One Night With a BillionaireBy: VickiLewis Thompson
Time was so fickle. It slowed down when Melanie least wanted it to, like whenever she was sitting in the dentist’s chair, or she had to wait in line to renew her driver’s license. But the next two days with Drew shot past with blinding speed.
The hours were packed with a blur of images—their private tour of the Louvre, a candlelit dinner at the Eiffel Tower, an early morning visit to Notre Dame, café au lait sipped at a sidewalk café, an afternoon stroll past brilliant flower stalls and fruit markets, and an evening boat ride on the Seine.
The new credit card was delivered to Drew’s townhouse, and Melanie was able to pick up souvenirs for her mother and her friends. She also bought a cheap camera and took pictures of everything she saw. No doubt her friends would like pictures of Drew, but she was shy about taking any. She didn’t want to make assumptions or cross any invisible barriers by mistake.
Way before she was ready for the end of her fairy tale, she found herself lying with Drew in their cozy hotel room for the last time. They’d come together with a different kind of desperation tonight, one tinged with sadness that their time together in Paris was nearly over.
She faced him and looked into those incredibly blue eyes. She hated talking about the details of leaving, but she needed to. “I should get to the airport early in the morning,” she said.
He stroked her hair back from her face. “Not too early, darlin’. You’re going home in my plane.”
She sighed. She should have anticipated that he wouldn’t let her suffer through any potential airport drama. “That’s very generous, but I have a ticket. I may have to navigate a little red tape because I physically am not in possession of it, but—”
“I’m going back, too, so you might as well catch a ride with me.” He smiled, and when he did that, he was irresistible. “There will be empty seats.”
“Are you fibbing to me for the first time? You said when we met that you planned to stay two weeks. I distinctly recall you saying that.” She remembered their meeting in vivid detail and probably always would.
“I did plan to stay two weeks, but some unexpected business came up, and I have to head on home.”
She narrowed her eyes, still suspicious of his motives. “Are you sure about that?”
“You bet.” His expression was relaxed, as if he had truth on his side. “I really have to go back.”
“I still say it’s very convenient that you suddenly have to leave when I have to leave.”
He shrugged. “Suit yourself. If you insist, you can be crammed into a center seat of the middle row with crying babies on one side of you and partying college kids on the other side. Or you can fly back in a quiet cabin with me.”
She couldn’t help laughing. The trip over had been a real rodeo, very much like he’d just described. “Well, when you put it that way . . .”
“I knew you’d come to your senses.” He grabbed her and rolled her onto her back. “And we can leave on our schedule, so you don’t have to get up at dawn.”
She gazed at him and fluttered her eyelashes. “Meaning what, kind sir?”
“We have more time for this, dear lady.” He lowered his head and gave her a kiss that was both gentle and sweet.
But she wanted more than gentle and sweet. Thrusting her hands through his hair, she gripped the back of his head and pulled him into an open-mouthed kiss filled with all the passionate longing churning in her heart.
Catching fire, he gave it right back to her. He continued to ravage her mouth as he reached for a condom. Lifting his head, he brushed the condom packet against her cheek. “Put it on for me?”
“Gladly.” She took the packet, ripped it open, and tossed the packaging aside. Then she reached down and grasped his thick, warm penis.
He groaned. “Damn, that feels good.”
“It gets better.”
“I know, darlin’. That’s why I gave you the condom.”
She rolled it on with practiced ease, caressing him as she went along. In their nights together, he’d become quite fond of having her take care of this chore. She finished by cupping his heavy balls and squeezing gently. How she ached for him!
His breathing grew ragged as his lips hovered over hers. “Tell me what you want, Melanie.” Easing down, he settled between her thighs. “You can have anything—anything in the world.”
“That’s too easy.”
“That’s all I want.”
“Then I’m yours.” Looking into her eyes, he probed once, and slid home. “All yours.”
She drank in the fierce heat of his blue gaze as he began to move within her. How easily he said those words. Too easily. But he was hers for the rest of the night. She would treasure every minute in his arms.
The following morning was a busy one for Drew as he talked with his staff about the maintenance projects he wanted them to handle while he was gone. He hoped to be back in less than a month, which would give them time for a thorough cleaning of all drapes, rugs, and bed hangings. They could also deal with the plumbing problems he’d noticed. The townhouse was old, and something was always going wrong with it. Drew didn’t care about the constant maintenance because he loved the ambiance of the place, and he wanted to stay on top of any issues.
He hadn’t lied to Melanie about having urgent business in Dallas, either. He’d put off important phone calls concerning the charity event while he’d concentrated all his attention on her. To use an old-fashioned term, he’d been courting her, although she was charmingly oblivious to the fact.
When he’d finally returned some of those calls yesterday, he’d realized that he could handle the issues more efficiently in person. But that wasn’t the most important reason to go back. Now that he’d found Melanie, he wasn’t about to let her out of his sight, at least not until they’d had a serious discussion about the future.
Over the years he’d learned the value of timing, and he knew that picking the right moment to tell Melanie how he felt about her was critical. He’d considered talking to her during their last night together. He had confessed his feelings, in fact, but she obviously hadn’t realized that he’d meant exactly what he’d said.
No doubt she’d thought that his all yours statement had been made in the heat of the moment. Other men might throw those words around when they had sex with a woman, but he never had. She couldn’t know that, though.
Thank God she’d taken his suggestion of flying home with him. Had she insisted on going commercial, he would have had to do that, too. It would have been ugly, but he would have done it.
She was such an independent little critter, and he loved that about her, but damn, he would have liked her to take home all the clothes Josette had picked out. She’d refused. Maybe it didn’t matter, because she’d get them eventually, unless everything went horribly wrong between them.
She boarded his corporate jet wearing the same outfit, she’d had on the morning he’d first seen her, although it had been freshly washed by his staff. It reminded him of what had attracted him in the first place—a woman who’d grabbed the chance to experience awe. From now on, if he had anything to say about it, she would have someone there to share the awesome moments.
Because they’d been awake most of the night, they both slept for the first few hours. Drew encouraged that. He wanted her to be rested when he broached the all-important topic of where they went from here.
He woke before she did and lay in the reclining seat gazing at her. She’d won his heart without even trying. She’d won it by being herself, a person who wasn’t dazzled by his wealth and didn’t expect him to shower her with material things. He’d never in a million years thought he’d fall for a cowgirl, but there it was. He had.
She made him laugh, and even better, he made her laugh, too. They’d connected in a way he never had with the socialites he’d dated his entire adult life. Had finding the right woman been simply a matter of moving out of his social circle?
No, he didn’t believe that. Materialistic women existed in all parts of society. Those who shared his values existed at all levels, too. He’d met a few, but they’d been friends, not lovers. A combination of shared values and unbelievable chemistry didn’t come along every day. It had never happened to him. Until Melanie.
She opened sleepy eyes and caught him staring at her. For one precious moment, warmth that mirrored his shone from those gray depths. Then, as if she was censoring the emotion, her gaze gentled to friendliness.
“Good dreams?” he asked.
“Egotist! I’m not telling.” She grinned at him.
He had his answer. She’d been dreaming about him, and the glow of happiness in her eyes when she’d first opened them gave him hope. “Ready to eat?”
“You know it.”
He’d looked forward to offering her the gourmet food onboard his plane, and she was gratifyingly appreciative of the cheese soufflé, glazed fruit, and steamed veggies. The chocolate lava cake, though, sent her over the moon.
She leaned close. “It’s almost better than sex,” she murmured with a furtive glance at Suzanne, the cabin attendant.
“Almost.” He winked at her. “But not quite.”
“No, not quite.” Her smile flashed, but she looked away quickly, as if not wanting to meet his gaze.
Hm. He hadn’t considered this trip from her point of view, but now he realized it could seem like slow torture, a long, excruciating good-bye. That wasn’t fair, when he had a totally different scenario in mind. He put down his spoon. “It’s not over, Melanie.”
“You mean lunch? There’s more?” But then she met his gaze, and saw how serious he was. All merriment left her expression. “Yes, it is. We both know that, so you don’t have to pretend. I was happy to accept your offer of a ride home, but when we get there, we’ll each move back into our respective worlds. It’s okay. I completely understand.”
“No, you don’t. I—”
“I’m grateful for all we’ve shared. You’re a wonderful host. You showed me Paris as no one else could have, and I’ll never forget it.”
“You’re talking as if we’ll never see each other again!”
“I doubt that we will.” Her expression seemed absolutely blank. Was she protecting her feelings? Or was she actually as okay with that idea as she sounded?
He’d expected an argument, but not this solid wall of resistance. And his timing sucked. He’d started this discussion while they both sat, seat belts fastened, so they could eat a messy chocolate lava cake. Worse yet, Suzanne hovered within earshot.
He called over to the flight attendant. “Suzanne, would you please take our trays? Keep the deserts warm. We’ll finish them later. And please give us some privacy.”
Melanie glanced at him in alarm. “What’s wrong?”
“Everything.” Once the trays were gone he unbuckled his seat belt and got up. Then he crouched down in front of Melanie’s chair. “I’ve been waiting for the right moment to talk to you, but I didn’t stop to think that you’d spend the whole blessed flight anticipating the end of our relationship.”
She lifted her chin. “I’m not, either. I had a nice nap, and a wonderful meal. I promise you I’m not brooding about what happens after we land.”
“No, you wouldn’t do that.” He took both her hands in his. “You’re not a brooder. It’s one of the many things that I love about you.”
Her eyes grew wide and she began to tremble. “Drew . . .”
He forged on. Might as well lay all his cards on the table. “I love other things, too, like the way you really look at the world around you with wonder in your eyes, and your fierce independence, and your spirit of adventure, and your lack of concern about luxury, and the way you react to me in bed.”
She stared at him as her whole body quivered.
He gripped her hands more tightly. “I love you, Melanie Shaw. I never thought I’d fall in love with a cowgirl, but it looks like I have. I began to love you that first morning, and that love has grown stronger every hour of every day we’ve spent together. But I knew you wouldn’t believe me if I said that too soon, so I’ve been hoping to find a moment when this speech would make sense to you.” He searched her expression for some sign, some flicker of understanding. “I’m powerfully afraid this isn’t that moment.”
She blinked. “You love me?”
“Yes. I know it’s fast, darlin’, but I’m a fast mover. I don’t expect you to love me back, at least not yet. All I ask is a chance. Just . . .” His throat closed with fear as he realized how much was at stake. “Just give me a chance.”
She continued to gaze at him without speaking.
He waited, massaging her cold hands, letting her see the caring in his expression, and praying that she would accept that he was not a raving lunatic, just a man in love.
The light in her gray eyes was faint at first, and he almost missed it. Then it grew brighter, and he felt the pressure of her hands clutching his. Heart pounding, he watched her expression change from disbelief to tentative hope.
“I love you,” he murmured again.
Her smile began slowly, and as it widened, her eyes glistened with unshed tears.
“Do you believe me?”
Still not speaking, she swallowed and nodded.
“Will you give me a chance?”
“Oh, Drew.” Her voice was hoarse with emotion. “You don’t need any more chances. You had me the minute you ran after those muggers.”
“Of course! Didn’t anyone ever tell you a woman loves a knight in shining armor?”
“I wasn’t trying to be—”
“I know.” She pulled her hands from his and cupped his face. “And that’s why I love you.”
She loved him. He felt the tightness in his chest give way as warmth flowed in. She hadn’t known about his money, and she hadn’t been looking to cash in on her relationship with him. She’d been taken by his effort to protect her not with his money but with his strength. She loved him.
She leaned closer. “Do you believe me?”
“Yes.” He was grinning like an idiot and couldn’t stop doing it. “You know this means we’re getting married, right?” Then he winced. What a boneheaded proposal. He was not bringing his A-game.
“My mama and daddy will like that.”
“What about you? Will you like that?”
“You mean will I like sleeping in your bed every night and making love whenever we feel like it?”
He chuckled. “Among other things. Listen, I can give you a much better proposal than this. You don’t have to say yes yet. Let me get the ring and do it up right.”
“Good grief. Never mind all that drama. My answer is yes, I will like being married to you. I will like it very much.”
“Good. I’ll slip the ring under your pillow some night after we’ve had lots of good sex. How about that?”
“You don’t care about the ring?” He should have known that, too.
“I only care about you.” She met his gaze.
“And that’s why I’m the luckiest man on Earth.”
“And I’m the luckiest woman. I guess that takes care of everything, huh?”
“Almost.” He reached for her seat belt and unbuckled it. “Except for the kissing part. Please stand up. My knees are killing me.”
Laughing, she let him pull her up and into his arms. Their kiss was long and heartfelt, punctuated by more murmured words of love. It lasted until the plane lurched and Suzanne came back to advise them of turbulence.
Drew held Melanie close for one second more and gazed into her eyes. “There’s so much to talk about—whether we want kids, where we’ll live, the size of the wedding, where we should go on our honeymoon . . .”
“We have a long plane ride. We’ll figure it out. But I know where I want to go on our honeymoon.”
She shook her head. “Paris. There’s this small hotel there, and—”
“I can’t think of anything better.” He supposed at some point in his life he’d been this happy, but if so, he couldn’t remember when.