“You do realize I can’t actually fly someone else’s plane, right?” Cora spoke through clenched teeth as they walked to Brock’s Jeep.
“Yeah, but the other girls don’t know that.” Brock held open the passenger door and she climbed in. “The nice people at L.A. Sky Tours will take good care of us.”
As Brock hurried around to the driver side, Cora strapped on her seatbelt and allowed herself to get excited.
“Maybe someday I can take you to Iowa and show you my planes,” Cora said.
“How many planes do you own?” Brock didn’t sound nearly as impressed as Cora thought he should. Typical rich guy.
“I have a one-third ownership in a Cessna 172, and the company I work for has a Piper Pawnee for crop dusting,” Cora explained. “By the way, I was joking about crop dusting before I was old enough to drive a car. But I did have my private pilot’s license before my driver’s license.”
“That’s cool.” Brock sped the Jeep down the winding mountain road and Cora grasped the handle above the window. “I’ve never actually been in a four-seater.”
“What’s the matter? The smallest plane you’ve ever flown in was a Lear Jet?” Cora wondered when Brock would mention his gaming or if he was waiting for her to bring it up. She knew the truth, and he knew that she knew. She decided to wait and let him take the lead.
His eyes barely strayed from the road, but he took deep breath as if contemplating how best to proceed with the inevitable conversation. “How much do you know?”
“Enough,” Cora said. “I mean, there’s always more to learn about a person. But I was at Twitchcon last year. I’m surprised it took me so many hours to recognize you.”
“Dude, it was, like, one hour.” Brock turned his wrist as if checking a non-existent watch.
“It was, like, two,” Cora said, laughing. “Did you just call me ‘dude’?”
“Can we just skip the airplane and go somewhere to make out?” Cora asked.
“Gee, if I’d known that was all it took to turn you on, I would have called you ‘dude’ last night.”
“I don’t kiss on the first date,” Cora teased.
“Let me get this straight.” Brock cleared his throat. “Was last night our first date? Or is today our first date?”
“Which would you prefer?” Cora asked.
“Last night,” Brock said, hurriedly. “Definitely last night.”
The butterflies in her stomach were more than just the excitement of going flying. Brock’s presence made her heart race.
“Hey, since you have a pilot’s license, you should sit up front, and I’ll be in the seat behind, tickling you and trying to distract you.”
“You’d better not,” Cora said, panic clutching her chest. “I’m dead serious. An airplane is nothing to goof around in. If anything happens there’s no reset button. You don’t get fewer points and lose the competition. People really can die when planes crash.”
“I know.” His countenance fell as he pulled into the Sky Tours parking lot. “I didn’t mean to be joking around. I’m sorry.”
Cora forced her breathing to slow, realizing she was overreacting. She felt the stress of the past 24 hours weighing on her shoulders.
Somehow knowing Brock was a gamer changed her opinion of him, not necessarily in a bad way. But she knew gamers. They were a different breed of guy. Well not just guys. Girls could be just as bad, herself included.
She was picturing him as an overgrown kid with a gaming controller in his hand, yelling at the monitor when he lost to a lesser opponent. She wasn’t sure how to vocalize all the thoughts whirling in her head.
“Hey,” Brock said, lifting her chin with his finger, encouraging her to look at him. “I promise to behave myself while we’re in the airplane. Okay?”
“I know,” Cora stammered. “I just. I don’t know. It’s all so… much.”
“Hey, come here.” Brock reached across and pulled Cora into his arms. She felt her emotions close to the surface. “This isn’t just about the airplane is it?”
“I don’t know.”
“Did I overwhelm you yesterday by showing you so much affection?”
“I guess not,” Cora said. “I mean, the other women are super jealous of me.”
“As they should be.” Brock’s voice grew husky.
“But why me?” Cora pulled away and held him at arm’s length. “I’m not nearly as pretty as half the girls in that room. I’m just a small-town girl from Iowa. There’s nothing remotely exciting about me.”
“You’re intriguing,” Brock said. “And I’m just a small-town boy from Michigan. There’s nothing exciting about me either.”
“Yeah right.” Cora snorted. She raised her eyebrows and he broke her gaze.
“Seriously, if you knew nothing about me except that I’m a computer programmer, that wouldn’t be all that impressive right?”
“Depends on if you’re into geeks,” Cora said, lifting her brows.
“Okay, then.” Brock leaned closer and kissed her cheek, then whispered in her ear. “Let’s go flying, dude.”