Playing the Billionaire (International Temptation)(2)

By: M.K. Meredith


The seams of his black dress shirt strained at the shoulder as he pushed her luggage forward, delivering it into her hand.

“Oh my God. How did you find it? That little stinker…” The flood of relief was so great she didn’t even think before she flung herself at the man, nearly tripping over her suitcase. “Thank you so much.”

His warmth and fresh scent enveloped her as he caught her to keep her from falling.

Shit. Had she really just thrown herself into the arms of a stranger? She grimaced and slowly released him, brushing his suit as if ridding the evidence of her embarrassment. “I’m sorry.” She reached for her luggage, pressing a hand to her temple with a smile. “This is such a relief. Thank you.”

“My pleasure, guapa.”

He held her gaze, but instead of looking away, she found herself staring mutely back. Snap out of it, dumbass.

But it was hard to do, standing in front of her knight-in-silk-and-Armani.

She pulled her gaze away to check the security of her luggage.

“May I?” He extended his long fingers toward the handle of her luggage, a sprinkling of hair along his knuckles, and placed his other hand on his chest. “I’d like to help. As you can see the dippers in these parts don’t shy away from using any methods possible to distract tourists from their valuables.”

She blinked twice. Though kind of him to ask, there was no way she was letting her things out of her grasp again. “Thank you, but I’ve got it.”

His eyes skimmed over her face, but he dropped his hand back to his side. “My pleasure.” When he said it, her ears heard it more like her pleasure and a heap of hot promises. “And where do we need to deliver you?” he asked with an accent she could listen to on repeat—his English very clear, a tad formal, and a lot intriguing.

She cleared her throat. “Huntington Place.”

A broad smile showed straight white teeth and a shallow dimple in his left cheek. “Ahhhh, well this is certainly my good fortune. As fate would have it, I too am heading to Huntington Place. Would you like to share a taxi?”

“No, but thank you.”

He dipped his chin. “Of course. Would you be completely opposed to taking the same shuttle, then?”

With a small shake of her head, she fell in step next to him, pulling her luggage. “This is the first time fate has been on my side. First, my girlfriend, who was supposed to come with me, had a family emergency, then my flight got diverted, then that little stinker helped steal my bag.” She shook her head. How could anyone involve children in theft?

“Anyway, you’ve been a huge help. Thank you so much.” She tried to see around the walls of people, but even at her height, it was nothing but heads and large terminal signs, though the ceiling was a magnificent array of glass and iron, like an architect had been let loose with a Spirograph.

“I want to be sorry you’ve had such a difficult time, but then I wouldn’t have met such a beautiful woman because of it.” His expression warmed from regretful to pleased.

“Are you from around here, then?” she asked.

Those caramel eyes peered down at her through impossible lashes. “Yes, just returning from a trip. I grew up all over Catalonia, but Barcelona mostly. My family owns a local orchard. We have mandarin groves and lemon groves, and they’re the official supplier of Huntington Place Barcelona. I have business with the hotel to renegotiate terms for next year.”

“You work on an orchard?” The fine cut of his shirt and pants made her think more businessman than laborer, though his build bragged of hard work and the potential for a lot of fun.

He nodded. “My whole life, right alongside my parents and siblings. It’s a family business, family tradition. A legacy, if you will.”

“That’s lovely.” And she meant it. It had always been just her and her mother. What would it be like to have brothers and sisters all working together? This was perfect. A concept for an article for her magazine’s Homeward Bound section popped into her head. If she could just swing by to take a few pictures. A vision of lemon trees popped into her head.

No. Doctor’s orders were to relax. Best push away the heart and hearth fairytale before…

“My great-great-grandfather established the orchard in 1870. Back then, it supplied lemons and mandarins to the local markets, but my father had a mind to expand further.”

Oh, what the heck? Her vacation was supposed to be relaxing, but a passion project like this couldn’t be denied. If she loved the work she was doing, then who was to say it wasn’t relaxing?

Her list grew by one: visit to the citrus orchard. Now she simply had to ask for a tour.