He grasped her shoulders, pressing her to his chest and her tongue darted into his mouth. She tasted a plethora of flavours, traces of all the wines they’d tried and the aroma of his breath exploded her taste buds, sending waves of delicious fruits and nuts up into her nose.
She wanted to hold him tighter, but her hands remained clasped behind her back, fingers interlocked, tense and quivering.
The two of them, joined by their mouths and the proximity of their bodies, after the protracted courtship of emails and texts, overwhelmed and her eyes pricked with tears. She blinked them away, refusing to succumb to such a blatant display of sentiment. It wasn’t her. Saffron was cast iron strong. She never cried.
The man could kiss. He plumbed the depths of her mouth and rolled his tongue across hers. They were coiled serpents, breathing into each other’s lungs. She arched backwards, giving under him.
He broke free, straightening up, alarming her with the suddenness of his disengagement.
He picked up a bottle of wine, turning the label for Saffron to see. It was an Italian Cabernet Sauvignon, an extremely expensive one.
“We’re drinking a Sassicaia? Will your friend mind? It’s not on our list.”
“No, Saffron, not you, I’m drinking. You have to stay perfectly still.” He grinned.
He placed the bottle back on the table. “This,” he snapped the underwire of her bra, “will have to come off.” It didn’t sound like a request, more of a statement. She pursed her lips, aware that she’d given him some kind of free rein, but unsure to what extent he would take her cooperation. She gave it to him.
Unclasping her fingers, she hadn’t realised how much they ached, how clenched they’d been out of sight, hidden from view. She shook her hands, and the blouse landed in a heap on the floor, then the bra floated down too. Gideon scooped them up, folding them neatly on the table.
“Thank you.” She wrapped her arms around her chest, hugging her breasts and hid her flushed nipples.
He shook out a large white napkin, the creases forming square blocks. She watched hypnotised as he tucked the long end of the napkin into the elasticated waistband of her skirt. He made no apology for touching her flesh as he slipped the linen down her belly, securing it in place. She’d acquired a makeshift apron.
What the hell did Gideon plan to do?
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.
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