"Here. Let me do it. You won't find it before the stewardess comes back." He hesitated slightly, and then handed the phone over. I had it in plane mode and then back in his grasp within a minute. With a look of pure bliss on his face, he sat back and returned to his game. I pulled a piece of gum out, double checked my seat belt, and looked out the window. Thursday and Friday had passed quickly at work. Brad had stayed in his wing, and I in mine. I had accomplished all of the tasks that Broward had left for me, and looked forward to not thinking about work for the next two days. The first class stewardess walked back by, pausing by our seats. "Plane mode," I said, in response to her quizzical look at Brad's phone. He didn't look up from his game. She nodded. "Champagne?" she offered. "Yes please, " I replied. I elbowed Brad. "Sure," he muttered. I'm sure he had no idea of what he was agreeing to. I looked back out the window as she walked off.


I had never been in first class before and felt ridiculously giddy about the experience. I took both the pillow and blanket the stewardess offered, then stretched out in my roomy seat, a glass of champagne in hand. Brad had taken the aisle seat, and his enormous frame made the spacious seat look tiny. I grabbed a Lisa Gardner thriller out of my bag and prepared for the flight. We had a short commuter flight, and then a long trek over to Vegas.

CHAPTER 15

Landing in Vegas was an experience in itself. Not the landing, but the walk through the airport. We had both packed for just carry-on, so we headed straight for the exit once we left the plane. The airport was crowded with cle**age, diamonds, and tourists, its walls covered with digital screens advertising different shows, casinos, and restaurants. We finally arrived at the exit and walked through, hitting the taxi and limo lines. It was chaos, with a long line for the taxis and all of the drivers shouting and waving. Brad spotted our driver first, an older black man in a tuxedo, with a printed sign reading "De Luca". He went over and shook his hand. "Hey Leonard," he said, pumping his hand enthusiastically.

"Hey Mr. De Luca," the driver said, in a thick New York accent. "How ya been doing?"

"Great, Leonard, just great. This is Julia," Brad said - holding out his arm and drawing me towards them. I shook Leonard's hand and smiled. Leonard was a large man, who looked like he might have been a bouncer in his younger days. He was missing a tooth but still managed to look dignified.

"Hi Julia. It's a pleasure to meet you. That bag all you got?"

"Yes sir, but its a heavy one."

"Awww, it'll be no trouble to me. Besides, the big guy can always help me out," he said, clapping Brad on the back.

"How's Jeanne?" Brad asked, following Leonard to a long white stretch limo. Leonard limped a little when he walked, so it was a slow trip. I lagged behind and watched them chat.

"She good man, real good. She been playing with grandkids all day while schools out."

"I bet she enjoys that."

"She do - but I'm starting to want my house back! Those kids watch too much cartoons, not enough baseball." He chuckled good-naturedly as he swung our bags into the trunk.

Leonard held the door open and I ducked into the limo, sliding all the way over to the other side. Brad crawled in after me and shut the door. It was quiet inside the limo, and we waited for Leonard to make his way to the driver's seat. "I take it you come often?" I said dryly.

He grinned at me and grabbed my knee, giving it a squeeze and leaving his hand there. "I try to come up about every other month. Clears my head, and sometimes my wallet." Now that we had landed, his intensity had lightened, and he seemed playful.

"You typically come alone?" I hated asking, but I wanted to know.

"Depends on if I am seeing anyone, or what kind of trip I am in the mood for."

"And what kind of trip are you in the mood for now?"

He slid his hand up my bare leg until it reached my upper thigh. "Haven't really figured that out yet," he said. On impulse, I leaned over, grabbed the back of his head, and kissed him.

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Our first kiss started out tentative. It was not a planned event, and I wasn't sure how he would react. He responded immediately, reaching a hand in between me and the seat, hooking it around my waist and pulling me tight to him. He deepened the kiss and used his other hand to brush my hair away from my face, and then trailed his fingers down my neck and cupped my breast through my thin tee shirt. His hands, on my breast and tight around my waist, were electrifying, and I gasped - feeling arousal take over my entire body. Our tongues combined perfectly, teasing and tasting each other until we finally pulled apart, gasping. I stared into his eyes, frozen. What the hell had I gotten myself into?

He leaned back, sliding his hands in all areas they shouldn't be until they were back in his domain. I scooted back in my seat also, nervously biting my fingers and trying to think of what to say. God, did Leonard see that? I glanced towards the front and saw that he had closed the privacy screen. Thank God.

"Come here."

I looked up. Brad was patting the seat next to him. The space I just scooted out of. I hesitantly slid back over, and he used his arm to spin me away from him, so I was facing the door. "Move down", he said. I slid my butt out until I was laying down, my head on his leg.

"I've got to make a call," he said. "You relax. We have a 30 minute drive ahead of us." He began to run his fingers through my hair, and I did relax. I tried to figure out what was going on between us, and what I would do once we were alone in the room, and what… Instead, with his hand gently playing with my hair, and the hum of the car on the road, I drifted off to sleep.

I woke up 15 or 20 minutes later to Brad talking on the phone.

"I told you I would take care of it."

"No, for Christ's sake, don't get him involved."

"I can't handle it on this trip. I'm not alone."

"Just a girl. No one you know."

"She's not that type, too straight-laced."

I lay still, with my eyes closed. His fingers were still running through my hair. Has he been doing that the entire time?

"Look, I have to go. We're almost to the casino. I'll call you next time I'm in town. Tell Jenny I said hi."

The limo swayed as we rounded a curve. Brad gently shook my shoulder. "Julia."

I pretended to sleep on.

"Julia." Louder this time.

I stirred, and then opened my eyes. He was looking down at me, bemused. "Hi."

I stretched, as much as I could in the backseat of a limo. Then I sat up slowly, rubbing my eyes.

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