Authors: Chanel Cleeton
PRAISE FOR THE NOVELS OF CHANEL CLEETON
“Sexy, funny, and heart-wrenchingâthis book has it all!”
New York Times
“A sexy fighter pilot hero? Yes, please.”
New York Times
bestselling author of
Off the Clock
“A sexy hero, strong heroine, delicious romance, sizzling tension, and plenty of breathtaking scandal. I loved this book!”
New York Times
“A sassy, steamy, and sometimes sweet read that had me racing to the next page.”
âChelsea M. Cameron,
New York Times
“Fun, sexy, and kept me completely absorbed.”
âKatie McGarry, author of
Nowhere But Here
“Scorching hot and wicked smart,
Flirting with Scandal
had me hooked from page one! Sizzling with sexual tension and political intrigue[.Â .Â .]Cleeton weaves a story that is as complex as it is sexy. Thank God this is a series because I need more!”
New York Times
“Sexy, intelligent, and intriguing. Chanel Cleeton makes politics scandal-icious.”
FLIRTING WITH SCANDAL
PLAYING WITH TROUBLE
FALLING FOR DANGER
An imprint of Penguin Random House LLC
375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014
FLY WITH ME
A Berkley Sensation Book / published by arrangement with the author
Copyright Â© 2016 by Chanel Cleeton.
Into the Blue
by Chanel Cleeton copyright Â© 2016 by Chanel Cleeton.
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eBook ISBN: 9781101986974
Berkley Sensation mass-market paperback edition / May 2016
Cover art by Claudio Marinesco.
Cover design by Danielle Mazzella di Bosco.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
To Shakira songs, summer cruises, and life-changing
Thank you to my wonderful agent Kevan Lyon, editor Kate Seaver, publicist Ryanne Probst, Jessica Brock, Katherine Pelz, and the entire team at Penguin and Berkley for making this book possible.
I'm so grateful to Roni Loren and Laura Kaye for reading and blurbing
Fly With Me
Thanks to my awesome Facebook Reader Group and the members of Our So-Called Group for making my days more enjoyable.
And to all the readers and bloggers who have supported my work throughout the yearsâTHANK YOU! I couldn't do it without you.
Big thanks to my family and friends for their love and encouragement, and most of all, thanks to my husband, my real-life hero and inspiration.
This book has been ten years in the making, and I've loved every single one of them. Thanks for asking me to
There was a time in a woman's life when she had to accept that wearing a headband made of pinkâ
âilluminated penises was too much. I couldn't put my finger on the numberâand I definitely couldn't do it after my fourth tequila shotâbut I figured that at thirty and still single, bachelorettes had ceased to be a fun rite of passage, and had instead become a wake-up call that if Prince Charming wasn't coming soon, I'd have to start exploring my options in the amphibian variety.
Of course, it didn't help that this was my sister's bacheloretteâmy cute-as-a-button, too-young-for-wrinkle-cream sister's bachelorette. Or that she was marrying my high school ex-boyfriend. I didn't care; I mean we hadn't been together in over a decade, but the fact that my future brother-in-law had once seen me topless added to the surreal feeling of the whole thing.
I took shot number five like a champ.
“I'm getting married!” Meg screamed for what might
have been the fifteenth time that night. Somewhere between dinner at Lavo and partying at Tao, this seemed to have hit her with a vengeance. On anyone else, it would have been annoying; on Meg, it was somehow still adorable.
At twenty-five, she was the baby of the family. A good five inches shorter than me, we shared the same blond hair and brown eyes. We both had curves, but on her, they were bite-size. I was a king-sizeâtits and ass that could put your eye outânot to mention the pink phalluses bobbing awkwardly on my head.
It had been Meg's idea to dress up, and I hadn't been able to disappoint her. So here I was, thirty years old, terminally single, wearing penises on my head, a hot pink barely there tube dress, and fuck-me Choos that topped me out at six feet. If I ever got married, I was so not doing a bachelorette. Or bridesmaids in hideous dresses. Or arguing with my fiancÃ© over whether we'd serve filet mignon or prime rib. I loved meat as much as the next girl, but the drama surrounding this wedding had my head spinning, and I was just the maid of honor. If I were the bride? I totally got why people eloped.
My parents could do the big wedding with Meg. At least they'd get the budget option with meâif I ever got married at all.
Shot number six came faster than a virgin on prom night.
I wasn't really even tipsy. I could definitely hold my liquor, but this was Vegas, and everything about tonight screamed excess, and as depressing as it was to be the eldest, even worse, I felt like the mother hen to the group of three Southern girls ready to make the Strip their bitch. It was time to up my game.
I rose from our table and headed over to where Stacey
and Amber, my sister's friends from college, were dancing, determined to kick this feeling inside of me's ass.
When I'd look back on this evening, and it would play in my mind on repeat for months to come, this would be the moment.
Freeze it. Remember it.
How often could you say that you could pinpoint the
moment when your life changed?
If I had anyone to blame for the wild ride that came next, it was Flo Rida. Because as soon as “Right Round” came over the club speakers, my tequila-fueled body decided it needed to move. It was the kind of song you couldn't resist the urge to dance to; it made normal girls want to grab a pole and let loose. Okay, maybe just me. But it felt like kismet, like the song played for me, to breathe life into my sad, old self. So I danced, pink penises gyrating and flickering, hips swaying, hair swishing, until my world turned upside down.
I took a swig of Jack, slamming the glass down on the bar.
“You can't call dibs, asshole. There are four of them.”
Easy shrugged with the same nonchalance that had earned him his call sign and made him lethal behind the stick of an F-16. He lulled you into thinking he was just fucking around. He never was.
“Are you saying I can't handle four chicks?”
“I'm calling bullshit on that one.”
The guy got more pussy than anyone in the squadron, but a foursome was ambitious even for him.
“Fifty bucks,” he offered, knowing my pathological inability to back down from a challenge.
“Fuck you, fifty bucks. You can't bang four chicks.”
Easy's eyes narrowed in a look I knew all too well.
We all gave him a hard time for being a princess because his face was a panty dropper, but he could throw down like nobody's business. Lately, though, this shit had been getting darker and darker. We'd broken off from the rest of the group, Joker had gone back to the hotel to call his wife, and now Easy was drinking like he wanted to die.
The Strip had seemed like a good idea four hours ago, but I was tired and now I just wanted to collapse in the suite we'd booked at the Venetian. I'd flown four sorties leading up to today, each one more demanding than the last. Today's double turn had topped me out at six flights this week, and my body definitely felt it. I was tired, my schedule screwed six ways to Sunday, and right now I was far less concerned with getting laid than I was with getting more than five hours of sleep.
Our commander, Joker, was on my ass for the squadron to perform well at Red Flagâour international mock war held at Nellis Air Force Base in Vegas. As the squadron's weapons officer, it was my job to make sure we were tactically the shit. Babysitting F-16 pilots with a hard-on for trouble? Not in my job description. It was really sad when I was the voice of reason.
Sending a bunch of fighter pilots to Vegas for work was basically like putting a diabetic kid in a candy store. We got
as much training done as we got tits and ass. And considering we pulled fourteen-hour workdays? That said something.
“It's a bachelorette party,” I ground out, the subject already hitting way too close to home.
The flash of pain in Easy's eyes was a punch to the nuts. Shit. It was worse than I'd thought.
“Screwing around isn't going to change things,” I added, trying to keep any judgment or sympathy out of my tone.
If it were anyone else, I would have minded my own business; but it wasn't anyone else, it was
He'd been my roommate at the Academy, gotten me through pilot training when I'd struggled, flown out to Vegas when I'd somehow graduated from weapons school.
Easy threw back the rest of his drink. “Be my wingman for ten minutes. I won't go after the bride. Then you can leave.”
I'd been ready to leave an hour ago.
“You owe me for the twins in San Antonio,” he reminded me.
Shit, I did.
I turned my attention to the group of girls dancing; they looked young and already well on their way to drunk. I was definitely calling in my marker at a later time.
At thirty-three, I was getting too old for this shit. Most of the squadron was either married or divorced, Easy and I among the few single holdouts left.
It wasn't that I was opposed to marriage. I'd thought about how it would feel to land after a deployment to a girl who'd throw her arms around me and kiss me like she never wanted to let go, instead of landing to my bros carrying a
case of beer. Hell, I saw the way guys climbed out of their jets, their kids running toward them on stubby legs, looking like it was Christmas, their birthday, and a trip to Disney World all rolled into one.
Even a fucker like me teared up.
I wasn't Easy; I wasn't trying to screw my way through life. I wanted a family, a wife. But I'd learned the hard way that not many girls were willing to stick around waiting for a guy who was gone more than he was around, who missed holidays and birthdays, who came home for dinner some nights at 11 p.m., and other nights not at all. It was hard to agree to moving every couple years, to deployments that stretched on and on, to remote assignments, and
Sorry, honey, this one's a year, and you can't come
I got it. It was a shit life. The kind of life that sliced you clean, that took and took, stretching you out 'til there was nothing left but fumes. But then there were moments. That moment when I sat in the cockpit, when I was in the air, up in the clouds, feeling like a god. When the afterburner roared. The times when we were called to do more, when the trips to the desert meant something, when we supported the mission on the ground. The times when we marked a lost brother with a piano burn and a song. I couldn't blame Easy for needing to let off steam, the edge was there in all of us, our faithful companion every time we went up in the air and took our lives in our hands.
We flew because we fucking loved it. So I guessed I already had a wife, and she was an expensive, unforgiving bitchâ
Fortysomething million dollars of alloy, fuel, and lube that could fuck you over at any given time and felt so good when you were inside her that she always kept you coming back for more.
As the soberest one in the group, I noticed them first. To be fair, they were pretty hard to miss.
A loud and more than slightly obnoxious bachelorette, we'd run into our share of guys tonightâpreppy polos and leather shoes with tasselsâsome single, some married, all looking like they'd served a stint in suburban prison and were now out in the yard for good behavior. They had that wide-eyed overeager look, as though they couldn't believe their luckâ
Look at the shiny lights on the sign. Did you see the ass on that girl?â
and Vegas was their chance to make memories that would keep them company when they were coaching Little League or out buying tampons for their wives.
These two were something else entirely.
They walked toward us, and I stopped dancing to enjoy the show. They didn't look like anyone had let them out for good behavior, or like Vegas was their grown-up amusement park. They looked like this was their world, and they carried themselves like fucking kings.
One was tall and lean, his faceâwell, fuck, there was no other word for itâhe was beautiful. Tan skin, full mouth, blue eyes. Dark blond hair that begged for a woman to run her fingers through. Great hair. Perfect hair.
I admired him for two point five seconds, and then he ceased to exist.
The other one was not beautiful. He didn't have pretty hair, or long lashes, or any shit like that. I wasn't even sure his features really registered all that much before he was just there, standing in front of me, and everything else in the club disappeared.
Dark hair. Dark eyes. Tan skin. Sexy mouth.
He was tallâin my heels we were nearly even, which was saying something considering I was a few inches off of six feet and wearing a wicked pair of Choos. He was broad-shouldered and definitely built. He wasn't dressed upâI doubted this guy even owned a poloâbut he rocked his jeans and T-shirt. An expensive-looking, enormous watch that appeared capable of coordinating missions to the moon flashed on his wrist.
His gaze ran over me, his mouth curving as his survey ended at the top of my head. I reached up to see if my hair was out of place and got a handful of something else instead.
My cheeks flamed. The penis headband.
I dropped my hand as though I'd been scalded.
Act cool. Pretend you didn't just grip the base of one of the giant pink phalluses currently bobbing on top of your head.
His lips curved even more as he gave me the full punch of his amusementâgorgeous white teeth and a laugh I wanted to cloak myself in.
He kept coming until his body was a breath away from mine. He was big enough that he blocked out the club around us, the scent of his cologne sending a little shock between my legs. I didn't know what it was about that masculine scent, but some primal part of me that probably harkened back to days when men roamed around bare-chested carrying animal pelts on their shoulders liked it a hell of a lot. His head bent, his dark hair nearly brushing against my blond strands. I got a glimpse of his tanned neck, barely resisting the urge to bury my face there and inhale more of his delicious scent.
I wasn't much of a romanticânot with my track record, at least. I didn't believe in love at first sight, but
lust at first
That was a thing definitely happening all over my body tonight.
“Please tell me you aren't the bride,” he whispered in my ear, his lips teasing the sensitive skin there.
I shivered, basking in that voice. It was gravelly, and growly, and I was pretty sure I was drenched.
“I'm not the bride.”
Our gazes met, his eyes darkening as soon as the words left my lips in a move that had me sucking in a deep breath, my lungs desperate for air. I didn't know if it was the loud music, or the late night, or the tequila coursing its way through my body, or the stilt-like heels, or the fact that my ovaries exploded as he engaged all of my senses, but either way I was feeling more than a little light-headed and fighting the temptation to reach out and grab on to one of his impressive biceps to hold steady.
He smiled and I might have had a mini-orgasm.
Thank fuck, indeed.
He reached out, tucking a strand of hair that had escaped behind my ear. His hand grazed my cheek as he released me and I swayed toward him.
I wanted to lick him, and bite him, and do all kinds of naughty things to that gorgeous body. Multiple times.
“What's your name?” he asked, interrupting my fantasies.
“Jordan.” I held out my hand to shake and then froze, my hand halfway there.
Smooth. You're in a nightclub, not a freaking business meeting.
To say it had been a while since I'd dated was a massive understatement. Plus, I'd have been lying if I didn't admit I had blindingly horrible moments of awkward even on my good days. I pretty much lived in extremes. I either totally rocked it or epically failed, with very little in between.
His mouth quirked up as he held out his hand. “I'm Noah.”