The woman two rows ahead of me knew she was beautiful. She knew how to work what the good Lord gave her. She also knew I was watching.
“Would you like another whiskey, Mr. Kaino?” It was only the soft twang in the flight attendant’s voice that got my attention off the curvy brunette sitting in first class.
“Please,” I told her, not able to keep the wink from my eye. Couldn’t keep from watching the woman’s face as she leaned over my tray and topped off my drink. She smelled like peaches, all sweet and tantalizing.
The whiskey went down with a bite, something I found oddly comforting. Something that did little to keep the swirl of arousal from my gut when the leggy brunette a few rows ahead of me rubbed her ankle, thumb pressing down into the arch of her foot before she shifted a gaze over her shoulder, eyes lidded, fucking sexy and dark.
My brother Kane had schooled me about women. Especially women like this. But his opinions shifted to the old-school kind. He liked to play the protector. He liked to be straightforward, honest about what he wanted. But Kane was happily besotted back in Seattle with his love Kit Carlyle. And currently, the cable viewing audience and the rest of the country were taken by the PDA on their home improvement show.
Kane could have his woman and the happily ever after they were building together. Me? I liked to play. I liked the game, and I was fucking good at it.
I took in the look Legs gave me, watched the slip of her small tongue against her bottom lip. Spotted the tease of cleavage when she bent down, stretching to grab her shoe that had somehow ended up in the next row over. Accident? I’m sure, but deep down, I hoped she’d started the game—one I’d win. One that would end with me leaning back as that sexy woman rode me in the airport bathroom.
It would be a good way to welcome myself back to New York. Celebrate in a JFK stall. Maybe a service closet because no one was expecting me until the next morning anyway. I shot a smile at Legs, who was currently stretching, standing to the overhead compartment to retrieve something. Another move she made that told me she was good at game-playing herself. She wore a fitted skirt and a flowy blouse with a cinched waist. It made that glorious body look dangerous, and I was in the mood to be a little reckless. Legs looked around the cabin, shrugging to herself when no flight attendant approached, and pulled open the compartment, grabbing what looked like a small wallet.
Legs turned to face me, adjusting something in her seat that brought her body facing me. She moved her gaze from the blanket she pretended to fix, right to my face. I held that sharp gaze a full six seconds, examining the planes of her pretty face. The smooth, young skin, the pronounced angles of her chin, and the thin top lip dwarfed by a bottom lip that had no business being that full and that damn sexy. Green eyes, from what I could make of them and perfectly trimmed, arched brows. She was just this side of being too polished, too well put-together, but that only added to her appeal. I felt a deep-down craving to muss her perfect hair and smear her lipstick, all over my stomach and…
Legs stood straight, grabbing her small bag before she left her seat. Hips in a tempting sway as she walked toward me. I got an up-close look, and my suspicions were confirmed: fucking glorious, gorgeous, and definitely interested. No one looks at a perfect stranger the way she looked at me. Not unless they were attracted, and holy hell, did that look promise she was a shit-ton more than attracted.
Her gaze went primal, hungry. The way she let her eyes glide over my face, right down to my lap, told me all I needed to know. She was biding her time. Maybe waiting for me to make a move, speak just a little to encourage her. But I was good at the game, remember? You don’t show your hand so soon after the game has started.
When she swept by my seat, close enough to reach out and touch my shoulder, I moved, leaning my seat back, smiling at the heat I felt from her stare as I closed my eyes. I caught her perfume as she moved by me —a fucking delicious scent that made me want to dive right between her thighs—and I licked my lips, wondering if she spotted the movement, hoping it frustrated her that I was playing distant.
The smell of her perfume disappeared, and I moved the smile off my face, making a mental note to thank my new boss Raquel for the shot at the crime beat in one of the most prestigious papers in the country—and the first-class ticket. I felt like a king, comfortable, smug at having caught the attention of such a gorgeous woman, but then one of the flight attendants went around the plane, asking for final requests, and I knew we’d be landing soon.
Since I got the job offer, there’d been an acute sense that something was off. Something that made me a little suspicious. I was a great writer. I was even better at researching and pressing leads for information, but I wasn’t the best. Not just yet. So why did I land this gig? And in New York, of all places?
It was probably stupid to be paranoid. Likely even more asinine to listen to my big brother’s warning before I left Seattle.
“Watch your back, Kiel. That family has a long reach.”
He meant the Carellis. He meant the past.
Five years ago, Cara Carelli had jerked me into her criminal world with her mouth and hands, with her warm thighs and hotter pussy. She’d driven me away from who I was and any semblance of who I wanted to be. I’d loved her. I’d have done anything for her.
I’d been a punk kid just finishing up a journalism degree at NYU. She’d been the troubled source I ran into while trying to break a huge story. That story ended up with me getting the shit beat out of me and her brother and her father’s goons laughing at me as I bled out on the pavement. She’d told the cops I was a stalker. She’d told her family she didn’t know me at all. None of those things was true.
I knew Cara. I knew exactly where she lived and how she tasted.
It took years for me to get my head on right. It took a lot of liquor and days of listening to my brother tell me what I’d done wrong and how not to do it again.
Cara had lied, and when I’d left New York after graduation with my killer story a bust, my internship done, and my heart ripped to shreds, I promised myself I’d never go back.
And here I was. About to land in the one place I told myself I never wanted to be again.
What the hell was I doing?
“You know.” I heard, moving my head to the side when that familiar perfume filled my sinuses again. “I have a two-hour layover.”
“Is that so?” I slid my arm behind my head, blinking my eyes open to see Legs staring down at me. She nodded, pressing her lips together, looking hungry. The brunette rested an arm on the headrest of my seat, and I pulled on her wrist, examining her left hand just to have something to do. She let me take her fingers, press them against my palm. Her skin was soft, supple like her body, and her nails were long, shaped but neat. “I might be able to help you fill your time.” I sat up when she pulled her hand away, pretending to be a little wary of me. Then when I turned toward her, resting on my elbow, she fought a smile. “I might be able to fill a few things.”
A quick blush crept across her face. She didn’t frown or seem at all put off by my innuendo. I got a noncommittal shrug for my effort before Legs returned to her seat, shooting one final glance my way before the captain came on the overhead speaker, informing everyone to return to their seats.
“Your glass, Mr. Kaino?” The flight attendant held out her hand, and I nodded, slamming back the contents of my whiskey, licking my lips clean before I handed over the glass, throwing the woman a wink for her trouble. But my head was still in the game and working out how to be smooth and subtle, just to see where Legs wanted to go.
Central Park was the first thing you spotted when you descended toward New York. It went on forever, miles and miles of lush green in the center of buildings that seemed to stretch and reach beyond anything you could see. There were skyscrapers and landmarks all clustered tightly together, and in the middle of all that, the massive park. Just the sight of it brought back picnics with Cara and the lies that spilled from her mouth.
Legs spared one final glance my way, eyebrows up in a silent question, and I grinned, moving my chin down to answer her. It was on, and I had every intention of starting my life in New York inside this beautiful, welcoming woman.
“Enjoy your stay,” the flight attendant said, slipping something into my hand as I left the plane. I guessed what it was before I hit the jetway, fisting the wad of paper with a random phone number as I moved into the airport.
Legs was four feet in front of me, hips swaying, fluffing her hair as she moved toward baggage claim to grab her luggage. There was one small bag waiting for her. I didn’t have anything but the duffle on my shoulder, but I waited, hanging back as she grabbed her suitcase, pretending to be more interested in my phone than the beautiful woman who slipped through the crowd, tossing a curious glance at me.
Kane had texted about my flight, and I winked at Legs, not watching the screen. I sent my brother a quick “just landed” text before I walked behind the woman, catching up to her as she headed toward a hallway sealed off with an “Employees Only” sign haphazardly taped to the wall. I focused on the slow tap of her heels and the roll of her suitcase wheels moving ahead of me and not the vacant hallway or abandoned cleaning equipment around us.
Legs disappeared through the last door on the left, and that gut instinct of worry returned.
The woman stood against an empty wall, hands tucked demurely behind her back as she waited for me. She’d already taken her shoes off and moved her bag to the side.
Two steps from her, I paused, securing her hand against my chest when she held up her palm. “How do you know about this place?”
Legs shrugged, and there was a playful smirk moving her top lip. “I know people.”
“You don’t know me,” I told her, licking my lips when she curled her fingers around my collar.
“I’m about to.”
A small release of sweet, bourbon-tinted breath and I grabbed Legs by the back of the neck, stumbling just a little when that full mouth dropped open and she offered me her tongue. She hummed against my mouth, seeming to get a thrill at how I held her, how tightly I fisted her skirt in between my fingers when she stepped closer.
“Shit…you taste so good,” she told me, as though she were surprised. She didn’t pause for long and gripped my hair, moving my face closer, pressing her whole body against mine. “Better than I thought you would.”
Her hair was thick lush, and I twirled it between my fingers, using it to guide her head to the left as I licked a path along her neck. “You taste exactly like I thought you would. Sweet.” I nibbled at the dip beneath her throat, then up to her ear. “Succulent.” Teeth tugging on her lobe, I released the smallest growl. “Hot.”
Legs was a beautiful woman, and despite how my mother had raised me, despite what I knew was right and wrong, I was about to fuck her in an empty bathroom at the JFK airport. It made no sense to want this woman, but I did. She reminded me of…
“Antonia!” I heard, and the woman in my arms broke away from me, pushing me back against the wall like she wasn’t supposed to be anywhere near me.
Two oversized men stood in the center of the room, stoic and stern, but neither of them had called her name. The sound of clicking heels met us from behind those men, and they broke apart, moving aside, and the clicking got louder.
Cara stood in front of us, looking fierce. More beautiful than I’d ever seen her, but she paid no attention to me. She glared at Legs, her face tight with anger. “I told you to get him here,” she said, taking two more steps that put her right in front of us. “I never said you could try to fuck my husband.”
Tension moved between my shoulders at the sound of her voice, and that feeling I’d had all day burned inside my gut like a virus. Cara moved her head, gesturing for Legs to leave before she faced me. There was something cool and detached in her features, and just that look was warning enough. I should have bolted for the door.
Fucking hell, I should have listened to my brother’s warning.
But I hadn’t, and just then, Cara faced me, keeping her features stern and her eyes dull.
“Hi, Kiel,” she said, reaching out a hand to adjust my tie. “Welcome home.”