Chapter Seven

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One bottle of champagne and two hours later, sometime after the dessert course and before hot hand towels scented with relaxing lavender essential oil, my anxiety had faded to a dull buzz. Colin had successfully distracted me with interesting yet superficial small talk about books and music and movies. He'd moved my champagne glass to his tray and put my tray in the upright position.

"There. Now you have more legroom."

I hadn't met a man this considerate in years. I glanced at his forearms for the hundredth time. Couldn't stop staring at them, in fact.

"I like that you brought a magazine with you," he said, nodding to my Vogue. "Not many people read old-fashioned paper anymore."

With a tipsy grin, I reached for my purse. "I've also got The Economist, The Atlantic and The New Yorker." My stomach sank. He'd probably think I was trying to show off or prove how smart I was. Men generally didn't like—or care—if a woman was well read.

His eyes grew large. "Maybe you're not a superficial fashionista."

Emboldened by the champagne, I made a pfft sound. Clearly he thought I was clueless. "Can't fashionistas be well read? Or can only real estate moguls read smart magazines? And what do you read, anyway? For all I know, you don't read at all."

Colin chuckled. "Actually, I was going to ask: are you spying on my reading habits? Because I have those exact magazines in my bag. Well, except for the Vogue."

I broke out in a grin and so did he. Thankfully, the cabin lighting was low and most people had drawn their shades, otherwise he'd have seen my cheeks get pink.

He licked his lips, which made my heart flutter. He shifted in his seat, and I could tell he was about to stand up.

"That champagne made me sleepy," I remarked, giving him an easy conversational exit. Maybe I'd read his signals all wrong. Perhaps he'd merely been polite the entire past few hours and would treat any loopy, anxious woman with kindness.

"You should try to get some rest. I'm going to use the facilities to take off this tie. I'll be right back. You'll be okay, right?"

I nodded and flashed a grateful smile.

The cabin's lights dimmed further, and the only glow came from other passengers' computers or tablets. I couldn't close my eyes while he wasn't next to me, however, and my anxiety ratcheted up every moment he was gone. I listened to the whir of the plane's engines with mounting panic.

When he returned, the top two buttons of his shirt were undone, revealing a masculine neck and smooth, tan skin. I smiled while gazing at his Adam's apple and my muscles loosened.

Probably from the champagne.

"Well, I do feel comfortable enough to try to doze. And I don't want to monopolize your time. I'll let you read or work. I'm definitely feeling a little less anxious now, so thank you."

He settled into his seat and grinned lazily. "You're not monopolizing anything. I liked your story about finding the turtle in your pool."

I chuckled. It had been one of the highlights of my past month, seeing that wild thing in the water right before my morning laps.

"It's odd you're not afraid of reptiles, but you're afraid of flying," Colin mused.

"Mmm." I leaned against the window and closed my eyes. Odd described my life.

I was pleasantly buzzed, something I hadn't been in quite some time. I needed to send more positive thoughts to the pilots. I needed to concentrate on the engines. And the wings, staying firmly bolted into the plane's body. Thoughts flew through my brain as fast as I imagined our plane zooming through the clouds.

I took five deep breaths.

Instead of imagining how the plane would crash in an obsessive loop, my mind drifted to Colin's beautiful face and replayed his low, baritone voice that made my skin tingle pleasurably on the back of my neck. I opened one eye and stole a peek at him. The overhead light beamed down, making his face look angular and unusually sensual. Those lashes that nearly brushed his cheekbones inspired envy in me. And desire. I longed to press my lips softly to his eyelids.

How would he kiss? I imagined him kissing urgent and hard. Desperate.

I snapped my eye shut before he caught me staring.

I drifted off into a half-sleep, thinking of strong forearms and wide palms, of black hair casually raked back and thick brows. My pashmina slipped off my shoulder, but I was too drowsy to care. When I felt someone lift the wrap over my chest and tuck it behind my shoulder, I cooed.

"There." Colin's deep, soft voice sent a flood of tingles through my sleepy brain. "All relaxed now. Sleep."

* * *

What do you think is going to happen between Colin and Samantha?

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