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Episode 3


 My knee bobs up and down as I glance at the business class bathroom for the umpteenth time in the past twenty minutes. Isabelle hasn’t left the restroom since she bolted for it not long after takeoff. Although I could pretend her wish to hide isn’t grating my last nerve, my agitation is too perverse to ignore.


She let me clutch her throat without a single hesitation dampening her bright eyes, so why is she bowing out now? Believe me, there are far worse things I could have done to her than pulling back when I did, and I doubt they would have impacted the many improper thoughts that filled my head when she licked her lips in preparation for our kiss.


I want her. My yearning almost defies all rational thinking, but I must remain cautious. I’ve been burned in the past, so I’ll do everything in my power to skip a second scorching. It isn’t cowardly or unmanly to be vigilant. It’s smart… even with it feeling like it’s killing me.


 I internally battle my conflictions for another three minutes before the overwhelming urge to claim Isabelle overtakes any sense of normality. I’m out of my seat in an instant. The thuds of my polished dress shoes down the aisle are so loud, my race for the washroom isn’t just eyeballed by the air hostess who offered to refill my whiskey four times since Isabelle vaulted over my thighs, but by numerous guests have also spotted my sprint.


They probably think I’ve left Isabelle waiting this long because I’m panicked about being tsked by the flight attendants. That couldn’t be further from the truth, and if they knew me at all, they wouldn’t doubt my reply. A slap on the wrist doesn’t deter anyone. It is the reason my punishments are more deviant than that. I’m not cruel by any means, but if you hurt my family or those I love, you’d be wishing I were.


I curse under my breath when a sticker on the highly varnished restroom door sets my plan back by a couple of days. It advises the washroom has hygiene facilities for women.


The reminder Isabelle is on her period prompts me to what my objections were before memories of my deceased girlfriend convinced me I must live a miserably bleak existence.


 Although that was the plan up until two hours ago, it isn’t sufficient anymore. You need oxygen in your veins to live, but you also need purpose.


This afternoon is the first time in a long time I’ve remembered that.


I work hard for my empire.


I fight for my empire.


 And I live solely for my empire.


 That needs to change, and I could very well see Isabelle helping me do that. She has me all types of conflicted, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. A change is as good as a holiday, and I’m well overdue for one of them.


 With a new plan sorted and my confidence somewhere back near what it was when I raced down the aisle, I tap my fight-scarred knuckles on the polished washroom door.


“Just a minute,” Isabelle says a couple of seconds later, her voice startled.


My lips tug at the corners when neither the washroom sink nor the familiar whoosh of an airplane toilet sounds from the bathroom before the latch switches from red to green.


Assuming I’m one of the many other flyers seated in her section, Isabelle attempts to sidestep me. Her efforts are thwarted when our eyes collide for the briefest second. As her dilating pupils darken her eyes with desire, her lips part to suck in shallow breaths.


Her surprised face is almost as ravishing as the hope in her eyes that I’m here to collect restitution for my earlier tease. In a way, I am. It just won’t be while we’re thirty thousand feet in the air.


 Maintaining a rational head is all I know. I’ve sold businesses in the millions, dragged others out of a sea of red they should have drowned in, and have netted myself an extremely enticing amount of capital in only six short years, but all that logic flies out the window when Isabelle moans from my step into the bathroom. I’d give it all away in an instant just for the opportunity to hear it one more time.


 That is ludicrous to admit and has me rather worried someone spiked my drink.


“Why are you hiding in the bathroom?” My voice is thicker than usual, borderline snappy.

I’m not frustrated with Isabelle, but I am shocked about how quickly she knocked down my defenses. A man who has been burned as often as me shouldn’t be so open to the possibility of additional scars, but it can’t be helped. Not when it comes to a woman as captivating as Isabelle. It isn’t solely an attraction, either. I’m dying to unearth the secrets in her eyes as well.


 I slant my head to the side and arch a brow when Isabelle mumbles, “I’m not hiding.”


 We’ve only just met. However, I know she’s lying.


Seconds tick by at a rate three times slower than normal when my glare instigates an intense gray-eyes-versus-brown-eyes, lust-fueled stare-off. Her gall is both amusing and arousing. Men quiver in their boots when they’re subjected to my rueful glare. Isabelle gobbles it up as if it is candy. My cock hardens, imagining what else she’d swallow down just as eagerly. It sits heavy against the zipper in my pants, embarrassingly firm to the point it appears capable of breaking the zipper.


 I divert my stare before my cock ruins the trousers my tailor only delivered last week. It does little good. Isabelle’s Cupid’s-bow lips are one of her most tempting features, and when they raise into a smile, they have a man believing it’s okay to make a mess in his pants.


 While scrubbing at my jaw, muted with disgust about my confession, I dig a business card out of the pocket of my trousers, eager to move on to the next stage of my plan. It’s no easy feat with how hard I am. The pleat in my trousers no longer exists, and the victorious gleam pumping out of Isabelle’s eyes is solely responsible for it.


 With my astuteness up and vanished, I stick with the well-versed script I generally utilize when seeking a woman to warm my sheets for a night. “I don’t have time for relationships.”


The throb pulsating through my cock matches the thumps of my heart when Isabelle replies, “That’s okay, neither do I.”


Her response wasn’t what I was anticipating, but I played it to my advantage. “If we do this, you need to be aware it’s a one-time-only deal. There won’t be any calls in the morning, no dates next week. One time only.”


 I’m the thickest I’ve ever been when she nods without pause for thought. She truly appears not the least bit confronted by my terms, which adds to my fascination. She doesn’t seem like the type of woman to sleep around. It seems as if she is so blinded by the spark igniting between us, she’s taking as many risks as me.


Needing to leave before I prove to her that she should always follow her intuition, I step closer to her, curl my hand around hers, raise it, then place a business card for a new dance club I recently opened in the heart of Ravenshoe into her palm. “Meet me here Saturday night at ten o’clock.” Incapable of leashing my natural dominance, I add, “Make sure you wear a dress. Panties are optional.”


 There are no rooms at the Dungeon. Only my office, which I plan to test the durability of my desk for hours once she arrives Saturday night.


 After taking a moment to suck in Isabelle’s sweet smell that makes it seem as if we’re not in the middle of a stinky washroom, I pivot on my heels and stalk to the door. I’m almost all the way there when Isabelle loses the ability to hold in her gasp of frustration.


My shrewd head tells me to keep walking, but like many times tonight, I ignore it.


 I spin around to face Isabelle, my footing a little unsteady from the heat sluicing my smarts. Once I’m facing her head-on, I tell her exactly what is on my mind. “Believe me, there’s nothing more I’d like to do right now than find out what you look like under all those clothes. But if I start, I won’t stop.”


My hands ball into fists when she mumbles under her breath. “Who said I wanted you to stop?”


 You have no idea how hard it is not to ravish her right now. I wouldn’t hold my desires back if there weren’t a massive obstacle standing in my way. “Are you on your period, Isabelle?”


She gasps down a shocked breath as her eyes bulge out of her head. “W-w-what?”


Her stuttered response answers my question on her behalf. “That’s what I thought.” I fight the urge to step closer to her. My internal conflict is heard in my voice when I advise, “There’s no way I’ll only be able to sample half of you, Isabelle. I want to taste all of you.”


The sound of her knees knocking together is the equivalent of liquid gold to my ears. It thickens the blood congealing my heart before it drops several inches lower.


I watch her for the next several seconds, my gawk intense and fire-burning before I spin back around and dart out of the washroom quicker than I entered it. If I don’t leave now, I’ll test more than a theory that sexual endorphins can overtake fear-induced chemicals. Hugo has an obvious dislike of blood during sexual exertion, but even he can’t deny his interest in discovering if a woman’s cycle alters the strength of her climaxes.


 I scrub at my chin housing the expected five o’clock shadow for this time of the day while sidestepping the air hostess responsible for taking care of my section of the plane. Even with my hands staying well away from Isabelle—much to their dismay—I can still smell her sweat-slicked skin on mine. That’s how bristling the heat bouncing between us was, and it has me more than eager for the next five days to race by in a nanosecond.


 After slotting into my seat, my smirk much too convincing of my happiness for my liking, I signal for the stewardess to bring me another whiskey. She’s quick to jump to my command, but the abrupt placement of my glass onto the side tray of my seat exposes how truly lucky I am. If Isabelle hadn’t bumped into me when she did, I could have had another Theresa on my hands by the end of my flight.


I show my appreciation for Isabelle’s clumsiness with a smile when she returns to my side mere seconds after the stewardess stormed off in a huff.


“Isabelle,” I greet her, smirking more when her name rolls off my tongue in a throaty purr.

 She tries to brush off the quiver rolling down her spine by returning my greeting with a formal salutation before she scoots past me and plops into her seat. The bob of her knee matches mine when she drinks in the brilliant blue sky. However, the gnawing of her lip is solely her. I don’t think she realizes she’s doing it. Her bite isn’t painful. It reflects more a nervous twitch than a wish to have her lip bitten.


I almost choke on a mouthful of whiskey when Isabelle suddenly jackknifes away from the window and blurts out, “How did you know I was on my period?”


 I take a moment to consider a response before hitting her with straight-up honesty. She doesn’t seem the type to appreciate lying, so I’d rather not have her on the backfoot from the get-go. “Other than the fact your Kindle was open on a sappy Mills and Boons romance book and the two empty chocolate wrappers in your satchel, the tampons were the biggest indication.”


She smiles, loving my stumble over the word ‘tampons.’ I’m as masculine as it gets. I’ve fought bare-knuckled, swam with sharks, and have had tussles with mafia kingpins that would usually result in death, but even I don’t like discussing womanly products.


 With her ego feeding off my unease, Isabelle says on a laugh, “They could have been my emergency stash.”


I shake my head in both denial and surprise. “Like guys who carry condoms in their wallets?” When she nods, I lean in close to ensure my next set of words is only for her ears. “Any guy who tells you he’s carrying a condom in his wallet in case of an emergency is full of shit. We only put a condom in our wallet with the full intention of using it the night we put it in there.”


 “So, let me guess, the first thing you do when you wake up is place a condom in your wallet?” she asks before she can stop herself.


 I throw my head back and laugh, loving the touch of jealousy in her tone. “Not every morning.” I hit her with a brazen wink, doubling the lust roaring through her eyes. “Just every second morning.”


 She looks torn between vomiting and crying but tries to act unaffected by my inaccurate statement. “Did you put a condom in your wallet this morning?”


Before I can answer her, a cough sounds from above. I don’t need to look up to know the flight attendant is back. I can see her reflection in Isabelle’s massively dilated eyes, much less smell the putrid scent of a scorned woman from a mile out. Her burning skin exposes I hit the nail on the head when I said she would be the equivalent of a Theresa Veneto. My interactions with Theresa years ago still have me balancing precariously on a tightrope, so I’m more than eager to avoid another ruinous tiptoe.


Isabelle’s eyes bounce between me and the prong in my backside when I answer her question as if we were never interrupted, “No, I didn’t.” I louden my voice to ensure the flight attendant doesn’t need to strain to hear me before continuing, “Why do you think it took me so long to join you in the bathroom?”


My third whiskey for this flight is placed down as abruptly as the second one before we’re once again left alone.


 Either too shy to talk openly about sex in front of an audience or needing a second to compose herself, Isabelle waits for the hostess to disappear into the gulley of the plane before asking, “So even if I weren’t on my period, we wouldn’t have done anything?”


The disappointment in her tone has me wishing it was 9:55 p.m. Saturday.


It also has me sensing a playfulness I haven’t felt in years.


With my eyes locked on Isabelle’s dilated gaze, I nudge my head to the man seated across from us. Just like every other traveler in this section of the plane—excluding Isabelle—he’s formally dressed. Does his pricy suit make him more noble than Isabelle? Not at all. He has almost an entire drumstick lodged down his throat, and I’ve yet to hear him gag. They say you can tell a lot about a man by the way he eats, but it appears as if this man didn’t get the memo he’s supposed to showcase his skills on ice cream.


Realizing I’m getting off track, I push out like it’s no big deal, “He’ll need to replenish his wallet before he goes on the prowl tonight.”


Isabelle’s jaw hits the floor as her seductive scent increases. “You didn’t… you wouldn’t… you can’t ask someone to borrow a condom, can you?”


 I take a few moments to relish the fear bounding out of her before replacing it with lust. “I’m joking, Isabelle.” My breaths tickle her sweat-slicked neck when I mutter, “You would have just had to ride me bareback.”


 When hope gleams into Isabelle’s eyes long before worry, it’s the fight of my life to sink back to my side of our conjoined seats. It’s only accomplished because we’re still being watched by the freaks in the seats across from us.


I’m all about winning, but since anyone but me seeing Isabelle’s ecstasy-riddled face would be classified as a loss, I press down on the brakes, slowing my race to the finish line even more than Isabelle’s ill-timed period.


* * *


 “Give me your eyes, Isabelle.” The multiple funds in my bank accounts seem inconsequential when Isabelle jumps to the snapped command in my tone. Even with fear encroaching her from all angles, my thick timbre is all that is needed to pull her out of the storm unscathed.


“Concentrate on anything but your fear,” I suggest when the plane’s rapid descent has her on the verge of a panic attack. “My voice. The wine sloshing in your stomach since you preferred a liquid dinner instead of food. How I’m going to replace the bitemarks in your bottom lip with my teeth.”


I wasn’t meant to say my last sentence out loud, but I’m grateful I couldn’t hold back when Isabelle sucks in the quickest breath. It isn’t dense enough to fill her lungs with air, but it will save her from passing out.


“Then, once I’ve finished with your mouth, I’ll shift my focus a couple of inches lower.” When the back of my hand follows the lowering of my eyes, Isabelle’s nipples bud. They press against the thin material of the white t-shirt she’s wearing and have my astuteness teetering on a very rocky cliff edge.


Isabelle’s chest rises and falls as fast as it did when the captain announced we were about to commence descent, but now it’s more in the hope her erect nipples will connect with the hand I’m hovering a mere inch away from her chest. She’s still scared, but the needs of her libido have outranked the fear clutching her throat, proving my assumption was accurate. You can get a woman to do just about anything when lust is clouding her judgment.


“Eyes, Isabelle,” I demand again, a mere second before I brush the back of my hand down her chest, growling when the scent of her pussy engulfs more than my nostrils. It has my senses on lockdown too.


We breathe as one for the next several seconds when my spare hand scrubs at the throb in her throat. I could clutch it like I did earlier, but just having my hands on her in some way has her completely oblivious to how close we are to landing. The wheels are down, the air hostesses are strapped in, and I’m so fucking hard, walking off this plane is going to be mighty uncomfortable.


“What time are we meeting Saturday, Isabelle?” She requested me to call her Izzy earlier when our meals were served, but I prefer her full name. Her nickname represents her playful side, but that isn’t what I want. I want her unguarded. Real. Almost raw. I want her how no one else has had her, and if my intuition is anything to go by, that will require more than one night beneath the sheets.


 “Ten O’clock,” Isabelle answers, shocking me that she can talk through the panic gripping her senses.


“And what are you to wear?”


 A lusty gleam flares through her eyes when her lips curve upwards. “A dress.”


 “Minus…” I lean closer to her. So close, there’s no denying we’re sharing the same breaths.


“Minus…” She pauses as long as I did, bringing the tension teeming between us from an eight to an eleven. “… any panties.”


 Her submissiveness might be even more seductive than her eyes. There’s no greater sensation in the world than being handed someone’s power willingly, so you can imagine how chomping at the bit I am to accept the scarce bit Isabelle is already handing over.


 With our eyes locked and our lips almost touching, the pilot executes the perfect landing. We barely skid for two seconds before the tires grip the asphalt, and victory sparks the biggest smile out of Isabelle.


Unlike during takeoff, it isn’t me who yanks back this time around. Isabelle does. She’s so eager to get out of the ‘death trap’ she is convinced will claim her life one day, she tosses off her seat belt, climbs over my lap like my cock isn’t pitching a tent, snatches her jacket and hideously ugly satchel out of the overhead bins of the seat behind us, then strays her eyes to me. “Are you coming, Mr. Holt?”


You didn’t hear that wrong. It sounded as provocative as you believed.


Isabelle has excess adrenaline to burn, and her period is ruining everything.


“Lead the way, Ms. Brahn.” Since my voice is as seductive as hers, she misses my slip up of her last name. It’s for the best. That conversation could only end one way—awkwardly.


I haven’t chased this hard in years, and my last victory didn’t end well, so I’m confident you can understand my reluctance to pursue Isabelle with the same intensity. Alas, it seems as if one glance into Isabelle’s chocolate-brown eyes annihilate all my astuteness and don’t get me started on the yearning it instigates.


 The friction that built between us during our flight duplicates as we make our way down the gangway side by side. We’re surrounded by hundreds of other passengers, but my eyes only ever glance one way.


Isabelle doesn’t seem to mind my gawk. Anytime she catches it, her lips part to suck in much-needed breaths before they curl into a smile. Her concealed grins have me watching her even more intently.


Once we reach the end of the departure gate, Isabelle spins around to face me. “It was a pleasure to meet you, Mr. Holt.”


My lips quirk in amusement when she thrusts out her hand to farewell me with a handshake.

Never one to part ways on a sour note, I raise her hand to my mouth and press a kiss to the edge of her palm. It’s one part of the body that is often ignored, even with it doing most of the work for your hands. “Until Saturday, Isabelle.”


She waits for our eyes to collide before she dips her chin, slips her hand out of mine, then hesitantly makes her way to the departure lounge. I watch her, aware I look like a creep but unable to force my eyes away.


Organizing a casual hookup is not unusual for me, but the sudden realization I won’t be able to strip emotions out of our exchange as I do my business dealings is foreign.


It’s fortunate for me risk-taking is what I live for. Whether in business or personal life, if I want it, I go for it because I’d rather die failing than wondering what could have been.


Isabelle has sparked an interest out of me, and unlike a man too afraid to work out why, I’m going to endeavor to ignite the flame to an enraging inferno. My empire is the success it is because I don’t comprehend the words ‘back down.’ Now my personal life will fall into step—even if I have to strongarm it into submission.




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