Chapter Thirty-One

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"I know your track record with Ferris Wheels but what about planes? You going to be okay over the next few hours?"

"I fly often enough for different jobs, and I'm fine. The only thing that throws me off is bad turbulence," Jada replied. She avoided eye contact with him, glancing out the window.

Frowning, Tristan studied his companion. He'd been doing that a lot lately. Just...looking at her. Paying attention to every expression, each movement. So quickly, she'd entranced him. It was like once he finally saw her, all of her, he couldn't look away. And it wasn't just because of her beauty. It was about seeing her smile when something made her happy, feeling the joy he got from making her laugh.

None of that was present today.

Ever since Tristan had picked her up so they could go to the airport, Jada had been suspiciously quiet. Sullen even. It wasn't like the old days back when they'd constantly been at each other's throats. This wasn't animosity she was throwing at him. It was something more brooding. Something worse.

But as he wracked his brain, he couldn't remember what he'd done to upset her. After confiding in her the night his mom waltzed back into his life, he'd felt closer to Jada than he did to anyone else. Yet, today he couldn't get a sense of her at all.

Things remained relatively uneventful for a while, aside from Jada tensing up at take off. She squeezed his hand during the lift-off but had eventually gone back to looking at the bright sky outside.

He shook his packet of peanuts at her, drawing her attention back to him.

"You think for first class they'd spring for name brand, Planters. Want some?"

"No thank you," Jada said politely, then turned back to the window.

"We can order whatever you want. We're big-timers after all. You want to see if I can get you some filet mignon instead?"

"What time is the premiere tomorrow?" Jada asked.

"Around seven. You in a hurry to walk the red carpet with me, baby?"

"Of course. I wouldn't want to miss any opportunity to reach superstar status," she said nonchalantly.

Oh. It finally hit him. The other night at dinner. The stupid comments he made. To him, it hadn't meant anything but he'd rattled her.

Biting the inside of his cheek, he couldn't find the words to explain to her that it had all been him being a typical jackass. Of course, he didn't want to end things with her--not after everything they'd been through together. Jada had become so much more to him than the attractive girl he'd taken his anger out on in that dressing room. Jada was more than his co-star now, more than his cohort in their scheme. She was...

The plane suddenly shook with unforeseen force. Like many of the other passengers, Tristan and Jada both jolted upright in their seats.

"Sorry, folks. It looks like we're about to run into a bit of turbulence. Please stay seated."

"Jeez, don't they usually give you the warning BEFORE the aircraft pulls the avalanche act," Tristan said to Jada, but as he glanced over, he saw her petrified face. Her eyes were slammed shut just like on their Ferris Wheel ride.

"You're fine, Jada. I'm right here with you," Tristan said, holding onto her hand. He held on more tightly at her timid grip. "You can hold onto me as tight as you want."

Wonderfully, she took him up on it. She leaned against his shoulder, huddled in his embrace, as the world quaked around them. He held her like that until the storm passed. He felt her tension ease as she began to fall asleep on his shoulder.

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