag and hold it over the top of the seat.”
Rachel picked up the bag he’d pointed to and found it filled with bone-shaped treats. When she held one in the air over the seat, she was awarded with a lick on her hand as it was scooped off and then a soft woof. She sat back in her seat with her hand on her chest. “You have a dog back there?”
“He goes everywhere with me.”
Great. She was sitting in a small airplane with a stranger, a handsome one she’d admit, and a dog. She had zero knowledge of dogs. Her parents hadn’t allowed them to have pets.
They crossed over a saltwater inlet. On the other side, trees and small lakes and rivers filled the landscape. “This is beautiful.” And it was. Even the green fields of the Irish countryside, broken by rock walls and sheep which always seemed to quiet her soul, were nothing like this openness. Thinking about Ireland reminded her that she currently had an Irish accent. She hoped she would easily find David in Talkeetna and that he appreciated her efforts. She sighed. “It’s raw beauty untouched by man.”
Noah turned to look at her and gave her a long stare. “It’s why I live in Alaska. It’s why I fly. I tried living outside, but I missed this.” He gestured to the view out his window.
“Outside? You lived in a tent?”
He laughed. “Outside with a capital O. That’s what Alaskans call the rest of the country.”
She laughed too. “I guess I’m a greenhorn.”
“Alaskans might say you’re a Cheechako. That’s someone who’s new here. We’ll just call you a newcomer or visitor.”
“Let’s go with newcomer. I may need to visit again.” She stared out the window, watching nature roll by under the plane. “I never asked. How long of a flight is it from Anchorage to Talkeetna?”
“Depending on headwinds and tailwinds and everything else, probably about thirty or forty minutes.”
She smiled broadly. “Then I’ll get to see David soon. I can’t wait to give him a big hug.”
They flew in silence for a few minutes. “Those are popular fishing rivers that we’re flying over, the Big and Little Susitna. Up ahead is an old mining area I’m planning to explore someday. Petersville.”
“It sounds like a lovely name for a town.”
“I don’t think it was ever considered a town. More a cluster of buildings whose inhabitants had the common goal of finding as much gold in the ground as they could. And they found a lot of it. They’re still finding it today.”
Something white poked through the cloud layer ahead of them. “What’s that?”
He looked to where she was pointing. “That is the top of the highest mountain in North America. Mt. McKinley. You may know of it as Denali. A lot of Alaskans still think of it as Mt. McKinley.”
“It’s beautiful. I’d like to see the whole mountain.”
“Those are the days we all love, when the mountain is clear. You can even see it from Anchorage then.”
She hoped the clouds cleared while she was here. “Have you ever thought about climbing the mountain?”
He shook his head. “I’m a flier, not a mountain climber. Someone I grew up with was.”
“He died up there. Not too long after high school.”
She could imagine what his family must have felt when a child died so young. “What a sad story.”
Noah’s expression was both sad and determined. “It is, but it isn’t. His family and his friends all knew that he died doing what he loved. It would be the same if something happened to me in an airplane. Flying is close to breathing to me.”
“It would still be sad. That’s how the bards write about love.”
“Are you a fashion designer?”
“No, I work in the family’s clothing business.”
The engine clunked. She’d never been in a small plane, but it didn’t sound right.
She watched Noah as the expression on his face passed from curiosity to seriousness to concern. Whatever had happened to the plane wasn’t good.
He pushed a button on his headset and spoke into the microphone. Then he checked the connections and spoke again, repeating his call. When no one seemed to answer, she realized the radio had gone out too.
They were alone.