Three weeks later, after three more amazing dates, I was pretty sure I was in love. Owen Parker had successfully stolen my heart. We hadn't said anything yet, but I couldn't stop thinking about him. I looked forward to his phone calls, texts, and emails more than I looked forward to my days off. We both wished we could have more time together, but with our crazy schedules and workloads, we were lucky to manage that many. I knew he had worked magic in order to make it out to Iowa as many times as he had. He took me to the symphony with a stop to a seafood restaurant for our first date, and the second was for ice cream and a movie, in which he rented the entire theater. The third date had been my favorite so far after the botanical gardens; he arranged a special backstage tour of the Des Moines Zoo. Watching him feed the penguins had kept me laughing for hours. Every one of the dates ended back in the penthouse suite, the two of us tangled up in the sheets. It wasn't all happy though.
I took a deep breath and closed my eyes. I could do this. Owen squeezed my hand reassuringly, and I gave him a nervous smile. The plane moved forward and my hand clamped down on his. I could do this. When Emma had told me that her wedding would be in the Caribbean, I almost didn't go. But she was my sister, so I had dutifully started working on overcoming my fear of flying. I bought books, listened to 'get over your fear' programs on tape, I even met with a hypnotherapist. In the end, the only thing that had gotten me through that flight was a bottle of whiskey. The plane began to speed up, the small private jet starting its sprint down the runway. I could feel the plane star to vibrate, the hum of the engines drowning out all other noise. I wanted to scream for it to stop, but I was determined to do this. I held Owen's hand in a death grip. I was pretty sure when we got off the plane that he was going to need X-rays and a cast. That was, of course, if he even managed to have a han
Whatever drink Emma had given me had worked miracles. The shower definitely helped, and the toast she forced down my throat probably did something too. By the time we were in the lobby, I only had a slight headache and thought my stomach should stay put for the rest of the day. As we exited the elevator, a well-dressed woman in her mid-forties hurried over to meet us. "Hi, Rachel, sorry we're late. Rough flight last night," Emma greeted her. "No problem at all," Rachel said with a smile. "It's nice to see you again, Kaylee. If we're ready, Dean has the car just outside." The three of us exited the hotel room, the sky heavy with an impending rainstorm. Waiting by the curb was a sleek SUV with tinted windows. Rachel slid into the front seat, and Emma and I took the back. There was an unspoken tension between Rachel and Dean, but I couldn't figure out if they were fighting love or just plain fighting. "Kaylee, you remember Dean?" Emma asked, gesturing toward the driver. An athletic-l
I stood, anxiously waiting for Owen in the lobby of the hotel where we were staying. Since he traveled on such a regular basis, he didn't bother keeping a house in the city and instead just rented the penthouse suite whenever he needed it. He had told me to meet him in the lobby, and he would pick me up when he finished a meeting with Jack to go over the details for his upcoming business trip. He had told me he was taking me to a fancy French restaurant and to get dolled up. I fussed with the straps on my dress, as much making sure that it was in place as giving my hands something to do. Rachel and Emma had found me the perfect dress while we were out shopping, and then Rachel arranged for someone to come to the hotel to do my hair and makeup for my date. I chewed my lip, knowing that I was probably smearing my lipstick. Owen was only a few minutes late, but because of my dress, everyone who walked through the lobby stopped to look at me. I looked like something off the red carpet a
"You want to take a walk around the park?" Owen asked when we returned to the hotel. I glanced up at the darkening sky, then out toward the trees. Green sprouts were just starting to form on the bare branches, in wait of spring showers to nourish them. The sky was dark, but it still looked like we had some time before the rain would hit. "Sure," I answered. Owen grinned, and grabbed my hand and the two of us practically skipped hand in hand into the park. We found a path that meandered through the trees, the two of us just quietly taking it all in. From the corner of my eye I could see his bodyguard shadowing us silently. I ignored him, instead just focusing on being with Owen. I loved the way his hand felt in mine--strong and warm, protective and secure. I loved the way he smelled like a clear spring in winter and the way he wrapped me up in his arms. Just thinking of being held in his arms made me squeeze his hand a little tighter, glad just to be with him. A hot dog stand reside
The plane touched down and woke me from the blurry vestiges of a strange dream. As I opened my eyes sleepily, I saw Owen's smiling face. It had been a rough flight. The first four hours, Owen had managed to keep me relatively calm and distracted, but when we hit a patch of turbulence, I had lost it. Luckily, Owen had convinced me to take some medication to help me relax, and then had held me until I fell asleep. I was safe in his arms, and I managed to sleep through the rest of the flight, albeit with very strange dreams. Presently, the medication was still in my system, but at least this time I was going to get off the airplane and not have a wicked hangover. "Good morning, gorgeous. Welcome to Dubai." He kissed me gently and pushed open one of the window shades. Bright white sunshine poured into the dimly lit cabin, making me blink. I fumbled in my bag for a brush, ran it through my hair, then quickly gathered my things to get off the plane. As the door opened, I felt a blast of h
Rachel and Emma had done well at their job of picking out my clothes. Owen's eyes practically popped out of his head when he saw me in the formal dinner dress they had chosen. It was a deep hue of blue that reminded me of twilight, right as stars start to appear but before the moon rises. The sweetheart cut would have been out of place for a conservative dinner, but with a skin-tight long-sleeve lace overlay the length of the dress, only discrete windows of my skin were exposed. I felt like something out of a fashion magazine. As we walked into the sheik's mansion, I knew that that was the point. I was here as Owen's arm candy tonight. Sheik Mohammad al-Saffar greeted us warmly as we entered a large open room in the center of what I could only call a palace. Marble archways and lavish gardens made his home exactly what I had imagined the castle from Aladdin to look like in real life. The older gentleman wore the traditional white dishdasha that I was already associating with the Mid
"I'll be back in time for us to go get something for dinner tonight. Are you sure you'll be all right staying in the hotel today? I can get someone to show you around the city or something." Owen frowned slightly as I adjusted his tie. I made sure it laid straight and then smoothed the fabric across his shoulders. I loved these simple moments. They may never make a scrapbook, but that will stay in my mind forever as perfect. "I'll be fine. I think I'm still a little jet-lagged, so staying in sounds nice today. Maybe I'll go down to the spa or something later," I said, smiling up at him. His blue eyes still held a pout, so I added, "Besides, Dean will be here with me today if I change my mind." Owen glanced over to the kitchen where Dean sat reading a newspaper. He sighed and looked down at me. "You're sure you don't want to do anything today?" "Yes! Now get going, or you'll be late!" I said, pushing him toward the door. The worry vanished from his eyes as he picked up his briefcase