Playing the Billionaire (International Temptation)(3)

By: M.K. Meredith


He dipped his chin. “What about you?”

“I’m on my dream vacation. Like I said, I was supposed to have company.”

“But you do.”

She laughed. “Sure. Like you’re going to hang out with me for the next week and a half. But hey, I can’t complain. I’m in Barcelona.”

“The dippers haven’t deterred you?”

“Of course not. It’s all worked out, thanks to you. I guess I owe you one. You never did tell me how you accomplished that.” She gripped the handle tighter.

“I’d really like to go back to how you owe me.” He flashed her a devilish smile.

Her heart skipped a beat, but she chuckled as they followed the current of people through the tunnel of sky-lit iron archways. She loved the architecture of Barcelona—it was one of the many reasons she’d decided on it for her vacation. And she wasn’t about to let a little thing like being mugged by a kid ruin her opportunity-of-a-lifetime agenda. She snuck a sidelong glance at her new acquaintance. No doubt kissing a Spaniard was looking like a better and better idea. She pulled in a breath with a grin.

Her boss even had the audacity to call before she’d boarded her plane, hoping to get her to work once he’d found out where she was going. She always said yes, and man, she could use the money.

But not this time.

She needed this break before she broke. Stretching gently from side to side, she was pleased to find her neck wasn’t causing her a stress headache for the first time in months, years even. Her new vacation buddy was good for her health and her ego. He was a big guy, the kind who could toss a girl about in the fun kind of way.

Fun. She was due a heap of it. For once, she’d get to sleep on luxury sheets without doing a light test for bedbugs and pee on a toilet without completing a white-glove test on the tiles behind it first. That thought alone was like a day at a spa.

The wheel of her bag caught the seam of the tile and almost sent her flying onto her face.

Her companion stopped walking. “It will be easier if you let me help. Si us plau. Please.” When she hesitated, he held her gaze. “No one will take the bag from me. I promise.”

She studied him. “Thank you, but I’ve got it, and it’s not because I think you’d take off with it.” Liar, liar. She eyed her rollaway, then pointed her finger at him. “Besides, if you did, I’d tackle you to the ground.”

Something flared in his eyes. “I wouldn’t say things like that, if I were you.”

“Oh, I mean every word.”

“What if there is nothing I’d like more than to be tackled by my charming American friend?” The question was asked softly, but he pronounced each word succinctly.

She froze for a second, heat rising in her face. Her vacation was certainly looking up, that was for sure. She laughed. “Do men from Barcelona always say such outrageous things?”

“Outrageous?”

Maybe that hadn’t been outrageous flirting for him, but it was for her. She couldn’t remember when she’d last had time for flirting. Anyway, he was just having some fun with the poor American tourist. Men like him weren’t interested in women like her. She was too blunt and had the shoulders of a linebacker. A combination that had burned her more than once.

Out on the sidewalk, she handed over her bag for the driver to carry onto the bus. “Gracias.”

Her rescuer pulled out his wallet and lifted two fingers as the man returned.

“Oh, I appreciate the help, but I’ll pay my own way,” she said.

Surprise flitted across his face. He shook his head. “No need.”

“I insist.”

He stood back with a quick nod, and she ascended the stairs. As she scooted across the woven canvas, the fresh spice of his cologne moved along with her. It occurred to her a little too late that even with all the others on the bus, sharing the ride might be awkward.

With a tug to each shirt cuff, he settled back and offered his hand. “I’m Mateu Espasa.”

His skin was warm and his shake firm, sending a thrill of anticipation rushing down her spine. “London Montgomery. Mateu… I like the sound of it. What does it mean?”

He smiled. “Gift of God.”

From any other man, she’d have laughed outright, but with his large form nearly filling the small bench seat they shared, she found herself comforted by the heat of him. It was all so surreal. Maybe because he’d saved her luggage or maybe because he’d made her transport to the hotel so seamless, but appreciation tightened in her chest. She snuck a peek at her new friend, Mateu.

Finally, she was in Barcelona, on her way to her favorite hotel chain—and this time for pleasure not business—and just maybe, possibly on her way to crossing her favorite once-in-a-lifetime vacation item off her agenda.