Damn! Rex Bancroft couldn’t believe his luck even if he didn’t typically believe luck existed. Everything he had,
Damn! Rex Bancroft couldn’t believe his luck even if he didn’t typically believe luck existed. Everything he had, he’d worked hard for. Chalking his successes up to luck cheapened all the effort he put into his life. However, his current situation—standing next to this beauty—was a little different.
After Dog Tired Brewery’s private jet was delayed in Los Angeles with his Director of Sales, he’d been forced to fly commercial from Grand Rapids to Washington D.C. Thus, his arrival at the check-in counter at just the right moment. He hadn’t been on a commercial airline in over a year—since they’d co-purchased the private Gulfstream g450—and he hadn’t been looking forward to the flight until his eyes landed on Anna.
Releasing her delicate hand, he transferred his to her lower back (He released her hand then placed his hand on her lower back) and guided her around a corner and into the Grand Hall, where the shops and restaurant were located. Since the flight was delayed and they had some time to spare, he couldn’t think of better way to spend the free time than sipping a pint or two with this knockout even if he should be reviewing his itinerary and reports for his visit to D.C.
Something about her drew his attention. Her long chestnut waves fluttered down her back. Her navy coat obscured his view of whether she was wearing a dress or skirt, but nonetheless, her black stockings and black leather boots to just below her knees gave way to toned yet curvy legs.
He’d propped himself directly behind her so she wouldn’t miss him when she turned around. When she spun on her heels and smacked into (collided with him), her spicy vanilla scent hit him, making his mouth water. Did she smell like vanilla everywhere? Maybe she even tasted like it, too.
His gaze pinned hers and her honey-colored eyes were so round and expressive she could likely see right through to his soul. Her indulgent lips parted in surprise. Looking at her full mouth sent naughty thoughts racing through his head and exciting his dick. Sun-kissed, her skin a healthy golden shade, seemed quite strange for someone this far north this time of year—an indicator she wasn’t from around here.
Though Rex wasn’t known for picking up the ladies at the airport, he did have a reputation for hooking up with them at the local bars and clubs in whatever city he was in at the time. He’d tried to settle down, be in a longstanding relationship. But he refused to let his thoughts wander to Layla and the way she emasculated him two years ago, leaving him bereft and with little interest in exploring a relationship with anyone. Ever. Again.
Spending the last four years seeking sexual release, he gave zero fucks about anything else related to women. Though he was always a perfect gentlemen. He respected women. He just hadn’t wanted anything more from them. He may never admit it out loud especially around his friends, the single lifestyle was getting old. Turning thirty-five had a way of making a statement.
Did he really want to throw away the idea of someday finding companionship and settling down with a good woman because some selfish witch slept with his now ex-best friend? Right now, he had a beautiful woman next to him who he planned to enjoy for whatever period they were marooned in Michigan.
“What can I get you?” the bartender asked as they bellied up to the bar. The blonde directed her question to him as if Anna had not accompanied him. She eyed him like he was a new dress and she was about to try him on for size.
Rex pulled out the only stool left at the small bar and offered it to Anna. The bartender flinched.
Anna sat in front of him, letting her coat fall off her shoulders and down her arms before folding the cloak over her lap. He followed her movements. He shuddered at the site of her dress riding up her thighs as she leaned to rest her purse on top of the carry-on at her feet.
Was that a garter?
He swallowed hard and stared transfixed on the black lace at the top of her tights and the black clips holding them up. Women didn’t wear garters very often. In fact, he’d never been with a woman who donned one for an everyday purpose. His mind wandered to bending her over the stool and having his way with her in nothing but that damn garter. His cock twitched in his jeans. Christ, it wasn’t like he’d gone weeks with (since) getting laid.
“Take the lady’s order first.” His voice came out more gravelly than usual. He cleared his throat, trying to disguise the desire consuming him. For Christ’s sake, he’d just met this woman and he wanted to worship her.
“I’ll have a pint of the stout,” Anna stated.
Not a white wine or fruity concoction? He’d expected such, but she surprised him yet again. He liked Anna more with each passing second. The bartender nodded in her direction, but she never took her eyes off Rex.
“And for you?” She smiled her best smile, hoping to catch some glimmer of interest from him.
“I’ll have the same.” Standing behind Anna, his abs brushed against her back. Her spicy vanilla scent wafted up to him and he inhaled deeply, drawing her aroma deep into his lungs and his memory. He’d met many a woman on his business travels, one of the perks of hopping from city to city on a regular basis. Anna sparked something different in him. He wasn’t sure what it was yet, but he wanted to find out. He hadn’t imagined the magnetism between them. His head reeled at the immediate reaction he had to her and his dick behaved like a spoiled brat.
The bartender scurried down the short length of the bar to the taps to pour their beers. A few people filed in behind them as others had the same idea about grabbing a drink while they waited for the fate of their flight.
“A stout, eh?” He bent closer to her ear so she could hear him over the surrounding chatter. She shivered, and he relished the reaction she had to him. “You struck me as a white wine or daquiri type of girl.”
Tilting her head back and to the side, she stared at him. Her dark waves cascaded down her back, exposing her neck, and her wide eyes challenged him.
“That’s what happens when you stereotype people you don’t know.” A bit of humor weaved into her voice. “You get it wrong.” She cocked(?) an eyebrow to emphasize her point. Her spunk and sass made her even more desirable. He loved girls that stood on their own, could handle themselves and weren’t looking for a man to define them.
“That I did.” A Cheshire cat grin rested on his lips. “Won’t happen again.”
The bartender slid two pints across the bar. Anna handed her a twenty-dollar bill before he could do anything. “Hey! I asked you for a drink, which meant I was paying.”
“Doesn’t look that way.” She winked at him. The bartender dropped off her change. Anna left a couple dollars on the bar for a tip and leaned over to stuff the remaining money in her purse, revealing her stockings again. Rex bit off a moan.
“Next round’s on me. And I mean it.” He tried sounding stern, but the sweet look on her face practically melted him like butter on a sizzling frying pan.
“I’m kind of hoping we’ll be on the plane and flying high over Michigan after this beer.” She raised her glass for emphasis and clinked the pint with his. He watched as she lifted the glass to her full lips and sipped back a bit of the almost black liquid. Watching the constriction of her throat as she swallowed had his jeans tightening again. Of course he met her in an airport. Why couldn’t he have met her last night at one of the local bars while he still had a perfectly good hotel room to return to.
Life could be so unfair.
“Not liking Grand Rapids, I take it.”
“It’s a lovely city, what I saw of it. Might be more palatable in the summer.” She caught her bottom lip between her teeth and glanced up at him. Rex swallowed hard. He wanted to bite that lip with his own teeth—nuzzle, lick and suck on the flesh. She reached for her glass and the movement brought him back to the present.
“Sorry. Not a northerner? I guess the golden skin should have given it away.”
“Not at all. Florida born and raised.” Her response made him laugh.
No wonder she seemed miserable about being stuck in Michigan. It had to feel like Antarctica to someone living in Florida’s temperate climate, especially given the rough winter the north had been having.
“What’s so funny?”
“You must be frozen to the bone.” He shook with his laughter. Resting a hand on her back, he moved it up and down over the red knit fabric of her sweater to warm her, the long tendrils of her hair tickling the back of his hand. He brought his own pint glass to his lips and sipped his beer.
“I’ve been here just over twenty-four hours and to be honest, I can’t get out of here fast enough. Who lives in negative temperatures on purpose?”
He snickered. Having grown up in Oregon, he was used to cold and wet though even he’d admit the below freezing temps were a bit much. Nothing a good beer and a woman couldn’t usually resolve for him.
“What brought you to Grand Rapids? Doesn’t seem like a smart place for a Floridian to visit for vacation in February.” For the first time in a long time his interest piqued at more than how many orgasms he could squeeze out of her before he came like a freight train.
Oh, don’t get him wrong, he was interested in her body—in having her underneath him and wrapped around him. Even more than that, he wanted to know about her. Where she was from. What she did for a living. If she was married or seeing someone. He glanced down at her left hand that rested on her lap. No ring. Not that that was determinative.
“I work for an insurance company as director of marketing. Came up here to give a presentation about our company to an agency association. We’re trying to expand our footprint in the Midwest, Michigan especially. Don’t ask me why this had to occur in February, but it’s definitely a question I’ll be asking our vice president when I get back.” Her honey eyes sparkled with a bit of fire.
“You poor thing.” He wove his fingers in her silky hair. She tilted her head back, revealing closed eyes. Her pulse thumped at the base of her exposed neck. He gnawed on his bottom lip, trying to keep from pressing his lips to her soft skin. Her chest heaved with deep breaths, indicative of what his touch did to her. No one here didn’t know they weren’t together. People would think they were two lovers unable to keep their hands off each other. He should go for it, make his move. Nothing much to lose.
She lifted her head, opened her eyes and the moment was lost. Damn it. Anna wrapped her fingers around her pint and took another drink. She focused on her glass of beer, avoiding eye contact with him as if that might lessen the attraction between them.
“So why are you here in Michigan? You don’t look very Michigander-ish.”
“Michigander?” He cocked an eyebrow, questioning the term he’d never heard before.
“I was told by some agents that people from Michigan are referred to as Michiganders.” She shrugged a shoulder not committed to the accuracy of her statement.
“I continue to learn something new every day.” He laughed. “Do I not look like a Floridian too?” He waved a hand down the length of him. She followed his hand with her gaze, scrutinizing him. Then she pushed her regard (She brought her gaze) to his face and their eyes clashed for a moment. The pull between them sizzled like an electrical current. He was more than happy to get shocked.
“No. You most definitely don’t look like a Floridian.” She grinned.
“Is it the pasty pale skin that gives me away?” He pouted. Even after several years of living in Orlando, he couldn’t escape his British and Irish roots.
“Well…you are…white.” Her cheeks pinkened. She dropped her gaze to her glass again, her eyelashes fluttering over her cheeks. This woman exhibited both ends of the spectrum. Angel and devil. The image of her garter and tights contrasted nicely against her rosy cheeks and sweet smile.
He slid his arm around her shoulder and squeezed. She tensed before relaxing into him and he enjoyed the weight of her against him. Her softness next to his hardness.
“To answer your question, I’ve been traveling the last two weeks checking on the handful of Ohio and Michigan bars and restaurants that have put one or more of our beers on tap.” He pointed to his Dog-Tired Brewing Company t-shirt.
“So you work for Dog-Tired?” She smiled up at him, her voice filled with unexpected enthusiasm.
“I’m not your average employee, but I probably work more than all our employees combined, including my two partners.” He chuckled. No statement had ever been truer. Chad Hinkelson, Taylor Vince and he had hit the indie brew scene big by participating in several national beer competitions and festivals. They’d taken their college hobby of brewing beer and made it into a multi-million-dollar business. Rex had taken the role of head of distribution, which had him on the road (rather delete) constantly.
“You’re an (the) owner?” Her brows drew down and her eyes narrowed. He was glad to see she questioned the things a stranger told her. Something about her had his protective nature rise. Was it protective or possessive?
“I absolutely love their winter stout.” Her voice elevated. “Get out of here!”
Rex laughed. “I’m not going anywhere without you. We’re stranded here in the Grand Rapids airport and where you go, I go.” His tone had an edge to it like he couldn’t decide if he was joking or dead serious. But he was thrilled with the common ground they’d found.