Travel Hell

Today we welcome Blaze author Kathleen O’Reilly back to the lair. Kathleen’s latest book, Hot Under Pressure, was inspired by a travel problem she’s going to describe for us, so today’s topic is travel disasters. She’s also going to give us a peek into the book, which is not only hot but funny. Welcome, Kathleen!

Hello, Banditas, and thanks to Nancy for giving me the opportunity to pull up a keyboard and chat for a bit. I love to be in the company of romance readers, and this blog seems to draw in the best.

When I first came up with the idea for HOT UNDER PRESSURE, I was stuck on the tarmac at LaGuardia. For about five hours. Now, this was the fall of 2007, and it wasn’t a pretty time in the airline service industry. It seemed like every day, there was some new delay, some new travel-atrocity and I shouldn’t have been surprised to be stuck – but you never expect it until it happens to you.
What happened to the social dynamic within the plane was fascinating. The cabin was abuzz with rumors regarding the actual cause, (I learned that airlines are reluctant to admit that the plan is being delayed because of maintenance reasons), but the flight attendant in the back would let us know when she knew something from the front cabin attendant who apparently had a hot line into the maintenance crew. People would wander from group to group, casually eavesdropping to see if they could learn something new. After two hours, they did let us off the plane (it was November, so heat wasn’t too much of a problem, but it still got uncomfortable), and some passengers left to find another flight, and some of us stuck it out, playing airline roulette, hoping that the part that they were waiting on would arrive.

I’m happy to say that the part did arrive, the plane took off about six hours late, and I pulled my not-spring-chicken parents out of bed at 2am to pick me from at the airport, instead of the completely respectable 7pm (I love you, Mom and Dad, and someday I’ll repay this one).

These days, everyone has their travel horror stories. A flight delay, a surly gate-keeper, the practical-joker bus-driver who likes to fool the passengers about the vehicle’s actual destination. The TSA officer who thinks that your accidental corkscrew brands you a terrorist. My favorite story is the one where I nearly got arrested in St. Petersburg, Russia. All because of Prince Charles.

So, how about it? Travel horror stories? Trips from hell? Feel free to share. To one lucky commenter, I have a copy of my newest release, HOT UNDER PRESSURE, a Harlequin Blaze that answers that long-suffering question: If air travel is going to be such a huge pain to deal with these days, can a single woman please sit next to a hot, single man who’s you know, nice? Sometimes (usually only in fiction), the answer is *yes*.

Two hours later they were still at the gate. They were waiting on either a part, or a new plane, the pilots weren’t sure which would arrive first, but they had high (ludicrously delusional) hopes for getting away tonight. In the face of such facts, Ashley had long abandoned her fear of flying. It was obvious they weren’t going anywhere anytime soon.

Instead she was thigh-locked with David, who had very nice thighs, too. Hard. His arms were fab as well. Thirty minutes ago, he’d pushed up his sleeves, and her gaze kept stalling out on the biceps, which were bigger than most, an odd incongruity for khakis and a button-down, and she wondered why. He wasn’t bulky enough to be a weight-lifter, but his arms were too big for a swimmer or a runner, definitely too big for a tiny airplane seat. They kept brushing against hers, casually, which didn’t explain the electric shock to her system.

Not that he was making it any easier. Conversation had ceased about half an hour ago when she caught him staring at her chest, and they both looked politely away.

Damn.

She crossed her legs, uncrossed her legs, and had a harebrained urge to ask him to join her in the bathroom. She’d pulled out Vogue and Harpers and Lucky, but even the lure of the sloe-eyed models in their daring designs hadn’t dimmed the awareness that simmered in the air.

The bright spot in the tension was Junior, which said a lot about her feelings of desperation. Junior wrote on David’s hand with a pen, and David laughed, sounding more relieved than amused. Junior ran up and down the aisle, and Ashley counted the laps, rather than fixate on the discreetly covered ridge in David’s khaki slacks.

Do not go there.

Go there, Ashley.

Oh, yeah, good of you to talk. You can’t have sex on a plane, Valerie.

People do.

Not me.

There was a momentary pause in her thoughts, because right now, given readily available options, she could so have sex on this plane.

Another thirty minutes passed, and the flight attendants were passing out drinks. Yes, alcohol, the world’s most potent aphrodisiac. When the flight attendant stopped at their row, David shook his head, Ashley shook her head, and Junior’s mother and father opted for double vodka tonics.

Outside the window, the lights of the airport started to dim. If she lowered her hand one inch, just one tiny inch, she would be touching his thigh. If she were careful, it would look like an accident.

Junior spilled a glass of orange juice on those khakis that she was not looking at, and David shot sideways, and there was a momentary barrage of touches. His hand, her breast. Her hand, his thigh. She jumped back, arching toward the aisle, and he moved away, hugging the far armrest. Junior’s mother apologized, and Ashley’s nipples were powered by a thousand jet-engines, ready for take-off.

It was shortly after her breasts had recovered from the shock that the captain came on the speaker and announced that moment they had all been expecting.

“Ladies and gentleman, we tried. But there’s bad weather in New York, and we couldn’t get the plane that we were hoping for, and they can’t get the part here until the morning, so I’m sorry to say, we won’t be going anywhere. If any of you need hotel accommodations at the airport, there’s a flight attendant waiting to give you the details.”

A hotel. Suddenly the word took on new connotations and images. A hotel implied a bed, privacy, something much more comfortable than a 1×1 bathroom designed by Boeing. A hotel implied sex.

The cabin lights went on, and people around them began to move, moaning, complaining, and in general, were not in their happy place. However, Ashley’s happy place was getting happier by the second. She didn’t want to look at him, didn’t want to assume, most of all, she didn’t want to act as if she didn’t know what she was doing. After all, she was mature, she was an adult, and after eight hours of sitting thigh to thigh with this man, she was primed to explode with only a touch.

He turned, a slight inclination of his head, and she met his eyes. It was ESP of the most carnal kind. She licked her lips, his gaze tracked her tongue, and she knew that he knew.

He leaned down, his mouth near her ear. “You should know that right now, I’m a very happy man.”

For more about Kathleen, visit her website. For a bigger peek at Hot Under Pressure, click here. And to don’t forget to leave her a comment about your own travel trials.

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