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All three Billionaire Bachelor books written by Melissa Stevens, this includes Justin, the gambler desperate to be accepted by society. Sean the construction mogul who wants children to pass the company on to. And Alex, the wounded and scarred veteran. Neither of them is looking for love, just a woman who meets their own, exacting criteria. But can the Diamond Bridal Agency fulfill not just their wants but their needs as well?
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Also by Melissa Stevens
Billionaire Bachelor: Justin
Billionaire Bachelor: Sean
About the Author
Billionaire Bachelor: Alex
Also by Melissa Stevens
About the Author
The Kitsune Collection
(with Change, Fight, Hunt and Live in one volume)
City of Sin:
Released by Desire
Redeemed by Desire
Revealed by Desire
The Dragon Chronicles
(with Released by Desire, Redeemed by Desire and Revealed by Desire)
Diamond Bridal Agency:
Copyright 2018 Melissa Stevens all rights reserved.
Created with Vellum
Dear Mr. Scarborough,
After careful consideration of your requests and needs, the Diamond Bridal Agency is pleased to inform you that a bride has been located who matches your unique requirements. All interactions have been kept private, as is our policy. All communications will cease after this missive and we request, for the security of our other clients, that you destroy this message after reading it.
Your satisfaction is guaranteed. To comply with your request for speed and privacy, your bride will arrive on the 8th day of July, via chartered jet to the private terminal at McCarran Airport. Please do not hesitate to contact me should there be any issue with your bride. Her name is Hannah Rockfort and she is aware of all stipulations in the contract.
Mrs Alveda Creed, Diamond Bridal Agency.
Justin read the letter a third time, committing the details to memory before picking up a silver lighter engraved with his name from the desktop. He didn’t smoke but it had been a gift from a sponsor, back when he’d been a big name on the poker scene. With a practiced twist of his wrist, he flipped it open and lit it. He held the flame to the corner of the page, then watched, fascinated as flames licked up the paper until all that was left was the corner between his fingers. Not wanting to be burned, he dropped what remained into a sparkling glass ashtray kept for visitors and watched as the letter disappeared into smoke and ash. There. No one could find out how he come to be engaged to Ms. Rockfort. Not that he planned to be engaged for long.
Turning, Justin lifted the lid on the computer that sat on one side of his polished mahogany desk and opened an incognito tab, so his search would disappear when he was done. He typed her name in the search bar. Hannah Rockfort. The name sounded sophisticated and cultured enough to be real and somehow vaguely familiar. While he waited for the results he double checked the date. As he’d thought, today was July 6th. His bride would land in less than forty-eight hours. The search finished. The top results were news stories from a few months earlier. He opened a couple and skimmed them. It looked like Hannah had recently lost her parents, and fiancé, a James Wallace. Now he knew why her name had sounded familiar, he remembered seeing the story on the news. It had been a short piece, maybe thirty seconds then gone. Not enough for him to pay much attention. His chest ached remembering the loss of his own parents, several years before.
If she’d recently lost her fiancé, whose first name Justin wasn’t familiar with but the family name was well known, then why was she looking to get married so quickly? Diamond Bridal Agency was more than a little expensive, but from his research and their guarantee of satisfaction, he believed it was worth the exorbitant fee. He looked at the computer screen again. Was Hannah in this for the money? Or did she have something to hide?
His main requirement for the Diamond Bridal Agency was someone who could get him into the elite social structure of people like the Wallace family. The Wallace’s were very well known. The family had a couple senators, even a presidential candidate, though he hadn’t won. Justin had extended invitations to several of them but had been snubbed. He needed an in. From the photos of the tall slender brunette that captions claimed was his bride to be, with members of the Wallace family, including her fiancé at the time, she would fit the bill and more. Hannah wasn’t the kind of woman he was normally attracted to, but there was something about her that called to him. It made him want to pull her close, tell her it would be okay and protect her against any more hurt.
Justin spent longer than he wanted to admit flipping through and finding photograph after photograph of Hannah that stretched back several years. They weren’t all flattering, and several appeared to have been taken without her knowledge but damned if she didn’t look great in every shot. He skimmed through them once more then made himself close the browser, removing all evidence of the search, and close the computer.
It didn’t matter how attractive he found her, at least not right now. His bride was going to be here in two days and there were things he needed to get done first.
Reaching over, he hit the button on the desk phone to ring his assistant.
“Yes, Mr. Scarborough?” Garret’s voice came across the speaker.
“I need to see you, bring your tablet.” Justin frowned as he considered everything that needed to be done.
“Just a moment, sir.” A click told him Garrett had hung up and would be in momentarily. Justin spun his chair until he faced the glass wall that overlooked the city.
He loved this view. It reminded him of how hard he’d worked and how far he’d come from that dusty little down in New Mexico. From being just another kid from the wrong side of the tracks. A faint squeak alerted him to the office door opening. He’d thought about having it oiled but opted against it. He liked the warning when someone came in. He caught the faint scent of coffee and knew that Garrett had brought a fresh cup in with him. Justin rolled his shoulders and twisted his neck but didn’t turn away from the glass just yet.
“I brought you a fresh coffee, sir. What else do you need?”
Justin sighed and turned away from the city stretching out thirty floors below.
“I need a party planned. A big one.”
“All right,” Garrett scribbled a couple of notes on the iPad he carried. “When?”
“Next week if possible, no later than the week after.”
“No theme, the occasion is a surprise, but I want everything upscale. Not flashy and Hollywood, or sequins and Vegas. I want gold, pearls, and London style.” He narrowed his eyes and focused on Garrett for a moment. “Do you understand what I mean?”
“I think so, sir. Who are we inviting?”
“Everyone from the Vanderbilts to the Rockefellers. Don’t forget Hurst to Kennedy. I don’t care if they’re east coast, west coast or anywhere in between, if they’re considered American society, invite them. Does that give you a better idea of what I have in mind?”
“It does.” Garrett tapped several times on the tablet in his hand. “What about entertainment? Do you have any preferences?”
“No, whatever is appropriate. I’ll leave that up to you.”
“Again, upscale, but the details are up to you.”
“Do you want a sit-down dinner or just waiters with hors d’oeurves?”
“Start later, maybe around seven so most will have eaten and serve finger foods. That will help keep the budget down a bit.” He might have billions, but he hadn’t acquired it by spending as much as he earned. It only made sense to conserve where he could.
“The ball room here. There’s no need to spend money renting a place when we have one we can use free.”
Garrett nodded, hitting the screen several more times.
“The ball room is booked for a conference all next week, but it’s open on the sixteenth.” He looked up at Justin.
“The sixteenth it is then. Make sure you add it to my calendar as well.”
“Yes, sir. Anything else?”
“That’s all for now. Thank you, Garrett,” Justin went to the leather sofa on the wall across from his desk and sat, dropping his head back against the wall and closing his eyes. He’d been yearning to be accepted by the people that mattered for a long time. Now it was in his grasp. But that wasn’t all. He kept seeing Hannah’s sweet face, her innocent eyes, and wondering why she would sign on to be a mail order bride. What would push a girl that far?
Hannah sat in the plush interior of the small jet with her hands folded in her lap while her heart thundered in hear ears. She learned long ago to keep her feelings off her face and out of her body language. A lady doesn’t get too excited. A lady doesn’t wear her emotions on her sleeve. A lady never slouches. Those were just a few of the countless admonitions she’d heard all her life. It seemed no matter what she’d done, it had never been right. At least according to her tutor. Her mother had been less restrictive, but only just. Every time Ms. Porter had reprimanded Hannah, whether for failing to pay attention to her lessons, or simply not sitting with the proper posture, Hannah’s mother would remind her she needed to do her best and make a good match. A few times her mother had said something along the lines of secure her future, but the words had meant nothing to Hannah at the time.
Now, they meant so much more.
The engine sound changed and Hannah’s heart leapt into her stomach. The pilot announced they would be landing soon and the ball of fear receded, but only some. The plane started a steep decent and Hannah looked outside, desperate for a distraction. A line of large buildings she knew was called The Strip stretched out below her and somehow looked smaller than she’d imagined. Maybe it was more impressive at night, when it was all lit up, but she didn’t know when she might find out. She didn’t even know where her groom lived, only that someone would meet her at the airport.
As the plane banked and tilted at an angle she was certain was way too steep, Hannah turned away from the window, closed her eyes and did her best to forget about where she was. She didn’t know much about her new husband, only that he wanted a wife with a good name and connections. That and his name, Justin Scarborough, had been all she’d been told.
Hannah flinched as the wheels touched the ground with a slight jerk. There. She was on the ground again, drawing her first comfortable breath since she’d taken off more than three hours earlier. She’d never cared much for flying and liked it even less since the crash that had taken the lives of her parents and James. It had taken more than she’d thought she’d had in her to board the tiny aircraft that morning. Now that she was on solid ground again, she didn’t want to fly again for a very long time, if ever.
Now that she could think again, she picked up the envelope she’d been handed by Ms. Creed the last time she’d seen the woman from the agency, two days before and held on to it. Hannah had read the contents twice. It seemed to be little more than a standard prenuptial agreement. There were stipulations granting her settlements, the value depending on how long the marriage lasted, provided she was not unfaithful. If it lasted under two years, no matter who ended it, she got nothing. The only exception was if Scarborough abused her.
The possibility hadn’t even occurred to her, but it had put her a bit at ease. She had no objections to the contract. She was just waiting to sign it in front of his witness.
She set the envelope aside again. Whatever, it didn’t matter. She didn’t plan on the marriage ending. She wasn’t looking for love, or happiness, just security. The only way to be sure of that was to make the marriage last. She had been trained to be a hostess, to manage a household, and take care of all the small things involved. In the last six months she’d learned exactly how useless that was. She’d also learned how far she as willing to go not to have to wonder where her next meal was coming from. With all her society connections she couldn’t make a living with the skills she had. There had only been one option left. To find someone to take care of her. Someone who valued what she could bring to the deal.
The plane taxied, making several turns before slowing to a stop. Hannah remained where she was long after the lone flight attendant went to the door and opened the hatch, fussing around in the back of the tiny air craft for several minutes before leaving. Hannah stayed. She couldn’t make herself stand. Nor walk down the gang plank to her destiny. A few moments later the pilot opened the cabin door and emerged. Hannah recognized him because she’d met him briefly before they’d taken off. She remembered thinking he was shorter than she thought he would be.
“Are you all right, Miss Rockfort?” he asked.
“Fine,” she gave him a half-hearted smile. “I just need a moment.”
“A Mr. Scarborough wants to board and speak with you, is that all right?”
Hanna looked up at the uniformed man. She’d thought he knew why she was here, but from the way he spoke he didn’t seem know that she was here to marry Scarborough.
“Yes, it’s fine.” Her stomach flipped, and her heart thundered in her ears. She would finally get a look at the man she’d promised to marry. What if he was twice her age, or even three times? At this point it didn’t matter. She was committed. She would marry him. She just needed a moment.
The pilot disappeared back into the cockpit, making Hannah frown. Why didn’t he leave like the stewardess? Maybe he would be leaving again once she and her things were off the plane.
A deep voice she didn’t recognize made her look up and keep looking up until her neck ached. Realizing this was likely her groom, she stood. He didn’t seem quite so tall from this angle. Judging from her own 5’6” well, 5’9” in her heels, then the man in front of her was over six feet, but not by much. And far closer to her own twenty-four years than she’d dared to hope. She guessed he was about thirty, no more than thirty-five. He wore slacks and a blazer over a white button-down shirt. Smooth skin peeked out from an open collar making her want to run her lips across it and see if it was as smooth as it looked. Where the hell had that thought come from?
“Yes. You’re Mr. Scarborough?”
“I am, but call me Justin. If things go well, we’ll be married all too soon, the formality seems a bit,” he paused, “unnecessary, don’t you agree?” His friendly smile made the knot in her stomach loosen and her nervousness ease. She smiled back.
“I can do that. I’m Hannah.”
“It’s nice to meet you Hannah. Why don’t we have a seat?” He motioned to the seat she’d just vacated and the one beside it.
“Sure,” Hannah snatched the envelope she’d dropped there a few minutes earlier and held it in her lap as she resumed her seat. The man she was contracted to marry took the seat beside her and her stomach flipped again. The faint musky scent of him stirred something deep inside her that nothing had ever touched before. She’d been attracted to men before, of course, but never before had the simple, clean scent of them pulled to her.
“The agency said you understand the terms, but I wanted to be sure for myself.” He watched her with what she thought was interest.
She recited to him, from memory the terms she’d signed for the agency. That she was her to marry him, his satisfaction was guaranteed, ending with, “I’m here of my own free will, I’ve not been coerced, and I’m willing to sign this as well.” She lifted the envelope in her lap. “I was just waiting to see if you wanted a witness.”
“I appreciate that, yes, a witness would be good.” Justin paused, watching her long enough she looked up and met his peridot gaze. “I thought we’d marry now. I considered bringing someone to perform the ceremony here but decided you might like to change. There is a chapel at The Aussie we can use instead, if you are amenable.”
Hannah’s heart skipped a beat and the blood rushing through her head echoed in her ears.
“This marriage. Will it be true in every way?” She wasn’t able to keep the slight tremor from her voice.
He blinked then looked at her again. “Do you mean sex?”
She looked away, unable to meet his gaze while they spoke of such things. “I do.”
“It is my intention, though I won’t force you. I’m not into rape.” He fell silent for a moment, then spoke again. “I have no doubt you caught that I expect fidelity. I don’t ask for things I don’t intend to give.”
A weight settled in the pit of her stomach. She wasn’t sure she was ready for this, but she didn’t have any other option. “All right.” She nodded, steeling herself to face the life she was committing herself to. She was attracted to him, at least on a physical level, and if he turned out to be a real asshole, she could avoid him as much as possible. A soft touch along her cheek startled her. She looked up to find him watching her, the back of one finger smoothing along her jaw.
“I won’t hurt you. Just give it a few days, you might find you like me.”
Hannah smiled. She hoped she could like him but if he was likable and a good guy, then why resort to a mail-order bride?
“I’ll try.” She’d been so disappointed, so let down by her parents and those in their circle recently, she wasn’t sure she could trust him.
“We can sit here a while if you wish, or we can head back to The Aussie.” The Aussie? That was an odd name for an estate, but some people were a bit eccentric. She’d learned not to question it. She might as well get it over with.
Justin sat beside his bride, heat pooling low in his stomach as he waited for her to be ready to leave the plane. When he’d decided to send off for a bride, he’d thought it would be easy. Now he knew better. Nothing that involved others was as easy as you wanted it to be.
He’d been a little surprised when she’d not gotten off the plane like he’d expected. He’d questioned the flight attendant as she’d stepped off, who had assured him that Hannah was on the plane but didn’t know why she wasn’t getting off. She had contacted the pilot and gotten permission for Justin to board.
The moment Hannah looked up at him, he knew what was wrong. He’d let it slip his mind that she’d recently lost people to a plane crash and when she looked up, eyes wide and lower lip slightly trembling, he knew in an instant she was terrified. While it could be of the unknown, he strongly suspected it was the plane.
“I’m ready whenever you are.” Her voice was steady this time, telling him she’d managed to regain her composure.
“I was hoping you’d say that.” He gave her his best smile and hoped it would calm her nerves, “I have a car waiting, we can go any time.” He glanced around. “Do you have luggage?”
“I do, they checked it.”
“My driver will take care of that, if it’s not ready by the time we get out of here, then he’ll have it sent over to the Aussie.”
“Yes.” He didn’t bother to explain, she’d see it for herself soon enough. Justin stood and held out one hand in her direction. After only a moment’s hesitation, she stood, smoothed the pale pink skirt on the designer suit she wore, then picked up the small bag from the seat next to her and looped the long strap over her head. Hannah bent again to pick up the manila envelope she’d been holding, tucked it under her arm then laid her hand in his. The simple touch sent a spark of awareness through his entire body. Her hand was soft in his, speaking of a life like he’d always wanted to have. She’d never had to build calluses from hard work like his mother had. “Let’s go.” He led her off the plane and through the terminal. He’d been in the smaller section of McCarran reserved for private and charter flights several times and knew his way around. In only a few minutes they stepped out into the scorching desert heat.
Hannah gasped as the sunlight and dry air hit her, but she didn’t say anything. Whatever had driven her to sell herself into marriage, it seemed she wasn’t prone to complain. He liked that.
“Thank you,” Justin said to Barry, his driver, who held the limo door open while Hannah slid inside. “She has a bag that will need to be retrieved, and we’re headed back to the Aussie.” He’d brought the limo so they could have some privacy on the way back to the casino.
“Yes, sir. I will see that her bag is delivered. I’m not sure how long the delay will be but shouldn’t be more than a couple hours.”
“No problem. Just have it delivered to my apartment.”
Justin ducked into the car and settled into the seat beside Hannah. “Have you ever been to Las Vegas?” The interior was nicely cool after the shocking heat they’d passed through, Barry had kept the air conditioning running while he waited.
“No.” He watched as she folded her hands in her lap and stared out the darkened window.
“Ah. Well, it’s not always this hot. Only about three months of the year. The good news is on the strip you can go days without ever leaving the building. Even then, much of the city is twenty-four hours, so what you have to do outside the Aussie can be done at night. In a few months it will cool off and you can go back to traveling normally. Oh, and there are plenty of pools to help cool off if you need some sunshine.” He couldn’t help but notice the slightly sun-kissed look to her honeyed skin. He didn’t know if it was a cultured tan or because she liked being outdoors, either way, it made him want to taste it. He wanted to see if she tasted as sweet as she looked.
With a slight jerk, the car started moving.
“Do you have any questions?”
She looked at his face then shook her head. “No. The agency was quite clear on my half of the contract, as long as I keep to that I trust that you will keep yours as well?”
“I was a little surprised when the agency contacted me that you had stipulations of your own.” He tipped his head to one side while he watched her reaction. “However, considering my own requirements, I was happy to oblige such reasonable requests.” It hadn’t been the fidelity clause that she’d asked for, nor the one that awarded her fifty million dollars should he abuse her, not that ever would. Her only request had been the stipulations that she had the right to leave, and ask for a divorce, after one year. And that he would provide for any children that the marriage might result in. He’d taken her request farther and had added settlements for her at different intervals, depending on how long the marriage lasted. He’d also added a few clauses about any children, to make her feel better. He’d never leave his children un-cared for, but she had no way to know that. He wasn’t looking to trap her, only to get into the right circles.
“Thank you.” She turned back toward the window again and he let her watch the city pass by while he watched her. Something about her pulled to him and he wasn’t sure what. That intrigued him.
When they reached The Aussie, the car pulled up outside the entrance Justin typically used. It was an out of the way, unobtrusive door that patrons didn’t use, and most people didn’t even realize existed. He waited until Barry opened the car door.
“Come see your new home,” Justin invited before ducking out of the limo. He stood and straightened his suit jacket while Hannah stepped out. “This side’s not as impressive as the front, but traffic on the Strip is horrendous and it takes forever to get even half a mile. Most of the big casinos are designed to cater to foot traffic off the strip. There are other, more public entrances, but I didn’t want to get stopped with business on our way in.” He reached to smooth a finger down her face but stopped before touching her. “I wanted to keep this between the two of us as long as I could.” He watched as she stared up at the tall curved wings of the almost shell-shaped building. “Let’s go inside where it’s not so hot.” He opened the door, knowing it would unlock with the proximity of the chip he’d had embedded in the phone in his pocket, and held it while she went inside, then followed.
“This way.” Justin led her through the hallway toward his business office on the main floor. “Do you want another dress or anything special to mark the day?”
“No. I came prepared. Ms. Creed said to be prepared to make things legal as soon as I landed.” She kept pace with him and he didn’t have to drag her or slow his own pace like he had with some women he’d dated in the past.
“I like that you came prepared.” He let it drop at that and they made the rest of the short trip in peaceful quiet. Contrary to what he’d expected his stomach fluttered with nerves. He was about to commit himself to a woman he’d met less than an hour before. He wondered, not for the first time, if he was making a mistake. No. He pushed the thought away. He’d planned things carefully and this is what he needed. A wife with the social connections he didn’t have. “Through here.” Opened another door this one leading to the back hallway. It had taken him a while to learn the hallways, but he was glad now he’d taken the time. He wanted to get there and get this done, not get stopped by customers and employees who wanted to talk or check on something. “This shouldn’t take too long, then I’ll give you the grand tour.”
Twenty minutes after stepping foot in the building, it was done. Hannah was married and Mrs. Justin Scarborough. Her hands shook as she signed the marriage certificate but as soon as she laid the pen aside, she gripped her handbag to keep the tremble from her hands. She had no doubts. This was what she had to do, her only choice, but that didn’t keep her from being nervous about it.
“Congratulations!” the officiant who had performed the ceremony said. She hadn’t caught his name.
Hannah forced a smile on her face and pretended this was what she wanted. That she was excited about it. No one was to know that this wasn’t a love match, at least for now. That was part of the agreement she’d signed with Diamond Bridal Agency. They were an elite, highly secretive agency. She wasn’t even sure how they found their clients, brides or grooms, really, as it was only after she’d become desperate to find work or a husband that someone had told her about a bridal agency that specialized in what they’d called a ‘select clientele’ and had given her a phone number.
“Thank you.” Hannah smiled and hugged the witnesses who seemed genuinely happy for them, maybe Justin a little more than her, but they were his people, not hers.
“Thank you,” Justin smiled as he spoke to each one. “If you’ll excuse me, I think we’ll retire to our apartments for a while.”
“Are you going on a honeymoon?” one woman asked.
“I’m not sure yet,” Justin smiled as he looked over at Hannah. “This has been a little fast and we haven’t had time to properly make plans. But I’m sure we’ll figure it out.”
Hannah nodded, not sure what he wanted her to say. She decided it would be better to keep her mouth shut, at least for now.
Moments later she was in a mirrored elevator riding to the top of the center-most clamshell of what she now knew was a replica of the Sidney Opera House. Her stomach flipped as she thought about being alone with her new husband for the first time. The elevator ride didn’t count, she was sure there were cameras.
He’d already said this wouldn’t be a marriage of convenience, but could she trust him not to force her? The light kiss after they’d said their vows had sent lightning bolts of heat through her. For some reason she didn’t understand, she’d been on edge ever since.
The elevator door opened and Justin stepped off. Hannah stood on the elevator a little too long, and Justin turned to watch her, a frown creasing his brow.
“You okay?” he paused but she just nodded. “I don’t bite, not unless you want me to.” He smiled and a shiver of desire crawled down her spine. She tried to ignore the odd sensation as she followed him off the elevator. Her new husband led her down a short hallway.
“This side is our apartment.” He motioned to one side of the hall, “and this side is my office. I sometimes have meetings and you may encounter Garrett in the hallways, so no wandering around out here in your birthday suit.” He shot her a playful grin and she shook her head. Leaving the apartment without being fully dressed was something she would never do. Even if she wore a bathing suit, she would wear a cover up or a dress over it. To do otherwise would be scandalous.
“Would you like to see the office?” he watched her with lifted brows.
“Sure.” Anything to delay going into the apartment they would share and getting closer to a bed. She craved the feel his lips against hers again, but there was no way she could ask. He pushed the door open and led her inside.
“This is Garrett’s area. You’ll meet him later as he’s already off for the day.”
“Garrett?” she glanced around the room. It was nicely appointed. A solid wood desk, several leather chairs for people to wait and a couple plants in the corners to make it feel more welcoming. The only thing she would change would be the ice blue paint. It made the room feel cold. She’d change it to a warmer color.
Hanna frowned. He had a male assistant. She wasn’t sure how to feel about that but decided at least there was a good chance he wouldn’t be screwing around on the side with his secretary… unless he liked men too. The idea intrigued her and she looked at him in a different light. Was that why he’d sent for a bride? To be his beard? But if he had, then why tell her he expected sex, and that he would be faithful to her?
Justin opened the double doors to one side of the desk and led her into another room. She glanced around and knew this had to be his office. It was partly paneled in a rich warm, honey oak, and partly glass wall that overlooked the city. Black leather seating and a rich mahogany desk told her the room belonged to a man who was comfortable with who he was and knew what he liked. She liked it and didn’t see anything she might change, then she stepped closer to the glass wall and was ensnared by the view. The sun had set not long before and someone had turned on all the lights.
While she’d been unimpressed with what she’d seen from the plane, she was stunned now. The lights were unlike anything she’d ever seen, in person at least. Sure, she’d seen Vegas in movies and on TV but she’d assumed it was for the screen, not real. Below her was what seemed like miles of bright, flashing lights shaped like places from all over the world. She shouldn't’ be shocked considering where she was standing, but she was. It was beautiful.
“It’s stunning isn’t it?” Justin came up behind her and set his hands on her shoulders. Heat seeped through her clothes as the front of his body brushed up against the back of hers. Something about it made her want to lean back against him, let him hold her and warm her.
They stood together for several minutes before Hannah’s stomach rumbled, breaking the spell the view seemed to have them under.
“No need.” Justin stepped away, she instantly felt the loss of his warmth and wished she had it back. “When was the last time you ate?”
“A while ago.” She looked away. She didn’t want to tell him she’d been so nervous about getting on the plane she’d skipped breakfast, and lunch, for fear of being ill.
“It doesn’t matter. Come on. Let’s go over to the apartment and order dinner. I’ll show you around while we wait for it to be delivered.” He took her hand and she let him lead her from the office.
Justin watched as she ate, very neatly and with every manner he’d ever been taught and more, but it was plain she was starving. He frowned.
“Why didn’t you eat before getting on the plane?”
Hannah shook her head and kept eating. He guessed she didn’t want to talk about it but something inside made him need to know.
“Did you not have the money?” he couldn’t imagine that, seeing where she’d come from and who she’d been engaged to. Her head dipped and he couldn’t be sure but thought she might be blushing. The tips of her ears turned pink, making him sure that was at least part of it.
“Money’s been a little tight for a while but that’s not it. Not entirely.” She kept her eyes averted as she continued eating. He took a bite and watched her, wondering what it was. Then it hit him. The articles about her parents. Her ashen face when he’d seen her on the plane. They’d died in a plane crash.
“It was flying wasn’t it?”
Hannah swallowed then looked up, her face a little drawn, her fear showing through the pinkening of her embarrassment. “You know?”
“Of course I know. Did you think I wouldn’t Google you when I found out your name?” he took a deep breath. “I assumed you’d done the same for me.”
Hannah shook her head. She’d been so terrified by what she was doing and afraid of what she might be getting herself into it had never occurred to her. If it had, it might have saved her from some of her fears.
“Why did you not say anything about flying? I’m sure other arrangements could have been made.”
“I didn’t want to do anything to risk you turning me down.” Her voice was so soft he almost didn’t hear her. Why was she so desperate to marry him that she’d gotten on a plane when it was clear flying terrified her? And with good reason. Anyone who’d lost what she had on a plane would be hesitant of boarding one, much less a small private jet like had brought her here, so much like the one that had crashed.
Seeing her discomfort at his questions he let it go. He’d get his answers later, perhaps once she trusted him.
“Would you like something for dessert?” he leaned back and pushed his nearly empty plate away. She glanced down at her plate and seem surprised to find it empty.
“No.” She pushed the plate away. “It was delightful but I’m good.”
He considered pushing her to have a little more, she looked a little slight, but decided to let it be.
“Come out on the balcony.” Justin stood, pushing the chair back as he went. While he waited for her, he went to a nearby table and hit a button on the house phone sitting there. That would let housekeeping know to come collect their dishes without having to say a word. He had seen a voice command system that would signal the staff, but he preferred it be less obvious. Hannah stood and he went back to her. Looking to offer her a little comfort, he let his hand rest on her waist as he walked her to the door and out.
“Wow. It’s cooler out here that I thought it would be.” She stretched and tilted her head back as the breeze pushed away the heat of the day.
“It’s hot during the day but we cool off pretty well at night, especially three hundred feet up.” A thick strand of her long, dark hair blew across her face. He reached up and tucked it behind her ear. Her color rose, and his gaze lowered to her mouth. Her full, almost pouting lips that made him want to see if they were as soft as they looked. He leaned in. Her breath caught in her throat then came out in a quick rush. Her hot breath feathered against his hand where it had remained after tucking her hair back. “Stop me if you’re not ready.” Justin moved slowly, giving her time to stop him if she wanted. But she didn’t. His lips touched hers, ever so gently at first, just a whisper of a caress.
Heat sparked between them.
Hannah’s hands came up to rest on his arms as he moved closer. The enticing scent of her perfume called to him, a sweet, faintly floral scent. Justin brought his other hand up to up her petal soft cheek as he once more lowered his mouth to the velvet softness of her lips. Justin’s world narrowed as he became more aware of the woman in his arms. The soft sounds echoing from the streets far below faded away and all that mattered was her. The taste of her kiss. The way her hands clutched at his arms.
A gust of wind hit them, jarring them out of the spell.
Justin held her close and felt a shiver run through her.
“A little.” A shy smile curved her lips.
“Let’s go inside.”
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