Authors: Lacey Savage
A Stranger’s Touch
Shifter’s Touch, Book One
Roxana Leventis spends her evenings blindfolded and strapped into a harness. As living art, she’s appreciated with all the senses. That means being touched, fondled and caressed in the most intimate ways.
Donovan Armstrong thinks his latest assignment is just another security gig, guarding priceless paintings. Boring stuff for a wolf shifter, but he plans to return home to Canada as soon as he finds a suitable mate, the kind of shifter female who’ll stun his pack with her perfection. After four years of searching, however, his temporary stay in New York is starting to look pretty damn permanent.
Until one whiff of Roxi’s scent awakens his dormant inner wolf. Taking her as his mate is unthinkable. She’s not a shifter, and her delicate human body is much too fragile to withstand his animal urges. Still…neither man nor beast can ignore the way she stirs their blood.
Donovan’s job is simple—protect Roxi from overzealous gallery visitors. But who’s going to protect her from him?
Ellora’s Cave Publishing
A Stranger’s Touch
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
A Stranger’s Touch Copyright © 2012 Lacey Savage
Edited by Kelli Collins
Cover design by Syneca
Photography: Serg Zastavkin
Electronic book publication January 2012
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A Stranger’s Touch
He caught her scent the moment he walked through the door.
Beneath the odors of oil-based paint, varnish and sawdust, the sweet aroma of aroused female walloped Donovan Armstrong like a punch to the jaw, bringing his head up and making his nostrils flare.
He narrowed his eyes as he took in the entrance to the small art gallery. It opened onto a room roughly the same size as the bedroom in his apartment. Except unlike his bedroom, this space was entirely taken up by a flock of pigeons made out of what looked to be Styrofoam splattered in ketchup. He tilted his head, but it didn’t make any more sense from a different angle.
“It’s a philosophical statement on the battle of the sexes. Quite striking, wouldn’t you agree?”
Donovan tore his gaze from the bizarre display to face the man who’d spoken. A good five inches shorter than Donovan, he wore a gray suit with patches at the elbows, a white shirt and a bright red tie. His blond hair was slicked back from his face and gold-rimmed glasses sat on the bridge of a long nose.
“Brad Pierson.” The man stuck out his hand. “You must be the new security guy.”
Donovan clasped the outstretched hand and shook it. “Donovan Armstrong. United Security said you needed someone to fill a spot on short notice.”
“Ah, yes.” Brad cleared his throat, suddenly looking uncomfortable. “The last security guard had trouble with… Well, with the job. How much did United Security tell you about what you’ll be guarding?”
“Nothing.” The only information he’d been given was the name and address of the place, along with instructions to show up as soon as possible. When he realized the gig was at an art gallery, he assumed he’d been hired to protect priceless paintings. Now he wasn’t so sure.
“I see.” Brad slid a finger beneath his collar, as though the shirt had suddenly tried to strangle him. “To be perfectly blunt, Mr. Armstrong—”
Brad nodded. “Right. As I was saying, this job is fairly unusual.”
Donovan allowed his gaze to linger on the Styrofoam bird display. “I’m guessing that’s par for the course at Moderne.”
Brad’s thin lips tilted into a small smile but his eyes narrowed, as if he wasn’t sure whether Donovan was mocking him. “I’m very proud of my gallery. It might be small, but I display some of the most unusual modern art in all of New York.”
“Because that’s what New York needs.” Donovan raised an eyebrow, making his skepticism clear. “More art.”
“No doubt you’ve been to the Metropolitan Museum. It’s old and outdated. What this city needs is an infusion of new ideas. New expressions of the application of human skill and creativity. New ways to think about the world.” Brad’s cheekbones took on a reddish hue as he talked, and his gestures grew animated. “Make no mistake, Donovan. Art is all around us. We just choose not to see it. Come, follow me.”
Donovan dutifully fell into step behind his new boss, who led him through a narrow doorway at the far end of the pigeon room. The female aroma he’d scented earlier grew stronger, and the sweet smell flooded his veins with a surge of desire. Then his gaze fell on the next display of modern art, and the flood of lust evaporated like water in the desert.
If he thought the Styrofoam pigeons were odd, this new exhibit was downright bizarre. A twelve-foot statue of a baby wearing a diaper would have been creepy even if the infant
have vampire teeth. But most disturbing of all was the giant, disembodied tit he clutched to his mouth, baby-fangs sinking into the nipple as he balanced on stumpy little legs.
Donovan shuddered and looked away.
was what he’d been hired to protect?
“This way.” Brad paused in the next doorway and beckoned Donovan farther along. He ignored the giant baby and his feeding frenzy, as though the sculpture wasn’t looming over them like some demonic beast.
Donovan braced himself then shuffled his feet as he made his way to Brad. God only knew what kind of horrific sight awaited him in the next room.
“My masterpiece,” Brad said, rubbing his hands together as he stepped aside to give Donovan a perfect view of what lay beyond the doorway. “I call her
Donovan glanced past Brad to a harness of sorts, hanging from the ceiling—and his jaw dropped. He rubbed his eyes, thinking he had to be hallucinating. After the grotesque spectacles in the first two rooms, this was…
“Incredible,” he murmured.
Brad made a sound of approval low in his throat. “Isn’t she, though?”
Here, the scent was intoxicating. It flooded his nostrils and filled him with instant lust. A growl built in his chest, and he forced himself to stifle it as he focused on the woman before him.
She was strapped into the harness, lying suspended about three feet off the ground—absolutely, stunningly naked.
A leather blindfold covered the upper part of her face, leaving plump red lips in full view. His pulse quickening, Donovan let his gaze wander the line of her throat, down to large breasts and cinnamon-tipped nipples. Her pale skin glistened in the harsh glow of the overhead neon lights. A riot of dark, wavy hair cascaded loosely, the tips almost touching the floor.
The woman’s full curves rested on a satiny body pillow atop a dense slab of wood about four feet long and three feet across, supporting her back, neck and head. Four thick silver chains descended from the ceiling and looped through holes in each corner of the slab, holding it in place. The woman’s ass hung off the end of the pillow.
Leather cuffs bound her wrists and ankles. Four more chains, thinner and made of shimmery braided strands, dangled from the ceiling and attached to the woman’s cuffs through metal loops, splaying her legs wide and holding her arms extended over her head. Two narrow poles jutted from the floor, completing the unique apparatus. Leather padding covered the tops of the poles, cradling the backs of the woman’s knees, probably as much for support as for comfort.
Unlike the first two galleries, which had been empty, this small room was crowded. A dozen people clustered around the display. But they weren’t just watching. They were touching, fondling and groping, sliding fingers up her thighs and down her slit, tweaking her nipples and parting the fleshy cheeks of her ass to explore her opening.
And they did it all in utter silence, as if they were in a library—or hell, a real museum.
Donovan’s groin tightened and his inner wolf raged for control. “What is this?”
Brad gestured toward the woman. “Art. Living, breathing, interactive art. Meant to be appreciated with all the senses, not just with the eyes. She’s to be touched, smelled, tasted and felt. A true
pièce de résistance
From where he stood, Donovan had a great view of her plump pussy. The pink folds glistened as a man pressed two fingers on either side of her sex, parting her slit so her channel gaped slightly.
She didn’t wiggle. Didn’t even move as the guy thrust the tip of his thumb into her opening.
Donovan’s chest expanded with the force of his inhalation. He fisted his hands at his sides as his inner wolf howled, demanding—
For Donovan to join in?
He wasn’t sure. He could barely communicate with his beast when he was fully shifted, and he’d long ago given up trying to guess what his wolf wanted.
Forcing himself to focus on Brad, Donovan crossed his arms over his chest. “What’s the job?”
“I thought that would be obvious by now. Guarding
, of course. We get all kinds of people walking through here. She’s to be admired and appreciated, but not harmed in any way. It’s your job to make sure everyone who plays with my masterpiece is as respectful and careful as if touching the
herself. Do you understand?”
“I got it. Watch her, protect her, defend her. Sounds simple enough. When do I start?”
Brad gestured toward the harness. “Immediately.”
* * * * *
Two weeks later
“Oh my God! That woman…she’s…I mean, how can she… Did you know? Is that why you brought me here?”
Roxana Leventis was glad she was blindfolded. If she hadn’t been, she’d have rolled her eyes, which was probably on Brad’s list of forbidden behavior. Right up there with talking, moaning and coming.
After four months of working at Moderne, she should have been used to those types of comments. She heard them all the time, mostly from women, which she supposed wasn’t a complete surprise.
“Mike told me about this place. He said he and his girlfriend came here a couple of weeks ago and had a great time.” The man sounded meek, cowered under his companion’s indignation. “I thought it might be fun for us too.”
“Fun?” The woman’s shrill voice echoed off the walls. “You thought it would be
to take me to a place that strings up women like slabs of meat?”
“Honey, don’t be ridiculous.” The guy softened his tone, no doubt embarrassed to be yelled at in a public place. “It’s an art gallery, not a strip club.”
Roxi bit her lower lip and tried to drift back into her happy place, where fantasies involving her and a certain security guard abounded.
“Please be reasonable.” He was just one high-pitched whine away from begging now. “This is a modern art gallery for adults, which is what we are, right? We can handle a bit of nudity.”
“T-this is obscene!” She sounded even more incensed, probably surprised the guy would put up a fight. “We’re leaving, right now.”
Roxi didn’t catch the rest of his words. His voice dimmed as their footsteps faded out of hearing range. Well, good riddance. Maybe now she could get a bit of peace. Where had she been, before those two so rudely interrupted?
Oh right. On a secluded beach with Donovan Armstrong. He was lying on a towel, buck-naked, his erection proudly jutting from the nest of curls at his groin and resting across his taut stomach. She licked her lips in anticipation of taking his rod into her mouth. There was nowhere else she’d rather be.
Suddenly, the scene shifted. The beach vanished, and in its place a bedroom with satin sheets and cream-colored walls appeared. Music played softly in the background and rose petals had been scattered across the pillows. Donovan lay on the bed, a crimson sheet draped over his midsection, hiding his beautiful cock.
Damn it. There went her brain again, hurling her toward romance. Just like in every other fantasy she’d had about Donovan, the moment she tried to focus on good old no-strings-attached sex, her mind veered somewhere totally different, presenting her with a scene that entailed much more than a quick, satisfying romp.
Fingers crept up Roxi’s inner thigh. Male, she guessed, though the leather blindfold wrapped around her eyes made it impossible to know for sure. She pretended they were Donovan’s but knew that would never happen. One, he was much too professional to ever allow himself such liberties. And two, he’d barely said more than a dozen words to her since he’d started working here. Occasionally he growled. She didn’t know if that was a good thing or not.
Either way, it didn’t matter. He kept her safe, which was exactly what he’d been hired to do. Brad hadn’t said anything about the two of them needing to get to know each other, no matter how often her addled brain conjured that scenario.
“Is that her?” Roxi’s ears perked at the whispered question. The woman’s voice held none of the venom of the earlier visitor’s, and she relaxed a fraction.
The newcomer must have arrived with a girlfriend, because another female voice murmured her assent.
“But she’s…” The woman paused, apparently unsure how to phrase her confusion. “Fat,” she said at last.
Roxi bit her lower lip again. This was another conversation she’d had the dubious pleasure of overhearing way too many times to count. Because she showed off her body to earn a paycheck, people automatically assumed she had to be six feet tall and weigh a hundred and ten pounds soaking wet. Well, she hadn’t been a hundred and ten pounds since sixth grade.
A growl emanated from her left. It was subtle, more of a reverberation than an outright grunt, but it sent instant liquid heat to flood her pussy. Roxi gritted her teeth. Just how sex-starved was she that the simple rumble of Donovan’s voice made her wet?
Her arousal was as much on display as the rest of her, and Roxi struggled to tame her reactions. She was usually pretty good at hiding her body’s impulses, even when strangers poked and prodded her in the most intimate places, but a mere sound from
caused her nipples to turn into stiff points.
Damn the man. Ever since Donovan took over as her personal bodyguard for the last guy—who’d had a mini meltdown after coming in his pants—she’d been intimately attuned to his every move. He was a distraction she didn’t need. How the hell was she supposed to be art in every sense of the word—immobile, unaffected, cold—with him around?
“You’re right. I mean, she must be a size fourteen at least. Just look at her thighs.”
“Yeah, and that ass. It’s huge.”
Donovan’s growl turned feral then exploded into a roared, “Quiet, please!” He didn’t seem to give a damn that his order wasn’t quiet—or pleasant.