A Perfect Ten

Page 120

She really started sobbing then. “Oh my God. We’re about to be sent to airplane jail and you’re quoting Titanic?”

“I’m sorry,” I instantly apologized. “God, baby. I’m so sorry. This was my fault. I should’ve—fuck, I don’t know. I only said the movie quote to make you smile.”

“It worked,” she swore even as more tears flooded her face and the tipping up of her lips looked anything but happy. “It was so beautiful, and I loved it. I just...I didn’t mean to get us into trouble. You’ve been so amazing, and I’m just fucking it all up.”

“No...no, you’re not in any trouble, ma’am.” Jon patted her shoulder hesitatingly, his expression full of worry. “I didn’t mean to make you cry. Here.” He thrust a wad of tissues at her.

“Oh. Th-thank you.” She sniffed and gingerly took a tissue before wiping her face. “So...you’re not...you’re not going to kick us off the plane?”

“Of course not. I am sorry for scaring you. I just wanted you to be aware of the rules.”

She nodded and blew her nose. “It’s okay. I’m aware now. We’re very aware.”

He still watched her warily as if ready to catch her in case she fainted or some shit. “Are you sure? Are you okay now?”

“Yes. Thank you. Thank you so much. If you don’t mind, I...I think we’ll go take our seats now.”

“Sure.” He touched her shoulder again and was lucky I didn’t snap his hand off for it. “I’m going to make you something warm to drink and bring it out to you, okay?”

“Thank you. That’s so kind.”

I lifted an eyebrow as I watched their byplay. When Caroline glanced up at me, her cheeks were still wet from crying, but not a single new tear filled her eyes. She took my hand and led us back to our seats. Without saying a word, we clicked on our seat belts and sat there, facing forward.

“You okay?” I finally asked, dipping my face to get a look at hers.

She turned to me, completely casual. “Of course. Why?”

I blinked. And then it hit me. “Why, you sneaky little shit. You just totally played him.” And me too, apparently.

Her devious grin slipped across her face. “Well, I had to do something. Your petulant smart-ass attitude wasn’t getting us anywhere.”

My mouth worked a moment before I hissed, “Holy fuck, woman. How the hell can you just turn the tears on like that?”

She lifted her eyebrows. “I have three brothers. Years of practice.”

“Oh my God.” I threw my head back and laughed. “You are so awesome. I’m not worthy.” Shaking my head, I gazed at her in awe. “I am so not worthy.”

She blushed and smiled but quickly dropped the expression when she glanced over my shoulder. Elbowing me, she whispered, “Quick. He’s coming with my drink.”

As much as I tried, I could not stop smiling. I dropped my face instead so Jon couldn’t see my smirk.

“Here you go, ma’am.”

“Thank you so much.” Caroline reached past me to accept her complimentary drink. “Warm tea. Mmm. It smells delicious.”

“And I apologize again,” Jon gushed. “I didn’t mean to upset you.”

“It’s fine. Don’t worry about it. I’ve learned my lesson.”

I was so close to busting a gut laughing, and Caroline knew it because she suddenly clamped her hand around my thigh and dug her nails into me to keep me quiet. But shit. We’d been the ones to break the rules, and here Jon was, apologizing to her and fucking serving her tea. She was hands down the most entertaining, dynamic, devious, beautiful, amazing woman I’d ever met.

If I wasn’t already crazy in love with her, I would’ve fallen in that very moment.

A man with a sign that read “Oren Tenning” waited for us when we stepped off the plane.

Holding my hand, Oren slowed to a stop when he saw the guy. “Hi,” he said hesitantly.

The round little fellow looked up at him. “Mr. Tenning?”

After Oren answered, “Uh, yeah...I guess,” the man beamed and held out his hand.

“Lance Stanley. I’m with Booker and Finch, and consequently your ride to the hotel.”

“You...are?” Oren’s smile fell as he glanced down at me and then back at Zwinn. “I wasn’t...this is...unexpected. I just....I guess I thought I’d find my own way to the hotel.”

“Oh no, sir. This is the full-service interview experience. And can I say it is an honor to meet you? Everyone’s been raving about your portfolio since your application came in.”

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