Patrick leaned in, pulling a headset into my lap and indicating for me to buckle up. He gave a brisk pair of tugs to the buckle, switched my headset on, and gave me the thumbs-up.
“Forget everything you know about that,” he chuckled. I could hear him clearly against my ear.
“That good?” I asked, staring him in the shades.
“Almost nothing like it.”
The door closed, and he climbed into the cockpit. Running his checklist, he started talking to himself as I glanced out the window. The roof access door was a small distance away…I could still call to the pilot over the headset and change my mind.
Truth be told, I had only partially taken Cole Andrews seriously. But now that I was seated in his private helicopter, ready to depart for his home, I was suddenly aware that this was actually happening.
My breath caught in my throat as the blade above us began to twirl above. The walls were clearly soundproofed as well s they could be – the growing throttle remained distant, and the helicopter barely moved an inch.
“All set back there?”
Now or never, Key.
“Let’s do this!”
“Finally!” He laughed jovially into the mike. “If only I could convince Mr. Andrews to have that level of enthusiasm…better hold onto something! Bit on the windy side!”
Immediately, we lifted off, pulling straight forward off of the building. I gazed out the window in horror as the roof disappeared out of sight, and we began to slowly ascend.
“Wait, why didn’t we go straight up? It’s always straight up in the movies!”
“Fuel conservation and noise deterrence!” He chuckled. “Don’t worry, I spend every day transporting the token billionaire of this city around in this little hummingbird! You’re safe with me.”
“That’s…reassuring, actually,” I agreed. “Thanks.”
“No problem. Enjoy the view!”
That’s exactly what I did.
The city sprawled below as I listened to Patrick coordinate with local aerospace and the airport control tower. We weaved around a building or two as the craft ascended. After a few minutes, only the very tallest towers of the metropolis could reach our height. Everything reached out far below, just barely recognizable.
“Is it far?” I asked the pilot.
“Not in this, it’s not. Not far at all. Of course, this puppy can hit two hundred miles an hour, so far isn’t exactly the same thing up here…”
I nodded to myself, entranced by the view again.
Not ten minutes later, we were encircling a small manor, situated atop a high-rise building. In front of it sprawled a large, lush garden with exquisite landscaping. I could see a small pool in the back, part of a balcony just the right size for a modestly large party.
“I’ve heard of a penthouse apartment, but… He lives in a pent… House?”
“Yeah, that’s about what I said too…”
We descended on the helipad. Patrick removed the headset and released me from the cabin, and I climbed out onto the pavement to see the home of the Runaway Tycoon for the first time.
Outside of the walkways and this helipad, I was surrounded by a large, lush garden with accent trees and a blend of aromas that invigorated my very soul. It stretched to occupy all of the rooftop space in sight, giving way only to the manor itself. You could almost forget you were on top of a skyscraper, if it wasn’t for the stomach-dropping views in every direction.
The penthouse was a stunning modern marvel, scraping the sky in luxurious fashion. Choosing an elegant, futuristic design, the architect had gone all out – half polished, white stone, half glass, and all class. With the sun setting in the distance, the lights were already on, giving the entire place a romantic ambiance that made my knees wobble.
The rotors sped up behind me, and I turned on the spot to see the helicopter begin its ascent. As the sunlight gleamed against the window, I barely saw Patrick waving, and I waved back with slight indignation.
What the hell do I do now? I don’t see Cole anywhere…
The way I saw it, I had two options:
1. Fling myself from the rooftop.