We asked Melody Anne, author of the self-pubbed bestselling Billionaire Bachelors (Andersons) series of contemporary romance, as well as the brand new Unexpected Heroes series, to give us a little taste of HER UNEXPECTED HERO, her first romance with Pocket Books. And what she sent us may surprise you–or warm you up on these cold winter nights! Just imagine…
You’re standing on a dark blue carpeted floor with people slowly walking by, their eyes on you, while hands are moving up and down your thighs, fingers sliding slowly down your waist. Your eyes widen as your cheeks flush, and then before you know it, it’s over, and you hear “Have a good day.”…Then you leave the security check point at the airport, and you’re ready for a hot guy to walk by and take you places you’ve never been before while flying at 35,000 feet.
Fate is a funny thing, because you can’t fight it, and why would you ever want to? In HER UNEXPECTED HERO, the first book in my new series, fantasy turns into reality and my hero Jackson is every man I’ve ever fantasized about while sitting in the stiff seats at the airport, waiting for a delayed flight. That’s why this book starts off with a bang that keeps on going. But if you’ve ever read one of my books, then you will know that while the man may growl, it’s the heroine who will gladly tame him. And none of my books are complete without a meddling, loving, and intense family who I hope you will want to be a part of. Meet the Whitmans, billionaire tycoons who are, of course, friends with the ever meddling Joseph Anderson. You are in for a whole new set of adventures…so fasten your seatbelt and move your seat to its upright and locked position!
Read on for a brief excerpt of HER UNEXPECTED HERO, now on sale…and don’t miss the next book in the series, HER HOMETOWN HERO, coming this June. Too long to wait? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered with an original e-novella, “Who I Am with You,” available this April!
“Mom, I love you and I promise I’m doing fine. I really appreciate the ticket home. But they’re speaking to the passengers, so I have to hang up now.”
With a little grumbling, Alyssa’s mother finally allowed her to disconnect her cell, though by then Alyssa had missed the agent’s message. Scanning the seating by the gate, she promptly spotted a nice quiet corner, one with no loud or sweaty men nearby, and made a beeline for it.
A few minutes later she heard a commotion, and she glanced up to see an unhappy passenger arguing with one of the customer service agents. This wasn’t anything new. Alyssa wasn’t thrilled with the delay, either, but she’d been traveling a lot over the years and knew it was par for the course.
When several other people surged around the guy who’d gone ballistic—his voice was rising by the minute—and gained the “courage” to yell along with him, Alyssa tried not to watch. But it was like passing a wreck on the freeway. You knew it was ridiculous to slow down, but no matter how much you lectured yourself not to twist your head, it just seemed to happen.
As Alyssa focused on the commotion, she felt the air stir next to her as someone sat down. No rank odor assailed her, so she didn’t pay attention to her new neighbor; she was busy watching two policemen walk to the customer service counter. The noise finally began dying down when the officers told the passengers that the next person to cause a problem would be escorted off the premises.
Nothing more to see there. She turned her head idly, and then started in surprise; her eyes surely widened to the size of small saucers. Sitting next to her was a heart-stoppingly beautiful man—and she never used that term lightly. His thick dark hair was cut just a little longer than was conventional, brushing the top of his ears. His solid jawline and high cheekbones gave him an air of natural sophistication, and the straight smooth shape of his nose perfected his features.
But what really caught her attention were the sultry dark brown eyes with their perfect almond shape, and thick long lashes that most people in her former industry would pay thousands of dollars, or euros, to acquire. The man was positively delicious, which sent an instant shot of awareness through her stomach. And she had no business gazing his way.
Something was making him unhappy. His flawless lips were clamped in a straight line and his eyebrows bent inward in a scowl. When Alyssa finally exhaled, she found herself sitting up a little bit straighter. His scent was now dancing inside her, and—mmmm. Whatever cologne the man was wearing was meant to seduce. It was meant to make women turn their heads. And it was doing the trick on her.
“Mr. Whitman, is there anything else I can do for you?”
Alyssa turned to find one of the airline’s agents hovering around her compelling neighbor. The name stirred something inside her like she’d heard it before, but she couldn’t place it.
“No. Leave me.”
Wow! He was an unhappy man.
Alyssa decided that staying silent would be the wisest course of action. But she had never really been the silent type, and for some odd reason, this stranger’s disgruntled mood made her feel less sorry for herself. It looked as if his day was going worse than hers. And that was saying a lot.
“I’m so sorry about the delay, Mr. Whitman,” the agent said. “We’ll be boarding within the next twenty minutes.” When he didn’t respond, she shifted on her feet before shuffling away.
The man’s cold dismissal would make anyone uneasy. The little show that had just taken place told Alyssa that she should stand up quietly and find another seat. But she wouldn’t. Not when she was suddenly so entertained right where she was.
He was retrieving his laptop from his computer bag when the device slipped and he jerked his hand out to catch it; in the process, his elbow leapt over the armrest separating him from her and jabbed her in the ribs. She couldn’t help giving out an oof of pain.
* * *
Those words described Jackson Whitman perfectly. It was the way he wanted to be viewed. It was safe—it protected him. After the loss of his daughter, he was done. Done with love. Done with playing nice. Done with it all.
People skirted around him, steered clear. Most people, that is. Certainly not his meddling family, who couldn’t get it through their heads that he was now a lone wolf and preferred it that way. Of course, if they ever actually gave up on him, would he like that? He wanted to think that he would, but he knew the truth, knew he needed them. No one, however, would ever hear him say those words aloud.
Okay, he didn’t need companionship; he didn’t need long talks or people to be in his face. Sex, on the other hand—oh, yes, that need bubbled up inside him like molten lava boiling for an eternity in the confines of the earth, begging for release.
Right now, sex should be the last thing on his mind, but his neighbor, the woman he’d just managed to elbow, left him unable to think of nothing else. As he took in her pale blue eyes, her sleek, yet curvy body, the silky reddish-blond hair, and the ripe parted lips, sex was his only thought. Thrusting that thought away, he opened his mouth to apologize when her lips turned from an O to a smile.
“Well, that’s certainly a new greeting,” she said with a chuckle.
What the hell was she talking about? “Excuse me?”
“An apology would be expected, but you don’t seem to be the sort of man who goes around apologizing, if your interaction with the airline employee is any indication of how you normally speak to strangers.”
She wasn’t being rude, exactly. She was just being . . . he couldn’t quite put his finger on what in the hell she was being. Jackson was used to women batting their eyelashes, licking their lips, leaning in to give him a clear invitation with a close-up of their cleavage. He wasn’t used to anyone mocking him. It took him several silent seconds for him to form two words.
“Wow. You really need to work on that.”
Again, he was floored. It was just as she’d said: he practically never apologized for anything. And she’d just thrown his sincere—all right, maybe not completely sincere, but still . . . She’d just thrown the words back at him, without even a nod of her head indicating acceptance.
“It wasn’t as if I intentionally elbowed you,” he pointed out.
“I would hope not, since we don’t know each other, and I’ve never done anything to warrant being hit by you,” she said, the same grin in place.
“No woman should ever be hit.” He wasn’t amused.
“Ah, so you’re a gentleman.”
“I wouldn’t go that far.” And miraculously, he felt his lips turning up just the slightest bit. Sheesh, he couldn’t remember the last time he’d smiled. Too much had happened in the past five years to make him feel like grinning.
“That’s good to know, Mr. Whitman.”
How did she know his name? Suspicion entered Jackson’s thoughts. Then he remembered the rep who’d been busy kissing his ass. Airlines annoyed him. He hated flying commercial, preferring to use his jet, but one of his brothers was using it this week, and he’d had little choice but to come to Paris any way he could. He’d have put the trip off, but with the holidays, he’d been under certain pressing deadlines.
Now, inevitably, the flight was delayed, and here he was, sitting next to a distressingly intriguing woman. Dammit. Jackson didn’t want to be intrigued, but it seemed as if his body had taken the reins from his brain.
That she’d mocked him gave him a measure of respect for her. It was refreshing to have a conversation with a woman who knew nothing about him, seemed to want nothing from him. He was tempted to change her mind on that front.
He loved sex.
Sex was healthy. It was vital. It’s what kept this pathetic population going like the Energizer Bunny. Maybe this delay wouldn’t end up as such an awful thing after all. But Jackson didn’t jump into bed with women on a whim. Not usually, at least. He’d have to see how the next few minutes played out and then decide whether or not to bed her.
Yes, he was confident enough in himself to know that if he wanted her to share a bed with him, then she would indeed share his bed. He opened his laptop and pulled up a report. If she didn’t speak again, maybe that would be the end of it. If she did . . . Well, if she did, maybe he’d decide to prolong their conversation.
As he began working, a few minutes passed in total silence. So maybe their conversation was over; maybe that small stirring she’d caused in him had been nothing more than a fluke. But her scent began drifting over him. Fingers of jasmine and nutmeg twirled around his nose and slid across his cheeks. Taking a deep breath, he decided that work could wait for a while. There wasn’t a lot of time before he and this nameless woman would board the plane.
As if his thoughts had caused the agents to actually do some work, an announcement came over the intercom, first in French, then in English. “Passengers outbound on Flight 28 with service to JFK, we apologize for the delay once again. We’ve been informed that boarding will begin in ten minutes. Please make your way back to gate K26 and we’ll get through the boarding process quickly and have you on your way to New York in a timely fashion.”
“Finally,” she murmured, though she didn’t seem particularly excited—most of the people in the terminal were clapping. She seemed to be practicing some sort of breathing exercises as she gripped her armrests. Was she afraid of flying?
“Thousands of flights take off and land safely every single day,” Jackson said, almost surprised by the sound of his voice as he attempted to comfort her. Why would he care if she was frightened? It didn’t affect him.
She turned her head slowly his way and her eyes were wide. “Yes, I know.”
He waited, but she said nothing further. “Then why the panicked expression?”
“Probably because even though I know that flying is much safer than a car or boat, my brain won’t listen to reason. Being thirty-something-thousand feet in the air in a big metal machine is just unnatural,” she replied before taking another long breath.
“I wouldn’t say that boats are unsafe.” Why had that popped from his mouth?
“Have you not watched Titanic? Or Poseidon? I’d say the passengers on those boats weren’t too thrilled about how their ocean cruises ended,” she pointed out.
“The Titanic disaster could have been prevented, and Poseidon is fiction.”
“Well, a lot of plane crashes could probably have been prevented too, but with my luck I’m going to be on a flight that goes down in a fiery blaze of glory. Or simply disappears from radar never to be seen again.”
For some reason, she amused him. One minute she was all mocking and happy-go-lucky, and the next she seemed like a frightened teenager. Whatever she was, she wasn’t boring.
“Why did you come all the way to Paris if you hate flying?”
Her breathing had started to grow easier as they continued chatting, and that brought Jackson surprising pleasure. He liked that he was calming her, that the conversation they were having was taking her mind off her fears. Jackson performed billion-dollar deals on a regular basis. Deals of serious import and excitement. Calming a frightened woman wasn’t in his job description and shouldn’t matter to him in the least. But the fact was that it did matter.
“What kind of work?” he asked.
She tensed again.
“Nothing important,” she said, cringing, and she added, “I’m Alyssa, by the way. Alyssa Gerard.”
She held out her hand and he looked at it as if it were a snake. With a strange reluctance, he held out his hand and clasped her fingers. He should have known better. As their fingers brushed together, a vibration of awareness rocketed right through him. That was all it had taken, one simple touch. This woman was dangerous.
Good thing he liked danger.
Just then his phone rang and he lifted it, his eyes not letting hers go. After a moment of listening, he gave a curt “no comment” and hung up. Damn reporters!
Without looking back at her, he stood and moved purposefully through the throng of eager passengers. Jackson always purchased two seats when he was forced to fly commercially. The last thing he wanted was to end up sitting on an eight- to twelve-hour flight next to some annoying stranger. In this case, his extra seat was an advantage.
“I want Alyssa Gerard moved to the open seat next to mine,” Jackson said, handing over his boarding passes.
He always booked himself into the last row of first class, giving himself even more privacy. This trip, which hadn’t begun well, was shaping up to be a lot more pleasant now that he had a sexy companion to pass the time with.
A predatory smile transformed his features, making the agent helping him blush. Now that was the reaction Jackson was used to receiving from women.