I took deep breaths as I walked across the airport, luggage in tow. I couldn’t seem to calm myself down though, as much as I tried. I absolutely hated flying. And an eleven-hour flight to Paris was the last thing I wanted to be doing the day before Christmas Eve. But my mother had begged me to come spend the holidays with her and her new husband. I know that she only invited me out of guilt. I hadn’t seen my mother in over five years and she seemed to have no problem leaving me behind after my dad got sick, so the fact that she was inviting me to come see her now really pissed me off. It only took her one year to get remarried and one more to have a kid. She completely cut me and my dad off, acting as if we never existed.
But I had no one else. So Paris was my only option.
Getting through security was easier than I thought it was going to be and I actually found my gate without much trouble. But even with all this good luck, I still couldn’t help but feel uneasy. I had only flown two other times in my life, both for reasons I wish I could’ve avoided. The first time was for my grandmother’s funeral in Florida and the second was for my mother’s wedding in Paris to a man that I had never met before, a man that was not my father.
So, not only was flying absolutely terrifying, it also almost always delivered me into an unwanted situation. I knew that this flight wouldn’t be any different.
I waited to board the flight for about half an hour. I wanted to be early just to be sure I wouldn’t miss it. I did not want to have to pay for another flight.
Once on the airplane, I couldn’t keep my hands from shaking. One of the flight attendants smiled at me as I walked past her and, obviously noticing my nervousness, giving me a reassuring nod. I tried my best to return the smile.
I finally made it to my seat, far in the back of the plane. I looked at the man that I would be sitting next to for the next eleven hours and watched as his eyes moved up and down my body, stopping on my chest for a while before meeting my eyes. He smirked. “Well, hello there,” he said.
Great. Just perfect.
“Hi,” I muttered.
Ignoring the creep, I picked up my carryon and lifted it above me to put it in the overhead compartment. Noticing that the asshole, who was currently watching me struggle, had put his suitcase in the middle of the compartment, I huffed, trying to move it with one hand as I struggled to shove mine next to it. Just as I had just about gotten it in, I felt hands wrap around my waist, touching the bare skin of my stomach where my shirt had ridden up. Thinking it was the man who had stared at my boobs, I tried to jump away but stopped as the hands tightened and I felt sparks run down my form.
I snapped my head to look next to me, feeling my eyes widen as I looked at the man holding me. He was absolutely breathtaking. He was quite large, looking almost comical in this tiny plane. His muscles strained against his black shirt and blue jeans, telling me that he must spend quite a lot of time in the gym. He had chocolate brown hair and dark green eyes that drew me in and a jaw that could cut through paper. His lips were luscious and full and I found myself unconsciously leaning in, imagining what my lips would feel like on his.
I heard a sudden deep growl and my eyes went back to meet his to find that he was watching me check him out. My cheeks immediately turned red, but before I had a chance to feel embarrassed, he spoke.
“Mine. Mate,” he said, his deep, husky voice ringing in my ears. His hands tightened around me as his forehead came down to meet mine and he breathed in deeply. I let my eyes close as I basked in the feeling of his arms around me and the delicious sparks that were running through my body. I didn’t even know that it was possible to feel this good. I felt his head move from mine as he nuzzled his nose into my neck. I tilted my head to give him better access and he let out an approving grunt.
And then I felt him place a gentle kiss right where my neck and shoulder met. My knees went weak, my entire body going numb as a breathy sound came from my mouth. He smiled against my neck, chuckling and taking all of my weight into his arms as I leaned completely into him to stop myself from falling.
I was in absolute heaven.
A clearing of a throat snapped me out of my trance and I squeaked and tried to move back, remembering where I was. I had forgotten the hand that was still holding my suitcase in the overhead compartment, as I tried to push the mysterious and incredibly good looking man away from me. I heard my suitcase sliding towards me and quickly ducked my head, waiting for my head to be smashed by the hard corner of my luggage.
But instead, I heard, “Careful, beautiful.”
I looked up the man in front of me, who still had one hand possessively resting under my shirt, on the small of my back, his other hand was holding my suitcase above my head. He smiled at me and winked before shoving my bag all the way into the compartment and snapping it closed.
The man turned to look at the woman behind him who had been trying to get out attention during our intense moment, but he still kept his hand on my back. The woman looked shocked, clearing her throat a bit. “Sorry, I just need to get to my seat and you guys are blocking the aisle. I didn’t mean to interrupt your reunion. You two obviously haven’t seen each other in a while.” She smiled sweetly.
I wanted to correct her, opening my mouth to say that we actually had never met before, but the man holding me beat me to it. “We were just finding our seats. We’ll be out of your way in a second.” His voice was so smooth and reassuring.
The woman nodded appreciatively.
I went to move away, looking forward to getting out of this awkward situation, but the man just tightened his hold on me. He leaned down. “Not so fast,” he whispered in my ear. “You’re not getting away that easily.” He looked at the creeper that was going to be sitting next to me on the flight. “Move,” he said to him.
He sat there and gawked at us for a second, obviously witnessing the entire meeting that just took place. It made me very uncomfortable to think that he had been watching us. “What?” he asked.
“Move,” the good looking man repeated. “I’m sitting there.”
“I’m sorry? I’m not moving. This is my seat.”
The man holding me growled lowly. “Here, take mine.” He handed the man his ticket. “It’s first-class,” he said, watching the man look over the ticket with a raised eyebrow. “Now, move,” he said very slowly, almost threateningly, as if he was daring the man to question his orders again.
The man looked at us one more time before he got up and quickly grabbed his bag, moving past in a hurry without making eye contact. I watched, completely flabbergasted. What the hell just happened? This was turning out to be a very strange day.
“Go on, gorgeous,” the guy said, gently pushing me to the seat next to the window, following closely behind me.
I sat down and watched the man sit down next to me. I wasn’t sure what to say, still a little shocked and embarrassed about what just happened.
“Um, sorry about earlier,” I muttered, tucking a piece of hair behind my ear. For some reason, I really wanted this guy to like me. “I don’t usually go around touching strangers like that, I promise.” I laughed nervously. Not hearing him respond, I cleared my throat. Okay... “So why did you give up your first-class ticket to sit all the way back here?”
I suddenly felt a hand take hold of my chin and turn my head. My eyes met his and his hand moved to cup my cheek. “Because I wanted to be by you,” he said huskily. His thumb was running over my cheekbone as he examined every inch of my face. “Wow, how did I get so lucky?”
I leaned back, not sure how to respond to that. I must’ve heard him wrong. “Sorry, what did you say?”
He just smiled and shook his head. “Nothing. Don’t worry about it, beautiful.” He leaned towards me, leaning his upper body on the armrest between us. We were extremely close for two strangers. “I’m Grayson. What’s your name?”
Almost as if I were in a daze, I heard myself say, “Belle.”
His smile widened. “Belle,” he said to himself. “My Belle.”
His eyes were so pretty. I couldn’t help but stare into them. “Uh-huh...” I said, not truly understanding what I was saying.
He laughed, a wholehearted laugh. Did I say something funny? “Our bond is strong, I can tell.”
Was it just me, or did nothing he say make any sense? “What? Our bond?” I asked.
He tucked a piece of hair behind my ear. “Don’t you worry your pretty little head about it.”
I was once again snapped out of my daze that he seemed to keep putting me in when a baby behind us let out a loud scream. I jumped back, immediately realizing just how close I was to the man. I could feel his breath on my face.
I laughed nervously and placed my hands in my lap, trying not to look as awkward as I felt. This extremely good looking stranger probably thought I was a nut job.
“So business or pleasure?” He asked.