Home > Managed (VIP #2)(6)

Managed (VIP #2)(6)
Author: Kristen Callihan


Shit on a toothpick. I cannot be crushing on this dude. He’s a dick. A hot dick, but still. Even if I could overlook that, he’ll be gone and out of my life as soon as we land. I imagine sprinting will be involved. Dignified sprinting, of course.

“That’s me,” I tell him with false levity. “Sophie Darling.”

Another noise rumbles in his throat. This one sounds like, “God help me.”

I could be interpreting that incorrectly, though.

“Well, Ms. Darling,” he says, going back to the crisp, stern voice I imagine he uses to tear wayward underlings a new one, “to answer your previous question, you are correct; I do not, in general, relax.”

“Wow, you went right ahead and admitted you’re a stick in the mud.”

“Stick in the mud makes absolutely no sense. Who comes up with these ridiculous idioms?” He steals a tomato toast from my plate. “And I think you can do better.”

I watch as he pops the toast in his mouth and munches away. The corners of his eyes crinkle. It’s so slight, I doubt many people would notice. It feels like a full-fledged, smug-ass grin right now.

“You want me to insult you?” I manage.

“At least be a little more creative when you do.” He pulls his laptop back out, dismissing me. “Give me something I haven’t already heard.”

Something about this guy activates my lizard brain in the worst way, because I find myself leaning forward to murmur in his ear. “I’m thinking you’re the poster boy for Rough Roger. And one day, that hand of yours isn’t gonna cut it.”

His head jerks up as if I’ve goosed him. I hear the small intake of breath, and refuse to be turned on. Even if his heady scent is wafting over me. The leather armrest creaks under my elbow as I retreat.

He gives me a sidelong glare. “Rough Roger?”

“You’ve got internet working. Look it up, sunshine.”

It’s my turn to smile smugly and bury my nose in my magazine.

The drone of the engines fills the silence between us, and I hear the distinct click of his keyboard, followed by a strangled sound in his throat.

My grin grows. I know he’s read the definition of a guy who jerks off so much and so desperately, he’s rubbed his cock raw. Unfortunately, that image is far too sexually disturbing for my comfort.

From beside me, his voice is low and tight and slightly husky. “Well played, Ms. Darling.”

 

* * *

 

Before bedtime, we’re politely encouraged to visit the first class lounge—yes, they have a motherfucking lounge on the plane. I mean, I knew about plane bars…the way a person knows about unicorns and Smurfs. But to experience it? Holy hell.

I take the spiral stairs up to the top of the 747 to sit at a bar and have watered-down cocktails with my cabin mates. Even Sunshine comes along, though he stays at the fringe and orders a glass of ice water.

“They’re prepping the cabin,” an older man in a slightly rumpled suit tells me as we sip our drinks.

“For what?” I toss a sugared pecan in my mouth and take another sip of my Cosmopolitan. If you’re going to sit around in a bar-lounge at thirty-five thousand feet, you might as well go full-on Sex and the City.

He leans closer, his gaze sliding just south of my neck for a brief second. “The beds.”

“Oh, right.” I perk up. “I’m going to enjoy that.”

“The comfort and privacy can’t be beat,” he says with a nod before edging even closer. “You know, I have a single seat cabin. But it’s big enough for two.”

For a second I just stare back. “Are you actually propositioning me in an airplane bar?”

He shrugs. “Heard your seat mate raise a fuss. Sounds like a real prick. Thought you’d prefer better company.”

I’m about to apologize for jumping to conclusions when he raises a brow and leers. “But if you’d rather view it as a proposition, I’m not going to object.”

“I prefer my original seat partner,” I deadpan.

He snorts. “Shocker.”

I’m about to ask him what the hell, when a muscled shoulder edges between us. I know that arm, that scent: expensive, haughty man. Gabriel stares down his nose at the guy. It’s impressive, the amount of disdain and dismissal he packs into a look.

“Actually,” he says, “I’m more of an asshole than a prick.” He flashes a tight smile that’s really a baring of teeth, but his bored tone never changes. “Which means I’m rather an expert in dealing with bothersome little shits.”

I nearly choke on my drink.

Mr. Suit tries to hold Gabriel’s stare but fails. He slinks off with a muttered, “Asshole.”

“I thought we’d already established as much,” Gabriel says to me.

“So proud of your asshole ways.” I give him a nudge on the shoulder. “And yet here you are, saving me from lechers.”

“Hardly,” he mutters into his glass. “I was defending my own honor. And it was rather boring, at that. I thought he’d put up more of a fight.”

“Why?” I’m compelled to ask, though really I’m just surprised he’s talking to me when this is our one chance to escape to neutral corners.

He takes a sip of his water before answering. “He’s the CEO of a Fortune 500 company and has a reputation for being a relentless badger.” His lips curl in a sneer. “More like a weasel, if you ask me.”

I stare at him. “How do you know this?”

He finally turns his gaze to me, and I’m hit anew with those brilliant blues. “I just read an article about him in Forbes.”

A small, helpless laugh leaves me. I’m so not in Kansas any more. “Well,” I say, “maybe you’ll find someone to properly cross dicks with later.”

It’s his turn to sputter on his drink, though he recovers nicely. With precise movements, he sets his glass down and crisply tugs each of his cuffs back into place. “I’m fairly certain I’ve all I can handle with you at the moment.”

“Aw, a compliment.”

He looks down at me and slowly blinks, the dark sweep of his lashes nearly touching his cheek. Then he shocks me into stillness when he leans in close enough that his lips brush the curve of my ear. “Yes, chatty girl, it was.”

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