Lost In France (Firebird Trilogy) (2 page)

BOOK: Lost In France (Firebird Trilogy)
13.43Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
Chapter 2

From the day I was born, thirteen days late. Twenty-nine years later, regardless of how hard I tried to break the spell, nothing had changed. I was still always late. And usually running.
In heels.

That’s why the announcement didn’t surprise me. “This is the final boarding call for passenger Rebecca Clarke. Please make your way to gate eleven immediately.”

Gate eleven. Finally I’d made it. “Just in time, Ms. Clarke,” the air-hostess hissed, a false smile plastered on her face. “We’re just about to shut the gate.” She scanned my documents and shoved them back into my hands with a look of disdain.

Not waiting to hear if she had any other snide remarks, I rushed toward the aircraft, breathless. The bounce of the air bridge echoed my heartbeat: thump, thump, thump.

Once on board, I scanned the luxurious cabin, there were three rows, with four seats in each row. The single seats were located next to the windows on both sides. My seat was in the middle section.
I really wanted a window seat. I wasn’t in the mood for chitchat with a curious stranger.

tall and typically elegant air-hostess placed my cabin bag into the overhead compartment. “Welcome on board Air France, Ms. Clarke. My name is Candice, and I will be looking after you for the entire flight. So, please relax while I get you a drink. Champagne?”

I nodded.
Bring it on.

Slowly I sank into my seat.
Soft calf’s leather engulfed me. Bliss. The luxurious seat felt too big for one person. I strapped myself in, pulling the buckle tight. The lights dimmed and exhilaration surged through me as the massive aircraft gathered speed on the runway. The wheels popped, then we were in the air. This was really happening. Finally I was leaving Julian Palmer behind.

I really needed to get away from it all: from the crazy rat race, from years of studies and research; but mostly from

Exhausted, I closed my eyes. The shocked expression on his handsome face when I told him I was leaving still haunted me. It was the most difficult thing I’d ever done. A familiar shooting pain twisted in my heart. Julian had been a part of my life since high school. How was I going to survive for nearly a year without seeing his beloved face?

Tears spilled from my eyes, rolling down my cheeks unchecked. My heart ached, I was acutely aware of its squeezing heaviness in my chest, stealing my breath. There was no point in pretending any longer, it was impossible to suppress my sobs; I allowed the sorrow to flow from me, my eyes pressed shut tightly.

Fuck, I needed to get over
the only man I’d loved all my life. I’d known this would be hard but I also knew with absolute clarity what I had to do—I needed to break all contact and brutally exorcise Julian from my mind and my heart. And, my treacherous body. The only way was to put distance between us.

After what felt like an eternity, I opened my eyes. Pulling a tissue from my jacket pocket, I blew my nose hard and in a quite unladylike manner. Then I let out a deep sigh that reverberated through every cell in my body.

Get a grip, Becca.

We were up in the air; I was flying away—starting fresh. And there was nothing I could do about it now, no turning back. I had to learn to let go, to try to relax and enjoy the journey. I planned to savor every moment, see new places,
meet new people. Let my hair down for once and simply enjoy my life, unencumbered. This time I was determined to follow through on my decision.

Get Julian Palmer out of my system.

Candice returned with a smile and a silver tray to present me with a crisp white napkin and a flute of ice-cold champagne. I let out a shudder along with a long sigh, letting all my worries go as I put the glass to my lips and sipped the crisp sparkly liquid, enjoying the feeling as it made its way down my throat. For the first time since I started preparing for this journey, the tension slowly seeped from my entire body.

Consciousness of my surroundings crept back to me.  I glanced over at the seat next to mine. My heart went into free fall for a split second as I gazed directly into ar
ctic-blue eyes, that were studying me pensively. His generous lips, as if carved perfectly by a sculptor, curled into a panty-wetting smile.

Lord, have mercy on my soul.

How could I
have noticed him before now?

Chapter 3


Finally she noticed me: the hot redhead with the tight skirt and awesome rack.

I hated running behind schedule. I’d cursed under my breath, blaming her for the delay. She’d stumbled her way toward me on precarious heels that accentuated her shapely legs, her cheeks flushed. Hauling her hand-luggage behind her, she’d impatiently blown a strand of unruly hair out of her pretty face.

Completely ignoring me, she practically shoved her perfect round ass in my face before taking her seat and strapping in. She hadn’t even acknowledged my presence with as much as a sideways glance.
I was used to women noticing and reacting to me in all sorts of strange but good ways.
Yet, to the redhead I was invisible. If anything, it intrigued me.

After her first sip, I watched her virtually down the rest of the glass of champagne in one gulp. My eyes widened as she held her glass out to Candice for a refill.

The second glass of champagne went the same way as the first—swilled down her throat. Fast. She hadn’t bothered to sip it slowly, giving it the socially accepted reverence one should to an expensive tipple. Then she switched to wine. That’s when I knew that this flight wasn’t going to be boring as hell after all.

I wanted to get to know her. Everything about her was different.

And now she was staring into my eyes.

I grinned like a schoolboy, turning on all the charm I could muster.

“Hi,” she said, peering at me from under impossibly long lashes. Was she trying to hide the fact that she’d been crying for the last twenty minutes?

Resisting the urge to wipe her tear-stained cheek with my thumb, I felt unsettled. Something tugged at my heart; she’d unlocked my natural protective instincts and I didn’t even know her name.

Whoa, slow down.

She fiddled with her earphones, cursing softly. I suppressed a chuckle and leaned over. “Can I help you?”

She pursed her lips. “Please.” 

Her eyes widened as I touched her hand. Good. She wasn’t immune to me. Placing the earphones over her ears, I tucked a strand of unruly hair behind her ear.

My name is Alain.”

Er, Bec. Rebecca.” Her voice was husky, as if she smoked a pack of cigarettes a day.

“Hello, Rebecca.”

A small dimple appeared in her cheek as she smiled at me, yet her expressive green eyes were still sad. Earlier her sobs had twisted my heart, even though she’d tried desperately to stifle them.

Lucky bastard, whoever he is.

Usually women—like the pretty little air hostess—threw themselves at me, always eager to please.
Mostly for my looks. And, if they knew who I was, for my money and status.

Clearly the redhead didn’t know who I was. 

Chapter 4

All ideas of not wanting to chat to the person sitting next to me evaporated into thin air. We had a long flight ahead of us, and since I wasn’t one who usually slept on a plane, I couldn’t wish for more than a sexy French guy to chat to while sipping expensive French wine.

“Do you like the wine?” Alain asked, with a sparkle in his eyes.

I took another sip and nodded. After downing two glasses of champagne, I had to slow down.

“I’m a winemaker, it runs in my blood.
Several generations.” He held up the glass and swirled the liquid. “This wine is from our family estate. We provide the airline.”

Oh God, and here I’d been slinging back the drinks. My cheeks warmed as I sipped slowly, noticing the balance of flavors on my tongue. Alain smiled approvingly, his ice-blue eyes never leaving my mouth as I swallowed. I slowly licked over my lips. It wasn’t meant to be sensual; in fact my mouth went dry just from the way he was looking at me.

In an attempt to regain my composure, I lowered my glass and asked what I hoped were intelligent questions about the winemaking process. His passion radiated from his being: he gestured wildly with his arms, his words rapid fire. I could hardly keep up, yet I hung on his every word. It wasn’t only his accent, he could explain rocket science and it would sound sexy as sin. 

I learned that Alain owned a chateau in Bordeaux that had been in his family for generations. Their vineyard regularly won international awards and his wines were well known around the world.

“Winemaking clearly is in your blood.”
I smiled.

He nodded, deliberately changing the subject and asking about my travels.

“I couldn’t believe my luck when I landed this position. I’m actually getting paid to do what I love. And I get to see Europe too, all at the company’s expense.” I laughed, wanting to pinch myself at my good fortune.

Alain reached for my hand and gently pressed my fingers to his lips.
“So beautiful and so smart. That’s an unusual combination,” he said, with a glint in his eyes and a cheeky grin. Warmth flared from my chest over my cheeks. Was he teasing me?

“You’re so damn adorable,” he said. “French women don’t blush often.” I giggled with obvious delight, acting like a tipsy teenager. The combination of wine,
altitude, and a hot Frenchie had my head spinning.

This wasn’t how I usually operated. I always acted cool and collected.
In control. With a fiery temperament like mine, going off the rail was career limiting. I’d gotten so good at hiding my fire that in the corporate world I had been dubbed ‘The Ice Queen.’ And, that was exactly the way I’d liked it.

It had taken a long time to build these solid walls around my heart and I guarded them fiercely. There wasn’t much that made me blush—I was a woman of the world—as I’d seen and heard most things.

Our conversation was interrupted by the same sarcastic air hostess that had been frustrated with me at the boarding gate. She offered to assist us to get ready for sleep. Her sarcasm had made way for syrupy sweetness. She fluttered her lashes at Alain, smiling broadly, brushing her hand against his when she served him a drink or removed his tray.
Could she be any more obvious?
I’d heard about the Mile High Club. She was available. I wonder if he will be as equally accommodating.

I chuckled quietly to myself. I couldn’t blame her. Alain was beautiful. Every inch of him—that I could see anyway—looked chiseled, as if lovingly created by a famous sculptor like Michelangelo, paying exquisite attention to every detail of the male form.

His pale arctic-blue eyes popped against his dark olive skin. His sensuous lips curved generously into a breathtaking smile, and the five o’clock shadow he was wearing, was extremely sexy. I’d had a hard time containing myself to not reach over and stroke his cheek to feel it bristle against my skin.

Stretching out, I yawned. It was time to get some shuteye.
I may even be able to fall asleep for once, thanks to the good wine and spacious bed.

Excusing myself, I pushed to my feet, leaving Alain with Ms. Desperate. I sensed her relief at the opportunity to be alone with him. Alain rolled his eyes at me behind her back, as if begging me to hurry back. I laughed out loud as I disappeared into the loo.

erves him right for being so damn hot.

Surprised that the toilet was considerably larger than the ones back in economy class, where I had to crouch like a tortoise to fit into the small space, I quickly freshened up.

Since I’d left the office without changing, it was time to get comfortable. Undoing my hair, I let it fall loosely around my shoulders and down my back. For the sake of comfort, I ditched my bra and slipped into the stretchy maxi skirt and silky camisole top Chloe had packed into my hand luggage. 

An intercom announcement interrupted the silence, ordering me back to my seat.

The cabin lights had been dimmed, yet Alain grinned as his  gaze raked my body. He whistled softly below his breath. My transformation was not lost on him. I smiled back at him, delighted to have this effect on the handsome Frenchman.

Ms. Desperate shot me a dirty look and retreated to the gallery with a heavy sigh.

Chapter 5

Turbulence dipped the plane and despite bracing myself, I lost my balance. Alain reached out to grab my arm to steady me, but when another jolt followed, I was forced onto his lap.

He pulled me to him, his strong arms encircling me. My heart beat wildly as I tried to settle myself, resting my hands against his hard and muscular chest. Even through the fabric of his dress shirt, I could feel that his chest was smooth.

The back of his hand caressed slowly over my cheek and traced along my jaw, the pad of his thumb skimming over my lower lip. Mesmerized, I licked over my lips, my mouth dry as a desert.

His fingertips glided down my neck, igniting heat in my groin and fire in his eyes. Before I knew, his hands were at the nape of my neck, pulling my mouth to his as he brushed his lips playfully over mine. His lips were soft and I closed my eyes to absorb the pleasure. His kiss became more urgent and passionate, as he forced my mouth open with his deft tongue, as if taking delight in tasting me.

He tasted of wine and longing. His hand stroked down the curve of my back and came to rest on my ass, his fingers burning through the fabric of my skirt. I hadn’t been kissed this passionately in a very long time. And, certainly never by a Frenchman.

Crazy, panicked thoughts ran riot through my mind.
What now? How should I respond?
I’d never been in a situation like this before…with a stranger. I was aroused beyond my imagination and yearning for his touch. Desire unfurled, burning from the inside out. It was both frightening and exhilarating.

I felt his erection stir against my hip as a groan rumbled from his chest. His tongue plundered my mouth, stroking my tongue sensuously. Inhibitions lost, I kissed him back till I was breathless.

“You taste delicious,” he panted against my mouth. My nipples strained against the fine silky fabric—desperate to break free—hungry for his touch.

The sexy Frenchman’s mouth worked its way down from my jaw, kissing my neck, his breath warm and sensuous against my skin. Without warning, he freed my breasts from their constraint, cupping them gently in his palms. I gasped as he pulled a nipple into his mouth and sucked gently. Liquid fire spread from my nipple to my groin. Fighting to suppress a shudder, I moaned softly against his

His five o’clock shadow brushed the delicate skin of my breasts as he moved from one breast to the other. The sensation caused by the contrast between his luscious soft lips and the roughness of his stubble prickling my skin, was downright

Gently he caressed my other breast, his thumb working my nipple to a hard
nub. I loved the roughness of his winemaker hands. These were working hands. He was so very cultured in every way—yet his love of the land, of the vines in particular, brought a very earthy quality to him that was sexy beyond anything I’d experienced before.

Alain’s hand on my ass gradually snaked to my ankles and disappeared under my long skirt, burning into my flesh as his hand ran slowly, sensuously up my thigh, leaving a trail of fire in its wake.

In my wildest of dreams I would never have seen this coming.

His index finger traced the outline of my
panty, his palm pushing against my sex, rubbing and coaxing.

Oh God!

I’d all but forgotten how good

I should stop him.

It was too late to pretend I wasn’t turned on, h
e’d know just how aroused I was simply by feeling the dampness between my thighs. A slender finger slipped under the fine lace and found my hard bud. His warm lips quickly covered my mouth to swallow the low moan that escaped my lips.

This has to stop…but…I don’t want it to…it just feels so…good.

“So wet,” he murmured, lust and pleasure in his hoarse voice as his finger circled my clit leisurely. I moaned softly, burying my face in his neck, my nails digging into the hard muscles of his shoulders.

As much as I wanted him to carry on doing this to me, I wasn’t that tipsy.

“Al..Alain…s…stop,” I stuttered, trying to come back my senses—but my voice betrayed the want in me.

He looked into my eyes, raw lust beaming from them. “Just let go. Let me pleasure you tonight.” I gasped as two fingers plunged into my wetness. My breath hitched as his fingers circled inside me expertly, the sensation delicious. With his thumb he rubbed my clit, while his tongue sucked on a nipple.

I arched my back, wanting more. His erection throbbing against my hip was all too much for my senses and I could stand it no longer. I exploded around his fingers, sucking them deeper into my warmness, my orgasm so strong I wanted to cry out with pleasure. Alain hungrily possessed my mouth, kissing me hard.

Finally he released my lips and gazed down at me, a wicked smile on his face. I peered at him from under my lashes, suddenly shy.

“Your pleasure is my pleasure,” he whispered as he tasted my essence from his fingers. His eyes shone. “Ahh, so sweet, mademoiselle.”

This man—giver of pleasure and demanding none in return—was so different, so alluring he had all my senses reeling.

Gently, he withdrew his hand from under the skirt, pulled up my camisole to cover my breasts and tightened his arms around me. The generous seats had enough space for us both, so I lay in the crook of his arm as he kissed my eyelids. I let out a long sigh, completely relaxed.

“Go to sleep now,” he whispered, pulling a blanket protectively over us. Yet I shivered as a feeling of unease came over me. I couldn’t explain it. My eyes flew open.

I looked straight into angry and shocked eyes. All this time Ms. Desperate had been standing in the wings, watching us.

BOOK: Lost In France (Firebird Trilogy)
13.43Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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