After dumping her boyfriend, Nicole Franklin jumps on a plane and heads to Europe. Sure, money and a job would have been nice to line up first. Even a visa, for that matter. So now she has to play tour guide at an Outlander experience for the most obnoxious man on the planet. Until she stumbles into the wrong bed in the middle of the night and wakes up in Harrison's arms. Now his family thinks they're engaged, and the entire village is betting on how long before she'll be running for the hills.
Harrison Troy has a reputation in the town for burning through assistants. And the bubbly new one he's just hired is likely no different. But his family quickly has them "engaged." He should be upset, but she's the perfect buffer for his interfering family. She says she doesn't need another man in her life--even if he comes with a castle--and that's fine with him. So why can't he stop thinking about the woman who is charming everyone in the town, and maybe even him?
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
Harrison Troy stood staring down at the so-called seats on the plane. He'd had marginal hopes that he could at least fly in some comfort. However, this particular plane didn't have the new upgraded first-class pods that most airlines had. Instead, they had the larger seats — leather and fully reclining perhaps, but still side by side with one another. The last thing he wanted was to be saddled with a talkative seatmate all the way across the Atlantic. Or any kind of seatmate, really. What he wanted was to fly on his own private plane with its fully stocked bedroom from New York to London.
Unfortunately, his plane was having engine trouble. And, being summer and prime playtime, none of his friends' planes were available to borrow. The plane he currently stood in was the only one that would be leaving for London that day. So unless he wanted to completely derail all of his plans and give his family even more reason to act out, he was going to have to sit down, shut up, and deal with the flight as best he could. Kudos to him for being a big boy.
"Can I help you with anything, sir?" the flight attendant asked.
"No, thank you," Harrison said, snapping out of his funk long enough to take his seat.
He laid his head back with a sigh. At least the actual chair was comfortable, he'd give it that. Maybe he'd get lucky and the seat beside him would remain empty so he could just sleep the whole way there.
He held on to that hope for all of three minutes before a bouncing brunette with a high ponytail and dark-rimmed glasses perched on her nose flounced onto the plane. She handed the flight attendant her ticket and Harrison's dream of a peaceful flight went right out the window when the attendant pointed toward him. The brunette gave him a smile, thanked the attendant, and dragged her overstuffed carry-on toward him.
"Looks like we'll be seatmates," she said, her cheerfulness setting his teeth on edge.
Normally, he would have appreciated her a whole lot more. He enjoyed being around fun, happy people, as evidenced by his group of best friends. One, at least, of whom was a consummate jokester. And it would take a blind man to miss her appeal. She was beautiful in an understated librarian kind of way. But that smile of hers lit up the whole plane. He wasn't the only one staring.
When he realized what he was doing, he dropped his attention back to his phone. More than a few men, and a couple women, cast envious glances in his direction. But at that particular moment he wanted nothing more than to be left alone. He was in an overcrowded, overheated plane instead of his cushy private jet, on his way to spend two months with his family, which would probably spark another five years' worth of therapy; and he really hated to fly.
The woman opened the overhead compartment and started trying to shove her massive case into it. After a minute or two of struggling, he finally spoke up.
"That's not going to fit in there. You'll need to check it."
"I'll get it in. I've shoved in bigger ones than this." She stopped, her face going blank for a second, probably realizing what she'd just said.
"Ha!" she laughed. "That sounded dirty, didn't it? Sorry. My mind seems to wander into the gutter of its own accord."
He ignored that, mostly because he didn't want to admit his own mind had gone straight to the gutter with her comment. "It is clearly too big."
She grinned again and opened her mouth but he held up a finger. "Don't say it."
She rolled her eyes. "Fine, but the fact that you said that lets me know you were thinking it, too."
She went back to shoving at her case, and he looked down to try and control the sudden urge to smile. Cheeky little thing. Completely inappropriate. Of all the people he had to get stuck with ...
He sighed. "Just check the bag."
She ignored him and gave it a final shove. It popped into the compartment, and her momentum continued to carry her forward, nearly toppling her into his lap. His reflexes kicked in, and he put his hands up, both to stop her fall and to block her from crushing a few of his more tender bits. Unfortunately, her angle of trajectory was such that her breasts literally fell right into his hands.
She glanced down at his hands, back up to his eyes. Back down again.
He sucked in a breath, mortified that it had taken that long to register that he shouldn't be to second base with a woman whose name he didn't even know, and yanked his hands back. Which solved the whole accidental boob graze thing, but knocked her off kilter the rest of the way, leaving her to sprawl in his lap.
"Sorry," she said with a grin. She pushed her glasses back on her nose and jumped back up. "Told you it would fit."
He resisted the urge to point out that it only fit because she had nearly broken the plane to force it in, but that was really more conversation than he wanted to have with her, so he kept it to himself.
She flopped into her seat and held out her hand. "Nicole Franklin. My friends call me Nic."
Centuries of well-bred manners had him reacting before he even thought about it. He took her hand, noticing the soft warmth behind her firm handshake.
"Nicole," he said with a nod. He would not call her such an obviously unsuitable nickname. Nikki, maybe. Not that they would be on nickname terms anytime soon. "Harrison."
"Do your friends call you Harry?"
"Not to my face."
His lips twitched. The woman was insufferable. "Not to my face."
She shrugged. "Too bad. You look like a Harry."
He had no response for that so he just kept silent.
The stream of passengers getting onto the plane had slowed and the flight attendants were walking around making their last checks of the compartments. Nicole's eyes kept straying to the door. And when a last-minute passenger barreled his way onto the plane she sat forward with a slight gasp before sitting back with a disappointed sigh.
"Waiting for someone?" he asked.
She shook her head. "Not really. I thought ..." She leaned toward him and tucked her feet under her on the chair like she was lounging at home. "Okay, so here's the deal. My boyfriend and I broke up a couple months ago. We've been together a while, but it wasn't going anywhere, you know? And I got tired of him making all these promises that he was never keeping. Like this trip. He's been promising to take me to Europe since the day I met him, but he wouldn't ever make any actual plan. And then finally, one day, I'm sitting there thinking, life is too short to not go for what you want, right?"
Harrison wondered if she expected a response. But apparently, it was just a rhetorical question mixed in with the floodgate that he had inadvertently opened because she kept right on going without pausing long enough for him to speak.
"So I went to him and said, 'we always say we're going to go, and now is the time to be doing this kind of stuff. We're young, we have no kids, nothing to stop us. So let's go.' I mean seize the day, and all that, right? He didn't see it that way. He said he couldn't take time off from his job. But it's not like his job is even all that important. He's an accountant. In a firm with fifty other accountants. I'm sure somebody could have covered him for a week. I work at the same firm. I probably could have gotten time off."
She took a breath. "Anyhow, that's when I decided we wanted different things out of life. I mean I loved him, but I don't think I was ever really in love with him. You know what I mean? I wasn't even that upset to walk away and I should have been if I'd really loved him. Right?"
Harrison thought about trying to interrupt her, both amused and horrified by the entire life story that flowed from her. He didn't know his own mother as well as he knew her and he had been sitting next to her for all of five minutes. An entire transatlantic plane ride was going to kill him. However, he didn't think interrupting was a possibility as she was still rambling on about the merits of true love and how she hadn't had it.
"And everybody should have that, don't you think?"
He opened his mouth to speak but she continued on.
"Anyway, I figured if I really wanted to go to Europe, then I should go. Why sit around waiting for some guy to take me? And not just for a visit. Why work at a job I'm miserable at, living in a city I hate, saving money for a future I don't know I'll even have, making plans that might not ever happen? I've always wanted to live in Europe. I'm young, childfree. No time like the present, right? So I quit my job, cashed in my 401k, and here I am. And I'm never going back. I already feel so free."
He stared at her for a moment waiting to see if she had anything else to say before he dared try to speak. But she seemed to have come to the end of her diatribe and sat waiting patiently for a response.
"What does any of that have to do with you waiting for someone?"
"I'd asked if you were waiting for someone."
"Oh, right. Well, for a second there I thought maybe he changed his mind. That he'd come rushing onto the plane to beg my forgiveness and pledge his undying love and ask me to take him back, and that he wanted to whisk me away to Europe and give me my dream life. You know, like in all those movies."
"Sorry, don't think I've seen any movies like that."
"Really?" She blinked up at him. "Then you're definitely not seeing the right kind of movies. There's nothing like a good romantic comedy. Loves, laughs, and a happily ever after. Can't beat it."
"I'll have to take your word for it."
She paused long enough to take a few good breaths, and Harrison knew he was courting disaster to ask this, but his curiosity got the better of him. "Are you disappointed that he didn't come bursting onto the plane?"
"No." She shook her head. "I mean, don't get me wrong, it would have been pretty cool. But mostly I think it would have been kind of awkward. Like I said, I cared about him, but I was never in love with him. Not that it wouldn't be nice to have someone to traipse around Europe with. I've never traveled by myself. The idea is a little bit scary. I don't have any plans, and don't have much money left since I cleared out my bank account to buy this first-class ticket. But I figured if I'm going to do something, I should do it right. I'm only flying one way, so might as well fly in comfort and all that."
She had no idea what true comfort was if she thought this pile of junk was comfortable.
The flight attendants had finished seating everyone and were going through their pre-flight check while the plane pushed away from the gate. Harrison grabbed his briefcase from under the chair and rummaged through it.
"English?" she asked.
"Yes, thank you for pointing that out. I might not have realized otherwise."
She stared at him, and he bit back a curse. He knew he was being unforgivably rude, but the plane was almost to the runway and he couldn't find his Xanax. Had he been on his own plane he would have had a fully stocked medicine cabinet. He could have popped a few pills, crawled into bed, and woken up in London. Instead, he had to sit in the massive metal death trap crammed to the gills with people next to a chatterbox — hot though she was — who probably had enough luggage in the hold to tank the whole thing. If they made it to London in one piece, it would be a miracle.
The plane taxied to the end of the runway, and the engines revved up. He shoved his case back under the seat and gripped the armrests.
"Hey, are you okay?"
"Fine," he said through gritted teeth. The engine noise reached almost screeching level. "Bollocks," he muttered.
"Why don't I believe you?"
He didn't bother to answer her.
"Shhh," he muttered.
He closed his eyes and tried to conjure up an image, any image, that would take his mind off the plane revving up. The first image to hit his mind was the irritatingly perky woman next to him climbing into his lap and doing unspeakable things to him. So wrong. His only excuse was that she was the last person he'd laid eyes on, and with her chattering away next to him, she was hard to ignore. He fought to think of something else, but failed. He'd feel bad about it later. Right then he was enjoying what imaginary her was doing to him.
"Harrison," she said again.
Ignore, ignore, ignore.
"Yo! Harry," she said, loud enough that it startled him.
He turned to her and she leaned in, her eyes roving over his face until they focused on his lips. She bit her own and let out a little breath that had the blood rushing south so quickly he had to resist the urge to cover his lap with his notebook like he'd done back in his early teen years.
"Ever make out with a total stranger, Harry?" she asked in a low, sultry voice that had him imagining all sorts of new things he'd like to do.
"Not lately, no."
Those full lips of hers turned up, and she leaned in even more, her fingers winding into his tie. "You should try it sometime. It's extremely liberating. Not to mention just flat-out hot."
She gave it a little tug and he obliged by moving closer. He had no idea why. This was beyond inappropriate, but she was right there. Acting out what he'd just been fantasizing about like some sort of magic genie in a bottle who'd been created to bring his every wish to life.
Her lips parted in invitation. The vanilla scent of her tantalized him.
Her eyes locked with his again. "I'm available for your kissing pleasure if you were so inclined."
Her lips were only a breath away from his now.
He felt like he was being hurtled through space ... though whether that was her or the plane screaming down the runway, he wasn't sure.
Oh God. The plane ...
"Harry," she whispered. He refocused on her. "Kiss me."
His head swam. He wasn't sure if it was in arousal or terror, but if he had to choose, he was going to go for arousal.
He cupped the back of her neck. "Don't call me Harry." Then he yanked her to him and crushed her mouth to his.
Their lips met just as the force of the plane taking off slammed him back in his seat. His heart pounded so hard it definitely caused some internal bruising. Still impossible to tell if it was due to his imminent demise in a fiery ball of death or the incredibly attractive woman who had him pinned to his seat while her tongue explored every inch of his mouth. Though at this point, he was willing to bet it was the woman, because holy fuck.
He had a million questions, but his body shut them all down so it could focus on the main attraction. Her hands gripped his short hair, and her arms wrapped around his neck as best she could while being belted into her own seat. Bloody hell. No one had ever, ever kissed him the way she was kissing him. Like she was throwing her whole body, heart, and soul into it even though she was kissing a complete stranger.
His head buzzed, and the heat she was generating rapidly wiped out his awareness of anything else going on around him. His fingers tangled in her hair and drew her in closer, giving in to the total madness.
The seat belts buzzer dinged, allowing passengers to get up and move around the cabin again. Nicole pulled back from him with a big smile about the same time that a flash from a cell phone went off from the next aisle.
"There you go," she said, sitting back in her own seat.
Harrison frowned at her, his head spinning from the sudden downshift.
She grinned again. "Made it all the way through a takeoff without needing a Xanax. You let me know if you need help with the landing."CHAPTER 2
Harrison glared first at the person who snapped his picture and then at Nicole. Well, that wasn't the reaction she expected. Even from a stodgy Brit.
"Why did you do that?" he asked.
Her smile faded, and her forehead creased in a frown. "You were afraid of the takeoff. Didn't have your pills. I thought I'd take your mind off of it. Seems like it worked pretty well, too."
A little better than she'd planned. She very nearly forgot why she'd been kissing him in the first place, and her body still tingled all over.
"I was not afraid."
She raised an eyebrow at him, and he scowled. Good grief. "Oh stop glaring at me. Are you mad because we kissed or because we stopped?" "That was ... inappropriate."
"Well, you didn't have to say yes when I asked." His forehead crinkled again, and she sighed. "Yeah, I'd kind of figured you for a prude, but let's not go overboard with it." She sat back and folded her arms.
His eyes widened. "Did you just call me a prude?"
"Um, yeah. Kissing me didn't seem to bother you when your tongue was halfway down my throat."(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Scotland or Bust"
Copyright © 2018 Kira Archer.
Excerpted by permission of Entangled Publishing, LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.