BREATH ON EMBERS releases next Monday, December 3, 2012. In the following scene, Thea and Ronan have just finished checking out the Macy’s Christmas windows and are walking over to Saks 5th Avenue when they get distracted by a lingerie shop window…
A flash of red in a dimly lit window caught Theaâ€™s eye; her steps slowed and by default, Ronan slowed with her. The mannequin wore a red silk robe stitched with intricate patterns that covered her from her chin to her wrists and ankles. Toggle fasteners held the robe closed to mid-thigh, where her white hand held the skirt open, revealing rich brown velvet inside.
â€œOh, thatâ€™s gorgeous,â€ Thea breathed.
She pulled on the door handle but the lock held. The word Idylle was etched in ornate script on the lower right-hand corner of the window, next to a silver door adorned only with a placard listing a phone number. Ronan pulled out his phone and keyed in the number. It rang twice, then a woman answered.
â€œIdylle,â€ she said, giving the word a French lilt.
â€œAre you open?â€ Ronan asked.
â€œYes,â€ she said. A second later the buzzer sounded on the door. Ronan opened it for Thea and followed her up the stairs to the second floor.
The interior of the shop was warm, dim and quiet. It expanded to fill the length of the row building, with polished hardwood floors and walls painted a metallic silver. Mannequins modeled more elaborate ensembles. One wore a red silk bustier and a pair of tight jeans; the next figure wore the same bustier but with a matching silk thong. A sheer green nightgown trimmed in paler green velvet draped another. Columns of wooden cubes rose behind tables displaying folded items, and more cubes along the walls held womenâ€™s undergarments. A trunk by the counter held neatly folded robes like the one displayed in the street window. At the back of the space, three six-panel doors lined the end of the long room. A brass hook on the doors held an oval sign turned to Unoccupied, so Ronan assumed those were the dressing rooms. The woman behind the counter gave them a welcoming smile then went back to her work.
Words werenâ€™t necessary. The shop spoke for itself.
Beside him Thea pushed back her fur-trimmed hood, exposing her blond, tumbled hair. Her cheeks were pink from the cold air, her full lips slightly parted with amused fascination. â€œThis city never fails to surprise me,â€ she said.
â€œYou never know whatâ€™s behind a door. Letâ€™s do some shopping,â€ he murmured in her ear.
Amusement danced in her slate-gray eyes. â€œAre you trying to tell me my basic black panties ruined the Santaâ€™s helper outfit?â€
â€œOh yeah,â€ he said as he tugged off his hat. â€œIt was horrible. Couldnâ€™t you tell by the way I crawled all over you then lost it like a teenager?â€
One corner of her mouth lifted. â€œI was a little uncomfortable flitting around the Upper East Side in that outfit and a thong. Anyway, you werenâ€™t supposed to see them. You were supposed to take the blow job and send me off into the night.â€
He wasnâ€™t going to apologize for wanting more from Thea than anonymous physical release. â€œIâ€™m difficult like that.â€
â€œYes, you are,â€ she replied. Some of the teasing had gone out of the banter, and to cover the new tone humming in the air she looked around the shop. â€œWhat do you like?â€
â€œYou want me to pick it out?â€
â€œA place like this isnâ€™t for me,â€ she said archly. â€œIâ€™d never buy underwear here unless I was doing it for you. Itâ€™s meant to be worn for five minutes, then removed.â€
â€œWith my teeth,â€ he said. She actually giggled at that. He lifted his hand to her jawline, then brushed his thumb over her lips. Blood rushed to the surface of her skin, and her tongue flicked out to touch his skin. â€œPick out something you think Iâ€™d like,â€ he said.
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