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Chapter 12 of Concerto

Chapter 12  I Believe You

 

 

 

I slept all the way to Portree. I suppose it was a testament to how unwell I really was. Perhaps it was also a testament to how much I preferred the peaceful oblivion I found in sleep over the harsh reality of the waking world. It wasn’t that I expected to return to my pianist in the dream world. Whether anyone believed me or not, I knew in my heart of hearts what had happened to me had been so much more than a dream.

In my state of confusion and unhappiness, sleep was the best option. Besides, I couldn’t bring myself to be sociable, and Ian didn’t seem to mind. In fact, he hadn’t even turned on the radio, but left me in blessed silence making no effort to cheer me up. While he had been nothing but kind to me, I certainly had to be a major inconvenience, one that took him away from his work. It couldn’t have been his plan to taxi an invalid around all over the Scottish Highlands. And yet, I sensed no resentment from him, though in all fairness, I wasn’t conscious long enough to sense much of anything.

I didn’t wake up again until the door opened on my side of the Land Rover. For a confused moment I looked up into the eyes of my pianist, but when I slid my arms around his neck, it was Ian who spoke to me urgently, peeling me off him and chafing my hands in his. He looked nearly as confused as I was, but mostly he looked concerned. “Ms. Alan? Wake up. Are you okay? It’s me, Ian McLaren, remember?”

All I could manage was a deep breath and a nod. In that shared moment of embarrassment, he could not have missed the deep disappointment that must have flashed across my face when I realized who he was, and more importantly, who he wasn’t.

“We’re here,” he said when I gave no further reply. He helped me out and supported me with an arm around my waist until I could gain my bearings.

As he shut the door, I glance around me and reconsidered the wisdom of getting into vehicles with strange men. “Where’s here?” I asked. “This isn’t Portree.”  We were parked in front of a large cottage, which looked to be as much of a building site as the smaller cottage where my pianist had been.

“Just outside Portree, actually,” came the reply. “This is my Aunt Maggie’s place. Well one of them anyway. This one I may well buy off her when I’ve finished the renovations. It suits me.”

I stopped and only stood staring at the stone facade. As if he anticipated my next question, he said, “You’re in no condition to travel on to Glasgow today. In fact, you shouldn’t even be out of bed. Aunt Maggie tells me you’re in no hurry to get back, and I don’t fancy taking you to A and E with a relapse.”

When I still didn’t move, he turned to face me. “I’m happy to call my sister to stay if you’d prefer, or my cousin Patricia.”

I shook my head and forced a little chuckle. “I trust you, Ian.” I wasn’t entirely sure that was completely true, but at the moment, I was too tired and too ill to care.

The building site that was the outside of the cottage did not reflect the glorious inside, which was done up like a Victorian summer cottage, many of the furnishings and features clearly from the period. “Your work or your aunt’s,” I asked running a finger along the edge of a beautifully restored wrought iron table with a matching mirror in the slate tiled entryway.

“A bit of both. She has nearly a sixth sense for period design. Me, I’m just a builder with a love of history.”

“You don’t speak like a builder,” I said as he helped me out of my jacket.

“You know a lot of builders, do you?” He replied with a chuckle.

“Never actually met one before you, so I guess I’ve got no real data to go on.”

“You’re a writer, surely you don’t judge a book by its cover.” With that he led me down the hall into a small warm kitchen tiled in emerald green and white and nodded to the table. “Sit.” He nodded to a small kitchen nook tucked into a sunny corner, and I settled. “Maggie threw together some of her world famous potato leek soup last night. There’s plenty here for both of us, and you need to eat.”

I watched as he put a small pot onto the stove and then took a baguette from the breadbox and began slicing it. “It doesn’t seem to bother you, playing nursemaid to a crazy lady.”

“As far as jobs go, I’ve had worse.” He plugged in the kettle and set out two mugs. He didn’t deny the crazy lady bit though, and I didn’t really feel like hearing one more person tell me that I’d only imagined the whole thing.

“Besides,” he added giving the soup a stir, “it’s not every day I get to play chauffer and host to Sophie Alan, acclaimed writer of romance.”

“Not that acclaimed,” I said, holding the teacup in my hand for warmth once he’d given it to me.

He sat down across from me. “An author whose imagination is a fertile, exciting place.”

I sat the cup down and heat climbed my cheeks. “Is that a hint?”

“Actually that’s a quote on the cover of your last novel,” he said with a quirk of a smile. Then he got up to serve the soup.

“Yeah, well that was awhile ago. That imagination is not nearly as fertile and exciting these days.” Too late, I realized I’d left myself open for the lecture, which I didn’t get.

“Thus the weekend at my aunt’s cottage.” Before I could respond, he set a bowl of soup in front of me. “Eat. You need to eat to get better.”

He had effectively left me with nothing to say, and once again, he made it easy for me to do just that. We both ate looking out the window at the cottage garden awash in watery sunshine. I barely managed the soup before I was all but falling asleep at the table. He escorted me upstairs and into a suite that would have totally delighted me in its Victorian elegance had I not been too exhausted to care. He simply helped me off with my shoes, settled me onto the big mahogany bed and covered me with a large tartan throw. “Rest awhile,” he said. “I’ll be downstairs when you wake up.”

I woke from a dream of piano music, the melody my pianist was playing when I first met him. The room now bathed in evening shadows and the lace curtains wafted gently on a cool breeze. As the events since that weekend flooded back to me, I groaned and clenched my eyes tight hoping that if I lay there long enough I’d return to the dream world and the music would lead me back to him. When that didn’t happen, I got up and made my way to the bathroom to pee. In spite of the music in my dreams, the house was silent, that kind of peaceful silence one never finds in the city.

As I splashed my face with warm water, I realized I was hungry – something I’d not been since before my weekend at the cottage. It must be getting near dinnertime, I figured. The discomfort of not knowing exactly where I was and being completely at the mercy of a man I barely knew drove me downstairs.

My bare feet made no sound on the wood floor at the bottom of the stairs. Soft light from elegant glass wall sconces glowed with golden warmth, a warmth that made the place feel homey and comfortable rather than overdone. Fire crackled in a fireplace in a small study off the main hallway. I knocked softly on the doorframe and stuck my head inside. “Ian?” Tentatively I stepped over the threshold. The walls were lined with bookshelves full to the brim. Other than that, the room was sparsely furnished. There was a small day bed made up in a deep window alcove with a duvet pulled neatly over a cascade of pillows, and there was a modest desk with a large leather office chair. The reading lamp on the desk lit the pages of half a dozen books spilling over the desk along with a journal brimming with notes and sketches of building features and landscapes. It looked as though Ian had just stepped out. Perhaps he was hungry too.

It was only as I turned to make my way back down the hall to the kitchen that I noticed the grand piano in the room across the hall. My heart stuttered, my mouth went dry. I heard myself cry out as though from a great distance, as though I were suddenly someone else, someone moving outside myself. In truth, I might have been someone else sleepwalking across the hall and into a music room astonishingly similar to the one I had been in when, for a brief time, I was someone else, someone from another age, someone very much in love with my pianist. In that strange weaving of present and past, I was marginally aware of the evening light streaming through French doors. A well-tended patio garden lay just beyond and, unlike the building site that was the front of the cottage, the back was an exquisitely landscaped lawn leading onto the cliffs that hugged the sea.

As I ran an unsteady hand over the smooth, cool wood of the piano, flashes of my pianist overwhelmed me. It was hard to breathe. It was hard to think. It was hard to focus on anything but the instrument before me and the man I would forever connect to it. Even knowing what I now knew, even though all I had seen and experience made no sense and no one thought it had actually happened, I couldn’t keep from anticipating. I couldn’t keep from hoping that any minute he might appear at the door, settle himself before the keyboard and play for me.

All the while that wild haunting deluge of music, which was the first I’d heard him play, ran through my head in minute detail. I could hear the intricate ebb and flow of the counter melody. I could hear the drive and surge of the base line, I could hear each modulations, every tempo shift, every crescendo. I could hear it all, and I could see the hands of my pianist in the intricate dance of its creation. I dropped onto the bench and traced the keys, recalling the feel of those warm, strong hands beneath mine as we moved fingers together shaping the melody.

With a tentative touch, I played the first note, and then I played the next and the next – only just the melody and all only with one hand. But it was there, and so was what I didn’t play. I heard it all in my head. In my mind’s eye my hands rested atop his, relaxed, easy, as the melody coursed through both of us together, and I played. I played it all through a haze of tears, from beginning to end, to the point at which he
took me into his arms, to the point at which the music became a living, breathing being with power over us both. It was only then that I realized I was no longer alone. When at last I stopped and wiped my nose on the back of my hand, Ian stood at my side, breathing labored, shoulders tense. With a groan, he stumbled to sit down next to me on the bench, and with a hitch of breath he said very softly. “I believe you.”

 

If you’ve missed an episode of Concerto, here are the links.

 

Concerto Part 1: A little Night Music

Concerto Part 2: Distractions

Concerto Part 3: Too Much to Bear Alone

Concerto Part 4: Writing and Waiting

Concerto Part 5: A Duet in a Storm

Concerto Part 6: Remember How it Feels

Concerto Part 7: Unsettled

Concerto Part 8: Into the Storm

Concerto Part 9: Me, But Somebody Else

Concerto Part 10: Find Me

Concerto Part 11: Making Sense of it All

 

Concerto Chapter 11

 

Chapter 11 Making sense of it

 

“Are you sure you’re well enough to be here,” Mrs. McLaren said, watching me nervously as I stepped out of her battered Land Rover.

 

“Fine, I’m fine,” I lied. I’d been out of the hospital two days and had convalesced impatiently in a hotel room until, ready or not, I could stand it no longer and called Mrs. McLaren, who had promised to take me out to the cottages as soon as I was up to it. I had driven to Portree and endured another night and day in a hotel room in the pounding rain until the weather cleared enough that Mrs. McLaren would even consider taking me out. As it turned out, it was just as well. The trip up from Glasgow had exhausted me, and I wasn’t fit to do much but sleep and order in when I was hungry enough to eat anything. Every time I slept, I hoped that I would wake up back in the cottage with my piano player. But I didn’t. He didn’t even haunt my dreams during those nights of exhaustion and sickness.

 

The landlady watched me with a jaundiced eye as I walked slowly, carefully, through the cottage I’d stayed in, remaining close enough that she could catch me if I stumbled. Everything was exactly as I remembered it, but that was no real surprise. “As I said,” she reiterated, when I turned to her expectantly, “this is the only cottage that’s finished.” She didn’t repete the obvious, the obvious that I’d heard a thousand times, that there’d been no one here but me. She knew it would do her no good, and she wasn’t given to wasted words. It was just as well. I knew what I’d seen. I knew that I hadn’t been alone.

 

She opened the back door, and we stepped outside into the anemic sunlight. My first view of the other cottage felt like a gut punch. There was no patio. Instead a small earthmover stood to the side of a rectangular hole filled with muddy rainwater where the patio, no doubt, would be when the builders finished. To the side under heavy plastic stood several stacks of large paving stones.

 

“The place won’t be ready to lease until next summer.” She sounded almost apologetic. Then she gently threaded her arm through mine. I figured it was so she could catch me if I lost my footing. There was no disguising my trembling. Though more than a little of that was from the shock of what greeted me as I looked out at the other cottage.

 

With a bit of careful tugging, she pulled me away from the flooded would-be patio and around to the front door, which was not locked, the reason became obvious with the pounding of hammers and the mumbled curses of workmen coming from inside.

 

As we entered the front door, two men dressed in paint spattered jeans and ratty t-shirts, looked up, then laid down their hammers and nodded their greetings as though I were some strange creature they weren’t sure how to approach. No doubt they knew the tale. The story of the crazy American lady who was found wandering the cliffs in the middle of a storm had surely made its rounds in a place where I figured I was the most entertaining news that had happened in awhile. Mrs. McLaren motioned them to the door, and they left without a word.

 

Where the wood floor had been, there was, instead, bare concrete, and the fireplace had been newly bricked, the trowel and other tools of the trade still on the floor on plastic sheeting. There was no piano. In fact there was nothing but sawhorses and cans of paint with odd bits and pieces of lumber scattered around, along with a several half-empty bottles of water and sports drinks. The kitchen was exactly as I remembered it, unfinished and covered in drop cloths. As if she knew what I’d ask next, she led me to the bathroom. The tub in which I’d made love to my pianist was there, but sitting in the middle of the floor, and the plumbing was only half finished. Without waiting for me to comment, she led me into the master bedroom.

 

It was suddenly hard to breathe, and I saw the room through a haze of tears I blinked hard to control. The big bed sat in the middle of the floor exactly where it had been, but it was battered and weather worn. On top of a bare mattress that didn’t really fit the wooden slats, a sleeping bag and a pillow lay rumpled and tossed. An empty teacup and an open can of Red Bull sat on a backless chair to the side.

 

“Ian, he’s my nephew, he stays here when the weather is nice and he wants to work late, or get an early start,” Mrs. McLaren said. “Mostly though I think he just likes the place what with the sea and the cliffs.”

 

“The bed?” I managed, feeling like my throat was closing off.

 

“It was here when we bought the place,” she said. “No sense in having it restored until the cottage is a little closer to finished. Ian likes to sleep there.” She smiled indulgently. “Makes him feel a bit like a laird.”

 

There was little left to say after that. Mrs. McLaren walked me up to the cliffs where I’d been found, not far from the standing chimney and the ruined foundations of the manor house, all the while, in my head, flashes of the house in its glory days and broken strains of piano music made me dizzy and even more unsure on my feet. When I dropped down onto a rock near where Mrs. McLaren said I’d been found, she only stood next to me patting my shoulder, until the younger of the two men, the one I assumed was Ian, joined us. “Ms. Alan,” he said quietly. “You’d best go back to the cottage now, have some tea, get warm.”

 

I didn’t protest as he helped me up and the two flanked me, Ian close enough that if I should stumble he could catch me, even carry me if he had to. And to my embarrassment, he had to. We were nearly back to the cottage when a view of the earthmover and the whole where the patio should be made the ache in my chest bloom until it felt like the icy blasts of the storm that had raged all the while I’d stayed her with my pianist. “He asked me to find him and I don’t even know his name,” I whispered, and then the ground tilted around me and strong arms lifted me. I humiliated myself further by burying my face in Ian’s chest and sobbing all the way back to the cottage. Inside, he settled me on the sofa and covered me with a blanket. He sat with me until Mrs. McLaren returned with a cup of tea, which tasted like it might have had a nip of something stronger in it. “This’ll warm your belly and make you feel better,” she said.

 

When she was sure I wasn’t going to humiliate myself further, she motioned Ian into the kitchen, where I could hear them mumbling quietly. Occasionally their voices rose in what sounded like an argument, but it took me a minute to realize they were speaking Gaelic. Not that I cared that much. My own thoughts were too confused trying to sort reality from fantasy. But in spite of everything that I had seen, everything that was obvious, I was still certain that what I’d experienced with my pianist had been real.

 

In a few minutes, they returned to the living room and Mrs. McLaren sat down on the sofa next to me. “You’ve got no business traveling alone,” she said, “not in your condition. You shouldn’t even be out of bed yet. You’ve had a terrible shock. I’ve got guests coming and I can’t get away, but Ian will take you back to Portree and then on to Glasgow and help you arrange a flight home if you need.”

 

“I’m fine,” I said, setting the teacup aside and pushing to my feet.

 

“You shouldn’t be alone.” Ian gently took my arm with a rough hand and guided me back down. “If you don’t feel comfortable with me, I can get my sister, Mary to take you.” At this suggestion, I couldn’t help noticing that Mrs. McLaren stiffened.

 

“No.” I sighed half in defeat, half in relief not to have to make the trip by myself, one I wasn’t sure I could manage. “I’m all right with you taking me.”

 

Twenty minutes later, Mrs. L had me bundled up in Ian’s Land Rover like an invalid with a flask of tea and a basket of sandwiches. It was only after I was settled in that she handed me the coffee table book on the manor house and its history. “Maybe this will help,” she said, then waved us off.

 

If you’ve missed an episode of Concerto, here are the links.

 

Concerto Part 1: A little Night Music

Concerto Part 2: Distractions

Concerto Part 3: Too Much to Bear Alone

Concerto Part 4: Writing and Waiting

Concerto Part 5: A Duet in a Storm

Concerto Part 6: Remember How it Feels

Concerto Part 7: Unsettled

Concerto Part 8: Into the Storm

Concerto Part 9: Me, But Somebody Else

Concerto Part 10: Find Me

 

Concerto Chapter 9

Sorry that it’s taken me a bit longer to get the next chapter of Concerto to you. It’s been a wild couple of weeks. Because I’ve made you wait, I’ve put the link from the last chapter up at the top for continuity sake. The rest are at the end. Enjoy!

 

 

Chapter 9: Me, But Somebody Else

In the blink of an eye I was transported into the opulent music room, lit only by moonlight. I looked out through eyes that were not my own, I wore clothes that were uncomfortable and unfamiliar. On slippered feet, I approached the pianist from behind. His music was angry, violent, his fingers harsh on the keys. There was no one else in the room. “What you want can never be, you realize?” He spoke without looking away from the keyboard. “Your father will never let us be together, you must know this.”

“I don’t care what my father wants. I want you,” I said in a voice that was not my own. It was softer, more treble, like a bird singing – one you could listen to for hours.

“You don’t care because you’ve never gone hungry, never known what it’s like to live without. Do you suppose for even a moment your father will continue as my patron if I run away with his only daughter? Do you not think that he’ll use all of his power and influence to make sure no one else will do me the honor either?” The music stopped. He fisted his hands and brought them down hard against the keys.

“But you’re the best. You’re astonishing. It’s only a matter of time before you’ll be sought out to perform all over the world, and then you won’t need my father or anyone else.”

“But I do need your father now. One mistake, take one false step, and he’ll cast me aside as easily as he does anything else that makes him unhappy.”

“I don’t care. I love you.” I moved to stand close behind him and threw my arms around his neck. “I want you and no one else.” As he pushed back the bench, I took his face in my hands and kissed him, and I was her – this woman who loved him — but at the same time I wasn’t her. Still one thing was clear, he was my pianist – the same — as surely as night was dark. And the kiss he returned, the kiss that wasn’t for me, was offered with that familiar passion, the same sense of need and hunger.

At last he pulled away and held me at arm’s length. “Then we have to wait. We have to wait until the time is right, until I no longer am a beggar at the gate.”

With a flash of light, the scene changed, and we were naked, rolling and tumbling in a big curtained bed, and he was deep inside me, the roar of our breath and our passion drowning out the storm.

“I shouldn’t have come, Felicity.” I heard his voice from far away. “You shouldn’t have invited me here of all places. Don’t you realize what we’ve done? We should have waited.”

“I’m tired of waiting.” Once again the bird like voice came from my lips. “Take me with you. Take me with you my love, and we will find a way.”

“We’ll find a way. Just take me with you, and we’ll find a way.”  I came back to myself wet and warm and sitting between the pianist’s legs in the big claw footed tub. I was leaning back against his bare chest, his arms wrapped tightly around me. “What happened,” I managed through a throat that felt like I’d eaten sand.

“You followed me into the storm. You fell,” came the clipped reply.

For a moment I sat silent, the heat of the water curling tendrils of steam in front of my face. “But, I saw …” I saw what I couldn’t have possibly seen, that’s what I saw. For a moment I debated how much to tell him. “Did I hit my head?”

“You fell, and then you were delirious.”

In a convulsive move, he pulled me closer until I gasped for breath as his arms tightened around my body and his breathing became more labored.

“I remember falling,” I replied, wriggling to get more comfortable. “And the rest was more like a dream. The manor house was there and we were there alone in the music room and you were playing the piano. And then we were making love. It was me, but it wasn’t me.” I forced a laugh as he all but mantled me from behind, his breath skimming my neck. “Dreams are funny like that.” And then I remembered why I’d gone to the overlook in the middle of a storm. “What were you doing up there in this horrible weather, and you were naked. Why?” My stomach dropped, as I recalled how I’d found him and, in spite of the heat of the water, gooseflesh climbed my arms. “Surely you weren’t trying to … I mean you were so close to the cliff’s edge. I was so scared.”

“No,” his voice was suddenly cold, distant. “I wasn’t trying to kill myself. You needn’t have been scared. I won’t, I can’t … do that.”

I turned as best as I could, slopping water over the floor, so that I could see his face over my shoulder. “Were you dreaming, then? Sleepwalking.”

His laugh was no more than a puff of breath against my ear that held little humor. “These days I’m never sure.”

Something in the way he said it made me shiver, but I forced a chuckle. “I think we all feel that way sometimes.”

He didn’t answer, only kissed the top of my head. For a long moment we sat in silent, the only sound the wind howling around the corner of the cottage.

“You called me Felicity,” I ventured.

He flinched at the name. Though he caught himself soon enough, we were skin to skin, I felt it like a tremor through my chest. He sighed out a deep breath then slid a hand up to cup my breast. “What, are you holding me responsible for your dreams now?”

“No. It just seemed so real. I couldn’t have been unconscious that long, if I was unconscious. It was less like a dream than it was flashes of memory.”

“You were stressed, concerned for me, and you fell. That’s all. What matters is that we’re both warm and safe and there are better things to think about right now.” He kissed my ear, then ran a hand down over my belly and between my thighs. I bucked and gasped, setting off another tidal wave of bath water. In spite of what had just happened, in spite of all my questions and doubts, I was ready, anxious for his touch.

“What’s your name?” I spoke around my efforts to concentrate as he nibbled and kissed my neck and shoulder and reacquainted himself with every furrow, every swollen fold, of me. Then with more splashing and awkward wallowing, he helped me turn in the tub to straddle him. “I don’t even know your name,” I said, my mind hanging on to at least that much in the heat of arousal he was stoking.

“Does it matter? Maybe you can find one in your dreams, Felicity.” Before I could respond, he thrust up into me with such force, with such desire, that all I could do was wrap my legs around him and hold on for the ride. Everything else went away. The rest of the world disappeared again, but this time in a storm of desperate lust.

 

If you’ve missed an episode of Concerto, here are the links.

Concerto Part 1: A little Night Music

Concerto Part 2: Distractions

Concerto Part 3: Too Much to Bear Alone

Concerto Part 4: Writing and Waiting

Concerto Part 5: A Duet in a Storm

Concerto Part 6: Remember How it Feels

Concerto Part 7: Unsettled

Concerto Part 8: Into the Storm

 

 

 

 

The Smell of Traveling: When the Nose Knows

airport-2Airport encounters – who’s had one? I’ve never had the pleasure. Who’s fantasized about having one? Or maybe it would be better to ask who the hell hasn’t? 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. As I mentioned in my last post, 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!

 

To Rome with Lust

Book three of The Mount trilogy

(Click here for Book One | Book Two)

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.

 

To Rome with Lust – The Nose Knows Excerpt:

to-rome-with-lustLiza 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 airport-4interested 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?

mountboxsetHe 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 airport-7nervous 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.

 

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Chocolate Truffles and a Chance Encounter: Traveling with Ms Holly

chocolate-truffle-candiesMore Travel Erotica today, as promised while I’m in Oregon for the next two weeks. As I’ve mentioned, 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 the very first scene in my very first novel, The Initiation of Ms Holly, which opens in a stalled train beneath the English Channel in the Eurostar tunnel. Once again, 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. 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 unexpected encounter in a bad situation than you ever bargained for. Enjoy!

 


The Initiation of Ms Holly Blurb:

Book One in The Mount trilogy (Click here for: Book Two | Book Three)

Journalist, Rita Holly, never dreamed sex with the mysterious Edward in the dark of a malfunctioning train would lead to a blindfolded, champagne-drenched tango, a spanking by a butch waitress, and an offer of initiation into the exclusive mysteries of The Mount. Desperate to save her threatened job, she agrees, scheming secretly to write an inside exposé on the club that will make her career. But as she delves deeper into the intrigue of The Mount and the lives of its members, she soon discovers that her heart may have other plans.

 

holly-final-cover-imageChance Encounter in a Stalled Train – The Initiation of Ms Holly Excerpt

 He practically fell on top of Rita, his hand grazing her left breast in the complete darkness. She yelped and grabbed him to keep from losing her balance.

‘God, I’m sorry!’ He gasped. ‘Bloody nuisance, this, isn’t it?’ His voice was warm, melodious, by far the most pleasant thing that had happened to Rita since she left Paris. ‘Oh dear. You’re trembling. Are you all right?’

‘I’m claustrophobic’ her words were thin and shaky, as though she didn’t fully trust herself to let them out. ‘It wouldn’t be so bad if I didn’t know where we are.’ For an embarrassing moment, she realized she was still clinging to him, but the embarrassment passed, and suddenly she didn’t care. If they were going to die trapped in a train in the Eurostar tunnel, buried beneath a gazillion gallons of water, she’d just as soon not do it alone.

He either understood, or was too polite to leave her in such distress. He wrapped his arms around her engulfing her in a muscular embrace, the scent of which was maleness barely masked by deodorant and some spicy cologne, both fading at the end of a day much longer than either of them had anticipated. ‘Don’t worry.’ In the darkness, he misjudged the distance between them and his lips brushed her earlobe. ‘It’s just an electrical malfunction. Anyway we’re better off down here than in the snowstorm up above. Sounds like all of London is shut down. Who’d have expected snow this late in the spring? Never mind that, where else do you get the chance to cuddle strangers in the dark?’

He pressed a little closer to her, and she was relieved to find other thoughts, thoughts more welcome than those of their predicament, pushing their way into her head. He felt good, broad-shouldered and tall, easy to lean on.

‘Why are you huddled here in the corner rather than hunkered down in your seat?’

She concentrated on his warm breath pressing against the top of her ear. ‘I was on my way back from the loo when the lights went out and…’

‘And this is as far as you got.’

She nodded against his chest, homing in on the reassuring sound of his heartbeat.

‘Shall I help you back to your seat then?’

The train lurched forward, and she yelped again, tightening her grip around his neck. ‘No, please. It’s better if I just don’t move.’

There was a long pause. ‘Do you want me to stay with you?’

She realized the poor man had little choice clenched in her strangle hold, as he was. ‘I don’t want to be any trouble,’ she lied.

He readjusted his stance and tightened his embrace. ‘No trouble at all. I can’t think of a better way to pass the time than in the arms of a beautiful woman. You are beautiful, aren’t you?’

In spite of the stress she felt, she forced a laugh. ‘Gorgeous, actually. Too bad you can’t see for yourself.’

He ran a hand down the contour of her spine to rest low on the small of her back. ‘I don’t have to see you to admire you.’

the_initiation_of_ms_hollyxcite-cover
The thought that the man was rather cheeky barely crossed her mind before he lifted her fingers to his lips and planted a warm kiss across the back of her knuckles. ‘I’m Edward. I’m from London. Clearly you’re not.’

‘Rita,’ she replied. ‘I’m from Seattle, but I live in London now.’

‘Well Rita, from Seattle, we’ve established that you’re an exotic beauty. Perhaps you’d like to return the favour.’ He lifted her hand to his face and guided it gently over the slight stubble of his cheek. As her hand cupped his well-formed chin, he pulled her middle finger into his mouth and nibbled it, teasing the pad of it with his tongue. Suddenly her struggle to breathe had nothing to do with being claustrophobic.

‘Well?’ He asked pulling her hand away to massage her fingers. ‘What do you think? Am I acceptable?’

If he was cheeky, she was downright brazen. She stopped his words with her mouth, amazed at how easily she had found the mark in total darkness. Perhaps it was the darkness that made her so bold, but whatever it was, he didn’t disappoint. His mouth was warm, opening eagerly to the probing of her tongue, responding in kind, caressing her hard pallet, nipping at the fullness of her lower lip before pulling away just enough to speak.

‘There, you see? It’s not so bad being in the dark, is it? The other senses are too often overlooked, which is very sad, since they offer such exquisite delights.’ His hand moved up to cup her cheek, and he raked a thumb across her still parted lips. ‘Taste, for example. Few pleasures exceed that of the tongue.’

She heard him fumbling in the darkness, then she heard the rattling of foil. ‘Open your mouth,’ he whispered. ‘I have something that’ll make you feel better, guaranteed. Oh don’t worry, it’s nothing illegal.’

Reluctantly she opened her mouth, which he primed with a wet kiss, then slipped a chocolate truffle between her
lips. It was covered liberally in cocoa and warmed exquisitely almost, but not quite to the steamy melting point of his body temperature, which only enhanced the sharp, edgy flavor that separates expensive chocolate from the cheap stuff.

She gasped her surprise, then moaned softly at the intensity of the taste.

‘Don’t bite,’ he kissed her jaw, then her throat. ‘Savour it, roll it around in your mouth. There are places on the
tongue that taste only sweet and places that taste only bitter or salt, or sour. Chocolate can have all those flavors. Caress eurostareb48d831-9ee9-4f82-a2bf-25601437ce53-2060x1236it in your mouth like you’re making love to it, and you’ll be amazed at what you taste.’

She cheeked the truffle, slurring her words as she spoke. ‘I thought I was tasting you.’

He chuckled softly. ‘Everything tastes better with chocolate.’ Without another word, he took her mouth, plunging his tongue deep against the melting truffle, whirling it, lapping at it, sighing with the pleasure of it. The more liquid and heated the truffle became, the more liquid and heated Rita became.

 

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Reviews

“Skillfully written to provide a provocative blend of kinky sex with subtle mystery. Simply put, this book is a page-turner for the erotic reader.” The Romance Reviews

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*****

 

“The Initiation of Ms. Holly is so hot I am still tingling a day after I finished reading this novel. This spicy number will heat you up and keep you fully charged for days to come.” – Coffee Time Romance

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*****

 

“This story had an exciting plot with some twists and turns, a cast of very colorful characters, some angst, a plethora of amazing and erotic sex and lastly a beautiful love story. Rita and Edward went through all kinds of kinky hell to get where they wanted to be….and I loved being on this journey with them! A great first read for me by K.D. Grace. Can not wait to get my hands on the next book in The Mount series, Fulfilling the Contract.” Violet Blue

 
© 2018 K D Grace
The Romance Reviews

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