by Giana Darling
Is a week of passion enough to warrant changing their lives forever?
Italian born Giselle Moore is reinventing herself for the second time in her short twenty-four years of life, trading in her bohemian artist’s life in Paris for the grit and glamour of New York City where the family she hasn’t seen in years awaits her. But before beginning her new life, she travels to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico searching for a week of relaxation and reprieve before barreling into her turbulent future.
She never expected to meet the handsome and enigmatic Frenchman Sinclair on the plane and she certainly never would have imagined herself accepting his proposal for a weeklong, no-strings-attached affair. Giselle has never experienced anything as heady as Sinclair’s controlled seduction and cool yet devastatingly erotic commands and she finds herself powerless to stop the ferocity of their passions, even when she discovers he has a partner back home. The last thing she needs in her life is another complication, yet as the week wears on, she finds it surprisingly easy to relinquish control to Sinclair, a man she knows nearly nothing about. And to her horror, the one thing she promised never to submit, her battered heart, is just as easily captured in the business mogul’s unyielding hands.
When I woke up, it was to the delicate tapping of rain against the window and the brisk click of fingers on a keyboard. Deeply rested and disorientated, I moaned and stretched myself across my seat before righting it. Blinking away sleep, I looked up and met the searing eyes of my stranger.
“You had a good rest,” he noted, and for some reason, I flushed.
He was even more handsome than before, if that was possible. In the darkening night, his hair was mostly black, kissed red by the artificial overhead lights. He seemed like some creature of the night, something dark and too sexy to be true.
“Yes, thank you.” We were speaking in English now and I couldn’t remember if we had switched over before I fell asleep.
“We land in twenty minutes.” He watched my surprise and handed me a plastic cup of sparkling liquid. Our fingers brushed as he passed it off and a current of electricity made my grip on the cup shaky. Quickly, he righted it with his other hand and pressed both of my hands to the plastic. “You’ve got it?”
I nodded and flexed my fingers under his hold but he remained holding the cup, holding me, for a beat too long. He stared at me with a slight frown between his thick brows but I couldn’t begin to discern if it was out of displeasure or surprise. I had never been so attracted to a man in my life, and I wondered if I was imagining the thickening tension between us. My tongue darted out to coat my dry lips and his eyes followed their path intently. Abruptly, his hands were gone and he was sitting back in his seat, his fingers flying on the keyboard of his Blackberry.
I blinked and slowly sank back into my chair. Obviously, I had misread the signs. I took a sip of the sparkling liquid and discovered with delight that it was Ginger Ale. Sipping it slowly to savor the sweet pop of bubbles on my tongue, I turned my attention to the early evening turning into twilight the colour of a bruise outside my window. The sparkling lights of Los Cabos could already be seen ahead of us and instead of wondering about the intrepid stranger beside me, I focused on my excitement. I had one week of paradise before I met with reality in New York City.
After five years in Paris and only a handful of visits in that time, I would finally be reunited with my family. The last time we had all lived under the same roof I had been nineteen years old. My twin siblings Cosima and Sebastian had been the first to leave, Cosima when she was seventeen in order in model in Milan and Sebastian to New York City when a family friend had offered to take him in a short while later. I had lived with my mother and eldest sister Elena after that.
I squeezed my eyes shut and refused to think about those years. It had been nearly five now since I had left our small life in Napoli to attend the National School of Fine Arts in Paris. Though I was close to my family, it had been good for me to spend these years apart from them. I was returning home to them a better person than I had been when I had hastily fled and I was both excited and anxious for them to see that.
“What are you smiling at?”
His question was faintly brusque, as if he was irritated with me. When I turned to him though his eyes were on the glowing screen of his phone.
“I haven’t been home in a long time, I’m looking forward to seeing my family again.”
“Your husband?” he asked tersely.
I laughed and it felt so delightful after hours of sickness and sleep that I laughed some more. He watched me with twisted lips, as if he wanted to smile but couldn’t understand why. “Was that funny?”
“Oh, not really.” I leaned forward conspiratorially. “But one needs a boyfriend to get married and I haven’t had one of those in years.”
“Now, that is funny.” He put his phone back in his pocket and I felt a flash of triumph that he was once more focused on me. “It is incomprehensible to me that you would be single.” His eyes sparkled as he leaned forward, and a lock of that overlong hair fell across his golden forehead. “Tell me, other than your obvious fear of flying, what’s wrong with you?”
I laughed. “We’re almost in Los Cabos, I don’t have time to list all my flaws.”
“I have a feeling there aren’t many,” he murmured, and stared at me in that way I was discovering he had, of looking through me and at me all at once. “But perhaps it’s better that you don’t tell me. A woman of mystery,” his voice was low and smooth, so captivating I didn’t register the pilot ready the plane for landing, “is a seductive thing.”
“You had better tell me about yourself then.” I leaned back in my seat as the plane began its steep descent into the city. “You’re handsome enough already.”
His loud chuckle surprised both of us. It was husky with disuse and his expression, though inherently beautiful, was almost pained. When the sound tapered off, it left him frowning. “What would you like to know?”
“Something repellent,” I demanded cheerfully.
“Repellent? That’s a tall order.” Though normally I was uncomfortable under the eyes of another, those baby blues against my skin invigorated me and I beamed back at him. “When I look at you, I can only think of,” his fingers found a lock of my auburn hair and he rubbed it between his fingers to release the scent, “Lavender and honey.”
“Well.” I cleared my throat. “Happily, we are talking about you.”
His grin was wolfish as he leaned back in his seat again. “I make a very good living.”
“Ah, you’re one of those.” His silver cuff links shone even in the dim light of the descending plane. “That helps, I’m more the starving artist type.”
“Hardly starving.” His eyes raked over my curves even though I wore a modest cotton shift.
Despite myself, I flushed. “No, but an artist all the same. Let me guess, you work with money.”
“In a sense,” he said, and his eyes danced. “Is this twenty questions?”
I laughed. “I haven’t played that since I was a kid.”
“Not so long ago.”
“Long enough,” I corrected and shot a look at him from the corner of my eye. “How old are you?”
“Thirty-one. I’m also 6’1 and I’ve broken my right arm three times.” His small smile was a boyish contrast to his sharp, almost aggressively drawn features. I wanted desperately to trace the taught line of his jaw and dip a finger into the slight hollow beneath his cheekbone.
“Twenty-three.” I pulled the bulk of my wavy hair to one side in order to show him the tattoo behind my ear.
When I didn’t explain its significance he frowned. “What is it?”
“A mark,” I said simply.
I jerked slightly when his fingers brushed over the swirled ink. “I like it.”
“Thank you.” My voice was breathy as I draped my hair once more over my shoulders.
“What brings you to Mexico? I take it your family doesn’t live here.” A finger ran done my arm lightly, indicating the paleness of my skin.
“My family is much more exotic than I am.” I thought of Mama and the twins with a slight grimace, years of hero worship were hard to completely eradicate. “My best friend booked the trip but couldn’t make it. I was only too happy to take her place.”
He nodded, his eyes intense as he contemplated me. The connection between us thickened and hummed like the air during an electrical storm. Disturbed, I shifted away from him to look out the window as we swooped low over the ground above the runway. Strangely, I did not feel my usual apprehension as the plane tentatively brushed the tarmac once, twice, before smoothly landing.
We did not speak as the pilot came on the overhead system announcing our arrival and it was only when he docked slowly at the terminal that I turned back to him. He faced forward, a furrow etched deeply between his brows and his mouth was firm with concentration. I wondered what he thought of me, of this strange meeting.
Sensing my gaze, he spoke, “I’ve been trying to decide if I should see you again.”
“What makes you think I would want to?” His eyebrow arched and I gave into his silent reproach with a little shrug. “What’s stopping you?”
The seat belt sign turned off and we both stood at the same time, suddenly almost touching, the slim space between us charged with electricity the color of his eyes. He looked down at me, his deep chestnut hair softening the dangerous edge of his features. “I have never wanted someone the way I want you.” His hand skimmed over my hip and sent a deep, throbbing shock through my system. “But I don’t like the idea that you could very well change my life.”
My heart clanged uncomfortably against my ribcage and though I desperately wanted to say something, I couldn’t find the words to untangle the jumble of hormones and desires I had been reduced to. So instead, I watched a serious smile tilt one side of his closed lips as his eyes scraped over my face one last time and then, without a word still, he left. I waited five minutes after he walked off the plane to follow.
~*~About The Author~*~
Giana Darling is a Canadian romance and urban fantasy novelist currently writing a romance series entitled The Evolution of Sin and a Frankenstein inspired vampire urban fantasy novel, The Bloodletting. After living in the French Alps, Paris and various places on both coasts of Mexico, she lives in the gorgeous city of Vancouver, British Columbia with her best friend and a cat named Persephone. When she isn’t writing, she hosts dinner parties, travels extensively and reads like it is going out of style.
Email: gianadarling [at] gmail.com