Wednesday, October 26, 2016

All Things Runaway Feelings & The First Three Chapters

It's release day!


I'm just a little excited about this! Can you tell?

One night.
That’s all it was supposed to be.
One night in an island paradise with a perfect stranger.

All I needed was an escape, just for a few days. My life took a turn I didn’t see coming, so I hopped the first plane out of Chicago with no plan at all.

Headed for Tahiti, I was ready to put it all behind me. 

I met Alex on the plane. He offered me something I wasn’t looking for. I took it greedily. When he offered more, I took that too.

When everything spiraled out of control what did I do?
One night.
That’s all I offered. At first.
One night with a beautiful woman. One I could walk away from.

A vacation was all I needed. Time away from running a business, and hiding from my soon-to-be ex-wife.I had it all planned out.

A fresh start waited for me when I got back.

Then she sat next to me. I wanted her. She was mysterious, hiding something. I offered her one night but it wasn’t enough.

Could a runaway romance really turn into more?

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Now, get a sneek peak at the first 3 chapters! Enjoy!

Copyright © 2016 Britni Hill

Chapter 1
Seconds ticked by. Slowly turning into minutes.
Fifteen of them to be exact.
Fifteen minutes where I stood dutifully next to my fiancé. Fifteen minutes where he didn’t even acknowledge me. Fifteen minutes where it slowly dawned on me, I was there to be seen and not heard. The longer I stood invisibly at his side the hotter the anger inside me burned.
Bryson addressed his audience, shifting just so. He’d effectively cut me out, turning just enough that I got the back of his head but it wouldn’t seem obvious to anyone else. It seemed calculated to me though.
His actions further cemented every single thing I’d ever felt was wrong with our relationship.
The hair at his nape blurred behind the rim of my champagne glass as I tilted it back and drained the contents. At least the bubbly was good.
Bryson kept on babbling, speaking with some of the men he worked with, talking about himself if I had to guess. Too bad I wasn’t listening.
Taking a step back, I watched as Bryson’s assistant slipped into the group, her ruby hair gleaming in its glossy perfection. Meticulously lined lips curved upward as she put herself directly in his eyeline. Bryson’s attention immediately switched, training itself on her. I should’ve cared. I meant to. I just … didn’t.
I definitely wasn’t on board with the stand and look pretty deal if he was going to ignore me though. Unfortunately, it wasn’t a new feeling. It was something I felt a little more every day that passed and I lived this new life my father’s fame brought me.
Shifting my empty glass to my other hand, I dug in my clutch for my phone so I could check the time. My gaze caught on the sparkling diamond adorning my left hand and I paused. I pulled my hand back studying it. It was the perfect ring by jeweler’s standards. And it sparkled like crazy, making sure no one missed it. Making it perfect by most women’s standards
Not for the first time I questioned the weight of the ring on my finger.
I hated it. The cut was all wrong. It was too big. It was for show. The same as the rest of my life.
My shoulders slumped but I drew myself up quickly and looked around the room. Crystal chandeliers dangled from the ceiling, people in fancy formal wear mingled, every surface gleamed, and expensive linens covered the tables. Emptiness echoed through me the same as this empty ballroom would echo. I wanted to escape it all, especially when I looked back at the man I was supposed to marry and watched him lean in a little too closely to Miss Ruby Red.
I shook off the urge to bolt, this benefit meant too much to my family. I would settle for walking slowly. Making a normal exit.
Stomping my feet wouldn’t go over well so I resisted the impulse as I turned on my heel to leave. My calm façade was at odds with the sharp firing sound of my heels echoing loudly in my own ears. The sound brought me little satisfaction though. I feared drawing attention to myself as the ballroom noise didn’t drown out the gunshot-like sound.
My father’s head swiveled in my direction as I passed my parents. He raised one eyebrow, pausing his conversation as I made my way to the door. Doing my best, I flashed a smile. A tight forced smile but I hoped it would do the trick. My dad, the hero pilot, didn’t need to worry about me or my doubts. When my hand pressed against the ballroom door, I breathed out a sigh of relief. It came in a rush as I tried to expel the tension pressing down on me. I stepped into the hallway letting the door close behind me. With one more calming breath, I high-tailed it toward the bathroom.
Just as the sign on the door came into view, a hand latched onto my arm, the grip tight and painful, freezing the air in my lungs. My heart stuttered, skipping a few beats. Before I could even react, I was dragged around the corner and spun around to face a red-faced Bryson.
“What do you think you’re doing?” He leaned in close, his words coming from between gritted teeth. His hand on me tightened causing me to wince.
My mind reeled trying to catch up with what was happening.
“Going to the bathroom.”
Dark eyes narrowed at me.
He used his grip to shake me, pushing me back causing my head to slam against the wall. Pain radiated throughout my skull from the place of impact. A vein in his neck throbbed. I kept my eyes trained on it, gulping when it thrummed faster.
My shoes slipped and he smirked down at me before pulling me up higher, leaving me more immobile. Hot breath washed over me making me cringe.
I wanted to wrench myself away but shock ran through my body freezing like ice in my veins.
“Don’t embarrass me.” His other hand came up and gripped my chin forcing me to keep my eyes on him. “You’re here to make me look good. You know your place.” Fingers dug in, his nails bit into my skin. “Don’t forget it,” he added menacingly.
Just as quickly as he’d put his hands on me they were gone. He tugged the bottom of his suit jacket then his sleeves, righting himself. His eyes stayed pinned to me. I trembled, something hot and ugly bubbling inside of me, threatening to explode in a fiery show.
He stood aside watching me, like he hadn’t just put his hands on me while I wanted nothing more than to lash out at him. I wanted to strike him, mash my fist into his nose, but I knew it wouldn’t do me any good. Wetness trekked down my cheeks born of frustration.
Damn traitorous body.
I wanted to deny that I was crying. A natural reaction to pain and anger that I hated. I swiped the tears from my cheek, squared my shoulders, and shoved past Bryson. My feet moved quickly carrying me away from him even though my knees still felt weak.
“Kaitlyn!” Footsteps moved toward me.
Breath caught in my throat and I moved faster. Once I reached the main hallway, the one that led to the ballroom I knew he wouldn’t pursue me any further. He wouldn’t want to make himself look bad.
A few people mingled outside the ballroom doors, chatting quietly. As I approached them, I slowed my steps and took a much needed deep breath. A safe feeling washed over me. I discreetly wiped under my eyes. I felt anything but steady as I tried to look like I wasn’t frazzled and running away.
Pasting a polite smile on my face was much harder than it should have been. I faked smiles so often that I assumed I could whip them out whenever I needed, it should’ve come easily.
It didn’t.
Everything I’d been telling myself was wrong with my relationship since it had started was flowing through my mind. A rapid-fire reel of all the things I couldn’t stand about the man I’d promised myself to but had chosen to ignore. Things I thought I could handle. Things I was realizing I couldn’t.
Cool air blasted me in the face as I stepped out of the hotel and into the busy city nightlife. The loud sounds of traffic offered me a break from my screaming thoughts but did nothing to weaken the fire burning inside of me.
Once I settled myself in a cab, I tried to think logically about the situation. To be practical. Calling it off was the only solution. No man had ever left a mark on me and I wouldn’t stand idly by and let it happen again. Especially when I didn’t love that man.
Because I didn’t.
Love him.
Bryson had asserted himself in my life when my father became somewhat of a celebrity. My dad liked him, liked Bryson’s position in life and the extra attention he drew to us. I knew the whole time I was being pawned off to further my dad’s newfound limelight but I didn’t stop it. My dad is a good man, a hero, but he enjoyed being the hero too much.
When I first met Bryson, his good looks charmed me along with his sense of humor. He treated me like a princess and he knew how to work people. He said the right things, did the right things, kissed me the right way…
There was a time when I’d thought I was falling for Bryson. Then I stopped falling.
I sighed.
I needed to get away. Far, far away.
My condo was quiet aside from the constant buzzing of my phone. Just when I would start to relax it would go off again. Bryson had called. And texted. The only response I gave was a text back to say it was over. I knew he wouldn’t show though. He wouldn’t chance leaving the gala. He wouldn’t miss a moment to shine which was perfect. It gave me time.
I slipped the big, sparkling ring from my finger and sat it on my counter. I wanted to wash it down the drain in the kitchen sink but I wouldn’t put it past Bryson to try to sue me for the value. If that didn’t happen then it would sure mess up my plumbing.
I’d return it later.
I stared at the ring, light winked off the platinum band making my stomach pitch. It was gaudy. All for show. Everything about me had been just for show for so long.
Not anymore.
I was taking my life back.
An idea formed sending me into a whirlwind of action. I grabbed my passport and every other piece of ID I’d ever been issued. Just in case.
I moved in tornado-like fashion through my condo. After hunting down my luggage, which I’d stashed in the coat closet, I gave it a tug ignoring the burst of coats that came puffing out. I moved into my room, grabbing whatever I saw without really thinking. I filled the bag and zipped it up. A few swipes at my phone showed me a car two minutes away.
It would be waiting for me when I reached the lobby. Very little thought was going through my mind as I marched through my condo, bag rolling behind me. As I passed my dining room table, the stack of wedding stuff caught my eye. One thing in particular. The credit card I’d been issued to pay for all things wedding related. Only the best for me. And by me, I meant Bryson. I huffed.
I stopped and stared.  A wicked smile slid across my lips.
I snagged the card and made my way to my getaway car where I proceeded to book the soonest, most expensive flight I could find. One more call and I was free.
For a little while anyway.

Chapter 2
Scrubbing at my eyes, I scanned the cityscape just outside my massive office window. I tugged on my tie to loosen it and checked the time. I could’ve headed home long ago. Taken a nap, showered, and gotten ready for my flight. Instead, I chose to exhaust myself, working late into the night just to avoid going home and chancing a run in with my bitch of a wife.
Soon to be ex-wife.
Raging bitch that she was couldn’t seem to understand the meaning of the word unwelcome, or that I’d moved out of our home to get away from her. It had somehow escaped her notice that I didn’t want her in my new place. I even still paid for our ostentatious home just so she’d stay out of my hair. Too bad it hadn’t worked.
As I spun back around, my gaze locked on the luggage stacked in the corner of my office. A tropical island called my name. When I returned, I hoped to be free of my ball and chain. I looked forward to being a single man once more.
“Are you listening to me?” My friend and attorney, Eli’s voice crackled over the speakerphone.
I spun my chair around to face my desk, planting my elbows there.
“Yes,” I sighed, frustration grinding my teeth.
“So what do you think?”
What do I think?
I wanted the bitch out of my life.
“Just finalize it. I’m gone for 3 weeks. When I get back I want to have no reason to speak to Victoria again.”
“Alex,” he said drawing out my name. “It’s a lot of money.”
Money wasn’t an issue for me. I was Alexander Dean. Architecture and hotels had made me plenty. I’d give it all away if it meant getting rid of her.
“I don’t care about the money,” I snapped and quickly reminded myself he was only trying to help, that he had my best interest at heart. I took a deep breath and blew it out roughly. “If you feel better about it start lower. Negotiate. I trust you. You can reach me if needed.”
I wanted to go all out, off the grid, but with my business that was nearly impossible. Certain people had to be able to reach me at all times. Luckily, I could take off and trust those people to run things and only bother me when necessary.
Eli sighed on the other end of the line. My divorce had taken its own toll on him. He was my oldest friend. He’d been with me through it all. I kept waiting for him to point a finger and give me an, ‘I told you so’.
“Alright,” he conceded. “I’ll see what I can work out with the gold digger.”
I leaned my head back, closing my eyes.
Silence stretched across the line.
“Okay man. Don’t want you to miss your flight,” Eli said.
Standing, I pulled on my jacket and straightened my collar.
“Car should be here any minute.”
“Do me a favor? Relax. Have a few drinks. Get laid by someone without a money-sucking pussy.” He laughed. “You deserve it.”
“You’re a jackass.”
“Think about it. Tropical island, scantily clad women, no strings. Sounds perfect to me. Get yours and come home.”
I chuckled, eyes drifting to my watch again. My destination wasn’t really a hook up spot. I’d chosen it because I could easily seclude myself but none of that mattered to Eli. My cell phone buzzed from my desk.
“The driver just texted. Keep me updated on the divorce and get it done.”
“Will do. Enjoy.”
The call disconnected and I slipped my phone into my pocket and grabbed my bags from the corner. The halls were empty as I made my way to the elevator. The ride down just as quiet. In truth, I found it peaceful.
My pace quickened as I rounded the security desk. The car was in sight just outside the all glass front of my building. I was so close to freedom.
“Sir, I would’ve sent someone up to grab those for you,” the man behind the security desk said gesturing at my bags.
I waved him off.
“No problem, Phil. I’ve got it.”
I’d only brought them with me so there would be no run-ins with the she-devil. I wouldn’t even force my assistant into that encounter.
“Have a good night,” I said with a nod.
“You too, sir, and a safe trip.”
My eyes stayed pinned to the driver who’d scurried around to open my door. I handed my luggage off and slid inside the open door. It snapped shut within seconds. The car lurched forward and I couldn’t help but think it’d all been too easy. Any minute Victoria would pop up ruining my trip.
Settling back in the plush airline seat, I tried to relax and shut off my mind. Catching some much-needed sleep on the flight would’ve been ideal but I wasn’t sure I could make it happen. I leaned my head back against the seat.
Knowing I was moments away from my escape made the tension I’d been carrying leak from my body. My eyes drifted shut.
The chatter of other passengers filtered through my calm and hit my ears.
A soft shuffling came from the seat next to me. It’d been empty just seconds before but I was suddenly very aware that it wasn’t anymore. The scent of warm vanilla drifted to me, engulfing me in its sweet smell.
I breathed in deeply.
The scent was too tempting to ignore, especially when closely followed by a soft feminine and somewhat distraught sigh. My eyes cracked, might as well get a peek at the woman next to me. Ten plus hours next to someone on a plane could be—interesting.
A chuckle made its way past my lips when I took in the sight next to me.
She’d obviously come from a formal affair. And she was obviously having a bit of a rough night.
My first glimpse was of honey-blonde hair, pulled up in an elegant twist of curls. A few tendrils fuzzed and slipping loose around her face fell forward as she struggled with the high slit in her dress.
She crossed her legs at the ankles trying desperately to pin the fabric together and keep too much leg from showing. She was failing and doing so gloriously.
I was getting a show I hadn’t asked for and I was enjoying the hell out of it.
Long legs beckoned me to reach out and touch them, run my fingers up the smooth skin, and part them. I watched fascinated as she crossed one leg over the other in another attempt to hide her well-toned appendage.
Amusement mixed with desire, heated my blood.
I couldn’t tear my eyes away.
I wanted her face though, the color of her eyes, the curve of her lips ...
I needed them to complete the lovely package sitting next to me. Her dress, long and black, showed off the soft bare curve of her shoulder. Her breasts were high and firm but I wasn’t even getting a hint of cleavage. Black jeweled sandals with a high heel held her feet. The nails painted a bright grape color. The slit popped open again, baring both legs to my view.
A groan lodged in my throat, barely contained.
A strangled, rough sound came from her and her hands flailed for a second before fisting. Her elbow jammed into my arm and she froze, hand going to her dress again, pulling it to cover her. Her eyes came up, meeting mine, the blue twinkling.
One corner of my mouth twitched.
The soft curve of her lips, her straight nose, and those blue pools drew me in. My heart beat hard and my dick twitched at the full view of her. I was struck dumb. She was breathtaking. Suddenly Eli’s suggestion to get some strange seemed like an excellent idea. Images of her gorgeous and naked, writhing beneath me filled my head.
Those thoughts immediately shifted, leaving me hoping she wasn’t a Victoria clone. I seemed to find all the bad seeds.
A hand covered her mouth.
“Oh my god,” she gasped. “I’m so sorry.”
I smiled. Her apology gave me hope that she wasn’t anything like the woman I’d married.
“Rough night?” My eyebrows rose in question and her cheeks flushed lightly.
I leaned in closer, breathing her in, getting a better look.
She breathed out roughly, letting her dress go, and met my gaze again.
“You have no idea.”
She deflated into her seat.
“Sorry, I hit you.” Her head rolled my direction and I noticed the stress in her eyes as they met mine. Her lips curved softly, drawing my gaze. It made me a complete asshole but I could picture her soft full bottom lip brushing my neck and chest, lowering further, her perfect mouth wrapping around my dick. Once again, Eli’s words drifted through my mind. I was more on edge than I’d realized. Maybe getting laid was what I needed.
Clearing my throat, I shifted in my seat.
“Don’t worry about it.”
She was distracted by her dress again, fighting the material. I couldn’t watch her struggle anymore so I pulled my jacket from where it rested across my legs.
“Take this.” I held it out, waiting.
Her bottom lip pulled inward, white teeth bit down causing my thoughts to stray again. I raised a brow letting her know it wasn’t up for discussion.
I wanted her to be comfortable.
She was thoughtful as she reached out and took it, draping it carefully over her long legs, hiding them from my wandering eyes.
“Thank you,” she said softly.
From the corner of my eye, I saw the flight attendant approaching.
An idea quickly sparked, I had the rest of the flight to make it happen. Lucky for me, there was once a time I could charm my way into any panties I wanted. Then I got married. Maybe I still had it in me.
I knew exactly what I needed to do.
I leaned in, eyes lingering on hers, catching her gaze.
“Shall we get you a drink?”

Chapter 3
A drink? I definitely needed one of those. I just wasn’t sure if it was to erase the stress of the night or to ease the ache this man next to me was causing. Looking up into his amber colored eyes, I decided I’d have one for each reason.
A smile curved my lips.
“Yes, please, that would be fantastic.”
It didn’t escape my attention this man—and he was all man—was ridiculously handsome. He oozed sexy. It bled from his pores and came out in an outdoorsy man smell. I could also tell he was successful just by the way he held himself. The way his words formed. The confidence that radiated from him.
He knew how to get what he wanted.
Dark hair shining in the airplane lights, he leaned in. His lips lifted upward in a crooked grin as he signaled for the flight attendant. His eyes skimmed over my face, pausing on my lips before they flicked down to my legs, covered by his jacket, the heat in them making me feel naked. All of me bared to him. I could see it. Flashes of his bare skin brushing mine, the feel of him everywhere.
Drawn from my dirty thoughts by the sensation of eyes on me I shifted in my seat trying to get comfortable. The dress I wore definitely hadn’t been designed to be airplane attire. The small reminder of the events of the night quickly cooled my desire for Mr. Handsome next to me.
My eyes drifted back to him.
Maybe I’d cooled off a little.
My mind had raced so fast telling me to get away from Bryson that I hadn’t even thought to change out of my stupid evening gown. I didn’t have a clue what I’d packed. I did know that I got a twisted feeling of satisfaction when I’d emptied our wedding account into my own. And again when I’d paid for my outrageous plane ticket. Remembering that feeling, my smile grew wider.
“What would you like?” he murmured, leaning in next to my ear, drawing me from my thoughts. His deep voice rumbled causing me to shiver.
“Rum and coke, please.” I smiled thankfully and tuned out again as he relayed our order to the smiling attendant.
I could’ve ordered my own drink but it was easier to let him do it and sexier.
My eyes roamed over a strong jaw and straight nose. The sleeves of his pressed button-down were rolled up showing me his forearms and the glimpse of a tattoo. His pants were perfectly tailored and a tie poked from the pocket.
His profile was striking, chiseled. His hair was dark and perfectly tousled. He could be on magazine covers, book covers—hell, even a stage with very little clothing.
Maybe he was.
There was something familiar about him but I couldn’t put my finger on it.
He turned his attention back to me and I noted the dimple creasing his left cheek.
“What’s your name?” I was so mesmerized by that little dent winking at me from his stubbled cheek his deep voice startled me.
What did he say?
My name. Right.
I frowned.
That was something I feared he’d recognize. Even if he didn’t know my face.
I’d been on the cover of many gossip magazines over the last few years, standing dutifully at my father’s side, smiling like the good daughter. There’d been news article after news article. So many interviews I’d lost count.
I didn’t want people to know me. I didn’t want this man to judge me because I was the hero pilot’s daughter.
The truth was, in my head this chance to get away, could be ruined by a simple thing like my name.
It was on the tip of my tongue to give him my middle name. August. When I opened my mouth, it wouldn’t come out. It felt like a lie. One I didn’t want to tell him.
“Kait,” I found myself saying instead. The truth. Just shortened. A nickname Bryson refused to call me. He preferred Kaitlyn. In his mind, it sounded more distinguished. Something his investors would appreciate.
If I were being honest no one called me that. Ever.
I’d tried to get Bryson to stop sounding so formal all the time. It didn’t work. He wouldn’t even use a pet name. Just Kaitlyn. Always Kaitlyn.
Telling this stranger to call me Kait felt like another triumph. Even if it was small.
“Just Kait?” Dark eyebrows rose as he spoke.
I tilted my head, looking up at him from beneath my lashes and gave him a demure grin.
“Nothing like a little mystery. Right?”
His answering chuckle was warm. He held his hand out, shaking mine firmly, none of the wiggly-wrist shaking for this man. Shaking a woman’s hand wasn’t awkward for him. Tingles lit the tips of my fingers on fire as soon as my hand met his grasp. They zinged straight to my heart, making it beat faster and I barely held back my tiny gasp.
He watched our hands, letting me know he felt it too.
“I’m Alex,” he said just as our drinks arrived.
“Nice to meet you, Alex,” I said taking a long drink from my glass.
Alex’s eyes roamed over me steadily while we enjoyed our drinks. I could only imagine what I looked like to him. Frazzled hair sticking up everywhere, wearing an evening gown on a plane—a hot fucking mess. That was me.
With his gaze on me, I would’ve given anything for a change of clothes. My dress felt too tight though it had been perfectly altered to fit me. Why I hadn’t thought to change? Oh right, I didn’t put much thought into any of this.
I slumped back in my seat.
To top it off my feet hurt.
My head was a tangled web of emotions I’d been trying to understand since I’d walked away from Bryson. I’d easily come up with anger, hurt, and surprisingly relief. I should’ve been crying, grieving the loss of my relationship, but meeting Alex paired with knowing my decision to end things was for the best made it all seem—okay.
“What island are you headed to?” Alex asked.
A somewhat hysterical laugh slipped between my lips before I could stop it. His question was a normal one. I just didn’t know the answer. Who gets on a plane out of the country but doesn’t know where they’re going?
Me. Kaitlyn Winters. The hero pilot’s daughter. Recent ex-fiancé to Bryson McGregor. That’s who.
“Uh …”
An amused expression crossed Alex’s face.
“Have you been to Tahiti before?” he asked.
I laughed softly giving my head a slight shake.
I could easily afford a vacation or a flight to Florida on a whim but Tahiti was a different story. That was the kind of thing people like me had to plan. My eyes drifted over the man next to me. I was sure he’d taken this trip before. Many times. He was probably used to the lavish accommodations of this flight too.
“Uh no.”
He looked at me curiously, one eyebrow arching sexily as he waited for me to go on.
“This is kind of a last minute trip.” I shrugged and tried to hide my wince. My nerves amped up making my palms sweat. I wanted to say something more, something that made me seem less—flighty, but I didn’t know what that would be so I left it at that.
He watched me steadily before he nodded like he understood and raised his glass in my direction.
“You running away from something?”
My eyes widened in surprise but really it was obvious.
“Or someone?” he added.
Taking a sip of my drink, I avoided his probing gaze. I wanted to lie, to change the subject but something about his intense curiosity wouldn’t let me.
“You could say that.” I evaded instead. I peered at him over the rim of my glass when it dawned on me. He must be in the same boat. “What about you? What’s sending you on an island getaway?”
He sighed, stretching out his long legs, and shifted so he faced me a little more. He moved easily, with grace and control.
“It was time,” he paused looking thoughtful.“I’ve needed a vacation for a while. Now just happened to be the perfect time.”
There was something more in his words, a story I didn’t know. One that maybe I wanted to hear. I’d be lying if I said this man didn’t intrigue me. He did. More than anyone had in a long time.
I found myself leaning in, trying to get closer.
That couldn’t happen though. Whatever tension we were feeling would stay on this plane. I was on this trip to clear my head. To make a clean break with Bryson. I hoped that when I returned home all of this would have blown over. It was a long shot, I knew. I didn’t need a sexy stranger mucking things up even more.
Silence stretched between us. I ran a finger around the top of my glass watching its path. When I looked up Alex was watching me, lips curved upward. His attention made me nervous so as usual I said the first thing that came to my mind.
“So, you here on business or pleasure?” It was meant to be a joke but it came out all husky and phone-sex operator-like.
Alex paused with his drink almost to his mouth, his head titled back and I watched in fascination as he laughed. The sound rich and manly.
“Nice,” he said with another one of those sexy smiles he’d been doling out since I’d taken a seat next to him. Unable to tear my eyes away, I watched his throat work as he swallowed the whiskey in his glass. “So … Kait … what do you do when you aren’t flaunting sexy cocktail dresses on international flights?”
My ears burned with his compliment.
“I’m a photographer, but my friend Lana and I recently started a business together.”
“It’s kind of a one stop wedding shop,” I added.
“Ah, the wedding business. I imagine that can be quite a good line of work to be in.”
I shrugged.
“It’s new. We’ll see. It’s a different concept. We don’t just plan weddings.”
I stopped talking, sure he wouldn’t want all the details. Anytime I’d tried to talk to Bryson about anything work related he’d interrupt and move on to something else like I hadn’t been speaking.
I met his gaze, surprised to find him watching me, waiting.
“Go on,” he said leaning in. The genuine interest in his voice made me smile.
Something fluttered in my chest.
“It’s pretty simple. I’d been taking wedding photos and Lana is this amazing planner.” Excitement creeped into my tone. I couldn’t help it. I tried. And failed. “She’s so organized it’s ridiculous. And she had all these contacts with venues and florists. We both know so many people that work on weddings, whether it be the cake, or hair and makeup, tuxes. We went to school with a girl that’s a designer. You get it?”
He nodded, still watching me, a smile playing across his lush lips.
“We decided that we should put all that together. It’s easier for the bride. We have a handful of places that have contracts with us. We get first pick of dates and better pricing. We have an in-house florist and baker.”
“Very nice. I can tell you’re passionate about it.”
My lips pulled downward.
Until that moment, I hadn’t thought about it that way. I took photos because it came easily. When Lana approached me with the idea of opening our business, of working together, I jumped on it. I was terrified but I did it. Bryson thought it was ridiculous. My parents supported me no matter what.
“I suppose so,” I said. “I feel a little lost sometimes. Like I’m not much help. Lana just knows what to do and exactly when to do it. I’m awful with the picky brides.” I laughed.
Alex joined in, his leg brushing mine, our eyes met and held. I licked my lips, eyes trained on his. His hand came up, one finger brushing lightly against my cheek, catching the loose strands of hair falling in my face. Alex swept them back, tucking them behind my ear.
All the air in my lungs left me in a shuddery sigh, that sounded a lot like I hadn’t been touched by a man in too long. It was embarrassing. My cheeks warmed but I didn’t look away. I couldn’t.
I didn’t know what was happening but with him touching me, I couldn’t bring myself to care.
“You’ll get it,” he said after a heated moment. My brain was so muddled by his touch and the lust burning in his gaze that I had to remind myself what he was talking about. My new business. Right. Got it. “I remember when I started my first business.”
He moved as if he was trying to get more comfortable but kept himself as close to me as he could. A mixed flurry of self-doubt and motivation stirred in me with his words. I opened my mouth to voice some of those doubts when his words really sank in.
“Your first business?” I murmured raising an eyebrow in his direction.
He grinned cockily, resting his hand on his chin.
“Yes, my first.”
My gaze narrowed. I studied his features once again feeling like I’d seen him before but unable to place him. The look on his face, smug and sexy, told me he knew what was running through my mind.
Who exactly is Alex?
“What businesses do you own?” I blurted, my curiosity getting the better of me.
He chuckled before pinning me with a molten stare.
“Where’s the fun in that, Kait?”
Touché, sexy man, touché.