A Suite Deal
David knew better, he really did. First on, last off. His bags must have ridden as far from the door as possible. If he hadn’t had reservations on the hotel van, he’d have seriously contemplated stepping through the baggage area and fetching them himself from the carts. They were truly the last two pieces of luggage delivered.
It was senseless to tie his briefcase to his wheeled bag for the short walk to the hotel van area, so he juggled all three pieces and headed out the door. The hotel vans were—naturally, he thought!—at the far end from the baggage claim area. The humidity clammed at him and he loosened his tie. He increased his pace the closer he got. The area was remarkably van-free.
Just as it shifted from reverse to drive, David spotted the one he wanted. Loaded. Well, there was a place for him! He had the paperwork to prove it!
Ditching his bags, he ran into the middle of the driveway and waved his arms in front of the van. It screeched to a halt and he saw the driver look unhappily over his shoulder at someone in the back.
David crossed his arms and waited for the man to get out. Notebook in hand, the driver approached. “Mr. White?”
“Yes.” He didn’t relax his stance. “I have a reservation.”
“I know, I know.” The man eased his ball cap back and scratched at his forehead. “You’re late.”
“My luggage was last off.” By way of explanation, David indicated the guilty bags on the sidewalk with a toss of his head. “I got here as fast as I could.”
The driver cleared his throat. “We got a little problem, Mr. White.”
David expected no less and waited silently.
“I let a passenger with a later reservation take your seat. Now, I know I should have waited.” His voice trailed off. David narrowed his eyes and took a deep breath. He knew as well as the driver what the scenario was: a hotel-funded taxi for David would really come out of this guy’s wages. It behooved them both for David to ride this van. The driver read David’s scowl. “Let’s see what we can arrange.”
He took David’s bags around to the side and opened the sliding door. “Folks, our wayward passenger has shown up!” No one laughed. “Can we kind of scrunch up together here? Any more kids go on daddy’s laps?” He kept his tone light as he noted the kids were already being held. “Miss?” He let the question hang in the air.
“My daddy’s not here.” Titters of unease drifted from the back.
David ducked his head and looked into the van. Sure enough, he hadn’t been mistaken. Those were the same mountain boots he’d seen displayed at the security area. Furthermore, no expert was needed to read her body language: she wasn’t being left on the curb. “Seems we meet again.” If possession were nine-tenths, he was certainly going to fight for the remainder.
She uncrossed her arms and eased from the seat. “Please,” she indicated the three-seat area she’d vacated. The two teenage boys cut their eyes at him, and he read the male-message quite well. Thank you very much, it went, we were enjoying sitting by this foxy lady, you dirty old man. There was nothing for it now but to enter and sit where she’d been. He scooted against the two adolescents but the three of them barely fit on the seat. Now what was she going to do?
The driver helplessly, if somewhat hopefully, raised his eyebrows at his seat-less passenger. “How long a ride to the hotel?” she asked.
“Fifteen minutes, miss.” His hand was on the door latch.
She looked at the three males and smiled. “Well, you boys can scrunch up for that long.” She patted David’s right thigh, and he involuntarily moved away from her toward the boys. She perched on the barest edge beside him and grasped the seat back in front of her.
The driver slammed the door and carried David’s luggage to the top. David moved trying to accommodate her. A dig in his left rib quickly drew his attention to his seatmates. “We’ll take her,” one of them mouthed to him while indicating his lap as the other made some vaguely rude gesture. David gifted them with a look of disdain reserved for brothers Chris and Joe and half-turned his back.
A subtle hint of expensive perfume wafted off her neck and when the van lurched into gear, she almost fell off the seat. “This is ludicrous,” he muttered as he grabbed for her, capturing her waist and pulling her back against him. His arm easily encircled her and reflexively, he pulled her onto his lap.
She turned and looked at him, her green eyes widened with the surprise of not falling when she had expected to. “Are you sure you don’t mind?”
He could hardly say that. His suit pants were being wrinkled and he’d planned on them for the interview, the hotel cleaners becoming a moot point for the moment. But what the hell, his decorum was shot for the day anyway. And for some ridiculous cosmic reason, she’d been an impediment to him for three hours. Now she smelled divine and she was lightweight, but certainly not bony, and her eyes were fascinating. Let those two teenage gift-to-women-wannabees eat their hearts out. She was on his lap and no, he didn’t mind.