Authors: Helen Grey
Tags: #steamy sex, #bad boy, #hot guys, #secret past, #journalist, #billionaire romance, #sexy secrets
“Where’s the pilot?” I asked.
He glanced over his shoulder at me and flashed a grin. “You’re looking at him.”
I wanted to get out. Right now. To hell with Angela. To hell with the magazine. I had already experienced Blake’s driving. I wasn’t sure I was up to a helicopter ride. But I sat frozen, unmoving. I’d never thought of myself as a coward and certainly didn’t want to start now. Within a few moments, it was too late to do anything.
He straddled the control stick, the instrument panels in front of him dotted with tiny and multi-colored light blue, green, red, and yellow bulbs lighting up the black console that reached from one side to the other, the fixed console in between, with its own dials, switches, and buttons. It looked incredibly complicated, but Blake seemed to know what he was doing as he checked one panel after another, toggled a switch here or adjusted a dial there.
He placed the clipboard in a slot between the passenger seat and a console type thing in between the seats and then flipped another switch. I heard a distinctive whirring sound, then a higher pitch noise over that. Above me, the rotor blades slowly began to move. Good Lord. The blades started moving faster and faster, casting flickering shadows on the ground around the helicopter.
He didn’t do anything at first. He seemed to be waiting. For what?
“Just warming her up,” he commented, glancing back at me once again.
I swallowed, my stomach turning a nervous somersault. I wanted to say something, but what? He spoke into his headset. Probably the airport control tower. I continued to watch in stunned amazement as he went through a number of motions. He must have a helicopter pilot license or he wouldn’t be able to fly, but for some reason that didn’t make me feel any better. He had a driver’s license too.
Having never been in a helicopter, I was nervous, and sitting here in the back, luxurious accommodations or not, I began to wonder what I would do if I got airsick. I looked around, didn’t see any pockets in the seats. No airsickness bags. I swallowed thickly and my mouth grew dry.
The aircraft vibrated gently, the rumble of the rotor above me, the tail rotor to the rear, both oddly soothing. Then again, I was still on
My pulse raced as he reached for the door and closed it. I closed my eyes and prayed for courage. I wasn’t what one would call particularly religious, but if there ever was a time or place for anything, this was it.
About all I knew about helicopters was that they took off vertically and could hover. They didn’t go very fast… wait, this one did. My blood raced a little faster when the RPMs kicked up and the whine of the blades sounded deeper. The shadows of the blades rotating above me passed the windows, slower, faster, then slower again.
My eyes riveted to every move Blake made, every switch, button, or dial that his strong, fingers touched, turned, or pushed, captured my complete attention. We’d been sitting in here for nearly five minutes. Was something wrong? He didn’t seem concerned, but I’d never seen anyone do a pre-flight check either. Maybe this was just all part of the process.
“You buckled in?” he asked, not turning to look back at me this time.
I quickly found the seatbelt, buckled myself in and then nodded. He didn’t see my gesture. “Yes,” I said, raising my voice above the sound of the rotor blades. The luxury seats didn’t have armrests like an airplane, so I clasped my hands tightly in my lap, my knees pressed together, my back ramrod straight. I wasn’t terrified, but I wasn’t exactly at ease either. I didn’t know what to expect. And that was the problem—
The helicopter moved, began to shift sideways, the rear of the craft pulling the vehicle to the left, like an ice skater coasting on ice. My heart thudded heavily in my chest. Was it supposed to do that? And then Blake, his hand wrapped around the stick, steered the chopper down a narrow runway, much like an airplane. We picked up speed. To my surprise, we were suddenly off the ground, not shooting straight up, but at an angle.
I held my breath as the chopper climbed to altitude. This wasn’t so bad… the helicopter wasn’t banking, at least not yet. With my hands still tightly clasped in my lap, I pulled my gaze away from Blake as he maneuvered the controls to glance out the window. San Francisco Bay spread out below as we passed over the Golden Gate Bridge.
And then we were soaring high over the landscape. My heart quit pounding and I actually felt some of the tension leave my shoulders. Maybe I could enjoy the ride—
The helicopter dipped nose down. My stomach dropped and I felt like I did when an elevator suddenly went down or up.
“What happened?” I squeaked in alarm. “Is something wrong?”
“Nothing, just a little bit of turbulence.”
He spoke loudly, not turning to look at me, for which I was grateful. Better he keep his focus on the control stick and the horizon. He did a good job keeping the helicopter level, but the buffeting the wind above the bay quickly took away my sense of ease. He spoke several times into his headset, and then pretty much, no, completely ignored me.
How long did it take to fly from San Francisco to wherever it was he was headed in southern Oregon? I was glad I had eaten a light breakfast. A dry English muffin. I hadn’t wanted my stomach to rumble or feel like I had to go to the bathroom during the initial meeting with Blake. I had a nervous bladder as it was.
I wasn’t feeling sick to my stomach or anything, but who knows what would’ve happened if I had indulged? I shook my head, thinking that Melanie wasn’t going to believe this. This morning, I had gotten out of bed thinking that I’d just have a brief introductory meeting with a billionaire, and here I was riding in a private luxury helicopter heading to who knew where.
The only two cities I could think of in southern Oregon were Medford and Grants Pass although I knew that southern Oregon was also home to the Rogue River National Forest, Crater Lake National Park, and Klamath Falls. Klamath Lake was pretty big… a popular tourist location for wilderness enthusiasts. The lake was one of the largest in the entire state.
“You okay back there?”
I nodded, then once again replied in the affirmative. “I’m okay!”
I had no idea where we were going, had no idea what would happen once we got there, but one thing was for sure. It was highly probable that hanging around with Blake Masters certainly wouldn’t be boring. I recalled the feel of the hard musculature of his thigh beneath my fingers. Another inch and I might very well have felt his—
The helicopter suddenly banked. I broke off a startled cry by quickly clapping one hand over my mouth. I felt dizzy and immediately lost my sense of equilibrium. Shit. That’s all it took. From that moment forward I fought a rising sense of nausea. As the aircraft sped forward, I felt even the slightest maneuver of the helicopter. I was never good at riding in the backseat of anything. I began to glance frantically around, looking for a barf bag, but there was nothing. I couldn’t throw up. I couldn’t! The thought was horrifying, humiliating, stupefying!
I closed my eyes, squeezed them tightly shut, my hands gripping the soft, plush seat on either side of my legs.
Don’t get sick, don’t get sick, don’t get sick.
I repeated the mantra over and over again. Over the roar of the helicopter blades and the sound of my own heart pounding in my ears, I vaguely heard Blake chuckle.
focused on the flight, trying to ignore my passenger. The problem was I kept getting distracted by the memory of her hand dangerously close to my junk. Not that she had done it on purpose. I knew she hadn’t. And it wasn’t even so much the touch as it had been the expression on her face when I glanced at her in surprise. I’d been touched there before, many times and in many different ways. But never quite like that, and never with an expression like I’d seen on Misty’s face.
For a second, I imagined that she’d never, ever, touched a man’s cock before. Could that be possible? Someone her age? Not that she was old, but certainly she wasn’t a virgin… was she? I decided it didn’t matter because no way in hell was I going to do anything about it.
I wanted to get this interview over with as soon as possible, but I wasn’t going to bend over backward to make it easy for her. If she wanted to be a journalist, she could work for it.
She hadn’t said much, nothing at all as a matter of fact, during the flight from San Francisco to the rustic resort property about thirty miles west of Klamath Falls. I’d just landed in a large clearing about one hundred yards from the eastern wall of the ranch house. It was sheltered by the mixed grove of Grand Fir, Douglas Maple, Mountain Birch, and Cedar I remembered from my previous visit, just before the repairs, maintenance, and improvements was contracted the previous fall. I was anxious to get this property up and running.
As I shut down the systems of the chopper, I pulled my headset off and glanced over my shoulder at the reporter. She sat quietly, her hands clasped tightly in her lap, her back ramrod straight. Her eyes were closed but I didn’t think she was sleeping. I noticed that she looked a little pale. Well, I had to admit, she was game.
I’d noticed the expression of surprise that flashed across her features back at my office when I told her that she would be accompanying me on my inspection. Whether her boss had deliberately neglected to inform her of that I had no idea, nor did I really much care, but I did feel a twinge of… of what? Guilt? No, I had nothing to be guilty about. Commiseration? Sympathy? Perhaps. I wasn’t sure. How could I feel sympathy or commiseration for someone I’d just met?
I continued to stare at her until she opened her eyes. Her gaze met mine. It was direct and for several seconds, we stared at one another. Then she blinked and glanced around. I watched her swallow.
“Are we there yet?” she asked.
It didn’t sound like she was joking. “If you’re going to throw up, wait until we get out of the chopper, will you?”
Her eyes widened, her mouth opened in surprise, and a flash of aggravation crossed over her features. I turned around and finished with the shutdown.
“Can I get out now?”
Her voice was a bit on the shaky side. Not wanting to risk an accident inside the chopper, I nodded. “Sure, but keep your head down and walk in one direction, well away from the blades before you stand up and start moving around.”
A second later, the door unlatched and she scrambled out. I watched through the window as she kind of lumbered away from the chopper, smiling with amusement at her hunched figure, bent almost double as she scrambled toward the northern edge of the clearing. At least she’d listened and was well away from the blades before she cautiously glanced over her shoulder and straightened. She stood at the edge of the trees clutching her satchel to her chest, the breeze from the now slowly rotating chopper blades kicking up dust, leaves, and small bits of debris. She squinted her eyes against it, staring at the chopper before shifting her gaze to her surroundings.
I yanked my gaze from her figure and focused on completing my post-flight checklist. By the time I stepped out of the chopper, the blades had quit rotating and bounced softly in the wind that swept off the mountain top a short distance away. I walked around the front of the chopper toward the reporter, noting that it was a beautiful day. The sky a deep, cobalt blue. Not a cloud to mar it. The scent of pine, loam, and soil, still slightly damp from a light rain the previous evening felt like home. I loved it up here, anywhere in the mountains actually. The first time I saw this place, I’d wanted it.
Not that I got everything I wanted. It didn’t work that way in business or in my personal life. I pushed thoughts of my personal life out of my mind as I approached the person who wanted to dig into it. As far as I could tell by the expression on her face, she was admiring the view of the surrounding mountains.
“Pretty up here, isn’t it?”
She turned to me and smiled. “It’s beautiful.”
I stared at the two dimples that appeared on her cheeks. Cute dimples that nearly begged my fingers to explore. What the —?
Clearing my throat, I gestured toward the main house, cabin really. Large cabin. “It’s empty now, just the two of us up here. In the last bedroom upstairs on the right, you’ll find a bedroom closet filled with clothes. Some of it left over from the previous tenants, and some bought by Matt—”
“Who’s Matt?” she asked as she continued to take in the surroundings, seeming to look everywhere at once.
“The vice president of my company.” I shrugged. “Sometimes our clients don’t exactly wear location-appropriate clothing. We’ve found it’s a good idea to have extra clothes on hand at all of our properties. Nothing fancy. Jeans, khakis, t-shirts, sweatshirts, that kind of stuff.”
She nodded, but I couldn’t tell what she was thinking. I knew that a lot of women abhorred wearing someone else’s clothes, let alone second hand. I didn’t really care what she wore. If she wanted to go traipsing around in her slacks and blouse, she could. At the same time, and I wasn’t exactly sure why, I got the impression that she wasn’t a snob. Many of the clientele who came to my properties were snobs. They were rich, walked around with an aura of entitlement and lofty expectations. But seriously, when you came to a wilderness outdoor adventure camp, what did you really expect?
Yes, many of my accommodations were luxurious, and I did try to provide a broad range of amenities for my higher-end clientele. After all, they paid the bills. At the same time, I attempted to keep my properties as affordable as possible to the average Joe. Hunters, adventure seekers, daredevils. They were the ones who gave my company the reputation of being able to provide rustic, genuine, and beautiful locations where they could enjoy everything that nature had to offer.
“Why Hard Impact?”
I didn’t realize my thoughts had been drifting until her voice jolted me back to awareness. She walked slowly toward the main cabin, glancing over her shoulder at me with a lifted eyebrow.
“Why did you name your company Hard Impact?”