Chapter 1 - Miles
Party goers swarmed around me, laughing, drinking, dancing. I stood still, dead on my feet, wishing I could be home in bed. Tiny lights in the trees twinkled overhead. I wondered who had climbed up into those tall limbs to hang them. The walkway shone with the remains of the water used to wash it clean. My head pounded along with the music, and I felt alone and forlorn. I was determined to finish college that year, so I was taking twelve hours. Three of that included a correspondence course, but still. Plus, I had a full-time job as an airbrush artist at a body and chop shop. I was a fish out of water surrounded by the wealthy set. The best thing I could think could come of this was that I was getting lots of ideas for paintings. Not for vehicles, I paint on canvas too. I’d convinced myself I would find at least one beautiful woman who would stick in my head long enough to paint her.
I’ll never forget the first time I saw her. Long mahogany brown hair falling in waves to her waist, olive skin, high cheek bones, eyes lined with thick lashes. Paint her? Heck, my hands were clenched at my side, begging to touch her. She was curvy in all the right places, about five-seven to my five-eleven. The perfect height. She had the most luscious lips I’d ever seen. Painted candy apple red, they were made for kissing, and I was just the man for the job. I couldn’t stop staring. I was afraid she’d think I was a perv, but it was impossible to ignore her. I wanted to get close enough to see what color her eyes were, but there was a line to get to her. Men in suits with ties choking their pudgy necks. Teenagers with stubble on their chins and the after-effects of acne years treated by the best dermatologists that money could buy. Hipsters with their hands in their pockets and beer on their breath. They all stood impatiently, tapping their feet.
She was working a kissing booth for the fundraiser along with another woman. The minimum bid for a kiss was ten bucks. Every man there had eagerly contributed to the pot. Those who’d been in her line had walked away smiling. Trouble with me was, I was dead broke, nothing in my pockets but lint. Story of my life. Damn the luck.
I usually went for cheap blondes with black roots. Easy women for easy fun. From the looks of this woman, nothing would be easy. So why did I think I would be missing the best thing in my life if I couldn’t scrounge up the ten dollars for a kiss? I’d never before had to pay for a kiss. Now, when it counted, I was desperate for the money. My boss saw me salivating and took pity on me. He paid the fee while she was on break, told the other woman in the booth that I’d be there later. He pointed me out, and as ...