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Teresa Medeiros

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TRISTAN SLOWLY LOWERED
HIS LIPS TO HERS

knowing even as he did so that he should be checking her pulse … helping her to her feet … calling a doc …

His mouth brushed hers in a sweet, dry caress. An electricity more primitive than lightning arced between them, melting the neurons of Tristan’s methodical left brain to mush. Her lips parted without hesitation beneath his gentle probing, dragging a hoarse groan out of him.

He surrendered those lips to nuzzle the satiny column of her throat, breathing deep of her fragrance. She smelled nearly as delicious as she tasted, more intoxicating than well-aged cognac or Chanel No. 5. She smelled like kittens napping in a rocking chair. Towering cedars strung with bows and lights. Chocolate-chip cookies fresh from the oven on a snowy winter night.

It was those dreams of a home he’d never had that finally allowed Tristan to identify her quaint perfume.

Cloves
. Arian Whitewood smelled of cloves.

Arian welcomed Tristan’s kiss with artless innocence. She moaned with disappointment that soon melted to delight when his lips abandoned hers to feather soft, provocative kisses along her jaw and throat.

He wanted more. She could deny him nothing …

Also by Teresa Medeiros

L
ADY OF
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ONQUEST
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OBODY’S
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ARLING
F
AIREST OF
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HEM
A
LL
A W
HISPER OF
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EATHER AND
V
ELVET
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HIEF OF
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EARTS
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REATH OF
M
AGIC
S
HADOWS &
L
ACE
A T
OUCH OF
E
NCHANTMENT
C
HARMING THE
P
RINCE
T
HE
B
RIDE AND THE
B
EAST
F
AIREST OF
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HEM
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A K
ISS TO
R
EMEMBER

BREATH OF MAGIC
A Bantam Book / March 1996

All rights reserved
.
Copyright © 1996 by Teresa Medeiros
.

No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher.
For information address: Bantam Books
.

eISBN: 978-0-307-78519-0

Bantam Books are published by Bantam Books, a division of Random House, Inc. Its trademark, consisting of the words “Bantam Books” and the portrayal of a rooster, is Registered in U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and in other countries. Marca Registrada. Bantam Books, 1540 Broadway, New York, New York 10036
.

v3.1

To Nita Taublib
for giving me the wings to soar

To Tommy and Jacque Pigage and
Brian and Vonda Gates
.
God knew I was going to have
a tough year, so he gave me you for friends
,
proving his infinite wisdom once again

And for Michael
,
who makes me believe in magic every day we’re together

A
CKNOWLEDGMENTS

To the memory of

E
LIZABETH
M
ONTGOMERY
,

whose wit, beauty, grace, and intelligence made every little girl of my generation long to be a witch.

Contents
Prologue

The media hadn’t dubbed the four-thousand-square-foot penthouse perched at the apex of Lennox Tower the Fortress for nothing, Michael Copperfield thought, as he changed elevators for the third time, keyed his security code into the lighted pad, and jabbed the button for the ninety-fifth floor.

The elevator doors slid open with a sibilant hiss. Resisting the temptation to gawk at the dazzling night view of the Manhattan skyline, Copperfield strode across a meadow of neutral beige carpet and shoved open the door at the far end of the suite.

“Do come in,” said a dry voice. “Don’t bother to knock.”

Copperfield slapped that morning’s edition of the
Times
on the chrome desk and stabbed a finger at the headline. “I just got back from Chicago. What in the hell is the meaning of this?”

A pair of frosty gray eyes flicked from the blinking cursor on the computer screen to the crumpled newspaper. “I should think it requires no explanation. You
can’t have been my PR advisor for all these years without learning how to read.”

Copperfield glared at the man he had called friend for twenty-five years and employer for seven. “Oh, I can read quite well. Even between the lines.” To prove his point, he snatched up the paper and read, “ ‘Tristan Lennox—founder, CEO, and primary stockholder of Lennox Enterprises—offers one million dollars to anyone who can prove that magic exists outside the boundaries of science. Public competition to be held tomorrow morning in the courtyard of Lennox Tower. Eccentric boy billionaire seeks only serious applicants.’ ” Copperfield twisted the paper as if to throttle his employer in effigy.
“Serious
applicants? Why, you’ll have every psychic hotline operator, swindler, and
Geraldo
-reject on your doorstep by dawn!”

“Geraldo already called. I gave him your home number.”

“How can you be so glib when I’ve faxed my fingers to the bone trying to establish a respectable reputation for you?”

Droll amusement glittered in Tristan’s hooded eyes. “I’ll give you a ten-thousand-dollar bonus if you can get them to stop calling me the ‘Boy Billionaire.’ It makes me feel like Bruce Wayne without the Batmobile. And I did just turn thirty-two. I hardly qualify as a ‘Boy’ anything.”

His fickle attention shifted to his fax machine. The display’s artificial light carved hollows beneath his cheekbones and cast an eerie glow over his implacable features. As his deft finger tapped a button that would send a fax authorizing a corporate takeover of a multimillion-dollar software conglomerate, Copperfield wanted to tug his own sleek ponytail in frustration.

“How long are you going to keep indulging these ridiculous whims of yours? Until you’ve completely destroyed your credibility? Until everyone in New York is laughing behind your back?”

“Until I find what I’m looking for.”

“What? Or who?”

Ignoring Copperfield’s pointed question as he had for the past ten years, Tristan flipped off fax and computer with a single switch and rose from the swivel chair.

As he approached the north wall, an invisible seam widened to reveal a walk-in closet twice the size of Copperfield’s loft apartment. Recessed track lighting illuminated each of his steps into the cavernous vault. Fearing that shouting across such a distance might actually produce an echo, Copperfield had no choice but to tag after him.

As Tristan activated an automated tie rack, Copperfield said, “Sometimes I think you flaunt convention deliberately. To keep everyone at arm’s length where they can’t hurt you.” He drew in a steadying breath. “To keep the old scandal alive.”

For a tense moment, the only sound was the mechanical swish of the ties circling their narrow track.

Tristan’s shoulders lifted in a dispassionate shrug as he chose a burgundy striped silk to match his Armani suit. “Discrediting charlatans is a hobby. No different from playing the stock market or collecting Picassos.” He knotted the tie with expert efficiency, shooting Copperfield a mocking glance. “Or romancing bulimic supermodels with Godiva chocolates.”

Copperfield folded his arms over his chest. “Have you had my apartment under surveillance again or did you conjure up that sordid image in your crystal ball? At least I give chocolates. As I recall, the last model I introduced you to didn’t get so much as a ‘thank you, ma’am’! after her ‘wham-bam.’ ”

Tristan’s expression flickered with something that might have been shame in a less guarded man. “I meant to have my assistant send some flowers.” He chose a pair of platinum cuff links from a mahogany tray. “If it’s the million dollars you’re worried about, Cop, don’t
waste your energy. I’m the last man who expects to forfeit that prize.”

“Well, you know what they say. Within the chest of every cynic beats the heart of a disillusioned optimist.”

BOOK: Teresa Medeiros
12.71Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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