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Kara Spencer paid the cabdriver, grabbed her suitcase and carry-on, then raced toward the terminal doors. Wet snow clung to her hair, and her cheeks burned with the cold. The wheels of her luggage struggled over the uneven packed snow coating the concrete.
She dodged into the large revolving door, then shot out the other side toward the ticket counter. Damn, a line. Her flight was supposed to leave in—she hazarded a glance at her watch as she trotted toward the line’s end—fifteen minutes. And after getting through this line, she still had to get past security, then walk all the way to the departure gate, which with her luck would be at the other end of the airport!
She stopped behind two men, each with only one small case. As she caught her breath, she glanced at the sign showing departures and arrivals. Her gaze scanned down the destinations, looking for flight 2787 to Cleveland, where she had to change planes for Indianapolis. DELAYED. The new departure time was 5:50 P.M. She sucked in a breath of relief.
The men in front of her moved forward and she shifted forward, too. If she actually managed to catch this plane, it would be the first good thing that had happened to her today. Actually, this week.
Kara had been looking forward to this conference for weeks and then on Tuesday, Jess, her editor, had suggested that she arrange an interview with some author who would be speaking at the conference. A Tantra expert. One of those guys who believed in spiritual sex. Kara rolled her eyes at the thought. As if people needed special training to enjoy sex. People had been procreating since the dawn of time. It was a physical act that came naturally and was naturally pleasurable—just as she always told readers of her sex column.
The line moved forward steadily and now it was her turn to approach the next available ticket agent.
“May I help you?”
Kara dragged her bags toward the smiling young man standing behind the counter.
“Do you think I’ll make it?” she asked as she handed him her travel documents.
He glanced at her flight number and typed some things on his keyboard, then watched his monitor. He nodded.
“No problem.” He attached a destination tag to her suitcase, then handed back her ticket. “After you go through security, keep going straight, then follow the signs to your gate.”
She took the ticket, then grabbed her carry-on and hurried after the other travelers heading toward security.
As she stood in line, her stomach clenched as she kept playing through the Tuesday meeting with Jess. Kara’s column was all about helping women embrace their sexuality and enjoy every moment of it. Sex was good, and no self-proclaimed sexual expert who lectured people on how one must aspire to a higher level of sexual awareness was going to convince her otherwise. Yet her editor had made it a requirement of going to the conference that she interview this guy. Was she trying to nudge Kara in a different direction?
Damn it. Did Jess think Kara’s column was getting stale?
J.M.’s cell phone rang. He tugged it from his pocket and flipped it open.
“Hi. I’m afraid I’m not going to make it,” Grace said.
“To the conference or the flight?” J.M. asked.
“The flight. I had a patient come in late. The weather slowed everyone down today. She spent two hours on the bus getting to the office, so I didn’t have the heart to turn her away.”
Grace was a holistic healer, and her patients’ welfare was very important to her. She often stayed late in the office, and even took calls at home from some of her longtime patients.
He glanced at the departure sign again.
“The way things are going here, you could probably still make it if you tried.”
“I know the flight’s been delayed—I checked already—but it would be really stressful trying to rush there, especially with the weather and the traffic. Accidents are piling up on the highway. Don’t worry,” she continued, “I’ll definitely make the conference. I’ve already arranged a flight for tomorrow.”
“Okay. I guess you’ll just spend a cozy evening in front of the fire to night.”
“Actually, I thought I’d have a quiet dinner with Hanna and help her with the baby’s quilt.”
“I’m sure she’ll love that.”
Hanna was Grace’s sister—and the woman J.M. had been intimately involved with until about two weeks ago. He’d been in an open relationship with Hanna, who maintained a relationship with another man, Grey, the entire time. They all knew that she and Grey were the core of the relationship, with J.M. a third. While he thought the relationship would be enough for him, he eventually came to realize he needed more.
Now that Hanna and Grey were adopting a baby, J.M. knew it was time to move on.
“So how are you doing?” Grace asked. “Have you been doing those affirmations and the energy work we discussed at the weekend workshop?”
J.M. had taken Grace’s weekend workshop, which helped people determine the important goals in their lives and how to achieve them. She’d guided the attendees through exercises to overcome the blocks preventing them from having what they wanted. This involved prioritizing goals to determine which ones really matter, learning techniques to change old patterns of behavior, and visualizing goals in order to turn them into reality, among other things.
“Yes, I do the affirmations every morning. I’ve been meditating several times a day.”
His goal had been to bring the perfect woman into his life. Perfect for him. In the time he’d spent with Hanna and Grey, he’d come to realize how much he wanted to be in a loving relationship. One where he was the most important man in his lover’s life. J.M. wanted someone who loved him as much as Hanna loved Grey.
He’d always had women who wanted to experience sex with a Tantra master, but he’d finally figured out that’s not what he wanted. He wanted a woman who wanted him because she was attracted to J.M. the person, not because she wanted to experience a sexual expert.
A woman raced by him, the wheels of her carry-on clattering along behind her. He glanced up and . . .
Her long, glossy, dark brown hair swirled over her shoulders and cascaded down her back. Beneath her open coat he could see her tailored, trim-fitting suit, which accentuated her slim waist. She slowed, then glanced around, saw the number over the gate, and stopped. Her blue eyes flashed with life, and he could feel her lively energy crackling through him.
Sparks danced along his nerve endings and a swirl of heat spiraled through his stomach.
“Grace, you won’t believe this, but I think I’ve just found my perfect woman.”
Kara glanced around at the crowded waiting area at the gate. There were a few single seats available, but she didn’t want to sit crowded between other people, especially since the flight, which had been delayed again, wouldn’t take off for a while yet. She noticed two empty seats at the end of a row. At least she’d have room to put her bag on the floor beside her and the empty seat meant she wouldn’t be bumping elbows with someone. She walked to the end seat and set down her things, then unzipped her bag and pulled out the blue file folder with her research notes. She put on her reading glasses.
Flirting. It was a topic she was considering for an upcoming column, so she’d been reading several books and articles on the subject.
As she flipped through the handwritten pages, she felt as though she was being watched. She glanced up . . . and locked gazes with the most attractive man she had ever laid eyes on. She straightened in her chair, pulling her shoulders back.
He had a striking face with a square jaw, a strong, straight nose, and amazing espresso-colored eyes. Dark and compelling. His dark brown hair flowed in textured waves to his collar. Boy, she wouldn’t mind hooking up with a man like that.
He smiled, and she dodged her gaze to the right, pretending she’d simply been glancing around, breaking their eye contact. He returned his gaze to the book on his lap. She glanced back to her notes.
When we see someone we like, we naturally “square” our bodies. Heat suffused her cheeks as she realized that’s what she’d just done. As soon as she’d seen him, she’d automatically straightened in her chair.
The notes explained that a person instinctively tries to look taller and more noticeable by pulling their shoulders back and holding their head high, often pulling in the stomach and pushing out the chest to enhance their looks.
Oh, man, she had just sent him a signal that she was interested in him. Not that he necessarily knew how to read the signal. Which was good because she didn’t pick men up at airports . . . or anywhere else.
She glanced at the man again and her insides quivered. He had broad shoulders and the hint of hard, taut muscles under his shirt. Clearly, she was attracted to him, and her body had known it instantly . . . and acted on it. He glanced her way again and smiled at her. Her gaze darted back to her notes.
This would be a perfect opportunity to do a little hands-on research, so to speak. She had his attention and he showed signs of being interested. She could put a few of the flirting techniques into action. And what was the harm? They were both here because they were about to get on an airplane. He was seated at the next gate, so it’s not like they were on the same flight. Soon enough, they’d board their planes and never see each other again.
Okay, so she’d give him some signals and see what happened. She glanced at him again and crossed her legs at the thigh, the most classic of a woman’s flirting techniques. So clichéd it was potent, one book had said.
After a moment, his gaze slid up from his book and his brown eyes focused on her. She placed her hand on her neck and massaged, which her notes mentioned would lift her breasts and expose her underarm, which apparently had very sexy undertones . . . something about pheromones. She didn’t know about that, but it made her feel very sexy.
While maintaining eye contact, he leaned back in his chair, put down his book, and watched her, a half smile curling his lips. Encouraged by his total attention, she removed her reading glasses and brushed her hand through her hair, then tossed it over her shoulder. Then she placed the arm of her glasses between her lips. His gaze danced down her body, sending hormones fluttering through her. He paused on her breasts and her nipples swelled. According to the books, he would have scanned her body the second he’d seen her, but now he was letting her see him do it.
His gaze returned to her face, settling on her lips. Slowly, it returned to her eyes and he smiled. A smile that took her breath away. Not an I’ve-been-watching-you smile, but an I-could-make-you-faint-with-pleasure smile. As her pulse raced and her breathing accelerated, she was quite sure he could.
He leaned forward, fixing her with a steady stare. Oh, God, was he going to come over here? Suddenly, the empty seat beside her felt like an invitation. Her heart thundered in her chest. What would she do if he stood up and walked over here?
An announcement over the loudspeaker caught her attention. They were about to start boarding her flight. Thank God. An excuse to escape. She glanced back to him and . . . he stood up. Her heart rate accelerated. She deposited her glasses into their case and swept her notes into the folder, then put the folder and glasses into her carry-on, ready to leap to her feet and head for the gate. As she zipped the suitcase, she glanced back to him and . . . he had picked up his bag. He winked at her, then turned and walked toward the gate.
Oh, God. They were on the same flight.
J.M. smiled as he walked along the tunnel leading to the plane. The lovely dark-haired woman had definitely been flirting with him, but he could tell it hadn’t been natural for her. If he hadn’t already figured that out, her panicked expression when he stood up had been a dead giveaway.
His smile broadened. Since she’d begun packing up her things after the boarding announcement, he was sure she was on the same flight.
Before the flight was over, he intended to meet her.
Excerpted from Bliss by Opal Carew.
Copyright © 2010 by Elizabeth Batten-Carew.
Published in 2010 by St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. This work is protected under copyright laws and reproduction is strictly prohibited. Permission to reproduce the material in any manner or medium must be secured from the Publisher.