I couldn't be happier to be participating in the First Kiss Blog Hop! In March a video of strangers kissing for the first time went viral. It was sweet, sexy, and compelling. It turned out that those strangers were actors, but it inspired a group of more than 20 authors to write first kiss short stories of our own.
Today Mary Chris Escobar, Pieper Vaughn, and I are posting our installments of the First Kiss Blog Hop. I hope you enjoy this short story and check out all of the other authors too!
"Accidentally (On Purpose)"
It was official.
I was going to kill my roommate as soon as I got home.
I stood in the middle of an airy Brooklyn studio adorned with nothing more than a camera, tripod, and complicated rig of lights. My right hand smoothed up and down my left arm — a nervous, child-like gesture I’d never shaken— while I tried to calculate exactly how many seconds it would take me to sprint out of the metal double doors, through the lobby, and down to the comforting anonymity of the street below.
The click of a heavy boot on white-washed floorboards made my head snap up. I spun on my heel to see Jessalyn, filmmaker and my tormenter for the day, approach. Behind her followed the most beautiful man I’d even seen.
He wore his hair cropped as close to his head as the clippers could go which only served to bring out the sharpness of his cheekbones. His deep brown skin glowed like he was lit from within, and his eyes flashed with a spark of amusement behind a pair of thick, navy rimmed glasses. But it was his lips I couldn’t stop looking at. Full. Beautiful. Biteable.
Who are you?
I laced my hands together to keep from broadcasting my nervousness. This man was so far out of my league it was laughable. Whether he was Jessalyn’s assistant, colleague, or partner didn’t matter. He wasn’t for me.
But someone else was.
I swallowed hard as Jessalyn asked, “Are you ready to start, Meredith?”
“Su-sure,” I stammered.
The woman put a hand on my arm and smiled. “I promise you’ll forget the camera is here as soon as we get started.”
I very much doubted that. You see, I was about to kiss a total stranger. On camera. While it was rolling.
The thought made my stomach flip. Growing up I was the type of girl who threw up before going on stage during mandatory school musicals. Thankfully I’d grown into a slightly less tragic version of myself, but I still required a pep talk complete with notes before every phone call. I was the last person who should be doing this. And yet I had agreed to it.
I couldn’t tell if Jessalyn chose to ignore my obvious distress or really didn’t see it. Either way she turned to the god of a man standing next to her, and said, “This is Meredith.”
He stuck out a hand, his smile warm yet shy. As if I wasn’t a melted pool of woman already.
“I’m Jason.” The bass of his voice rumbled through me as we connected — palm to palm. I don’t know whether the voice or the touch made me shiver more.
“Great,” Jessalyn clapped her hands together. “Let’s get started. It’ll just take a minute to get the camera rolling.”
I glanced around me looking for my leading man before meeting Jason’s eyes accidentally (on purpose). He stuffed his hands in his pockets and rocked back on his heels. Suddenly it all dawned on me.
Jessalyn wanted me to kiss Jason.
The urge to run gripped me, but it didn't stop me from sending up a silent thank you.
“Is something wrong?” he asked.
A quick shake of my head and I squeaked out, “Nothing!”
Very convincing, Meredith.
We stared at each other in silence. Jason cracked first, the edges of his lips quirking up. “It’s kind of awkward isn’t it? The whole kissing on camera thing.”
I huffed out a breath. “Beyond awkward.”
He cocked his head to one side. “So why do it?”
He didn’t know me. I could have told him anything, but the truth was a lot easier than concocting some lie on the spot. “My roommate went to college with Jessalyn. It’s hard to say no to Becca, so when she said they needed volunteers for this project I just sort of agreed.” He started to nod, but that wasn’t everything. “And I might have been drunkish at the time.”
That got a full-fledged, from-the-belly laugh from Jason. My heart pounded a little faster. I liked that I’d been able to make him laugh like that.
“My sister got me. She thinks I don’t take enough risks,” he said.
“Older or younger?”
“Older. Of course. She always thinks she’s right.”
The words tumbled out before I could stop myself. “That’s probably because she is.”
"Don’t you ever tell my sister you said that,” he said.
“Your secret is safe with me.”
Now over the worst of my embarrassment, I'd apparently decided to try flirting with the man assigned to lock lips with me in a few moments. That was new for me, yet something about the fact that I knew we'd be kissing soon calmed me. I suddenly felt bolder than I had in a long time.
I could do this. I just had to kiss Jason. My task wasn’t exactly torturous, and no one would blame me if I enjoyed it.
That cool, collected attitude lasted until Jessalyn called out from behind the camera, “I’m rolling! Whenever you guys are ready.”
Finally Jason reached out and touched me. He placed a gentle hand on mine to stop its anxious rubbing at my other arm. His fingers entwined with mine. He stepped forward and caught up my free hand, running his thumb over the pale skin of my wrist. My mind stopped racing. All I could focus on was him.
My gaze slid up to find that his dark, rich eyes had softened. “Is this okay?” he asked.
He was concerned about me. He wanted to know if this was really what I wanted.
The answer hit me with such force it sent me reeling. I wanted to taste him. To feel his beautiful mouth under mine. To press flush against him while the power of that strong, tall body loomed over me. I wanted this stranger.
Screwing up my courage, I rose on my tip-toes and brushed my lips over his. He didn’t move, only tightened the grip on my hands a fraction. I took that as encouragement, a silent nod that this was okay. With a little less caution, I feathered his lips again before pulling back. His move.
With the utmost care, he traced his hands up my arms until they framed my face. Then Jason kissed me right.
His lips opened over mine, inviting me in. There were no sparks or symphonies — none of that movie stuff — only a deep, delicious burn that coursed through my entire body. I needed to feel more. Without thinking, I brought my hands to his biceps and dragged my body closer. His arms dropped to my waist to pull me in.
A low moan reverberated through his chest as he ran his tongue over my lower lip. I gasped my mouth open just enough for him to slide in and stroke me. He tasted of a hurried mint to mask a cup of coffee. I sighed and poured my hunger for this stranger into every suck of my lips and lick of my tongue. I let myself sink into the fantasy.
Just as quickly as the kiss started, it was over. Jason broke the connection before it crossed from slow and seductive to something more fiery. Regret sliced through me. I began to ease away, but he tightened his fingers at my hip and brushed his lips over mine once more. Only then did he release me, his hand lingering a moment longer than perhaps it should have.
I stepped back, stunned by the heat that rose up in my cheeks, as he fixed me with a smoldering stare.
“Yes,” I cut him off.
“That was great guys!” shouted Jessalyn from across the room.
The studio. The camera. The waiver I'd signed. It all came rushing back, forcing me into a reality I wasn't ready for.
“We’re done?” I tried my best to keep my voice neutral.
“That’s it. Easy, right?” asked Jessalyn.
“Easy,” I repeated.
“Okay then,” said Jason.
Jessalyn turned to me. “You have a coat?”
“Let me get that for you.”
Jason said a curt goodbye and strode out of the studio. I watched the metal doors bang behind him, signaling the end of all of those possibilities swirling in my head. Jessalyn pulled my bright yellow coat out of a closet and handed it over. I buttoned it against the lingering spring chill and tried to ignore the leaden feeling spreading through my chest.
In the building’s ancient elevator, I slumped against the wall and let my head fall back.
I should have done something. Asked him for his number. Asked him for a drink. Asked him to take me to bed. Anything. Now he was gone.
But I kissed him first. I opened my eyes as the elevator doors groaned apart. I made the first move. That — Becca would tell me — was progress.
I braced myself for the first brisk bite of air off the East River as I pushed open the building’s front door. With my hands stuffed into my jacket pockets, I put my head down and began to walk.
That voice sent butterflies backflipping in my stomach. I glanced over my shoulder to see Jason jogging towards me.
“You walk fast,” he said.
“What are you still doing here?” I blurted out.
He actually looked bashful. The beautiful specimen of a man who I’d just kissed in a weirdly manufactured fantasy moment was shy. Around me. The thought warmed me.
“I wanted to see if you wanted to get a drink sometime,” he said.
I didn’t even have to think about my answer. “Yes.”
He blinked. “Yes?”
Tendrils of anticipation stirred in me again. “I would like to see you again. A drink sounds great.”
He laughed and rubbed the back of his neck. “Well, I’m really glad to hear that.”
I sucked in a deep breath and said, “How about we get a drink now while we decide where you’re going to take me for a drink later?”
With a grin, he crooked an elbow. “I know just where to go.”
As I placed my hand on his arm I couldn’t help but think that this could be the start of something very good.