Free Fiction Friday: First Class (Part Two)
It's Friday! I'm loving these Friday posts and hope you are, too. Today's installment is part two of the short story First Class. If you missed the first part, no worries, you can find it here.
This week we meet Colton's seat mate.
God, Serena hated flying. Not the actual flight itself, but the boarding, settling in, chatting with your neighbor tedium she could do without. She’d take a day of car crashes and explosions over this bullshit any day. And what was up with her being in coach? She’d been promised first class, but someone at the agency had screwed up. Whatever. She’d sit in her seat and ignore the obnoxious man beside her. At least he had the window and she the aisle.
“Miss? If you’d like to come with me, you’ve been upgraded to first class.”
Yes! Finally, her manager must’ve got it sorted. She was doing him a huge favor by returning to London, even though he knew she hated it there. Hated the rain, the traffic, the smells, everything about that bloody town, she hated. Especially her family. Hopefully, she wouldn’t have to see them in the five days she’d be there.
She followed the attendant, swimming upstream through the other passengers, ignoring their hostile grimaces as she was led to an empty seat in first class. The man by the window looked totally different from the one she just left, but equally obnoxious. Rich, well-groomed, most likely some hot shot executive used to getting his own way. The sooner she was settled and put her earbuds in, the better. It would be best to discourage conversation from the start.
The flight attendant interrupted her thoughts to ask if she needed a drink. Did she ever! Despite his extravagant taste, the guy next to her was hot. Why couldn't he be fat, or ugly, or for gods' sake, wearing a wedding ring or something. Hell, she’d take that oaf back in coach instead of this ball of sexiness. She did not need the complication. Five days. Five long days of wild ass stunts that she herself helped coordinate. Work, Serena, focus on work and not the bulge in his pants. But damn, it was a fine bulge to behold. Stop it. No complications, remember? Yeah, yeah, she told herself. No complications meant no men. At least, not until this job was complete. It would require all of her concentration and then some if she wanted to come out of it alive.
Drink ordered, she made a show of organizing her belongings, doing her best to sigh and make little harrumph noises. Let him think she was high maintenance and totally not available to entertain whatever ludicrous thoughts he might be having. From the way he studiously ignored her, and how his trousers clung to his sack, she was certain his thoughts were on the naughty side.
The flight attendant brought her a gin and Serena took a deep, calming breath. She could do this. She could return to London and not have to fight the demons of her past. It would be fine. The amount of money she was being paid for the shoot was enough to live on for half a year if she wished. She could go to Morocco or Vienna. Lay low, stay out of trouble.
Ha! When had she ever avoided that? Never. Trouble found her no matter where she went.
“Traveling for business or pleasure?” A satin voice said to her left. She suppressed a groan at the tired line and turned to glare at her seat mate. He might be hot, but why let him think he had a shot at her?
“Why does it have to be either or? Why can’t business be pleasure?” Shit. She’d meant to tell him to fuck off. Now she’d gone and flirted with him. Damn. That fake, I-could-do-you-right-here smile, those eyes, blue, but getting darker the longer he stared at her, all screamed player. Straight white teeth, and a damn dimple to boot. This guy had it all.
He raised his glass, “I’ll drink to that. And what pleasurable business are you in?”
She sipped her gin, stalling. He probably expected her to say something trite, like she was an actress. Few believed her when she told them what she did for a living. She could totally mess with him. Or, she could tell him the truth.
“I’m a stunt woman.”
“No shit?” He shook his head, a real smile softening his controlled features. “A gorgeous woman like you, hidden from the camera. That’s a bloody shame.”
“York?” She asked, meaning the region of the UK his accent came from.
Lie number one, Serena thought. His accent definitely wasn’t from Yorkshire or Gloucestershire. There was a subtle hint of Cockney beneath his highly practiced patois. Accents were something she knew far too well, after having spent most of her childhood listening to her parents perfect everything from a Western twang, to a Southern drawl, to an upper crust British snob. Such was the life of a child born to actors committed more to their craft than to raising children.
He was staring at her, waiting for an answer. “Erm, London. Westend.”
He tipped his glass to hers, making a small clink. “Colton Dillinger.”
“No last name?”
“None you need worry about.”
“A woman of mystery. Intriguing.”
He had no idea. In fact, he should try a little humility and not be too boastful. Oh, she recognized the name, alright. Colton Dillinger the THIRD. She was surprised he left that little bit off. Thirty-two, billionaire bad boy on holiday in the States for a hook up with his girlfriend. Amy? Angie? Something like it. A Hollywood starlet who thought her shit smelled like Chanel No. 5. Ha! Not hardly. She was a bitch and Serena did her best to avoid the divas.
The attendant announced over the loud speaker they’d be taxing soon. She then performed her rehearsed in-flight prep that Serena ignored. If the plane went down, she sure as hell wasn’t going to remember what to put over her face or where the bloody flotation devices were. Instead, she popped her earbuds in and cranked the music.
Why would he lie about his accent? It seemed like a silly thing to fabricate. She removed the earbuds and turned her body in the luxe seat until she almost faced him.
“What’s your story, Colton Dillinger?”
“My story?” His demeanor changed to all business, a glint of steel turned his blue eyes almost black, his lips flatlined. “There’s not much to tell. I grew up in a small village, made my way to London, worked my ass off for several years, learned what I could, and here I am today.”
“You wear a twelve hundred dollar suit, five hundred dollar shoes, I’m certain your boxers are worth at least one hundred dollars, and,” she reached out and twisted his wrist to see the brand of watch he wore, “that’s a cool three grand right there. Quite impressive for a self-made man.” She placed special emphasis on the last few words. “You might be able to fool the groundlings, but don’t give me any bullshit story about growing up in Gloucestershire because we both know that’s a lie.”
Anger flashed in those lovely eyes. “You just met me, how could you possibly know where I grew up?”
Serena studied him a minute. The easy smile was back, but tension edged his lips. She’d hit close to home and he wasn’t happy about it. Why didn’t she keep her earbuds in and ignore him? She debated for about a second if she should pretend the conversation never took place, or tell him the truth.
“Because you drop your r’s and roll your h’s. I’m pretty sure you aren’t aware of it, but it adds a bit of Cockney timbre to your speech.”
“I thought you said you were a stunt woman. So now you’re a speech therapist as well?”
“Let’s just say my upbringing allowed for a lot of studying languages.”
“Did any of this study give you the means to perfect my speech?”
She tilted her head, contemplating her response. “You want me to teach you how to lose the Cockney?”
It was a long flight, what else did she have to do? Besides, you know, recline his seat all the way and fuck his brains out. Whoa! Where did that come from? No. No one will be fucking anyone on this flight. That was idiocy of the highest proportions. But he was so damn hot and it had been ages since—no. She didn't care what he looked like under that suit, and she was fairly certain his body would be as well cared for as his perfectly mussed hair. Besides, if she helped him, maybe she could get something out of it, too.
“I will, but only if you tell me the truth of your upbringing. And don’t lie to me, I’ll know.”
Sheer panic crossed his features, then disappeared as quickly as it came. A false bravado slid into place, but it was that little show of emotion that tugged on her heartstrings. Crap. She couldn't leave it be, could she? Just had to go and ask him what was his story. If she'd just left her earbuds in and fell asleep, she wouldn't be aching to know what the hell this man had been through. What in his past had been so god awful he had to fabricate a childhood? She had to know even though she knew he was Trouble, with a capital T.
Well now! Looks like Serena has met her match with Colton. It's a long flight from Los Angeles to London. They both want something the other isn't exactly willing to give. By the time they land, who will come out of this the victor?
Next week Colton takes control in part three of their story.