Santos Dumont Airport
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Gnawing apprehension spread through Jet as Maximilian Furst climbed up from the dark night onto his business plane and cast her a triumphant look. Behind him the door closed and the steward flipped the locking handle, securing the aircraft and effectively cutting off rescue if her true purpose were to be discovered.
The cushy leather seat beneath her offered little comfort. Minutes before coming onboard, she’d learned Furst had left a disloyal employee floating face down in a local lake. She drew a calming breath through a fake smile. Had she overestimated her ability to manipulate a powerful man—one who was proving far more dangerous and unpredictable than her boss portrayed?
Looking back, getting onto the Gulfstream 550 had been easy—maybe a bit too easy. Whatever the case, she had to keep a step ahead of Furst if she hoped to find the aircraft’s landing site.
He leaned over her leather chair, using his rock-solid body as unspoken intimidation. Without a word, he picked up the ends to her seat belt and buckled her in. Her heartbeat didn’t slow until the plane had taken off from the domestic airport and risen out of the haze into a clear night.
Jet controlled her fear by focusing on the sleek cabin. She related more to machines, particularly those with wings, than men.
“You have an impressive aircraft,” she said, with the proper amount of awe to feed Furst’s overblown ego. She could recite checklists and emergency boldface items for the fifty-million-dollar beauty that surrounded her, but she had to be careful not to reveal her flying expertise. “Will I be as impressed with your home?” Or wherever the plane might land and “magically” disappear.
Maximilian shifted in his seat to face her and tented his long, dark fingers. “After the excess of my party, you will like the peaceful place we are going.”
“Peaceful? I see you more as the type who never rests.” She pointed at a well-developed bicep on his arm, making sure not to touch or even hint at coming close enough to doing so. “Those don’t come from lounging around.”
“Senhorita, you flatter me. What is a strong body without a fit mind? My sanctuary awaits. It cleanses the body and soul of troubles.”
“I find it hard to believe you have many troubles.”
“A man without them has never been tested. Take this plane, for instance. The company and I have a financial disagreement to resolve. My legal sources have informed me impatient Americans have arrived to take it back. They are supposedly in Rio at this very moment.”
Perceptive sources. She held back the gulp striving to launch down her throat.
Maximilian, his spicy cologne still potent after the long night, leaned forward and encouraged her to do the same. She worked out of her seat belt and rather reluctantly moved closer.
With her head near, he softly added, “You, Senhorita de verão, are an American. I believe you have come to steal my plane.”
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