Stranded With The Boss(3)

By: Elizabeth Lane

 The middle-aged woman behind the counter shook her head. “I’m sorry. We’re booked solid. There’s no other plane avail—”

 “I might be able to help you.” The subtly accented baritone, as deep and sensual as the purr of a tiger, vibrated along Tessa’s nerves, as if someone had brushed a velvet-clad fingertip down her cheek. She turned with a startled gasp.

 The man standing behind her was strikingly tall with dark hair and the coldest slate-colored eyes she’d ever seen. His chiseled features—a square jaw, straight nose and high Slavic cheekbones—were too strong to be called handsome, but his very presence exuded power and masculinity. He was simply dressed in jeans, a muted plaid wool shirt and lambskin jacket, but the watch on his wrist was a high-end steel Rolex, sleek and expensive.

 With his flinty eyes and Eastern European accent, he could have played the sexy villain in a Hollywood spy movie.

 He was a stranger—surely she’d remember if she’d ever met such a man. But something about him seemed familiar. Was he an actor? Maybe a newscaster she’d seen on TV? He hadn’t introduced himself. Had he assumed she’d know who he was?

 Tessa found her voice. “I beg your pardon,” she said. “Did you just offer to help me?”

 “I couldn’t help overhearing,” he said. “I’ll be taking off for Anchorage in a few minutes. There’s plenty of room in the plane. You’re welcome to come along—at no charge, of course.”

 “You’re sure?” Tessa wavered on the edge of uncertainty. The man’s offer had come as an amazing stroke of luck. But there had to be a catch. She would never get into a car with a strange man. Would getting into a plane, especially with her precious babies, be any different?

 “My plane’s outside.” He spoke as if sensing her hesitation. “It’s a private craft. But I happen to be a co-owner of this charter company. If you’re worried about your safety, Miss Burris, here, can vouch for me, can’t you, Marlene?” He glanced at the woman behind the counter.

 “Oh, yes,” she simpered. “Absolutely, sir.”

 “So make up your mind, miss. We need to leave before the fog comes in.” He spoke like a man accustomed to getting his own way.

 How could she refuse, when this might be her only chance to get to Anchorage with the twins? “Yes,” Tessa said, taking the plunge. “I’d be happy to accept your very kind offer.”

 “Fine.” He glanced down at her stacked luggage, which held more clothes, snacks and diapers for the twins than things for herself. “Are these your bags? I’ll have them put aboard.”

 “Yes, thanks. But right now I need to get something. I’ll only be a couple of minutes.”

 Tessa raced down the hall toward the waiting room. She should probably have told her rescuer about the twins. But now that she’d agreed to go, she didn’t want to take a chance on his changing his mind. He’d said there was plenty of room. And even in a small plane, the flight from Bellingham to Anchorage couldn’t take more than a few hours. How big an imposition could two little children be?

 Such a riveting man. Why did that chiseled Slavic face seem so familiar? Where had she seen it before? In a magazine? Maybe on TV? If she didn’t remember his name soon she would have to swallow her embarrassment and ask him.

 * * *

 Dragan watched her hurry away, admiring how her tan slacks clung to her shapely little rump. Too bad the pending lawsuit made bedding her a bad idea. She was definitely his type—petite, curvy and spirited. He imagined she could be a little wildcat between the sheets. Maybe after the trial, if things worked out to everyone’s satisfaction...

 He shook his head, amused by the predictable wanderings of his mind. He was a shamelessly physical animal who enjoyed pretty women. As long as a lady didn’t expect anything beyond a few dinners and nighttime romps, then maybe a diamond bracelet as a parting gift, that was enough for him. Emotions and other such complications were a waste of time and energy.

 As for love, if there even was such a thing, it had no place in his world. Now that his uncle—who’d brought him to America after Sarajevo and raised him as a son—had passed away, he had no one left who was truly close to him. No family, no personal attachments of any kind. Dragan was comfortable with that. It made everything simpler, leaving him free to concentrate on the shipping business he’d inherited and forged into an ocean-spanning empire.

 His new private plane sat fueled and waiting on the tarmac. Dragan gave orders for a worker to put Miss Randall’s luggage—one large suitcase and two smaller ones—in the cargo bay behind the seats. He could tell from the way the man lifted them that they were heavy. The lady must’ve brought enough clothes, shoes and makeup for a long stay in Anchorage. He could only hope she wouldn’t need them—that they’d be able to come to a quick, amicable agreement.

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