“Thank you,” Delia murmured. She didn’t have to glance in a mirror or notice the looks she’d been getting from the male passengers to know she looked good. The woman who’d taken her ticket had complimented her on her outfit, and Delia knew she’d have been shocked to know it was handmade. Nearly every stitch of clothing Delia owned had been made with her own hands. It was a throwback to the years she and her sisters had gone without enough money for anything as frivolous as clothes, but somewhere along the line she’d learned to love the freedom of designing and sewing her own stuff, anyway.
Yet it wasn’t the woman next to her she wanted to impress, but the man who was standing in the way of her future with Jacob.
Maybe she should have worn a suit. A power suit, her great little red one…
God, she hated this all-encompassing fear of not being good enough, because that was exactly what this silly obsessing about her clothes came down to-her inadequacy and the certainty that Scott would see it.
“I’m going to visit my grandkids,” Sadie offered next. “Though why anyone would want to live in Los Angeles is beyond me.”
Delia loved Los Angeles, so she didn’t respond and just stared out the window. Jacob lived there. He was a city boy, too, how would he feel about the Triple M?
Idaho and its distinct majestic landscape stared back at her, silent.
“It’s so…dirty,” Sadie said. “Filth.”
All Delia had ever known was the hustling, bustling, teeming, crowded, glorious Los Angeles. She hadn’t been back since they’d left early last summer, and she wondered if it was as wonderful as she remembered. The people, the sights, the smells…yeah, it would be the same.
But was she?
Sighing, she leaned back and closed her eyes.
“Excuse me,” came a deep male voice. “Can I get you anything?”
What? They hadn’t even taken off yet, and it wasn’t as if she sat in first class-
Wait. She knew that voice.
Opening her eyes she looked over Sadie’s head and into the grinning gaze of Cade McKnight. “You,” she said.
He winked. “Me.”
He stood there as if he didn’t have a care in the world, looking annoyingly good, smiling easily and effortlessly, altering her pulse. He wore khaki pants and a soft-looking white shirt unbuttoned at the collar. His dark hair fell to that collar in reckless waves that Delia imagined a less-disciplined woman would have a hard time keeping her fingers off.
Good thing she was especially disciplined. Still, from deep inside her came a strong tingling, which she ruthlessly told herself must be hunger because she’d skipped breakfast again. It had nothing, absolutely nothing, do to with the tall rangy wanderlust-driven man standing there. “Go home, Cade.”
“Ah, but you assume I’m here for you.”
That actually made her blush, because of course, he was right. She had a feeling Cade was always right. “You’re flying to Los Angeles for your business?”
So what, then, was that undeniable intensity beneath his casual charm? An intensity aimed at her. “Go home, Cade. Wherever that may be.”
“You know I can’t.”
“Of course you can. You just turn around and-”
“Is this your fiancé?” the older woman asked Delia, watching with delight as the too-big Cade tried to squeeze himself against the seat to let others by, his broad shoulders hunched, one long leg bent at an awkward position. He apologized to each and every person forced to pass him, but he didn’t budge.
“Oh, how sweet and polite he is,” Sadie said. “And so handsome. What a catch, my dear.”
Some catch. The man might be a full-time private investigator, but he suffered from the strongest sense of restlessness she’d ever seen. He globe-hopped from case to case and loved it, which Delia, to whom roots and home meant everything, couldn’t imagine. Zoe said he was gorgeous enough for a woman to forget such inconveniences, but gorgeous didn’t count for much in Delia’s book. “He’s not my-”
“Men are so much handsomer now than in my day,” Sadie announced, adjusting her ski cap.
From overhead came the drone of the stewardess’s voice, reminding them this was a full plane. Everyone was asked to please take their seats.
With an obedience that made Delia narrow her eyes-she had a feeling he never followed the rules unless they suited him-Cade slipped into the still-empty aisle seat, and smiled with innocent charm at Sadie.
“Hello,” she said, smiling back. “I’m going to visit my grandkids in Los Angeles. It’s a terrible town, but what is one to do?”
“Families. Can’t do much with them, can you?” he asked gently, and she beamed.
“I’ve told my kids to move, but do they listen to me? No.”
“That’s a shame.” Cade shook his head. “You look like a sensible woman to me-they should listen. Now that woman next to you, she’s not so sensible.”
“But you’re going to marry her, anyway, and take care of her.” Sadie sighed dramatically. “That’s so romantic.”
Delia gritted her teeth at the two of them so casually discussing her, then leaned forward to glare at Cade. “He’s not my-”
“When’s the wedding?”
“Soon as we can manage.” Cade lowered his voice to a conspiratorial whisper. “We’re in a hurry, our love just can’t be contained. We can’t wait to-”
“What are you doing here?” Delia asked through a tightly clenched jaw. “And how fast can you go back to where you came from?”
Cade shot her a mock frown. “What kind of way is that to greet your fiancé?”
Delia gave up with a groan and closed her eyes.
She heard whispering, then felt shifting, and when she opened her eyes again, Cade was in the seat right next to her, his arm and thigh brushing hers. She could feel the heat of him through their clothes, and the strength he carefully held in check.
And when her gaze lifted to meet his, all traces of amusement had been replaced by a passion she found harder to deal with than his teasing. “Cade-”
“Your light was on all night and you left at the crack of dawn,” he said quietly. “You didn’t sleep, you didn’t eat. You can’t travel like this.”
“I can get by on very little sleep, and believe me, my figure could do without a meal now and then. And coming from the consummate traveler, this conversation is very strange.”
“Everyone needs sleep, your body is amazing just the way it is and needs its fuel, and as a consummate traveler, I know what you’re doing. You’re nervous, you’re uptight and you need a friend.”
“Is that what you are? A friend?”
“I already told you that.”
“People tell me a lot of things.”
“That they don’t mean?” He shook his head, never taking his gaze off hers. “Not me.”
Of course she didn’t believe him; it would be ridiculous to do so. But she was breathless, and she told herself it was the pressure, since the plane had started its taxi down the runway.
It had absolutely nothing to do with his thinking her body was amazing. “You should have gone home, Cade.”
“Home?” The word rolled off his tongue as if it was foreign to him.
Which just proved her point. He could never really understand her and all that she held dear. “Home. Your office in Boise. Unless you have another home, which of course, since you never say a word about yourself or your private life, I wouldn’t know.”
“And that disturbs you.”
“I’m curious about you,” she admitted. “I don’t even know if you’re married.”
“I’m not,” he said with sudden grimness. “And I don’t talk about me. Ever.”
So much for their friendship. “Fine. Then go. Go far away.”
“Just go? Where? Anywhere, as long as it’s far from you?”
He sighed. “You’re a tough nut, Delia, I’ll give you that. But I’m tougher.”
“What does that mean?” But she knew, and let out a groan. “You’re sticking.”