Can a red-hot fling equal true blue love?
The Thorns, Book 3
Something's flying on Miller Thorn's trip home to the Australian bush--and it's not just the plane. The attractive American woman sitting next to him is striking sparks hotter than an Outback wildfire.
Miller's never claimed to be good at relationships--witness the straining ties that bind his own family--but this woman is just his type. The type that flat-out asks for a one-night stand. No strings, no names.
Kaycee Hollenbeck's ready to start a new life as a free woman, and what better launching pad than a gorgeous Australian's bed? Anonymity suits her just fine, but a girl's gotta know whose name to scream.
One night turns into two, and suddenly fate seems to be conspiring to weaken their determination to keep it simple. Particularly when it turns out her new job is just down the road from the Thorn family station.
Caught between a family that's falling apart and a woman he doesn't know how to let go of, Miller struggles with trust issues when a secret from Kaycee's past rears its ugly head.
A secret that could threaten the future they had told themselves they never wanted in the first place...
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December 30, 2008
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Excerpt from True Blue Love by Melissa Lopez
In flight Australia.
No losing your temper on a birdie, mate.
Miller's skull started to thump. He pinched the bridge of his nose in an attempt to relieve the headache coming on.
A glance at his watch told him they had just over two hours of flight time left. Teach him to ever fly commercial again. He hated not being able to stop when he bloody well felt like it.
Since boarding, he'd wanted off. Unfortunately, one of the most irritating blokes he'd ever met sat two seats away.
He shifted once more. Even in first class, the seat was a snug fit. Or maybe it wouldn't be if he could forget he sat beside one of the world's true beauties. Since leaving Sydney, he'd lost count of how many glances he'd stolen of the Yank.
Every time she'd gotten up he'd gotten an eyeful. She was something to gaze upon. A lot of long, blue-black hair framed her face. A time or two, a gray eye had flashed his way, putting him in mind of a stormy sky. He didn't mind getting lost in the sky. Any sky.
She'd tried to talk to him a time or two. Now he regretted not pursuing a conversation. The attention had left him tongue-tied. Hell, talking wasn't a special strength of his. Now, orders he could give. His father had taught him that much.
Never in his bloody life had he ever been so aware of a woman before. He wiped his sweaty palms on his pants. Did his best to ignore the lust she invoked.
Their arms brushed. Another thrill heated his blood. He swallowed. Every time their bodies connected, a jolt went through him. He wasn't able to get used to the instant turn-on. The constant arousal she provoked.
"I'm sorry." The Yank attempted to shrink in the chair.
"No worries, sheila." He placed his elbow on the arm of the chair on the aisle and braced his chin on his fist. Still, he felt the warmth of her body.
"Plenty of room my way." The drunken whacker on the woman's other side patted the chair arm.
Again, the woman ignored the man.
Miller had never wanted to put his fist down a stranger's cakehole as much as he did this bloke's. The man had been nothing but loud and obnoxious. Earlier, he'd started an argument with another first-class passenger over American football.
What annoyed Miller most--from time to time, he'd made a pass at the beauty between them.
"No need to be shy..." Again, the bloke patted his chair's arm.
Miller clenched his teeth.
"Excuse me, please." The beauty stood to get around him. This wasn't the first time she'd left her seat. Again he got an eyeful of her rounded arse. He'd look his fill this time around. Wouldn't close his eyes when he noted her returning.
Miller tried to move his knees out of the way. Admittedly, as a big man it wasn't easy. But he did what he could to allow her to pass by.
The plane hit turbulence, and the Yank landed in his lap.
The seatbelt sign came on.
He grunted as the aircraft hit another air pocket, and she bounced on his thighs. He inhaled her light scent. Christ, she had a mass of jet black hair. The semi-erection he'd been struggling with won. His prick stiffened as her soft body lingered against his.
"Oh." She scrambled up. "I'm so sorry."
To keep her balanced, he grasped one of her arms as the plane went through another patch of rough sky. A stronger wave of arousal awoke deep inside him. A current of which he'd never experienced the likes of before.
Stormy gray eyes attempted to swallow him whole.
This time he didn't look away. His breath rushed from his lungs as he got his first real look at her. From her profile, he'd liked what he'd seen. Yet now, he felt like the plane had plunged twenty-thousand feet. The clear skin of her heart-shaped face flushed. Arched black eyebrows, a straight nose and a full pouty mouth defined her features. Then she did something few women did for him. She smiled, showing twin dimples.
Raw lust heated his blood. His balls drew up tight.
Not since he'd been sixteen had he responded this way.
She wasn't a beauty in any classical sense.
No, in his book she was better. Curvaceous and cute as hell. Dynamite in a package a good foot shorter than he was. Though he couldn't be any more accurate because of the ridiculous thick-heeled boots she wore.
Oh, eh. He had himself a real problem now. Damn hard to focus past his hard-on.
A loud whistle cut the air. "Wish I'd had the aisle seat."
A tic beating to life in his cheek, he let her go.
"Excuse me." The sheila shuffled around his other leg.
Through half-lidded eyes, he watched her arse until she disappeared into the restroom. No, this time, he wouldn't look away. And if he got lucky, and she tried to talk to him again, he'd manage some sort of response.
A minute or so later, she reappeared. He looked on as she spoke with a flight attendant.
Miller frowned when the little Yank crooked her finger at him. Curious, he unbuckled his belt. When the flight attendant passed by him, he made his way over to her.
"Um..." Her white teeth raked over her lower lips, causing his balls to tingle. "I hate to ask..." She gasped as the bird hit another rough patch of turbulence, and she grabbed his shirt.
Miller braced his legs while he clasped her shoulder. "It's all right."
"I've not flown before. Well, I mean since before leaving Iowa."
He grunted. He flew nearly every day.
A dimple winked at him as she smoothed down his shirt front. "Sorry about that." The caressing fingers stimulated his nipples. His prick pulsed in need.
Arousal. Desire. It was a powerful force. What a bloody fine time to be dealing with lust.
He glanced at the unoccupied restroom.
Joining the mile high club would relieve some of the growing sexual tension. But even if the Yank was interested, he had no desire to be arrested.
Christ, he had to get a hold of himself. He didn't pick up women in bars, let alone on a bird at twenty thousand feet. Unlike his brothers, who had taken to the clubs for one-night stands, bars had never been his scene. Instead, when the need struck, he paid for sex. No strings. No fuss. And like many men, his palms had always been his best friends.
"Sheila, you wanted something?"
"Oh, yes." Her hand fluttered over her exposed cleavage.
Miller's gaze was drawn to her long, painted nails as much as to the lush swell of her breasts.
She moved closer, so he'd hear her better. "I hate to ask, I don't want to make you any more uncomfortable..."
A frown tightened the skin across his forehead as he met her expressive eyes. He was in trouble. He liked the sound of her voice. It was light, a breeze on a hot summer day.
Since when had he ever noticed a woman's voice? Or what kind of bloody shoes one wore?
"I've asked the flight attendant, but there are no unoccupied seats available on this flight." She lowered her lashes. "Would you mind switching seats with me? I hate to ask..."
Suddenly realizing he still held on to her, he let her go and peered over his shoulder at the obnoxious bloke. "No worries, I don't mind."
"Thank you." She sighed. "If I had to sit by him another minute... His touch creeps me out."
"He physically harassed you?" His teeth clenched. Dammit. He hadn't noticed since he'd been spending his time trying not to eyeball her.
"Nothing I couldn't handle." She wiped her hands on her jeans. "I'm sure it's the alcohol coming out."
Eh, the bloke had put some away. But some blokes were always pig's arses. "Come on, sheila." He turned away from her to lead them back to their seats.
Taking the center chair, he made sure to take up as much room as he possibly could.
"Come on, man." The bloke leaned forward.
Miller turned his head to meet the man's gaze. "I'd like nothing better than to be given a reason..."
With his mouth twisted up, the man plastered himself up against the wall.
Thought as much.
Kaycee recrossed her legs. This time, she brought one to rest along that of the Australian.
Holy snap. The man was yummy. And big. Too bad he was so quiet.
She bit her lip so she wouldn't bother him again. It was clear he wasn't interested in talking, let alone her. But the need for sex hummed in her veins. For hours, she'd been fantasizing over the big Aussie.
What she wouldn't give to be her best friend right now. Just what would Gina do in this situation? Gina would be in her element coming on to this man. She, on the other hand, always waited for the guy to make a move. Only there'd been very few moves toward her. Not with Ginas in the world to act first.
Doug had stolen so much from her.
Now, she wasn't comfortable in loud clubs. The feel of the music pumping in her heart unnerved her. And she wasn't crazy about the fact many considered clubs to be meat markets for easy pickups. But she still tagged along with Gina because there were aspects she did like. There was never enough time for her girlfriends anymore. She loved music, and she liked to watch people. Yes, she'd call herself a people person.
So what's stopping you now?
Now was different. She didn't just want to be friendly. She wanted to be seductive.
Just try to talk to him again.
Time and again, Gina had encouraged her in the past months. She could do this on her own.
Unable to help herself, she pressed into his hard-as-rock biceps. Just one little touch wouldn't hurt. "Do you fly a lot?" Her fingers twitched to caress the thick muscles of his arm. Like the muscles across his chest, the muscles in his arms ran along the bone, thick and defined.
"Eh, I do." Stunning blue eyes met hers for the briefest of moments before he faced forward again.
Refusing to give up just yet, she rested her head on the cushion. "Are you traveling on business?"
"Eh, I was."
Okay. At that short answer, she leaned back into her seat. She'd tried to come on to him. Unsuccessfully. Maybe she could find a class for this sort of thing...
He surprised her when he turned to face her. "I was in Sydney for some AusSAR training."
A quiver raced along her spine. He'd spoken to her. Progress.
The man was dreamy. Ruggedly handsome. Like his shoulders, his face was broad. His nose and mouth were a perfect fit in the hard plains of his face. His blond hair needed a trim.
"AusSAR?" She remembered to breathe.
"The national search and rescue organization. It's part of the Australian Maritime Safety Authority."
She smiled. It'd be easy to listen to him talk. Way easy. "That sounds exciting."
In her mind's eye, a scene of her friend Gina letting some guy take her against a bar's wall startled her. Her face heated. How many times had Gina had a one-night stand?
Did she have it in her to even dare? Risk something so personal with a man she didn't even know?
"Are you married?" Impulsively she took a risk.
"What?" He leaned closer as if he hadn't heard her.
She swallowed, her stomach knotting with nerves. "Are you married?" She kept her voice low as she took another glance at his hands where they rested on his thighs. He had big hands. No band or suntan line was evident on his ring finger.
"Are you engaged?"
He blinked long lashes. "No."
"Are you in a relationship?"
His nostrils flared. "No, sheila, I'm not."
"After we land..." Kaycee's heart pounded a frantic rate. "After we land, would you like to get a room with me?"
"Aren't you forgetting another important question?"
Oh...no... "Oh..." She straightened up in her seat at the heat burning her face. "I'm sorry." When would she ever learn? How many times had Gina said the good ones were either married or gay?
"Sheila, come here." He hadn't moved, so she leaned back over. "Are you clean?" His low voice rolled along her skin. Holy snap, she loved his Aussie accent.
"What?" She blinked then moaned, ducking her head against him.
Oh, how embarrassing. That was the question she'd forgotten. Though she'd often worried that wasn't something her friend bothered to check.
She nodded, unable to look up. "Are you?" There was no incentive for him to tell the truth.
"Eh, I am. Sheila, you sure about this?"
Why would any man say he wasn't clean when he was about to get lucky? But regarding his steady gaze, she believed him. Something more than excitement spread through her--she liked the Aussie. Instantly, she trusted him.
Briefly her eyes closed.
Sex with a stranger could be a good thing.
She met his blue gaze once more. Looking into his handsome face, she'd bet he did this sort of thing all the time.
Nipples tingling, she pressed closer. "Will you kiss me?"
At the brush of his lips, she clasped his face. His scruffy skin was rough under her fingers. She whimpered, tasting the beer he'd drank earlier.
The kiss was gentle and too brief. Not anything like she'd expected from a man his size.
"Oh, yes, yes I am." She gulped for a steadying breath.
He kissed her again. This time his tongue delved into her mouth. She moaned, loving the feel of his large one dancing with hers. He teased her to distraction, sending delicious sensations through her body. His hand closest to her slipped into her lap to caress her thigh.
Leaving her breathless, he broke the embrace of their lips. "One rule, sheila."
"No names. No important info exchanged." His nostrils flared, alerting her that the kiss had affected him too. "One night together. That's all."
That seemed best, considering this was casual sex with no strings. "Okay." She nodded, their breath mingling.
"Eh, then, we'll share a room."