Kiss and Makeup

By: Taryn Leigh Taylor

“DOYOUWANT me to kick the crap out of that seat back and tray table for you?”

Chloe Masterson looked over at Window Guy, the man that the Goddess of Economy Airline Seating had seen fit to plaster against her right side. The upper-arm contact had started in Seattle and lasted until Chicago. Thanks to bad weather, their scheduled forty-five-minute layover in the Windy City was now pushing two hours, and had featured a long wait in the plane deicing line and then a “that didn’t sound good” thunk. The plane was now sitting motionless on a vast expanse of snowy tarmac and they’d officially hit the six-hour mark of their touching-a-stranger marathon fifteen minutes ago.

It wasn’t his fault, really. Window Guy had broad shoulders, so the contact was incidental and, in a weird way, kind of comforting. She liked that the sleeve of his gray wool suit was soft and warm against her skin.

And okay, maybe she was leaning against him a little more than was strictly necessary. Not because he smelled of spicy soap and warm man—which was a pretty wicked combination—but because he smelled better than the guy to her left. The gag-inducing aroma of stale sweat, onions and something else she couldn’t quite place but preferred to leave a mystery had worn her down about twenty minutes after boarding. That’s when Chloe had decided that the comfort of her left elbow wasn’t worth permanent olfactory damage and had conceded the battle of the joint armrest to him.

Damn middle seat.


Despite their close confines, she and Window Guy hadn’t exchanged more than the official “that’s-my-seat” gesture of air travelers the world over before he’d awkwardly shuffled past her to sit down. After that, he’d pulled his laptop out and tapped away at the keys like a good little company automaton while she’d worked her way through a few chapters of a gently-used Stephen King novel. She’d been so engrossed in her book, she hadn’t noticed that at some point he’d put the laptop away and moved on to reading the offerings from the seat pocket in front of him.

And that wasn’t all she hadn’t noticed.

Now that she was actually looking at him, his breach of their companionable silence was even more surprising. Because Window Guy was kind of sexy. Bedroom eyes the color of whiskey and twice as potent. A strong jaw and a straight nose. His brown hair was short enough to be business-appropriate, but long enough to get mussed up under the right circumstances. And that mouth! As she took her fill of him, it pulled slightly up at the right corner in an easy smirk that was hot as hell. He was the clean-cut kind of handsome that came with no visible neck tattoos and an expertly-knotted blue silk tie that bespoke gainful employment.

Men like him didn’t talk to women like her. He was way too...corporate. And she was...not.

At her question, he raised his chin at the worn gray vinyl seat back in front of her. “You’ve been giving that chair dirty looks for the last twenty minutes, and then you sighed,” he explained.

“I did?”

Window Guy nodded. “The sigh was pretty loud, actually. It disturbed my reading.”

“Oh. Well. I’m sorry that my sigh threw off your concentration.” Chloe sent a meaningful glance toward the airline safety pamphlet on his lap.

“The damage is done.” He picked up the tri-fold piece of card stock. “It was just getting good, too. After the cabin depressurized, the plane crashed and the passengers were proceeding in an orderly fashion for their lives!”

Huh. She hadn’t expected funny. Hot guys rarely had to develop such plebeian talents. “Sounds intense.”

“You’re telling me. I was really enjoying it until the author got all kinky and made the heroine take off her high heels before she used the inflatable slide. I think he might be a foot fetishist.” He shoved the pamphlet back in the seat pocket in front of him before he met her gaze with a teasing glint in his amber eyes. “Wow. Spoiler alert. I hope I didn’t give too much away.”

“No, I appreciate the recommendation. I’ll be sure to tell my book club about it.”

His grin was practiced, but appealing. “I’m Ben.”

Uh-oh. Time to nip this in the bud. “Well, Ben. You’re a very handsome guy, and I appreciate the effort, because I’m sure that maneuvering a sober pickup with only a safety card, an in-flight magazine, and an airsickness bag as props is a challenge that few men could meet. But don’t waste all your sweet, panty-dropping material on me. Save some of that A-game for Stewardess Barbie over there.”

They both looked at the perky blonde flight attendant who’d been making doe eyes at Ben since he’d boarded. Right on cue, she twirled her ponytail and glanced away coyly.