Ashley Larsen climbed over the family of three, mumbling
“excuse me,” but honestly, in the wide-bodied
jet, there was no elegant way to get to her seat with her
dignity intact -- especially since darling little Junior
kept poking her in the rear and laughing maniacally. All
the while Mom tried to pretend that nothing was amiss.
With a tight smile plastered on her face, Ashley climbed
over the skanky-handed hellion, and then plopped into her
seat with a relieved sigh. She hated the 777, with the five
seats in the center aisle. What designer thought that was
a good idea? Especially on a day like today, when the direct
route to her seat was blocked by the sweet little old lady
who wanted to stuff the three foot antique lamp into the
overhead compartment. Patiently, the flight attendant was
explaining how honestly, truly, cross her heart, the baggage
handlers would treat the fragile piece with care. Stubbornly,
the little old lady wasn’t buying it for a minute,
and Ashley wished her all the luck in the world. These days,
the airlines were worse than the IRS.
Unfortunately, Ashley’s life was now in the airlines
hands. Boarding was nothing compared to the real death-defying
feat – preparing for take-off. After a slow count
to three hundred -- twice, she pulled the plastic bag from
her carryon and then pushed the suitcase back under the
seat in front of her. Furiously she kicked off her travel
shoes with some previously unleashed aggression, and then
donned the fluffy pink bunny slippers. If she was going
to die in the air, she wanted to be with at least one thing
close to her heart.
Ashley hated flying. Her sister Valerie called it her Erica
Jong moment, but it wasn’t sex that Ashley was afraid
of, only moving through the skies at super-sonic speeds,
a gazillion feet off the ground. Physics had never been
her best subject, and besides, she knew there was something
seriously wrong with the concept. However, she hated the
idea of being a slave to her fears, so, as a survival mechanism
she had created her flying ritual. Every month, when she
took off from O’Hare airport on her latest buying
trip, she meticulously followed the same pattern to maintain
sanity. Whatever worked.
Soon everyone was seated, the antique lamp was shuttled
off below, and the flight attendant droned the standard
disclaimers about pulling away from the gate in ten minutes.
Just as Ashley had properly prepared herself for take off,
another passenger made his way down the aisle, claiming
the one remaining empty seat in the airplane. The one between
Ashley and Mr. and Mrs. American Family, who were futilely
trying to keep Junior amused. Now, they decided to resume
their parental responsibility,. Couldn’t they have
done it earlier, when he was playing pin-the-sippy-cup on
Ashley’s butt? No.
Pointedly, Ashley stared across the aisle and out toward
the window, because she wasn’t normally a rude person,
but air travel brought out one hundred and one demons in
her, none of them Emily Post-like. Valerie said that the
buying trips, searching out the best and boldest fashions,
were good for her. That the only way to conquer a fear was
to tackle it head-one. Valerie could be a total pain, and
one day Ashley was going to stop listening to her sister’s
advice. But not today. Today she needed the ritual.
A hard thigh brushed against hers, and she jumped.
“Sorry.” The voice was deep, husky, and appropriately
apologetic. Okay, there was another reasonable, sane human
being on this flight. Ashley turned and the polite smile
Hello, hot man.
His trousers were an off-the-shelf-khaki, his shirt, a
nicely mussed crisp white, which, on most men would scream
copier repairman, but here… it was like newsprint
veiling a diamond. Yes, sometimes clothes made the man,
but sometimes, the man made the clothes.
After logging thousands of air miles, she’d traveled
next to perfumed matrons decked in crystal-encrusted fleece,
overly-large seat huggers, squeegee business-men who thought
she looked lonely, and yes, a veritable cornucopia of families
from hell, but never, never, had she actually sat next to
a man with a nice smile, wonderfully wicked hazel eyes,
and a lovely, lovely body that begged to be unwrapped.
“Not a problem,” she said, and then promptly
looked the other way.
Come on, Ashley. Flirt a little. Pep up your game. Give
him the goofy smile. Guys like that.
It was Valerie’s voice. The first time in three years
that Ashley had felt heat between her legs and she was listening
to an imaginary lecture from her younger sister. Not anymore,
no way, no how.
“I didn’t think I was going to make it,”
said hot-man, continuing to converse with her.
Ashley was torn between wanting to converse with hot-man
and sinking farther down into her seat, and hiding her bunny
slippers, but alas, it was impossible in the sardine-like
conditions. “And you made it,” she said, giving
him the goofy smile until she realized what she was doing
and promptly stopped.
“Yeah, after running the 440 through Terminal 2.
I nearly took out a newspaper vending machine in the process,
but the next flight to L.A. isn’t until tomorrow at
six, and I just want to get this over with. You ever feel
He smiled, then immediately frowned, the wicked hazel eyes
glancing politely toward the aisle.
Married. Must be. Or attached.
Subtly – unconsciously -- Ashley’s eyes drifted,
which she hated, to his left hand. She wasn’t on the
make, she wasn’t interested, she didn’t need
a man. She wasn’t even thinking about being on the
make, no matter how much Valerie nagged her. But that didn’t
explain the little heart-thud when she noticed there was
You’re a wimp, Ashley.
As she contemplated her own human needfulness, the stewardess
pulled out the life vest, to demonstrate the life-saving
effects of the floatation device. Ashley imagined the floatation
device bobbling alone in the ocean, her hands aching with
cold from the water of the Great Lakes, her face dimming
to a pale blue, her lungs weakening ever so slightly. Her
hand locked onto the armrest because she knew that Lake
Michigan had an ambient temperature of fifty-nine degrees
Fahrenheit in April, which didn’t sound too bad, but
she’d seen that damn Titanic movie. She didn’t
want to live it.
“First flight?” asked hot-man, the nice smile
returning, which did have the unexpected effect of calming
her fears -- somewhat.
“No, sadly, I became a platinum passenger last year.
I’m merely a coward at heart.”
“I’m sorry,” he said, the hazel eyes
flickering more towards green -- a warm, earthy green that
did more to distract her than a muscle relaxant ever could,
and reminded her that she hadn’t had sex in a long
“Don’t be. It’s a family trait. Yellow-bellied,
lily-livered Larsens, that’s us.”
He smiled again, and she felt the tell-tale heart-thud
again. Quickly she unlocked her gaze from the captivating
green of his eyes, and drifted to where Junior was most
likely planning his latest nihilistic techniques.
Ask his name.
It’s only a name, a polite introduction. Not an invitation
to the mile high club.
I don’t care. Shut up, Valerie.
I’m not even here.
I know. I swear when I get back on land, I’m going
to see a therapist. It’s the only answer.
Don’t be a wimp, Ashley.
I’m very self-aware. I’m a wimp.
Why do I even try?
Because you’re sadistic, and you revel in my pain.
It makes you feel superior.
I’m not even here.
“Don’t talk to me,” muttered Ashley,
wondering if hearing her sister’s nagging meant that
she was a woman on the verge of a nervous breakdown. The
wind was certainly blowing in that direction.
“I’m sorry?” asked hot-guy.
“Oh, not you. I hear voices.”
His brows rose – charmingly, of course. He really
had a great smile. It wasn’t a full-bodied smile,
just a quick rise on the right side of his mouth where his
mouth smashed headlong into a tiny dimple. “Part of
“No, my psychotic sister. Do you have a psychotic
sister?” she asked, firmly believing that everyone
should have a psychotic sister.
“You are so lucky. I always thought a brother would
be cool. As long as he doesn’t nag.”
“Your sister nags?”
Ashley nodded. “Like a mother.”
“I’m sorry,” he said, apologizing again,
and she noted how rare it was to hear a man apologize. Jacob
had never apologized. Not once.
Right at that precise moment, Junior stabbed hot-man in
the hand with a particularly lethal twisty straw, and he
yelped, his hand diving toward the arm-rest, trapping hers
in a death-grip of pain.
Ashley yelped, too, Junior laughed hysterically, and Mom
politely looked in the opposite direction, as if all was
right with her world. Muscle relaxants could do that to
Her seatmate’s hand lifted from hers, and Ashley’s
normal blood flow resumed. He looked at her, the hazel eyes
no longer wicked -- now they showed true fear. About time
he appreciated the seriousness of their situation. Four
hours next to the toddling terror of the skies, who was
now demanding macaroni and cheese, obviously oblivious to
the plebian limitations of airplane food.
“He just broke out from the pen,” Ashley whispered
confidentially. “Wanted in four states. I saw his
mug on the post office wall.”
Hot-man leaned in close and she could feel the whisper
of his breath.
Ah, yearning loins, aching to be filled. Thy name is lust.
Shut up, Valerie.
“Stabbed you, too?” he asked.
“Nope. Butt-fondling in the third degree.”
“Really?” He grinned. “A mastermind of
crime with discriminating taste.”
He’s flirting with you, Ashley. That’s definitely
Shut up, Valerie.
“So, why’re you going to LA?” asked Ashley,
flirting in return. “Vacation. Business. The fresh
“Business,” he answered, kicking his feet toward
the computer case in front of him. “I’m a business
“Buying trip. Clothes.”
His eyes raked over her, noting the bunny slippers, and
she felt the twinge again. The loins were definitely starting
to yearn. “You like to shop that much?”
“I own some boutiques,” she spoke, the words
stumbling out of her mouth like pebbles. She’d bought
the stores as a post-divorce present to herself, but what
had been an impulsive plan to reinvent her life, hadn’t
quite blossomed as she’d hoped. As a kid, she loved
to shop for clothes, loved to put together outfits that
seemingly didn’t belong, but then somehow worked.
Unfortunately owning four disjointed clothing boutiques
required more than stylish élan. Ashley’s business
sense hadn’t magically appeared as Valerie had believed,
and a good eye for color and style couldn’t compete
with designing ads and balancing the budget. In fact, in
the past few months, usually when she was paying the bills,
she thought about selling the stores, worried that she couldn’t
cut it. It was when the rent got raised for the second time
in as many years that she worried she was like some people
on those television reality shows. Thinking they could sing,
but when their mouth’s opened, the world’s worst
sound emerged, and the home audience is sitting there wondering
why the heck these types ever, ever had the wonky idea that
they belonged in the limelight.
There were certain similarities.
Ashley’s smile fell, the plane moved slowly back
from the gate, and she felt the familiar lurch in her stomach.
“I’ll be fine,” Ashley replied, and she
would. Business problems, personal problems, fashion problems,
in the big scheme of things, they didn’t amount to
much that couldn’t be overcome. In the end, Ashley
was a survivor. When she was working on a new store window
-- surrounded by encouraging mannequins draped in subtly
fitted, beautifully crafted, casual couture -- the dream
returned. She could do it. All she needed was to keep the
She gave hot-man a weak smile, and he covered her hand,
a grip that was supposed to be comforting.
If you’d only twitch the thumb, a tiny caress….
Shut up, Valerie.
He had large hands, warm hands, with long, long fingers
that looked so full of yummy possibilities.
“Everything all right?”
“Peachy.” The engines started to roar.
Quickly she took out the air-sickness bag.
Just in case.
David McLean hadn’t been excited about a side-trip
through Chicago to see his brother. Ex-brother. Chris had
lost any claim to family bonding after he’d slept
with David’s wife. Yeah, nothing like a little wife-sharing
between brothers. Four years, and it still pissed him off.
Still, in the face of pink bunny slippers and shoved in
close quarters with a young psycho in training, David felt
something unfamiliar tug at his face. A grin. Yes, that
was definitely a grin.
The woman was just nervous enough to be unthreatening.
He liked her. Her hair was dark, nearly black, with soft
brown eyes, a nose that was too big to be called pert, but
it gave her a little something extra -- character. And she
had a nice mouth, plump lips that were always held slightly
parted, like a kid viewing the world for the first time,
or a woman in the beginning throes of climax.
There was something stirring in his khakis -- trouble.
Sex held the whip hand, and turned men into stupid dogs.
Like, for instance, Chris. And Christine. When he first
introduced his future wife to his brother, all three of
them had laughed about their matching names. The day he
had found them in bed together, the laughter had stopped.
He shot a furtive look at the bunny slippers.
“I’m David,” he said, carefully displacing
thoughts of Chris and Christine.
“Are you from Chicago?”
“Born, bred, and will most likely die here as well.”
“Cubbies fan, aren’t you?” It was there
in her eyes, that sort of lost hope, winning seasons long
denied. Idealistic dreamers -- a rarely-seen species that
was going to natural-select itself into extinction.
She winced. “I know, it’s pathetic, isn’t
it? Are you from Chicago?”
“Ah, home of the Yankees.”
“What can I say? I live in New York. We always back
the money team.”
“Sad to be bought so easily.”
He shrugged, and looked out the window. The plane had stopped
moving toward the runway. They were returning to the gate.
Immediately Ashley noticed. “Something’s wrong,
isn’t it?” Her finger jammed at the call button,
just as the captain came on the speaker, his voice Prozac
calm and soothing which only made her more nervous.
“Ladies and gentleman, we’ve had a slight mechanical
issue. Nothing to worry about. I’m going to pull us
back to the gate and have the mechanics check things out.
We’ll have a short stop where you can disembark, if
you choose. However, you will need your boarding pass to
“We’re not flying?” she said, and he
noticed the relief in her voice.
“We’re going to fly,” answered David,
wanting to reassure her, but more importantly, he needed
to get to LA. The sooner he left Chicago the better.
“I’m not taking off my slippers,” she
answered. “They can’t do that to me.”
“It’s okay, I’m sure it won’t be
long,” he told her, not his usual brutal honestly,
but he suspected there was normally more color in her face,
and if bunny slippers made her happy, who was he to take
“What sort of mechanical problems do you think we’re
stuck with? I was on a flight to Miami when they thought
the landing gear was hosed, but it turned out fine. “
“Let me tell you about the time that I was flying
to Houston. The engine blew…” Her eyes blew
up four sizes, the pale color bleached to a ghostly hue,
and he clamped down on his tongue. Hard. Okay, David, great
going here. “Sorry. We landed fine. They have back-up
engines, so if anything fails….” He realized
he wasn’t helping, so wisely he decided to shut up.
Damn. He liked talking to her. Normally he pulled out his
computer and worked through flights, but this afternoon
had left him feeling -- unsettled. Two weeks ago he had
told his ex-wife that he would be in Chicago for a meeting.
He would finally see them. But then he’d arrived at
O’Hare and the city of big shoulders closed in around
him until he couldn’t think, couldn’t breath,
couldn’t do anything but leave.
He shouldn’t have called them. Christine had said
she was pregnant (oh, joy!), but in the end, David lied,
leaving a message saying that his meeting had been cancelled
and he wouldn’t be stopping in Chicago after all.
David didn’t like being a coward. He actually wasn’t
– except for this.
The pregnancy had stung. Not that he wanted Christine back,
but it irked him that she preferred his brother, that fidelity
wasn’t part of her vocabulary, and that he, a man
who evaluated million-dollar business opportunities on a
daily basis, could do so poorly when picking out wife-material.
“I know of a little knockwurst place in Terminal
One,” he blurted out, because he didn’t want
to sit here sulking over the social implications of having
a nephew birthed by his ex-wife. Bratwurst and sausage were
so much more appealing. Then he glanced down at her feet.
“Oops. Never mind.”
“Down by Gate B12, between the ATM and the security
“Yeah, you know the place?”
“Heh. I eat there all the time.” Her mouth
parted even more, drawing his eyes. Trouble stirred once
more. “There are few things to get me out of my bunny
slippers, but knockwurst and blown engines will do it. Let’s
go before Junior scarf’s down another chocolate bar.”
His name was David McLean. His hair was a rich brown, cut
conservative short, but it suited him, suited the all-American,
Yes, he’d never model like one of those designer-wearing,
scruffy-jawed manboys that graced the fashion mags, but
there was something about him that fascinated her. He was
curious and intelligent, asking questions about everything,
yet not so willing to talk about himself. Eventually she
He was divorced and his jaw clenched like a vise when
he’d said it, so it wasn’t one of those “parting
as good friends” situations.
The restaurant was quiet and dark, the wait staff moving
efficiently and effortless, and the large, overstuffed booths
were conducive to divulging confidences to perfect strangers.
“It’s not easy, is it?” she admitted,
thinking of her own divorce. Two weeks of wounded pride,
several weeks of sorting out the finances and understanding
what was whose, and five months of awkward questions and
well-meaning advice from friends. But then Ashley woke up
one cold December morning and she knew she would be okay.
Not fine, not great, but she was going to live. It was while
in that fragile state that Valerie convinced her that she
should do something radical with her life, live out her
dream and buy a chain of four small Chicago boutiques. Start
“Not going that well?” asked David, when she
told him what she did.
“Why would you think that?”
“I don’t know. You don’t have the joy
d’vivre that a lot of small business owners get when
things are breezing along.”
“You see a lot of small business owners?”
“Oh, yeah. From Omaha to Oahu. Kalamazoo to Klondike.
I’ve seen a lot.”
“Owning your own business is a lot of work. I sit
on the sidelines and tell people how much their business
is worth, how much it’s not worth, what they are doing
wrong, and recommend whether our investors should go all
in or not. My job is the easy part. After I look over the
operation, talk to a few customers and suppliers, I go plug
some numbers into a spreadsheet, and then I’m on to
the next business.”
“I used to be an insurance claims appraiser.”
His mouth quirked, amused, and she cut in.
“Don’t say it. I know. I have the insurance
“Nah, not an insurance adjuster. Maybe bookstore
owner or candy maker. Something more personal.”
“I think that’s a compliment.”
“It is. You’re too cute for the insurance business.
So why fashion?”
Cute. He thinks you’re cute.
He’s from New York.
Who cares? Take a chance, Ash.
For a second she met his eyes – a little more bold
than usual. “I want to prove something. I want to
take a plant and nurture it, care for it, water it, and
watch it bloom.”
He snapped his fingers. “Florist. I can definitely
see that in you.”
She began to laugh because if he ever saw her plant shelf,
he would be rolling on the floor, too. “No florist,
sorry. I wanted to do something that I could master, something
challenging. I was stuck, and I needed to prove that I could
do something different.” It was nearly Valerie’s
post-divorce speech verbatim, but Val had been right. Ashley
had just neglected to tell her sister that last key point.
“And fashion is challenging?”
Ashley nodded. Men really had no idea. It had taken her
two hours to decide on the yellow gypsy skirt, the perfect
pale green cotton t-shirt, and a kaleidoscopic glass-bead
necklace. The outfit had vague Easter Egg overtones, but
worked nicely with her hair, and best of all – no
wrinkles when traveling.
He sat back from the table, his eyes tracking to the bank
of departure monitors nearby. “We better go back to
the tarmac of terror.”
“You’re anxious to get out of here?”
she asked, noticing the slight jaw-clench again. That, and
the disappearing smile.
“No. It’s fine.”
Yeah, she’d seen that movie, too. Knew the ending.
“Denial, much? Don’t worry. It’ll get
His gaze met hers, and the warm green was analytical hazel
once again. “Has yours?”
“Oh, yeah,” she lied. It hadn’t gotten
worse, but it hadn’t gotten better. Instead she was
stuck in this post-divorce limbo where she had no knowledge
of how to proceed, and no inclination to leave the comfort
of her own solitude.
“So when’s the last time you went out?”
“Not too long ago.”
“How long?” he probed, and she didn’t
like the awareness in his eyes. It was that same probing
look that her sister got before she would launch into a
lecture. Ashley shifted in her seat.
“I don’t know,” she answered vaguely.
The divorce had been three years and eight months ago, but
she didn’t like the idea of dating again. It felt
too wrong. She was a thirty-two year old woman, not a twenty-something
college kid. She couldn’t go sit in a bar, she was
afraid no one would pick her if she signed up for a matchmaking
service, and most of the blind dates she’d had had
been with total losers. People had good intentions, but
their judgment left a lot to be desired.
“Has it been longer than a year?”
“Maybe. But I’ve been busy,” she said,
dodging the question.
He stayed silent for a second before nodding. “Understand
that. I’m not one of those men who has to be married.
I cook. I do my own laundry. There’s a whole group
of guys who get together to watch the games in a bar. I’m
independent. I like my independence.” It was the battle
cry for the walking wounded. Ashley knew it well.
“Then it sounds like you’re in a good place.”
She gave him the fake smile. The one that says ‘whatever
you say is fine.’
“I think I am. You?”
“Oh, yeah.” Abruptly, she decided to stop the
charade. Here was a comrade in arms. Someone who knew exactly
how it felt. Why not tell the truth? She missed cooking
for two. She missed waking up on a Sunday morning and not
having to plan out the day. She missed being able to come
home from work and laugh about her co-workers (not all of
them, but there were a few who were laugh-worthy). Ashley
and Jacob had been married for seven years, and it was never
the world’s greatest marriage, but still… “Sometimes
it is, but sometimes it’s not. Well, you know, there
are things I miss.”
“At night. It’s lonely.”
“I mean, I know I can call Valerie and she can come
over…” He shot her a shocked look and then recovered
quickly, but not before she noticed. Oh, man, he thought
she was talking about sex, which she wasn’t, but now,
okay, her mind was going there, she was thinking the sex
–thoughts … No, don’t think about it,
Ash. Quickly she fumbled back into the conversation. “I
like watching horror movies at night and my sister is a
total wimp. All we get are historical dramas. Television
is something best done with another person.” Okay,
Ashley, got over that one, didn’t you? Not too shabby.
David, however, still looked mildly shell-shocked. “Totally,”
he answered in a tight voice.
“You like horror movies, too?” she asked, getting
a little cocky and daring to tease.
“We should get back to the plane,” he answered,
not taking the whole teasing-thing well. She knew that men
got a lot more wired than women about sex, but he seemed
more laid-back than that. Wrong, Ashley. Quickly she changed
to a safer topic.
“Get back to Junior? You’re as sadistic as
“Maybe he’s asleep.”
They had no such luck once they got back on board. Junior
was riding a sugar high, judging by the chocolate smeared
across his face and the way he kept bouncing on his seat.
But at least all weapons were out of his possession.
David watched as Ashley changed shoes again, noticing how
nice her feet were. Smooth, compact, lots of well-turned
curves. His cock stirred and he turned away. Turned on by
a foot? Weak, very, very weak. It’d been a long time
since he had spent several confined hours in the company
of a single woman. After the divorce, he’d thrown
himself into work, mainly because he liked it, he was good
at it, and if he couldn’t have a family life, at least
he could build up his retirement account. Today had been
like a cold dunk in a deep ocean, the familiar patterns
coming back to him, the jittery nerves coming back to him,
and the hard-on coming back to him as well.
It was because there wasn’t anything they could do
about it. That’s what this was. Economics. Supply
and demand. Decrease the availability of supply, and boom,
demand shoots out from every pore, zipping in his brain.
Ergo, the hard-on.
If she hadn’t mentioned sex. Well, honestly, she
hadn’t mentioned sex, she just mentioned the word
‘night’ and his imagination took off from there,
wishing they weren’t at an airport, wondering if that
skirt was as easy to slip off as it looked, and feeling
her skin under his hands. Tawny skin, creamy skin, soft-touchable
skin rubbing up against him….
David studiously avoided looking at her skin, his eyes
moving upward, touching on her chest. Lots of well-turned
curves there, too. After that, he turned away, met Junior’s
knowing eyes and glared. Heading to an altitude of thirty-thousand
feet, it wasn’t going to get any easier, so better
to concentrate on other, less arousing things. Junior launched
a Lego piece in his direction.
Two hours later they were still at the gate. They were
waiting on either a part, or a new plane, the pilots weren’t
sure which would arrive first, but they had high (ludicrously
delusional) hopes for getting away tonight. In the face
of such facts, Ashley had long abandoned her fear of flying.
It was obvious they weren’t going anywhere anytime
Instead she was thigh-locked with David, who had very nice
thighs, too. Hard. His arms were fab as well. Thirty minutes
ago, he’d pushed up his sleeves, and her gaze kept
stalling out on the biceps, which were bigger than most,
an odd incongruity for khakis and a button-down, and she
wondered why. He wasn’t bulky enough to be a weight-lifter,
but his arms were too big for a swimmer or a runner, definitely
too big for a tiny airplane seat. They kept brushing against
hers, casually, which didn’t explain the electric
shock to her system.
Not that he was making it any easier. Conversation had
ceased about half an hour ago when she caught him staring
at her chest, and they both looked politely away.
She crossed her legs, uncrossed her legs, and had a harebrained
urge to ask him to join her in the bathroom. She’d
pulled out Vogue and Harpers and Lucky, but even the lure
of the sloe-eyed models in their daring designs hadn’t
dimmed the awareness that simmered in the air.
The bright spot in the tension was Junior, which said a
lot about her feelings of desperation. Junior wrote on David’s
hand with a pen, and David laughed, sounding more relieved
than amused. Junior ran up and down the aisle, and Ashley
counted the laps, rather than fixate on the discreetly covered
ridge in David’s khaki slacks.
Do not go there.
Go there, Ashley.
Oh, yeah, good of you to talk. You can’t have sex
on a plane, Valerie.
There was a momentary pause in her thoughts, because right
now, given readily available options, she could so have
sex on this plane.
Another thirty minutes passed, and the flight attendants
were passing out drinks. Yes, alcohol, the world’s
most potent aphrodisiac. When the flight attendant stopped
at their row, David shook his head, Ashley shook her head,
and Junior’s mother and father opted for double vodka
Outside the window, the lights of the airport started to
dim. If she lowered her hand one inch, just one tiny inch,
she would be touching his thigh. If she were careful, it
would look like an accident.
Junior spilled a glass of orange juice on those khakis
that she was not looking at, and David shot sideways, and
there was a momentary barrage of touches. His hand, her
breast. Her hand, his thigh. She jumped back, arching toward
the aisle, and he moved away, hugging the far armrest. Junior’s
mother apologized, and Ashley’s nipples were powered
by a thousand jet-engines, ready for take-off.
It was shortly after her breasts had recovered from the
shock that the captain came on the speaker and announced
that moment they had all been expecting.
“Ladies and gentleman, we tried. But there’s
bad weather in New York, and we couldn’t get the plane
that we were hoping for, and they can’t get the part
here until the morning, so I’m sorry to say, we won’t
be going anywhere. If any of you need hotel accommodations
at the airport, there’s a flight attendant waiting
to give you the details.”
A hotel. Suddenly the word took on new connotations and
images. A hotel implied a bed, privacy, something much more
comfortable than a 1x1 bathroom designed by Boeing. A hotel
The cabin lights went on, and people around them began
to move, moaning, complaining, and in general, were not
in their happy place. However, Ashley’s happy place
was getting happier by the second. She didn’t want
to look at him, didn’t want to assume, most of all,
she didn’t want to act as if she didn’t know
what she was doing. After all, she was mature, she was an
adult, and after eight hours of sitting thigh to thigh with
this man, she was primed to explode with only a touch.
He turned, a slight inclination of his head, and she met
his eyes. It was ESP of the most carnal kind. She licked
her lips, his gaze tracked her tongue, and she knew that
He leaned down, his mouth near her ear. “You should
know that right now, I’m a very happy man.”
Ashley felt the touch in her ear, down to the soles of her
feet, and every single inch in between, especially the happy
place. She tried to smile, but that involved mind-body cooperation,
and right now there was none. Slowly, she regained the capability
to speak and she managed to smile, although she wasn’t
sure how it looked.
“Happy is good,” she told him.
She was going to have sex with David. She was going to
peel off his shirt, feel the muscles of his bare chest crushing
her breasts. She would rip off his briefs, since she instinctively
knew he wore briefs, tight, white briefs, with his sex jutting
out from the band, and then finally, finally, he would push
up inside her, filling her …
She felt her muscles contract once, contract twice, contract
Her mouth tightened and her eyes locked with David. His
normally placid hazel gaze glinted lust-dark.
Ashley nodded once. “I think we need to go. Now.”
He grabbed the carryons and then they both took off running
through the airport, Ashley’s bunny slippers cooperating
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