He turned, and two nearly black eyes scorched into me. His skin was nicely tanned and his nose almost perfectly formed except for a barely noticeable crook. He must have broken it once. His strong jawline was covered in black stubble—about a day’s worth, maybe more. His lips were full and dark pink. And that corded neck… What might that bronze skin feel like against my fingertips? The first two buttons of his stark-white shirt were open, and a few black chest hairs peeked out. My nipples poked against my bra, and my skin tightened, as if I’d been shrink-wrapped.
“You Jade?” he said in a husky voice.
I nodded, unable to speak. Talon Steel was a god come to life. My heart hammered. How could I be so attracted to a man when, in a parallel world, I was supposed to be married to another right now? Colin and I might not have been in love anymore, but we still had feelings for each other. But being left at the altar… It screwed with a girl’s head.
“Just point out your bag to me, and I’ll grab it for you.”
I nodded again and walked to the carousel. No worries. My bag was always the last one off. I was usually left standing with only one or two other people, convinced my bag was on its way to Timbuktu. Right now, I relished the wait. I could stand here and enjoy the hypnotizing effect of the revolving bags as I got myself together.
No way. My bag inched down a little ramp and onto the carousel. So much for my time-out. I grabbed the purple suitcase and lugged it off the carousel when a warm hand brushed against mine.
“I said I’d get it for you.” Talon seized the bag from me. “Come on. I’m parked on this level.”
I followed him. What else could I do? Clearly, he wasn’t much of a conversationalist, and truth be told, neither was I. I hated small talk, but I’d be trapped with him in a car for an hour. Without talking, that hour would be damned long.
The man even walked sexily. He had to be six-three at least, maybe six-four. I had to power walk to keep up with his long strides and was huffing and puffing before long. Of course, the view of his ass wasn’t torture. His black cowboy boots clomped heavily along the tile floor. Once we reached the door, it opened automatically, and he went through first.
Not much of a gentleman, but what did I care? I just wished he’d walk a little slower. I needed a little more time before the dreaded car ride.
I followed him to a shiny burgundy Mercedes. The Steels had money. A lot of it. While I went home from college during the summers and did secretarial work for my father’s construction company, Marj took whirlwind tours to Europe and cruises to the Greek Isles. One time, during spring break of her junior year, she invited me on a Caribbean cruise with her, all-expenses-paid. I’d had the time of my life despite being separated from Colin.
Talon deposited my suitcase in the trunk and then eyed my carry-on. “You want to put that in?”
I nodded and handed it to him. Then I walked to the passenger door and let myself in.
Talon opened his door and took the driver’s seat. He turned to me. “You don’t talk much, do you?”
I couldn’t help letting out a laugh. I hadn’t said a word yet, had I? He must’ve thought I was some kind of mute. “Thanks for picking me up. I got a text from Marj saying she couldn’t make it.”
“Yeah, she had to go on a job interview.”
“Really? I thought she was going to be working on the ranch.”
“We thought so too. But then it turned out that the local paper in Snow Creek just lost its star reporter, and Marjorie is gunning for the job.”
“Good for her.”
Marj enjoyed journalism. She’d minored in it at school. Her major had been agriculture, as she figured she was destined for ranch work. Her real love, though, was cooking. I’d tried to talk her into culinary school scads of times, but something kept her from taking that leap.
“So Marjorie tells me you’re a lawyer?”
“Yeah. I actually won’t get my bar results for a few weeks yet, but I’m optimistic.”
Talon nodded, keeping his eyes on the road as he pulled out of the airport parking lot.
A few minutes passed with no talking. I looked at my fingernails, picked at a piece of dry cuticle. I eyed my purse on the floor of the car and grabbed it, pulling out my cell phone. Normally I hated when people hid behind their cell phones, but right now, I needed something to occupy myself. The awkwardness in this car was so thick I could’ve cut it with scissors.