Tis the season. It’s that time of year at Grace Manor, and the Graces are off to visit family and friends in the States. This time it’s a double-whammy for me. Mr. Grace and I will be visiting our lovely nieces in the Cincinnati area. And then while Mr. Grace is off doing martial arts in NYC, I’m jetting on to Oregon to spend quality time with my sister on the West Coast. Of course that means there’ll be lots of time — quality and otherwise spent in airports. Whether you’ve ever had an airport rendezvous or not, such major crossroads so full of so many interesting people doing interesting things cannot help but inspire … fantasies. For us writers, that often leads to stories and novels.
Ever had an airport encounter? I’ve never had the pleasure of an airport encounter myself. But who hasn’t fantasised about having one? Travel figures prominently in a lot of my romance novels and it has been that way since the beginning with my very first novel – in fact it’s been that way since my very first short story. The thing about travel is that you spend a lot of time being in that space in between, and it’s in that space in between that unexpected things, almost magical things happen. No place represents the space in between more than airport lounges. Most of the time you do whatever you have to in order to keep busy and keep from getting bored. But there are times when you get way more from an airport lounge that just good coffee and a comfy place to wait for your flight. Certainly that’s Liza Calendar’s situation in To Rome with Lust. Liza’s all about olfactory encounters, and this particular one is a delight to the sense of smell. Enjoy!
Book three of The Mount trilogy
The adventure that Rita Holly began in The Mount in London and Nick Chase took up in Vegas continues when a sizzling encounter on a flight to Rome has journalist, Liza Calendar, and perfumer, Paulo ‘The Nose’ Delacour, in sexy olfactory heaven. The heir apparent of Martelli Fragrance, Paulo wants Liza’s magnificently sensitive nose to help develop Martelli’s controversial new line. Paulo has a secret weapon; Martelli Fragrance is the front for the original Mount, an ancient sex cult of which he is a part, and Paulo plans to use the scent of sex to enhance Martelli’s Innuendo line. As Liza and Paulo sniff out the scent of seduction, they become their own best lab rats. But when someone steals the perfume formulas and lays the blame at Liza’s feet, she and Paulo must sniff out the culprit and prove Liza’s innocence before more is exposed than just secret formulas.
Liza thought she had only dreamed such an exquisite scent. She’d certainly never smelled anything so sexy while she was awake. It was all very strange. Her dreams had always been the only part of her life that was olfactory-free. She sat in the business lounge at JFK dozing, blocking out the noise and the smell of the busy shuffle. But this smell was different. This smell was just too delicious to ignore. It intensified, then faded, and she snuffled and inhaled and shifted in her seat.
Delays due to heavy thunderstorms meant the place was packed with passengers awaiting a spate of flights going out at nearly the same time. But her flight wasn’t delayed. She was just there way early, thanks to Carl. After an unplanned night alone in a hotel room, she couldn’t get out of New York City fast enough — not after what she’d seen … and smelled. But she didn’t want to think about Carl. Time to move forward.
She had just slipped back into that space between wakefulness and sleep when the scent wafted over her again. There was no denying it was the primal smell of male. It was the smell of desert lightening, of sage and juniper and thick, dark night. It was the smell of sex – or at least the intimations of sex or what sex might be like with a man who smelled so irresistible.
Jesus, was she really going to have sexy dreams right here in the airport? What next? Would she be rubbing herself against the sofa while all the businessmen and the tourist pretended not to notice? Surely it was only because of the sex she’d expected to get last night, but didn’t. Surely it was just her angry unconscious inventing an olfactory fantasy, but God, the man smelled good – better than anyone she’d ever smelled, and she smelled everyone! She inhaled again and her deep intake of scent came out sounding like a sigh. Her lips parted just enough to take in the fullness of the experience. She could almost taste that hypnotic smell of masculinity. Her nipples chafed against her bra until they dominated the front of her sweater with an achy tetchy fullness that matched the tightening she felt between her thighs. It was as though the man stood right over her. She could smell expensive fabric weighted and warmed with the heat of his flesh. His crotch, where the delicious scent was purest, was so close that her mouth watered. The scent was heavy, thickening, male — driven by passion. Letting the dream take control, Liza shifted, uncrossed her legs and leaned forward to draw in his scent, wanting nothing so much as to touch, to caress, to experiment on ways to arouse from her dream man more of that delicious scent.
There was a soft grunt, a startled gasp, and a large hand came down heavily on her shoulder. There was a desperate clearing of a throat and a slightly accented ‘Pardon me.’
She opened her eyes and found herself nose to crotch with a very expensive suit not quite able to disguise a very nice package. Her fingers were fisted in the edges of the front pockets of the trousers, reeling their wearer ever closer and closer to her salivating mouth. She yelped and practically shoved the guy, who might have fallen if not for the hand resting on her shoulder. ‘Oh my god! I’m sorry, I’m so sorry,’ she gasped. ‘I was dreaming.’ Her face burning and her pulse did a drumroll in her ears as she raised her eyes up and up and up the length of the well filled-out charcoal suit to meet rich caramel eyes looking down at her from beneath thick midnight lashes. The scent hit her in waves, making her giddy, making her want to sniff like a dog in heat, making her feel wrong-footed and out of focus.
‘Must have been some dream.’ His eyes sparkled and he offered her a half-smile. His warm hands fell to cover hers and disengage them from his pockets. ‘I can’t tell you how sorry I am that I woke you, but I’d really hate it if your dream got us both kicked out of the lounge.’ His thumbs brushed over the backs of her knuckles before he released her. ‘Is it all right if I share you sofa? The lounge is really crowded.’
‘Yes! Of course, please.’ She shifted and rearranged herself, resisting the urge to fold her arms across her perky nipples. It was even harder to resist the urge to pant and sniff. My God, if an aphrodisiac could be inhaled, his scent would so be that aphrodisiac. She felt moist and swollen, splayed in the crotch of her panties, too tender for the weight of her body against to sofa.
‘Are you all right?’ The man’s eyes had darkened with concern. ‘You seem in distress.’
‘Fine! I’m fine,’ she said with enthusiasm that made her sound like a dork. ‘Just outrageously embarrassed.’
‘Don’t be. You made my morning, and gave me something I’ll smile about for what’ll be a very long, very tedious flight. You sure you’re all right?’
‘You smell amazing,’ she blurted out before she could stop herself, then she felt the flash-fire burn rise to her cheeks again. Jeez! Could she sound any more stupid?
He raised an eyebrow and cocked his head. ‘Thanks. Ode d’ generic hotel soap,’ he said.
‘No, it’s not the soap, I mean I can smell that too, but …’ What the fuck was it with her? She practically attacked the guy — who handled an embarrassing situation very graciously all things considered — and now she informs him she’d been sniffing? ‘Never mind. I … like I said, I was dreaming.’
He leaned forward in a wave of scent that made her dizzy with lust. ‘No, please, don’t be embarrassed. I’m very interested in all things olfactory. And I’m really flattered that you like the way I smell.’
‘I’m sorry. I have a sensitive nose.’ She forced a laugh. ‘I guess maybe I’m a little closer to my animal roots than most people. I … I pick up on scent … way more than most people do. Bit of an evolutionary throw-back, I’m afraid.’
His smile was practically edible. ‘Humans are mammals. Mammals live through their sense of smell. We’ve just gotten lazy and forgotten how to do that. Real scent is hard to come by in a world that’s been deodorized, sanitized and scrubbed. Apparently you remember.’
Oh, she remembered all right. She remembered so much more than she wished she did at times. She could feel his dark, rich gaze against her, feel his scent baring down on her, now spiked with the cinnamon nip of curiosity. She knew what was coming. She waited for it.
‘So,’ he leaned still closer and everything in her felt giddy and humid. ‘Tell me what you smell?’
God, she knew he was going to ask that. She should have kept her damned mouth shut. To ask her to describe his scent was like asking her to describe what she thought sex with him would be like, and with a scent like his, she could imagine it would be pretty fucking amazing. On the other hand, if he stayed leaning close like this, she’d have a few more seconds to sniff and enjoy before he suspected her of total nutterdom.
‘Don’t be embarrassed. As I said, the sense of smell and the way we humans use it is of special interest to me.’
She leaned in and inhaled deeply through her nose. After all he had given her permission to sniff. ‘You smell like summer lightening … at high altitude. She inhaled again and closed her eyes, hearing the catch of his breath. ‘Beneath that, you smell like evergreen and the earth around tree roots.’ His breathing accelerated. She leaned still closer, and the slip and slide of fabric on fabric informed her that he’d done the same until they were nearly touching. She inhaled again. ‘You smell like a rainstorm on the wind just before it arrives, but that’s because you’re skeptical, and I don’t blame you.’
It became a competition to see who could breathe the hardest. Her belly muscles trembled and tensed way down low; in her panties, the clench and release, clench and release had left her swollen and pouty. She opened her eyes just a slit, then closed them again, but there was no mistaking the shape of his growing erection. Her own scent spiked all honey- butter and nutmeg.
‘What else?’ he breathed. ‘Is there more?’
‘Your curiosity smells of cinnamon and there’s a bit of irritation, tart, tangy, almost like lemon.’ Her eyes fluttered open at the same moment his did.
‘Oh it’s not you,’ he said quickly. ‘I mean I’m not irritated with you. It’s this trip. I didn’t plan to take it and now I find out … wait a minute. You can smell emotions?’
‘Kind of,’ she said, trying not to look at his erection, as he shifted to rearrange himself a little less conspicuously. Then she couldn’t resist. ‘What about me? Can you smell me?’ Jesus! Why did she ask such a loaded question?
He squirmed again, which did nothing to hide his needy package. A blush rose to his cheeks. ‘Maybe … Possibly.’ He inhaled a shaky breath through his nose like he was afraid of what he might smell. ‘The more we talk … the more I smell.’ His eyes fluttered shut again. ‘You’re … not wearing perfume.’
‘I never do.’ She eased herself closer, resisting the urge to rest a hand on his thigh. ‘It interferes with other smells.’
He nodded, as though he completely understood. ‘You smell like the sea, but you also smell like honey and butter melting over hot bread.’
Did she just whimper? Oh god, please say she didn’t just whimper and shift her bottom against the sofa. Surely she
didn’t do that.
This time he inhaled boldly, pushing forward on the sofa, his eyes closed, suddenly making no attempt to cover the heavy strain against the front of his trousers. The cinnamon scent of him spiked and became more peppery. ‘Jesus, I can’t believe we’re doing this.’ His voice was little more than a whisper between parted lips, lips that Liza would only have to lean into to touch with her own. ‘I can’t believe I can smell all that. I’m probably imagining it.’
‘No you’re not. You’re not imagining it,’ she whispered back.
He was suddenly breathing as though he’d just ran a marathon, each breath through his nose, each breath followed by a gulp, almost as though he were eating the scent of her.
‘People are looking. We should stop.’ She barely got the words out before he leaned in just a tiny bit further and, in his enthusiasm, his lips brushed hers. Everything spiked in a sharp stab of scent that went straight to her pussy, as they both gasped and sat back, eyes wide, fingers pressed to lips.
The delayed flight to Paris was called over the intercom immediately after one to Frankfurt and, in the jostling and shifting and gathering of belongings, no one paid any attention to them. She wasn’t sure it would have made any difference even if they’d suddenly been center stage. Their gaze locked on each other, cheeks flushed, chests heaving, they sat locked in a moment so tight, so full that its breaking apart was inevitable. It was ridiculous. She was seconds away from coming, and his cock was about to burst his trousers. And his lips, my god his lips, she could think of so many places on her body she wanted those lips.
‘I have to know,’ he gasped. ‘Surely you want to know too.’ Then he did the unthinkable. He curled his fingers into the back of her hair and pulled her to him. This time their lips met with a clash of teeth and a gasped swallow of oxygen that transitioned into parted lips and darting tongues and an absolute explosion of scent. If he had smelled amazing by himself, if his scent had sharpened hers to the cutting edge of orgasm, then the mixing and blending that happened when they touched, when those two scents came together was shattering. ‘I’ve never smelled anything like it,’ she breathed into his mouth.
‘Me neither,’ He bit her lower lip and tugged and their blended smell became darker, more spicy, tones of earth and sea, pepper and honey and my god the guy could kiss!
She came first with a guttural grunt of an orgasm that began deep in her pussy and washed over her like a riptide. She tried desperately to hide it, but he knew it. He felt it, she even thought he smelled it, and he tightened his fist in her hair, breathing her into his open mouth. Both his hands then slid to her shoulders in a grip that was almost painful as he pulled back. His eyes locked on hers, and his whole body convulsed, and again, and again, his deep mocha gaze holding her tight as pupils dilated and eyelids shuddered.
For a moment they sat stunned, staring at each other, struggling to catch their breath. He looked shell-shocked, and she must have looked at least as bad. ‘I’m sorry,’ they both said at the same time as they mirrored each other in a nervous laugh.
Then the intercom called the flight to Rome. ‘That’s my flight,’ she gasped, awash in a wave of embarrassment. She
babbled something about duty free and gifts, sounding like a total idiot. She grabbed her bag and her laptop and fled, feeling certain everyone was watching, feeling certain everyone knew exactly what they had done. It didn’t matter though, at the end of the day, she’d never see the man again. And she’d never smell him again. That saddened her.