Excerpt Tuesday – BREATH ON EMBERS

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 Thea’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.

“Oh, that’s gorgeous,” 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.

“Idylle,” she said, giving the word a French lilt.

“Are you open?” Ronan asked.

“Yes,” 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 women’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 weren’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. “This city never fails to surprise me,” she said.

“You never know what’s behind a door. Let’s do some shopping,” he murmured in her ear.

Amusement danced in her slate-gray eyes. “Are you trying to tell me my basic black panties ruined the Santa’s helper outfit?”

“Oh yeah,” he said as he tugged off his hat. “It was horrible. Couldn’t you tell by the way I crawled all over you then lost it like a teenager?”

One corner of her mouth lifted. “I was a little uncomfortable flitting around the Upper East Side in that outfit and a thong. Anyway, you weren’t supposed to see them. You were supposed to take the blow job and send me off into the night.”

He wasn’t going to apologize for wanting more from Thea than anonymous physical release. “I’m difficult like that.”

“Yes, you are,” 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. “What do you like?”

“You want me to pick it out?”

“A place like this isn’t for me,” she said archly. “I’d never buy underwear here unless I was doing it for you. It’s meant to be worn for five minutes, then removed.”

“With my teeth,” 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. “Pick out something you think I’d like,” he said.

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