Grady started the engines and taxied out to a clear area for take off. Tuyen was sitting beside him and she sat with Astrid in the back. “Well here we go.” Xaria smiled at Astrid as the plane surged forward. She was getting used to flying but takeoffs and landings still scared the heck out of her. She had to put on a show of bravery though because Astrid was terrified when they left the ground and climbed into the sky. She took Astrid’s hand and squeezed.
“Oh damn that was fucking fun,” Astrid lied to hide the terror she felt. Xaria was sure Astrid words were a lie and shook her head at the cuss word. Tuyen you’ve got to watch your mouth and quit letting Astrid learn cuss words otherwise Elof is going to kick all of our butts.
After they’d leveled off and flown for some distance Tuyen got out of her seat and came to the rear. “Grady wants you hon,” Tuyen said to her.
Standing up, she went to the pilot cockpit. When she got there Grady told her to sit in the copilot seat. Following his request, she took a seat, being ever so careful not to touch anything. In a smart-alec way she spoke to Grady, “So what ya want babe? We can’t make love, you’re flying the plane besides we have company?”
Grady grinned at her. “Time for you to start learning what all these gauges and controls are Xar.” Smiling at the use of Xar she remembered that Tuyen had decided the three of them needed nicknames for each other. Xar for herself, Gra for Grady and Tu for Tuyen.
Without waiting, he began schooling her on what the different gauges indicated. She was smart and learned quickly. In a few hours, she knew what most of them meant. She knew what the controls did and what affect they had on the plane.
“Very good Xar. You learn fast,” Grady complimented her. “I guess there’s only one test left.”
He’d coaxed her into putting her hands on the stick earlier under the pretense of feeling it move as he made minor adjustments from his. Next, he flipped the autopilot off and nosed the plane into gentle decent. “She‘s all yours Xar. By the way you’re headed toward the ground.”
“What?” she cried out in panic. Jerking the stick back toward her, she over compensating and put the plane into a steep climb. “Damn you Grady. Shit, damn, fucking damn. Oh shit––t,” A steady stream of cuss words tumbled from her mouth as she first over compensated one way and then the other. Sucking in her lower lip, she bit down on it to silence the cuss words pouring from her mouth. She accidently turned the wheel adding a banking condition to her problems. She over corrected for this too and sent the plane banking the other way.
Although he was watching very closely and she was certain he would react quickly, if they got in serious trouble, Grady was roaring with laughter. She was too busy concentrating on the controls to give him the look of anger she was feeling right now.
“Damn you Grady. Take over these controls right now before I put us the drink.”
Only when she heard her own voice booming from the passenger compartment did she remember seeing Grady toggle the PA buttons and open the talk circuit.
Her cussing and his laughter were being broadcast into the rear cabin. Grady was not the only one laughing. Distantly she heard Tuyen’s laughter from behind. Even Astrid was laughing, as the plane dipped and rolled. She was certain that Tuyen had warned Astrid, what was going to happen. There was no doubt in her mind that this was not spontaneous. Her mates had been sitting up here plotting this.
Now, finally, Grady began to instruct her. “Watch the little gauge in front of you. Ease back on the stick. That’s it. See how the little plane on the gauge reacts when you do? Turn the wheel slowly until the wings of the plane on the gauge are level. That’s my girl.” He encouraged when she followed his instructions.
Finally, she got the hang of gentle movements to the stick and eventually leveled the plane out. When the plane was cruising level once more and on course, she set the autopilot. Drenched in sweat, she sat back in relief. She flashed a venomous glare at Grady that was hot enough to melt the paint off the bulkhead. “Grady you’re a fucking asshole.”
Between laughs, he answered, “I’m sorry Xar but watching you struggle with the plane was so damn funny.”
Now that the plane was flying steady, again Tuyen appeared in the doorway. She was laughing so hard that tears were streaming from her eyes.
“Grady you suck. You scared the crap out of me damn you,” she shouted.
“I’m sorry Xar but in my defense it wasn’t all my idea.” He glanced back at Tuyen.
She looked back at Tuyen. “I’m sure. I’m sure both of you were in on the plot. You suck too. You know you could have given me a damn heart attack?”
Grady and Tuyen broke out in another fit of laughter.
“Get up here and sit down Tu, I need to go pee.” Standing, she glared at both of them then stalked off and slammed the lavatory door closed behind her. When she returned she punched each in the shoulder and smiled. “You’re both shits and I owe you… Big time.” She huffed, and then spinning on her heel, went into the rear. A little later, she returned but this time she brought each of them a glass of water. “This is much more than either of you deserve and I’m still mad at you. At the same time I want you to remember that I love you too. In the words Tuyen has taught me, paybacks are a bitch.”