Tempt (Take It Off)(3)

By: Cambria Hebert

Slowly, the newspaper came down and something else was lifted. A giant white index card.

It had my name on it.

My stomach did a somersault and my heart started thumping erratically.

Why would that ratty jean wearing, Penthouse reading guy have a sign with my name on it?

“See,” the woman said from behind. “That’s him. He has a sign with your name on it.”

“That’s my pilot?”

The woman at the counter giggled. She actually giggled like a schoolgirl.

Shoot. Me. Now.

I gathered up my bags and took a few steps forward, intent on finding out just what the hell was going on, when he lowered the oversized card.

My steps faltered.

The suitcase trailing along behind me kept going and rammed into my calves, making me stumble, and I pitched forward with a startled cry, knowing I was going to go down and praying to the heavens that I didn’t crush Kiki when I fell.

The last thing I saw was the stupid New York Times paper fluttering to the floor as Kiki and I plunged disastrously toward the floor. But then he was there, grabbing up the suitcase, saving it from my clumsiness.

I, however, was not so lucky.

I fell.

Hard. In fact, if my arms hadn’t been free, I would have fallen directly on my face. Thankfully, my hands slapped against the hard floor, saving my nose from being rearranged. When I hit, I fell over, rolling onto my back, and lifted my hands, staring at them in front of my face. My palms stung from the fall and I cringed imaging how many germs were now crawling all over them from touching the nasty airport floor.

“Are you okay?” said a voice above me.

I jerked my arms down, propping myself up on my elbows, and lifted my eyes.

I remembered why I fell all over again.

Light-green eyes speared me from within a face that, even if he left right now and I never ever saw him again, I would not forget. His face was so striking that it would be etched into my mind forever.

His eyes were the color of green sea glass. A bright green but light because it had spent time tumbling around the ocean floor. They were a striking contrast against the rest of him. He was all dark and bronze with a head full of thick dark hair that curled around on his head. It was messy like he never combed it—though I would think that combing curls would only give him an Afro.

His skin was olive toned, bronzed like he never left the sun, and he had sharp features—a straight nose, full lips, and cheekbones that sat high just beneath those eyes, which were lined in impossibly thick, impossibly dark lashes.

He was tall (or maybe he just looked that way because I was sprawled on the floor) and had a lean build, but he looked strong—the kind of strength that came naturally, not the kind of bulk that came from the gym.

As I stared at him like a complete idiot, he set down the suitcase carefully and squatted beside me. My breath caught (or maybe I just forgot I needed to breathe) when he got closer. He was freaking beautiful. Yeah, I know, guys aren’t supposed to be beautiful, but he was. There was no other word that I could think of that would describe him better.

I was still staring as he reached out and grasped me by the shoulders. The heat of his hands radiated through my T-shirt and practically zapped me back to reality. “Did you hurt yourself?”

Oh my God, he had an accent. It was lyrical and caused my tongue to tie itself in knots.

As if perfection just upped its game and got even better.

It wasn’t a full-on Spanish accent, but barely there—a slight roll of the tongue that caused chills to rise up across my scalp and race over my head and down my spine.

I nodded because speaking was still not an option.

“You’re Ava Malone?”

Say it again. Something inside me begged. Please just say my name one more time.

The desperation going on inside my own head was what fully shocked me out of my trance. There was no way I was about to succumb to some beautiful disaster of a man. And yes, I did know that he was a complete disaster because there was no way on this planet that a man who looked like him could be anything but trouble.

“Yes, that’s me. I’m fine,” I said, shaking off his hands and standing up. “Nice catch by the way.” I gestured to the suitcase that contained Kiki.

He grinned. His teeth were blindingly white against his tanned skin. “Sorry, it had to be one or the other.”

He didn’t look sorry, the snake. He probably enjoyed watching me bust my butt. “Uh-huh,” I said, reaching for the suitcase with the urn.

He reached out and took it first.

My back teeth clenched together.

“I can get my bags.”

“After what I just saw, I think your grandmother would be safer in my arms.”

That should have insulted me. It should have alarmed me that he knew what was inside. Instead, all I got was a vision of being tucked against his chest, with bronzed, strong arms wrapped around me and the beating of his heart beneath my ear.

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