Tracy let Dylan kiss her. The feel of his mouth on hers made her forget everything she’d been through in the last few weeks. Guilt tried to swamp her, but she shoved it aside and tugged Dylan closer. She brushed her tongue against his lips and felt his chest rumble with a groan. Tracy smiled. Her mom would have been proud. As much as her dad always talked about chasing her dreams and finding her own way, her mom always encouraged her to seek out happiness, and love.
Not that she was in love with Dylan, of course. He was a stranger. She knew nothing about him. But he definitely stirred feelings in her she hadn’t felt in a very long time. Longer than she wanted to think about. There was no time for thinking when Dylan’s hand slipped over her cheek, tugging her just a little closer, pulling her into him.
Tracy didn’t resist. She couldn’t if she wanted to. His touch was intoxicating and his kiss… there were no words. She wanted to get lost in him. To find herself all over again in his world. To-
“Ouch,” she exclaimed as her lip smashed into Dylan’s teeth. The seat she was in shifted back to its rightful place.
“I’m so sorry,” said a woman’s voice from behind them. “Timmy, that was very rude. Don’t kick the seats in front of you.”
A child. Tracy’s distraction was derailed by a child.
Tears welled in her eyes before she could stop them. She turned from Dylan, suddenly self conscious. What was she thinking, kissing a stranger on a plane? He could be married, or involved, or crazy. And she was completely wrapped up in him.
“Are you alright?” Dylan asked. His hand hovered over her cheek, reaching for her but not touching. Tracy wanted to lean into him like a greedy cat. Her head even arched toward him, but she resisted.
She couldn’t lean on him. Her mom would want her to be happy, but the last words she spoke to her mother still rang in her head. Words she could never take back. Words she wished she’d never said.
“I’m sorry. I shouldn’t be dumping all my drama on you. I apologize. I’ll leave you alone,” Tracy said sadly, without looking at him.
He was silent for a moment. His hand still floated in front of her. She watched his palm, memorizing the callouses on his fingers and the way it felt against her cheek. For a moment she was free. For a moment she wasn’t that horrible person. For a moment she could recall her mother in happiness.
Dylan’s hand turned into a fist and lowered out of Tracy’s view. She breathed a sigh of relief. He was going to let her slink back into her corner. There was no reason for him to fight for her. They didn’t know each other. He owed her nothing.
“I should be the one apologizing. I forced myself on you and- Oh, God, are you alright?” Concern covered Dylan’s handsome face when Tracy glanced at him. She had no idea what made him stop abruptly, but he was staring at her mouth. She brought her hand up and winced when she contacted her lip.
Blood. She was bleeding. Tracy didn’t do well with-
“Tracy, can you hear me? Are you alright? Tracy? Can you hear me, Tracy?” a man’s voice repeated over and over again. Tracy felt like she was underwater. Swimming? Was she in a pool? Why was he trying to talk to her underwater?
She opened her eyes, looking up into the most beautiful pair of green eyes she’d ever seen. They were the same color jade as her mom’s favorite earrings. She’d worn them on her wedding day and saved them for Tracy. Her mom always wanted to see Tracy wear them on her wedding day.
A day her mother would never see.
Suddenly, Tracy was awake. The accident. Her parents’ death. The airplane. Dylan. Her lip.
Damn. She passed out.
Shaking her head she sat up, prying her head from Dylan’s chest.
“Be careful. Don’t sit up too quickly. Are you feeling okay?” he asked.
Tracy squeezed her eyes shut. “Yes. I’m sorry. Again. I just can’t seem to act like a normal human being around you.”
“Please don’t apologize for how you’re acting around me. I’m taking advantage of you. You’re the one whose just been through something horrible and I’m here kissing you like a starved man and pawing at you like a wild animal. I want to kick myself.”
A smile spread over her lips, making her lip hurt again. She winced from the pain and Dylan reached for her again. “Let me get you some ice,” he said, reaching up to call the flight attendant.
“No, it’ll be fine. I just split it-“
“On my teeth,” Dylan finished for her. “Because I couldn’t leave you alone. I saw you in the airport. You looked so sad. When I realized you were sitting next to me I wanted to do anything to make you smile again. I felt like, even for one minute, if you were smiling, things might not be so bad. I never imagined what you’ve been through though.”
Tracy tried to smile. The tears were back. She dabbed at the corners of her eyes, but it was no use. The floodgates were open again. She closed her eyes and tried to take deep breaths to calm herself down, but it didn’t work. Dylan’s arms closed around her, drawing her against his warm chest. She resisted for a second, but he wouldn’t let her go, cradling her into him, even against the beating his chair took from little Timmy while his mom wasn’t looking.