Olivia And Pete’s Story…

Chapter 1

 

“Oh great!” Olivia sighed, watching the tall, dark haired man step out of the car, sliding his aviator glasses on.  “Why him again?!”

With a frustrated sigh, Olivia turned her back on the man, even though he couldn’t even see her.  He was in the parking lot and she was on the tarmac, but she could still feel her anger ramped up a few levels.

Pete hadn’t been on the schedule for this flight!  She’d checked, needing to mentally be prepared when she worked for the man.  There was just something about him, maybe his unrelenting teasing or perhaps it was the way he always seemed to be laughing at her, even when she hadn’t said anything funny…that just irked her.

Olivia tried to be casual and hide her frustration over his presence, tried to pull her eyes away from the tall, annoying man as he walked around his car to lift his flight bag out of the trunk but…okay, well, she might hate the man who would pilot the private jet but she was honest enough to accept that the man had a great butt.  And great shoulders.  And there was no excess flab hanging over his belt.  And…

She was standing on the top of the moveable stairs, about to step back onto one of the Steele Industries’ private jet when she realized she’d been staring at the man.

“Good grief,” she grumbled, stepping into the dim interior of the jet.  Olivia looked around, trying to remember what she’d been about to do.  When she spotted the boxes of supplies on the floor of the galley, her memory finally kicked in.  Taking one of the boxes, she forced her hands to continue straightening the contents of the plane’s kitchen until it was the way she preferred everything to be ordered.  As the flight attendant, she had to be ready for any type of request from the passengers.  Yes, the plane was owned by Steele Industries and, normally, there were very few passengers.  Very often, it was one of the illustrious Steele brothers flying from one construction site to another, but they also allowed their management staff to fly on one of the four planes owned by Steele Industries.  The brothers might be filthy rich, but they were also shockingly generous.

“How do things look?”

Olivia spun around, instantly aware of the tall man stepping on board the plane.  Pete Harmond was a fabulous pilot and, if he weren’t such a jerk, she would prefer flying with him over the pilots that were employed by Steele Industries.

But Pete was one of those intolerable men who knew how to push her buttons, rile her temper and he seemed to be doing it with increasing frequency lately.  Oh, she got in a few good zingers as well, but Pete was just…he could…

Uh!  He just annoyed her!

“Everything is fine,” she snapped.

Technically, he was in charge during a flight.  But the Steele Industries Aviation Manager was Mindy and that sweet, amazing dynamo was actually her boss as well as Pete’s.  Mindy was basically everyone’s boss.  Even Zeke Steele, the CEO of Steele Industries knew that Mindy was in charge when it came to the private jets.  She was the bundle of energy that ensured that this whole operation worked smoothly.

Olivia had spoken to Mindy about her interactions with Pete.  The two of them often met for lunch and, after almost every flight, Olivia vented about Pete’s annoying habits.  Mindy knew how she felt about the irritating man, so why did Mindy keep pairing her up with Pete?

Olivia thought about sending Mindy a text message, but Pete was taking off his jacket and tossing it into the cockpit.  For a long moment, she simply froze, her eyes moving over the man’s muscular back and shoulders while her mind wondered what he did during his off hours to maintain that kind of physique.

When she realized what she was thinking, she shook her head and turned around.  It took several moments to remember what she was doing, and even that irritated her.  How could the man mess with her mind like that?  Without even trying?!

The three other pilots who flew for Steele Industries were all very sweet, very kind men.  They were fun to work with, easy going and joked around during the flights during the periods when the passengers required privacy.  During those times, Olivia would often sit with the pilot in the cockpit, giving the passengers solitude but it was also nice to talk to someone during the long, tedious flights when the passengers were working.

Not so with Pete.  No way!  She avoided the cockpit, acting as if it might contain a pit of snakes!  He would only torment her if she stepped into the cockpit for a break.  Oh, the man just made her…he would…

“You’re dropping stuff,” Pete said as he stepped out of the cockpit with a clipboard tucked under his arm.  “Thinking of me?” he teased, his voice abnormally close to her ear.

Olivia swung around, glaring at the jerk. “Don’t you have things you need to do?” she demanded, refusing to bend down and pick up the packages of gourmet coffee that had fallen to the floor.  She just didn’t want to be that much smaller than the jerk.  He was too tall already, standing somewhere around six feet, two or three inches.  Even with her heels which, granted, they were a pretty conservative two inches, she still had to tilt her head to look up at him.  Or glare at him, which is what she normally did.

“Sure, but it’s a lot more fun to watch you get all huffy and annoyed,” he teased, winking at her even as he turned around and headed out of the plane once again.

Olivia’s fingers tightened around the package of coffee in her hand even as her mind told her not to throw it at the man’s back.  Don’t throw it.  Don’t lower yourself to his level.  Just be a lady.

It was hard, but somehow, she managed to not ping his back with the package.  Not that it would hurt him, but…

Oh, he just irritated her!

Turning back, she finished organizing the galley and looked around.  Everything else was in order.  Sparkling cider, because Mindy had warned Olivia that the bride was pregnant, was chilling in a bucket and she had the champagne flutes ready the moment Zeke and his new bride boarded the plane.  Glancing at her watch, she noted that their reception was most likely still in full swing at this point.  She and Pete had arrived early, standing by so the plane would be ready to take off as soon as the CEO of Steele Industries wanted to leave.

Smiling, she thought about Mr. Steele and the brothers.  Luke was the flirt…a more charming man, she’d never met.  Her mind instantly conjured up Pete and banished him from her mind because just the thought of him made her angry.  Logan was…well, he was intense, but when he smiled…!  Boy, he was a heartbreaker!  Zeke, the oldest, was probably the most intimidating, but she supposed that was because he was the oldest and in charge.  The man had a lot of responsibility on his shoulders.

Teague Steele was her favorite though.  He was so funny and nice.  Easy going.  Hmm…well, there had been that flight to Las Vegas.  He’d been working on the way there but on the flight back…she’d never seen him so silent.  Olivia had no idea what had happened in Las Vegas.  They’d been scheduled to be there for only three days but Teague Steele hadn’t flown back on schedule, which was odd.  When he finally boarded the plane to head back to Seattle, she’d offered him coffee, beer, bourbon…all of his favorites.  But he’d simply stared out the window, not talking.  Not eating anything.

Shaking off her concern, she took a deep breath and looked around once more.  Everything was ready for the newlyweds.

Now that her tasks were complete, the nervousness started to creep into her psyche.  It was silly but…

Olivia glanced out through one of the plane’s windows, trying to see Pete.  He was a good pilot, she reminded herself.  One of the best.  No reason to worry.  All of the worst case scenarios…Pete could handle.

But what if…?!

Glancing outside the plane, she bit her lip, trying to decide if she could…?

No!  He’d just tease her or say something that would fire up her temper.

Sighing, she walked through the cabin, searching for something…anything…to distract her mind from all of the possibilities.

Unfortunately, the lack of tasks only increased her nervousness.  Staring outside, Olivia watched as Pete bent down lower, looking at something on the plane’s wing tip and her heart thudded harder against her rib cage.  Was there a problem with the wing?  Was it going to break off mid-flight?  Should he get a mechanic out to look at…?

Stop it!  This was ridiculous.  Even as she calmed down her racing thoughts, Pete checked something off on his clipboard and moved on.  Forcing her muscles to relax, Olivia reminded herself that, if there was any kind of problem, Pete would find it and fix it.  He was one of the safest pilots she’d ever worked with and he didn’t take any kind of risk.  Besides, Mindy demanded the highest standard of maintenance on all of the planes.  No worries, she was just being silly and creating problems in her mind that didn’t really exist.

But what if…?

In the end, she walked out of the plane and down the stairs to the tarmac.  Finding Pete, she breathed a sigh of relief when she noticed that he was only mid-way through his pre-flight safety checks.  That gave her enough time to watch, to make sure that he would…but he always did!  The man was a stickler for details and would never take off unless everything was good to go on the jet.

Casually, so as to not alert him that she was following him, she…well, she followed him.  When he bent down to check something, she held her breath until he nodded and wrote something down on the clipboard.  One by one, he checked out the entire plane and, as surreptitiously as possible, walked behind him, the tension in her shoulders easing a bit more with each piece of the plane that was checked off as safe.

 

Pete moved around to check the landing gear, feeling Olivia move in closer.  For the past fifteen minutes, the woman bent over his shoulder, watching everything he did.  She was beautiful, smart and sexy as hell but…damn, why did she have to do that?!

He bent over and tested the bolt on the wheel, walking away after confirming that it was perfect.  But out of the corner of his eye, he watched as she reached down, testing the tightness as well.  Did she not trust him?  Did she actually think that he would put any passenger, or her, in danger by taking off in a plane that wasn’t up to his standards?

And what was that damn perfume?!  He moved closer, pretending to check something else, but all he was really doing was…okay, so he was messing with her even as he pretended to check something.  All he was really checking at the moment was the paint job on the jet.  But sure enough, she walked behind him and touched the exact same place.

Just because he wanted to…well, she wore those severe uniforms with the silk blouse buttoned up just so and…Pete bend over, tapping his pen against the tire.  He pretended to check off something on his list, but then walked away to a strategic place and…yep.  She did the same thing.  Oh damn!  She was wearing the white lace!  Hell!  He loved the white lace bra!  Did she have several of the same style?  Did she wear them just to drive him crazy?  And even more interesting, was she bending over like that to give him that enticing glimpse?

Unfortunately, she straightened and, since Pete wasn’t finished enjoying the view, he couldn’t stop his curiosity.

“Why are you doing that?!” he demanded sharply, wanting her to bend over again so he could enjoy her adorable butt.

Olivia jerked backwards and he felt bad, but the woman was…hell, he had no idea what she was doing!  Her pretty blue eyes stared up at him and he had to grit his teeth to stop himself from pulling her into his arms and kissing those soft, pink lips.  She was just so damn…enticing!  He’d been able to keep his distance by keeping her temper riled up but he was at his wits end now.

Watching at her carefully, he moved closer, moving into her personal space in an effort to figure out what she was doing.  “Don’t trust me to do my own pre-flight check?” he asked with a silky smooth tone of voice.  Nope, getting close was a bad thing, he told himself.  She smelled clean and fresh.  Like flowers!

Stepping away, he looked down at his check-list, but the words were blurring in his mind which was still thinking about white lace and flowers of her lingerie.  Impatiently, he moved over to the wings, checking for loose bolts or other issues that might damage the wing during flight.  Sure enough, Olivia moved closer, following behind him.

Fed up, he walked over to her, towering over the woman in an effort to get her to stop doing whatever it was she was doing.  “Olivia, don’t you have other things to do to prepare for the flight rather than second guess my ability to ensure that the plane is safe for flight?”

His stomach tightened when she bit that luscious lower lip.  Was she doing that on purpose?  Was she just trying to distract him?  It was working…but also pissing him off.  She was beautiful, no doubt about that.  Her chestnut brown hair was pulled back into an elaborate, elegant twist, which only served to emphasize the delicate, feminine curve of her profile and the long line of her neck.

He felt like a heel when her soft, brown eyes looked up at him, startled by his outburst.  What the hell?  How was he supposed to react when the woman was walking behind him, making sure that everything he checked off was safe?!

“I just…” he watched as she clasped her hands behind her back.

“You what?” he demanded, moving to the next item on his checklist.  He wanted to be ready whenever Zeke arrived and he didn’t have time to deal with her uptight, lady-of-the-manor attitude.  She was beautiful, yes, but she was so stiff and formal, sometimes he taunted her just to see if she was human.  He knew that he irritated her, but at this point, he was irritated as well.

“I just…” her hands twisted slightly and he looked at her again.  Something in those brown eyes caught his attention and he stopped.  Really looking this time.  It wasn’t distrust that he saw in those gorgeous brown depths.  It was…?

Her cute little pointed jaw went up but she wouldn’t look him in the eye.  She opened and closed her mouth, looked down at her feet….

“You’re more thorough than the other pilots and it makes me feel better to know what you’re doing and what you’re looking at and being assured that the plane is okay and we’re not going to fall out of the sky in a ball of fire, okay?”

She stood there, her chest heaving after that blur of words and he was stunned.  He continued to watch her, trying to understand what she was really telling him but…if he was reading her correctly, he might think that she was afraid of flying.

But that was impossible.  A flight attendant who was afraid of flying?  That was ridiculous.

Unfortunately, the more he watched her, the more his answer made sense.  The flicker of her eyes as she glanced up at him, then quickly away was all the confirmation he needed.  She was!  The cute, sexy, adorable, irritating woman was terrified of flying!

Realizing that she was on the edge of her pride at the moment, he shifted on his feet.  Looking up at the wing, then down at his checklist, he tried to come up with another explanation.  But everything was falling into place, including several comments she’d made in the past.  Better to just get it out there in the open, he told himself.

Looking directly at her, he asked the question he was fairly sure she didn’t want ask.  “Olivia, are you afraid of flying?” he asked, his tone more gentle this time.

Her shoulders stiffened, just as he knew they would because she got all high and mighty whenever he challenged her in any way.  He wasn’t trying to be a jerk this time though.

“I’m not afraid of flying,” she told him, her chin jutting up a bit even as her eyes told Pete that she was lying through her pretty, white teeth.  “I am simply…” she paused as if trying to find the right word, “reassured when you go through the pre-flight check. Okay?”

He watched her, trying to translate what she was really telling him.  And then he saw it.  Just a brief glance, but he caught the look.  She wasn’t afraid of flying.  She was terrified of flying!

Something shifted in his chest with that realization.  The woman who seemed to have it all pulled together was actually unraveling at the seams.  She wasn’t following him around during the safety checks because she didn’t trust him.  She was following him around because…because she trusted him more!  His actions reassured her!

Pete looked off to the left, trying to reconcile this realization with all of his previous interactions with the woman.  She was so uptight but…was she really?  Or was she just…nervous?

Turning back to the plane, he pointed his pen at the bolts he’d just been checking.  “The landing gear is tight,” he explained.  “I check the lubrication to see if there’s a significant amount of dirt around the joints.”

“What would that mean?” she asked, those brown eyes wide with curiosity and…yeah, there it was.  Fear.

“Too much dirt means that there’s a leak somewhere and the fluids are dripping down onto the gear and collecting dust and debris.”  She nodded her head, eagerly absorbing that bit of information.  He motioned for her to following him back to the wings.  “I look around for loose bolts or other tears on the metal of the wings…” he explained, going into more detail about what he looked for during the safety checks, helping her to understand what and why he was doing each of the checks.

By the time they climbed the stairs to board the plane once again, her facial features were more relaxed than he’d ever seen them.  The softness actually made her appear more beautiful.  Which actually seemed impossible, which made him glance at her several more times.

Yeah, he’d had several fantasies about this woman, waking up with a raging, painful erection more often than he wanted to admit.  In his dreams, he was doing things to Olivia that would really infuriate her if she ever found out.

“Better?” he asked.

The blush that stole up from her neck to her cheeks was interesting.  And those brown eyes…they couldn’t seem to meet his own.  Even more interesting, he thought.

“I’ll just…” she pointed her thumb towards the plane.  “I’m going to check and make sure that everything is ready for the flight.”

He nodded his head, staring at her.  Trying to figure her out.  Pete was starting to think that maybe he’d had her all wrong.

Deciding that he needed a moment more to process this possibility, he headed into the office.  “Hey Mindy…” he called out, then froze when he spotted Mindy and Gus coming out of the back room where Mindy kept all of the files.  Mindy was smoothing down her sweater and Gus was…!

He stared for a long moment, none of them saying a word.  When he realized what was going on, he jerked to attention, shaking his head and looking away.  “Sorry!” he said and headed back out of the office.  He was halfway back to the plane when it hit him.  Mindy?  Bubbly, uber-efficient Mindy and the gruff, always-angry, always-grumbling Gus?!

Chuckling, he headed back to the plane, shaking his head as he stepped into the cabin.

He was just about to open his mouth and share what he’d just seen when a furious Olivia turned to him, pointing a spoon at him as if she might be ready to bonk him on the head with it.

 

Olivia was furious with herself for revealing so much to Pete.  The man was the worst!  He teased her about anything and everything, just trying to get a rise out of her.   He’d then laugh at her, wink at her or do something else that was equally obnoxious, increasing her fury!

Now he had a weapon and she knew that he wouldn’t hesitate to torment her about her fear of flying.  Oh, he was so annoying!

So when he stepped into the plane, ducking down slightly because he was so irritatingly tall that he almost didn’t fit, she swung around, ready to do something horrible to him just to keep him quiet.

“If you so much as breathe a single word about my issues with flying, then I will…” she stopped, pressing her lips together because she couldn’t come up with a dire enough threat.

Pete, the horrible man, moved closer.  Closer!  His eyes were daring her, his body pressing hers back against the metal cabinets of the galley and she stared up at him, her mind shifting, her body tingling in ways that she didn’t completely understand.  It was always like this whenever Pete was too close.  She felt like…like her body was on fire.  As if she could just throw herself into his arms and run her hands over every inch of him, discover what was hidden underneath that too-sexy pilot’s uniform.  Good grief, the traitorous thoughts running through her mind were…well, crazy!

She absolutely did NOT find Pete attractive!  The man was irritating and obnoxious.  Yes, he was handsome in a classic kind of way.  But not attractive.  She needed to be connected to someone mentally before she could form any sort of attraction towards the man!

Good grief, her mind was spinning out of control.

Backing up, she tried to shake away the sexual tension that seemed to cocoon them.  But Pete only moved closer.  “Can’t come up with anything good?” he asked.  His eyes moved over her face, her lips, pausing at her mouth.  His own mouth quirked up slightly, a mocking smile forming on those too-handsome lips.  “Pity.”

He stepped backwards and she inhaled the fresh air, filling her lungs with much-needed oxygen.

Then the anger hit her.  Hard!  Swinging around, she turned to face the galley.  “Just go do your pilot thing,” she ordered.

Unfortunately, that only brought him right back to her.  Out of her peripheral vision, she saw him close the distance between them.  Suddenly, one strong hand was braced against the metal cabinets beside her head and she felt the heat of his chest close, so terrifyingly close, to her back.  She could even feel his thighs against the back of hers, but he wasn’t touching her! Not even a little!

“That sounded dangerously like a command, Olivia,” he growled in her ear.  “One thing you should know about me, Gorgeous,” he said softly, oh so devilishly softly.  “I give the orders.”

She trembled, fighting back the insane desire to press back against him, to feel his body against hers.  That was so troubling, she actually leaned away from him.  She didn’t dare turn her head because his cheek was just too darn close.  Too temptingly close!

“And what if I don’t follow your orders?” she asked.  Well, it was more of a whisper.

Her stomach tightened when she felt him smile.

“Try it,” he taunted.  “I’m pretty sure you’ll enjoy the consequences.”

A moment later, he was gone again, leaving Olivia still standing at the short countertop, gripping the metal because if she released her hold, her knees would give out due to the intensity of the images flashing through her mind.

Shaking off his threat, she took in deep breaths.  This was not happening, she told herself.  It simply was not happening!  “Oh for the days of a commercial flight.  I could lock the beast into the cockpit!” she mumbled under her breath.

Unfortunately, she must not have said that softly enough because she immediately heard his laughter coming from the cockpit.

Clenching her teeth together, she moved through the cabin, going through the rooms once more.  There was nothing else she needed to do.  Everything was set.  Every romantic detail she could think of was ready and waiting for the happy couple.  Their luggage was even stored away in the cargo hold, having been brought to the airport earlier in the day.

 

 

Chapter 2

 

Sometimes, life was just too wonderful to bear, Olivia thought as she closed her eyes, the warm, Saint Martin sunshine soothing her skin and helping her muscles relax.

The warmth, the sand, the sound of the surf rhythmically beating against the shoreline…yeah.  Life was good.  Zeke Steele had brought the beautiful and ecstatically happy Marcy to St. Martin for their honeymoon, which meant that Olivia was here until they decided they were ready to leave.  They were scheduled for a week, but Olivia was on standby and the happy couple could decide to leave at any moment.  She’d learned to stay close to the airport during her travels unless she was sure that the flight schedule wasn’t going to change.

And best of all, no Pete!

A noise beside her startled her out of her relaxation mode.  Lifting her sunglasses, she watched in amazement as Pete dropped a beach chair right next to hers.  Too close to hers.  He was looking out at the surf, his sunglasses covering his eyes as she surveyed his strong, long legs in the board shorts.

“Gorgeous day!” he said as he dumped his book onto the chair.

She pushed up from her own beach chair, glaring at him.  “You know, there’s a whole lot of empty sand down there,” she said, pointing further down the beach.  She’d chosen this spot because it was a bit further away from everyone, out of the crowds.  Since it was off-season, the beach was unusually peaceful, but there were still some locals that were enjoying a leisurely day at the beach.  Enough so that it was fun to people-watch, but not too crowded that it was annoying.

But then he did the unforgivable.

He took off his tee-shirt!

Olivia forgot that she’d whipped off her sunglasses.  She forgot to look away.  And she forgot to keep her mouth closed as her eyes surveyed the rippling, startling, amazing muscles that packed Pete’s chest, arms and stomach.  The man was already tall, but now she knew that he was ripped!  Like Adonis ripped!

Wow!

He’d been keeping a lot hidden underneath his pilot’s uniform, apparently.

“Tell me when you’re done.”

Olivia pulled her eyes away from his chest and six-pack abs, trying to understand what he was saying.  Why would she be done?  Why couldn’t she simply sit her and gawk at…

“Oh!”

She’d been staring at Pete!  Good grief, she’d literally been staring at the man with her mouth hanging open!

Snapping her mouth closed, she pushed her sunglasses back on to cover her eyes and turned to face the ocean.  The waves!  She was here to enjoy the waves!  And to read.  Darn it, where was her book?

She leaned forward and looked around but Pete was already picking the book up off of the sand, flipping the pages to get the sand out.  He then turned it around and looked at the title, then down at Olivia.  Despite the heat from the tropical sunshine, she couldn’t hide the blush that stole up her cheeks when the odious man lifted a dark eyebrow above his sunglasses.

With a huff of frustration, she grabbed her book out of his hands and leaned back against her beach chair, determined to ignore the man.

Hard to do, though, when his deep, sexy laughter sends tingles of awareness throughout her whole body.

But she could do it!  She would do it!  The man was just…a jerk!  Olivia wished she had a better word for him, but she was a lady and wouldn’t reduce herself down to cussing.

“What’s your book about?” he asked.

She slapped it shut, her temper firing up.  “Listen, I came here to relax and read.  Not to chat with you.  So if you want to talk with someone, go find another person to annoy.  But if you’re going to sit here, then be quiet.”

Another laugh and he pushed his sunglasses higher as he leaned back, absorbing the sunshine.

Okay, so her eyes drifted over his tanned legs.  That wasn’t criminal!

“You’re not reading,” he announced.

That got her eyes off of his feet.  Why she even considered his feet to be sexy, she hadn’t a clue but…

“Of course I’m reading!”  She straightened in her chair.  “Go away!”

“You’re not reading, Olivia.  Why not just talk to me?”

“I’m reading and this is a riveting book,” she argued right back.

He chuckled and sat up slightly.  With one strong, too-tanned arm, he reached over to her.  Before she knew what he was going to do, he picked up her book and turned it right-side up, then casually leaned back in his chair.  “There.  Now you can stop ogling me and read your romance novel.”

Olivia tried not to sputter with her fury and embarrassment.  She really did!  But he was just such a…he annoyed her!  He was horrible and she hated him! Goodness she really hated him!  Oliva had never hated anyone as much as she hated this man!

And his feet weren’t sexy!  They were just feet!

Tossing her book onto the top of her bag, she leaned back and lifted her face to the sunshine, wanting to get a tan.  Okay, so she wanted to ignore him, but reading wasn’t working.  Taking a nap might work better.  Yes, if she could just ignore the man and go to sleep, maybe he would get bored and go bother someone else.

Unfortunately, she couldn’t get comfortable.  Not with him right next to her.  She was hyper aware of every movement he made.  Trying to keep her eyes closed, to completely block the man out of her mind, just wasn’t…

“What are you doing?!” she demanded, bolting upright when she felt his hands on her calf.

“You’re burning, Olivia.  I’m putting sunscreen on you.”  His hand grabbed her ankle when she tried to pull away from him.  But he was too strong and his touch startled her!  She could barely breathe, much less fight him on his efforts.  So she let him.  Her eyes watched, fascinated as his tanned hand moved up and down her calf, her shin.  He squeezed more sunscreen onto his hand and pulled her other leg closer, repeating the motions.  It would have been hypnotizing if it wasn’t doing things to her body that she didn’t want to define.

Then his hand moved higher, rubbing along her thigh and she jumped up.  “I can do that!” she gasped, grabbing her sunscreen from his hand.

He watched her for a long moment and Olivia prayed that he wouldn’t notice how her nipples were tight, pressing against the thin material of her black bikini.  She didn’t want him to know what she was feeling.  She wanted to…

“Are you sure?  I don’t mind.”  He paused and…were his eyes zeroing in on her breasts?  “In fact, I was enjoying it.”

Olivia’s mouth fell open because…well…because he hated her just as much as she hated him.

Didn’t he?

Surely she was misunderstanding.  They fought and snapped at each other at every possibility during a flight, as long as no one else could overhear their zingers.  He couldn’t possibly mean that he enjoyed touching her!  That just…he couldn’t…she wasn’t….

Olivia shook her head, glaring at him.  This about face was just a ploy, she told herself.  He was going to do something horrible to her, like…hide her keys.  Not that he’d ever done anything like that. Thinking back, the worst that Pete ever did to her was tease her about her regimented ordering of supplies or about how stiff she came across.

Blinking, her lips pressed together in frustration and confusion.  She needed him to fight…whatever THIS was…so that they could avoid any misunderstandings.  Because right now, his eyes were conveying one, big huge signal that didn’t make any sense.

Grabbing the sunscreen, she twisted the top.  “I’m fine.  I can handle things.”  Because she knew it was the right thing to do, she nodded her head.  “Thank you.  My legs are a bit pink but I’ll take care of sunscreen.”

He shrugged one of those incredible shoulders and leaned back again.  “You could return the favor,” he told her.

She blinked but, thankfully, he couldn’t see her confusion since her sunglasses were once again shielding her eyes from his intense gaze.  “What do you mean?”

“I didn’t bring any sunscreen.  Can you put some on my legs?”

Oliva looked down at his tanned legs thinking that he seemed to have the kind of skin that didn’t burn.  Of course, that wouldn’t stop the sun’s rays from damaging his skin but…

“Here,” she told him and tossed the sunscreen to him.  “I have more.”

And with that, she sat back down and grabbed another bottle of sunscreen.  Because of her pale skin, she always carried several bottles with different levels of protection.  This bottle was a bit higher on the SPF than the stuff she’d just tossed him, but she didn’t care.  Anything to keep him from touching her again.

And darn it!  She didn’t want to think about touching him!

What game was he playing?  She glanced at him out of the corner of her eye, trying to figure him out.  Unfortunately, all she saw was his big, muscular body and her mind kind of…blanked.

She squeezed out a large amount of sunscreen, rubbing it onto her thighs, arms and stomach.  When she started to do her chest, he stopped, turned and watched.  “Nice,” he commented and she rolled her eyes.  Again, he couldn’t see her derision because of her sunglasses, but she had to believe that he felt the eye roll.

Ignoring him, she finished rubbing in the sunscreen on her chest, then leaned back against the chair again, determined to finally ignore him.

“You need a drink.”

She shook her head.  “I have water.”

“No,” he countered.  “You need a real drink.”

Ah!  This was more like it, she thought.  He was going to tell her how uptight she was.  “I’m fine.”

Silence for a moment.  Then he said, “You know, you get free drinks if you walk up to the bar topless.”

Olivia lifted her head, then shifted her sunglasses to look at him, wondering if he was teasing her or if he was serious.  She wasn’t sure.  “You’re kidding, right?”

He shook his head, not even turning to look at her.  “Nope.  Women who go to the bar topless get free drinks.  The sign is right there,” he told her and pointed to the beach bar.  Sure enough, when she turned to look over her shoulder, there really was a sign that read, “Topless Women Drink For Free At The Bar”.

Huh!

Turning back, she leaned against the back of her beach chair and pulled her sunglasses back down, dismissing the crazy idea that had popped into her head.  Topless.  She would have made a sound, but the idea of her walking around topless was ludicrous!  “I don’t…”

“I know you don’t.”  He was still sunning, not really doing anything but she could see the smirk on his mouth.

She glared at him as she leaned back against her chair, pushing her sunglasses higher on her nose.  She wasn’t going to ask.

She didn’t care!

Don’t ask!  Just ignore him!

Olivia shifted on her chair.  Thought about picking up her book.  Anything to help her ignore his comment.

But it was too much!

With a jerk, she jackknifed up, twisting around to look down at him.  He looked so tan and strong and muscular…she wanted to just…do something horrible to him!

“What do you think I ‘don’t’ do?!” she demanded angrily, twisting around so he would get the full impact of her glare.

He shrugged one of those frustratingly broad shoulders.  “You don’t have the guts to do anything so outrageous as to walk around in public topless.”  He even had the audacity to pat her arm.  “It’s okay Olivia.  It takes a certain kind of daring to go topless.”

Her mouth fell open at his taunt.  Again!  Was there no end to this man’s insults?

He was using yesterday’s weakness.  She’d admitted to her…concerns about flying and he was teasing her now, saying she was too scared to take her top off!  Oh, the gall of the man!

Yes, she had concerns about flying, but she’d been a flight attendant for years!  She faced her fears every single time she climbed up the stairs to the plane.  She banished her fears and did her job and she was very good at her job!  She was so good at her job, that she’d landed the position with Steele Industries, one of the coveted private flight attendant jobs!  How dare he ridicule her for her fears!

Topless!  Phtt!  Women didn’t…but as she looked around, several of the women really were walking around topless.  It was Saint Martin, after all.  Many of the beaches here were topless.  The Europeans didn’t have the same hang-ups as Americans did about nudity, thinking it was natural.

But she wasn’t a prude!  Yeah, she was sitting on a beach wearing a bathing suit while most of the women weren’t but that didn’t mean…she wasn’t…!  Damn him!

To prove he was wrong, and to show him that she wasn’t afraid, she stood up, grabbed her bag – just in case she needed money because the sign was a hoax – and walked several steps towards the bar.  With her back to Pete, she glanced over her shoulder to make sure he was watching her, then reached around and slipped the knots of her bikini top off, stuffing it into her beach bag.  With a final, defiant look, she continued towards the bar.  It took every ounce of courage inside of her to finish the walk up to that bar without her bathing suit top on.

“This isn’t so bad,” she commented.  “This is fine!”

Looking around, there were many other women at the bar, and on the beach, who were also topless.  In fact, there were more women without bathing suit tops than there were with tops!

“What can I get you, love?” the bartender asked, his sexy Australian accent making her smile.  Even better, he barely even glanced at her breasts!

“Just a beer,” she told him, thinking that a beer was the fastest thing for him to pour.  Mixed drinks would require a bit more time and she didn’t think she could stomach whatever wine this place might serve.  A beer was safe and fast.  Sure enough, a beer was set down in front of her, expertly poured with very little foam.

“Thanks,” she replied with a choked voice.  “How much?”

The bartender laughed.  “On the house, love!” he replied, then moved away to another customer.

Olivia breathed a sigh of relief, but then realized she would have to turn back around and walk to her beach chair.  It was one thing to walk topless when strangers might see her.  But could she walk back to her chair while Pete watched?  She stared at her beer, realizing she hadn’t really thought this whole “dare” thing through very well.  Oh no!

No way could she let him win though.  She’d gotten this far, time for payback.

Instead of walking back, she took a sip of the beer and smiled.  He was probably just waiting for her to turn around.  Pulling out her top, she tied the two knots, tugged the triangles back in place and turned around.

Sure enough, Pete was watching her.  And she could see the furious expression in his eyes now that she’d foiled his plan.

Sitting down in the chair, she swung her legs forward and picked up her book.

“That’s cheating,” he grumbled and leaned back against his chair, but he wasn’t relaxed any longer.  Not even close!  He might be staring out at the ocean, but she could still sense his anger at her trick.

Olivia smiled, feeling powerful now.  “Yeah.  I cheated.  Sue me.”

She noticed that his teeth were clenched and, when she glanced over at him, she realized that he was slightly erect.  Hmm…!

Her mouth went a bit dry at that observation and she took a long sip of her beer.

Then another.  When his erection actually increased, she continued to drink, watching it.  Fascinated.

“If you keep staring, you’re going to have to do something to fix it,” he growled.

Olivia glanced at him, realized that he was watching her as she watched him and was horrified.  She pushed her glasses higher, then guzzled down more than half the beer.  When she lowered her cup, she leaned her head against the chair but then jerked upright when he grabbed the cup from her.  In maybe one swallow, he downed the rest of her beer.

“Hey!  That was mine!”

“Go get another one,” he told her, then stuffed the empty cup into his backpack so it wouldn’t blow away with the breeze.

 

Pete was furious.  And so turned on, he could barely think rationally.  Seeing Olivia in that bathing suit was…incredible!  To date, he’d only seen her in that starched, stiff uniform.  Looking at her now, all of her lush curves on display for him to peruse and appreciate…it was hell and heaven.

He wasn’t getting any sleep for a while either! Not with the image of those full, round breasts and her long, pale legs now burning in his mind.  Those breasts were…hell, she was magnificent!

Just watching her walk over to that bar, he’d wanted to race to her and cover her up, hating the fact that other men got to see her breasts!  And when she’d turned around – with her bathing suit back in place – he’d almost roared with the sexual frustration burning through him.  She’d beaten him at his own game.  Serves him right, he thought and shifted.

Then when she’d stared at his hardening member as if she wanted to…damn!  Just thinking about the way she’d stared was making it worse!

Rolling over, he hid his body’s reaction to her perfect figure, his fury still hotter than the sun beating down on his back.  Damn her!  He wanted to lift her up into his arms, carry her back to their hotel and make love to her until there was no more anger between them.  He wanted to taste her, to feel her body throb around him and…

Damn it!  This was just making things worse!

Thankfully, she fell asleep at that point and he could finally get his body back under control.  Swimming.  Now why hadn’t he thought of that earlier?  A cool dip in the ocean would get things back to normal.

He stood up and walked out into the surf, then dove into the blue water.  Pushing himself hard, he swam out deeper, then moved along the shoreline, not stopping until he felt the burn in his muscles.  When he finally walked out of the surf, he was surprised at how long he’d been swimming.  Damn, he’d needed the break.

Then he looked over to where she was still sleeping, her luscious breasts barely contained in that bathing suit top.  It wasn’t that the top was so skimpy, it was just that her breasts were very lush.  And perfect.  And…

Olivia hadn’t moved and the sun was now hotter, right at the pinnacle of heat for the day.  Walking over to one of the vendors, he paid the guy for a beach umbrella but before the guy put it up for him, he took the umbrella himself and walked over to where their two chairs were set up.

With a mighty thwack, he stabbed the sand, pushing the pole deep into the sand to hold it steady. Then he adjusted the shade to ensure that Olivia was completely covered before settling back down next to her.

She slept through the whole thing.

Sitting down, he checked his cell phone just to make sure that they hadn’t been called back to fly Zeke and his new bride somewhere else, then settled back to read.

 

Olivia woke up feeling much better than she had in a while.  But then sat upright.  Sun!  Her pale skin!

When her eyes focused, she realized that she was actually under a beach umbrella that completely shaded her from the sunshine.  Who…?

She looked at Pete who was still next to her, sleeping with his cell phone in one hand and his book covering those amazing abs, held down with his other hand.

Had he done this?  Had he protected her from the sunshine when she’d been too foolish to do it herself?

A tenderness hit her, throwing her off guard.  No one else would have done something so sweet.  And he’d even had the foresight to keep his phone in his hand so he’d be woken if the call came in for them to fly out again.

She didn’t like it, but she had to admit that the man was incredibly considerate.  And…well, he was pretty gorgeous.  She already knew that he was meticulously responsible and careful, but the other two…this afternoon had added a whole new dimension to her understanding of the man.

Darn it!  She wasn’t supposed to find any admirable qualities in him other than his ability to smoothly fly a plane!  What was he doing? Why was he being all sneaky and…and…nice?

Looking around, she realized that it was later than she’d thought.  Most of the other sun-worshipers were already gone from the beach, heading back to their homes or hotels.  The sun was much lower in the sky and, looking at her watch, she realized that it was after five o’clock.

She stood up, debating whether to wake Pete up or just leave him here.  The smarter thing to do was to just leave, stay away from him.   He’d been dangerous before with all of those lovely muscles.  But her eyes took in the beach umbrella, perfectly set up so that the shifting sun wouldn’t touch her more tender skin – and something hit her.  She couldn’t just leave him.

So instead, she packed up her beach bag then reached down to touch his shoulder lightly.

Before she could pull away, his hand whipped out, grabbing her wrist.

Olivia thought about pulling her hand away, but her mind couldn’t send the message to her arm.  Relentlessly, he pulled her closer, tugging her down so that she was sitting next to him on the beach chair.  For a long moment, they simply stared at each other.  She felt her heart beating, her mind unable to understand what was going on.

Her eyes dropped, staring dumbly at his mouth, wondering what it would be like to be kissed by Pete.  Would his kiss be hard?  Soft?  Coaxing?  Demanding?

She wanted to know!  She wanted to understand this man.

But at the last minute, a plane’s mechanical whine interrupted and they both looked off to the left.  Sure enough, a giant plane was landing about three hundred feet from where they were sitting.

Thankfully, the sound broke the spell and she jerked upright, standing up and moving further away from him.  Despite the space between them, they continued to stare, the tension building.  For a long, pregnant moment, she wanted to sit back down, to finally find out what it would be like to be kissed by Pete.

In the end, she turned around and almost sprinted up the beach to the pathway that led to their hotel.  They were in separate rooms so she hurried along, slamming her hotel room door as soon as she was inside.

Breathing heavily, she closed her eyes, her mind trying to make sense of what had just happened.  Okay, so the man had done one nice thing for her.  That was no reason to kiss him!  No reason why she should feel like she needed to do something outrageous!

But all was okay.  She hadn’t made a fool of herself by kissing him.  She’d gotten away.  Now she just had to stay away!

Taking a deep breath, she leaned her head against the cool wall.  Everything was fine.  She was fine.  She hadn’t made a fool of herself by kissing a man she didn’t like.

Dumping her beach bag on the floor, she flipped her sandals off and headed into the bathroom.  Shower.  She needed to wash off the sand and sunscreen.  Once she was showered, everything would be back to normal and the ridiculous thought of kissing Pete would be banished from her mind forever.

Dinner.  Reading.  Quiet night.  She’d shower, head to the hotel dining room for something quick and easy, then come back up to her room to relax and read.  Good plan!

 

 

Chapter 3

 

Pete spotted the beautiful woman as soon as he stepped off of the elevator.  It was as if he had some sort of sixth sense when it came to Olivia lately.  The woman had gotten under his skin so many times but…he had to admire her guts for getting on a plane even though she as terrified of flying.  What kind of a crazy woman takes a job doing something she’s afraid of doing?!

So instead of heading towards the beach as he’d originally intended, he turned and headed towards the woman who hadn’t been out of his mind for months.  Time to make some changes in their relationship.  Time to find out what the lovely Olivia was really about.  And definitely time to investigate this tension that seemed to haunt both of them.

Now that he had a clear plan in mind, he thought back to several of their contentious conversations, reviewing them in his mind.  How much of their antagonistic attitudes towards each other was really just pent up sexual frustration for each other?  Probably most of it.

He moved closer to the woman who was saying something to the dining room hostess.

Probably all of it, he acknowledged as his eyes moved down her figure, noting her tiny waist and slender ankles that looked ridiculously sexy in the strappy sandals.

“Come with me,” he said and didn’t wait for her to argue.  Because he knew she would.  Argue, that is.

He put an arm around her waist, guiding her out of the dining room and out into the warm, humid evening, ignoring the way her body automatically stiffened in shock.  “You don’t want to dine in the hotel dining room tonight,” he told her.

She was almost running to keep up with his longer stride so he slowed down.

“I don’t?” she demanded.

He chuckled when he saw the sparkle of fight in her eyes.  “No.  I know of a great burger place.  We can walk.”

He fully expected her to argue because that’s what they always did together.  So he was both surprised and more than slightly pleased when she simply followed along next to him.

Just a couple of blocks away, he led her through a break in an old, stone wall.  “We’re here,” he announced.  “You’re going to need to take those off,” he told her and reached down to slip off his own flip-flops.

“Why?”

“Because this place serves the best burgers on the island.  You aren’t going to want to miss this and you’ll get sand in your sandals.  The walk back will hurt.”

Again, he braced himself for an argument, so he was pleased when she lifted her leg up and, with one hand on his shoulder and the other slipping the shoe off of her delicate foot, she looked up at him, eyebrows lifted, as she waited for him to lead the way.

He put a hand to the small of her back and led her down to what looked like a shack set up on the beach.

“Hey there, Eddie,” he called out to the guy grilling about fifty burgers on an open charcoal grill that was really just a steel drum cut in half with a grill screen balanced on top.

“Pete!” the cook called out, lifting his hand up.  The two men did the normal Bro Hug, slapping each other on the back as they hugged one shoulder and only one shoulder.

“What the hell you doing back here, dude?” the man demanded as he turned to flip several more burgers.

“Flying around.  Landed yesterday.”

“And you’re only making it here tonight?”

“Had to tie down last night,” Pete explained.

Evidently, that was an adequate explanation since Eddie flipped a few more burgers, then turned to survey Olivia.  “And who is this?”

Pete put his arm around Olivia’s waist, pulling her in closer.  Ignoring her startled reaction, Pete made the introductions.  “Eddie, this is Olivia.  Olivia, this is the self-proclaimed World Champion Burger Master.”

Olivia laughed softly in appreciation of his joke even as she extended her hand and Pete had to fight the urge to pull her away.  It was just a polite gesture, but jealousy ripped through him when Eddie’s big paw enveloped Olivia’s more delicate fingers.  Eddie was shorter than Pete by several inches, but the burger master had about a hundred pounds on him.  The man loved his burgers!

So why was Pete so relieved when Olivia shook the big guy’s hand, then moved right back to his side?  And why in the world was he feeling on top of the world simply because Olivia, the woman he loved to rile just to spark her temper, had moved closer to him?!

He was confused and, at the same time, he wanted to beat his chest at the moment and swing from vines, all because Olivia had come right back to his side.  He’d never had these caveman tendencies before.

Looking down at her, he wondered for about the millionth time why he reacted so differently when around Olivia.  Then the image of her walking across the sand earlier today flashed into his mind.  Yeah, his mind was completely imagining her breasts in the sunshine, pale globes with pink, pointed tips taunting him.

But he hadn’t seen those pale, beautiful globes, had he?  Nope.  Not yet!

Putting a hand to the small of her back, he lifted his chin slightly.  “Send over two burgers with your famous cheese sauce.”

“You got it,” Eddie replied, already grabbing a red, plastic basket that had a toasted bun sitting inside.  “Go grab some beers and I’ll have Jenny take this over to ya.”

“No beers tonight,” Pete called back even as he led Olivia over to one of the tables set off near the perimeter of the area.  The tables were quickly filling up and Pete noticed that several people were waiting in line for their food.  Eddie was a gem to help them skip over the wait, but Pete wasn’t sure that was such a good thing.  Not tonight.

Tonight, he had the crazy idea of actually talking to Olivia.  Getting to know her.  No tempers.  No annoying comments and no chuckling when she blushed or when her temper flared.

Just talking.

After leading her over to one of the tables, he held out a chair for her, actually acting like a gentleman.  It was what he would normally do on a date but with Olivia, they’d never gotten this far.  Usually, he’d say something annoying, enjoy the spark of light in her pretty, brown eyes and she’d stomp off.

This was definitely different for both of them.  “I’ll be right back with some ice tea.”

 

Olivia watched Pete move towards the bar for drinks, amazed at the strength evident just in the way he walked.  He was also stopped by several tables, talking with people he obviously knew and they joked with him a bit, shook his hand or just had a short, casual conversation.  Apparently, Pete was a very popular fellow!

And very confusing.  Why was she here?  Why hadn’t she told him to buzz off earlier at the hotel?

Looking down at her cell phone, she willed a message to come through, telling them that Mr. Steele and his new bride needed to fly off somewhere, or that they needed to go pick someone up, fly them to another destination and be back in Saint Martin for Mr. Steele’s departure.  Anything at all!  Anything that would get her out of this confusing situation in which she found herself now.

Pete was walking back with two large glasses of iced tea in his hands, a woman that looked shockingly similar to Eddie by his side with baskets overflowing with fries and enormous burgers.

When he sat down, placing one of the drinks in front of her, she smiled weakly, not sure what was going on.

“Don’t let him get too friendly,” the woman joked even as she gave Pete the stink-eye.  Olivia couldn’t stifle her laugh, and Pete kissed the older woman affectionately before she moved off to take care of other customers.

“You seem to know quite a lot of people around here,” she commented as she surveyed the burger, not really sure how to eat such an enormous meal.

“Just pick it up and dive in.  Don’t be intimidated,” Pete explained, and did exactly that, licking ketchup off of his fingers.

She followed his instructions warily, but when she took her first bite, she was amazed.  “Oh, this is good!” she sighed, realizing how hungry she was as the beef and cheese hit her taste buds.  “This is really good!” and she licked off more ketchup.

“Told ya,” he said and winked to soften the comment.  “Fries are good too.”

They ate and talked about nothing important and it was one of the most relaxing conversations they’d ever had together.  Pete finished off his burger but Olivia could only finish less than half before she gave up.  “That was wonderful!” she sighed, leaning back in the wooden chair.  “I didn’t know that this place even existed!”

He wiped his hands on a paper napkin, his eyes moving over hers.  “Do you realize that we’ve sat across the table from each other for over two hours now, and we haven’t irritated each other even once?”

She looked up at him, startled by his comment.  At that same moment, all of the sexual tension that had been flitting around between them earlier this afternoon hit them full on.  She could feel it, sense it.  And she had no idea how to handle it.

Staring into Pete’s eyes, she was debating the effectiveness of just throwing herself into arms and begging him to show her what his eyes were promising.

But that would be stupid.  She didn’t even like Pete.  Why would she want to…?

“We’d better get back to the hotel,” she blurted out, breaking through the silence that seemed to cocoon them under the thick spell of the night.

“Right,” he replied and stood up.  He took their trash over to the bin and threw it away, lifting a hand to Eddie who waved back.

When they’d arrived, the sun hadn’t quite set over the horizon.  But now, it was dark, only the street lights and the Caribbean moon providing dim lighting as they dusted their feet off and slipped their footwear back on.  “It’s a nice night,” she said awkwardly as they walked along the sidewalk to the hotel.

“I think it’s always nice here in the Caribbean.”

Everything was too romantic.  The full moon, the gentle lights…there was even soft music playing somewhere off in the distance.  Not to mention the moist air, filled with the scents of earth and jungle, added to the romantic atmosphere.

Olivia felt her heart pounding and the thick tension surrounding them.  “Unless there’s a hurricane,” she countered, needing something negative.  Something to break this tension.

He chuckled again.  “Yep.  Hurricanes are bad.”

She nodded, but Olivia wasn’t sure what else to say.  She struggled, thinking that she needed to say something.  Anything.  But nothing came to mind.

Finally, they were standing in front of her hotel room and she turned, feeling silly and awkward.  Taking her key out of her purse, she fumbled with the lock.  The stupid card wasn’t working.  She kept sliding it through but the red light flashed, mocking her!

“Let me try,” he said and covered her hand with his.  Since he was behind her, she could feel his chest against her back.  Just like yesterday.  But this time, he wrapped his other arm around her waist, pressing the warmth of his chest against her back.  She could feel all of him.  Every inch of his body was warm.  Hot.  Sizzling!  His body was burning hers, making her crazy!

Olivia held her breath, not allowing herself to move in any way.  She knew that if she moved, she would ignite.  And then it would all be over.

“Olivia,” he whispered, his voice too close to her ear.  Shivers raced through her body and, from the stiffening of his muscles, she knew that he’d felt her tremor as well.

She turned around, trying to protect her back.  But as soon as she did that, she knew that it was a mistake.  He was here!  He was tall and big and HERE!  She stared at his chest for a long moment, but slowly, she lifted her eyes and stared into his own.  Wow!  The man could definitely send sizzling messages through those silver eyes of his.

“What do you want?” she asked, her lips barely able to move as she struggled to form the words.

“You,” he replied.

A moment later, his hand dove into her chestnut hair, his fingers tangling and pulling her head back.  She should have pulled back, told him to go to his own room.  But instead, she lifted herself up on her toes, meeting his mouth halfway.

When their lips finally touched, the result was fireworks.  She gasped, but he absorbed the sound in his mouth as he slanted her head, deepening the kiss.  With a whimper, she pulled him closer, arching her body so that every part of her was in contact with every part of him.

She felt him fumbling behind her, but didn’t realize that he was opening her door until they were inside of it.  Then all she knew was her back against the wall as he lifted her up, his hands holding onto her bottom as she tilted her hips, needing the connection with his, pressing her core against his erection.  It wasn’t enough!

Tearing at his shirt, she needed to get the material out of the way.  She needed to touch him without the fabric of his tee-shirt in the way!

He put her feet down on the floor.  “NO!” she whimpered.  But she was only there for a moment, the fraction of a second that it took for him to pull his tee-shirt off over his head.  Then he lifted her back up into his arms, carrying her down the short hallway to her bed.

Olivia felt the world shift, but didn’t care, didn’t even know how he’d gotten her naked.  All she cared about was baring his skin so that her fingers could move along his heated flesh.

When she felt his hands cup her breasts, she cried out.  Arching into his hands once again, she writhed, trying to get his fingers onto her nipple.  Bu he wouldn’t move, teasing her with just a flick of his thumb.

“More!” she demanded, all inhibitions gone.  The two men she’d had sex with in the past, she’d been shy and awkward.  But with Pete, all shyness was gone, replaced by an almost painful need to get closer to him, to feel all of him.

With a growl, he grabbed both of her hands and lifted them up over her head.  “Damn, you’re beautiful!” he said as his eyes looked down at her bared breasts.  How he’d gotten her sundress off, she had no idea, nor did she care.  All she cared about at his particular moment was the fact that he wasn’t touching her and he wouldn’t allow her to touch him.

“Let my hands go,” she begged, lifting her legs up so she could rub her thighs against his hips, cradling him more intimately against her, pressing her hips up closer.

“No.  I’ve been dreaming about this for so long.  I’m going to enjoy it.”

“You’ll enjoy it more if you let me touch you,” she begged, tugging at her arms, but his heat was making her weak.

“Oh, we’re going to enjoy this plenty,” he promised.  With that, he lowered his head, taking her pink nipple into his mouth.  She screamed out, shocked by the intensity of that action and unconsciously rocked her hips against his.  When she did that, she felt jolts of pleasure hit her so she did it again. And again.  The more she pressed against him, the closer she got to finding some relief.

But then he pulled his hips away, shaking his head. “Not this time, Olivia.  I want to taste you when you come the first time.”

She stared at him, shocked by the baseness of his words.  Never in her life had she been this turned on.  And even more turned on by the idea of Pete doing…that…to her!

He didn’t hesitate.  His mouth moved down to her stomach, his hips pressing her legs wider.  When he couldn’t go any further without releasing her hands, he shifted his hold to her legs, pressing them wider.  “I want all of you, Olivia,” he growled a moment before his tongue dashed out to tease her.  She jackknifed up with the first touch, but then fell back against the mattress again when she felt his mouth latch onto her nubbin.  Screaming out, she arched against his mouth, pressing herself against him and making everything that much worse.  Or that much better?  She couldn’t think long enough to figure it out because at that same moment, Pete slipped a finger into her body, pressing against her from the inside and…that was all it took.  She splintered apart, her body arching, twisting, spasming into a pleasure so intense, she could barely breathe for a long moment.

For a long time, she simply lay there, eyes closed as her body calmed.

Kisses.  Pete was kissing his way back up her body and it was doing odd things.  Those feelings were starting up again.  Opening her eyes, she shook her head.  “No,” she whispered, trying to grab his head and pull his mouth away from her overly sensitive skin.  “I can’t!” she whimpered.

Pete only took her wrists and pulled her hands away, doing what he wanted.  “That was possibly the hottest thing I’ve ever seen,” he told her, then bent his head to kiss her navel, nibbling on the skin as he made his way higher.  “Let’s do that again.”

She sobbed slightly, but her body was curling into his again.  “Pete, I can’t!  It was too much!”

He laughed, her only warning before his teeth gently scraped against her taut nipple.  “It was incredible.  And you’re a strong woman,” he told her with a light in his eyes that made her stomach muscles tighten with anticipation.  “You can give me another one.”

She laughed, but still tried to wiggle away.  Not likely, she realized when he simply moved his head over to her other breast, teasing and torturing that nipple just as he’d done to the first one.

When he lifted up, she initially thought he was trying to move away, to escape from this blissful torture.  But he stood beside the bed and stripped off the rest of his clothes and Olivia was entranced.  With each new inch of skin revealed, she was more fascinated.  Olivia couldn’t pull her eyes away from him.  When his erection was finally free from the confines of his shorts and boxers, her mouth went dry.  He was large and beautiful.  Her hand reached out, her fingers wrapping around his girth.  She vaguely heard a grunt of appreciation, but ignored him, too focused on learning all about this man and this part of him.

Her fingers smoothed along the skin, feeling the softness that covered the steel strength of him.  His hands tried to catch hers, but she batted his hands away, wanting no interference with her investigation.

Leaning her head forward, she let her tongue lick the tip, heard his sharp intake of breath but ignored it again.  This part of him was amazing and she loved the taste of him, the feel of his power under her fingers and tongue.  Taking a bit more of him into her mouth, she let her tongue swirl around and around, enjoying the pleasure of him like this, under her control.  She felt powerful and feminine.

Until he lifted her up under her arms, pushing her back against the bed once more.  “Any more of that, and this will all be over, Livie,” he growled.  She watched with amazement as he rolled a condom down that girth, then held her breath as he moved closer to her.

“Look at me,” he commanded.  Olivia followed his instructions, suddenly nervous.  But he was slow and gentle as he easily slid inside of her.  But not all the way.  Only a fraction of his length and then he pulled out.  She shook her head, wrapping her legs around his waist in an effort to get him back.  When he moved back, deeper this time, she closed her eyes and sighed as she felt him press into her heat.  It felt better than she’d ever thought possible.

“More!” she begged, then gasped, lifting her hips when he moved deeper into her body.  “More!” she demanded again.

He moved out and she slid her hands down his back, pressing her fingers against his tight butt.

 

Pete shook his head, trying to see through the thick haze of lust that was hitting him harder than he had ever felt before.  Everything Olivia did was shockingly perfect, increasing the pleasure to mind-blowing heights.  He wanted to slam into her, to press fulling into her tight, wet heat but he held back, wanting to help her adjust.  She was so tight, he suspected it had been a while since the last time she’d had sex.  But her fingers against his butt was his undoing.  He couldn’t hold back and pressed all the way into her.

When her eyes popped open, her gorgeous brown eyes looking up at him, he hesitated, praying that he hadn’t hurt her.  Then her hips shifted, a smile forming on her beautiful lips.  He wanted to bend down and kiss her, ensure that she was really okay.  But he couldn’t do anything other than move inside of her, feel her inner muscles tighten around him, hugging him in the most intimate way.

He knew he wasn’t going to last much longer, so he shifted, moving his hand lower and helping her.  She grabbed his wrist again, but he wouldn’t let her pull his fingers away.  Not to mention, feeling her like this, seeing her eyes widen, then her body arch, her own hands guiding his fingers was amazing!  He had to grit his teeth to keep himself from climaxing right then and there.

When she finally tumbled over that edge, only then would he allow himself to go as well.  As her body throbbed around his own, he couldn’t hold back any longer, couldn’t be gentle.  All control was gone and he pounded into her.  Pete heard a roar as the orgasm hit him hard and fast, but he had no idea that the sound came from himself.  All he knew was that he had to protect Olivia from his lust and tried to gentle himself, but suspected that he’d failed miserably.

 

Olivia sighed as the tremors of pleasure continued to hit her, slowing down but still there since he was fully inside of her.  Wrapping her arms around his neck, she smiled when he pulled her closer, rolling over so that he was on his back and she was tucked up against his side.

He grabbed a tissue from the side table and discarded the condom, then turned to face her.  “Are you okay?” he asked.  “I wasn’t too rough?”

The giggle that came from her throat was so unlike her that she slapped a hand over her mouth.  She wasn’t aware of her eyes still sparkling or the way her leg slid against his, but she loved the way his strong arm reached down to pull her leg higher.

“I’ll take that to mean that I wasn’t too rough,” he said and chuckled when she shook her head.

“It was wonderful,” she told him.

“Wonderful, huh?” he asked, his eyes moving lower, almost clinically looking at her breasts.  It wasn’t completely detached since she felt his body harden again and knew that he was more than interested in round two.  Well, round three for her.

She knew he was searching for compliments but didn’t care.  “Yeah.  Pretty wonderful.”  Her fingers couldn’t stop touching him.  She loved the differences in their bodies, the roughness of his chest and arms, the scruff of his jaw.  It was all just too fascinating.

For the next several hours, they talked, curled up like that.  Everything she’d thought about this man was transformed in those hours.  There was no awkwardness, just interest and curiosity.  He seemed genuinely interested in her as a person whereas before, he seemed to enjoy tormenting her.  The difference was startling.

But she liked it.  Was even more open with him than she was with her sister, which was shocking because she and her sister were close.  There was just something about Pete right now that she didn’t quite understand, but…well, he was a completely different person.

As they drifted off to sleep with his arms pulling her close, encouraging her to curl up against his side, she yawned as she asked, “You’re not going to turn into a jerk again tomorrow, are you?”

Unfortunately, she didn’t hear his answer since she fell asleep, secure in his arms.

 

 

Chapter 4

 

Olivia woke up to something tickling her shoulder and tried to bat away the sensation.  Unfortunately, every time the tickling stopped, it would start up again, pulling her out of her dreams of making love with Pete.

The deep, sexy chuckle so close to her ear, not to mention Pete’s strong hand sliding down her bottom, woke her up faster than she normally would have.  She wasn’t a morning person, preferring to sleep until late morning, then have several cups of coffee while contemplating the day ahead.  That tendency was beneficial to her job since most of the flights seemed to take place later in the afternoon, requiring her to be up late into the night during the flights across the country.

But now she wanted to sleep and grumbled when she felt Pete’s hand sliding around her stomach.

Burying her face against the pillow, she tried very hard to ignore him.  “Did Mr. Steele call and ask to fly out?”

“No,” he replied, his hand smoothing up her back.

“Did anyone else call, needing us to fly up and pick them up?”

“Nope.  We’re still in wait mode.”

“Then go away,” she grumbled, once again trying to bat his hand away.

“You don’t have to do a thing, Liv,” he teased, his hand tickling up her spine.  “Just relax.”

She arched her back, her face a mixture of desire and irritation.  “I can’t relax when you’re doing that!” she gasped, then his hands shifted, moving to her breasts.  His thumb and forefinger tweaked her nipple and she slapped a hand over his, trying to stop the movement because it sent spikes of desire shooting through her body.

“Pete!” she yelled, unconcerned about whoever might be in the room next door.  Pete was doing things to her breasts that…well, she wasn’t sure how to handle what he was doing!

“Yes?” he asked, his mouth latching onto her breast, his tongue darting out to torment her.  Olivia’s fingers dove into his hair, holding his head in place until she couldn’t take it any longer.  But he wouldn’t let her pull his mouth away.

“You have to stop!” she gasped, but then her hips shifted, pressing against his erection.

Suddenly, she was flipped over to her stomach and Pete was nibbling along the length of her spine.  “What are you doing?” she demanded, peering over her shoulder at him.

“Enjoying myself,” he told her, finding a particularly sensitive spot on her shoulder blade.  He only laughed when she hissed, but then she curved her spine, silently asking him to do that to her again.

“You’re gorgeous, do you know that?” he said softly as his fingers trailed along her back, curving around her bottom.  She wiggled, not liking his hand on her bottom but he only smiled and took her hips, lifting them up.  Grabbing a condom, he rolled it down his shaft, watching her as she peered over her shoulder at him again.  “You’re not too tender from last night, are you?”

“No!” she groaned, pressing back against him, silently begging him to continue.

His hands gripped her hips as he pressed into her heat once again.  “Damn, Livie!  You feel so good!”  And that was the end of their conversation other than Olivia pleading with him to move faster.  Finally, he leaned forward, his hand and fingers helping her over the edge.  Just like the previous night, her climax brought him over to his own orgasm, but this time was even more intense than the previous night.

When it was all over, he collapsed down onto the bed, pulling her closer, stroking her slowly as their breathing slowed and their bodies relaxed.

“I take it you’re not a morning person,” he commented when he could form words once again.

She laughed and snuggled closer to him.  “I can be if I’m woken like that every morning,” she teased, then blushed when she realized what she’d just said, as well as because of his raucous laughter.

“Deal,” he told her, then bent to kiss her shoulder.  “Come on, woman.  We have some sightseeing to do.”

For the next three days, they drove all over the island, visiting the various sights, talking, starting to genuinely understand each other and, by the time evening rolled around, falling into bed to make love until they were too exhausted to move before curling up and sleeping in each other’s arms.

When the message came that Mr. Steele was ready to head back to Seattle, Olivia was completely sated and…confused.  She’d started this trip hating Pete but after spending so much time in his company and in his bed, in his arms, she wasn’t really sure how she felt about him.

As they drove to the airport, both of them back in their uniforms, she kept stealing glances at him, wondering what was going to happen once they touched down in Seattle.  Would things change when they got back home?  Would he revert back to teasing and taunting her?  Would she learn to hate him again?

Olivia didn’t want that.  She wanted…well, she wasn’t sure what she wanted.  She didn’t want to dread flying with him again.  In fact, just the opposite.  She wanted to fly with him all the time.  She wanted…she wanted to talk to Mindy and ask to be paired with Pete all the time!

When that thought hit her, she was so stunned, she actually shrank back from Pete.  He was doing his pre-flight check and walking her through the whole process, explaining in detail what he was looking for.

“Thank you,” she told him softly, feeling awkward and relieved as she walked away from him, sliding her sunglasses onto her nose to cover her eyes, cover up her confusion.

 

“Livie?” Pete called out, watching as she practically ran up the stairs to the plane.  What the hell?  Everything had been fine…better than fine…up until a moment ago.  What had just gone through her mind?  What was she thinking?

There was no way in hell he was going back to their previous relationship.  Not happening!  Now that he knew the sweet, funny, tender woman she’d been hiding, he wasn’t letting her slip back into her ice queen mode.  No way!  He loved her. After spending so much time with Olivia, he knew that he loved her, wanted her with him for the rest of his life.  She was The One.  And he knew all about The Others.  He’d dated The Others and had been fine with The Others.  Now he wanted Olivia.  He wanted all of her laughter, her shy glances right before that look turned into heated desire.  He wanted her enthusiasm for life and he wanted her…love.  Yeah, he wanted Olivia forever.

So what had he said or done to make her run away?

Unfortunately, he didn’t have time to ask her since the limousine driving Zeke and Marcy just pulled up.  He looked at one last issue on his pre-flight check and nodded.  Everything was in order.  Time to fly.

Six hours later, Pete was still fuming.  They’d just landed in Seattle, their passengers had disembarked and Olivia was still avoiding him.

Locking up, he watched out of the corner of his eye as a car drove up onto the tarmac and a cute brunette popped out of the car.  This new person was a stranger and looked…was she crying?

Pete started to walk over to the two women, but Olivia pulled away from hugging this new person, tears in her eyes.  She looked over at Pete and he would have sworn that she was debating going to him.  Everything inside of him wanted to pull her into his arms and comfort her.  Seeing the tears in her eyes was like someone ripping his fingernails out.

But before he could even react, she dove into the vehicle and the other woman drove away, taking Olivia.  Taking her away from him.

He stood there for a long moment, stunned.  Had she just…was she…?

Oh hell no!  Not after the past week.  Not after the way she’d laughed with him.  Not after the way she’d given her body to him night after night!

If he knew one thing about Olivia it was that she didn’t give herself to just anyone.  The fact that she’d spent the week in his arms meant that she cared.  He loved her.  She most likely loved him.

His woman was hurting.  That meant only one thing.

He was going to his woman!

 

 

Chapter 5

 

“Mindy!” he called out, walking into the flight office of Steele Industries Aviation.

He had no idea where Mindy Muldoon was.  Usually, the cute, bubbly brunette was right at her desk, busy organizing all of the flight plans, the meals, the schedules and vendor payments.  The dynamo was always busy and, no matter what time of the day or night he took off or landed, Mindy was here.

So where was she now?

A noise behind him had him spinning around.  Mindy came into the office, her eyes darting around as she adjusted the scarf that, at one point, had probably looked professional and elegant.  At the moment, it looked…like she’d just been doing something with someone…?

Looking behind her, Pete waved to Gus, the owner of the cargo shipping company that also worked out of this building.  Gus was also a pilot, but he rarely flew these days since he had more than fifty planes moving cargo all over the country.

Pete looked at Gus, who was glaring at Mindy who was trying to pretend as if nothing at all was going on.

“How was Saint Martin?” she asked, forcing a smile but Pete saw the strain in her eyes.

“Mindy, is Gus bothering you?”

Mindy sighed, her head bowing slightly as a blush stole up her cheeks.  “No.  Gus is a gentleman.  He would never bother me.”  She lifted her head and looked right into his eyes.  “Promise,” she assured Pete, even going so far as to lift her hand as if she were giving him an oath.

Pete nodded, accepting her word.  Shaking his head, he changed the subject.  “Look, I need Olivia’s home address.”

Mindy’s smile brightened and a speculative gleam entered the blue depths.  She watched Pete for a long moment, then lifted her hands up in the air with a whoop of delight!  “Finally!” she cheered.

Pete was startled.  “Finally – what?” he asked, needing clarification.

Mindy literally danced over to her desk only a moment before Gus burst into the office.  The other guy was about an inch taller than Pete, but with a scruffy face and bulging muscles, all emphasized by the flannel shirt that was hanging around his waist.  The only term to describe Gus was “lumberjack”.  Well, “Silent Lumberjack” Pete corrected mentally.

“You okay?” he asked, his green eyes narrowing on Mindy.

Pete’s head swiveled between Gus, a guy he played poker with every few weeks, and Mindy, the woman who ran the Steele Industries flight office like a dictator.  Slowly, he put two and two together, a smile growing on his features.

“Yeah, Mindy,” he teased.  “Is everything okay?”

Mindy’s blush deepened but she lifted her chin in the air.  “I’m fine.  I was just excited because Pete and Olivia finally got together.”

Those green eyes moved from Mindy to Pete and Gus sort of smiled.  The man never truly smiled and Pete suspected that his face might crack if he ever did.  He hadn’t smiled for years.  In fact, Pete wasn’t sure the man even knew how to smile.

But the protective look he directed at Mindy spoke volumes.  With a nod of his head, he turned and headed back out of the office.

Pete chuckled and looked over at Mindy.  “Now about that home address,” he prompted.

Mindy shook her head.  “No way.  It’s a violation of several rules.  I can’t give you her home address, Pete.”

Pete wasn’t going to mess around.  He wanted to get to Olivia, needing to find out what was going on.  His stomach still hurt every time he pictured her beautiful eyes so filled with sadness.

She needed him.  Olivia might not admit that she needed him, but that last look had told him everything he needed to know.

“Mindy, Olivia drove away with some strange woman in tears.  Both of them were crying.  I need to get to her.”

Mindy’s determined look wavered.  “She was crying?  Is she okay?”

“I don’t know.  I need to get to her.”

Her lips pressed together and she once again stood tall.  “No.  I’m sorry Pete.  I’ll give her a call and find out if she’s okay.”

Pete leaned his arms against Mindy’s desk. “Mindy, if you don’t give me her home address in the next thirty seconds, I’m going to walk across that hallway and tell Gus all about that Christmas party when you dressed up as…”

He couldn’t finish that threat because Mindy had slapped a hand over his mouth.  “Fine!” she gasped.  “I’ll give it to you.  But if I’m sued, I’m going to tell them that you blackmailed me!”

He chuckled, shaking his head.  “I don’t know what you’re so upset about.  I can guarantee that Gus will like…” he stopped when Mindy’s fingers froze on her computer keyboard as she glared up at him.  “Not a word,” he stated firmly.

Mindy looked away slowly, scribbling something on a sticky note.  She took it off of the pad and handed it to him. “Here!  But you didn’t get it from me!”

“You’re a peach!” he told her, grabbing the note and spinning around to hurry out of the office.  But as he put his hand on the door, he stopped and looked back at her.  “You really should let Gus…”

“Go!” she shouted, pointing her finger to the hallway.

Pete chuckled but hurried out.

Twenty minutes later, he pulled up outside of a small cottage style house.  The car he’d seen at the airport was parked in the driveway but its presence didn’t alleviate any of his concerns.  He still needed to see Olivia and find out what was going on with her.

He needed to hold her.

Ringing the doorbell, he waited, listening to the sounds coming from inside.

When the doorbell opened, a teary-eyed Olivia stood in the doorway, tissues wadded up in her hands and he stepped into the foyer and took her into his arms.  “What happened?” he asked.

Olivia sniffed.  “Emma…my sister,” she stared to explain.

“I got dumped,” the cute brunette announced, standing in the middle of the entryway.  “I got dumped by a jerk who thought I wasn’t good enough for his Ivy League family!” A snort and a scoff.

Olivia walked over to her sister, putting her arms around her shoulders.  “Em, you told me just last week that you were going to break up with him.”

Emma laughed, rolling her eyes.  “Well, yeah!  He was a jerk!”

Olivia had to stifle a burst of laughter.  “Okay, so why are you upset about this?”

Emma sighed, rolling her eyes as if the answer should be obvious.  “Because he broke up with me!  It should have been the other way around!”

And with that, Emma leaned into her sister, tears causing her shoulders to shake.

Pete relaxed, more relieved than he could have believed to know it was just a breakup issue.  “I’ll go get supplies,” he told Olivia who had her arms around her sister, and turned around.

Thirty minutes later, he stepped back into the house, two bags filled with wine, chocolate, ice cream and all different varieties of chips.  He had a younger sister.  He understood the drill.

Emma’s eyes widened when Pete walked into the room, the rant stopping as she took in the proprietary way that Pete touched her sister’s shoulder.  Pete simply took out a bottle of wine, immediately distracting the younger woman.

And the rant continued.

Pete opened and closed the cabinets until he found the wine glasses, filled them up more than halfway before handing one to both ladies and refusing to chuckle when Olivia gave him one of her looks that sent a silent apology his way.

After distributing the wine, he went back to the kitchen, opening and closing drawers until he found the utensils.  He grabbed two spoons, handed a spoon and a pint of ice cream to each woman, then moved off again after taking the lids back to the kitchen.

He found the bowls, dumped chips into each one and carried the three bowls into the family room, setting them all down on the coffee table.

Without hesitation, he took the wine glass and ice cream out of Olivia’s hands, set them next to the chips and pulled her into his arms.

There was a long moment of silence while Pete thoroughly kissed Olivia, not letting up until she melted against him, her arms wrapped around his neck and she was sighing.

Only then did he release her, hand back the wine and ice cream and, with a wink at the cute sister, he walked out, making sure that the door was locked as he pulled it shut behind him.

Before he drove off, he texted a message to Olivia.  “Call me when the storm blows over.”

A long time later, Olivia saw the message and stifled her laughter.  Pete was…incredible.

“Okay, spill it.  Who was he?” Emma demanded.

Olivia looked up from her cell phone.  “Who?”

Emma rolled her eyes.  “The stud who just provided us with supplies for the night?  The hunk who just kissed you silly?  The Adonis that caused that pink flush to cover you from neck to hairline!”

Olivia shook her head and took a sip of wine.  “He’s just a friend.”

Emma watched her sister carefully, then shook her head.  “Nope.  He’s more.”  Another pause as Olivia’s face filled with color and Emma grinned.  “A lot more.”

Olivia stood up, clearing away the empty glasses and bottles.  “You’re imagining things.  He’s a co-worker.”

Emma grabbed the bowls of chips that were almost empty, following behind her older sister.  “So which is it?  Is Pete a friend or a co-worker?”

Olivia set the glasses on the counter.  “Both.  When are you leaving?”

Emma laughed, not offended at all at her big sister trying to kick her out.  “I don’t have class until Monday.”

“And you flew across the country just to rant about being dumped by a guy you didn’t even like?”

Emma sighed and slumped down onto a stool.  “No.  Not just for that.”  She picked up a sponge and started hand washing the dishes.

“What’s going on?” Olivia asked gently as she dried the dishes.

Emma shrugged.  “I miss mom and dad,” she admitted.  “And I needed to see you.”

Olivia put the rag down on the countertop, taking Emma into her arms.  “Mom and Dad died two years ago.”

Emma sniffled.  “I know.  I just…” she shrugged, leaning her head against Olivia’s shoulder.  “Sometimes, I just need to connect with you, ya know?  Especially when springtime starts to appear and I think about the lake house.  All the fun times we used to have there during the summers.”

Olivia smiled fondly at the memories.  “It was fun, wasn’t it?”

Emma nodded.  “Yeah.  But you moved away and now the lake house isn’t the same.”

Olivia pulled away, looking down at her sister.  “Hey.  Why don’t we spend a week out there this summer?  Just the two of us?”

Emma thought about that, then nodded.  “Okay, sounds good.  Will you bring Pete?” she asked, smiling slyly at the end.

Olivia’s eyes jerked over to her sisters.  “No way!  He wouldn’t…!”

“Yes, he would,” Emma countered.  “I guarantee it.”  She pushed away from the countertop.  “I’m going to work on some homework.  You should go over to Pete’s place.”

Olivia watched her sister as she headed into the guestroom.  “I can’t go over there.  We don’t have that kind of a relationship.”

Emma looked over her shoulder at her sister.  “You mean you’re too afraid to go over, right?”

Olivia jerked at that, frustrated because Emma’s words were too close to the truth.  “I’m not afraid.”

“Good,” she said and picked up a piece of paper on the table by the front door.  “Because he left his address and phone number.  I dare you to go over and talk to him.  Explain why you ran away from him at the airport.”  She paused, lifting her book bag off of the floor where she’d dropped it earlier in the evening.  “He looked pretty stunned and confused, so whatever happened down in Saint Martin between the two of you, I’m guessing he thought it was worth more than being abandoned at the first opportunity.”

And with that, her sister disappeared into the guest room, leaving Olivia reeling.  Had she really hurt Pete’s feelings?  The idea made her stomach ache.

She debated for another few minutes, but in the end, she grabbed the paper and her purse, rushing out of the house before she could question her actions further.  She didn’t want to dwell on the possibility that she was too scared to go to Pete’s place, so she just did it, daring herself the whole way.

But once she was there, standing in front of the doorway to a modern looking house perched up on a hill that looked out over Puget Sound, she couldn’t seem to lift her hand to ring the doorbell.  What if Emma was wrong?  What if Pete was just being a nice guy?

But what if she was right?

Again, before she could contemplate the consequences, she lifted her hand and rang the doorbell.  Almost immediately, the door opened and Pete was there, looking incredible in soft jeans and a tee-shirt.  The Mariner’s baseball game was on in the background.

There was barely a moment’s pause before he reached out and pulled her into his house, slamming the door closed behind her.

When she looked up at him, she wasn’t exactly sure what to say.  So she started with the question foremost on her mind.  “Did I hurt your feelings at the airport when I left so abruptly after landing?”

He chuckled.  “I’m a guy.  I don’t have feelings.”  He looked down into her pretty blue eyes.  “But no, I didn’t like it.”

She bit her lip, trying to figure out what to say next.  “I’m sorry,” she told him, feeling horrible.

Pete’s arms snaked out, boxing her in as he leaned against the wall behind her.  “Tell me why you did it.”

Olivia sighed, looking at the middle of his chest.  “Because I wasn’t sure what you might want once we were back in the real world.”

On hand lifted, playing with a lock of hair.  “What do you want?”

She shrugged, trying to think of a flip answer.  Unfortunately, nothing came to mind other than “everything”.  Instead of admitting that embarrassing truth, she shrugged slightly.  “I don’t want us to go back to hating each other.”

He sighed and pushed away from the wall, grabbing her hand and tugging her into his house.  “I never hated you.  I’ve been attracted to you since the first moment you stepped out of the building and walked towards my plane.”  He chuckled as his thumb rubbed gently against her cheek.  “I loved tormenting you though.  But I’ll admit, I fell in love with you over the past week, Livie.  I promise I won’t annoy you, no matter what you decide.”

She stopped and stared up at him, forcing him to turn.  “You love me?” she asked, the words squeaking out.

He sighed, rubbing the back of his neck.  “Yeah. You’re pretty hard to resist.”  He laughed, but it came across as a bit self-deprecating.  “Always were.”

She took a step closer.  “You really love me?” she asked, her eyes pleading with him to tell her the truth.  “As in love and forever and babies and future and all of that?”

He put his beer bottle down on the countertop and pulled her closer.  “Yeah.  All that kinda stuff.”

Olivia smiled, relief hitting her hard and fast.  “So…?”

He laughed, hugging her.  “So, you’re going to marry me.”

Olivia hugged him back, but when he started to pull away, he tightened his arms around her.  “Only under one condition.”

He looked down at her, one eyebrow going up.  “What’s your condition?” he asked, thinking she’d say something like wanting six or seven kids or extra dogs.  All of which he could live with.

“We have to be a Nationals home.  I grew up in Virginia.  Baseball is all about the Nats.”

He stared at her, trying to decide if she was serious or not.  When she didn’t blink, he knew that she wasn’t kidding.  Instantly, he jerked backwards, shaking his head.  “No.  No way!” he told her, dragging her over to the sofa to pull her down next to him.  “You live in Seattle.  You have to be a Mariners and Seahawks fan!”

She laughed even as she pretended to stand up but he wasn’t letting her, his hand shooting out to pull her right back down onto his lap.  “Not gonna happen!  Natonals and Redskins!  Seahawks aren’t…”

“The Redskins?!  They haven’t even been to the Superbowl in twenty years!  How can you be a fan of the Redskins?”

He was holding her down now, tickling her but she screamed, wiggling and trying to get away.  “I’m no fair weather fan!  You have to be loyal!”

He stopped when she was gasping for breath, both from the tickling and the laughter.  “I’ll convert you then,” he promised.

She looked up at him, her hands looping around his neck.  “You already did,” she vowed.

 

 

Not to Reader….

 

You’ve met Emma in this story.  She will be the female lead in one of my Navy SEAL stories coming up in Spring of 2018.  Standby!  It’s going to be a scorcher at the lake!