My friend and fellow-writer, Rebecca, squints against the early morning sun that is already beating down on our heads, thanks to the hole in the ozone layer situated above the southern hemisphere.
“The guidebook says it’s easy to miss to entrance. Pay attention.” She checks her map. “We should be close.”
I’m looking around, searching for an old monastery, but all I see is the dilapidated bell tower of an abandoned church.
Rebecca grabs my arm. “Here!” She points at an arched gate, barely wide enough for a car to pass through.
Honestly, if it weren’t for her sense of direction and eagle’s eye, I would have trotted right past the stone arch. The entrance huddles between a chipped shop front and a graffiti-covered wall–inconspicuous, small and humble.
We walk through the gate and cross a parking to ring the bell of a wooden door. The Franciscan monastery housed the liberation army during the turbulent political times of the Chilean dictatorship. It survived one big and several smaller earthquakes, and has since been turned into a museum, which is why we ended up here today to write. A member of our group mentored a writing contest in the big hall adjoining to the Columbian art exhibition, and recommended the venue to get our creative juices flowing. We are forfeiting our habitual unprepared writing exercise and critique session for free-flow narration. Armed with notepads and pens, Rebecca and I march through the reception to meet the rest of our gang, who the receptionist tells us have already arrived.
As I enter a hallway with stone pillars, I stop dead in my tracks. Rebecca bumps into my back with an ‘ump’. I am facing a courtyard, a small corner of paradise, right in the middle of busy, noisy, smoggy Santiago, and zap, I am transported to a different world, the world of my over-active imagination.
In the center of the square stands a statue of Santa Teresa. Her arms are outstretched over the garden in a gesture of blessing. Palm trees mark the four corners, and scrubs and decorative flowers grow in a labyrinth design around a fountain. A gardener is raking the soil with meticulous detail into patterns. The rhythmic scrape-stop-scrape of the metal teeth on the gravel lulls me into a state of semi-hypnotized bliss. Pamela, who arranged the meeting, was right. The energy of this place is incredible. I feel a tinge of excitement as we make our way down the hallway, turn right at the end, and enter the library.
The library is a big hall with three levels, each lined with shelves that are filled with books. Many of them are handwritten. And the wonder is that we can touch and read them, provided we wear the protective white gloves provided by the library staff.
I am gob-smacked. I love libraries. Always have. I go to a happy place within myself, brought on by the smell of ink and the crackling sound of paper. There are small hisses of air all around as gloved students at reading tables turn their pages. I study the golden names embossed on leather spines, and then I notice the librarian. He wears a white overcoat that stretches over broad shoulders. His head is angled towards an assistant, and his face is pulled into an expression of undiluted concentration. He listens intently to what she is whispering. All of his attention is focused on her, and on the meaning of her words. He exudes an air of passion and authority. This makes him appear simultaneously intellectual and masculine. And suddenly I realize what a wonderful setting this would make for the second book of my Seven Forbidden Arts series, Aeromancist. Russian aeromancist, Lann Dréan, will be so at home here. He is cultured and sophisticated and romantic, after all, and he has that civilized look with his black-rimmed Prada glasses, even if they don’t completely disguise the dangerous side of him.
I glance up and notice a small door on the top level in the corner, a stepladder pushed right underneath it. I see Lann exit from the den behind that door, looking down at the people using his library of antique scripts, and there and then Lann signs the contract and buys the monastery with the intention of restoring it to its former glory, turning it into a holiday home when he takes a break from his stressful job as aeromancist for Cain Jones’ paranormal crime taskforce in New York.
Rebecca nudges me with an elbow. “The others have started writing. We better go.”
I peer through the window and see our group sitting on benches placed in the hallway, facing the square. They are scribbling away.
“You go on ahead,” I say, making my way toward the librarian.
“Where are you going?” she calls after me.
The librarian looks up, frowns at her, and points at the silence sign. “To interview someone about book restoration and conservation,” I whisper back.
Half an hour later I take a seat outside, opposite the library, and open my notepad. I am still living in a different world, a world of old books and abandoned monasteries and neglected bell towers and a drop-dead gorgeous Russian, a world where seven ancient arts are forbidden, and some still risk their lives to practice them in secret. It is a world sheltered by the book-lined walls and musty, cool air of a Franciscan monastery, but that safe reality is about to be blown open for hell and fury to descend on its tranquil square. Because the illusion of peace only lasts so long…
I open my notebook and write.
Lann rested his hands on the wooden rail of the balcony. He watched the women without much interest. His mind was elsewhere, on how to handle the unwelcome media exposure. It wasn’t the fact that the journalist had lots to say about his character. It was his old Russian nickname she had somehow managed to dig up. Weatherman. If anyone knew how he’d acquired the name, he was screwed. He’d have to give up all of this and hide out in New York. Indefinitely. And he had no intention of running like a–
His thoughts froze in mid-sentence. Everything came to a standstill as he focused on the person who had just walked through the door—a redhead with curls hanging down her back, her body lush in a strapless purple dress. He leaned back into the shadows and watched her from his post. The females were unaware of his presence. Mrs. Sullivan, a romantic arts professor who brought a group of students in on Thursdays, touched the redhead’s arm and said something. The group made their way to the library. Everyone except for her. She lingered in front of the statue of Teresa, staring at it in a way that made Lann wish he were that statue. Then, as if sensing his gaze, she looked up, and their eyes locked. For a charged second neither of them blinked or moved. Nothing but the moment existed, and then she flushed a little and hurried after Mrs. Sullivan.
“Alfonso,” Lann called over his shoulder, not taking his eyes from the female.
“Yes, sir?” Alfonso said from the door.
“Who’s that woman?” Lann followed her progress until the library door shut behind her.
“The redhead?” Alfonso said. “She comes every week with the student group, sir.”
Well, hell. All this time she had been right under his nose. It was enough to make him believe in fate.
“Yes, sir. Comes in with Mrs. Sullivan. They arrive at ten, leave for lunch between one and three, and she’s gone with the group at five.”
Lann turned slowly. “When the group leaves, keep her behind. Bring her to my office. And find out what name she uses to sign in.”
“Yes, sir,” Alfonso said, as if Lann had just asked him to heat up his cold tea.
About The Book
Book 2: Seven Forbidden Arts Series
Author: Charmaine Pauls
Publisher: Mélange Books
Publication Date: July 6, 2015
Genre: Paranormal Erotic Romance
Format: eBook / ePub / PDF
Preorder Book Buy Links: Publication Date: July 6, 2015
Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/aeromancist-charmaine-pauls/1122220463?ean=2940151997492
Discuss this book in our PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads by clicking HERE
Passion always comes with a price.
All he could offer was thirty days of passion.
He condemned her to a terrible fate instead.
Now he’ll do everything in his power to save her.
He is known as the Weatherman. Lann Dréan is the last of his kind. A price on his head, chased for a power he should not possess, he can’t promise any woman forever. All he can offer Katherine White is thirty days of passion. But his uncontainable desire comes with an unforeseen price. Lann’s lust will cost Kat everything. Now he’ll do anything to save her from the fate he has brought upon her.
* This book contains adult content with explicit language and frequent, consummated love scenes, including light bondage, sex toys and breath play. Reader discretion is advised.
From the expression on Lann’s face, Kat knew he hadn’t expected her. Alfonso hadn’t warned him of her visit. Lann sat behind his desk, very similar to the first time they had met, but this time he was in the library, and not in his office. He had probably been working on the restoration of his ancient books, because he wore his glasses. Removing them, he immediately got to his feet. The air felt lighter, as it always did in his presence. Wisps of her hair lifted as if to an invisible caress, but Lann didn’t acknowledge the subtle dance of molecules this time.
As always he looked impeccable in tailored pants and a white dress shirt. He stood immobile, exerting calm, waiting for her to make the first move. Kat had never been fooled about the latent danger that lurked under his quiet sophistication and intellectual air. There was a raw energy about Lann that hinted at his wildness, even as his exterior was polished civility.
“Alfonso showed me in,” she said.
“Katherine.” His lips lifted in the corner, exposing his dimple.
Her heart broke at his smile. It was the one he reserved for other people. Never for her. It was automatic, a practiced social stance, and she hated it.
Hers was faint in return. She glanced at the employees who were handling his books with protective gloves. “May we speak in private, please?”
He frowned. “Let’s go to my office.”
He led the way. At least he hadn’t thrown her out on sight. She was walking the familiar path she believed she’d never walk again. The air gathered around his ankles as he moved, lapping at her feet as she followed in his wake. She had never felt it stronger, and yet, it should have been the reverse. She was supposed to be cutting the tie, not strengthening it, dammit.
Inside his office he almost took a military stance, his shoulders straight, his arms behind his back, as if keeping them there would prevent him from touching her. But his eyes were filled with warmth and concern.
“Katherine, I didn’t tell you I was back because I didn’t want to make it harder on you.”
He didn’t owe her an explanation. She agreed to his terms. With her eyes wide open.
“I came back to take care of the money,” he continued. “When Alfonso told me you returned everything–”
“I don’t want your money.”
“You can live in comfort. Why struggle, if I have enough to share?”
“Because it wasn’t part of our agreement,” she snapped. She took a calming breath. “Because it’ll make me feel like a prostitute.”
His expression was incredulous as he considered the statement, but after a moment he inclined his head. “Of course. I respect your decision.”
“Lann…” She chewed her lip, thinking of the best way to tell him. Hadn’t she practiced her line a million times? “I wouldn’t have broken our agreement if it wasn’t necessary.”
He stared at her expectantly. There was no easy way to break the news.
He froze. The heat evaporated from his gaze. His upper arms flexed as he clasped his hands behind his back. She couldn’t tell if he was mad or disappointed. Either way, neither was the reaction she was hoping for.
The silence stretched between them. For a while he seemed incapable of speaking or moving. Only his eyes lowered and rested on her abdomen.
“It’s impossible,” he finally said.
She opened her handbag, retrieved the blood test results and offered it to him shakily. Lann lifted one hand from behind his back and took the piece of paper. Kat watched him closely as he read it. His eyes widened and narrowed again. She presumed he was looking at the age of the child growing inside of her, doing the calculation in his mind. Emotions she couldn’t place played across his face. Was it sadness, envy, anger that made him press his lips so tightly together? Finally, he lifted his head. She didn’t like the way he looked at her.
He handed her back the report. “Congratulations.” His voice was impersonal. “Who’s the father?”
The words punched the air from Kat’s lungs with the same ferocity as when he had cut her airflow during lovemaking. Then it had given her an earth-shattering orgasm. Now it caused her pain, with the same intensity. She couldn’t believe he said that. Hurt and anger blurred her vision. She drew back her hand, and before she could stop herself, she slapped him. She took a step away from him, biting back the tears. The trace of her fingers lay red across his pale cheek. Lann accepted her abuse with a stoic expression, without uttering a word.
“You bastard,” she whispered. “You needn’t feign your innocence by insulting me. Are you afraid I’ll ask you for child support? Do you think I expect you to play an unwilling role in this baby’s life? Maybe you think I’ll try to emotionally blackmail you into marrying me.” She clutched her bag to her chest like a shield. “I didn’t come here expecting anything from you. I want nothing. I only came because you had a right to know.” She took a ragged breath. “And to ask why you lied to me.”
When he still didn’t speak, she nodded slowly, the unwelcome tears threatening to find their way to her cheeks. He wasn’t going to offer any explanation, any solace, any excuse.
“I see,” she said. “Then we have nothing more to say to each other.”
She turned for the door, but Lann’s voice halted her. “Please stay. You’re upset. I’ll take you home when you feel calmer.”
To her dismay, a small gasp escaped her. Did he honestly think she’d stay after what he just said? Not looking back, she ran downstairs, not caring that Lann was calling after her loud enough for the building to hear, or that his employees were staring at her from the library window.
“You made your bed, you sleep in it,” my mother always said.
I made this bed, with Lann Dréan in it. Only, he wasn’t anymore, not after thirty days of the best sex of my life. What remained were crumpled sheets and consequences.
How could I not be attracted to him? I had a thing for intellectual guys, especially damaged ones. And Lann was damaged, alright. His father abandoned him at birth, never forgiving him for his mother’s death. It took some time before Lann told me how he grew up in the streets of Moscow, stealing and cheating his way to survival. He never revealed what he did for a living, how he became a self-made millionaire. He had pulled himself from the gutter and built a life. From the guards surrounding us, I knew he was involved in something dangerous, maybe illegal, but I told myself it didn’t matter because ours wasn’t a permanent relationship. It was a thirty-day contract.
When I first met Lann it was in his privately owned library of ancient books. He had just bought the Santiago convent. The plan was to spend a month of holiday there before going home to New York. I had been rewarded a scholarship for an exchange program in Chile to conduct my thesis on daemon lovers. His handwritten books were invaluable to my research. He spotted me from his office balcony and when everyone else left, kept me behind.
Lann was reserved, to the point of being recluse. Few photos existed of him, even as the paparazzi hunted and stalked him. Nothing could have prepared me for the tall Russian. He was lean, well defined, minus the bulging muscles I hated. His long, blond hair was mostly braided down his back. I preferred it to when he wore it loose, because that way I could admire his ears. He had perfect ears–beautifully proportioned, slightly elongated–but I never said as much because he was sensitive about them. A silver ring was pierced through the top left one. His dark Prada glasses gave him an academic look in a sexy kind of way. His most unusual feature was his eyes. In the dark they seemed yellow. In daylight I could see they were a mix of amber and brown flecks. And when he opened his mouth and spoke to me in his thick Russian accent, telling me I moved the air for him, my knees went weak.
So, when he asked me to give my body to him for thirty days, exclusively, I signed my name on the dotted line. Although I had given him carte blanche, he took his time to lure me, to teach me what he liked. It was never a seduction. Unless I gave him permission, he didn’t move on. But I wanted it. All of it. All of him. Lann woke a dark side in me, a part I didn’t know lurked in the shadows of my desire. Only when I was comfortable with him did he tie me up, blindfolded and gagged me, and he didn’t introduce me to breath play until I trusted him. In those naked moments I made myself vulnerable, gave him control of my body, and he rewarded me with pleasure that wracked my mind and left me craving more.
One day, he flew me in a water plane to a private lake for a picnic. It was the most perfect day of my life.
We were sitting on the shore.
“Lann, this is incredible,” I said.
His palm smoothed over my shoulder. “You’ve been studying too hard. Been cooped up in my convent for too long.”
“So this is my reward?”
“No. I think your reward will come later.”
“What a lucky girl I am.”
“The luck is all mine, bella.”
“Are you hungry?”
“For food?” he drawled.
“You’re impossible.” I gave him stern look and brought a piece of cheese to his lips. “Open.”
He obeyed. He took the cheese, and sucked my fingers into his mouth. I could feel the atmosphere shift in a second. Lann had a hundred different moods a day, and I took pleasure in the knowledge that I started to understand how to navigate them. He allowed me to feed him some more, and after I had eaten, he got to his feet and started removing his clothes.
“What are you doing?” I said with a laugh, looking around, even if I knew we were alone.
“Come swim with me.”
“The water will be freezing.”
“Are you a pussy?”
“You didn’t just call me that.”
“Oh yes, I did.”
I jumped up and discarded my clothes faster than him. Before he was out of his pants, I was running to the water, stark naked. I gritted my teeth when I felt the iciness around my feet. Looking over my shoulder, I saw Lann making his way to the water, a huge grin on his face. I held my breath and charged. It was so cold it felt as if it would stop my heart. I let out a yelp, and heard Lann’s laugh echo behind me. I dove in and swam furiously for a few strokes to warm up my limbs. When I turned, Lann still stood on the beach.
“Come on!” I beckoned him with a curled finger. “Or are you a pussy?”
He made big eyes at me. “What did you just call me?”
Before I could complete the sentence, he was storming me. I managed to splash him before he got wet, and heard his curse before he dove underwater to resurface in front of me. Laughing, I tried to swim away from him, but he grabbed me around the waist.
“Not so fast, bella.”
He turned me to face him and jerked me against him. His body was warm in the coldness of the water. I wrapped my arms and legs around him, pressing close. His erection strained against my pelvis. Lann wasn’t laughing any longer. He groaned, and his eyes turned a darker shade of gold. His hands went to my bottom, gripping me firmly. He lifted me slightly so that his hardness pressed against my folds. The water contracted my skin, and when he lifted me higher with one hand, spreading my opening with the other, an onslaught of cold water assaulted my swollen clit. Immediately the sensation was replaced with the warmth of his body as he lowered me onto his erection, sliding effortlessly into my lubricated depth. I arched my back, gasping as he claimed me with every inch he had.
“God, Katherine, I’m buried so deep inside of you,” he said against my neck.
He kissed me feverishly, sucking my skin into his mouth, making me scream as he bit down gently.
“You drive me wild, krasota.” His tongue moved down my neck to the hollow of my throat, trailing a path to my breasts. He licked each upper curve, before he took a cold, hard nipple in his warm mouth. I moaned loudly. He started suckling me, moving me up and down on him.
“Is this good, bella?”
I whimpered. “Lann…”
“Tell me, Katherine. Tell me what you want.”
“Everything. I want everything.”
“You don’t know what you’re asking,” he said darkly.
“Then show me.”
His mouth claimed mine with hard approval, his tongue sweeping over my lips before he drank the very breath from me. I struggled to draw air through my nose while he claimed my mouth like that. He kissed and kissed me until I felt the urge to shove away from him to draw air, but when I pushed with my palms on his chest, he only sealed his lips tighter over mine, at the same time increasing the pace with which he was penetrating me. My clit rubbed against his pelvis. One hand closed around my throat, applying gentle pressure, while the other spread the cheeks of my ass. Sensations slammed into me. His fingers around my neck tightened, cutting off my oxygen. I felt a finger rubbing down my cleft, and then I felt it there. I jerked when Lann pushed on that forbidden entrance. It was hard to think with my body craving air, craving him, and craving release. Already my orgasm was a tightly coiled cord, a second away from snapping. Just when I thought I was going to black out from the lack of air, he released my throat, at the same time pushing his finger inside my rear. As oxygen reached my brain, my orgasm exploded in me with an intensity I had never felt before. I clung to him, filled by his cock and his finger, as the waves crushed over me and continued to ripple long after he had spurted all of his seed inside of me. My strength gone, all I could manage was to lean my head on his shoulder, and to trust him to take care of me.
Lann kissed my hair and my cheek. He said gentle things to me in Russian, while he slowly pulled his finger from my slightly burning backside. I moaned, and he kissed my forehead. I felt like fainting from the aftershocks of pleasure. I tried to lower my legs, but Lann prevented me with his hands on my ankles.
“Hold on, krasavitsa,” he said against my ear. “Don’t try to walk.”
He gently cleaned me in the water, washing his semen from me, before carrying me to the shore. I had never felt more depleted in my entire life. It was worse than the time I had a few drinks too many at the student bar and my friend had to drive me home and put me to bed.
I started shivering as Lann lowered me onto our picnic blanket. He stretched out on top of me and folded the blanket around our bodies. He kissed my neck and shoulder until I felt his heat penetrating my skin, and my body once more relaxed. When the shivering stopped, he lifted himself to look down at me.
“The sun will warm you. I’m going to get off you now. At first it’ll feel cold with the breeze, but you’ll dry in no time.”
I whimpered when he rolled off me, exposing my skin to the air. “No, don’t.”
“I’m too heavy.” He rubbed my arms.
That was the first time I felt the air move around us. It shifted down from my shoulders to my feet, a blanket of clouds pulled over a naked body. This was the dance of air Lann had tried to describe to me, what he meant when he said I moved the air for him. At first the breeze made me feel colder, but then I gradually warmed as the sun dried my skin. I felt extremely lethargic.
“What did you do to me?” I said, trying to focus on Lann’s face and not fall asleep.
“I cut off your ability to breathe, just for a few seconds. The surge of oxygen that follows makes you come harder.”
“That it did,” I said, closing my eyes.
“Katherine, look at me.” I gazed back at him. His expression seemed concerned. “Did you enjoy it?”
“Oh, yes.” I tried to nod. “It was the best sex of my life.”
A slow smile curved his lips. “Good.” His eyes warmed. “Your trust means everything to me.”
He lay down next to me and pulled me into her arms. We stayed like that until I felt some of my energy return. When I tried to sit up, he shook his head.
“I need a drink.” I reached for my glass of champagne.
“No more alcohol,” he said. He sat up and reached inside the basket, taking out a bottle of water. He unscrewed the cap, lifted my head and brought the bottle to my mouth. After a few sips, I lay back again, studying him.
“You’re so handsome,” I said.
“And you’re so expressive. I can never get enough of your face when it’s contorted with pleasure, knowing it’s the pleasure I bring you.”
“You bring me lots of pleasure,” I said, mumbling my agreement.
“Now I’m going to feed you strawberries.” His eyes went to my breasts. “And then I’m going to fuck you softly.”
That was the day I knew I had fallen in love with him.
By the time Day Thirty arrived, I was addicted. To him. But I had signed a contract to walk away, and never look back. And it wasn’t as if he gave me a choice when he left me behind. What I thought would be a harmless sexual adventure had burned a hole in my existence. I had fallen in love with Lann, when I promised I wouldn’t. But there was more at stake than my heart. I never would have guessed that accepting his contract was signing my death warrant. There was only one thing left to do. To sleep in the bed I had made. And it may just cost me … everything.
About The Author
Charmaine Pauls was born in Bloemfontein, South Africa. She obtained a degree in Communication at the University of Potchestroom, and followed a diverse career path in journalism, public relations, advertising, communications, photography, graphic design, and brand marketing. Her writing has always been an integral part of her professions.
After relocating to France with her French husband, she fulfilled her passion to write creatively full-time. Charmaine has published six novels since 2011, as well as several short stories and articles.
When she is not writing, she likes to travel, read, and rescue cats. Charmaine currently lives in Chile with her husband and children. Their household is a linguistic mélange of Afrikaans, English, French and Spanish.
Read more about Charmaine’s romance novels and psychological short stories here on www.charmainepauls.com.
Contact Charmaine at:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Charmaine-Pauls/175738829145132 Twitter: https://twitter.com/CharmainePauls Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/AuthorCharmainePauls
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