A Lie for a Lie Page 3

I try to make eye contact with the woman, but she’s too focused on the blackmailer to notice my panicked expression. “Aw. Aren’t you two sweet? Of course I can trade seats with you.”

“Thank youuuuu! I’m seat 3C.”

The lady moves to the row behind us. Awesome. Now I have no escape.

Sissy—whose name I finally remembered—doesn’t stop talking all through takeoff. Once we’re in the air, I order scotch on the rocks and make it a double. I’m going to need a lot of alcohol to survive this.

About a half hour after takeoff, she leans in, her mouth at my ear and her hand on my leg. She’s way too close to my junk to be appropriate. I try to move her hand, but she digs her nails in. “I need to use the bathroom. Wanna meet me in there?”

“Uh, I hardly fit in there on my own, let alone with another person.”

“Maybe I should ask for blankets instead.” She gives me an exaggerated wink.

I drop my voice to a whisper. “You do remember how you pretended to be pregnant and said it was mine. All over social media.”

She throws her head back and laughs loudly. “Oh my God! Rook, you are sooooo funny! That was just a joke!”

This chick is legit out there. “You posted about it for two months.”

“Well, you stopped answering my messages, and for like a month I thought I might actually be pregnant.”

“We used a condom.”

“Yeah, but there’s this drink my sister had, and I tried it too.” She waves her hand around. “Anyway. It didn’t work for me like it did for her, which is too bad because I think we’d make pretty babies together.” She nuzzles my biceps again. “We could try again if you’re staying in Seattle for a while.”

“Yeah, I don’t think that’s a good idea.”

“Why not?”

Because you’re certifiable. “I’m in a relationship,” I lie.

“Oh.” She stops hugging my arm. “Really? I haven’t seen you with anyone, and I follow all your social media accounts. I had to set up all new ones after you blocked me.” She seems annoyed by this.

“It’s pretty new.”

“We’re in another time zone, so it technically wouldn’t be cheating, right? Or you could just come in a cup for me if you think it’s a big deal. They can last a couple of days, as long as they don’t dry out.”

I spend the next several hours fighting off her advances. As far as flights go, this is the worst. I’d take turbulence and a crying infant over Sissy. The torture is prolonged when the pilot says we have to circle the airfield for another hour before landing.

Sissy rushes along beside me when we finally get off the plane. She’s still trying to persuade me that being in another time zone would make cheating okay. She follows me all the way to the gate and then wraps herself around me like an octopus.

Eventually security steps in, and she’s forced to let go of me. The whole situation reinforces my pledge to never sleep with another bunny, no matter how hot she is.




I manage to make my connecting flight to Anchorage despite our delayed landing. I’m grateful that the person next to me is a suit this time. I settle into my seat—it’s an aisle instead of a window, which isn’t my preference, but I’ll survive as long as I don’t have a crazy bunny next to me.

I stuff my earbuds in and cue up a movie on my entertainment console. After the last flight, I deserve three hours of brain candy.

Just as I settle on an action flick, a body lands in my lap. At first, I think I’m being accosted—yet again. It’s not unusual for women to literally throw themselves at me. Typically I’m not on a plane, though, but considering my last flight I shouldn’t be surprised by anything right now. “What the—”

“I’m so sorry!” says the voice attached to the body in my lap. She scrambles to right herself but jerks back, gagging, her tidal wave of silky, dark hair slapping me in the face. It smells like mint and cucumber, which would be nice if it weren’t in my mouth.

She grabs my shirt with one hand and catches my earbuds, yanking them free. The other hand curls under the fabric wrapped tightly around her throat. She’s sprawled across my lap, legs hanging over the armrest, face level with mine. She’s totally blocking the aisle, making it impossible for anyone to get by and creating quite the spectacle. “My scarf is caught,” she rasps. “Oh my God. I’m choking myself. I’m so sorry. This is so embarrassing.” The more she struggles, the more the scarf tightens, which in turn causes her to flail.

I slide a supporting arm behind her. “Stay still for a sec.”

She freezes, still gripping my shirt, eyes wide with panic. I turn my head to the side and lean forward. Her lips connect with my cheek.

“Oh!” She tries to turn away, but she really is stuck, so her nose ends up in my ear and her lips are still pressed against my jaw.

“Just give me a few more seconds, and you’ll be free.” She exhales heavily against my jaw, warm breath making my skin prickle. I lift her carry-on and use my foot to pull the scarf free from the wheel.

She loosens the fabric around her throat, dragging in a long, deep breath. “Thank you. So much. Choking to death on an attractive man’s lap really isn’t the way I wanted to go.” She squeezes her eyes shut and pushes to a stand. “I’m so sorry.”

She keeps her gaze averted as she gathers up the scarf that never seems to end. It gives me time to check her out. Well, shit. This woman is hot. Like pour a gallon of gasoline on me and light me on fire hot. She has long dark hair, a shade of brown so deep it’s nearly black. Her eyes are the color of coffee or chocolate—something with caffeine in it. Something that would amp me up. And her face . . . daaaaamn. High cheekbones, full lips, a dainty nose, arched brows, thick lashes.

I take in the rest of the package, which gives me pause because her outfit is just . . . out there. She’s wearing a full-on parka, hiding her figure, but based on her legs I’m thinking she’s probably slender. That’s a guess, though, with all the layers she has going on. And that scarf has to be a mile long with how many times she winds it around her neck, hence the near strangulation.

Her little wardrobe malfunction has resulted in a line of people waiting to board, so she rushes down the aisle, throwing another “So sorry” over her shoulder as she disappears into coach.

I’m almost disappointed. Almost, but not quite. I plug my earbuds back in and veg out to movies for the next three hours.

Once I land in Anchorage, I call my brother. He’s meeting me here so we can get on the putt-putt plane to Kodiak Island. It’s been a family ritual since I was a teenager. Even though our dad died two years ago, Kyle and I still carry on this tradition where we spend a few weeks fishing in Alaska. It is my favorite part of off-season and the thing I look forward to the most every year, even without my dad.

“RJ, hey, bro, I’ve been trying to get in touch with you for hours.” He sounds off—worried, maybe.

“I didn’t bother connecting to Wi-Fi on the plane. Where are you? Is everything okay?”

“It’s Joy.” He coughs, like he’s trying to hold back emotions.

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