With a shrug, I let the oversized bag hanging from my shoulder fall into my intended seat, then push the handle down on my new roller suitcase. Grimacing, I discover the bin above me is full. Apparently nothing is going to be easy tonight. Pushing to my toes, I try to adjust some bags to make room for mine, and it’s as much a struggle as breathing is right now.
“Let me help you.”
The deep, slightly husky male voice has me turning to my left to find myself captured in a familiar stare. My heart sputters. It can’t be. But it is. I’ve made a fool of myself by gaping at a gorgeous man and he’s here to make me pay in buckets of embarrassment. The man from the terminal is standing beside me, towering over my five feet three inches by close to a foot, and standing so close that I no longer have to guess the color of his eyes. They are blue, a piercing aqua blue that is almost green, and they are once again focused one hundred percent on me.
“My pleasure,” he says, a quirk to his mouth that I am once again looking at, along with the dark stubble shadowing his strong jaw along with his barely there goatee, which makes me think pirate. The kind that steals a girl’s senses and ravishes her body, leaving her incapable of anything but a whimper as she watches him walk out the door. Mr. Tall, Dark and Potentially Dangerous reaches over me to adjust the compartment, his t-shirt stretching over a perfectly sculpted broad chest. I don’t move—me, a person who believes wholeheartedly in personal space. I know I should and I mean to, but I don’t seem to have control over my legs, let alone anything else tonight.
He glances down at me, still shifting my luggage. “Just this bag?” he asks, and there is heat in his eyes. Or maybe amusement. And conquest, definitely conquest, which must get old for a man like him.
The thought is enough to make me step back, probably a bit too obviously. “Yes. Thank you.” Arms still stretched over his head, he adjusts my bag, muscles flexing, long torso stretching deliciously, and I don’t try to look away. Admiring this man keeps me from thinking about the hundreds of other people on this flight that could be trouble.
“We’re all set,” he says, motioning to the seat. “You want the window?”
“Window?” My belly tightens and I feel breathless. “We’re seated together?”
“Appears that way.” Humor lights his eyes, and his mouth that I am somehow looking at, quirks as he adds, “Small world.”
My cheeks heat at the reference to our little encounter in the terminal. “Too small,” I say, and an announcement over the intercom urges us to sit, saving me from some witty comment I don’t have.
“Last chance,” he says. “Window?”
I open myself to decline and snap my mouth shut. An aisle seat exposes me to the other passengers, many at my back. The only person who will ravish me while I’m trapped between this man and the wall is this man. “Do you mind?”
“Not at all.”
“Thank you,” I say, before I grab my bag and move to the seat he’s just given up, only to remember that he’d been settled here before I arrived. “Do you want your things from under the seat?”
He slides in beside me and he is big, and broad and too good looking for the safety of womankind. “Why don’t I just put yours under my seat?” he suggests.
He smells spicy and masculine, and the scent stirs a distant memory in the back of my mind. I shove it away, frustrated that I’m back to every little thing triggering flashbacks. Today has undone the strength I’d spent years creating in myself, made me weak as I once was. “Yes,” I agree. “Just let me grab a few things for the flight.” I quickly remove my file and my purse and hand over my carry-on, and in the process my hand brushes his. A jolt of electricity darts up my arm and I quickly turn away, buckling myself in. Maybe being locked in a corner with a man I am powerless to control my reactions to isn’t so smart.
I glance up to find a pretty twenty-something flight attendant holding a tray and gobbling up my seating partner with unabashed approval that makes me think of the bold way Chloe lives her life, and suddenly it’s hard to breathe. I will never see Chloe again.
“Why yes, we will,” my travel partner says, accepting two glasses, and turning to me, successfully dismissing the flight attendant.
I hold up a hand. “No. Thank you.”
“We have a designated driver.”
“I’m afraid it will make me sleepy,” I object, though I am certain the visit from my guardian angel, or handler, has ensured I won’t rest well again for a very long time.
“It’s a four-hour flight,” he points out. “Sleepy isn’t a bad thing.”
Sleepy. This gorgeous, incredibly masculine man has just said “sleepy” and it seems so out of the realm of what I expect from him, that he has managed the impossible considering my life right now. I smile an honest smile and accept the glass. “I suppose it’s not.” I sip the sweet, bubbly beverage.
A glint of satisfaction flickers in his eyes, as if he’s pleased I’ve done as he wishes, before he takes my glass from me and sets both our drinks in the cup holders between us. The easy way he assumes control of my tiniest actions, and seems to enjoy doing so, should bother me. For reasons I don’t have time to analyze, it only makes him more tantalizingly male.
He extends his hand. “Liam Stone.”