“You want me to do what?”
“C’mon. Cough up a buck and kiss me.”
His voice was sugar coated southern persuasion. He was good looking enough, that was for sure. Tall, dark and handsome. Cliché, yes, but men like that have always caught my eye. Especially the proverbial rebel. Black leather, stubble and a look that said c’mon, live a little.
“I don’t even know you.”
“It’s for charity.” His dark eyes twinkled, tempting me like a sparkly lure to a trout.
“I gave at the office.”
He laughed, a warm sound that made my insides quiver and my knees wobble. I meandered a step closer. As if I were just . . . meandering. I didn’t need a kiss, didn’t want a kiss. After my humiliating and quite public break-up with the high school principal last summer, I didn’t want anything to do with a man for a good, long time.
But, something about this man . . .
He leaned back against the booth, elbows resting on the plank behind him. The wooden sign over his head proclaimed Kisses – $1 in lurid red paint. An unusual Saturday morning occupation for a man who looked more like he belonged riding an enormous motorcycle through flaming hoops.
A group of kids ran by, their screams barely distracting me. One bumped into my legs, knocking me even closer.
“Sorry, Ms. Marian.” One of my fourth-grade students took a moment to apologize then dashed off to join the rest of her gang. I waved to them, then turned my attention back to the man at hand.
“Tell you what, I’ll give you two for one.”
“What if you aren’t any good?”
“I’ll refund your money.” It was said with a cock-of-the-walk smirk, as if he’d never had a complaint on his kissing before.
I tilted my head, glanced him up and down. Long lean legs encased in jeans, black t-shirt under the black leather jacket. Smokey eyes, devil-may-care grin. I imagined he hadn’t.
Another step closer and his scent washed over me. Leather, Old Spice and fresh paint.
The sounds of the fair faded behind me – the dust, the whirling of the Octopus as it spun its inhabitants in dizzying circles. My focus narrowed on the man’s handsome face, his melted chocolate eyes. And more specifically, on his lips. They weren’t soft by any means, oh no. They were firm just like the rest of him.
“Do I get a taster?” I slapped my hand over my mouth. Maid Marian, as the older school kids called me, hadn’t just stepped out of her comfort zone, she’d taken a flying leap.
He laughed out loud, and my cheeks heated to a broil.
“I meant –“
His hand tugged on my elbow, drawing me closer. The worn knees of his jeans brushed against mine, and his heat enveloped me. And oh lord, did it feel fine.
“You can have a free sample.” He leaned down and his breath fanned over my flushed cheek. Cherry Lifesavers. Delish.
His lips were warm against my cheek, moving softly to my ear, nuzzling there for a moment. My hands gripped the open edges of his jacket, whether to draw him closer or just to keep me from falling into the dirt at his feet I couldn’t tell.
“There.” His voice whispered in my ear, his hands stroked down my back to rest at my waist.
“Th—that wasn’t too bad.”
He leaned back again, his eyes laughing into mine. “Good enough for a buck?”
Hell, I’d give him ten and we’d make an afternoon of it.
“I suppose I could spare one. For charity you know.”
He took my dollar and tossed it carelessly into an overflowing tin behind him.
“Which charity are you working for? I like to know where my money’s going.” Whoever they were, they’d be rich by days end.
“St. Martin’s Home for Orphaned Boys.” His hands were under my elbows, drawing me in closer. My feet were between his outspread ones, my hips cradled against his. A long finger drew the hair out of my eyes, then trailed down the skin of my neck to stroke the pulse thundering there.
“I’ve never heard of St. Martin’s.” My eyes were trained on his face, my brain gone to mush.
His finger slid up to rest under my chin, tilting it up at just the right angle. Slowly at first his lips touched mine, and his thumbs stroked my jaw. My hands lifted to his broad shoulders, and I rose up on my toes for full-body contact. I closed my eyes, sank into the moment. Let myself feel.
It was heaven.
With a small groan, I leaned in closer, crushing my breasts against his firm chest, wrapped my fingers around his biceps. The hurt that had been sealed inside of me for so long, the breakup with James seemed to wash away. I felt cleansed. Renewed.
Finally, the tap-tap-tapping on my shoulder couldn’t be ignored. I pulled my lips away, blurrily focusing on the man’s face. He’d made my world complete, made me feel things I didn’t think I ever would again.
I couldn’t begin to thank him.
The tapping on my shoulder began again, more insistently. I turned around to face a line of women with dollar bills in their hands. All with the same hungry look on their faces that I’m sure I wore on my own.
He set me upright, holding my elbow until I was balanced and my trembling knees had locked. A grin flashed across his charming face, and he brushed my bangs back out of my eyes. “We’ll save the two-fer for another time.” He winked. “Crowd control.”
I nodded, possibly mute, possibly horrified by my public display of lust. The woman behind me, The Tapper, stepped to one side as I floated back to the fair, my feet barely touching the ground. The scents of hot dogs grilling, popcorn popping and sweaty children filled my nostrils, but I only remembered Old Spice and leather. And cherry Lifesavers. People bumped into me but I felt none of it, only the strong feel of his arms around me, his body beneath mine.
Somehow I made it home and attempted to do normal things. Laundry, dishes. Email. None of it mattered, only the kiss, the hottest kiss I’d ever received from a man whose name I didn’t even know.
My fingers touched my lips, still slightly swollen. My world disappeared as I relived the moment, and I came to a decision. No, an epiphany. A stranger had released me from the humiliation of my break-up and the stifling self-doubt I’d felt since.
I was beautiful, I was wanted and I was free.
I could almost hear the Liberty Bell pealing in the background.
I hurriedly showered and dressed, put on a slinky summer dress that left my arms bare and my heart as well. I would go find The Kisser and demand my two-fer. And what happened after that was anyone’s guess.
I jerked the front door open and stepped out of my apartment, straight into the arms of the Rock Lake Police Department.
“Oh, excuse me.”
I looked at the two officers, stern-faced and grim. “Is something wrong?
“You were seen today consorting with a well-known criminal, and we have some questions for you.”
“Me?” I didn’t know how to consort. He guided me back into the apartment, and waited until I sat on the sofa before shoving some papers in my trembling hands.
“Do you recognize this man?”
My eyes dropped to the papers in front of me. A jolt of electricity shot through me. The Kisser. In his business suits, he didn’t look at the same as he did today at the fair, but there was no denying he was the man in the photos. “I-I don’t know him.”
“You were quite friendly with him at the fair today.”
Quite friendly was an understatement. “Who is he?”
“He’s wanted in connection with an embezzlement scheme.”
I couldn’t even speak. An embezzler.
“He infiltrates major companies, embezzles and then gives most of the money to a boys orphanage.”
“An orphanage,” I whispered.
“Do you know him?”
“No.” My voice was firm, my heart pounding. “I don’t know him, we merely shared a kiss.” At his snort, I continued. “I don’t even know his name.”
“Remy. Remy St. Martin.”
St. Martin’s Home for Orphaned Boys.
The box of dollar bills, the hand painted sign.
I’d been conned by a kisser.
And a damn good one at that.
I stood and showed the men to the door. “I’m sorry men, I’m afraid you’ll have to look elsewhere. I only knew him for a few moments, and we certainly didn’t discuss his crimes.”
I firmly shut the door behind them, then twirled in my swirly skirt, stifling my laughter.
No wonder he reminded me of a bad boy. Maid Marian had just found her Robin Hood.
Thanks for reading…this is an original work by Carrie C Spencer, please do not republish without permission. =)