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Chapter One



Valentine’s Day, three years and seven months ago.

She caught his eye the moment she sat across from him in the Denver airport terminal. It wasn’t her gorgeous blonde hair or her long, slender legs or the hourglass curve of her waist and hips or even the firm, ample breasts shaped beneath the long-sleeve turtleneck top that held Connor Prescott’s attention. No, it was her big, dark brown eyes and her tentative smile as their gazes met for a brief second before she glanced down at the cell phone in her hand.

That quick glimpse at her pretty face was just enough for him to catch the subtle heartache in her expression that no woman ought to be feeling on Valentine’s Day, and he found himself curious as to what had caused that show of vulnerable emotion.

While she scrolled through her phone with a slight frown marring her brows, he looked at her left hand. There wasn’t a ring on her finger, but that didn’t mean she wasn’t already taken. But it definitely gave him a bit of hope that maybe they could get to know each other better, because with the snowstorm rolling into Denver that afternoon, he had a feeling it was going to be a long night at the airport.

They hadn’t cancelled his flight to Chicago, where he lived. Yet. But Connor was pretty sure that’s where things were headed, especially with the snow flurries starting outside. The incoming flight to this gate was already delayed, and by the time it landed and passengers disembarked, he was betting that the airport would have made the decision to stop all flights for the night.

It was supposed to be one of those quick and dirty blizzards, the kind that dumped a good twelve to twenty inches of snow in a short period of time. Most likely, by tomorrow in the late afternoon or evening, the runways would be cleared, the planes deiced, flights would have resumed their regular schedules, and the thousands of people at the airport would be scrambling to rebook their seats to their destination.

But for now, it was a sit-and-wait situation. Maybe they’d get out before everything was shut down . . . and maybe not.

He returned his attention to the stranger sitting across from his seat, just in time to see her avert her gaze away from him and bite her lower lip as she looked at her phone again. He couldn’t help the smile that tugged at his mouth. So, she’d been checking him out while he’d been looking out the window at the weather. Definitely a positive sign.

He was just getting ready to strike up a casual conversation, but before he could say anything, she abruptly stood, grabbed the handle of her carry-on luggage, and walked away from the sitting area at their gate. He watched her go—and damn, those black jeans she wore drew his gaze to the perfect, rounded curves of her ass. He debated whether or not to follow and decided against it so he didn’t look like a complete stalker. Most likely, she was going to the ladies’ room and would return in a few minutes.

Except she didn’t come back. Half an hour later, his cell phone buzzed with an alert from the airlines, notifying him that his flight had been cancelled. No big surprise there. That message was followed by an announcement over the intercom informing travelers that the entire airport was now shut down until tomorrow morning, or afternoon, depending on how fast the storm blew through. He was stuck in Denver for at least another twenty-four hours.

The last thing Connor wanted to do was sleep on one of the uncomfortable chairs or on the floor with a few thousand other people. He quickly got online, looked up the Westin Denver International Airport Hotel, which was connected directly to the airport terminal, and tried to book a room. He could have walked there, but in the twenty minutes it would take to get to the adjoining hotel, he was fairly certain every room would be gone. As it was, the only thing left that he could get was an executive two-bedroom suite, which was a small fortune and more space than he needed, but hey, the guys—his partners at Premier Realty—had elected to send him to Denver on company business, so tough shit, he thought, and didn’t hesitate to book it.

Room secured, he texted his sister, Natalie—who was supposed to pick him up when he landed—to give her an update on his situation, then waited around another half an hour like an infatuated teenage boy to see if the intriguing stranger came back, only to be met with extreme disappointment.

His stomach growled, reminding him that he’d missed lunch and he was no longer just hungry but starved. He picked up his travel bag and headed down the concourse toward the hotel, trying to decide where to eat. Every place was jam-packed since so many people were stranded, and he didn’t want crappy fast food. Being served a substantial burger and a beer was his preference before he checked into his room for the rest of the afternoon and night.

He came across Boulder Beer Tap House, and bingo, he’d found his restaurant. He made his way inside and was told he could seat himself—and he would have if there had been room at the bar or a vacant table anywhere in the place.

And then fate smiled upon him. Sitting alone at a small, two-seat table in the corner of the restaurant was his beautiful blonde. And the fact that she was eating a burger and drinking a glass of beer, well, he was almost in love because she was his kind of girl. Unassuming. Down-to-earth. Unpretentious. A woman who enjoyed a hearty meal and a dark ale over a diet-conscious salad and a frilly cocktail.

Allowing a charming smile to curve his lips, he started in her direction. After taking a bite of her burger, she wiped her mouth with her napkin as she glanced up, clearly looking right at him as he approached. He didn’t miss the awareness that flashed through her eyes or the subtle attraction as her gaze took in the width of his muscled chest beneath the navy blue long-sleeve Henley he wore. Surprisingly, her appraisal didn’t stop there . . . No, it did a slow, appreciative perusal down the rest of his body, then back up again.

He was a big guy. Everywhere. Tall and solidly built from manual labor, with linebacker shoulders he’d put to good use in college and long legs that completed his six-foot-five frame. He’d already estimated that he was close to six inches taller than she was the moment she stood up back at the gate, and he could easily imagine how perfectly she’d fit against him, in all the right places.

By the time he’d reached her table, her head was tipped back to look up at his face, her eyes wide with surprise that he’d sought her out. And then she absently licked her bottom lip, and fuck, the action was so guileless, and so damn hot. His dick twitched at the thought of that sexy mouth and that soft, pink tongue wrapped around his cock. Jesus, it had been a long time since he’d had such a visceral reaction to a woman . . . and he welcomed it . . . and sent up a small prayer in hopes that she was single so he could pursue the chemistry that was clearly mutual.

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