Everlasting Moments Excerpt
He was too fine, too tempting to be sitting alone. He was the kind of man who could cause a perfectly sane, intelligent, well-bred woman, like herself, to lose her mind.
That thought and several more sensuous ones tumbled through Rhea Hamilton's head as she gazed at the incredibly handsome man across from her in Miami International Airport's Red Carpet Club. Her plane to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, would be departing in less than an hour; probably traveling in the opposite direction to his. As he sat working on his laptop computer, Rhea wondered if the excess gift bags next to him were treasures he was taking to loved ones.
Suddenly, he looked up and stared directly at her. Rhea's heart bounced as she pasted a friendly smile on her face. She hoped she didn't come across as a person caught doing something, she should not have been.
He returned her smile. Even that small movement of his mouth added tons of appeal to his rugged features, Rhea thought. The hint of a mustache and beard nicely complemented his full lips. Then that wonderful mouth silently formed the word, "Hello."
Rhea's smile widened as she responded ever so softly, "Hello."
As Rhea sat contemplating the best way to learn if the gifts were for a wife and children, her cellular phone rang. The man watched as she reached into the purse on the chair next to her to retrieve it.
"This is Rhea," she said, still staring at the man. She was slightly disappointed when he returned to working on his laptop.
"Hey, Rhea! It's Liz!" the voice said in her ear. "Are you ready for the time of your life or what? I can't wait!"
"Liz!" Concerned, Rhea looked down at her watch. "I thought you would have boarded your plane by now."
"That's why I'm calling. It's been delayed. Bad weather here in the Big Apple. But I think we'll still arrive in Rio around the same time you will." Liz was talking about herself and their mutual friend, LaShawn Williams, who was traveling with her.
"I was depending on you to get me to the Copacabana Palace Hotel. If you're late, I'll have to take a taxi to the hotel."
"If the plane leaves soon, we can still hook up at the airport," Liz said. "Check the arrival monitor for our plane. Worst case, struggle with trying to talk to a taxi driver. None will speak English, but all of them should understand the name of the hotel and they'll know where it is."
"Is it snowing in New York?"
"Some," Liz said. "That's why I can't wait to get to Rio. It'll be nice with it being springtime down there. A wonderful 80 degrees instead of 18. Beach, sun and fun. Calgon and Continental Airlines, take me away!"
Rhea laughed. "Speaking of fun," she said very quietly, not wanting to be overheard, "there's a good-looking guy sitting across from me. I bet he'd be interesting to explore."
"Oh? Where are you?" Liz asked excitedly.
"The Red Carpet lounge," Rhea said.
"That's why I don't hear any airport background racket. Always cozy. So you're flirting in the lounge? Good for you!"
"I'm not flirting," Rhea whispered. "Just admiring."
"Speak up!" Liz said. "I can barely hear you."
"He'll hear me," Rhea said a tiny bit louder.
"So what does he look like?" Liz asked. "No need to gawk and not share."
Rhea reached for her Portuguese-English dictionary. Since she had recently gotten the assignment of photographing holiday festivities in Rio for Culture Magazine she had started trying to learn the language. Luckily, Liz was fluent in Portuguese and helped her practice.
"Fala Portugues," Rhea said, telling Liz to speak in Portuguese.
"Why? Your Portuguese is terrible."
"It's the only way, if you want me to answer you," Rhea said. "Besides, it'll give me a chance to practice."
"Good Lord," Liz said, regretfully. "Go ahead."
"Give me a minute." Rhea flipped through her book looking for the right words, but the more she found, the more she wanted to find. She would go all out with describing him. She reached for her pen and jotted down a few sentences.
Why not go overboard with this? Rhea thought. He wouldn't know what she was talking about. This would be fun, she concluded.
"Fala," Liz whined, urging Rhea to hurry and speak. "What's taking you so long?"
"Getting the right words," Rhea said, looking back up at the object of her lust. Then she told Liz how fine he looked in his jeans and form-fitting shirt. He wasn't wearing his jacket, and the muscles in his arms made her wonder what those of his legs looked like. She knew he must be beautiful naked.
Finally she got to the parts of her notes she didn't have the time to put into sentences. So she had to wing it. Rhea hoped she was telling Liz that he was handsome and had a sexy mouth, one that had her wondering what he would taste like.
"I hope not!" Liz interrupted.
"What?" Rhea switched back to English.
"You just said, 'I would love to kiss you' and unless you were talking to him and not me, that ain't gonna happen."
"I meant to say ele. Isn't that how to say 'him'?"
"Much better," Liz said.
A voice on the intercom called passengers for a flight to Atlanta. The man looked at his watch, stood and began packing up his laptop and gathering his belongings. He slid on his jacket, all the while watching Rhea watch him. Something enticing in his eyes enhanced his smile. His stare never wavered, never left hers. She smiled back and as she was about to say something, he waved goodbye, then turned and walked away.
"Well, that's over," Rhea said, disappointedly. "He just left to get on a plane to Atlanta."
"Based on what you said about the guy, I'm surprised he didn't just grab you and take you to some dark corner for a goodbye romp."
Rhea laughed. "I was speaking a language he didn't understand. And I also don't do romps in busy airports."
"You're in the lounge," Liz corrected. "It's nice in there. Comfortable chairs and sofas, private offices and conference areas. Lots of places to romp."
"Get real," Rhea said, then heard her flight being called. "They're starting to board my plane. I'll see you in Rio. Bye!"
Looking out of the lounge's window, she saw that Miami's late night sky was filled with planes coming and going. Exhaling, she stood and grabbed her carry-on bag, purse, camera case and tripod. The assignment in Rio de Janeiro was exactly what she needed. And it had come at the right time. She needed to get away from her life for a while, especially at this time of year. Too many bad holiday memories.
Since her flight was sold out, she wanted to get aboard before the plane ran out of overhead storage space. She was flying business class. They would seat the first-class passengers before calling business class, followed by coach class, so she had a little time to spare.
As Rhea arrived at the gate, the number of passengers milling around confirmed it was definitely a full flight. A lot of people were going to Rio for Christmas, which was a week away. Rhea, however, was going for business, mostly. Her assignment was to take photographs of how Brazilians celebrated Christmas and New Year's for articles Liz was to write for the magazine. They had planned to vacation for a few days before starting the assignment.
Making her way through the crowd, Rhea got in line with her passport and ticket in hand. Once aboard, she found her row and stored her carry-on in the overhead. She slid over the aisle seat to take her seat at the window.
The flight attendant came by with business class refreshments. "Champagne? Juice?" she asked.
"No thanks," Rhea said, looking up. Then she saw the man from the airport lounge. When the attendant moved, he placed his gift bags and laptop next to her luggage in the overhead bin and sat beside her.
"Hello again," he said, smiling at her.
"Oh…" Rhea tried to hide her surprise but failed. "Hello."
Then he said something that almost took her breath away.
"Posse lhe fazer uma pergunta?" he asked slowly in perfectly clear Portuguese.
"What?" Rhea managed to swallow a gasp. She winced at his knowing look.
"I'm sorry," he said with his slight accent. "Was I speaking too fast?" He smiled with that incredible mouth again.
Rhea managed to shake her head.
"I overheard you tell your friend on the phone that you wanted to practice the language. I thought I could help."
"I understood. You wanted to ask me… something." Rhea's mouth went dry, probably because it was gaping. Being found out was always a damning thing. She thought she had been cunning by describing him in a foreign language. She managed to work her jaw to form another sentence. "I just hadn't expected it to be in Portuguese."
"I'm fluent in Portuguese. I liked what you said about me earlier." He paused, his sexy smile widening as his gaze went to her lips. "Your suggestion was tempting. Makes me want to take you up on your desire."