Her Accidental Husband(10)

By: Ashlee Mallory



“Take the bus?” This time her eyes nearly bugged out of her head. “Are you a lunatic? Haven’t you seen Romancing the Stone? Don’t you know that bus rides for foreign women in third world countries never end well?”

He managed not to roll his eyes. “Payton, that was a movie, and it took place in South America, not Mexico. The bus system in Mexico is extremely reliable and safe.”

She smiled almost indulgently at him. “I can assure you that no matter how desperate I become, I will not be leaving my life in the hands of an unknown bus driver who’s not licensed or certified by any governmental authority I’ve heard of. And if I’m not stabbed first, how can I trust that someone won’t try to plant drugs on me during the trip? Didn’t you hear about that American woman last year who was held in a Mexican prison for allegedly transporting drugs they found taped under her bus seat? No. If we’re traveling, it’s going to be by car.”

He thought about mentioning the fact that the roads in the northern border cities were dangerous to any person, American or otherwise, whether on a bus or private vehicle, but didn’t think that would be productive to their discussion.

She took a step forward, smiling deeply enough for him to see those dimples again. “I appreciate your concern, Cruz, really. And if you’re not up to it, I’m more than happy to drive us there myself. I’ve been driving since I was sixteen and am quite capable. I’ve driven to Vegas more times than I can count, and that’s a six-hour drive, easily. You have nothing to be concerned with.” This time she reached out her hand and patted his chest.

He glanced down at her hand, so pale and soft against the dark color of his shirt. It was an innocent gesture, one he’d seen before when she talked to men, using small touches to manipulate them into giving her what she wanted.

But she’d never touched him before. And he hated the alarming way the intimacy made him feel. Like he wanted more.

Not a chance. This was Payton.

Her hand stopped, resting on his chest. Leaving the area under her hand hot, like it had been branded. He worked to keep his expression cool, as if her touch didn’t affect him.

Payton seemed to be lost in her own thoughts too—her eyes glued to the sight of her hand resting against him. Her eyes widened, suddenly, as if realizing what she was doing, and she pulled her hand away.

Awkward.

He heaved a heavy sigh and pinched the skin above his nose. “I guess we’re renting a car then. Let’s go find our luggage and catch a cab that can get us across the border. My assistant was going to try and track us down a rental car. I’ll see what she’s found,” he said and pulled his cell phone out.

Only, twenty minutes later, they were still staring at the baggage carousel when it careened to a halt, every bag claimed by someone. Except theirs.

Neither of them had said anything as they watched, bag after bag, the pile shrink to nothing.

He hazarded a glance at Payton, who was standing still, staring at the empty carousel. Then he saw something that looked suspiciously like a smile tugging on her lips before she exploded in laughter. Laughter that shook her so hard she bent forward, clutching her stomach.

She certainly was a lightweight. He’d have to find her some coffee and soon. But first there was the issue of their bags.

He waited until she slowed down enough to wipe away a few tears that had slipped down her cheeks. She snuck a look over at him and instantly dissolved into a fit of giggles again.

“I’m sorry,” she said, catching her breath. “I just keep thinking that nothing can get any worse and then…” She held back another laugh, her eyes tearing again. “And then it does. And you’re standing there with that serious expression, almost like you expected it. Resigned to accept the worst. Does anything ever surprise you?”

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