Her Accidental Husband(8)

By: Ashlee Mallory

“Hey, Cathy. Sorry to bother you so late, but my flight from DFW was diverted to Laredo. Can you try and find something that will get me to Puerto Vallarta, ASAP?” He glanced out the window and spotted his charge walking a little unsteadily across the tarmac and sighed. “Actually, I’m going to need transportation for two.”

“Oh, really?” It was hard to miss the interest in the woman’s voice. “Anyone I know?”

“Don’t get ahead of yourself. It’s Payton Vaughn, who isn’t only my future sister-in-law’s best friend and maid of honor, but also—”

“—also the future daughter-in-law of Dick Eastman. CEO and president of Eastman Motors. Wow. Small world.”

That was one way of putting it. “Anything you can find us will be great.”

“I’m on it.”

Fifteen minutes later, he was walking inside the airport, his optimism that Cathy could get this trip back on track slowly deteriorating.

Despite the “International” in the Laredo airport title, all passenger flights were direct to U.S. destinations only, including a flight back to Dallas Fort Worth, where they had just left. Returning to Dallas would, ordinarily, be their best chance at finding a connecting flight to Puerto Vallarta.

That is, if it weren’t for the fact it was late March and every outbound flight tagged with Puerto Vallarta as its destination—be it from Dallas, Texas or Monterrey, Mexico—was booked for the next two days. They could get on a standby list, but that meant sitting around airports for the next twenty-four hours, on the slim-to-none chance they managed to get on.

They were going to need an alternate mode of transportation.

“Okay, thanks, Cathy,” he said after she explained their options. “I’ll let you know what we decide on.”

Cruz stopped short when he saw the long line in front of the ticket counter where several dissatisfied passengers were loudly making their anger and disappointment known. He scanned his eyes over the crowd, trying to find Payton in the chaos.

Her soft, pretty lavender top and bright golden hair was an immediate draw. She was at the front of the line, of course, holding the woman at the counter captive if the woman’s face was any indication.

Only, she didn’t look very charmed.

He’d better get over there. He ignored the shouts from other passengers who thought he was cutting and came to stand behind Payton.

“You have to be kidding me,” Payton was saying. “There are no flights from this airport that can take me into Mexico? But aren’t we right on the Mexican border?”

“That’s right, ma’am. But this airport only provides passenger flights to Dallas, Houston, Las Vegas, and Orlando. We will be happy to board you on the next scheduled flight to Dallas, where you’ll have several options for getting to your destination. Unfortunately,” she said, continuing to click away at the keyboard, careful to keep her gaze diverted from Payton, “we don’t have any flights returning to Dallas until tomorrow morning.”

“Tomorrow? No, no, no, no, no. Tomorrow I’m supposed to be enjoying a day on the bright beaches of Puerto Vallarta. Killing time until my best friend’s rehearsal dinner. In Puerto Vallarta. Toasting the happy couple. In Puerto Vallarta. I’m not supposed to be catching a flight heading north. South,” Payton said slowly, enunciating the word in case the woman didn’t understand, which didn’t earn her any favors from the daggers the woman was shooting in her direction. “I need to head south.”

It wasn’t hard to miss the waft of alcohol on Payton’s breath. How much could she possibly have consumed in the short amount of time they’d been airborne?

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