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I never expected my Swiss Holiday to end up like this…
In his arms…
In his bed…
A killer on the loose, and a suspect in my bed will make this holiday more interesting than I bargained for.
I trust him.
I love him.
It can’t be him… can it?
Dream’s Swiss holiday takes a turn for the worse when her new lover Axel is accused of a murder she knows he didn’t commit.
Take a peek inside this ultra-steamy BWWM romance for the intriguing, page turning, panty-dropping romantic suspense you’ll need to stay warm this winter.
Excerpt | Wild Winter Lust:
VOSS SKI RESORT:
“The avalanche means we will be here another two weeks,” Camille sneered, “This will be at no additional cost to you Meess Weelleeyums.”
“Except the cost of my time,” I snapped.
The Swiss indifference conflicted with my American sensibilities about punctuality and efficiency.
A man peered out from the back office.
“No Axel,” she huffed.
“Will I at least get to eat for free or do I have to buy two more weeks of these overpriced prison meals?”
“Non mamzelle, you eat for free,” Camille muttered.
She glanced up from the register with cold, swampy green eyes. She tucked a few strands of blond hair out of her face. Tiny pink lips pouted in my direction.
“Would that be all ma’am?” Axel asked in her stead. Camille’s eyes cut daggers and neither of us wanted to talk to the other for much longer. The prospect of another two weeks in Switzerland sent worry shooting through my chest.
“There’s an awful noise in my radiator, can I get that fixed?”
Axel rounded the counter, “I can come and help you now, mademoiselle.”
He stretched out the French word long and slow, then he smiled at me. My face still scrunched in rage, I could only muster a grimace.
“Show me to your room. Camille will get you sorted.”
Axel’s commitment to appease me caused me to look upon him with greater favor than Camille. I hated her brusque attitude and constant pout. I sound harsh, bear with me. I’d seen the way she looked at me, one of two black guests at the resort. She didn’t think I belonged. The other guests hadn’t had to go through half the trouble I did after the storm passed. I’d had to revisit the front desk three times to stop the excess charges. I’d started to think she inconvenienced me on purpose…
Her co-worker, the ski instructor Axel Olson, was far more agreeable. After two tumbles with him down the bunny slopes, I’d decided skiing wasn’t for me. I needed to stick to what I was good at — writing. Axel didn’t agree with me and each day he pestered me about taking another ski lesson with him. If the lessons he gave had less to do with skiing, I would have accepted his offer gladly.
“Third floor?” he asked as we stepped into the elevator.
“Oui,” I replied.
I hadn’t learned much French besides the basics. German and Italian lay beyond my scope too. A few phrases were all I could muster to converse with Axel in his native tongue.
He pushed the button and the doors shut. Being alone in an elevator with Axel made my palms sweaty. He was far too good looking to be tucked away in the Swiss Alps. In my younger, more reckless days, I would have spent every minute flirting with him. Now I admired from afar — an appropriate distance.
“You speak English well,” I complimented him as the elevator pulled to a stop.
“Around here, we get a lot of Americans and English.”
He pronounced the words Ameri-canes and Een-gleesh. My stomach flipped as I heard his husky voice enunciate the vowels with that gorgeous Swiss French accent.
“I’m the last room on the left,” I muttered.
He followed me down the hallway, then he muttered something to himself in French.
“I’ve been meaning to talk to you,” Axel spoke.
I slipped my card key into the lock and pushed my door open. Axel brushed past me as he entered. As he brushed past me, a strange tingling erupted in my chest. The scent of his cologne, the culprit for my emotional spike, was a fresh pine and dry cedar scent with leather base notes. The wintery outdoors mixed with his cologne to create… heaven.
“Mmm,” I blurted out unwillingly.
I slapped my hand over my mouth the moment the sound came out.
“What was that?” Axel asked, grinning at me from ear to ear.
I scowled and didn’t respond, rushing over to the radiator on the back wall of my room against the window.
“It makes this awful banging sound all the —“
On cue, the radiator began its clattering noise. BONGBANGBINGBINGBONGBONG.
“Ah, this is easy to fix,” Axel assured me.
I nodded, “Great. Then fix it.”
I fluttered away from him, keeping my eyes on him as he got to his knees and pulled a couple tools out of his belt.
“This room has this problem a lot,” he told me.
“Oh?” I feigned aloofness.
“Can you help me grasp this pipe?”
Our eyes met as he asked me. Color rushed to my tawny cheeks.
“Right here,” Axel gestured to the pipe he held in place with one hand, while wrenching with the other hand.
I crouched next to him, so close I could smell all the notes in his cologne. The pine sap smell was from his hands. As I grazed his hands to hold the pipe, a few sticky bits of sap pressed into my fingers. I gripped the pipe and he continued to screw it shut.
“Are you enjoying Switzerland?”
“I was only supposed to be here a week.”
I shrugged, “I’ve got trouble back home, that’s all I can say.”
“What kind of trouble?”
He let go of the pipe and stood up.
“Are you finished?”
He folded his arms, still staring at me.
“What kind of trouble?”
“What’s it to you?” I narrowed my eyes, wondering why he cared.
Axel shrugged, “I am curious. America is another world. I imagine you have city girl troubles — troubles that are lightyears away from me.”
I smiled — I couldn’t help it. His arctic eyes gleamed as he fantasized about life across the Atlantic.
“Book trouble, that’s what I’ve got.”
“I’m here ‘cause I’m a writer. My second book didn’t get picked up by my publisher and I need to figure out how to fix it.”
“So you’re a real writer?”
I glanced at my door, not wanting to converse too closely with a hotel employee in my room. It seemed gauche. I walked towards the door and opened it. Axel held the door and ushered me out of the room.
“I want to hear more about this writing.”
“Because… you’re interesting.”
He stared at me as he said interesting. I saw a flash of desire in his eyes (or perhaps imagined it). He brushed his chestnut brown hair out of his face.
“Tonight, come down to the lobby. You will tell me about it.”
I shrugged, “There’s nothing else to do here.”
He took my hand and kissed it. As he released my hand, I wondered if he was flirting, or if this was European politeness.
He turned and walked down the hall towards the elevator. I didn’t follow him, but I watched as he walked away. Axel’s tall body was formidable and bulky from his hours on the slope. I’d never noticed how much of a giant he was until he disappeared down the resort’s hallway, ducking to avoid the light fixtures as he approached the elevator.
I re-entered my room and sank into the chair at my desk, appreciating the silence — welcome relief from the cacophonous radiator.
I shot off an email to my editor. Paul recommended I go on this pricey retreat in the first place. I wondered how he’d react when he found out I’d be forced to stay here another two weeks. The storm served as both a pain in my ass and a blessing in disguise.
After I sent out the email, I sniffed and took in the lingering scent of pine from Axel standing in my room. Mm. Now that was a good smell — much better than the Axe body sprays my exes used to douse themselves in.
I shook the thoughts of Axel’s alluring Swiss frame out of my mind. My stomach grumbled and I left my room in search of a meal. I pushed my door open, sliding the keycard into my pants pocket and securing my denim jacket around my curvaceous frame. The jacket, snug at first, had loosened since the storm.
As I neared the staircase, I saw one of the other guest. A small bunch of us had been stranded together and I felt it best to make myself familiar with the names and faces. It was too cold outside for me not to be warm. Her face pouted miserably and tears stained her cheeks. Her blonde hair whipped around her shoulders like a ferocious mane.
“Good afternoon!” I greeted her with a cheerful smile.
Bunny Wharton sniffed and glared at me, curling her upper lip in disgust.
“Yes,” she replied, “I suppose it was.”
She stormed past me, leaving the distinct scent of her Chanel No. 5 perfume in her wake. I turned to watch as she stormed past.
What a rude person. I thought to myself.
She continued clomping down the hall as I made my way to the stairs. Since I was trapped for two more weeks in this wintery castle, I figured I should keep my heart rate up and exercise. Lord knows my trainer back on the mainland would be happy that I did something while I was away.
I pushed open the door to the stairs and started to walk down the flights of stairs. The distance between each floor was immense. I didn’t get one floor down when I ran into Charlene Frost — the only other black woman at the resort.
“Hey Charlene,” I greeted her.
Charlene smiled and widened her eyes, looking nervously from left to right before replying.
“H-h-hi,” she said.
She swallowed and nodded.
“Mm, yes. Quite creepy isn’t it? The whole avalanche… being trapped… I won’t get in these elevators either. Nuh-uh not me. My aunty from Queens got into one of those and she was stuck between floors for two days. Can you believe it? Two days. No one thought to look for her. I take the stairs whenever I can.”
“How are you? Did they sort out your room?”
“Yes, finally. That front desk chick has a bit of an attitude.”
Charlene glanced over her shoulder, then returned her fickle attention back to me.
“Uh huh. She don’t like black folks much. I can tell. Something ‘bout the look in her eye. Reminds me of this black woman my cousin told me about down in Georgia. She had a white maid from Slovenia — one of those countries. The woman got so jealous that she killed her.”
Charlene let out a loud and awkward laugh. Haw-hee-ha-ha!
“Can you believe it?” she finished, “Racism can push people so far.”
“I guess so.”
“See you around, Dream.”
“See you Charlene. Take care.”
“You too. This place is spooky.”
She stepped up past me and then pattered off down the hall to her room. I worried for that woman. Charlene, despite her dark eyes and her beautiful, cocoa colored skin struck me as an unwell woman. It wasn’t just the sallow deep bags under her eyes, but the way conversing with her reminded me of being on a merry-go-round.
I continued my descent. One floor above the lobby, I heard hushed voices. I slowed my movements so that my feet barely made a sound.
“If I don’t have this abortion, it’s over!” The voice hissed.
“Can you calm down?”
“No, I cannot calm down! Pregnancy was never part of the agreement.”
I stopped. This I had to hear. Call me nosy, but I’m a writer. The resort had no new entertainment since the blizzard and being stir-crazy meant I’d do anything for something new and different. The search for my next story turned me into an amateur sleuth, like the leading lady, Annette, in my novel.
The voices hushed.
“You’re crazy!” The woman huffed again.
She shouted, “Stay away from me. Stay away from me or I swear you’ll regret it!”
Footsteps away. Then I heard heels coming in my direction. I had no time to hightail it back the way I came. I proceeded down the stairs, trying to keep my expression aloof. Four steps down and I ran into the female voice.
“What the hell are you doing here,” Nari Long sneered at me.
The woman’s appearance was stunning, in stark contrast to her attitude, which was worse than Bunny’s.
“Headed downstairs,” I replied, “Is that okay with you?”
“Were you listening in on a private conversation?”
Her black eyes were shiny buttons in her deep sockets. Her cheeks flushed scarlet.
My face blanked.
“Good,” she hissed, “If you’re lying to me, and you did hear any of it, remember that I’m not the kind of woman you want to mess with.”
Her raven-black hair cut into a blunt bob framed her face and highlighted the sharp angles of the Korean woman’s cheekbones. Her deep tanned skin glowed in the dim light of the staircase.
“I told you,” I replied coldly, “I didn’t hear anything.”
“Good. Then we have no trouble here. I can’t believe they let just anyone stay at a place like this,” she sniffed, before storming up the stairs past me.
The true colors of the guests started to emerge since the storm. I knew some of them tossed snide glances my way, not appreciating that “their” luxury resort was occupied by someone they didn’t think belonged there. I kept the success of my first novel a secret from all who I spoke too and no one connected the dots between me and Dream Williams, the successful author.
Good. I liked when people kept their dirty, rotten personalities right near the surface where I could see it. When hatred lies covert, that’s when you really get hurt. Bigotry on the surface had always been a part of my life. I couldn’t let it bother me — not while I was supposed to be coming up with the next award-winning idea.
After Nari stormed off, I hurried down the stairs to the lobby. There was no sign of who she might have been talking to — I assumed it was her husband. The couple appeared mismatched from the first time I saw them. Mortimer Long was around thirty years older than her with a raspy, shaky voice. It was clear their arrangement was financial. Poor Mortimer hadn’t wised up to that fact. Charlene had mentioned speaking to the man and how desperately in love he was with the cold woman I’d just spoken to.
I couldn’t imagine why.
In the dining room, I ordered a veggie burger with a healthy serving of French fries. I knew my trainer would kill me if he could see this. But I was in Switzerland. On vacation. I couldn’t deny myself every bit of pleasure now, could I?
I ate alone this time. Across the dining room, Axel sat in an engaging conversation (in French) with the two married detectives who were guests on the second floor. I couldn’t help glancing over at him. Axel’s French, although incomprehensible to me, sounded so… spectacular. After Switzerland, I’d be eager to learn the language — if I made it out of here alive.
Satiated, I returned to my room for an evening writing session. I sat at my computer like a prince about to slay a dragon. A mystery novelist must meet certain expectations that her readers have. My first book had done that spectacularly. The publisher hated my second book. They wanted a series. I wanted to leave my main character, Annette, right where she was.
I toyed with ideas for finishing up the series for an hour. Nothing stuck out to me. My riveting African American female detective was just as stuck as I was — balanced precariously in the world of fiction. I closed my laptop. As if on cue, as the laptop shut I heard a blood curdling scream.
My heart stopped.
The scream reminded me of a pig sent to slaughter. I leapt out of my chair and rushed to the door, sticking my head into the hallway to discover the source of the screams.
No stuck pigs or damsels in distress. Teenagers. An American doctor, Vanessa Sullivan, brought her twin boys Jay and Kyle to the resort. As the youngest guests, they were often the most annoying. Two more weeks of their antics could push me to the bank of insanity.
Seeing my head peering into the hallway, they slowed their gallop to a trot.
“Hi Miss Williams,” they muttered politely.
“Good night. Quiet evening?” I asked.
Kyle brushed his brown hair out of his face, “Uh… Yeah. This place sucks now.”
“Yeah it’s lame,” Jay grumbled, brushing his wheat colored hair from his face.
“Right,” I replied, “Mind keeping it down a bit? I kind of like boring.”
“Yes Miss Williams, sorry,” they grumbled in unison.
“No worries,” I continued, “You boys are reminding me I need to get some air. But don’t let your mama hear you.”
I walked out of my room and past the boys whose heads lowered sheepishly. Their mother Vanessa was friendly enough, but she ruled her sons with an iron fist. They took any minute away from her to rebel — loudly.
I left my room to head downstairs. The dining room lay in silence. A fire crackled and the dark wood enveloped the room in a comforting mahogany scent. I’d been hoping for a night owl to spend some time with. I sat alone, pulling my notebook out of my denim jacket in an attempt to brainstorm my way out of writer’s block. Dream became lost in a daydream.
A voice whispered into my ear, “Can’t sleep?”, yanking me from my day dream.
I whipped my head around, ready to yell at whoever had disturbed my peace. Then I saw Axel.
“You scared me.”
“Sorry,” he replied.
“Not with that grin on your face you’re not.”
“Accompany me outside?”
“Outside? It’s cold.”
“Take my parka.”
He took his parka off and stood before me in a grey henley shirt that hugged all his muscles. (Muscles that I hadn’t realized existed).
“Okay, sure,” I replied, desperate to get a break from my failed brainstorming.
“Perfect. We can go to the balcony off the lobby.”
I slipped into his parka. I gasped as the coat hugged my curves. I did a poor job of avoiding time alone with Axel. As long as I didn’t act on my urges, my attraction to him couldn’t hurt.
“Best parkas for the slopes.”
I agreed and followed him outside. He pushed the door, letting me slide past him. I caught a whiff of his pine and leathery scent again. Mm.
We stood on the balcony. I shoved my hands into the pockets of his coat and looked out at the Alps. Switzerland had given me mixed feelings, but I had to admit, the beauty was unlike anything I’d experienced in the United States. The crisp air was manageable.
The mountains stood potent and erect, surrounding the resort with protective strength. In the distant village at the base of the mountain, warm orange lights flickered. Cold wind whipped around us, forcing me to sink into the fluffy parka. Axel stood stoic and unbothered by the cold. This was his element.
I turned to Axel and asked him, “What do you want to know about me?”
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