Stay With Me – Book 1: Lust
Stephano Rinaldi meets a stunning fashion model, Kyra Walsh, at a show in Zurich. As a fashion photographer he sees beautiful women all the time. But he cannot lose the chance to get to know Kyra better, even though they have only a couple of days together. He knows Kyra is trouble, but cannot resist her.
Kyra Walsh is swept off her feet by charming Stephano. But she mistrusts men, and sees no reason the sexy photographer should be any different. She should turn away, but a taste of him is addictive. One hot interlude leads to another. Each time the sex is hotter than before. Yet she knows there is no future for them.
“It wasn’t just that Stephano was handsome. It was those copper-brown eyes rimmed in dark blue, and the way he looked at her. It was as though Stephano could see into her heart, and knew how she felt, though she did her best to hide it.
Kyra wasn’t right for him. Or for any man, really. Casual dating was one thing. A serious relationship was another. And with Stephano, casual was impossible. He stirred feelings that Kyra was ill-equipped to handle. If she didn’t watch it, things would get messy.”
I’m so glad to be able to read Kyra’s story. When Kyra meets Stephano there is chemistry between them. Slowly Kyra gives in, and sparks fly. During a trip together to Germany Kyra’s past comes back to haunt her. I can’t wait to see how Kyra and Stephano deal with this in book 2. Cathy
OMG Emily Jane did it again! I love the chemistry between Kyra and Stephano. These are characters that people can relate to. Can’t wait to read more! Samantha H.
Stay With Me
Book 1: Lust
Stephano Rinaldi drank in the sight of the gorgeous woman just two feet from him, and the sound of his brother’s voice faded into the background. She was tall, yet shorter than he was, even in high heels. Her dark hair fell in soft waves, grazing her bare shoulders. The pink satin gown clung to her slender curves. Rhinestones shimmered at the bodice, drawing his gaze to the swell of her lovely breasts.
He realized he was staring. Kyra reached for his hand, causing the dangling earrings to sparkle under the bright lights. Stephano managed to speak, holding her hand a moment longer than necessary. The response was polite. “And it is a pleasure to meet you too, Kyra.” But it didn’t begin to describe how he felt.
The flush of her cheeks unnerved Stephano. When he spoke, Kyra’s eyes flitted down, then back up to meet his. The attraction was unmistakable. Maintaining composure was difficult. Her nervous demeanor meant she was aware of the electricity between them too. Unless Stephano didn’t know women as well as he thought he did.
Glancing at his older brother Gianni, he noticed a flash of a smile. He had his arm around his girlfriend Leah Ivers, who smiled back as if they were both privy to a secret. Stephano had just been introduced to Leah, although he had heard much about her. She and his brother worked together at Gianni’s fashion merchandising company in New York. They were in Zurich for Fashion Week, just as he was.
Stephano’s career in fashion photography involved a lot of travel, and he didn’t get home to New York very often. It had been a while since he had seen his brother, and he had hoped to arrive in Zurich sooner so they would have more opportunity to catch up. But he was delayed by his last job, and flew in the night before, which he had just explained to Gianni. He had arrived just in time to photograph the show earlier that day.
Kyra captured his attention with one glance. Stephano wanted to get to know her. A lot better. “Well, I believe there is champagne,” he said, and Kyra gave him a shy smile.
Gianni had his arm around Leah. “Lead the way.”
The event was in the VIP tent, where local celebrities, fashion bloggers, and designers, dressed in formal wear, gathered in the evening after that day’s show. Stephano wore a charcoal blazer over a sweater, his idea of dressing up. There was a full bar, and he headed that way, staying close to Kyra. “You look lovely this evening.”
“Thank you,” Kyra said. “Is all the travel you do because of your fashion photography?”
“Yes, I’ve been doing it for years,” he said. “How did you know?”
Kyra’s smile warmed Stephano’s heart. He could look at her for hours, and would do so, given the opportunity. Maybe he could get her to pose for photographs. No, he was jumping ahead. He barely knew her.
“I’ve been friends with Leah for a long time. And Gianni too,” she said. “Also, I know your sister Daniela, and she has spoken of you.”
“Good things, I hope.”
Kyra’s blue eyes sparkled. “Mostly. As I recall.”
Her teasing excited Stephano, just as everything about her had. “You live in New York, then?”
“Yes, I do,” Kyra said. “I used to do more international shows, but not so much recently.”
“You’re a model?”
She gracefully stepped around a few guests coming toward her. “Yes, mostly I model for showrooms in New York. But I adore big events like this.”
Stephano stepped up to the bar next to Gianni, who patted him on the back. “Okay, let’s order,” his brother said, then turned to Leah to see what she wanted.
Kyra hesitated for a moment, then said, “Champagne. This is a celebration, after all.”
Stephano ordered and turned to Kyra. “You’re celebrating?”
She laughed. “It’s not often I’m in Zurich, modeling in an international fashion show, and socializing with VIPs. It makes me feel like a celebrity or something.”
“Have you been to Zurich before?”
“No, I haven’t.”
“Well, then let’s celebrate.” Stephano passed her the glass of champagne, and tipped the bartender when he served the bourbon on the rocks. He moved away from the bar with Kyra by his side. He was in a mood to celebrate too. Only it wasn’t a trip to Zurich that sparked the urge.
It was meeting Kyra. He was overreacting. Stephano needed to slow it down. Hadn’t he been ripped apart by a relationship that was headed toward commitment faster than he was comfortable with? He had no business repeating the mistake. Yet he was with a beautiful woman. One he had just met. And it was a party. There was no harm in enjoying her company.
Kyra waved to a woman in the crowd. Smiling, she turned back to Stephano. “That’s Julie. I’ve worked in shows with her before. It’s nice to see someone from New York. She’s here for Fashion Week, too.”
“How long have you been modeling?”
“About four years. I mostly work the showrooms. It pays more than the other work I could get.”
“Smart girl.” Stephano took a sip of his drink, and spotted Gianni and Leah in conversation with some other people. He’d catch up with his brother later. “Shall we sit down?”
Kyra nodded. “I have to stand in high heels enough. Sitting sounds good.”
They found a table at the edge of the tent, as much out of the crowd as possible. Kyra sipped her champagne, still looking a little nervous. Stephano watched her. She ran her fingers through her curls and crossed her legs.
“Do I make you uncomfortable?” he said.
“Why would you say that?” Kyra rubbed her thumb along the side of her glass. “We did just meet, you know. You may be Gianni’s younger brother. But you are still a stranger to me.”
It was said casually, but Stephano reached for the deeper meaning. Kyra didn’t trust him, which was unusual. Normally, he disarmed women easily. It looked like Kyra would be a challenge.
Now Stephano was curious. “You don’t warm up to people quickly, I take it?”
The corner of Kyra’s mouth lifted in a shadow of a smile. “Men? Is that what you mean by people?”
“Oh, so it’s men you don’t trust?”
Her cheeks flushed, and Stephano thought he saw a flash of anger. When she spoke, Kyra’s words were sharp. “Should I?”
“Answering a question with a question,” he said. “That’s one way to avoid telling me anything.”
She glared at him. “And what is it you want to know?”
“I’m trying to get you to relax,” he said. “You just seem a bit anxious, and I wonder if it has something to do with me. Or if you are generally nervous around people…men, I mean.”
Kyra expelled a breath. “You have a lot of questions for a man who at this point is not past the point of acquaintance. And just because you are swoon-worthy, and I have no doubt you are used to women falling all over you, doesn’t mean you have rattled me.”
There was fire in her eyes when Kyra spoke. It turned him on. In fact, it seemed the more she fought him, the more Stephano was drawn to her. Plus she thought he was swoon-worthy. That was a step in the right direction. He wasn’t quite sure how to respond to her.
Stephano took a gulp of bourbon. “What makes you think I have the notion that I’ve rattled you? Do you think you can read my mind or something?”
“You are easy to read,” she said. “Your expressions give you away. You’re confident, Stephano. Not that you don’t have reason to be. But I’m not an easy mark.”
Clearly, Stephano was just making it worse. Time to shift gears. “I do not consider you a mark. And if you knew me, you wouldn’t think that. You are a beautiful woman, whom I can’t say I understand, but I am glad we met. I’d like to get to know you better.” He paused and took another sip of his drink. “And from the sound of it, you need to get to know me better. You have me confused with some asshole.”
Kyra laughed, and he liked the sound of that as much as he liked the bite of her voice when she was angry. “Okay, then,” she said. “Let’s get to know each other. Tell me something about yourself.”
She had quickly turned the tables, and directed the attention his way. But Stephano didn’t have anything to hide. Not much, anyway. “I thought you knew all about me from talking with my sister.”
Kyra twirled her glass in her fingers. “Nope. Daniela wouldn’t tell me anything personal. She’s loyal. You are her brother. I’m just a friend. You are going to have to tell me your secrets.”
“What makes you think I have secrets?”
She studied him. “You travel the world taking photographs of supermodels. You’re breathtakingly handsome, which tells me your motto is not ‘look don’t touch.’ And you strike me as interesting. So I’m guessing your life isn’t dull, nor is it an open book.”
“Fairly perceptive,” he said. “But it’s not as electrifying as you might imagine. Sure, I like women. Especially beautiful women. I like to photograph them, and I like to…get to know them. But if you’re fishing for a deep, dark secret, I think you are going to be disappointed.”
“You can tell me your secrets later,” she said. “And besides…I’m used to being disappointed.”
Stephano didn’t like the sound of that. Disappointment was a condition that should rarely befall such a lovely woman. “So tell me one of your secrets.”
Kyra stiffened. “Oh, no you don’t. You still haven’t told me anything about you.”
Their gazes locked. Stephano struggled for what to tell her, but his eyes drifted to her chest as it moved with her breathing. Her annoyance with him did nothing to cool his desire. If anything, his urge to have her rose with every word she spoke. But she wasn’t going to be easy. He had no delusions about that.
“I’m twenty-five,” he said, since it was the first thing that came to mind.
“You are a year older than I am,” Kyra said.
Stephano continued, “And I always enjoyed taking pictures. Every Christmas my dad would buy me a camera, each one better than the last. And the more photographs I took, the better they were. Or so I thought. And my parents did too. Of course, parents tend to be biased that way.”
Kyra had an odd look on her face. “Your parents, maybe.” She looked away as if she regretted her statement.
“And your parents aren’t biased toward thinking you are special?”
She gripped the glass tighter, and her fingers turned white. “A story for another time.”
Stephano didn’t press. “Anyway, photography is a passion.”
“Why don’t you take artistic photos and sell them?”
“Who says I haven’t?”
Kyra looked at him. “Have you?”
“Sure I have. And I still do.”
“But you travel around, following fashion shows, and photographing models in designer outfits,” she said.
“I can think of worse things.”
Kyra smiled at him.
Stephano gulped the last of his drink. “Now it’s your turn. Tell me something about you.”
She looked at him. “I’m not as interesting as you might imagine.”
“We’ll see. Let’s hear what you’ve got.”
She wrinkled her nose at him. “I model because I make good money doing it.”
“You like the lifestyle it gives you?”
Kyra rolled her shoulder. “Sure. I like wearing designer fashions. I couldn’t afford them otherwise. But I model them. That’s pretty good.” She relaxed into her chair. “And I make good money in the showrooms, so I am able to help my sister through college.”
“Your parents can’t do that?”
There it was again. That change in her expression. And Kyra’s reply was short. “No. They can’t.”
“Okay, well, at this rate it is going to take us a long time to get to know each other,” Stephano said.
Kyra rewarded him with a heartwarming laugh.
“Do you like to dance?”
“I love to dance.”
Music played in the background, piped in through a portable sound system. Stephano spotted a couple of the speakers. The space was too confined for live music. At the back of the tent was a small dance floor, a low platform. He stood and reached for Kyra’s hand.
“May I have this dance?”
She took his hand and stood up. “It would be my pleasure.”
Stephano was relieved to know that she could be cordial and let go of the defensive banter, at least long enough to dance. He liked to dance also. And even though the music was inoffensive at best, it was worth it to have her in his arms. Two other couples were moving to the slow song. Reaching the floor, Stephano turned to Kyra and opened his arms.
She blushed, which was utterly endearing. To have that effect on her was a boost to his ego. The same ego she had cut down to size only minutes before. Kyra moved into his arms and let him take the lead. She smelled delicious, like roses in summer. The feel of her hand in his elicited stronger urges than it should have. Stephano put his head against hers, and pressed one hand low on her back.
For a time, Kyra was quiet. She let him hold her, and they just danced. Slowly, matching the rhythm of the music, they moved together. The dance was more sensual than much of what passed for foreplay with other women. He was aware of every little thing: her heart beating, her breasts pressed against him, and her hair against his cheek. With his fingertips, Stephano lightly stroked her spine.
When the song finished, he held her just the same. They rocked together to a tune only they could hear. Then the music started again, and Stephano led her in another dance. And then another. He didn’t want to release her. Having her in his arms was a good feeling, one he wanted more of. If the evening went as he hoped, maybe he would.
Finally, when one song ended, Kyra looked up at him. Her voice was soft. “I need another drink.”
Stephano allowed her to slip from his embrace, but he took her hand. They wound through the crowd toward the bar. With drinks in hand, they surveyed the party. If anything there were more guests than earlier, and the festive atmosphere showed no sign of waning.
He watched Kyra sip her champagne, relishing the enjoyment in her expression. “I do like parties,” she said.
“I don’t mind them,” Stephano said. “Especially if there is someone interesting there.” He looked into her eyes, but she glanced away.
Kyra rubbed a hand on her arm.
“Chilly?” he said.
“A little. It is snowing outside, you know. And these space heaters only warm me up if I stand underneath one.”
“You checked your coat?”
“What do you say we get some dinner. Are you hungry?”
“Yes, I really am. Before the party I was so busy helping Leah with her makeup, and getting dressed, that I didn’t have a chance to eat. Do you know a place we can go?”
“There is a place where I eat when I visit Zurich. Is Italian food okay?”
“Yes, sounds good,” Kyra said.
Stephano’s phone vibrated, and he lifted it to see a text from Gianni.
Is Kyra with you?
Leah and I are going to leave now.
Go ahead. I’m taking Kyra to dinner. I’ll take her back to the hotel later.
Great to see you. Talk to you later.
Good to see you too, big brother.
Stephano turned to Kyra and offered his arm. “Shall we?” If he had his way, it would be an offer for more than dinner, despite his misgivings. In the short time he had known Kyra, one thing was clear. She had issues. But she was devastatingly beautiful, and Stephano’s attraction to her was not easily denied. It might be a mistake, but he was going to see how things developed.