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Her Accidental Husband

By:Ashlee Mallory

foreign country alone. Having met the woman on a couple of occasions, he couldn’t say he blamed Kate for her concern.

Delaying his own trip down to Mexico by a day so he could catch the same flight as Payton had actually worked in his favor. With the final terms being settled with Eastman Motors, he’d been loath to leave with the deal not signed. But after yesterday’s discussions, only a signature was keeping the deal from being final. He’d managed to snag one of the last seats on the flight, too, thanks to the frenzy of college kids heading out for spring break.

“Payton? How we doing?” he asked and studied her pale face. Her green eyes, which usually danced with laughter, looked back at him listlessly. “Payton?”

This time the sharpness of his tone seemed to reach her, and her eyes focused on him. Then her face almost turned green as she leaned forward. “I think I’m going to be sick.”

But nothing spewed out at him, which gave him some relief, although her breathing was coming fast and shallow.

“Keep your head down, and take long, steady breaths. I’m going to get a wet towel.”

He managed to get to the restroom and back with a paper towel in under three minutes. She was still where he’d left her. He folded the towel and placed it on the back of her neck.

They sat like that for a few more minutes, and he listened as her breathing slowed to a normal pace and her face turned a more natural shade. She sat up abruptly and looked around her. “Where are my bags? My ticket?”

“Here.” He nodded to the seat next to her.

“Last call for American Airlines Flight 353 to Puerto Vallarta.”

“That’s us. Are you going to be okay?”

Something seemed to click in her eyes and in an instant, the smile she usually wore slid back into place, leaving two dimples beaming at him. “Just fine. I’m sure once I eat the PowerBar in my bag I’ll feel much better.” She stood, a little wobbly, but with a determined look as she leaned down to grab her ticket and gripped her carry-on. “But we’d better hurry if we’re going to make this flight.”

“Lead the way,” he said.

Unfortunately, by the time they made it onto the plane, a glance around at the overhead bins, all closed, told him that finding a place for their luggage was going to be a problem.

A female flight attendant approached them. “I’m sorry, but we’re completely full. We’re going to have to store your bags below in holding.”

Payton clung a little tighter to the handle on her carry-on. “I’m sure I can find some space under my seat for this, let me just—”

“I’m afraid not,” the flight attendant said firmly and reached for Payton’s luggage. He watched as Payton held on another second before finally releasing her grip and handed it off to the stern brown-haired attendant who took his as well and disappeared.

“I’ll see you in Puerto Vallarta, Payton. You sure you’re okay?” He didn’t like the panicked look on her face.#p#分页标题#e#

She beamed her brightest smile. “Just peachy,” she said and squeezed past the aisle seat to slip into the seat at the window.

Whatever news she’d received Payton clearly needed some time to process. And at least for the next couple of hours, she couldn’t get into too much trouble. Right?

Cruz continued down the narrow aisle, keeping his laptop bag in front of him until he reached his own seat, several more rows back. The bag held some basic necessities as well as his laptop and phone charger, so it took a little effort to squeeze it under the seat in front of him. He managed, even if it made the already sparse legroom even tighter.

He clasped the seat belt and angled his head to get a better view of his charge. But other than the top of her head, he couldn’t see anything. No surprise since standing, even in those modest heels, she barely grazed his chin. She was on board the plane, though. His babysitting duties were nearly over.

He closed his eyes, ready to relax.

But the image of that bright smile and those laughing eyes still burned in his mind. Once again.

Dimples were just the tip of the iceberg with Payton Vaughn. With that reddish-golden hair that could best be described as strawberry blonde, a pert nose, and wide, welcoming lips that tipped into a smile without the slightest provocation, she was hard to tear one’s gaze from. And that was from the neck up. Because even with her petite frame, she was still slim but curvy in just the right way.

Fortunately for them both, Payton was not his type. He preferred his women tall and leggy, to match his own towering height, and without the regular vivacious commentary that Payton couldn’t help but share with everyone, which, when she was around him, was usually about him.

Then there was that effervescent personality that, combined with her beauty, drew attention wherever she went. Something he usually tried to avoid. Before she’d made her phone call, half the men in the terminal were slobbering after her. Even the kid at Starbucks had grinned like an idiot when he saw those dimples, and Cruz was almost certain he had thrown in the bottled water for free. Something that was particularly ironic considering Payton Vaughn could probably supply the population of a small third-world country with bottled water for a year with her hefty trust fund.

It was disgusting really.

And when she married the golden boy next month, who also, coincidentally, was the son of Dick Eastman of Eastman Motors and a former classmate of Cruz’s, between the two of them, they’d want for nothing. Have to work for nothing.

Completely the opposite of his own life. Not that he was complaining. He loved his family, and the hard work and long hours he’d put in at Sorensen Construction while attending business school had helped him appreciate his success all the more. It just irked him when he saw people get everything without so much as breaking a sweat.

And now he was stuck babysitting the little princess who couldn’t even see her way to board the pla