Five months later…
Bailey sat in the comfortable leather seat of the Green Aviation waiting lounge and sipped her second vodka cranberry. She was a nervous flyer at the best of times but coupled with the fact that she was on her way to try and break up Nick’s wedding one week before the big day was hell on her nerves.
The first vodka was to settle her nerves over what she planned to do to Nick and the second one was to make sure she didn’t freak out when she was thirty-thousand feet in the air hurtling through the ether in a tin can. She wasn’t just a nervous flyer, she hated it and avoided it whenever she could.
Driving the eighteen hundred kilometres to the wedding was out of the question and her relatively new account, Green Aviation, had offered her first-class seats on their new commercial domestic flights. Maybe she would enjoy flying more if she didn’t feel like she was packed in like cattle on the way to the slaughterhouse.
A waitress approached and took her empty glass from the small table in front of her.
“Can I get you something else?” she asked.
“I’ll have another one of those,” Bailey responded.
The waitress nodded and walked off. Bailey didn’t care if the tall, good looking woman was judging her for her early afternoon drinking binge. There was no way she could get on that plane without a little bit of liquid courage. If she was lucky, she would fall asleep and miss the entire torturous journey.
She searched through her bag for the calm tablets that her roommate had suggested. They were herbal, no pesky pharmaceuticals to interfere with her alcohol consumption, and Tiffany had sworn by them. Bailey grabbed the bottle and shook four of the little green pills into her hand. The waitress returned with her drink and Bailey swallowed the pills with a healthy gulp.
Her flight was still an hour away, but Bailey had wanted to get here early and get some drinks into her before boarding. Plus, she was a little anal about being on time. She hated to be late to anything and consequently usually arrived at least half an hour early. She pulled out her phone to work on some emails while she waited and was distracted by a text message from Nick.
They had kept in touch…infrequently. Nick would send her the odd dirty text telling her how much he missed her and what he wanted to do to her when he saw her next. Bailey had been tempted to send him some dirty selfies, but she was more sensible than that. She was in PR after all, and knew what could happen when things like that got into the wrong hands.
Nick: Hey Bae, can’t wait to see you. Need to speak to you ASAP. Will pick you up from the airport.
Her stomach fluttered in anticipation. Nick needed to talk to her. That could only mean one thing, he wanted to know if she thought he should go through with the wedding. It was her chance to lay all her cards on the table.
Okay, so maybe it didn’t necessarily mean he was having second thoughts about marrying Ainsley, but a girl could hope, couldn’t she? Besides, the alcohol and herbal pills were making her mind slippery and her thoughts were sliding towards all the dirty things she’d like to do to Mr. Nicholas Heart.
She sniggered and leant back against the chair. She flicked her hair and let it fall down over the back of her chair as she tilted her head towards the ceiling and closed her eyes. She hugged her phone to her breast, her brain creating wonderful scenarios where Nick would profess his undying love for her and insist he marry her instead of Ainsley. She imagined Ainsley’s perfect little face screwed up in ugly tears as she sauntered up the aisle with Nick on her arm. Oh, yes, she knew exactly what Ainsley Rusch looked like. She had Googled the bitch and cyberstalked her for the last six months and she couldn’t wait to wipe the self-satisfied smirk off her gorgeous face.
“Thanks Madeline,” a deep voice murmured behind her and she felt her skin erupt in full body goosebumps. She knew that voice, although she hadn’t heard it for months. The memory of the way it flowed over her when he was buried to the hilt inside her had kept her warm on many lonely nights. Irish. She twisted in her seat to get a glimpse of him, letting her hair fall in a curtain around her face to give her some semblance of anonymity.
His back was towards her and he seemed to be talking on the phone. His shoulders were just as wide as she remembered and his arse filled out his tailored suit pants beautifully. While she watched, he lowered the phone from his ear and slipped it into his pocket before turning around. She turned away, not wanting him to see her, and slid down in her chair. Her heart pounded and her panties were suspiciously wet, but maybe that was just the alcohol and the happy pills working. She closed her eyes and prayed he hadn’t seen her. She didn’t think she would be strong enough to resist him if he pulled the same trick he had that night in the bar, especially in her alcohol impaired state. It didn’t matter that she was in love with Nick, her body remembered Irish and the way he’d made her feel and it was all for another go-round with him. She knew that one look into his bright green eyes and she would be a puddle at his feet.
Hunter disconnected from Madeline and slid his phone into his pocket. The airline was up and running finally and seemed to have been welcomed with open arms by the public. He had decided to take one of the commercial flights just to experience what his paying customers were experiencing, although he probably would have been more comfortable in his private jet.
He turned to survey the waiting lounge and indicated to the waitress that he wanted to order a drink. A flash of rose gold caught his eye and he turned fully to admire the cascade of red hair that fell in a tumbled mass down the back of one of the lounges. He felt his cock harden at the sight and shook his head ruefully. Even six months later, he still had a powerful response to the memory of that night.
He was drawn to the woman with the red hair, he couldn’t help himself. He’d found himself doing the same thing since the last time he’d seen her. He’d be walking down the street or in a bar and he’d see a flash of red, the exact colour of her hair, and he’d have to follow the woman to make sure it wasn’t her.
He walked over to the woman and the empty chair beside her.
“Is this seat taken?” he asked and she turned her face up to him. He stopped breathing as his heart pounded once, twice, three times.
“Blue,” he breathed, sliding down into the empty chair next to her.
She looked at him nervously, her eyes blinking rapidly and the pulse at her throat fluttering madly.
“Hello, Irish,” she said, her voice soft and husky like he remembered. “Long time no see.”
He should be mad but he was just so fucking grateful to have finally found her again. One night with her hadn’t been enough and he hadn’t been able to get it up for anyone else in the intervening months.
“You didn’t call,” he said, unable to keep the disappointment from his voice.
She looked guilty and dropped her eyes from his. “I know, I’m sorry,” she said. Her words were a little slurred and he looked down at her empty glass noticing the red dregs in the bottom of it. He wondered how many she’d had.
“So, what are you doing here?” he asked, not wanting to scare her away when he’d only just found her again.
She looked up at him and he noticed that her eyes were glassy and her pupils dilated. He frowned in response, worried that she was once again drunk.
“Long story,” she said, “But I’m on my way to break up a wedding and steal the groom.”
“Is this the jackass that dumped you?” he asked grumpily. He couldn’t help it. How could such a smart and attractive woman like her be happy to settle for some douchebag like her ex?
She nodded. “Nick’s getting married this weekend and I intend to stop it.”
He froze as he comprehended what she was saying. Nick was getting married. It couldn’t be, could it?
“Nick?” he asked. “What’s his last name?”
“Heart,” she replied with a dopey smile, “Nick Heart.”
He bit back a groan as the waitress handed him his drink.
“How many has she had?” he enquired.
“That’s her third,” the waitress replied.
He nodded sharply. “No more for her,” he said. “Could you bring her a glass of water though, please?”
The waitress nodded and walked away to comply with his orders. All his staff knew who he was, but they also knew that he didn’t like them to acknowledge it openly in public. Hunter liked to keep a low profile despite his title as one of the youngest billionaires in Australia. In all the promotional material for his airline he’d used his VP as the face of the company. The last thing he wanted was for people to recognise him in the street. Just the thought of it made him itch.
“I don’t want water,” Blue whined as the waitress walked away and he couldn’t help but smile at her pout.
“Don’t you think you’ve had enough to drink though?” he asked.
“Liquid courage,” she said heartily. “Don’t like flying.”
He frowned at her. “You didn’t take something else with your drink, did you?” he asked, worried that she would be this loopy after just three drinks.
“Just my happy pills,” she said cheerily and held up a bottle.
He snatched it out of her hand and breathed a sigh of relief to see that they were only herbal. It wouldn’t be dangerous for her to mix them with alcohol, but it had certainly increased the effects.
The waitress returned with a glass of water and Hunter took it from her with a thanks. He handed it to Blue and encouraged her to drink it all. When she had swallowed the last mouthful, he took the glass from her and put it down on the table.
“So, what’s your big plan to stop this wedding?” he asked casually, his guts burning over the fact that his Blue was hung up on a cocksucker like his stepbrother Nick.
She sighed dramatically, “I have no idea,” she said. “But he just texted me to say he needed to talk to me so maybe he’s already decided to call it off.”
Hunter sipped his drink knowing full well that his stepbrother was doing no such thing. He probably wanted to schedule some time alone with her so he could fuck her before marrying his bride-to-be.
“You know what you need to do,” he said, an idea striking him. “You need to make him jealous. Let him see what he’s missing out on.”
“Oh, I don’t know,” she said and bit her bottom lip. His cock jumped and he wanted to take that lip between his own teeth and suck it into his mouth.
“It’s a great idea,” he said enthusiastically. “Right now he is going to get everything he wants. A wife with connections and he still gets to have his hot piece of arse on the side.”
“You still think my arse is hot?” she asked cheekily.
He leant forward and dropped his voice, bringing himself close to her ear to whisper into it. “I think your arse is so hot that I want grab two handfuls of it while I pound my cock into your wet pussy.” He traced the outer shell of her ear with his tongue and then nipped her neck just below her earlobe.
Her breath hitched and a small whimper escaped from between her parted lips. He loved that he could cause that reaction in her with just a few words. She may think she was in love with Nick, but her body betrayed her. Her nipples were peaked and showed through the filmy satin of her shirt and her pulse sped up at his nearness. He just needed to show her that she really wanted him, not his asshole stepbrother.
“You shouldn’t say things like that to me Irish,” she said with a shaky voice.
He just smiled at her and sat back in his chair, letting his eyes roam lasciviously over her. “Oh, I think you like it,” he said, his voice smoky, “and I think I’m the perfect guy to show your ex what he’s missing out on.”
He would relish it, in fact. Nick walked around like the world owed him just for being alive and the little shit seemed to get everything dropped in his lap. Hunter would do whatever he could to keep Blue from being sullied by his sliminess. That fact that she had been sleeping with him on and off for years conveniently slipped his mind. He just wouldn’t think about it. Blue was his and he intended to keep her.
They settled into the very comfortable seats of the small jet and Bailey secured her seatbelt, making sure to pull it tight. Irish had somehow sweet-talked the airline personnel into letting him have the seat beside her, not that she really minded. His presence was so distracting that she might even be able to get through this flight without panicking.
Irish had disrupted her plans from the moment he’d sat down in the chair in the lounge. Just being around him made her body react in ways she hadn’t thought possible and the deliciously dirty things he’d whispered in her ear had very nearly caused her to grab him and kiss the daylights out of him. Not to mention the feel of his tongue and his lips on her and the brush of that sexy beard against her skin that made her insides quake and her panties flood.
Now he wanted to help her make Nick jealous. How would she survive that?
He reached over and took her hand in his, the heat sparking a visceral reaction in her traitorous body, but she clung to his hand as the plane began to taxi.
“You really don’t like to fly?” he asked, looking at her with his brow furrowed in worry.
She shook her head. “Flying is some kind of evil magic spawned by Satan and we as human beings were never meant to be flung through the air with such careless abandon.”
His mouth dropped open in shock and then he laughed. It wasn’t just a polite chuckle, but a deep, loud belly laugh and a smile tugged at her lips to see him so delighted by something she said.
“Firstly,” he corrected her, “it’s physics, not magic and I think the Wright brothers would be offended to be called the spawn of Satan.”
“Maybe,” she conceded, “but I stand by the belief that if we were meant to fly, we would’ve been born with wings.”
“Do you hold this same level of contempt for all forms of transportation or just air travel?”
“Just air travel, but I do look at boats with a healthy dose of mistrust.”
He laughed delightedly again.
“So, your theory that if humans were meant to do something, they would be born with the ability to do it doesn’t extend to travel by road or rail or water?”
“It’s a phobia, nobody said it had to be logical,” she replied.
The seatbelt sign dinged off and Bailey jumped.
“Hey, we’re flying,” she said.
“Ah, yeah, that’s the whole point…”
She whacked his arm. “No, I meant that you distracted me enough that I didn’t freak out over takeoff.”
“I aim to please,” he murmured in that dark gravelly way of his that made her want to rub her naked body against his.
The flight attendant chose that moment to approach them.
“Can I get you anything from the galley?” she asked politely.
Irish looked at her and quirked his eyebrow in that way of his, “Let me buy you a late lunch,” he said.
She giggled. “Sure,” she replied. Why the hell not? It might help to soak up some of the alcohol sloshing around her system.
“My thoughts exactly,” he said.
She clapped her hand over her mouth. “I didn’t mean to say that out loud,” she mumbled through her palm.
He chuckled and shook his head. “Vodka makes you chatty,” he said. “I remember.” He pulled out the menu and ran a practised eye down it. “Do you have any dietary requirements?” he asked, and she sucked in a breath. He turned to look at her.
“Did you just ask me if I’m on a diet?”
He frowned at her. “No, I did not and I would be extremely disappointed if I found out that you were.”
His voice was very growly and commanding, causing a full body shiver and she had to force herself to keep her eyes open and not let them close while he whispered dirty, dirty things in her ear with that voice.
He stared at her and she realised he was waiting for an answer. She gave herself a mental shake.
“No, I’m not on a diet.”
“Are you vegetarian, vegan, gluten free, paleo?” he asked, his eyes back on the menu.
“None of the above,” she replied.
“Two steak sandwiches,” he said to the air hostess. “And two waters.” He closed the menu and slid it back into the pocket as she walked away.
“I wanted another vodka,” she sulked.
“No, Blue,” he said softly. “You need to have your wits about you when we land. You’ve got a wedding to break up and a groom to win, remember? You can’t do that if you’re sloppy drunk.”
She crossed her arms and harrumphed. He was right, but she didn’t want to admit it.
“So, have you decided whether or not to take me up on my proposal?” he asked casually.
“I don’t know,” she said, twirling a piece of hair around her fingers.
“What have you got to lose?” he asked. “It’ll either work or it won’t and if it doesn’t then you still have your original arrangement to fall back on.”
“I suppose,” she said, hedging. She had no doubt that Nick would take one look at Irish and be jealous as hell, but she was more worried about what would happen to her if she was forced to pretend to be in a relationship with the tall, dark, green eyed man. It might be a little too convincing.
He turned in his seat so that he was facing her and lifted a hand to brush an errant tendril of hair from her forehead. His touch, as innocent and light as it was, set off fireworks inside her. He was the last man she’d slept with and she’d never gone this long without male companionship since she’d first entered into her arrangement with Nick. Her body’s reaction was simply muscle memory and the fact that she had been living like a nun.
She sighed and closed her eyes. His closeness felt nice. Comforting. He was right, the worst that could happen was that she would simply revert back to her original arrangement with Nick. It wasn’t ideal, but if that’s all she could have of him, then it would be enough.
“Okay,” she said as the flight attendant returned and placed their meals in front of them. “But what about you? Will you even be in the right area and don’t you already have plans?”
She took a bite out of her sandwich while she waited for him to answer and moaned appreciatively. She hadn’t realised how hungry she was, her nerves blotting out everything but the trip ahead of her.
“Where’s the wedding?” he asked.
“On the Sunshine Coast,” she replied when she swallowed her mouthful. The plane they were on landed in Brisbane, an hour from the Coast. Nick was picking her up and they would drive the rest of the way.
He smiled at her, his eyes lighting up. “What a coincidence,” he said, “that’s where I’m headed too.”
“Business?” she asked.
He shook his head. “Long overdue vacation.”
“And you’d give that up for me?” she asked.
He just grinned and continued to eat his sandwich. She shook her head. This guy was too good to be true.
“I’m not going to sleep with you again,” she said and her ovaries began to cry.
“We’ll see,” he said and waggled his eyebrows seductively.
She laughed and shook her head again, taking another bite from her sandwich. Maybe if it didn’t go to plan with Nick, she could finally move on. Maybe Irish would be the perfect guy to move on with. She turned her head to look out the window, not wanting to think of the what-ifs. She wanted Nick and had wanted him for so long she didn’t know how not to want him. Nick was it for her, she knew it in her bones. If he insisted on marrying Ainsley, she would be happy with whatever Nick could give her.
“I have one condition, though,” she said.
He nodded, indicating that she should go on.
“Nick is coming to pick me up so that he can talk to me. I want to hear what he has to say before I spring our fake relationship on him. We might not even need it.”
He narrowed his eyes at her but nodded his assent.
“I’m staying at Oceans in Mooloolaba,” she said and watched as his eyes lit.
“So am I,” he replied with a big smile.
“Oh, great,” she said. “How about we meet at reception at seven?”
“Okay,” he said, “but if we’re going to do this, I’m going to need something from you too.”
“I already told you I wasn’t going to sleep with you,” she replied stiffly.
He chuckled. “No, not that, but I wouldn’t take it off the table entirely if I were you. No, I want you to come to dinner with me to meet my mother. If she sees us together then she’ll get off my back about dating someone and I won’t have to suffer through her setting me up on pity dates.”
She spat her mouthful of water out, spraying the seat in front of her with Evian. “Pity dates?” she asked, disbelieving. “No one could ever consider going out with you a pity date.”
He rolled his eyes. “Don’t be so sure.”
“So, we should get to know one another,” she said, changing the subject. “What do you do?”
“I work in aviation,” he said.
“Ah,” she said knowingly. “Hence the passionate debate regarding air travel.”
He smiled at her and her stomach fluttered.
“What about you Blue, what do you do?”
“PR,” she said simply. “It’s the reason I am on this very flight. These guys are one of my clients.”
His eyes widened at that little tidbit. “Perks of the job,” he said.
She nodded. “Green Aviation are a new company and they offered me a free flight to get a feel for the company.”
“So, what do you think?” he asked.
“Well, it’s the best flight experience I’ve had so far,” she replied truthfully and then she laughed. “But I’ve had some awful experiences, so it’s not really saying much.”
“What about you?” she asked. “You’re in aviation, so you must fly a lot.”
He nodded. “I do. Normally by private charter.”
Her eyebrows shot up in surprise. She knew the guy was wealthy. The clothes he wore and the penthouse suite they’d spent the night in were dead giveaways, but a private charter?
“What made you choose these guys then?”
He shrugged, “I hate flying economy,” he answered, “which is why I prefer a private plane. But this airline is offering first class travel at a cheaper price than I can charter one, so I decided to give it a go.”
“So far so good,” he replied, his voice a low growl and she didn’t think they were talking about the flight any longer.
The flight attendant removed their food trays and Bailey yawned. Her alcohol consumption, the herbal calming pills and now a full belly of food were working their magic on her.
“You’re tired,” he said. “Why don’t you close your eyes for a while? I’ll wake you when we get there.”
She smiled gratefully at him and settled back into the seat, reclining the back rest. He reclined his as well and she leant her head on his shoulder.
“You’re all right, Irish,” she mumbled before slipping into sleep.