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“These kisses of his…they’re demanding and possessive. They’re hungry and deep. They’re the kisses of a man who wants more of a woman—who wants everything—and isn’t going to stop until he gets it.”
Author Olivia Rossi hasn’t been able to write a word since tragedy struck two years ago and ripped her world apart. Heartbroken and still haunted by the past, she accepts an offer to spend the summer at a friend’s apartment in Paris in search of healing and her lost muse.
What she finds instead is James, an enigmatic stranger who ignites in her an unexpected and all-consuming passion.
Agreeing to tell each other nothing more than their first names, Olivia and James embark on a torrid affair. But the more time they spend together, the more Olivia begins to realize her summer fling is turning into a powerful connection…and that the magnetic man she’s falling in love with might not be what he seems at all.
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The world breaks everyone and afterward many are strong at the broken places. But those that will not break it kills.
The blonde is naked on her back on the mattress with her knees drawn up and her pale thighs parted, her hands clenched to fists in the sheets. Fully dressed and unmoving at the side of the bed, the man stands gazing down at her. At her nude body, young and lithe, taut with anticipation, offered for his inspection like a display of ripe fruit.
The man leans over and plants one hand on the bed beside the blonde’s head.
The other hand he wraps around her throat.
“…getting along so far? How do you like the apartment?”
The gravelly voice in my ear is my literary agent, Estelle, whom I’ve known for years. She smokes two packs of Virginia Slims a day and has the same towering beehive hairdo she’s worn since the sixties, though it’s gunmetal gray now instead of shoe polish black. Not five feet tall in heels, all mouth and moxie, she’s a tiny spitfire in vintage Chanel who’ll bite off your head just as easily as she’ll grant you a smile.
Most people find her terrifying, but I’ve got a soft spot for abrasive women.
I know only too well the kind of hits you have to take from life before you grow hard.
“The city is just as beautiful as you promised it would be, Estelle. And your apartment is”—The blonde arches as the man kisses her hard, hungrily, his hand sliding down from her throat to a full, pink-tipped breast—“amazing. The location is perfect.”
How perfect? Top floor of an elegant ten-story building in a swanky residential area, one floor above and directly across a shaded courtyard from an attractive couple about to have sex.
They haven’t bothered to close the curtains to their bedroom. Which means that from where I’m standing in Estelle’s living room, I’ve got an unobstructed view.
Maybe that’s part of it? The wicked thrill that they could be being watched by any of the neighbors?
Or maybe that’s the whole point.
Estelle says, “That’s great, doll! I’m so happy you like it.” There’s a loaded pause, then: “Hopefully the change of scenery will be inspiring.”
Oh, it’s inspiring all right, just not in the way she means.
The man pins the blonde’s wrists in his hands and moves his hungry mouth from her breast to her belly, then between her legs. Tipping her head back on her pillow and closing her eyes, she moans.
It gives me chills, that moan, floating across the courtyard on the balmy afternoon air. I can’t recall the last time I might have made a sound so guttural with pleasure. If ever.
Evidently her partner has quite the talented tongue.
I haven’t been able to see his face, not clearly, only a glimpse in profile, and now not at all as it’s buried between a pair of nubile thighs, and I’m seized by curiosity. What does this exhibitionist look like? Is he handsome? Homely? Plain as a slice of white bread? What kind of man could convince a woman to writhe around so wantonly in clear view of several dozen potential witnesses?
Or was this her idea? I mean, she’s young and beautiful. That’s a combination that can make a person do tremendously stupid things.
I should know. The list of dumb shit I did under the influence of my misspent youth is depressingly long.
But this. Well. Let’s just say this particular behavior wasn’t in my repertoire at that age.
I shouldn’t judge. They’re not harming anyone. I’m probably just jealous.
No—I’m definitely jealous. God, listen to her! That scream could wake the dead!
I turn from the window as the blonde climaxes at the top of her lungs and head into the kitchen in search of booze.
A fondness for bourbon is one of many things Estelle and I have in common, and I’m grateful to find one side of the pantry in her kitchen fully stocked with liquor. There’s a wine fridge, too, but the sugar gives me headaches, so I bypass the collection of fine Burgundies and crack open a bottle of Kentucky’s finest. I take a swig straight from the bottle, not bothering with a glass.
If I’m going to be spending the next three months listening to the orgasmic shrieks of my neighbors, I’ll need serious backup.
Estelle says, “The number for the property manager is on the refrigerator, doll. Don’t you dare hesitate to call him if the air conditioner goes out. I know you hate to be a bother to anyone, but that unit is unreliable. And it’s bound to be about a thousand degrees there this summer. Global warming, you know.”
I take another swig as I listen to her chatter on.
“Are you jetlagged? I’ve got some herbal stuff for that in the medicine cabinet in the master. Of course you know you’re welcome to anything in the liquor cabinets. The little market on the corner has a divine selection of cheeses, and there’s a farmers’ market every Tuesday and Thursday through September on rue Desnouettes, one block over from the flat.”