Step into the world of advertising agency ace, Kathryn Stroud, as her quest to satisfy a difficult client leads her in to the arms--and the restraints--of mysterious videographer, Francois Legere. When manic client, Jim Brindleman, dismisses three consecutive production teams with a media deadline looming, Kathryn must scramble to put a quality videographer in place and complete a near impossible shoot in time to save the advertising campaign. If she thinks Jim has put her in a bind, she hasn't seen anything until she gets irresistibly involved with Francois.
"So, what do you do for fun?" asked François.
"Seriously. For entertainment, what do you like to do?"
"Well, I mean, I like a good movie. I like Thai food," said Kathryn, her hands gesturing around the restaurant as she looked at him. "I'm a member of the Advertising Club. I joined Friends of the Museum, so I attend some of their events."
"And you haven't found anyone special yet?"
"Who says I'm looking?"
"Maybe you're looking and don't realize it."
"That would be strange."
"Sometimes our subconscious knows before we do."
"Okay, you're beginning to sound idiotic."
"How long have you been lonely?"
The question pierced, and though Kathryn hesitated, she wouldn't give. Stiffening slightly, she said, "I haven't been lonely. I'm accustomed to being alone and taking care of myself. And I do that just fine."
"No one is arguing that you don't." François regarded her for a moment, then said, "I guess the better question is, how long have you been longing?"
At once Kathryn felt exposed. It was as if François had zeroed in on her psyche and found something she did not know she had. Like an extra limb. She was embarrassed. "I'm not sure where you're going with these questions."
"Straight to the core of your desire." François reached across the table and took her hand.
"Don't be silly." Kathryn pulled her hand from his, but he tightened his grip and refused to let go.
"Wait. Listen to me," he said, quietly and steadily, his eyes staring into hers so intently that she could see her reflection in them under the soft restaurant lighting. "To the public, you appear to have everything or at least to be someone who can get it. A successful business. Financial security. Beauty. People regard you with envy or admiration. But I see more. I see what is missing."
Kathryn was both confused and intrigued. Who does this cocky bastard think he is? He doesn't know me. She sat her back firmly against her chair and mustered enough attitude to issue a challenge, "Yeah? Well, why don't you just show me what that is."
François' hand clamped down around hers and deftly pulled her by the arm as close to the table as possible. His gaze hardened and his tone grew serious. "First of all, you may be the boss on the video shoot, but you are not the boss here. It is at this table that all other tables now turn."
He lifted her hand and brought it to his perfectly shaped lips. He kissed each finger one by one, occasionally taking one into his mouth and sucking on it. Kathryn's reserved nature eschewed public displays of affection, and she glanced around reflexively to see if anyone was looking. Yet she made no attempt to stop François.
"This hand of yours is now mine," he said, smiling a little triumphantly.
"You'll have to let it go sometime," Kathryn replied.
"I will let it go only when I decide to possess some other part of you. And when I decide, you will know it." He slid his hand down to her wrist and turned her hand palm up. With his free hand, he used his index finger to trace the lines of her bare palm and looked up at her again. "Your fortune is about to unfold, Kathryn Stroud. Now, get ready. We're leaving."
With that, François released Kathryn's hand, removed his napkin from his lap, stood up to find his billfold and tossed a $100 dollar bill onto the table without asking for the check. Kathryn sat stunned, looking up at him. He extended his hand to help her out of her chair. She grabbed her purse, took his hand and got up to leave.
Walking briskly to the car with François's palm guiding the small of her back almost protectively, Kathryn shivered, though not from the breezy night air but from utter anticipation. An inexplicable urge to go with the moment, François' moment, overwhelmed her. She had to see what would happen. And she found herself wanting intensely for something to happen.
Upon reaching the car, François pushed her back against the passenger door, both hands firmly on her waist. He lowered his face inches from hers as she looked at him. For that moment, he was startlingly handsome. His eyes sparkled in the light of the parking lot, where they were alone. Kathryn could barely breathe with him so close. Her skin tingled.
"We are two of the same animal." François said.
"Are we?" Kathryn's voice felt suddenly weak. Before she could say anything else, he took her roughly by the neck with one hand and kissed her dead-on, his tongue exploring her mouth and lightly biting her lips. Kathryn could not remember such a fearless and consuming kiss. It was dizzying. She melted into it, and his hand on her waist tightened and pulled her body into his. François maneuvered one thigh in between Kathryn's legs, lifting her into an involuntary grind while pinning her against the side of the car. She gasped under his relentless kiss.
A brash baritone voice followed by giddy female laughter ripped through the night air from across the parking lot. Startled, Kathryn pulled back from François, worried they could be seen. Still holding her immobile, he shushed her with one finger to his lips.
"Pay no attention. They are drunk. They don't care about us," he whispered authoritatively. Slowly but deliberately, he burned kisses down her neck and base of her throat. Kathryn let her head tilt backward as his hands began to move all over her. Across her back. At her rib cage. Over her breasts. Down her sides and back around to her ass where he grabbed her and pressed her to him harder. Oh, God. How is this happening? Her breathing had turned shallow, expectant. She was powerless to the strength of his iron physique, his raw charm and his determination to have her.
"François, please," she managed.
He stopped briefly to look in her eyes. "Do not tell me to stop. Do not say another word."