Cover & Excerpt
She sees him once…
He’s standing across the wine cellar watching her when their eyes meet. Miles away from home in California’s Napa Valley, she’s caught in his gaze. Though, neither one speaks, for a moment the rest of the world falls away, and she sends him a smile.
She sees him again…
Back home in England. Is it the same man? In the middle of a crowded wine fair, she spots him. A smile of recognition, but no words exchanged. She shakes it off, the same line of business, the same events, it's a small world.
The third is no coincidence…
She's running a private tasting and in walks her mystery man, dressed in a fine suit. What does she really know about him other than they share a love of wine? She’s intrigued, even more so when she discovers he has sought her out. When he invites her to a private session in a wine cellar, deep underneath a castle, she begins to uncover his secrets.
Saffron surrenders her body and embarks on an indulgent journey with the attractive sommelier, Gideon. As a wine taster, Saffron continually uses her senses to carve out a successful career, driving her to the peak of her profession. However, when Gideon leads her on an erotic adventure fueled by passion and self-discovery, she's startled to learn that she's been living her life ignorant of sensory pleasures that require other talents, ones she’d never explored with her previous, disastrous lover. That man, who envies her success, is waiting to strike back and destroy everything she has achieved.
Genre: Erotic Contemporary RomancePurchase link(s): Amazon ARe Smashwords iTunes B&N
Content/Theme(s): BDSM, D/s, Sommelier, Wine Tasting, Suspense
Release Date: September 17, 2015
Publisher: Baronet Press
Excerpt & More
“Did I not taste good?” The poetic words he’d used earlier weaved confused emotions around her mind. Now, he showed a sad expression: downturned lips and drooping eyelids. His changed demeanor alarmed.
“Oh, Saffron. You’re delectable,” he said hastily.
“Oh.” Her mouth formed an ‘O’ shape. What a bloody idiot she’d been! She grabbed the napkin from her waist—the drops of red wine had stained it in blotches. “I’m sorry. Shit. I’ve given you an impression I must sleep around or something.” She’d done it again—thrown herself on the next available man and not thought about the consequences, the remorse of a fumbled fuck with no emotional basis.
Gideon pulled her up and embraced her trembling body, holding her to his ruffled shift. His thumping heartbeats rippled against her bosom. She shivered, cold and deflated. She’d blown it. He comforted her out of pity. “I should get dressed,” she murmured to his collarbone.
“It’s me, not you.” He stroked her back. “I didn’t want you to think I’m after you for sex. I’d hoped we could enjoy a little sensory pleasure without succumbing to—”
“A sordid fuck,” she capped. She traced the contours of his cheek with a manicured finger and he didn’t flinch. “I would have regretted that,” she declared and immediately his eyebrows furrowed. In her hastiness, had she said something else wrong?
“Why?” He picked up the water bottle and wetted a dry napkin, turning it into an improvised cloth and handed it to her. She wiped off the sticky residue from her cleavage and navel. The cloth turned pink.
Saffron shrugged. “Just… my sexual exploits aren’t renowned for being all conquering. I’ve never successfully paired sex with romance.” That wasn’t entirely true, but she wasn’t going to tell him about her teenage heartbreak. Didn’t all adolescents have those passionate first loves?
Gideon held out her bra and for a few minutes she dressed in silence. She buttoned up the blouse, slipped on the jacket while Gideon found his discarded tie and returned it to his shirt collar. Without a mirror, he lined it up perfectly, lifting his chin to accommodate his adjusting hands.
She slumped into a chair and he sat opposite.
Reaching out he took her right hand and encased it between his.
“Saffron. Truly. I’m in awe of you. But, I don’t want to rush. I don’t want you to think I’m only interested in fucking you. What I feel about you isn’t that simple.” He sharpened his gaze, almost pinning her into her seat and she snapped to attention. Something about his expression, the narrowing of his eyes, drew her out of her pouting. Her trapped hand burned with the heat he transmitted, however, a clammy edginess emanated from his palms, which didn’t match his confident bearing. She opened her mouth to ask him to explain when he beat her to it. “Please don’t be offended by this question. Do you masturbate regularly?”
Her ears must be crimson. She smothered her mouth with her left hand. How to answer such an impertinent question? She’d never told anyone about her flirts with self-gratification, not even with her closest girlfriends, most of whom lived back in London and she only occasionally visited.
“Well, you know…” she mumbled. “Why do you want to know?”
“I’m wondering, and correct me if I’m wrong, that you do, perhaps when you’re anxious or uncertain about your emotions. But afterwards, you are consumed with guilt, a sense of shame.”
Saffron glared, angry at his accurate statement. She’d struggled with self-pleasure, as if it was selfish and a poor replacement for sex. Too many failed relationships, solitary travel, a nomadic existence in hotels and little routine. She could blame all these things, however, the reality was she sucked at commitment, emotional connections and heartfelt romance.
“No!” she lied, and wrenched her hand free.
“What if masturbating had a purpose?” He ignored her denial and leant forward on his elbows. “What if you did it for me?”
“I’m away for a week. I’m going to miss you. I’d love to keep contact, maintain a connection to you.”
“I’ve screwed that up—a connection.” She folded her arms across her chest. “I get off in the shower, okay? And you’re telling me you fancy me, knowing that?” Frankly, she wanted to burst into tears, but she wouldn’t. She never did.
“You’re a beautiful, confident woman who knows what she wants. Ambitious, successful, admired, but you doubt your sex appeal. If I tell you to have at least one orgasm a day, for me, I think you’ll stop demoting sex to something that cheapens you.”
She opened and shut her mouth with a snap. Cheapens me! She loved sex, craved it, and had brought her lovers to their climaxes with glee—she didn’t see it as belittling her, as if sex was beneath her, surely not?
Gideon bowed his head. “Sorry, that makes you sound proud.” He sighed a long exhale. “I’m trying, apparently unsuccessfully, to court you in a way that probably only works for me. Perhaps I’ve misjudged my approach. I thought you might make a good…”
His unfinished sentence hung heavy in the air.
“Nothing. Be yourself, Saffron. I should have taken you for a lovely meal, served you wine, in a glass, talked about life, childhood sweethearts, jobs.”
“No, God, no. That’s not me,” she interrupted. Slowly, Saffron started to understand Gideon, realizing with his polished exterior, the unconventional wooing, he was a good match for her. She was just as unorthodox as him. She had to take the plunge and try a different way.
“I hate those kinds of dates.” She smirked. “You want sex, I do, but we’re both nervous about romance.”
He smiled, the relief obvious as he unclenched his fists and slapped them on the table as if to applaud. She continued. “And you want me to masturbate, but include you in some way, so that when we’re apart we don’t drift apart. When we’re ready, we’ll—”
“Fuck, sorry, make love, copulate, whatever phraseology works for you.”
“So how will masturbating, coming on my own, bring us together?”
“Because you’ll send me a message telling me, describing in some subtle, non-explicit fashion. I won’t want you to be uncomfortable about writing it. But tell me. What it felt like, how you did it and I will reward you.”
“Make you feel appreciated and the act acceptable.”
“I still don’t see—”
“You will have pleased me.”
His simple statement stunned her. How easily he made it sound. Would it be that easy? “Then, we’ll go from there?”
“Yes, from there.” He glanced at his watch. “I have to go. My taxi will be here soon and I’ve a flight to Spain this evening. Back on Friday.”
She hid her envy, wishing she could go with him. “Every day until Friday?”
“Every day, if you can do more than once—”
“Jesus, you don’t hold back. Do you wank in my absence?”
“Probably and I will revel in them and they’ll lift my spirits.”
Her pang of jealousy grew. He was right. Before they progressed, she had to lose the sex guilt thing that haunted her previous relationship. It lurked and tainted subconsciously. Whenever, she re-visited her past sexual exploits, those spoiling thoughts overshadowed, stripped away memories of pleasure and good times. She’d excelled in perpetuating her inhibitions.
“Every day,” she muttered again. “I more of a once a week kind of gal. All right. I agree to your request.”
Gideon laughed heartedly and he leapt to his feet, reached over and planted a kiss on her cheek. “Thank you. I’ll look forward to your reports. Try to be adventurous. You’d be surprised how thrilling sex can be when boundaries are removed.” He waved his hand around the cellar. “You wanted it here, yes?”
She nodded, still strangely shy about her desires.
“So do I. But not yet. Saffron,” he rose, “would you do me the honour of being my girl. Exclusively.”
Did he have to ask? Her confidence was reborn. She shot around the table into his arms. “Yes,” she said emphatically.
They walked out of the castle hand in hand. Next to her car, Gideon gave Saffron a lingering kiss. “Be good.”
She cocked her head to one side and smirked. “I’ll think about it,” she drawled. “Thanks for the tasting session, I loved it. All of it.”
“Me, too. My first taste of Saffron and not my last, I hope.” He handed her the corked Sassicaia. “Here enjoy it for me.
She clutched the precious red in her hands. “Thanks. I will.”
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