by Fran Lee
Excerpt copyright 2014 by Fran Lee
“Hey, Karen! I’m at the airport. Did you arrange for a ride?” Fran sidestepped a gaggle of sniffling kids with a frazzled mother trying to herd them along to the baggage pickups, her nose wrinkling.
God, how I hate airports! Hundreds of people jammed together like sheep—people who didn’t know how to cover their mouths when they coughed jostling with those begging for nickels and quarters for this charity or that. She gave a firm shake of her head and ignored the bowl a young person wearing an orange robe shoved under her nose.
“Sorry, I have no change on me,” she lied.
“Bless you, sister.” The young man smiled beatifically and she winced at her own lack of resolve as she hesitated and switched her roll-along handle to her left hand. She heaved a long-suffering sigh and used her free hand to fish a small fistful of change from the bottom of her jacket pocket, dumping it into and over the sides of the bowl.
“Thank you very much!” The youth grinned.
“Yeah…sure…” She gritted her teeth as she managed to switch her roll-along case to her right hand again, still juggling her cell phone on her shoulder.
She’d missed everything that Karen was saying and all she caught was, “…should be there by now. Probably waiting by the baggage pickup for your flight…”
She barely screeched to a halt before tripping over a child who’d bent over to pick up one of the dimes she’d scattered. She almost dropped the phone and just caught it, only to find that she’d disconnected the damn call during her juggling act.
For Pete’s sake! Just get me out of here, Lord!
Unfortunately, not a single saint or deity was paying her the slightest attention.
With a groan of disgust she craned her neck around the area, looking for the signs that would lead her out of this zoo…and collided painfully hard with a solid body standing directly in her path.
“Oh God! I’m so sorry!” she gasped as she found herself suspended above the floor by the grace of God and one hell of a powerful arm wrapped firmly around her waist. Her roll-along overnight case dangled precariously from her fingertips and she clutched her shoulder bag with her laptop in a death grip while attempting vainly to get her slippery, leather-soled shoes back where they belonged—under her.
Can anything else possibly go wrong?
“Here…let me take that bag so you can get your balance, Franny.” The far-too-familiar voice came from the direction of the big, hard body holding onto hers.
Her head snapped up so fast that her forehead met his dimpled chin with a painful crack. “Ouch!” she gasped, wincing at the blow, then instantly forgetting the pain as her mouth fell open and her eyes widened in horror.
“Damn, Gerrard, but you have a hard head!” she snapped to cover the rush of heat that zipped from her belly to her suddenly wet core.
Oh. My. God! What the hell is Jack Gerrard doing here? He can’t be…my ride?
Without a word he levered her back to an upright position, then rubbed his chin gingerly with his free hand. “You still try to destroy all the men who want to pick you up?”
Fran realized numbly that he hadn’t relinquished his death grip on her waist and their hips seemed to be fused from navel to knee. Dear God! How many times had she dreamed about being in this exact position with him? His minty breath warmed her forehead despite her lanky height, and for the first time in years she felt small and weak as he easily shifted her and maintained his firm grip while she struggled to regain control of her shoulder bag, finally shifting it to his waiting hand.
“I…I didn’t mean to… I mean…” Her forehead throbbed from the contact with his rock-hard chin.
Blue eyes pinned her as his lips curved into that sexy, patented Jack Gerrard smile and memories flooded back over her from so many years ago. She blinked furiously to stop the ridiculous flow of tears as that smile changed to a frown of worry.
“You okay, Franny? Hell, did I hurt you, honey?”
Did he just call me “honey”?
Her knees almost gave out. She should be feeling outrage at the term of affection but she couldn’t quite muster that particular feeling. Instead she started blubbering like a total fool. She shook her head and slapped her hand over her quivering mouth, too humiliated by this absurd rush of overwhelming emotion to say a word. Her wide eyes took in every plane and curve of his handsome face. He hadn’t changed one bit in ten years.
In fact he’s even more gorgeous than I remembered him.
More handsome than his pictures in the magazines.
Oh God! And he was gathering her closer, patting her back and pressing her face gently into his shoulder in the most delicious, protective way. She couldn’t possibly stop the flood of tears.
She sobbed helplessly, wetting his leather jacket and pressing her forehead into the hollow between his strong throat and his shoulder, too embarrassed to look him in the eye. People instantly crowded around and she felt like burrowing into his chest for protection.
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