Wooden, Table, Coffeehouse, ShopBistro tables scattered at angles on a plank floor. Book-lined shelves flanking a stone fireplace. Leather chairs placed in little nooks. A glossy counter scuffed with years of scrapes from coffee mugs. Normally, it was the kind of place that Rayne Hartwell would delight in. . . but not today. Even the pinkish tinge to the spring sky and the hint of thaw in the air seemed out of place. She didn’t want to be in Vermont; her heart was in the jungle. 
      Somewhere, above a muggy rain forest in a little Cessna plane was the man she loved. She wondered whom he was picking up today—a new missionary family, a child with a fever, a warrior with a serious wound? Each flight was a mission, an opportunity to minister. She could picture Dalton in the cockpit, expertly maneuvering the little plane over miles of terrain and landing on primitive runways. She wanted to be right there with him, pretending to be his navigator, handing him a cup of coffee from his thermos, stealing a kiss when the passengers were asleep. But, he was thousands of miles away and she was here, crying into her mocha cinnamon coffee. Which didn’t even taste that good.  
     Well, she’d have to make the best of it. They had agreed that she needed to complete her medical training before joining him on a permanent basis. Permanent basis. Marrying Dalton Ward was a dream she was almost afraid to believe might come true. Ruggedly good-looking with a passion for God and a winning smile, he had captured more than a few hearts in the girls’ dorm at Bible college. The evening he asked her for a date, she’d actually felt dizzy with excitement. And the winter night when he proposed would go down in history as a heart-stopping moment. But now there were duties for each of them to fulfill. Until next spring, they were keeping connected with email, Facebook and Skype. But the time span felt endless. How on earth could she wait that long to see him? In spite of her resolve, another tear squeezed down her cheek. She reached for her napkin to sop her drippy face and saw she’d dropped it on the floor. Bending down for it, she noticed a man’s shoe right beside her hand. She looked up. And dropped the napkin again. 
     Dalton winked. “Nice to know I have that effect on you.” 
     Rayne couldn’t speak; she just stared. It couldn’t be. He looked wonderful; always did to her, of course, but now maybe it was the firelight on his skin or the fact that he held a coffee mug in his hand or maybe just that she couldn’t believe he was here.  
     “May I sit down?” He was grinning.  
      She stammered. “Yes, please, what are you doing here? I mean, how . . . ?” 
     He pulled a chair over on her side of the table and draped an arm around her, squeezing her in a tight hug. “You’re sweet when you’re speechless.” 
     She punched him playfully. “Watch it, mister!”  
     He laughed softly and set his coffee mug down, turned to look into her eyes. “Let me look at you a minute. It sure beats that faded picture taped to the flight control panel! Boy, honey, I’ve missed you.” 
     She took his free hand in both of hers. And started crying again.  
     “Here now, stop that. I’ve only got a couple days here; let’s don’t spend them crying.”  
     She smiled. “Okay, but explain this, please. What happened?”  
     “The Cessna is undergoing an overhaul; Steve is flying for me, and the mission board needed me to come stateside for a couple weeks and take care of some paperwork and a few other important items. I convinced them that a couple days deputation in New England was very important . . .and here I am!”  
     Rayne leaned into him, loving his strong presence, savoring the delight of his nearness. She knew there’d be more separations before they were together for always, but, with God’s help, they’d make it to the wedding . . . and a life of ministry together. It was all in the flight plan. And their Navigator had a flawless record. 


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