Blush: This is a suggestive romance (love scenes are not graphic).
For months Aimee has spotted a man, little more than a shadow, while tending to her city's homeless. Tristan. A mysterious stranger who invades her dreams with gentle caresses and haunted eyes, but evades her in the flesh. Then he saves her life on a cold October night, and Aimee's search for the enigmatic man intensifies.
Tristan, however, isn't what he seems. Allowing Aimee into his life will either lead to his biggest heartbreak...or his greatest salvation.
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November 13, 2009
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Excerpt from A Darker Passion by Stephanie Bedwell-Grime
Gentle hands smoothed her hair. Aimee sighed, turning her face toward that feathersoft caress. The wonderful touch glided lower, mapping the contours of her cheek, tracing the outline of her lips, leaving tendrils of desire flaming in its wake.
Warm lips brushed her forehead, lingering tenderly over the sore spot at her temple. Strong arms enveloped her, promising shelter, sanctuary. She snuggled deeper into that embrace of velvet steel.
"Help me," she whispered.
"You're safe," said a deep, melodic voice beside her ear. "Rest now." The words rumbled through his chest. Like listening to a lion purr, she thought dimly.
"Rest," she repeated, sinking back into a mound of pillows. She nestled deep under the comforting weight of the duvet being pulled up around her chin.
Those silky lips again, this time against hers. A weightless yet enticing kiss. Then there was only silent air where his hot mouth had been. As if from far away, she heard the window being drawn up, the slap of the heavy drapery falling back into place. For a moment she wondered fuzzily about it, then sleep rose up in gentle waves to drag her under.
* * * * *
Sunlight splashed the room in amber. By the sun's position in the sky, it had to be past noon. Aimee sat up gingerly. The left side of her face ached between temple and jaw. She rubbed at it, questing after the hazy half-thoughts that lingered just beyond comprehension's reach.
The comforter fell away, revealing not her usual flannel nightshirt but the lacy bra and panties she'd put on yesterday. On the chair beside the bed, a pair of muddy jeans and an equally soiled kangaroo sweatshirt were folded neatly.
Knitting her eyebrows together, she tried to recall how she came to be so dirty. Memories of delightful sensation swirled through her mind like a tornado, obliterating all other thought.
Aimee... She could hear that dulcet voice as clearly as if he stood beside her still.
Safe, he'd said. And she believed him.
Who? she wondered desperately. Who said that?
Of one thing she was certain, something awful happened to her last night. Someone rescued her, brought her safely home. And then vanished as surely as the shadows.
Frowning, she wandered toward the round mirror above her dresser.
Sapphire eyes, still heavy from sleep, stared back at her. Her dark hair was hopelessly tangled, as though it had been tossed this way and that by the wind. Radiating out from her temple was a nasty-looking purple bruise.
The sun was a crimson memory by the time she reached the small park. Wind snatched at her hair with chill fingers. Grass, crisp with frost, crunched underfoot as she set out to search for the man she'd come to call "the phantom".
For months she'd tracked this newcomer. After two years with the shelter's outreach service, Aimee knew every character in the street community. Some accepted her offers of coffee and blankets grudgingly, others had become her friends. But none stirred her sympathy more than the dark man with the haunted eyes.
They circled on the periphery of each other's territory. He steadfastly refused her efforts to make contact, fading into the darkness, leaving her to wonder if he was simply a trick of light and shade. Though she assured herself there were always going to be people who wouldn't accept her help, when the mercury threatened to plummet to unseasonable depths, she took an extra blanket on her rounds and resolved to give him one more try.
As soon as she entered the deserted park, Aimee realized her mistake. She shouldn't have come here alone so late. Sheltered from the bustle of the street, the park seemed to pause like an indrawn breath. Just a quick look, she promised herself.
Aimee peered into layers of darkness upon darkness, searching for him, sensing rather than seeing he was there.
From the shadows behind her, the sound of footsteps sent her whirling to face him.
"There you are," she said, relieved. "I brought you a blanket, it's going to be cold--"
Alas, not him at all. It took only a glimpse of the rough-looking pair who barred her path to understand the situation.
"I'm not carrying any money."
They sauntered toward her regardless, army surplus boots eating up the ground as they approached. The zippers on their leather jackets jingled as they moved. A chilling thought occurred to her. What if it isn't money they want?
Then she was running, falling, smacking her forehead against the park bench that seemed to rear up out of nowhere in the darkness.
Falling again into strong arms. A resonant voice murmured in her ear, asking her something...where she lived...got away with her purse...
"Sorry," he said.
After that the memories didn't make a lot of sense. The darkness, the sound of the window opening, the drapery fluttering in the wind.
And that touch, the velvet caress that promised so much more...