At the bottom, in her neat penmanship, she’d written
Agenda note # 1: Don’t be an idiot around Niall Stella. Don’t stare, don’t babble, don’t go mute. You can do this. He is human.
Only now did it occur to me that this journal could have been a diary of sorts, rather than a professional ledger. She’d been so anxious to go on a trip with a VP from the firm that she’d written herself up a pep talk.
Easing it back into her grip, I closed my eyes, tilting my head to her as I silently apologized for invading her privacy this time.
I dreamt of soft skin resting on my bare chest and kisses tasting of champagne.
I woke to the sound of the flight attendant over the loudspeaker telling us we would soon be making our descent into New York.
My eyes fluttered open, and I immediately winced. A stream of cold, dry air blew straight into my face and an engine seemed to roar in the background. I was awkwardly twisted in my seat, not to mention in desperate need of the restroom, but somehow . . .
I was so comfortable. Whoever I was next to was warm and firm and delicious-smelling, and—
I straightened with a jolt, disentangling from where I’d wrapped myself around Niall Stella’s arm and—oh, God—did I have my leg hitched up over his thigh?
The elevator was bad enough, and now this? Oh, God. Had I kicked a puppy or something in a past life? Why was I being punished?
I carefully disentangled myself from his body and looked around, realizing I had no idea what time it was. The cabin was still dark, and I noted that most people around us were sleeping, their shades drawn to block out any light. Smoothing my hair, I tried to stretch out my stiff muscles. My neck would be fine, but this bathroom situation would really need to be resolved. Sooner rather than later.
I sat back, ran my sweaty hands over my thighs, and gave myself a moment to take everything in. Yesterday, Niall Stella didn’t know I existed. Today, I’d practically flown to New York in his lap. In twenty-four hours I’d gone from Ruby Miller: Secret Admirer and Semi-Stalker, to Ruby Miller: International Traveling Mate.
Not to mention the fact that if I’d been asleep on him, parts of him had definitely been asleep on me. And well, that was going in my diary tonight.
He hadn’t moved yet. Which was bad because of the bathroom situation, but awesome because when would I ever have this opportunity again? Aside from that one hour at work a week, I never really got the chance to look at him like this. In meetings we were always surrounded by people, or passing quickly in the hall. Once, I stood behind him in the buffet line at a company gala, but all that really afforded me was a good look at his ass in tuxedo pants. Not a complaint, by the way. Niall Stella played soccer and rowed with a men’s club on the Thames every Saturday. His backside was in my Top Ten Favorite Niall Stella Body Parts (I was leaving spot one open for the time being).
But here, I was so close I could count his eyelashes if I wanted. And I sort of did.
Niall Stella wasn’t that much older than me—only seven years—but he looked so young like this. His hair was the tiniest bit mussed near the back, the front falling down over his forehead, shiny and soft. His pale green shirt was rumpled ever so slightly, and there, on the shoulder, was a dark patch of fabric.
I wiped at my face, cursing that he’d been so warm and snugglable that I’d fallen into a sleep heavy enough to drool on his fancy, four-thirty-in-the-morning suit. Help. I searched the area around us, finding nothing more than a crumpled napkin on my tray. Picking it up, I dabbed carefully, hoping maybe I could fix it all and he wouldn’t even notice. No such luck. Not only didn’t it work, but it jostled him enough that his eyes flashed open to find my face only inches from his.
He blinked a few times before his eyes widened, his gaze moving to the piece of tissue in my hand, and over to his shoulder.
“Sorry about that,” I muttered, following it up with a shaky, nervous laugh. “I’m a delicate napper.”
He smiled and there was a tiny, devious flash of dimples. “These things happen.”
I wanted to slap myself for the thought that came next, the urge to climb over and straddle his narrow, fit hips. Fucking hell, Ruby. Did you not read agenda note #1? Don’t be an idiot around Niall Stella.
He stretched, oblivious to my meltdown. “I seem to have dozed off myself there, so . . . I apologize for that.”
“Oh, God, no. Don’t be sorry. You looked adora—” I started, then snapped my mouth shut. “We’ll be landing soon, I’m just going to get changed.”
Without waiting for him to move, I climbed out of my seat, straddling his lap in the process. He made to stand before realizing I was a woman on a mission of escape and if he stood his crotch would come into direct, awkward contact with mine, so he simply grabbed his armrests as if holding on for dear life. It meant my ass was directly in his face, but I suppose that was preferable to an unintentional dry hump.
Life Alert? We have a situation here.
I didn’t look at him as I grabbed my carry-on from the overhead bin and moved as quickly as my legs would go to the nearest available bathroom.
Safely locked in the tiny room, I exhaled for what felt like the first time in minutes. Why was it so impossible for me to act like a normal human being around him?
“Get it together,” I told my reflection, and roughly opened my bag. I had everything I needed in there; unfortunately, the idea of changing in an airplane restroom was far better than the mechanics of actually doing it.