This is a stand-alone short story.
When London art collector Marcus Moncrieff meets the mysterious Olivia at an auction where he buys a seemingly magic gold bracelet said to have belonged to one of the Vestal Virgins, he realizes quickly that taking her to bed comes at a high price.
Note from Tina: I wrote this story back in 2009 and re-edited it recently.
The auction was almost over, and Marcus Moncrieff had acquired what he’d come to Christie’s for.
He was satisfied for the first time in weeks. The priceless artifact, a gold bracelet said to have belonged to one of the Vestal Virgins of Rome, would be delivered to his home under heavy security the next day.
Priceless? Not quite. He’d paid a high price for the item since he’d had to bid against another avid collector of Roman art.
The bracelet was said to hold certain powers. However, Marcus didn’t believe in legends or magic. Rather, he was fascinated with everything Roman and even more so with anything connected to the story of the Vestal Virgins, the keepers of the fire of Vesta. No amount of money was too much to add to his growing collection.
“Good grief, Marcus, don’t buy the whole lot!”
At the sound of the familiar voice behind him, he turned and stared at his old friend. Thomas Fairfax stretched out his hand and grabbed Marcus’s in a fierce shake.
Marcus gave a surprised laugh. “Fancy seeing you here.”
He hadn’t seen Thomas since his friend had left for Peru a couple of weeks earlier. He hadn’t expected him back so soon.
“When did you get back to London?” Marcus asked.
They shifted to the rear of the packed auction hall where their chatter wouldn’t disturb the remaining patrons still bidding on the last three items.
“Got into Heathrow last night. Can’t say I enjoyed the flight—first class was booked solid, so I had to slum it in business class. Dreadful,” Thomas complained.
Spoiled upper-class twit.
Marcus smirked and let his gaze drift past his friend. Before he could make a comment, something caught his attention.
Or rather, someone.
She stood off to the side, her torso bent down. Her elegant hands smoothed over her pantyhose as she twisted its black seam back into place so it centered at the back of her calf. Inch by inch she adjusted the garment until she reached the edge of her black skirt.
Her face was shielded by long hair the color of the ravens guarding the Tower of London.
Marcus’s eyes burned as he watched her. He wondered what her shapely legs would feel like wrapped around his hips, and his balls tightened when he saw her continue her movement. As he witnessed her hitch up her skirt by a couple of inches to correct the seam of her pantyhose, his brain begged for a correction: she wasn’t wearing pantyhose. She wore stockings!
Silk stockings with lace tops, held up by a black garter belt.
His breath came out in an uncontrolled pant at the same time as heated blood surged to his cock. Suddenly his pants felt too snug. Not that he minded the feeling.
“Anything wrong?” his friend asked and turned his head to follow Marcus’s gawk.
As if the woman noticed the two of them staring at her, she pulled upright and turned her head toward them, finally revealing her face.
Exquisite, just as Marcus had hoped.
But if he’d imagined she would be embarrassed about being caught in her intimate action, he was proven wrong.
Instead of looking away, her eyes held his gaze, ignoring Thomas as if he didn’t even exist, a fact that pleased him immensely.
Her eyes were as dark as chocolate. Did her skin feel as smooth as it looked from a distance? Would her red lips taste as sweet as strawberry jam?
Her sensual mouth opened but a sliver, enough of a temptation for any man with a pulse and even more so for one with a bulging erection.
In slow motion, she smoothed her skirt over her hips then broke eye contact.
When Marcus felt Thomas move beside him, he stopped his friend with a hand on his arm.
“Don’t even think about introducing yourself,” Marcus murmured under his breath, before giving Thomas a scolding look.
“Nothing wrong with a little competition,” Thomas countered and grinned unashamedly.
Suddenly the arrival of his old friend was not quite as welcome an event as he’d thought only minutes earlier. Maybe it would be better if Thomas jumped onto the next plane to God-knows-where, coach class for all Marcus cared. He needed no interference from a womanizer like Thomas right now.
“Don’t you have some unpacking to do?”
His friend smirked. “That can wait.”
“Keep your paws to yourself. She’s mine,” Marcus claimed and turned back to the mystery woman.
But she was gone.
Leaving Thomas without another word, Marcus stalked out of the hall and into the almost deserted corridors of the auction house. The sound of his footsteps were absorbed by the luxurious rugs underneath his feet as he hurried along trying to find her.
It had been a considerable while since he’d met a woman who truly excited him. And this woman excited him. Whether it was her soulful eyes, her graceful figure, or her seductive movements, he didn’t know. Most certainly it was many things. But what had definitely set him off to go after her was the lure of her lips, the way they had parted when she’d looked at him, directly, without embarrassment, provoking him.
He felt his cock twitch at the thought of what those lips could do to him. Quickening his steps, he reached the door to the exit seconds later. As he peered outside into the night, there was nothing. Light traffic, several waiting limousines, a few pedestrians, but no sight of her.
A limo driver was leaning against the hood of a car and straightened up when he saw him approach.
“Have you seen a woman exit from here in the last couple of minutes? Dark hair, petite, black skirt.”
The man shook his head. “Auction isn’t over yet. Nobody’s come out in a while.”
Marcus turned and went back inside, muttering a curse under his breath as he reached the lobby.
“Looking for somebody?” a female voice addressed him softly.
He jerked to his left and discovered her standing in an alcove near the main foyer. Her face was in the shadows, but he recognized her legs and her skirt.
Had she been waiting for him? Only one way to find out.
He took the few steps to bridge the distance between them, stopping only inches from her. Too close for a stranger, but she didn’t back away. She couldn’t; the wall was at her back.
He bent his head toward her. “I’ve just found what I was looking for,” he said breathing into her ear.
“What now?” she asked and sought his eyes, leaning her head backwards, exposing the graceful column of her neck as if offering it up for a sacrifice.
Bold. He liked that in a woman.
Her lips beckoned to be kissed, smothered, crushed.
To his surprise, she shook her head.
Why else would she have given her location away? She’d seen his hungry look in the auction hall, he was certain.
“Tomorrow night,” she promised, her voice a silky trickle, rendering him breathless.
His heart skipped a beat. She wasn’t turning him down completely. He could wait twenty-four hours, couldn’t he? His throbbing cock indicated a clear no, but his brain overrode his baser needs.
She nodded and traced her index finger along his lower lip. The touch startled and aroused him at the same time. Keeping his eyes on hers, his tongue snaked out and lapped against her finger. Her eyelids dropped to half-mast as she held her breath. Encouraged by her reaction, he pulled her finger into his mouth and sucked on it.
Her skin was delicious, tasting of citrus fruit and vanilla blossoms. He saw her chest rise as she took in a breath and filled her lungs.
He reached forward and touched her silky blouse, stroking lightly over her breast. The absence of a bra surprised him, making him release an involuntary moan. Another second of this and he’d come right in his pants.
She withdrew her finger from his mouth. “Eight o’clock at Claridge’s. You can buy me dinner first, and afterwards…”
She left the sentence hanging, sending a tingle of anticipation through his groin.
He knew the restaurant in Mayfair. In fact, he was a regular. And it wasn’t far from his home. Convenient. Ten minutes after dinner, she would tumble into his bed.
“I can pick you up.”
She shook her head. “I’ll meet you there.”
“I’m Marcus M—”
“I know who you are,” she interrupted.
It didn’t surprise him. His face was known all over London and beyond. For a split second he wondered, whether that was the reason she was interested in him. What if? He decided that it didn’t matter. If it made it easier to get her into bed, even better.
She stepped past him, her braless breast brushing against his arm, sending another lightning bolt through his body as she walked toward the exit.
“Wait! Your name.”
She turned briefly. “Olivia.”
Then she was gone. Her scent and her touch lingered, the natural perfume of her skin impregnating the air around him, rendering it heavy with desire and promise.