A hot shade of lipstick calls for a hot, sexy guy
Makeup artist Chloe Masterson has a look for every occasion. Flying home for your sister's wedding and family torture? Easy. Bring out the sarcastic wit and black eyeliner. Bonusthe look catches the eye of the corporate hottie sitting beside her on the plane. Turns out Ben has the exact same last name, and everyone assumes they're married.
When they get stuck in a hotel room together, Chloe decides to accept the gift the Fates have bestowed upon her. (Tip: a bold lip color does wonders for seduction.) But as their lies begin to snowball, Chloe and Ben find it harder and harder to distinguish between what's real and what's all just smoky eyes and mirrors.
|Product dimensions:||4.20(w) x 6.50(h) x 0.70(d)|
About the Author
Taryn Leigh Taylor likes dinosaurs, bridges and space, both personal and of the final-frontier variety. She shamelessly indulges in cliches, most notably her Starbucks addiction, her shoe hoard and her penchant for falling in lust with fictional men with great abs. She also really loves books, which is what sent her down the crazy path of writing one in the first place. For more on Taryn, check out tarynleightaylor.com, facebook.com/tarynltaylor1 and twitter.com/tarynltaylor.
Read an Excerpt
"Do you want me to kick the crap out of that seat back and tray table for you?"
Chloe Masterson looked over at Window Guy, the man that the Goddess of Economy Airline Seating had seen fit to plaster against her right side. The upper-arm contact had started in Seattle and lasted until Chicago. Thanks to bad weather, their scheduled forty-five-minute layover in the Windy City was now pushing two hours, and had featured a long wait in the plane deicing line and then a "that didn't sound good" thunk. The plane was now sitting motionless on a vast expanse of snowy tarmac and they'd officially hit the six-hour mark of their touching-a-stranger marathon fifteen minutes ago.
It wasn't his fault, really. Window Guy had broad shoulders, so the contact was incidental and, in a weird way, kind of comforting. She liked that the sleeve of his gray wool suit was soft and warm against her skin.
And okay, maybe she was leaning against him a little more than was .strictly necessary. Not because he smelled of spicy soap and warm manwhich was a pretty wicked combinationbut because he smelled better than the guy to her left. The gag-inducing aroma of stale sweat, onions and something else she couldn't quite place but preferred to leave a mystery had worn her down about twenty minutes after boarding. That's when Chloe had decided that the comfort of her left elbow wasn't worth permanent olfactory damage and had conceded the battle of the joint armrest to him.
Damn middle seat.
Despite their close confines, she and Window Guy hadn't exchanged more than the official "that's-my-seat" gesture of air travelers the world over before he'd awkwardly shuffled past her to sit down. After that, he'd pulled his laptop out and tapped away at the keys like a good little company automaton while she'd worked her way through a few chapters of a gently-used Stephen King novel. She'd been so engrossed in her book, she hadn't noticed that at some point he'd put the laptop away and moved on to reading the offerings from the seat pocket in front of him.
And that wasn't all she hadn't noticed.
Now that she was actually looking at him, his breach of their companionable silence was even more surprising. Because Window Guy was kind of sexy. Bedroom eyes the color of whiskey and twice as potent. A strong jaw and a straight nose. His brown hair was short enough to be business-appropriate, but long enough to get mussed up under the right circumstances. And that mouth! As she took her fill of him, it pulled slightly up at the right corner in an easy smirk that was hot as hell. He was the clean-cut kind of handsome that came with no visible neck tattoos and an expertly-knotted blue silk tie that bespoke gainful employment.
Men like him didn't talk to women like her. He was way too corporate. And she was not.
At her question, he raised his chin at the worn gray vinyl seat back in front of her. "You've been giving that chair dirty looks for the last twenty minutes, and then you sighed," he explained.
Window Guy nodded. "The sigh was pretty loud, actually. It disturbed my reading."
"Oh. Well. I'm sorry that my sigh threw off your concentration." Chloe sent a meaningful glance toward the airline safety pamphlet on his lap.
"The damage is done." He picked up the tri-fold piece of card stock. "It was just getting good, too. After the cabin depressurized, the plane crashed and the passengers were proceeding in an orderly fashion for their lives!"
Huh. She hadn't expected funny. Hot guys rarely had to develop such plebeian talents. "Sounds intense."
"You're telling me. I was really enjoying it until the author got all kinky and made the heroine take off her high heels before she used the inflatable slide. I think he might be a foot fetishist." He shoved the pamphlet back in the seat pocket in front of him before he met her gaze with a teasing glint in his amber eyes. "Wow. Spoiler alert. I hope I didn't give too much away."
"No, I appreciate the recommendation. I'll be sure to tell my book club about it."
His grin was practiced, but appealing. "I'm Ben."
Uh-oh. Time to nip this in the bud. "Well, Ben. You're a very handsome guy, and I appreciate the effort, because I'm sure that maneuvering a sober pickup with only a safety card, an in-flight magazine, and an airsickness bag as props is a challenge that few men could meet. But don't waste all your sweet, panty-dropping material on me. Save some of that A-game for Stewardess Barbie over there."
They both looked at the perky blonde flight attendant who'd been making doe eyes at Ben since he'd boarded. Right on cue, she twirled her ponytail and glanced away coyly.
Ben shifted, trying to arrange his large frame more comfortably in the tiny chaira futile cause. "Let's get one thing straight here, if this had been a pickup, we'd already be" he eyed his Rolexso cliché "three minutes into you becoming an airplane-bathroom sex convert. Let the record show that we are both still safely buckled into our designated seats, ipso facto, I clearly wasn't flirting with you."
Ignoring the frisson down her spinelegal jargon always had that effect on herChloe raised a skeptical eyebrow.
"Okay, I was kinda flirting. But, it was completely recreational. Minor league stuff."
"Oh, please! Foot fetish references? That is gateway flirting. If I hadn't called you out, you'd have escalated to the hard stuffasking me my astrological sign and telling me how beautiful my eyes are."
He laughed, and Chloe ignored the flare of pride at having elicited the sexy, rumbling sound. Not that she was flirting, either, mind you.
"Well, it's hardly my fault that your eyes really are beautiful. Emerald green, with golden flecks that sparkle when you roll them like that because you think I'm being cheesy."
"Oh. Well that's probably because you are being cheesy. At least the safety pamphlet pickup was original."
"Original enough to get your name?"
"Chloe," she relented.
"Nice to meet you, Chloe." He offered his hand again, and this time she accepted it.
His palm was wide and his fingers were long. He didn't molest her hand; it was just an acceptable, firm shake between new acquaintances. Even so, a phantom warmth lingered after he'd relinquished his grip, the kind that buzzed up her arm and sort of made her wish he had molested her hand, at least a little. Chloe rubbed her tingling palm against the thigh of her jeans.
His gaze held steady on hers and his focus was flattering, almost seductive. If you went for that whole slick-successful-businessman-in-a-five-thousand-dollar-suit look. Which, she reminded herself, she didn't. Not anymore.
For the most part, her tiny diamond nose stud and purple highlights were enough to warn corporate wunderkinds that they had nothing in common with her.
But then she remembered that she no longer had purple highlights. She'd dyed her piecey, deconstructed bob for her sister's wedding. Right now it was a respectable, boring, normal shade of mahogany that skimmed her jaw before angling a bit lower in the front. The dye job was her attempt at a peace offering to her family. She just hoped it would be enough.
" so if you look at it that way, cheese could be considered a high form of flattery, you know?"
Ben's voice snapped her out of a flashback of the most recent guilt-laden, middle-name-invoking phone call with her mother.
"What? Sorry. I wasn't listening."
Ben's grin was endearingly self-deprecating. "Tough crowd."
"It's not you." Chloe shoved her offensively monotone hair behind her ears. "Going back to Buffalo has put me in a rotten mood."
"That doesn't seem fair. What's Buffalo ever done to you?"
The derisive laugh slipped out before Chloe could stop it. "Now there's a loaded question."
Ben cocked a questioning eyebrow.
"I'm going to see my family." She didn't add "for the first time in four years," because that was the scary part, the part that turned her stomach into a churning pit of nerves and dread. "My little sister's getting m-married," she said, forcing the word out. Man, was it hot in here? She reached up and twisted the overhead air vent open.
"Oh! Well, that should be " Ben paused in a way that let Chloe know she hadn't managed to hide her true feelings on the matter. He corrected midcourse, "no fun at all. Rings are like tiny shackles. Screw love. That's what I say."
It was a sweet attempt at a save, but Chloe was too far down the well to grab the rope.
"Weddings " Suck. Wreck relationships. Ruin lives. She flipped through her mental thesaurus before going with, "aren't really my thing." She tugged at the front of her black T-shirt, but couldn't quite shake the sudden sensation of a phantom Swarovski-crystalencrusted, sweetheart-necklined noose tightening around her rib cage.
Oblivious to her cold sweat and racing heart, Ben continued to aim for small talk. "It's a good thing you decided to fly in to Buffalo a few days early. This storm is really wreaking havoc on our arrival time."
Chloe shook her head. "I'm not early. She's getting married tomorrow."
Instead of the nauseating cheer that announcement had been garnering since her sister had started flashing her showy, four-carat diamond engagement ring around social media, Ben had the decency to look puzzled. Chloe appreciated that.
"Your sister's getting married on a Thursday in January?"
"You are only surprised by that fact because you've never met her," she informed him. "Anyone who knows my sister would expect nothing less from her than to inconvenience her entire network of family and friends by making them take a day off of work. Can't let a petty thing like the schedules of four hundred people interfere with her narcissistic, lifelong fantasy of having a winter wonderland-themed wedding on her birthday."
Ben nodded. "So you and your sister are close, then?" he deadpanned.
Chloe's smile caught her by surprise, but at least she could breathe again. He'd talked her down without even being aware of it. "You're a funny guy, Ben."
"It's a gift." He shrugged with faux modesty and loosened his sapphire-colored silk necktie. The hint of di-shevelment made Chloe's breath hitch, but this time it wasn't the result of a chest full of anxiety. This feeling was warmer, and a little bit tingly.
She hadn't dated a man in a suit since Patrickhadn't even looked at one. She preferred bad boys, the disreputable kind that parents didn't approve of. So why was Mr. Future Businessman of America giving her a serious case of the wobblies?
She didn't get a chance to scrutinize her odd reaction further. They both glanced up as an electronic chime sounded from the speaker above Chloe's head.
"Good evening, passengers. This is your captain speaking. Due to a mechanical issue and the impending storm, our scheduled flight has been canceled."
A collective groan filled the plane.
"Your flight crew will be handing out discount cards valid for a stay at any Value Inn location, a proud partner of Jetopia. Your boarding pass will be valid for tomorrow's rescheduled flight to Buffalo, weather permitting. If you have further questions or are unable to make the 8:00 a.m. flight, please speak with a member of your flight crew. Again, we thank you for choosing Jetopia, and we apologize for the inconvenience."
"What does he mean, tomorrow?" There was a definite note of panic in her voice, but Chloe was proud she'd managed not to shriek.
"I'm going to go out on a limb and guess he means the day after today."
"That thing I said about you being funny? I take it back."
He waved it off. "As long as handsome panty-dropper still stands."
She couldn't even appreciate the jokereality was seeping in. "I can't be stuck in Chicago. I need to get to Buffalo. Tonight" The wedding rehearsal and dinner were this evening. Her family would be expecting her.
Ben directed her gaze to the small oval window behind his head, and Chloe caught an ominous glimpse of the snow flying outside. "Better start walking then."
Chloe took a deep breath of musty cabin air tinged with eau de Aisle Guy's pits. Trapped. She glanced over as Ben liberated his iPhone from the breast pocket of his suit, thumbs flying over the screen as he, like so many other passengers, shared the details of this latest development with whoever was on the other end of the text message.
Chloe couldn't bring herself to do the same. She hadn't even arrived yet and she'd already failed to meet her family's expectations. Not an auspicious start to her big reunion tour.
With another sigh, she flopped back in her chair, glaring once again at the seat in front of her. She was stuck in Chicago. With boring hair.
And an angry clan of Mastersons ready to pounce on her for the latest example of how she was ruining the hallowed family name.
This day could not possibly get any worse.
"You're doing it again."
"Doing what?" she asked, her eyes never wavering from the cracked vinyl seat back.
"Sighing maniacally," Ben explained.
"You seem awfully intent on the emotional health of complete strangers." She slanted him a look that bordered on caustic. "You're not a shrink, are you? Because my talking to a shrink would make my mother ridiculously happy."
"And how does that make you feel?"
In a defensive maneuver, Chloe crossed her arms over her chest. "Okay, fine. You're a little funny."
Ben pumped his fist in silent victory.
"And for the record, I was thinking about how Neil Diamond has ruined my life."
He shot her a surprised glance. "Really? I was wondering what he was up to these days."
She tipped her head in Ben's direction without breaking contact with the headrest. "It's a very sad story about a crappy alarm clock, a pathological hatred of 'Sweet Caroline', and an unfortunate mix-up involving the buttons marked off and snooze!"
Ben leaned back in his own chair. "Fucking Neil Diamond," he said, and it was so understated, so unexpectedly perfect, that she laughed.
"You're pretty calm about this."
"About taking Neil Diamond's name in vain? Don't let the suit fool you. I'm surprisingly controversial."
Chloe shook her head, refusing to admit she was charmed. "Can't you just be pissed off about the flight being canceled? Like a normal person?"
His shrug was philosophical. "We're not getting to Buffalo tonight. Not worth getting worked up about if it's out of your control."
"That's very Zen of you," she said, though it wasn't a compliment.
"Fortune cookies," Ben sermonized, "are not only delicious, but full of extremely practical wisdom."
At that moment, Stewardess Barbie appeared beside Aisle Guy and her massive breasts exerted a gravitational pull on the eyes of the entire row, Chloe's included.
How did anything that top-heavy stay upright?
The flight attendant glanced down at her clipboard and Chloe couldn't help but notice that her glittery pink eye shadow was creased and caking.
Chloe fought the urge to tell her about the new eye shadow primer that Titanium Beauty had just come out with. It was oil-free and did an incredible job of keeping shadow in its place all day. And that glitter was best saved for evening events because mattes and neutral shimmers worked best in daylight or fluorescent light. Also that with her skin tone, peachier shades would be much more flattering than pinks
Aisle Guy's gaze was stuck in the general vicinity of their messenger's more. pneumatic assets. Rolling her eyes at the predictability of testosterone, Chloe held her breath as he raised his arm.
Barbie sped through the "sorry for the inconvenience" script in a bored monotone before flicking her gaze to more promising territory. "And that must make you Benjamin."
At least Ben had enough class to meet her eyes when he confirmed the obvious. "It's just Ben."
"Well, Just Ben, here's your Value Inn voucher."
Ben reached past her to accept the glossy slip of paper and Chloe caught the clean, masculine scent of him.
"It's good for fifteen percent off. There's a map on the back detailing the closest locations to the airport. Someone will be at the gate to direct you to the taxi and shuttle stands, but if you need any help finding your way or, you know, with anything, just say the word. I'd be more than happy to help you."
The breathy offer was very Marilyn Monroe.
"Jetopia apologizes for the delay, but we hope you'll give us the chance to make it up to you. We'd love to have you fly with us again." After a long moment, she tore her gaze away from Ben and focused on Chloe.
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Cute and honest feelings exposed between the characters