GAMBLING ON LOVE (Travis Series)

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GAMBLING ON LOVE
By
Kimberley Reeves
This book is a work of fiction.  Names, characters, businesses, organizations, places, events are the product of the author’s imagination, or are used fictionally.  Any resemblance to actual persons, living or
dead,
is purely coincidental.
             
Copyright 2009 by Kimberley Reeves
             
All rights reserved
No part of this eBook may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanic means, including but not limited to, information storage and retrieval systems, without written permission from the author.  The only exception is by a reviewer, who may quote short excerpts in a review.
This eBook is self-published by Kimberley Reeves.  If you are interested in publishing this book, please send your request via the comment section.
Watch for more novels in the Travis Series:
Sam and Anne’s six children are adults now – will they find the same passionate love shared by their parents?
Leap of Faith:
When Abby Travis heads for a secluded cabin to work on her romance novel, she expects to find quiet and solitude. What she doesn’t expect to find is an immediate, irresistible attraction to the handsome and mysterious Jack Burton.
She
trusts
Jack
with her heart, but can she trust him with her life?
The Commissioner’s Wife:
Desperate to free herself from a loveless marriage, Bailee escapes her abusive husband to seek out the help of Nick Travis, a disturbingly handsome attorney who takes one look at her battered face and vows to do whatever it takes to protect her.
Innocence and Arrogance:
Mina Harmon is as innocent as Scott Travis is arrogant and yet there is a magnetic attraction between them that can't be denied. But Scott can't afford to lose Mina as his Personal Assistant which means she
is
strictly off limits. So why is he making up excuses to be with her every chance he gets?
Winner of the 2011 TextNovel Reader’s Choice Award.
The Little Red Skirt:
Gage Travis tries to convince himself the reason he is arresting the beautiful prostitute has nothing to do with the little red skirt she is wearing or the set of killer legs beneath. The truth is, Allie has him hot and bothered, but what can he do except slap on the handcuffs and book her?
A Place to Land:
A
plane
crash leaves
Leah
stranded in the rain forest with an injured pilot and the intensely masculine, Adam Travis. As they
wait
to be rescued, Leah and Adam are drawn together
, but
she quickly realizes
the
jungle
animals aren't nearly as dangerous as the man who has stolen her heart.
 
Chapter 1

Elizabeth Anne
Sweeney
glanced at the man sleeping next to her in disgust
.
He’d wolfed down his dinner
as if
he hadn’t eaten for days and a thin line of spicy mustard still clung to his double chin
.
Now he was mumbling in his sleep
.
It
was all she could do to keep from taking her pillow and pushing it over his face
.

Concentrating on the report she was working on was a complete impossibility; even with earphones on, she could hear his constant droning.
Nudging him with her elbow gave Beth a blessed reprieve from the nonsensical drivel, but just as she set her fingers to the keyboard and began to type, his head rolled to the side and his pudgy cheek landed on her shoulder. Her patience had reached its limits
;
this was the last straw. She lifted a finely manicured finger to the overhead call button and waited impatiently for the flight attendant to respond.

“May I help you?”
 
t
he smiling attendant whispered, apparently
hesitant
to wake the dead.

“This,” Beth pointed to the beast
next to
her, “is totally unacceptable.”
Shrugging in an attempt to dislodge his head from her shoulder proved fruitless; the man mumbled even louder
and
settled back in the same position
.
Beth gritted her teeth
.
“I’m trying to work,” she said tersely, “which I find exceedingly impossible when doughboy here keeps flopping all over me
.
I
would
like another seat, preferably with a vacant one next to it.”

The attendant shook her head
.
“I’m sorry, Miss
Sweeney
, but the plane is full
.
The only empty seat is next to Mr. Travis
.” She
nodded to the front of the plane.
 

Beth craned her neck and spotted the empty seat next to a dark
-
haired man
.
“I’ll take anything as long as I can get away from
Sleeping Beauty
here.”

The woman smiled indulgently
.
“I understand your frustration, but I can’t ask Mr. Travis to give up his seat.”

Beth’s brows drew together
.
“I’m not asking him to give up his seat; I’m asking to be moved to the empty seat next to him.”

“I’m afraid you don’t understand
.
Mr. Travis always pays for two seats so he doesn’t have to sit next to anyone
.
I wish I could help you
,
but…”

“You won’t even ask him
?”

“Mr. Travis is…difficult,” she said in a hushed tone
.
“He doesn’t like to be bothered at all during the flight.”

Beth snapped her laptop shut
.
“Well, I can’t take this any longer.

She shoved against the man again with the same useless results
.
“Listen, would it be okay if I asked Mr. Travis myself?”

“You can,” the attendant
grimaced, “but I wouldn’t advis
e it
.
Once when we were overbooked, I asked
whether
he would mind letting someone take the seat next to him
.
The way he glared at me, you’d think I committed a felony offense
.
To tell the truth, he kind of scares me.”

“Well, I don’t scare easily and I’m desperate to get this report done.

Heaving
the man’s head off her shoulder,
she
clutched
the laptop
to her chest
and
skirted around the flight attendant.

“Don’t say I didn’t warn you,” the woman shrugged, moving on
to the next demanding passenger.

Beth made her way down the narrow aisle of the airplane, a look of determination on her face
.
Mr. Travis was staring intently at his laptop when she stopped next to the empty seat
.
She could
see why he gave the attendant a case of nervous jitters
.
He was a big man, not like Mr. Pudgy back there, but broad in the shoulders with a heavily muscled chest
.
Even sitting, she could tell he had to be at least six foot three or four.
 

She opened her mouth to speak, but the sound that came out was little more than a primal grunt
.
Piercing green eyes lifted to meet hers
.
Beth stared back, idly wondering how long her wobbly legs would support her
.
Mr. Travis was quite possibly the most breathtakingly handsome man she
had
ever seen
.
His dark hair and green eyes were impressive, but the firm jaw and full
sensuous
lips made his rugged good looks downright devastating
.
Then he spoke, and her perfect ten rapidly
descended
to a five.

“Are you catching flies or does your trap always stay open?”

Beth’s mouth clamped shut
, teeth grinding as she struggled to control her temper
.
What an arrogant ass!
 

His brow arched
.
“I assume you have a reason for gawking at me?”

“Yes,” she said with a lift of her chin
.
“I have a very important report to finish
. U
nfortunately
I’m seated
next to a passenger who keeps falling all over me in his sleep
.
His mumbling is driving me insane.”

“What has that got to do with me?”
 
h
e
demanded
harshly.

“You have an empty seat next to you.”

“Yes, and I paid for that privilege
.
Now if you don’t mind, I have work of my own to do.

He turned his attention back to
the
laptop, effectively dismissing her.

Beth eyed him irritably
.
The man was
astonishingly
rude but she was desperate
.
“I’ll pay you for the seat,” she offered boldly.

Sam looked up with a deep scowl on his face
.
“I don’t want to be paid for the seat
;
I want to be left alone
.
I’m afraid you’ll just have to find someone else to bribe.”

“There is no one else to bribe
.
This is the last vacant seat.”

Sam plucked his briefcase from the floor and dropped it on the seat
.
“Now it’s occupied,” he said curtly and turned back to his laptop
.
When Beth remained rooted to the spot, he grunted impatiently
.
“Look,
miss
, I’m sorry your seating arrangements are less than desirable, but I have
work
to do and you’re interrupting me
,
so go away.”

“No, I won’t go away,” she stubbornly
refused
, ignoring the storm brewing behind those jade green eyes and rushed on
.
“There
are
four hours left on this flight and I need to finish
this
before we land
.
All I want to do is work undisturbed for a few hours
.
Believe me,”
her tone was caustic
, “I have no desire to get to know you better.”
 

The thunderous look slipped from his face as his eyes swept over her
.
Beth shifted uncomfortably, suddenly feeling like a bug under a microscope.
 

“You live in Los Angeles?”

“Santa Monica,” she answered
.
“What does that have to do with letting me sit here?”

His eyes scanned her once more
.
“You’re not a bad
-
looking woman
;
I guess you
’ll
do.”

“Excuse me?”
 

“I’ll let you sit here on one condition.”
 

Her eyes narrowed suspiciously
.
“And what would that be?”

“I need a woman to accompany me to a business dinner tonight
.
I was going to use an escort service but by the time we land, I may not be able to arrange it
.
Come to the dinner with me tonight and you can sit here.”

“You’re kidding, right
?”
Beth met his stony gaze and didn’t think the man had a humorous bone in his body
.
“How do I know you’re not some sexual deviant just trying to get me alone so you can rape and kill me?”

A smile tugged at the corner of his mouth
.
“I assure you,
miss
, you’re not my type
and would
be perfectly safe
.
Look, you need a quiet place to work and I need a dinner partner
.
It’s your decision, but I suggest you make it quickly before the offer is withdrawn.”

Beth stared at him for a moment
and
then glanced back at the pudgy man
sprawled
halfway across her seat
.
“If I don’t get this finished before we land, I’m toast anyway so I guess we have a deal.”

When he
moved his briefcase, Beth dropped into the seat and immediately opened her laptop
.
She reread the last few sentences
,
trying
to focus on the report, but something he’d said nagged at her and for the life of her, she couldn’t stop the words from tumbling out of her mouth.
 

“What did you mean when you said you guessed I
would
do
?”

“No offense, honey, but you’re not as beautiful or sophisticated as the women who usually accompany me to dinner.”

“You mean the ones you
hire
?”
Beth grinned smugly at the indignant look on his face and returned to her typing.
 

She continued to work on her report but his comment kept floating back to her
.
After
traveling for days
, one
did
tend to look
disheveled
.
Well, maybe a little worse than that, she admitted to herself
.
She hadn’t bothered with make-up at all and had donned a pair of old sweats and a baggy t-shirt
,
pulling
her hair up into an unflattering bun.
 

Beside
s
the fact it was more comfortable, Beth found she was less likely to get hassled by men when she dressed down like this
.
She
would
just have to take extra care with her looks tonight to show the arrogant Mr. Travis how wrong he was
.
They’d worked in silence for quite some time when she lifted her head to find him staring at her.

“I assume you have a reason for gawking at me,” Beth threw his earlier insult back at him.
 

“What did
you
mean when you said you had no desire to know me better?”

“You’re not exactly my type either, Mr. Travis,” she said dryly
.
Seeing him
visibly bristle
spurred her into adding,
“Let me guess
.
You’ve never been told that before?”

“Quite frankly, no.

“Well, I guess you can’t say that anymore,” she quipped
, returning
to her work.

Sam smiled at the slender woman next to him
.
“You’re not intimidated by me in the least, are you?”

Beth glanced up at him in surprise
.
“Why should I be?”

He shrugged
.
“Most people are.”

“And you like that, don’t you, Mr. Travis?”

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