Tracy dropped into her seat with a sigh. It’d been a long week, and she was ready to go home.
‘Home,’ she thought wryly, ‘as if it exists anymore.’
Passengers filed past her to their own seats on the plane, anxious to get to their destination. Vacation, home, visiting family… They had happy trips ahead of them. Tracy didn’t know what she had to look forward to. All she knew was she would be doing it alone.
A man stepped on the plane. He was tall and broad, everything Tracy wasn’t. Her petite frame next to him would look silly, but it didn’t matter. Not much mattered anymore.
His jade green eyes swept down the aisle, checking row numbers as he stepped closer and closer to the vacant seat beside Tracy. When his gaze met hers the corner of his mouth tipped up in acknowledgement.
‘Great,’ she thought. ‘The sexiest man on the plane is sitting next to me.’ She glanced down at her well worn outfit of jeans with a hole in the knee, Taylor Swift t-shirt that was softened with both age and wear, and hot pink wrap sweater that she never left home without. On her feet she wore flip flops to make the transition through security easier, but the chill in the air made her second guess that choice.
The man slid into the seat next to Tracy with the ease of someone who knew his body well. He smiled at her, a brief flash of perfect white teeth surrounded by luscious pink lips that made Tracy’s mouth water. “Hi, I’m Dylan,” he said, extending his hand toward her.
She sat there staring at him for what felt like entirely too long, but neither his smile nor his gaze faltered. When Tracy finally slipped her hand into his the smoothness of his palm contrasted with the roughness of his fingertips, sending shivers up her spine. “Nice to meet you,” Tracy stammered. “I’m Tracy.”
“Nice to meet you as well. What brought you to this sleepy little town?”
Tears welled up in Tracy’s eyes before she could stop them. She glanced out the window, wondering if she’d ever step foot in the town she grew up in again, knowing the answer was probably no. She had nothing to come back for. Her roots were severed, cut clean like the roof of her parents’ car when the jaws of life freed them from the wreckage. A small sob broke free, the first she’d allowed herself to cry since she got the phone call from the deputy sheriff. Until that moment she’d managed to keep it all bottled up, but knowing she was homeless, or at least rootless, was more than Tracy could handle.
“I’m sorry,” Dylan said from beside her. “I didn’t mean to upset you.” He rested a tentative arm over her shoulders, his warmth drawing her in. She leaned against him like he was the only thing keeping her from falling apart, even as she did just that.
When Tracy finally composed herself she looked down at Dylan’s neatly pressed white dress shirt, complete with a wet spot and mascara right in the middle. “Oh, my God. I am so sorry. I ruined your shirt.”
Dylan glanced down at it and waved his hand. “Nothing to worry about. I’m sorry for whatever I said. Are you okay?”
Tracy shook her head and offered a watery half-smile. “I’ll be fine. My parents… Phew, my parents were killed in a car accident ten days ago. Their funeral was…”
Dylan wrapped her into his arms again, pulling her tight against him. Tracy cried, letting out all the emotions she’d been keeping bottled up.
As she came back to herself from her second bout of tears, she was aware of the roar of wind rushing past the window outside, the steady thump of Dylan’s heart under her ear, the whisper of his hand up and down her back, and the rumble of his voice in her ear, promising her it would all be okay.
She allowed herself a few moments to listen to him, to let Dylan’s words sink in and to believe them, even though Tracy had no idea how everything would ever be okay again. For just a minute she started to believe him. That the sexy man she was cuddled against knew something she didn’t know and that he was right. That there was something more for her out there.
Tracy pried herself out of his arms, again, and tried to wipe her eyes. Dylan lightly grasped her chin and tipped her eyes up to his. With his thumb, he swiped the tears from her cheeks and leaned toward her.
Closer and closer he came, his intentions completely unknown to Tracy. Her breath caught in her throat, her heart hammered in her chest, her palms filled with sweat, and her whole body filled with anticipation.
In one second he had flipped her from a blubbering mess to a woman hotter than hell waiting for a kiss from a man. A woman who had forgotten all about the horrors she’d seen over the last ten days, from identifying her parents’ bodies to sorting through over 30 years of memories.
She wasn’t that woman with Dylan’s lips getting closer. His eyes, a deep rich brown that reminded her of the brownies she used to bake with her mother after school, bore into her as though he could read her soul. ‘Maybe he could,’ she thought.
Time seemed to freeze as Dylan moved closer, millimeter by millimeter as though he was dragging it out. Or maybe it was just Tracy’s brain, stalling time so she could enjoy it. A man hadn’t looked at her like that in a long time, like she was precious, and someone to care for. She was enjoying it.
When his lips finally reached her, Tracy’s eyes fluttered closed, her breath slipped from her lungs, and disappointment scorched her.