Stan was standing behind his desk neatly stacking papers into his briefcase when I tapped on his door. Juliette, Bob, and Irving were sitting on the couch in Stan’s office like the three monkeys that see, hear, and speak no evil. Bob and Irving stared into their coffee cups. Juliette had her eyes glued on Bob. There was a slight smirk of satisfaction on her face.
“Morning, Stan,” I said, forcing a smile to keep the tears at bay.
“Morning,” Stan said curtly, glancing up at me. He stared into my eyes for a moment, no doubt choosing the words that would let me down the quickest and easiest. I was dumbfounded when the corners of his lips curled into a smile.
“Just wanted to get everyone together to let you know what the itinerary is for the week,” he said. He came around the desk with four pieces of paper and handed them out to the group.
“Henry Costas emailed that to me earlier. I forwarded a copy of the email to each of you, but I wanted to give you a hard copy we can review in the car on the way to the airport.”
“That’s it?” Juliette asked. She cut her eyes at me. They all did. They all seemed a little surprised that I was still on the team. I certainly was.
“That’s it,” Stan said, moving back around the desk to finish packing his briefcase. He held up his wristwatch when nobody moved. “That’s it. Let’s go, people. The car leaves for the airport in twenty minutes. I’ll meet you all downstairs.”
The Wright Enterprises corporate jet was fueled and ready for takeoff when we arrived at the private hangar. We were met by Henry Costas on the tarmac, but I didn’t see Tanner anywhere.
That was probably a good thing. After the hot imaginary sex we’d had, I wasn’t sure if I could keep from blushing when we came face to face.
The Wright corporate jet was as over the top and impressive as its owner. Pristine white on the outside with the bright red Wright Enterprises logo on the tail; expensive leathers and exotic woods on the inside.
There were eight passenger seats, four on each side of the plane. The seats were configured in sets of two that faced inward to a small table between them.
I buckled in across from Bob for the three-hour trip to Tucson. Henry Costas sat across from Stan. Juliette took the seat directly behind Stan and spent most of the trip hovering over them like an over-eager stewardess. Irving put on a pair of dark sunglasses and would probably sleep the entire way.
After the fastest and smoothest take-off I’ve ever experienced (it was literally like being inside a bullet fired into the air), I opened my laptop to review the itinerary for the week. I looked around the cabin. Still no sign of Tanner. I wondered if he’d changed his mind about joining us in Tucson.
A few minutes into the flight, a man’s deep voice crackled over the speakers mounted in the ceiling above our heads. “Ladies and gentleman, welcome to Wright Enterprises flight number 69 with nonstop service from Chicago, Illinois to Tucson, Arizona.”
I smiled. There was something vaguely familiar about the pilot’s voice.
“There are blue skies ahead and we should arrive in Tucson in approximately three hours, twelve minutes, and sixty-nine seconds.”
Bob frowned at me and pointed at the speaker above his head. “Is that Tanner Wright’s voice?”
“The aircraft we are flying today is a brand-spanking new Gulfstream G650 with a price tag of seventy-two-million dollars and sixty-nine cents. The Gulfstream G650 will comfortably accommodate eight passengers and four crew members, can travel up to 7,000 nautical miles nonstop at a max speed of 0.925 Mach, making it the fastest private jet money can buy. I mean, that’s really fucking fast, people.”
I rolled my eyes at Bob. “Yep. The great one himself.”
“So, ladies and gents, on behalf of the real captain and your flight crew, I hope you enjoy your flight and if there’s anything you need, please don’t hesitate to ask.” The speaker was silent for a moment, then he added, “Oh, over and under, I mean over and over, I mean, ah fuck it, you know what I mean.”
I did my best to appear unimpressed, but I was grinning like the Cheshire Cat on the inside. Tanner may have been an obnoxious douchebag billionaire, but he was growing on me. Just a little.
A moment later, the cockpit door sprang open and Tanner appeared with a satisfied grin on his face. He was wearing his usual jeans and a t-shirt, but had added a black sports jacket and a pilot’s cap. He was still wearing the ratty tennis shoes and no socks.
He came through the cabin like a whirlwind, greeting everyone, asking if he could take our drink orders, asking is we needed our membership card to the mile-high club validated. When his little show was over, he set the pilot’s cap on Bob’s head and asked if he might borrow his seat.