Chapter Twelve

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I ran my hand over the smooth, buttery suede. Tactile sensations—especially of fabric, leather, suede—were one of the pleasures in my job as a designer. It was sensual, the way I related to material. Fabric was something to be worshipped and revered.

Under my fingertips, I adored this fine grain, stroking with my fingertips. They trailed and tiptoed along, marveling at the velvet-like feel. Pressing harder, I admired the taut fabric, as if it were skin still attached to an untamed beast.

This was a perfect swatch, possibly the best I'd ever laid a hand on. I pressed my palm flat along the smooth surface and skimmed. This swath of suede was long, seemingly never-ending.

There was also a delicious chocolate smell in the air, mixed with the faint scent of crisp soap. I inhaled and smiled while running my hand over the hide. I extended my tongue out of my mouth, as if to taste the scent.

But it was time to leave. June was waiting for me in London. I was late. Damn it.

I went to grab my suitcase and grasped the handle. It was larger than I remembered. I squeezed the handle. It was unusually hard and I almost couldn't get my fingers around it. What kind of plastic was this? It felt more like wood. I ran my fingertips around the cylinder. Or possibly iron. Yes, iron. And yet, it was warm and seemingly covered in fabric. How odd.

And why wasn't my suitcase moving? I squeezed harder and pulled. And tugged. Yanked, even. Still, the bag didn't budge.

"What the...?" I muttered. This wasn't making sense. I yanked some more and grunted. My face now was seemingly pressed against the suede fabric.

What was going on here?

"Mmmm."

Mmmm? Huh? Why was my suitcase moaning? I tugged on the handle harder.

"Samantha, baby. You and your legs in those little shorts have made me rock-hard. If you don't stop, I'm going to finish way before I want to. Slow down, okay? We've got all night."

My eyes snapped open at the sound of a low male voice.

It took one horrified, semi-lucid second in the darkness to realize what was going on.

I was dreaming. Or had been. I inhaled and smelled man-soap. My face was pressed dangerously closed to Colin's armpit, and my legs, arms, and body were wrapped around him and clinging like a barnacle. His arm was around my back.

And the suitcase handle in my dream clearly was a subconscious metaphor for something else. Something very dangerous and downright inappropriate and horrifyingly real.

There, in my left hand, was the unthinkable.

My bare palm was separated from Colin by only a soft, flimsy fabric. My hand gripped him like a Burmese python would strangle a deer.

Simultaneously, I let go, shrieked, and sat up. "Oh my God, Colin! I am so sorry!"

"Mmm," he murmured, long and languid, much to my horror. The noise made something inside my belly hum and tingle. I heard sheets rustle and felt him writhe closer to me as if he were a big cat, stretching.

Then he moaned again and the tingles shot lower in my body.

"Mmm, I'm not sorry at all. And please don't shout like that. Come back here, pumpkin. I was quite enjoying right where you were."

In the pitch black, I felt Colin's hot hand on my waist, under my absurd tank top. I wriggled away.

"I was dreaming. God, I'm so embarrassed. It must have been the champagne. Or the stress. Or the pill I took earlier. I didn't mean to touch your ... I wasn't trying to touch your..." I couldn't get the word out because I was shaking so hard.

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