Publication date: December 6th 2016
Genres: New Adult, Romance
The daughter of a renown media mogul, Poppy Koslowski has her life turned upside down overnight when her father is indicted for a massive fraud that leads to the loss of her family’s fortune. In the wake of the scandal, Poppy moves to Paris at the behest of her aunt, the Countess Domel, who, unbeknownst to Poppy, intends to find a wealthy husband for her niece in order to ensure her future. Poppy, however, has her own dreams of finishing school and realizing her goal of becoming an award-winning journalist. When she meets Henri Olin, the passionate and seductive illegitimate son of one of France’s most powerful politicians, his political and social ideology introduces Poppy to a world very different from her own. Yet, Poppy ultimately learns that everything comes at a price, even love. After suffering a devastating loss, Poppy finds herself alone and virtually penniless, and is forced to make her way back to America to piece together the remnants of her life in New York City. There, she rediscovers her passion once again, only to be confronted with yet another life choice, one that will forever shape her destiny.
“What?” He asks, unable to keep from laughing. He knew she’d have a beautiful laugh. He just knew by the way she smiled when she delivered his drink. If only he’d been bold enough to touch her hand when she did. But she doesn’t seem like the kind of person who wants to be touched, at least not without her permission.
“Nothing,” Poppy replies, shifting her weight from one leg to the other. She begins to scrape at the loose gravel in the wall, not caring when she chips a nail.
He lowers his head so he can be eye level with her. Poppy figures he’s at least five inches taller than she is, in heels. “Come on, I can’t be that ridiculous can I?”
Poppy shrugs. “How would I know, we only just met. But I think it’s cute the way your brow goes like this.” She imitates his bemusement, wrinkling her face to make lines between her brows and points to it.
“I don’t look like that.”
Before Poppy can reply, a noise makes her turn toward West 10th again. Just inside the black iron gate that frames the alley, she spots a young woman who looks to be about her age. The woman tosses back her long dark hair as she talks to a guy whose arm is wound tightly around her waist. Poppy recognizes the intimacy, the way every inch of their bodies touch as they speak. She studies their unspoken language, wondering if that’s how she looked with Henri that first night.
A peal of laughter escapes the woman as the guy lifts her hips around his and presses her against the wall, squeezing the flesh beneath her skirt and kissing her neck.
The brown-eyed stranger follows her gaze. “I didn’t think I’d be getting two shows tonight,” he whispers.
The low sound of his voice ignites something in Poppy’s chest that travels down to her cunt. Desire, like everything post Henri and Paul, had seemed like a far-off notion, until tonight that is. Something about this stranger is awakening the kinds of feelings she believed she’d buried. Denial, Poppy realizes, isn’t the same as burying a truth. The former makes you want to pretend something never happened while the latter at least makes you acknowledge it before you shove it so deep underground it can’t touch you. The reality is that Poppy hasn’t been able to do either well. Some days Paris and Paul seem like a faint memory, so distant that it’s as if it all happened in a previous lifetime, while others it’s as if the truth is beating on her so hard that it hurts to breathe. Clearly she has to find a better coping mechanism.
The stranger’s warm breath on the side of her face draws Poppy out of her thoughts again. How easily distracted she is tonight, one thought jumping to the next. She attempts to make them melt together until she can’t distinguish them. It helps to lose herself in the moment, in the now which doesn’t allow any space for the past to reside. She gazes at the enamored couple, although enamored seems like a bit of a stretch. She didn’t love Henri that first night. Not that it took very long to make her feel something akin to love. Sometimes, though, she wonders if she wasn’t just picking up on his emotions and making them her own. He’s the one who pursued her, right? He’s the one who insisted they keep the baby, to get married in order to be a family. Where were her decisions in any of it? She had made them, of course. Her feelings had told her to agree, to make it alright. For whom though? For him? To make Henri happy? To give him some sense of peace and closure regarding his own painful childhood? How much control of her own life had she sublimated in order to make him whole? How much had she really loved him versus how much had she thought she loved him? Can she even remember anymore?
Once again, Poppy swallows back each question like a bitter pill. The answers are a luxury she can’t afford at the moment. There’s no one to give them to her anyway. Poppy tilts her head against the wall and focuses on the couple. She figures there’s no need to give the couple any privacy. If they wanted that, they could’ve chosen a different place. But they didn’t. Instead they opted for an alley, and not a particularly dark one either. They want to be seen, to be on display. It fascinates her to be the voyeur this time. When she was the woman up against the wall, she had never considered what it would be like to watch. God how she loved feeling so uninhibited. God how she misses the freedom that comes with not caring that her actions could ever have consequences. She loved the power she derived from that freedom, how it impressed upon her a feeling of invincibility. She can see on the young woman’s face that she’s experiencing the same thing. It’s the distant gaze that gives her away as the man pushes his cock inside of her. She’s there, but she’s also deep inside herself, taking the energy from the moment and storing it inside of her for a later time. It’s life force she’s seeking, and it’s life force she’s giving. If only she’d known what she would have to give in exchange for what she took, Poppy thinks to herself.
Vivian Winslow was born and raised in Southern California. Before becoming a writer, she made a career out of moving around the world every couple of years thanks to her husband’s job and her incurable wanderlust. She currently lives in New York City with her husband and two elementary school age children, and is grateful to finally have a place to call home for more than two years.
New York is the perfect city to indulge her love of fashion, the arts and especially food. If she’s not at home writing or running around the city with her kids, you’ll most likely find her eating at the newest restaurant in her beloved Lower East Side or having a cocktail at her favorite bar in Alphabet City. That said, she’s still a California girl at heart and would gladly trade in her heels for a pair of flip-flops to catch a sunset on the beach.
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