The alarm of her SUV beeped, her heels echoing against the concrete of the parking structure. Two flights of stairs later she crossed the thorough-way between airport parking and the terminal.
Sara’s Blackberry vibrated in her hand.
“Seriously, you need to chill.”
“I got the meeting moved.” Her business partner Rick was being proactive for one.
“Good, are you going to meet us in Placid?” Sara stopped in front of the wall of monitors looking for his flight status.
“On my way now.”
“I reserved the V.I.P. room. The one-gun is already in there. Looks like he is going to land in about ten minutes. So we will be there in thirty.”
“I will see you--”
“Hey, did you look at the numbers yet?”
“Yeah, there is something wacky about them.”
“What do you mean?”
“I have a hard time believing they spend that much within a year.”
“Do you think the averages are off?”
“Maybe, something’s off. Don’t worry about it. We can look at it when you get here.”
Sara strolled down the terminal to the baggage claim assigned to her boss’s flight. She perused her emails with a sigh, knowing that she was going to lose an entire day because of this damn meeting.
Sara Rozek worked for Razz Marketing. One of their biggest clients abruptly decided to go with a competitor. The move was completely out of the blue, and now they were scrambling to propose a counter offer before they lost the business all together.
The potential loss was huge, and so it was decided that they needed to call in the big guns. Namely, their boss, Will Carlisle. Sara and her account partner, Rick, had both worked with Will on previous accounts and knew that when you needed a miracle, he was the man to call.
Sara replied to her last email and glanced at the time. The luggage carrier began to roll and she rose from her chair. Her Blackberry buzzed and she saw it was her best friend Scarlet.
“Not much, are you at the airport?”
“Yep, Will should be walking through any minute.”
“Are you wearing your blue suit?”
“Yeah, do you not like my blue suit or something? How did you know I was wearing it? I haven’t been to the office yet.”
“I love your blue suit, you look incredible in it.”
“What is that supposed to mean?”
“Nothing. Will is coming today and you just happen to be wearing your blue suit. The one that makes all of the horn dogs around this place drool.”
“They do not!” Now self conscious of her attire. “And you are wrong, I am not dressing--” Lowering her voice. “I am not dressing to impress anyone, especially Will Carlisle.”
“Really, why the hell not?”
Sara’s eyes focused, landing on the topic of discussion and her stomach tightened.
“I have no idea.” The girls in the office always got excited when they heard Will was coming. He was eye candy. Tall, broad shoulders, medium brown hair, deep hazel eyes and a smirk that could melt the white off a polar bear. “Hey I have to go. I’ll see you in a bit.”
He was reading his blackberry not paying any attention to his surroundings. She thought he was going to walk right past her when he raised his eyes, looking to her with a warm smile.
“Sara, it’s nice to see you.”
“You too.” She took a breath and motioned to the doors. “My truck is just outside.”
“Great, let’s go.”
“Did you have a good flight?”
“It was quiet, I got some work done.”
“That is always a good thing.”
“Usually.” His phone rang and he answered it as they crossed the street to the parking garage. She led him to the truck and lifted the back hatch to stow his suitcase. She wordlessly offered to help, and he waved her away.
She took the hint, headed to the driver's side and started the truck. He joined her a moment later continuing his conversation, and she reached to turn the radio down. His hand touched hers and she looked to him. He shook his head before hitting a button on his phone.
“I muted it.” He said with a grin and she put the truck in reverse. “It’s a good song.”
She glanced at him with a giggle and pulled out of the parking garage. The office was only a few minutes away, and he remained on the call for the length of the trip. She parked the truck and he disconnected the call.
“That sounded like fun.”
“About as fun as a root canal.”
“Gotta love corporate politics.”
“It keeps things interesting.” He took stride with her. “How are things going here?”
“Since last night?”
“Yeah I meant to apologize for that. I tend to forget the time zone difference.”
“That’s okay. I work better on no sleep.”
“I’ll have to keep that in mind.” He opened the door for her and they walked into the office lobby.
“Rick should be waiting for us in the V.I.P. room. Did you want some coffee?”
“That would be great, thanks Sara.”
Sara joined Rick and Will in the conference room with large coffee urn, mugs and cream. They spent the next five hours working on the proposal. They only broke for the bathroom or anyone who called more than five times.
Rick had an appointment after their call, so they took separate cars. Will rode with her, spending the majority of the trip on the phone. They arrived twenty minutes early. They stepped into the building and Will disconnected his call. Sara led him through the building toward the designated conference room.
The door to the room was closed and she turned, almost running into him.
“Whoa.” His hand reached out to steady her. Sara’s breath caught in her throat. His eyes stared through her and her body ignited.
His phone buzzed and he redirected his gaze before stepping back. She was frozen in place her mind spinning.
It hadn’t happened. It was her imagination, nothing more.
“Where’s Will?” Rick’s voice startled her and she spun to face him.
“Uh…he got a call.”
“As ready as I am going to be.”
“You have the easy part, you just have to smile and nod.”
“There is nothing easy about any of this, Rick.”
“Agreed.” The door of the conference room opened and Sara turned to get Will’s attention. When she didn’t see him, she glanced at Rick before she went to find him. She walked down the hall and turned the corner. She eyed him at the end of the hall and started toward him, the once muffled conversation clarifying as she approached.
“Yes…I understand. Yes, of course, there was no other avenue….” He turned and met her eyes. Her stomach lurched when she saw uncertainty staring back at her. She motioned to him and he nodded. She exited the hallway. Her stomach still clenched.
What had happened? She had never seen anything but refined confidence in his eyes.
He joined them a moment later. She did her best not to focus on him, and he seemed to be doing the same. In the next moment, they were greeted by the Corporate CEO and escorted into the conference room.
They walked out of the meeting with a definite maybe. It was the best they were going to get for now. Will commented on all of their hard work and told them he was proud of the presentation they put forward.
Will’s flight was scheduled to leave in just under two hours and they separated from Rick. Sara pulled out of the parking lot in silence, the music from the radio filling the car. He wouldn’t look at her, his eyes focused outside the truck. The abrupt shift in his demeanor was uncomfortable and Sara was in agony. She couldn’t stand the tension but didn’t know what to do.
The car jumped and Sara pulled at the wheel to remain in control.
She pulled off to the side of the road. Her temper flared, the culmination of the tension in the car and the disappointing results of the meeting laying on her chest.
She thrust the door open and walked along side the truck immediately seeing her back tire was shredded to pieces. Then he turned the corner meeting her at the back of the truck he immediately reached for the hatch. He lifted it and removed his jacket . Sara lifted the carpet pulled the jack and the crow bar. She put the jack beneath the truck when he took the crowbar out of her hand. He met her eyes in silence and she stepped back. He raised the truck and removed the hub cap. She took it from him and watching as he began to loosen the lug nuts. He’d gotten three of five but the last two weren’t cooperating. She watched as he struggled with them, doing her best to remain silent. Resisting the need to comment.
He continued to try and then bent over in frustration.
“I can call triple A if you--” she started and was met with a glare which stirred annoyance in her chest. “You are going to miss your flight. At least let me call Rick to come and get you.”
He glanced over his eyes squinting, brow furrowed.
“How much do you weigh?”
“Excuse me?” He laughed. “What’s so funny?”
“Nothing, I just…I need your help.”
“Um, okay what do you need me to do?”
“Come here.” His eyes brightened and she moved. He took the hub cap from her hand putting it in the back of the truck. “The lug nuts are stuck.”
“I noticed.” He gave her a sideways smirk before pushing his hand though his hair and loosening his tie. “What’s your plan?”
“We are going to jump.”
“Ah, yeah.” His shoulders fell before he positioned the lug wrench onto the stuck lug. He scratched at the back of his neck, his eyes focused on the meddlesome tire. “If we put enough weight on the lug we should be able to pop it.”
“Put your hands out.” She complied an he grasped her elbows, locking the embrace. “Okay now put your right foot on top of the crowbar, then your left.”
She followed his directions using his arms to steady herself on top of the piece of metal. She got her balance and met his eyes.
“I am going to jump onto it as well and with any luck the force will pop the nut.”
“Absolutely.” His eyes kept hers in a steady reassurance. “Ready?”
“No, but okay.” He grinned and she braced herself for the jolt. He placed his left foot onto the metal just between her ankles.
“Okay, one, two…” with a silent three he lifted himself onto the bar and bounced. The lug didn’t move, he stepped down and tried again. After the third attempt she began to giggle. Which in turn made him laugh and they found themselves perched on top of the metal, holding onto the other for dear life. She felt herself drop and his arms clutched her as they fell. She landed hard and realized she was on top of him.
“Oh my god, are you alright? I’m so sorry!” She shifted to get off him. He sat up, his arms still around her. She found herself propped against him, looking down into his eyes.
“You guys need some help?”
Will finished his conversation and hung up his phone, having booked himself on the next available flight. Highway assistance had solved their lug nut challenge and they were back on the road to the airport. Sara saw the exit and glanced at him with a grin, her stomach churning. His phone beeped and he glanced at the screen with an audible sigh.
“Is everything okay?”
“Uh, yeah. It’s fine.”
“You don’t sound so convinced.”
“I’m not.” His focus went to the window a deafening quiet lying between them once again.
“Are you going out of the same terminal?”
“Yeah, I think so, American.”
She grabbed her drive through pass and headed to the terminal. They reached it but the curb side thorough way was closed. She pulled into the garage and found a space. She exited the car unwilling to break the boundary of silence he’d put up and wordlessly popped the hatch.
“Make sure you get a new tire, you shouldn’t be driving on the donut for longer than a day.” He came around the side, pulling his luggage from the back.
“I will.” She pulled her fingers against her hair. The tension was killing her and she’d had enough. “Will…”
“They’re replacing me.” Her blood turned to ice.
“The phone call, it was Regan. They decided to split the departments and my position has been absorbed into the transition.” Unable to deal with the news without emotion, she turned away from him. “There are a couple positions available in Phoenix. They are setting up interviews for me.”
“I’ll announce it Monday, they want me to work through the transition so probably a few weeks.”
“I can’t believe this is happening. Will, you’ve been—“
“It’s okay Sara. It’s not personal, we knew with all of the changes stuff like this was going to happen.”
“Yeah, but not to us.”
She saw him take a deep breath before he closed the hatch. Her emotions rose in her chest again and she wasn’t sure what to do. She did her best to gulp it back.
“Well at least you’ll be around for the next few weeks, so I can still harass you when needed.” She meant for the statement to be light but it came out like a final farewell. “You’ll have to come up with an excuse to come visit. I’m sure the group of us can come up with a plausible justification.”
“I’ll be around.”
“I know you will, you’re always around when I…we need you.” His eyes bore through her and her body involuntarily tightened. “You’d…uh…you’d better get going or you’re going to miss your plane again.”
“Yeah. I think I would have a hard time using the flat tire excuse twice.”
“Have a safe trip.” She stepped into him, wrapping her arm loosely over his shoulder in a hug. Her heart raced at the solid heat of his body against hers. “Let me know if you need anything. Seriously, if you need anything just call.”
She nodded and went to step back, his hand lingering on her hip. She hesitated, he moved and she took another step back. He threw his laptop case over his shoulder and unfolded his luggage before waving goodbye.
A heaviness settled in her chest forcing a deep sigh. Her mind felt thick and she pulled herself away, turning to get in her truck. She lifted the handle when the smacking of hurried footsteps against concrete got her attention.
She spun on her heel following his voice around the truck.
“Did you forget something?” He didn’t respond just kept walking, a startling determination in his eyes. She waited in open confusion. He kept coming and before she could react his hand curled around the back of her neck. His mouth crushed hers with a heated demand and she had no choice but to give in.
She opened beneath him and his tongue dove into her mouth. He shifted his arm, wrapping it around her waist, resting at the small of her back. His mouth still dominating her attention, his overpowering torso pressed her against the truck. She was trapped, unable to escape his possessed siege of her mouth.
The kiss broke and they both gasped for air. His eyes searched her face, his fingers kneading her neck. He wordlessly pulled at her lips and her hands balled against his chest.
She took another gasp of air, looking up into his heavy lidded eyes.
“I was hoping you’d say that.” His voice, deep and gritty, seemed to caress her body like a rolling thunder. She shuddered, and he captured her lips again, this time with a gentle persuasion. He pulled back and her heart sighed. “Let’s get out of here.”