The first-class cabin of the American Airlines Boeing 777-300ER was alive with activity as the flight attendants began their meal service, and aromas of braised beef mixed with grilled salmon wafted through the air. Stemware clinked together and ice cubes tumbled to the bottoms of double old-fashioned glasses as drinks were served, the purring sound of the engines providing a familiar backdrop, leaving one with the anticipation of arriving in a matter of hours at a far-off destination.
Jack and Terrance occupied the two center suites in the first row of the cabin, the privacy wall between them slid down for now, allowing them to speak freely over dinner. Terrance was busy working out the details of his meal with the flight attendant on the right side of the aircraft as the striking woman tending to the left arrived at Jack’s seat.
She was a mature woman, perhaps in her mid-fifties, but her body looked half that. Her dark hair ran perfectly straight, falling several inches past her shoulders, and her superb beauty was highlighted by a pair of enticing blue eyes. She reminded him of Jacqueline Bisset, and he couldn’t help but imagine what it would be like to spend some time with her…sans the uniform.
Jack was comfortably settled in his seat, the nearly drained glass of Glenlivet providing an extra sense of well-being, and he smiled at the angel in front of him as she slid the bowl of field greens topped with cilantro vinaigrette over his tray table. The glass of Loire Valley Sancerre soon followed, and he downed the last sip of Scotch before handing her the empty glass.
“Thank you,” he said.
“You’re welcome. May I offer you a sourdough or multigrain roll?” She took the bread basket off her cart and unfolded the white napkin atop the rolls, the smell of warm, fresh bread washing over Jack’s face. She suspended a pair of tongs over the basket as she silently probed him for an answer.
Jack was momentarily lost in her eyes, but he snapped to. “Um…sourdough, please.”
“Here you go. I’ll check on you again in a few minutes. Enjoy your salad.” Her lips curved upward as if she recognized the mischievous ideas floating around in his head, and she gave him a wink before moving to the passenger behind him.
What a delightful creature.
He leaned to his left, past the edge of the seat, and angled his head to watch her walk those few feet, her shapely bottom nicely revealed by the tight skirt.
It was obvious, as he pulled back and sighed, that the man across the aisle had witnessed his little antic, and the two exchanged a respectful nod followed by a knowing grin. Clearly, they had both conjured up a similar fantasy.
Yielding to his typically male competitive spirit, Jack couldn’t help but consider whether he’d have the advantage in the unlikely event he and his first-class neighbor were to compete for her affections. His imagined adversary was probably closer to her age and had a generous head of salt-and-pepper hair, not to mention a ruggedly handsome face and an air of worldly sophistication Jack’s thirty-four years had not yet afforded him.
Perhaps he didn’t have the usual leg up this time. After all, not every woman looked for a muscle-bound younger man with an overactive sex drive and an enigmatic skill for attracting megalomaniacal villains and killers. Of course, the latter detail could be kept under wraps, especially if their entire relationship consisted of a one-night liaison.
Jack dove into the salad with his fork and enjoyed the crisp greens mixed with the potent cilantro flavor. He followed it with a sip of the Sancerre, its citrus and mineral notes drawing the flavors out of the salad even further. It was a pleasing combination, and Jack scribbled a mental note that cilantro and Sauvignon Blanc made a nice pair. Who knew?
“What are you so deep in thought about over there?” Terrance inquired, his resonant English accent in full bloom.
Jack had all but forgotten he was there. “What?”
“Let me guess. Beautiful flight attendants?”
“Well, now that you mention it, yes. How did you…”
“I saw how you couldn’t take your eyes off the exquisite woman helping you over there.”
Jack looked back to be sure she wasn’t listening to their conversation. “She really is exquisite, isn’t she?”
Terrance smiled as he raised a knowing eyebrow. “Indeed. But I think you missed something.”
“Her wedding ring.”
“What? No way.”
“Yes. Your attention to detail is slipping, my friend.” Terrance tapped the base of the ring finger on his left hand with an emphasizing grin.
Jack assumed Terrance was yanking his chain, but he leaned into the aisle anyway and looked toward her again. Then he pulled back. “Shit.”
Terrance laughed heartily. “You are so predictable. I could see those wheels turning in your head, like you were trying to think of the most expedient way to get her out of that uniform.”
“Have I told you lately how annoying you are?” Jack asked, authentically perturbed.
“Yes. Two nights ago. Right after you forked over the hundred dollars I won from our bet on the game.”
“Ah, yes. And the hits just keep on coming.”
“Besides, we’re changing planes at Heathrow to that British Airways flight to Copenhagen, so I don’t really see how you would have managed it. What were you thinking, anyway? A quickie in one of the Flagship Lounge showers?”
That actually did sound like a lot of fun, but…
“No. I’m sure we could have arranged a rendezvous some other time, perhaps on the way back from negotiating this deal.”
Terrance waived him off. “Well, it’s all a moot point anyway.”
“Yes, thank you very much.”
“Hey, it’s not my fault. In fact, I pointed out the flaw in your plan before you had a chance to run amuck with it. You should thank me.”
Jack raised an eyebrow. “Isn’t that what I just did?”
“No, sir. That was sarcasm.”
“It’s the best you’re going to get, Counselor.”
“Why doesn’t that surprise me?”
The striking young flight attendant on Terrance’s side arrived with a bottle of the Sancerre and refilled his glass before plucking the business card out of his hand with a wry smile and trailing off. She was a young, exotic redhead who oozed sexuality as she walked, and every man on the right side of the plane seemed mesmerized by her.
“What the hell was that?” Jack inquired.
“Oh, didn’t I tell you?” Terrance posed with a devilish grin. “We’re going out when I get back to L.A. She’s based there.”
“Must be the English accent. Damn you.”
He laughed again. “If you’re trying to make me feel guilty, Jack, forget it. I don’t know anyone who romances women better than you do. Just let the rest of us have a go at it every now and then, okay?”
Jack sighed playfully. “Oh, all right.”
“Besides, I’m not on the prowl the same way you are. Ultimately, I’m looking for someone to share my life with.”
“And I’m not?”
“Not as far as I can tell.”
Jack reared back his head. “Really? What are you basing that on?”
“You want a perfect case in point?” Terrance asked.
“Absolutely. I’d love to hear this.”
“Are you sure you’ve got the stomach for it?”
Jack narrowed his eyes. “Yes. Hit me.”
Oh, that hurt. Dalia was an amazing Egyptian girl living in Cambridge, England, and Jack actually thought she might be “the one”. They had spent an amazing time together amidst tumultuous circumstances, and they both wanted to take the relationship to the next level, but the geographic separation was a killer. She had an amazing professorship at Cambridge University that only a fool would give up, so her moving to L.A. wasn’t a viable option, and she wasn’t willing to endure a long-distance relationship either.
Jack, on the other hand, was essentially free to live anywhere. Yes, his business contacts were in the L.A. area, but he was independently wealthy now and could set up shop wherever he wanted, including Europe. So what stopped him from relocating to England and giving it a try? He could always move back if things didn’t work out.
It was a quandary that had vexed him for a couple of weeks now, and Terrance had a sixth sense about such things, not to mention a penchant for drawing them out of people. It was probably what made him such a great litigator.
“You know, Terrance, I have no idea how to answer that.”
“I thought as much. All kidding aside, my friend, I think you need to spend some time figuring it out. You can’t remain a playboy forever.”
“Really?” Jack was only half kidding. “Why not?”
“Well, I guess you could, a la Hugh Hefner. But what kind of life would that be?”
“Gosh. Let me think. Living in a mansion with gorgeous, naked women prancing all over the place? How dreadful!”
Terrance chuckled. “You know what I mean.”
“Yes, of course I do. But seriously. Are you telling me you don’t enjoy playing the field?”
“I’d be lying if I said I didn’t,” Terrance answered. “I’m always happy to jump into bed with a pretty girl, assuming I’m not in a relationship at the time. And who knows, maybe that’s where it all begins. But my end goal is to find someone to marry, settle down, have brunch on Sundays, host barbecues in the backyard, go shopping at the mall together, and eventually start a family.”
Jack sighed again. “That sounds pretty nice, actually. But no minivan, right?”
“Hell, no. That’s where I draw the line. My wife can chauffer the kids to soccer practice in an Escalade.”
“Good for you.”
“So, what’s your problem, my friend?”
“I wouldn’t exactly call it a problem,” Jack answered. “I’m having fun right now, and I figure it’s just a matter of time before I’m ready to stop all the shenanigans and do exactly what you’re talking about.”
Terrance stroked his chin. “You’re thirty-four, right?”
“You planning on stopping those shenanigans anytime soon?”
“I don’t know,” Jack answered. “Besides, thirty-four isn’t that old anymore. I can wait for years before starting a family if I want.”
“I’m not so much referring to your age as much as I am the woman who you’ll eventually marry and the matter of her biological clock. Or were you planning to settle down with a woman twenty years younger than you?”
Jack hadn’t considered that particular scenario before, and he instantly did the math. If a woman wanted to start a family by age thirty-five, then he could conceivably wait until fifty-five.
Terrance shook his head woefully. “Good God. You’re doing the math over there, aren’t you?”
Jack gave him a sheepish grin. “Um…yeah.”
“So let’s have it. What’s your number?”
“Christ. You’re a mess, Jack.”
"James Bond Meets Fifty Shades of Grey"
Immerse yourself in the world class novels that combine action, mystery & suspense with tantalizing and tastefully written erotica. You’ll find all your sensibilities roused at once with Kevin Sterling’s ultra-sexy, action-packed Jack Lazar Series.
In this fourth action-packed thriller, Jack travels to Denmark for a business venture, but what seems to be a textbook transaction turns into a nightmare after he gets involved with Katarina, a vivacious Danish girl who apparently lacks a moral compass, not to mention an off button. After naively believing their liaison was just a random encounter, Jack discovers she’s connected to his business deal, and there’s a dangerous political group with skin in the game, too.
Katarina makes a convincing case of being a victim, not part of the conspiracy, but can Jack really trust her?
The firestorm gets out of control as Jack digs deeper, unearths the convoluted plot behind it all, and discovers that innocent people are being heartlessly killed. He’s not only horrified by the reason why it’s happening, but how it’s being done, and there appears to be no way to stop it from occurring again.
Then the scheme’s real objective emerges, launching Jack into action with intelligence operatives to prevent it. But that’s not so easy with assassins on Jack’s tail, forcing him to struggle for survival while trying to prevent Katarina from getting caught in the crossfire.
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Genre – Action, Mystery, Suspense
Rating – R
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