Hollywood heartthrob Carter Stone underwent a dramatic physical transformation for his latest role and it’s clear his stunning seat mate doesn’t recognize the man beneath the shaggy beard and extra lean frame. Now Carter needs help rebuilding his buff physique and Tori is perfect for the job. It doesn’t hurt that she makes his pulse pound in more ways than one.
Sparks are flying, until a pesky paparazzo reveals Carter’s identity. Tori is hurt and pissed. She wants nothing to do with another man in the limelight, but she’s still got to whip him into shape. Can Carter convince Tori he’s worth the threat to her privacy that comes with dating a famous actor, or will Tori chisel him down to nothing before he even gets the chance?
Grab the popcorn . . .
As I crawl into the tiny space—it’s been a while since I’ve traveled coach class—I catch a whiff of her scent and close my eyes. Not sure if it’s perfume, body wash, or what, but it smells like vanilla and reminds me of the candles my mother used to buy at the local craft store. That right there is a sign. My mother would most heartily approve of this woman.
Now to find out her name.
I turn in my seat, prepping myself for a short conversation—too much too soon isn’t part of the playbook—but then I realize she’s not next to me. I raise myself off the cushion and pretend to stretch as I turn my head to scan the back of the plane. She’s a few rows back, standing and chatting with a guy who doesn’t appear to have anyone sitting next to him.
Oh, hell no.
Do I have to go to the restroom? You bet.
Before I stand, a bell rings and a flight attendant announces that there will be a short delay while the ground crew clears debris from the runway. Perfect.
I rise and make my way through the aisle, pushing down the bill of my baseball cap so no one notices me. But, of course, someone does. For all the wrong reasons.
A little girl with huge brown eyes and a mop of bright red hair tugs on her mother’s shirt and says, “Mommy, that man looks like a bear.”
The cutie’s pronouncement is loud enough that several nearby passengers chuckle. Even the object of my fascination turns and laughs. I grin at the kid, and she growls in her best imitation of a bear. So freaking adorable, that girl. Enjoying her fascination with my beard, I channel my inner Leonardo DiCaprio and growl right back.
Now I’ve done it.
The little girl’s eyes go round, and her eyes water. Then she lets out a shriek like the hounds of hell are chasing her. Unfortunately, I’m the hounds, and everyone on the plane, including my future wife, knows it.
The girl’s mother tries to quiet her, rocking her and telling her everything will be okay. Their seatmate, meanwhile, throws daggers at me with his eyes.
“He’s so scary looking,” the little girl chants over and over into her mother’s chest.
“Sir,” the flight attendant says behind me, “we’re getting ready to take off soon. Could you please return to your seat?”
Bewildered by the past ten minutes of my life, I nod and amble back to my row. How the hell did things go south that quickly? Fantasy woman returns, and my stomach drops when I catch the look of sympathy on her face. I slide down into my seat, give her a pathetic smile, and cover my face with my baseball cap as though I’m settling in for a nap. I need to regroup before I can speak to her. And I refuse to listen to the preflight safety demonstration unless the attendant can teach me how to save me from myself.
So now I know another thing: Whatever I tell my kids about how I met their mother, it’s going to be a lie. A big, fat fucking lie.
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About Mia Sosa
Mia Sosa is an award-winning contemporary romance writer and 2015 Romance Writers of America® Golden Heart® Finalist. Her books have received praise and recognition from Library Journal, The Washington Post, Book Riot, Bustle, The Book List Reader, and more.
A former First Amendment and media lawyer, Mia practiced for more than a decade before trading her suits for loungewear (okay, okay, they’re sweatpants). Now she strives to write fun and flirty stories about imperfect characters finding their perfect match.
Mia lives in Maryland with her husband, their two daughters, and an adorable puppy who finally sleeps through the night. For more information about Mia and her books, visit www.miasosa.com