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Fight or Flight
Author:Samantha Young

Fight or Flight by Samantha Young




One



SKY HARBOR AIRPORT, ARIZONA MARCH 2018

Food. Food and coffee. I knew those should be my priority. The grumbles in my belly were making that perfectly clear. And considering the purpose for my visit to Phoenix, it was no wonder I was marching through the terminal after having my bag searched in security, feeling like I might claw someone’s face off if I didn’t get a shot of caffeine in my system.

Even though I was hangry, my priority was to get upgraded to first class on my flight home to Boston. I could be hangry all I wanted in an airport. But as I was someone who suffered from mild claustrophobia, sitting in coach—with my luck stuck beside someone who would take their shoes and socks off during the flight—would be a million times worse than being hangry. I couldn’t chance it. A pair of strange, hot, sweaty, smelly bare feet next to me for four and a half hours? No, that was a hell my current state of mind couldn’t deal with. I shuddered as I marched toward the desk at my gate.

Seeing a small group of people crowded under a television screen, I faltered, wondering what had drawn them to the news. I slowed at the images of huge plumes of smoke billowing out of a tremendously large mountain, my curiosity drawing me to a halt.

Within a few seconds the news told me that an unpronounceable volcano in Iceland had erupted, creating this humungous ash cloud that was causing disruption in Europe. Flights there had been grounded and consequently travel chaos ensued.

The thought of being stuck in an airport for an indeterminate number of hours—days even—made me shudder in sympathy for my poor fellow human beings.

I couldn’t imagine dealing with that on top of the week I’d just had. I liked to think I was someone who was usually cool and collected, but lately my emotions were so close to the surface I was almost afraid of them. I asked the universe to forgive me my self-absorption, thankful that I was not someone who wasn’t going to make it home today, and continued on my path to the gate desk. There was no one in line, and the man behind it began to smile in welcome as I approached.

“Hi, I was wondering—Oof!” I winced as a laptop bag attached to a big guy whacked against my right shoulder, knocking me back on my heels. The big guy didn’t even realize he’d hit me as he strode right past and cut in ahead of me.

Rude!

“I’d like tae upgrade tae first class, please,” he said in a deep, loud, rumbling, very attractive accent that did nothing to soothe my annoyance with him for cutting in front of me.

“Of course, sir,” the gate agent answered, in such a flirtatious tone I was sure that if I’d been tall enough to see over the big guy’s shoulder I would see the agent batting his lashes at him. “Okay, flight DL180 to Boston. You’re in luck, Mr. Scott. We have one seat left in first class.”

Oh, hell no!

“What?” I shoved my way up next to Rude Guy, not even looking at him.

The gate agent, sensing my tone, immediately narrowed his eyes at me and thinned his lips.

“I was coming here to ask for an upgrade on this flight and he”—I gestured to my right—“cut in front of me. You saw him do it.”

“Miss, I’m going to ask you to calm down and wait your turn. Although we have a very full flight today, I can put you on our list and if a first-class seat opens up, we will let you know.”

Yeah, because the way my week was going, that was likely.

“I was first,” I insisted, my skin flushing as my blood had turned so hot with anger at the unfairness. “He whacked me with his laptop bag pushing past me to cut in line.”

“Can we just ignore this tiny, angry person and upgrade me now?” the deep, accented voice said somewhere above my head to my right.

His condescension finally drew my gaze to him.

And everything suddenly made sense.

A modern-day Viking towered over me, my attention drawing his from the gate agent. His eyes were the most beautiful I’d ever seen. A piercing ice blue against the rugged tan of his skin, the irises like pale blue glass bright against the sun streaming in through the airport windows. His hair was dark blond, short at the sides and longer on top. And even though he was not my type, I could admit his features were entirely masculine and attractive with his short, dark blond beard. It wasn’t so much a beard as a thick growth of stubble. He had a beautiful mouth, a thinner top lip but a full, sensual lower lip that gave him a broody, boyish pout at odds with his ruggedness. Gorgeous as his mouth may be, it was currently curled upward at one corner in displeasure.

And did I mention he was built?

The offensive laptop bag was slung over a set of shoulders so broad they would have made a football coach weep with joy. I was guessing he was just a little over six feet, but his build made him look taller. I was only five foot three but I was wearing four-inch stilettos, and yet I felt like Tinkerbell next to this guy.

Tattoos I didn’t take the time to study peeked out from under the rolled-up sleeve of his henley shirt. A shirt that showed off the kind of muscle a guy didn’t achieve without copious visits to the gym.

A fine male specimen, indeed.

I rolled my eyes and shot the agent a knowing, annoyed look. “Really?” It was clear to me motorcycle-gang-member-Viking-dude was getting preferential treatment here.

“Miss, please don’t make me call security.”

My lips parted in shock. “Melodramatic much?”

“You.” The belligerent rumble in the Viking’s voice made me bristle.

I looked up at him.

He sneered. “Take a walk, wee yin.”

Being deliberately obtuse, I retorted, “I don’t understand Scandinavian.”

“I’m Scottish.”

“Do I care?”

He muttered something unintelligible and turned to the agent. “We done?”

The guy gave him a flirty smile and handed him his ticket and passport. “You’re upgraded, Mr. Scott.”

“Wait, what—?” But the Viking had already taken back his passport and ticket and was striding away.

His long legs covered more ground than mine, but I was motivated and I could run in my stilettos. So I did. With my carry-on bumping along on its wheels behind me.

“Wait a second!” I grabbed the man’s arm and he swung around so fast I tottered.

Quickly, I regained balance and shrugged my suit jacket back into place as I grimaced. “You should do the right thing here and give me that seat.” I didn’t know why I was being so persistent. Maybe because I’d always been frustrated when I saw someone else endure an injustice. Or maybe I was just sick of being pushed around this week.

His expression was incredulous. “Are you kidding me with this?” I didn’t even try not to take offense. Everything about this guy offended me.

“You”—I gestured to him, saying the word slowly so his tiny brain could compute—“Stole. My. Seat.”

“You”—he pointed down at me—“Are. A. Nutjob.”

Appalled, I gasped. “One, that is not true. I am hangry. There is a difference. And two, that word is completely politically incorrect.”

He stared off into the distance above my head for a moment, seeming to gather himself. Or maybe just his patience. I think it was the latter because when he finally looked down at me with those startling eyes, he sighed. “Look, you would be almost funny if it weren’t for the fact that you’re completely unbalanced. And I’m not in the mood after having tae fly from Glasgow tae London and London tae Phoenix and Phoenix tae Boston instead of London tae Boston because my PA is a useless prat who clearly hasn’t heard of international direct flights. So do us both a favor before I say or do something I’ll regret … and walk. Away.”

“You don’t regret calling me a nutjob?”

His answer was to walk away.