Breathe for Me - By Natalie Anderson

A Note from Natalie

I’m so excited to bring you BREATHE FOR ME, the first in my ‘BE FOR ME’ contemporary romance series. I wanted to go a little further than what I do in my shorter contemporaries so these books are both a little longer and a little hotter than those—you have been warned!

The only thing nicer than dreaming up a new hero, is dreaming up a whole gang of them and I loved the day this bunch of guys came knocking in my imagination. They’re a tight bunch who got through their student years working together as lifeguards in summer, then ski patrol in winter. Yes, we’re talking hot, active men here! Men who love a little fun in their R&R time. And, given their total fitness factor, getting attention from the females hasn’t been a problem for any of them...

BREATHE FOR ME features Xander Lawson, a gorgeous playful-yet-touching heroe who was such fun to write. I hope you enjoy his passion and his humor and the way he strives to meet Chelsea’s needs.

And be sure to keep an eye out for Logan’s story coming out next. Logan is without doubt the most wicked of all my heroes to date—fortunately he’s facing one very determined heroine. BEG FOR ME will be released in late 2013.

Happy reading!

~Natalie

Chapter One

Chelsea Greene stood at the side of the pool. Despite the sultry air, goose bumps peppered her skin. Cushion covered deckchairs and fairy-light festooned railings evoked a fun, party atmosphere. People from neighboring buildings could probably see her, no doubt wondering why she wasn’t wet already. On a hot night like this, she was surprised she was the only resident breaking the rules to swim after hours.

It ought to be easy.

A sparkling, azure pool on a Manhattan apartment block’s roof was a rare luxury. Kidney-shaped, it wasn’t built for endless laps and fitness, but for fun. And it was time to quit dawdling and dive right in. But her leg ached. Almost two years on from the accident it wasn’t fully fixed.

One foot at a time, one step at a time, inch by inch and all that…

Her pulse skittered. She concentrated, trying to remember the simple sensual delight of warm water washing over skin and the free feeling of floating. But other memories were stronger, creeping and curling like a vine that all too soon overtakes and suffocates the original host plant.

Dark, cold, deep. Drowning.

Her breathing hitched. She froze on the edge. Alarm bells clanged in her head, endlessly ringing out panic. She closed her eyes, tried counting her way to calm.

One, two, three, four, five…

She got to nineteen before it dawned that the alarm wasn’t stopping. It was real. Snapping her eyes open, she turned towards the stairwell. Distantly, beneath the ear-splitting siren, she could hear the slamming of several doors.

Fire alarm. Her building. Wouldn’t that be her luck? Chelsea grinned ruefully. At least it wasn’t all in her head.

She snatched up her towel and walked as fast as her damaged leg would allow. She wasn’t going to panic. Alarms like this were almost always false—a warning, a drill, an electronic hiccup. It wouldn’t be a real emergency. Opening the door to the stairwell, she heard voices. Below, people were filing out fast, calling out to each other. Some laughed. If people were laughing it must be okay.

She clutched the towel around her and steeled herself for however many million stairs. No elevators worked in an alarm, everyone knew they were programmed to return to the ground floor and stay there. She’d have to walk all twenty flights. Her heart thundered rapidly, skipping essential beats, making her breathless before she’d hardly started.

Just a drill. Just a drill.

One floor. Two. Into the melee. A ton of people were ahead of her, moving fast. On the landing of the third floor down a flood of people emerged from one doorway. Apparently Thursday night was party night in that apartment. They didn’t seem to notice her leaning against the banister as they rushed—a gaggle of merriment and energy that streamed by in a hazy push of people. Her towel snagged on something, loosened, then slipped between the railings, falling into that tiny gap in the center of the stairwell. It floated down all the floors in a few seconds. She gripped the banister. The crowd was well below her now too. It didn’t matter, right?

This was only a drill. They’d only be on the street a couple of minutes while the apartment managers reset the alarm.