She bit her lip, visibly wavering.

He pressed his advantage. “My private plane is fueled up and waiting. We can be in Las Vegas in...”

“No!” He was surprised at the sudden vehemence of her tone. She licked her lips. “Um, Dr. Schauss said I could go into labor at any time—”

“She also said she saw no imminent signs.” He looked at her pale face and added soothingly, “We can bring a doctor on board with us, just in case.”

“Forget it.” She swallowed. “I’m not getting on any plane.”


She took a shuddering breath. “If I do, I’ll die! We’ll both die!”

“What are you talking about?”

Tears spilled over her lashes. “My father died in a plane crash...”

“Yes,” he said, his voice gentle, “but that doesn’t mean—”

“Two weeks ago, my own flight almost crashed.” He vaguely recalled reading something about an emergency landing in Ireland for her London-bound flight. She continued, “After what happened to Dad, I should have known better than to get on a plane for any reason! I told myself I was being silly. I ignored my intuition, and it almost killed us!” Hugging her belly, she shook her head fiercely. “I’ll never get on another plane—ever!”

“But, Scarlett,” he said quietly, “there are, on average, a hundred thousand flights every single day. Almost every one takes off and lands safely, without incident. Statistically—”

“Shut up! Don’t you quote statistics to me!”

Her voice sounded almost hysterical. He had the feeling if he pushed her, he’d lose even the small bridge of trust he’d created. So he changed tactics. “I own an airline and also have two private jets for my own use. I even have a pilot’s license, should I ever need to fly a plane myself. So I can supervise the equipment check, Scarlett. I can personally guarantee you’ll be safe.”

Scarlett choked out a tearful laugh. “And I can personally guarantee that I’m never getting on another plane!”

He tried to think of a way to reason with her. But as he looked into her beautiful, anguished eyes, as he saw the tears streak down her cheeks, he suddenly didn’t want to argue. He just wanted to make it better.

Without a word, he pulled her into his arms. She fell against him, and he wrapped her in his coat, stroking her hair and back, murmuring gentle words until her sobs quieted and she was no longer shaking.

“All right,” Vin said softly. “We don’t have to fly. I’ll never make you do anything you don’t want to do. I’ll always look out for you, Scarlett. Always.”

Nestled against his white button-up shirt, wrapped beneath the lapels of his long black coat, Scarlett lifted her head with a ragged breath. She looked so beautiful in the sunlight, he thought. Her tearful eyes shone like emeralds.

She was vulnerable. It was the moment Vin should have pressed his advantage, gotten her to acquiesce to his proposal, boxed her in.

Instead, he felt something twist in his heart. And instead of pouncing on her weakness, forcing her to agree to his demands, he did what he’d wanted to do since he’d first seen her standing in the New York cathedral, her red hair tumbling over her shoulders, her green eyes luminous and pleading beneath a beam of golden light.

Cupping her face in his hands, Vin lowered his head and kissed her.


SHE HADN’T EXPECTED him to kiss her.

The world seemed to whirl around Scarlett, making her dizzy as Vin’s lips moved against hers. The kiss deepened, his mouth becoming hard and demanding, as if she belonged to him, and he owned the right of possession. He held her tight, her rounded belly and overflowing breasts pressing against his taut stomach and the hard muscles of his chest. He wrapped her in his warmth, protecting her from the wind, and she shook as she felt a hot rough pulse of electricity course through her.

She’d forgotten what it was like to kiss him. She’d forced herself to forget. But now, as she felt the tip of his tongue flick inside her mouth, as she felt his hot mouth silky against hers, she clutched him closer, never wanting to let him go. She couldn’t. Not when every night for eight and a half months, she’d ached for him, dreaming of the hot night he’d ruthlessly taken her virginity, given her mind-blowing pleasure and filled her with his child.