“No.” I tell her in all seriousness. “There isn’t.”
I peck her lips and do a safety check of the controls. Five minutes later, I give Mark the thumbs-up. He and a few of his employees untie the weighted ropes that keep the balloon anchored. The burner comes to life with a noisy whoosh as I open the propane valve, and a bright orange-blue flame surges into the envelope.
Then, gracefully, we float up into the sky.
Biting her lip, Kate looks over the edge, watching our growing distance from the earth.
“We’re flying, Drew! We’re actually flying!” Her dark eyes glitter, like a kid getting her first glimpse of Disneyland.
“Yeah, we are, baby.” Pride swells in my chest as I soak up every expression that dances across her face: exhilaration, excitement, awe. But there’s no fear—no hesitation or doubt.
Kate knows I’m capable of a lot of things—putting her in any kind of danger would never be one of them.
The sun is low, casting the autumn-hued trees and hills with a magical, golden glow, and it’s surprisingly peaceful at ten thousand feet.
“It’s breathtaking, Drew,” Kate sighs. “The most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen.”
Smiling, my eyes don’t leave her face. “I couldn’t agree more.”
Like she can read my mind—and by this point in our relationship, that’s frighteningly possible—she turns to me, beaming. As I adjust the propane controls, Kate wraps her arms around my waist and rests her head against my back. Her breasts push against me in the most delicious fucking way. Supple and sexy.
“Are you cold?” I ask.
“Nope.” I feel her press a kiss between my shoulder blades. “Thank you. This is . . . beyond amazing—even for you.”
I want to turn around and kiss her for all I’m worth. Strike that, I want to hoist her legs up around my hips, lift her very convenient dress and fuck her into oblivion.
Cuddling midair would be awesome. Screwing midair would be so much more awesome.
But . . . making sure we don’t crash and die takes precedence.
Kate is wrapped around me, oohing and ahhing at the stunning spectacle. An hour later, we arrive at our destination—a lavish field of green. After a few bumps, we set down gently, and I turn off the balloon’s burner. Mark’s employees grasp the basket and tie it down.
“Thanks, fellas,” I call, as I help Kate step onto solid earth.
“Wow.” Kate shakes her head as we walk up the hill. “How are you ever going to top that?”
I chuckle huskily. “I can think of a few ways.” I pull her by the hand onto a dirt path that leads into the forest. “The day’s not over yet.”
Her voice is high-pitched when she asks, “There’s more?”
I’ve arranged for a limo to pick us up in a few hours, not too far from our next stop. Then we’ll spend the night at a “quaint” bed-and-breakfast. At least, my sister said it’s quaint—though I don’t understand the B and B attraction. It’s weird—staying in a stranger’s house, sharing a bathroom with people I don’t know from a frigging hole in the wall. But . . . I figured Kate would enjoy it, and this night is all about her.
After walking through the woods for five minutes, she presses, “Where are we going? Is this like a Little Red Riding Hood, Well-Hung Big Bad Wolf kind of thing?”
Kate and I have been experimenting with role-play lately. You have got to try it.
I put my arm around her, grinning. “No, but we’ll add that to the list. You in a slutty Red Riding Hood costume would be fucking hot.”
The last leg of the trail is all uphill. Kate’s breathing is heavy as we step out of the woods into a clearing that overlooks a swath of vibrant swells and valleys. It’s a kaleidoscope of greens, browns, oranges and reds—almost as stunning as the views from the balloon basket.
“We’re here,” I announce.
She stops in her tracks and gasps. Laid out just a few feet away is a thick cashmere blanket, illuminated by flickering LED candelabras at the four corners. A bottle of champagne chills in a silver ice bucket; there are two place settings with delicate china, crystal flutes and gleaming silverware; and gourmet sandwiches and chocolate-covered strawberries are hidden in a large antique picnic basket. Surrounding the display are stone planters, which overflow with fragrant white gardenias.
“Oh my . . .” Kate is literally speechless.
I mentally pat my own fucking back.
We stand hand in hand next to the blanket. The candlelight glows in Kate’s eyes as she looks over the spread. “I’m so lucky,” she whispers, in a voice heavy with gratitude.
I turn her toward me. “I won’t argue with that, but which good fortune are you thinking about specifically?”
Her hands slide up over my shoulders, encircling my neck. Her head tilts delicately as she regards me, total devotion on her face. “Do you remember The Notebook?”