“Earlier you said that plan was grabbing her.”
“And it still is. My way, on my terms, and safely. Now go to sleep. We have hours in the air.”
“I’m not done arguing with you, but I do need sleep. And so do you.” She hits the button to recline my chair and then lies down on top of me, pulling the blanket over us. And it feels good, dangerously good, and a warning bell goes off in my head. Meg didn’t cloud my judgment, but Gia could—if I let her. Still, I don’t move her away, the fingers of one hand digging into the arm rest, those of my other hand curling by my side. “You don’t trust me, but you’ll sleep with me?”
She tilts her head up to look at me, surprising me when she reaches up and runs her fingers over my several days’ worth of stubble. “I never said I didn’t trust you.” Before I can reply, she lays her head back down.
“We’re both too tired to argue,” she says, without looking at me, her fingers curling on my chest, “and I’m definitely too tired to win. Let’s sleep.” She peeks up at me. “But for the record, I didn’t say I do trust you, either.”
She lowers her head again and I have no idea why, but my lips that never curve do so now, undoubtedly hinting at one of my rare smiles. And once again, it’s because of this woman.
I LIE STARING at the ceiling of the plane, the sweet weight of Gia on top of me somehow overriding my plans for revenge. I find myself replaying those moments in the hotel room when I’d been buried inside her, lost in nothing but her. Kissing her—and it’s with the memory of how she tastes on my lips that I finally fade into sleep.
Slumber predictably delivers a nightmare, and I wake with the touch of the tires on pavement and the taste of ash and vengeance on my lips.
Gia stretches, and I run my hands through her wild brunette mane, and I swear, I am so damn on edge that I want to drag her to the back of the plane and mess it up even more. She frowns as her eyes meet mine, surprising me when she reaches forward, stroking a lock of hair from my eyes. “I see the anger in your eyes.”
I cover her hand with mine. “It’s always there.”
“I understand, and don’t even think about telling me I can’t. You don’t know me well enough to say that.” There is a raw ache in those words, a sense of her dealing with how alone she is now; something I understand more than I wish I did.
She tries to remove her hand, but I hold on tight. “I want to know you, Gia. Everything about you—but I can’t. You know that.”
“I’m not asking you for anything except what you promised.”
“Which is what?”
There is a deep-seated anger roughing up her voice, shadowing her eyes, and for the first time, I’m clear-minded enough to question just how deep this need to destroy Sheridan runs for her. “What aren’t you telling me?”
“We’ve been through this.”
“No, I don’t believe we have.” The plane stops on the runway and, not about to linger inside where we could become targets, I add, “We’ll be talking again later. Count on it.” I stand up and turn to find Jared pounding away at his keyboard, unaware in a way he has never been. He doesn’t even realize I’m staring at him. Abruptly, his gaze lifts and meets mine, and there is something in his eyes, a warning I can’t read. But he’s sharp, and I know he’ll have checked on Gia. I just hope like hell that the truth he discovers matches what she’s shared with me.
The door to the plane opens behind me and I step into the aisle, giving Jared my back as I allow Gia to exit in front of me. The pilot steps into view, and he and I exchange a look of understanding about the need for his silence before I join Gia where she has paused at the top of the stairs.
“Let’s move,” I urge, my hand again going to her back, an action I’m making a habit of and can’t seem to stop.
“I arranged it.”
She sighs with relief, clearly more on edge than she let on in the plane. Peering over her shoulder, she confirms my conclusion. “I’m really nervous about being here.”
“Have a plan,” she finishes.
“That’s right.” I smack her ass and she yelps. “Now move. Lingering isn’t smart.”
For once, she doesn’t argue, hurrying down the steps. Jared takes the spot behind me, and I glance at him over my shoulder. “Anything I need to know?”
“Not urgently,” he comments at my back as I clear the final step, a reply that tells me he doesn’t want to speak in front of Gia, which means I’m not going to like what he has to say.
“IT’S HORRIBLE,” GIA says, sitting up on the ride through Brooklyn toward Manhattan, reacting to the poverty-stricken neighborhood around us.
“The crazy part about it,” Jared replies, “is that people live in poverty here on an income that would make them middle-class elsewhere.”
“Why stay, then?” Gia asks. “I don’t understand.”
Jared runs his hands down his jeans-clad legs. “If there’s one thing hacking has taught me, it’s that people stick with what they know and understand. And really, how would anyone living this close to the edge ever get to another city or state? They have no resources to start over.”