|Название||The Honeymoon Arrangement|
|Автор произведения||Joss Wood|
|Жанр||Современные любовные романы|
|Издательство||Современные любовные романы|
‘Journalism. Is there a point to these questions?’
‘Sure. I’m trying to decide whether you’re worth flirting with or whether I should ignore you for the rest of the flight.’
She flashed him a megawatt smile that had his groin twitching and his heartbeat jumping. An elegant hand gestured to the empty seat next to him.
‘Ah …’ he replied. Of course it was.
Finn watched as she tossed that bright head of relaxed curls and pushed some of them out of her eyes. Reaching for the strap over her shoulder, she dropped her leather rucksack to her feet and shrugged out of her thigh-length brown leather coat to reveal a taut, tight white T-shirt that covered small and perky breasts. Nice.
She folded the coat and stood on her toes to push it into the bin above their heads and that white T-shirt rode up to reveal a tanned, taut stomach and a beaded ring piercing the skin above her belly button. He watched, bemused, as she picked up the leather rucksack, pulled her tablet and earphones from the bag and tossed them on the seat. Holding her rucksack in her hand, she pulled a shawl from it, and as the bag tipped a thin, familiar silver foil packet fell out of a side pocket and landed on his thigh.
Finn picked up the condom and held it between his thumb and forefinger, waiting for her to look at him. When she did, instead of giving the blush he’d expected, she just flashed him another lightning bolt smile and nipped the condom out of his grip.
‘Whoops! Maybe I should introduce myself before I throw prophylactics in your direction. I’m Callie Hollis.’
She wasn’t shocked that he wasn’t shocked, Finn thought as she tucked the condom into the back pocket of her jeans. Then again, after eight years as an investigative journalist before switching over to travel journalism nothing much shocked him any more. He’d seen the worst of what human beings could do to one another and, since it wasn’t the first time he’d had a condom tossed in his lap by a beautiful woman, it didn’t even make a blip on his radar.
Callie brushed past his knees and dropped into the seat next to him, wiggling her butt into the soft cushions and letting out a breathy sigh. She was all legs and arms and he would bet his last dollar that she hated economy class as much as he did—at six-two, for him it was like trying to sit in a sardine can—and that she figured the ridiculous price for a business class ticket was worth every cent.
Callie dropped her head back against the seat and then rolled it in his direction. ‘So … married or single?’
‘Why does it matter?’ he asked.
Callie grinned. ‘Well, I do this flight every month or so, and it’s been a looooong time since I’ve had someone sitting next to me who I’d want to flirt with—normally my travelling companions are old, dull or ugly. And besides, when the guy is as hot as you flirting is fun—and I’m really good at it.’
He had no problem believing that and told her so. ‘It must be because you’re so shy and timid,’ he added, his tone super-dry.
Callie laughed—a deep, belly laugh that made his stomach clench and his groin jump. ‘That’s what my best friend Rowan says all the time. Anyway, we were talking about flirting … If you’re single you get the full treatment. If you’re married I behave like a normal person.’
‘I’m in between. I’m engaged.’
‘Pooh.’ Callie pouted. ‘Well, your loss—because I flirt really, really well.’
He absolutely believed that.
Callie wiggled in her chair again, and tucked her legs up and under her. ‘So when are you getting married?’ she asked, and he could see that she’d dialled back the charm.
‘In three or so months’ time.’
She fiddled with the clasp of her seat belt and looked at him, puzzled. ‘I don’t get the whole marriage thing. What’s your reason?’
Finn stared past the lovely face to the darkness beyond her window, frowning when a quick, instinctive answer didn’t fall from his lips. Shouldn’t that be a minimum requirement when he was contemplating spending the rest of his life with someone?
Her question raised all the issues that he’d been struggling with lately. Were he and Liz doing the right thing by getting married just because Liz was five or so weeks pregnant? It was the twenty-first century—they didn’t need to get married to keep living together, to raise a child together. Were they complicating an already complicated situation? It wasn’t as if their relationship had been fantastic lately, and he was mature enough to know that a baby was hard work and might put more strain on the frayed rope that was keeping them together.
On the other hand, being parents might bring them closer …
God—a baby. He was still taking it in. He wanted to be an integral part of his child’s life and he was excited about becoming a dad. Maybe the birth of his own child would fill the hole that had appeared in his life when James died three months ago. A birth for a death, it seemed … right.
Finn rubbed his jaw. He was approaching his mid-thirties and he wanted to be a brilliant father to someone. James had been one to his stepbrothers, to him. He wanted to create a family of his own—something he’d only truly experienced when he was fourteen and he and his mum had joined the Baker gang—a single dad and his three sons. He wanted to be part of something bigger than himself and he and Liz had been good together once. Maybe they could be again. Actually, they didn’t have an option. They had to make it good again.
‘So, why are you getting married?’ Callie asked again.
He frowned at her, warning her off the subject. ‘None of your business.’
Callie’s low chuckle floated over him. Warning ignored, then.
‘Of course it’s not, but I’m always fascinated as to why someone would be interested in tying themselves down for ever and ever and ever …’
‘Pffft. That’s just an easy excuse—a myth perpetuated by movies and books.’
‘You don’t believe in love?’ Finn asked, intrigued despite himself. Because, deep in his soul, he wasn’t sure if he believed in the fairytale version either.
To him, love was taking responsibility, showing caring, companionship and loyalty, and he firmly believed in those. Besides, Liz hadn’t got pregnant by herself, and if he was part of the problem then he would be part of the solution.
Right now it seemed that marriage was the solution.
He saw something that he thought was sadness flicker in Callie’s eyes.
‘I believe the only pure love people have is for their children, and some people don’t even have that. No, love is a generic term we use to feel safe. Or comfortable? Possibly co-dependent?’ Callie suggested, twisting in her seat as the aircraft started to move down the runway.
‘Is that what you see love and marriage as? Co-dependency?’ He couldn’t believe that he was having a conversation about his upcoming marriage with an absolute stranger. Reticence was his usual style, along with reserve and caginess. He asked the questions, dammit, he didn’t answer them.
Callie shrugged. ‘I think that a lot of people use love and marriage as an escape from whatever is dragging them down. Just like some people escape to drugs in order to feel happy, others escape to love.’
Whoa. He was occasionally cynical about love and relationships, but she made him look like an amateur. He was cautious, thoughtful