Bedding the Secret Heiress(10)

By: Emilie Rose

She finished putting on her coat and buttoned it up to her neck. “I’m more than happy to delay takeoff until after you’ve eaten. It’ll give me time to prepare for—”

“Join me, Lauren.”

She shook her head. “Fraternizing with clients is against HAMC rules.”

“I’ll call Trent and clear it.”

She blinked. Why had he never noticed her long lashes before? “Thank you, but I’ve already eaten.”

He didn’t believe her. “What did you have?”

She hesitated. “A sandwich from the airstrip cantina.”

“Then I’ll have the same. Keep me company.” At least that would keep her from hooking up with her mother again while he was out of sight.

A stubborn expression shut down her face. “No thank you, Mr. Faulkner. I’ll prepare the plane while you eat.”

He had the distinct impression she didn’t want to be alone with him. He had every intention of finding out why and what she had to hide.

The crunch of a shoe behind her in the misty, dark parking lot kicked Lauren’s adrenaline into high gear. She spun around, ready to gouge an assailant with her keys if necessary.

Trent stepped into the murky light of a lamppost and stopped two yards away when he saw her aggressive stance.

Lauren’s hammering pulse slowed, but her irritation rose. After a full day’s flying and dealing with Gage’s scrutiny, she was too tired for a backbiting confrontation. She needed to get home and call her mother and then her uncle. For five full seconds she debated ignoring her half brother, climbing into her truck and driving off. But she’d never been one to back down from a bully.

She lowered her keys. “You need better lighting in your parking area. If I were trigger-happy and had pepper spray, you’d be on your knees howling by now.”

Trent’s gaze went from her to her truck and back. “I’ll mention your concerns to security.”

Sure he would. Impatient, she tapped her toe. “Did you need something?”

“Lauren, if Gage wants to sit in the cockpit he can. If he asks you to eat dinner with him, do it. Do whatever he says.”

His my-word-is-law tone raised her hackles and sent a trickle of unease through her. “Exactly how far do you expect me to go to keep the customer happy?”

His head jerked back and his nostrils flared. “I’m not asking you to do anything illegal or immoral.”

“You’re asking me to violate HAMC rules. I want you to spell out your expectations—in writing. Preferably signed and notarized.”

“What? You don’t trust me, little sister?”

“Half sister.” She shouldered her flight bag. “You’ve made it clear from day one that I’m unwelcome here. I’m not handing you a blank check to write me out of the picture.”

“Would a blank check work?”

His audacity took her breath. “Could you possibly be more of a jack—”

The scrape of a shoe on asphalt drew her attention to another approaching male. Gage. Great. Two headaches. “I’ll talk to you tomorrow.”

“There’s nothing you can’t say in front of Gage. He’s like family.”

The statement only irritated her more. “Unlike me who actually is family. I admire your loyalty. To your friends at least.”

“What’s your price, Lauren?” Trent asked.

She wanted to kick the knucklehead in the kneecap, but she’d encountered and dealt with worse than him before without resorting to assault. “You can’t buy me off, big brother. You’ve had our mother for thirtysomething years. It’s my turn to spend a little time with her. Don’t worry. I’ll give her back.”

“You’ve known her all your life.”

A gurgle of disgust bubbled up her throat. She cut a look at Gage, who stood by Trent’s side. “I see your spy has debriefed.”

Gage frowned. “Lauren, our conversation wasn’t confidential.”

“Don’t waste your breath, Faulkner. I knew where your loyalties lay before we ever set foot on an airplane together.”

Trent squared his shoulders, trying to intimidate her by towering over her. Too bad it didn’t work. “If you’ve known our mother all your life, why are we only now hearing about you?”

“Because apparently our parent wanted to keep us all in the dark. She never told me about you, either.” She turned away then turned back. “Did you know my father was one of the founders of Hightower Aviation?”

The men’s breath whistled in stereo.

Trent scowled—his usual expression around her. “I’ve heard no such claim.”

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