Authors: Lauren Jameson
Tags: #Fiction, #Romance, #Contemporary, #General
ALSO BY LAUREN JAMESON
Surrender to Temptation
NEW AMERICAN LIBRARY
NEW AMERICAN LIBRARY
Published by the Penguin Group
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First published by New American Library,
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First Printing, December 2013
Copyright © Lauren Hawkeye, 2013
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REGISTERED TRADEMARK—MARCA REGISTRADA
LIBRARY OF CONGRESS CATALOGING-IN-PUBLICATION DATA:
Breathe/by Lauren Jameson.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
For my wonderful husband, Rob. See?
I’m finally dedicating one to you!
he sculpture stood on a small marble table in the center of the spacious resort lobby. A perfect, slender column of emerald green glass rose in a straight line nearly three feet high before overflowing into streams of glass that sparkled like crystals. Some were as thin as a pinkie finger, looking delicate enough to snap off at the slightest breath, and some of the tendrils were as thick as a pillar candle. All varied in tones from the merest whisper of mint to the green of a dense forest.
This piece had been the manifestation of a desire that had been haunting Samantha Collins’s dreams lately. Dreams that she wasn’t entirely sure what to do with.
It had been a long time since she’d had sex, true enough, and her stress levels had been through the roof lately. But these needs that had been tugging at her had been growing stronger . . .
She’d half hoped that putting these urges into her sculpture would exorcise them.
“Wine, señorita?” An impeccably dressed waiter in a black suit made an appearance at Samantha’s elbow. On his hand he balanced a tray of crimson wine in sparkling glasses.
“Thanks.” Gratefully she accepted a glass. The flavors hit her tongue as she sipped eagerly, and she recognized it was much finer than any of the wines she was accustomed to drinking.
“Quilceda Creek Cabernet, 2005.” The waiter beamed as if he had produced the wine himself.
Samantha pasted a smile onto her face and nodded enthusiastically. “Yes. Very nice.”
Samantha liked wine, but the ones she tended to purchase came in a box or, if she was feeling fancy, in a bottle with a screw cap. She’d never heard of Quilceda Creek, though it tasted nice enough.
“Ten-dollar bottle, hundred-dollar bottle, the end result’s the same,” she spoke quietly to herself before lifting her glass in a silent toast. As she sipped, she looked down at her sculpture, still hit by a sense of disbelief that it had been chosen for exhibition.
Indulgencia was a luxurious resort located in the tourist-saturated town of Cabo San Lucas. It was infamous both for its wealthy patrons and for Devorar, the small BDSM club that catered to the varied sexual predilections of its clientele.
Once a year Indulgencia held an art exhibit with an erotic theme. The owner of the resort, some wealthy tycoon from the States, flew in artwork from around the world to showcase for the event, and when Samantha had submitted her piece, she hadn’t been hopeful about her chances.
Though the twists of glass had been created with one of her most erotic dreams in mind, the result was a million miles away from the human-sized copper penis, which was the next sculpture over in the exhibit.
Samantha hadn’t been sure that the wealthy mogul, who’d organized the show and selected all of the pieces himself, would see what she did, even though it was the most erotic sculpture she’d ever produced. She had put all the sexual frustration she had been feeling in the last few months into the work.
Being at this show wasn’t helping that frustration. Not at all.
“Lovely piece, isn’t it?” The voice came from just behind her shoulder, startling her. Samantha whirled around to face the speaker, her wine sloshing in her glass.
When she saw him, she nearly swallowed her tongue.
The man was tall, at least six feet, and though he wore expensive-looking black slacks and a dress shirt, she could see enough of his physique to appreciate the muscular body beneath the clothing. Combined with his dark blue eyes, flaxen hair, and sexy-as-hell smile, his sudden appearance made it seem as if all of Samantha’s heated dreams had just come to life.
That sexy dream man cocked an eyebrow at her, and she belatedly realized that he’d asked her a question.
“Do you like this particular sculpture?” he repeated helpfully.
“It’s . . . Oh, yes, it’s very nice.” She wasn’t about to tell anyone here that she was the artist. She wasn’t ready for anyone to ask what had inspired it, especially this man, who discomforted her with his focused attention.
Deliberately she shrugged, and tried to catch one thin strap of her sundress as it slid down her shoulder. She tugged it back up and caught the man’s eyes following the movement. “It’s such a pretty color.”
She almost bit her tongue as she said it. She knew, of course, the painstaking effort that had gone into creating the gradation of hues in the sculpture, the hours she had spent gathering the molten material on her blowpipe, rolling it into finely ground glass of different shades, then setting the colors in by sweating over the smaller of her two glass furnaces—but she wanted to take care not to tip her hand that she was more than a casual admirer of the artwork.
She assumed the man would simply nod in agreement. Instead, he reached out and ran one slender finger over a curling tendril of glass, much as she had done. The care and attention of his touch over the smooth surface made Samantha think of those dreams she’d been having lately, the ones that had produced a constant ache.
In fact, last night’s had featured a man running his hands over her body exactly the same way this man was doing to the sculpture. The memory made her shiver.
“Would you like to know what I see?” His blue eyes pinned her with their intensity, and Samantha lifted her glass to her lips to give herself something to do with her hands.
“Yes, I’m curious.” She nodded, her breath catching in her throat as his fingers closed around hers where they rested on the stem of her wineglass.
The man captured the glass from her fingers and handed it off to a passing waiter. He secured a fresh one and had it in her hand without ever once taking his eyes from her.
“I see a meeting of male and female.” She felt herself getting lost in the deep, husky tones of his voice as he continued. “But more than that, I see a balance of two opposites, each feeding a need in the other.”
Samantha’s lips parted in surprise, and her heart began to pound.
That was exactly what she’d intended. How on earth had he known? No one else ever saw what she’d intended in her art.
“That’s what I— I mean, yes. Yes, I see that as well.” She worried her lower lip with her teeth as she spoke, afraid he would ask her about what she had started to say.
With her heart still beating double time against her rib cage, she turned from the sculpture to look up into the man’s face. He looked vaguely familiar, as if she’d met him once a long time ago.
More than the familiarity, though, there was a sense of connection. He’d understood the meaning behind her art, and with that came a tug on an invisible rope that seemed to stretch between them, pulling them ever closer.
And God, he was sexy. There was something in his demeanor that attracted her, made her want something she couldn’t quite articulate.
Liquid heat pooled between her legs and she held herself back from reaching out to touch him.
“What are you thinking?” The man’s voice was low, but Samantha could hear him as if he were the only other person in the crowded room. His sharp gaze made her feel like the only woman in the world, and she had the insane urge to spill all her secrets to him.