"While I appreciate the view of your sweet little pussy, darlin', you do realize that this is the men's steam room, not the women's?"
Naked, lying on a neon orange beach towel, eyes covered by one forearm, Jenny Su-Lin Taylor didn't react.
As the whiskied baritone rumbled into her foggy tranquility, she jerked to a sitting position. Frantic eyes darted left, then right, and took a frenzied sweep of the mists swirling around the small chamber. A thousand Japanese Taiko drums pounded a war beat in her ears. Blood surged to the rhythm, pulsing hysterical tattoos at her wrists, throat, and temples.
She stopped breathing, moving, thinking, when eyes the color of storm clouds racing across a typhoon sky manacled her gaze.
Fantasy and reality merged.
Thor, God of Battle and Thunder, materialized through dissipating, opaque steam curls.
High, sculpted cheekbones, a square, stubborn jawline chiseled by anvils, her most erotic fantasy come to life sprawled on the marble ledge opposite. Wheat-streaked hair fired with auburn glints brushed the broadest shoulders she'd ever seen. One knee bent, the man leaned on a thick, muscled forearm, Popeye biceps bulging.
He drained the oxygen out of Su-Lin's lungs.
Out of the room.
All about her, magic pooled.
Balmy condensation caressed her shoulders, the barest sigh of enchantment escaped her lips, and the world, no, the universe, pivoted on the mythical deity reclining before her eyes, glorious in his nudity. Su-Lin's heartbeat cavorted into loud, insistent hammering, which swelled to fever pitch. She noticed small details, the way the faint dusting of golden hairs on his torso swirled to the right, a thick forefinger stroking peach-pink marble, his taut stomach lifting and falling.
Around his neck hung a gold chain, and a dazzling pendant with intricate engravings punctuated a chest so defined, so Norse god-like, her fingers tingled with the urge to trace each ridge, tease the glistening wisps of hair leading to his, his...
Su-Lin choked on a stifled gasp, but she couldn't stop gaping at his penis, staring wide-eyed at the mind-boggling span of the enormous weapon. Its satin head seemed to wink at her, a lewd beckoning. She ground her heels into the floor before her wayward feet answered its spell-like summons.
All at once, fire licked every inch of skin, flared up her spine, and connected with her brain, igniting thought. She scrambled for the towel. Nails scraped the moist marble; she clutched shaky fingers around soft cotton and bounded off the bench. His size dwarfed all five feet five inches of her too-big-for-gymnastic-competition body.
A warrior-resolute gaze examined every inch of her roasting flesh, lingered on her B-cup breasts, and his mouth pursed as he studied her overlarge nipples. His forehead creased, and he fixated on the triangle of sable curls at the juncture of her thighs. The intensity of those slate eyes had her hands trembling, her fingers fumbling to drape the towel around her chest. She muttered a Mandarin curse when her waist-length, straight-as-a-pin black hair tangled with the wet material.
"You don't have to leave, darlin'. We can always lock the door."
Propped on an elbow, the man angled forward, full lips curling at the corners. His cock twitched and slapped against a flat walnut belly missing the requisite white tan lines. Her glance strayed to testicles hanging huge and heavy against powerful, sinewy thighs.
Eyes shackled by his thick forefinger outlining one round globe, Su-Lin licked her lips, mesmerized by the lazy self-caress. He traced a succulent path from the base of his penis to its glistening tip. A translucent drop formed, pearled, and hung suspended for long seconds at the slit in his organ's crown. Only as the heady droplet trailed down the path his finger had taken could Su-Lin gulp much-needed oxygen into burning lungs.
"My prick's at your service, darlin', whatever milady wishes."
Her subconscious noted the slight hint of Irish brogue, but her stare settled on his foreskin, which reflected the shade of his bronzed stomach. Seconds later, his words registered, but their meaning took longer to comprehend.
She couldn't manage anything more than a panted "oh."
The Pause button that had suspended her brain functions thus far clicked off. Fast-forward took over, and she twirled around, intent on escape.
"I like the view from behind too, darlin'. That's one fine backside." He ended his pronouncement with a chuckle, which made her skin smolder even more.
As she reached behind, struggling to find the towel's drooping ends, jumbo callused fingers did the job for her, tying a knot at the base of Su-Lin's neck. His fingertips scalded with each light brush; her shoulder blade, a vertebra here, there a slight graze of her earlobe, and she couldn't inhale, couldn't shake off a sudden paralysis.
His thumb curved a path of embers along her nape and panic set in. Su-Lin shrugged away, threw the door open, and ran like a gazelle hunted by a tiger. Her hands shook like a building in the center of a tropical cyclone, so it took half an hour to change in the women's locker room. She had to sit for long minutes after buckling her sandals until her puddling limbs reformed into bones, which could support actual steps.
Tourists of all shapes, sizes, and nationalities filled the lobby of the Antibes Eden Roc beachfront hotel. She heard French, American-accented English, German, and after a while Su-Lin realized what she listened for: the Irish version of a Sean Connery brogue.
Explosive lust, hitherto unknown, threaded from pinky toe to tingling scalp. Kaleidoscopic, brilliant images danced before her pupils, his lips on hers, those thick fingers caressing her breasts, his wondrous organ joining them into one. Su-Lin's hands balled into fists, and she stifled a whimper as desire held her in thrall.
What would it feel like? That broad weapon filling her, stretching her, claiming her.
Remembering the rigidity of his penis, the blue-green veins throbbing, thickening its girth, her fingers curled and uncurled. Desire weighted her eyelids to half-mast as she threaded his features into every adolescent faceless fantasy.
That jewel drop at its tip.
What would it taste like? Her tongue slid across a parched lower lip, which trembled as she imagined licking the sticky substance.
Salty, he looked salty, her Norse god.
Su-Lin wanted him.
Too tame a word, wanting. No, more an incendiary slow burn, a force destined to shatter every protective shield she'd ever built. Her lips twitched and lifted; he was hers. She would have him. After all, she had Olympic determination, Asian discipline, and patience.
A sudden wave of giddiness made her lean against a marble column, and its air-conditioned coolness sliced the edge off her feverish skin. Loud laughter forced awareness of her surroundings.
The ache of lust morphed in an instant when her eyes found the source of the joyous mirth, a young couple applauding their infant's first steps. Had her parents ever done that? Had they ever celebrated any of her accomplishments? Her mouth twisted at the memory of earning a spot for the tryouts for the national Olympic team, of running home to tell her mother. It hadn't been one of her mother's good days.
Su-Lin shook her head.
Not going there.
Her second chance at life had begun and that warrior would be hers. Once, at least. He would be her first lover.
For the last ten years, the male sex had not played any role in her life. This trip was her chance to balance yin and yang. To explore the sexual urges she'd had to suppress during her adolescence. Never knowing when her mother would suddenly retreat into silence or, in those first few years, drink to the point where she had to crawl to the bathroom, Su-Lin had to be vigilant at all times. Her natural curiosity flamed in surreptitious early morning moments after she'd discovered her father's collection of dust-covered, graphical images of men and women engaged in sexual intercourse.
In the last six months, she'd begun to notice the way men looked at her. For years she'd thought being part Chinese, part Swedish meant she wasn't pretty, that belief reinforced by the small-town Caucasian population of Mayo, Ohio.
But her lips curved into a wide, triumphant smile, she knew she had aroused her Viking, the proof evident by the blatant thickening and pearling of his weapon. Su-Lin closed her eyes and pictured the cut of his biceps, his corrugated belly, those weighty testicles, his finger outlining them. She had to clutch the round pillar to stay upright. Sticky cream coated the V between her thighs; she squished her legs together and only then recognized her lack of underwear.
Stifling a groan, Su-Lin ordered her wayward legs into motion, intent on seclusion and panties. She ran into Uncle James at the elevators.
"How're you feeling, love? Aunt Emma is worried about you. You're so exhausted. She's set up all these spa appointments for you."
His jowls jiggled as he spoke, and she wondered, for the millionth time, at the physical differences between him and her mother, his sister. Annika Taylor hadn't been even five feet, whereas Uncle James towered at six-two. Her mother had been slender and delicate. A tsunami couldn't budge her uncle's bulk, which had settled at his middle.
"That's very kind of Aunt Emma, but this hotel's so expensive, Uncle, and I don't need any pampering."
"Love, I only wish we'd known of your situation, how sick your mother had been for the last few years. We could've helped, found the best doctors."
Uncle James must have noticed her strained expression, because he paused and shook his balding head. "But that's in the past. Money's not an issue for you anymore. I'm working with my lawyers to settle a considerable trust on you."
"You know I've asked you not to do that. I've a degree in human kinetics. I can support myself." Her relatives had insisted on paying for the trip. Su-Lin flexed her curling fingers and reminded herself to be grateful. "I have a job waiting for me in Mayo, if I want it."
"And what am I to do with all my money, love? Emma and I have no children, and our only living relative is you. Why shouldn't I give you enough money to be comfortable?" He patted her shoulder, although thumped would've described his clumsy touch better. "Once the trust activates in a few days, you'll never need to work a day in your entire lifetime."
His words, meant as a source of comfort, made her stomach hollow out. Su-Lin's superstitious bent read his statement with unease. The old Chinese proverb about too much luck heralding a disaster circled to the forefront of her brain.
"Jenny, there you are." Aunt Emma's voice couldn't be mistaken, her low, husky drawl so reminiscent of Kathleen Turner in Body Heat. "Have you told her, James?"
"No, love, I thought I'd leave that for you."
"We have a wonderful surprise, Jenny," Emma said as she reached them.
As her aunt's voice receded, the elevator bell dinged. Mirrored golden doors opened and passengers swept forward, forcing the three of them to shuffle to the left. A man leaning on a carved walking stick bumped into Su-Lin, and she listed to the right.
Two large hands gripped her shoulders, lifted her off the burgundy carpet, and set her down out of the line of the throng. The unexpected contact made her lungs stammer, and for some strange reason, an electric tingling skittered down her spine as large warm hands stroked her back. Trained to be polite to a fault, she glanced up, and up and up, and when her gaze fell on a gold coin dusting bronzed skin, Su-Lin's toes curled and she swallowed air.
Her Norse god.
Bracing her hands flat against his hard chest, she stared at him, at his pupils dilating and darkening, making the gray irises thundercloud haloes.
Everything crawled by in a series of blurred images, the combustible, momentary touching of their bodies, him murmuring something, her ears registering the sound. But her mind couldn't interpret the words, too fascinated by his hot breath tickling her ear and the tangy scent of sea about him. He whispered again and seconds later his words penetrated. "What's your mobile number?"
Bewildered, she stared at him.
"Your cell phone, darlin'. Give me the number."
"I ... I don't have one," she whispered.
His broad palms cupped her bottom cheeks and she ignited, fingertips sparking as they glided over the thin cotton covering his rippled pectorals.