Bedding the Secret Heiress(2)By: Emilie Rose
“Thanks.” Lauren pushed open the heavy six-panel door of what she’d come to call the throne room. Her half brother sat behind his football field–size desk in his massive leather chair looking as arrogant and unwelcoming as ever. “You called?”
Darn straight he had. He’d interrupted her motorcycle ride along Knoxville’s back roads. He couldn’t know how much she’d been enjoying blowing away her tension by cruising along the curvy, hilly terrain after a lifetime of Daytona’s flat, straight streets. She’d be damned if she’d let him know he’d ruined her day.
His upper lip hitched in disapproval as he took in her riding gear.
The back of Lauren’s neck pricked. She turned quickly to her right. A raven-haired thirtysomething man rose from the visitor chair. Alert dark eyes lasered into hers before his gaze taxied over her black leather jacket, pants, boots and back to the helmet hanging from her left hand. He had a power and charisma thing going that she would have found attractive in other circumstances.
While he assessed her, she cataloged his above-average height, his wide shoulders and a don’t-mess-with-me stubborn jaw. From the perfect fit of his black suit she guessed he was an HAMC customer. And if he was here for her, then he was probably also an arrogant jackass no matter how handsome he might be. Big brother had yet to assign her any other kind of client.
Taking the initiative, she offered her hand. “I’m Lauren Lynch. And you are…?”
“Gage Faulkner.” His hand engulfed hers in a firm, warm grip that made it difficult to inhale. She wondered how he’d managed to squish the air from her lungs with a handshake and how to abort that little trick. She blinked and gently tugged her arm, but he didn’t release her.
There was no welcome in his expression as he looked beyond her shoulder to her half brother. “She looks too young to be a commercial pilot.”
“You know I’d never set you up with someone who wasn’t qualified,” Trent replied.
Irked at being talked about as if she wasn’t there, Lauren gave her wrist a quick twist and hard yank, breaking Faulkner’s hold the way she’d been taught by an airport security guard she’d once dated. “I’m twenty-five. I’ve been licensed since my sixteenth birthday, and I’ve logged more than ten thousand hours.”
Faulkner’s cool gaze found hers again, and she noted flecks of gold in the brown of his irises. A tight smile twitched his lips. Nice lips. Kissable lips.
The warning flashed in her brain like airfield lamps, shutting down that runway. Getting involved with a client was grounds for firing. Was Trent setting her up with a gorgeous guy to take her down? She wouldn’t put it past him since all his other strategies had failed.
She cut her brother a suspicious look. Did he think she couldn’t resist an attractive face? Knucklehead didn’t know she’d been fending off men since puberty. Not that she was beautiful or anything, but she wasn’t ugly, and the man-to-woman ratio at small airports left a lot of men lonely and looking. She’d had her father and Uncle Leo as growling watchdogs, but they hadn’t always been around. She’d learned a few lessons the hard way.
Trent hit her with his usual joy-killing glare. “Gage, please excuse Lauren’s attire. I assure you HAMC has a dress code.”
Her spine snapped erect. “It’s my day off. I wasn’t sitting at home in my uniform waiting for your call. When you said urgent I came straight in instead of making you cool your jets while I went home to change.”
Faulkner choked a noise that sounded a lot like a laugh. She shot him a warning look. He wiped his jaw, hiding his mouth, but his eyes glimmered with amusement. For some reason that irritated Lauren even more. Their family feud was none of his business.
“Sit down, Lauren.” Trent’s superior tone set her teeth on edge. One of these days someone was going to knock the landing gear out from under his ego. She hoped she’d be around to witness him biting the asphalt. Unlikely she’d have the pleasure since she planned to vacate Knoxville and abandon her polar bear relatives as soon as she got what she needed from her mother.
Lauren sat in the guest chair beside Faulkner’s. A subtle but pleasant trace of his spicy cologne teased her nose. She focused on her brother, the arrogant butthead in charge. “What’s so urgent it couldn’t wait until I clock in tomorrow?”
“Gage needs a pilot. You’re it.”
That was her job, the job of any HAMC pilot, for that matter. So why did that telling itch crawling up her neck warn her that this wasn’t a regular assignment?