GOING DOWN - a short contemporary erotic romance novella, published in January 2012 by Spice Briefs. Also available from Mills and Boon in the UK. This story appears in a print anthology called 12 SHADES OF SURRENDER: available now in the US and UK. In Australia it appears in the UNBOUND collection.
He was a confident man, subtly commanding, too. Would he be like that as a lover? Yes, I just knew he'd be masterful.
Jennifer hoped she'd meet someone during her six-month stay in Paris, but she didn't expect to find a captivating man like her neighbor Armand Lazare on her very first day. From their initial encounter in their building's antique elevator, he makes her feel wanton, excited and unexpectedly aroused by the way he takes control. But as much as this new desire unnerves Jennifer, she's even more eager to explore it -- with Armand as her master.
"Just as well I like a good challenge," I murmured to myself as I assessed the antique elevator shaft in my new abode. The ostentatious wrought iron affair was the most complicated contraption I'd ever seen.
When I'd arrived at the apartment block the evening before I'd used the stairs, allowing the concierge to take my luggage in the elevator. I wanted to get my bearings, and as I climbed the stairs to the fourth floor I took in the elegance of the beautiful building, a nineteenth century block in the 15th Arrondissement of Paris. I'd been allocated a small apartment there for my six-month stint working in the city.
The elevator ran up the center of the building. The much more solid looking marble staircase wound around it, and I'd peered in at the elevator shaft as I worked my way up to the fourth floor. Although daunting, it was a beautiful thing, all black metal and designed in the Art Nouveau style. The frenzy of decorative metalwork did not distract me from the fact that the floor appeared to be scarcely more than a metal grid and one could see the cables and the whole shaft from inside and out.
This morning I had my smartest outfit and heels on and I figured I'd better try it out. The question was how to operate it. I leaned in to the metal gates and peered down the shaft. The elevator was stationery, two floors below.
I jolted upright, startled to find I was no longer alone.
Turning on my heels I faced the man who had spoken.
I don't know what surprised me the most, that he had approached me without me realizing, or that he knew I was English and had spoken to me in my own language. He was obviously French.
French and gorgeous.
Dressed entirely in black -- open necked shirt and jeans, with a tailored leather jacket --he observed me with blue eyes that contrasted starkly with his swarthy skin. His black hair was cropped close, the square line of his jaw, angled cheekbones and strong forehead giving him a distinctive look. Even though I wore my highest heels, he towered over me. He had to be a neighbor. Perhaps he'd been on his way down the stairs when he'd caught sight of me. I straightened my skirt, aware that I'd probably just given him an eyeful as I peered down the shaft. He gestured at the elevator gates. "It bothers you, the cage?"
The cage. What an intriguing moniker, and so appropriate. "Not at all," I fibbed. "I think it's beautiful, I just wasn't quite sure how to operate it."
"Allow me to demonstrate."
He rested his hand against my back briefly, encouraging me. The momentary contact made me sizzle. He pressed the call button. It was round, ivory, and encased in gleaming brass. The elevator cable tightened with a loud creak then the mechanism whirred into action and the cage loomed up from below.
"Some of the tenants in this building won't use it, but it is quite safe and an object of some beauty." The seductive allure in his voice had my attention well and truly hooked.
"Absolutely, it's a work of art in itself."
There was an approving expression in his eyes.
Once the elevator shunted into position, he unlatched the gates, internal and external, and rolled them apart. I stepped into the cage, as he called it, and he closed the gates behind us. The shunting of metal and wheels, and the resolute sound of the internal latch did make it feel cage-like, and yet light shone through here and there beneath our feet. He pressed the button for the ground floor and the elevator jolted into action. Adrenaline pumped through my veins and I staggered slightly on my heels.
My companion turned to face me and his mouth moved in sensual appreciation as his gaze made a slow circuit of my body. I felt stripped to the bone. I'd never felt such intense scrutiny. It wasn't staring exactly. It was as if he could gain the measure of me by looking at me that way. He stood with one hand around a decorative metal coil, the other rested on his hip. His posture was so self-assured, appearing languid but as if he could pounce at any moment. What was more unnerving, the way he made me feel, or the fact I could see the elevator shaft between the metal fretwork beneath my feet? As we descended I felt as if I was on a dangerous precipice, in every way.
When his gaze returned to meet mine, his mouth lifted at the corners. Had I met with his approval? Moving my laptop case from one hand to the other, I tried not to feel quite so self-aware. It was hard not to, and my outfit -- which had seemed business like and professional -- now seemed far too tight-fitting and alluring. It was the way he admired the curve of my body at breast and hips that made me feel that way. Almost as if I'd been touched. What would it be like, I wondered, to really be touched by him?
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