Managed:a VIP novel(2)By: Kristen Callihan
The heat of his glare is tangible just before he turns away.
Slapping my menu down, I decide, Fuck it; I’m having some fun with this. What can they do? They’re loading the plane; my seat is secure.
I find a stick of gum in my purse and pop it in my mouth. A few chews and I have some superior gum-smacking going on. Only then do I turn his way.
And freeze mid-chew, momentarily stunned by the sight sitting next to me. Because, good God, no one has the right to be this hot and this much of a jerk. This guy is one-hundred-percent the most gorgeous man I’ve ever seen. And it’s strange because his features aren’t perfect or gentle. No, they’re bold and strong—a jaw sharp enough to cut steel, firm chin, high cheekbones, and a bold nose that’s almost too big but fits his face perfectly.
I’d expected a whey-faced, graying aristocrat, but he’s tanned, his coal back hair falling over his brow. Sculpted, pouty lips are compressed in irritation as he scowls down at the magazine in his hand.
But he just as clearly feels my stare—the fact that I’m gaping like a speared fish probably doesn’t help—and he turns to glare. I’m hit with the full force of all that masculine beauty.
His eyes are aqua blue. His thick, dark brows draw together, a storm brewing on his face. He’s about to blast me. The thought hits along with another: I’d better make this good.
“Jesus,” I blurt out, lifting my hand as if to shield my eyes. “It’s like looking into the sun.”
“What?” he snaps, those laser-bright eyes narrowing.
Oh, this will be fun.
“Just stop, will you?” I squint at him. “You’re too hot. It’s too much to take.” This is true, though I’d never have the guts to say so in normal circumstances.
“Are you quite well?” he intones, as if he thinks the opposite.
“No, you’ve nearly rendered me blind.” I flap a hand. “Do you have an off switch? Maybe put it on low?”
His nostrils flare, his skin going a shade darker. “Lovely. I’m stuck next to a mad woman.”
“Don’t tell me you’re unaware of the dazzling effect you have on the world.” I give him a look of wide-eyed wonder. At least I hope that’s what I’m doing.
He flinches when I grasp the divider between us and lean in a bit. Hell, he smells good—like expensive cologne and fine wool. “You probably have women dropping at your feet like flies.”
“At least dropped flies are silent,” he mutters, furiously flipping through his magazine. “Madam, do me the favor of refraining from speaking to me for the remainder of the flight.”
“Are you a duke? You talk like a duke.”
His head jerks as if he wants to look my way, but he manages to keep his gaze forward, his lips compressed so tightly they’re turning white at the edges. A travesty.
“Oh, or maybe a prince. I know!” I snap my fingers. “Prince Charming!”
A blast of air escapes him, as if he’s caught between a laugh and outrage but really wants to go with outrage. Then he stills. And I feel a moment’s trepidation, because he’s obviously realized I’m making fun of him. I hadn’t noticed how well-built this guy is until now.
He’s probably over six feet, his legs long and strong, encased in charcoal slacks.
Jesus, he’s wearing a sweater vest: dove gray and hugging his trim torso. He should look like an utter dork in it, but no… It only highlights the strength in his arms, those muscles stretching the limits of his white button-down shirt. Unfair.
His shoulders are so broad they make the massive first class seats look small. But he’s long and lean. I’m guessing the muscle definition under those fine and proper clothes is drool-worthy too, damn it all.
I take it all in, including the way his big hands clench. Not that I think he’ll use his strength against me. His behavior screams pompous prick, but he doesn’t seem like a bully. He never truly raised his voice with the flight attendant.
Even so, my heart beats harder as he slowly turns to face me. An evil smile twists his lush mouth.
Don’t look at it. He’ll suck you into a vortex of hot, and there will be no return.
“You found me out,” he confides in a low voice that’s warm butter over toast. “Prince Charming, at your service. Do forgive me for being short with you, madam, but I am on a mission of the utmost import.” He leans closer, his gaze darting around before returning to me. “I’m looking for my bride, you see. Alas, you are not wearing a glass slipper, so you cannot be her.”
We both glance at my bare feet and the red Chucks lying on the floor. He shakes his head. “You’ll understand that I need to keep my focus on the search.”