They cruised through checkin and waited in the club lounge for a few minutes before getting the call to board. She gripped her small flight bag and walked ahead so she wouldn’t have to see any longer how well he filled out those jeans.
She’d danced and danced on into the night—needing to burn the energy. Now she was tired and strung out and he wasn’t helping because every time she glanced at him he met her gaze with a smile that set her every cell singing.
She stepped into the cabin with relief. First class wasn’t usually fully booked and she planned to stretch out and enjoy the space. She fussed about, unloading a few essentials from her bag into the compartment by her seat: her own water, her warm wool socks, her vial of refreshingly scented oil—the little things she needed to make the journey as relaxing as possible. Then she realised that James was standing right behind her, patiently watching, waiting—for what? She raised her brows—hoping it looked like a cool question.
He flashed the charm smile. ‘Actually the window seat is mine.’
She checked her ticket quickly. Damn. Her consternation must have been obvious because his smile widened with wicked humour.
‘Don’t you want to sit next to me?’
The flush flooded her—she could feel it all the way from her face to her toes, and she wondered how he’d react if she answered honestly. She wanted to sit on him, not next to him. She wanted to straddle his strong, heavy thighs—to feel the muscle-filled denim on her bare skin. She wanted to slide her fingers beneath that white tee shirt and feel for herself the heat of his chest—was it hair-tickled or smooth? Was it as bronzed as his arms or was it paler, less kissed by the sun…? Kissed…oh, hell, she was in trouble.
‘But you can have the window if you like.’ The lights in his eyes were brightening, the smile widening.
‘You’re sure?’ She couldn’t look away from him, couldn’t stop sounding like a breathless temp offered the long-term placement of a lifetime.
‘I’ve already got a beautiful view.’
OK. Deep breath—and time to get a grip on the situation. She stayed standing.
‘You’re the boss,’ she said, to remind herself as much as anything.
‘And you’re the princess,’ he said. ‘Interesting power play, isn’t it? Who do you think should be on top?’
She sat in an awful hurry. On top? He wanted to debate positions? She tried to think of a witty reply—hell, any sort of reply. ‘You said my being a princess wouldn’t garner me any special treatment.’
‘Right.’ He sat next to her and leaned close, continuing with the chatty tone that softened the underlying determined quality. ‘And just because I’m the boss doesn’t mean I should get any either. Not in this arena.’
‘What arena’s that?’ He was all she could see—his large body screened the rest of the cabin from her. It was as if they were in their own little corner of the plane and he was shielding her from all observers.
‘The personal one.’
‘We’re talking personal?’
‘Come on, princess, we’ve barely talked anything else.’ His eyes held hers, daring her to be honest. ‘Have we?’
She paused, looked down as she clicked her safety belt in place. ‘You’re the one who said it’s not a good idea, James.’
‘You said it too. And we’re both right. It’s probably really stupid.’ He tilted her chin with his fingers, making her look at him again, making her active in the conversation, making her skin sizzle. ‘But it also seems to be impossible to ignore.’
His touch both soothed and rasped over her stretched nerves. She moved her head enough to make him release her, but maintained the eye contact—she had the feeling he wouldn’t settle for less.
‘So,’ he muttered. ‘Let’s talk personal.’
The engines of the plane revved and she felt the situation slipping from her control. She fought to reclaim it.
‘Are you sure this is the right place?’
‘Why not?’ The glints in his eye spiked. ‘We have a number of hours to fill in. What else do you suggest we do?’
They stared at each other and in the darkness of his eyes she saw all her wild fantasies reflected—of closeness and warmth, of sighs and the sound of them slipping together, of naked sensation. Until finally she ducked away from his gaze in heated defeat, closing her eyes as the plane gained enough speed to lift off from the ground.
It was only when the plane levelled out high in the sky, that she expelled the breath she’d been holding and replied, ‘Talking is good.’