My most read work to date is The Kiss, an erotic romance novella. It also happens to be the worst sample of my writing—POVs are all over the place, the dialog is rushed, and I think it hits every single points in the THINGS NOT TO DO list every second author has posted about at one time or another.
A few months ago, I started reworking The Kiss into an improved story, called A Kiss in the Dark. Other stories took over my brain and my time, and I put it aside. Now I decided I’d post it here, one chapter at a time.
Here we go, and I hope you enjoy.
Lips covered hers, stifling any words of protest that might have tried to escape—hot lips, firm and pliant at the same time, that fit perfectly against her own. He let out a breath in her mouth, and she tasted alcohol and tobacco before losing herself in the kiss. His tongue didn’t waste time with gentle probing before invading her mouth. His fingers tightened and loosened their hold on her hair.
She sucked on his tongue, and felt more than heard the moan that rose up in his throat. She wanted to touch his face, trace it with her fingertips, but her hands refused to do anything more than bunch his shirt in their grip, holding onto it as if onto life itself.
She pulled back to catch her breath, and he let go, brushing his stubbled chin against her cheek for a moment. Blindly, she sought out his lips again, but they were nowhere to be found.
The lights came back on, and everything was exactly as it had been before the blackout. She sat alone, avoiding the gazes of her ex boyfriend and his friends at the next table, while waiting for Alan to get back with their drinks.
And she had no clue who just kissed her.
Eliza and Alan flirted for weeks, before he finally asked her out. They’d smiled as they passed each other in the hallways, and he winked at her once for letting him cut in front of her in the queue at the campus cafeteria. That was when he asked her name.
Eliza, on the other hand, had made sure to never slouch when he was around, and to have on fresh lip-gloss every time she smiled at him.
He was the quiet type, always ready to talk about poetry, but at the same time edgy enough to keep a girl on her toes. His big, dark eyes and pouty lips helped his case of course, but it was the air of mystery he exuded that made girls swoon. Nobody knew where he spent the previous years of his studies, or where he lived before that. Eliza, college junior, with only one relationship in her past—a miserably failed one to boot—wouldn’t be the one to resist him. When he asked her out, she said yes, and meant, yes please, with a cherry on top.
She didn’t take forever to get ready; she knew exactly what she wanted to wear. Her low-slung jeans made her ass look perky, and her tissue top left just enough flesh uncovered to keep a man’s imagination active. At least that’s what Krista said, and she was way more experienced than Eliza in that department.
Eliza’s phone blipped with a new text.
I’m outside. Take your time.
She squealed. “He’s here early. How do I look?”
Krista made a show of taking in Eliza’s appearance, from her pulled-back blonde hair to the pink nail polish that adorned her toes. “Like the best thing to ever happen to this guy. Go dazzle him.”
Eliza couldn’t hold back a grin, as she started toward the door. She threw it open and blew Krista a kiss. “Don’t wait up.” She had no intention of sleeping with the guy, but she wouldn’t mind a long make-out session.
“You look beautiful.” Alan gave her a chaste kiss on the cheek, and Eliza couldn’t resist a sniff of his cologne. He smelled amazing. Lemony and dark and yummy.
“Thank you. You clean up well yourself.”
He reached out a hand, and Eliza took it, feeling the heat of his touch travel up her arm. Their palms fit so well together, their fingers interlacing as if they were always meant to be linked.
She had to stop with the hopelessly romantic thoughts. She barely knew Alan, dreamy though he was.
Greg had been dreamy once too, and she was still trying to forget how he’d become her nightmare.
“Where are we going?” she asked.
“Don’t you want to be surprised?” Alan winked, and she zoomed in on his long eyelashes. The boy was too pretty, damn it.
“I don’t really like surprises.” She adjusted her grip, as if her hold would keep him from changing to a jackass if things progressed between them.
“Okay. We’re going to The Zoo. Do you know it?”
“Of course.” Everyone knew it. Within walking distance from campus, the bar was practically the college hangout, complete with cheap beer and indie bands. Truth be told, she’d been hoping for dinner and a movie, but this wasn’t all bad. Not when she was with him. And he had to be really into her, if he was taking her where they were bound to bump into people they knew. She beamed a smile his way.
He pulled her to a stop and gave her high, strappy sandals a meaningful look. “I thought you might want to avoid walking, so I’ll drive us. I promise not to drink.”
When he tilted his head to something over her shoulder, she glanced behind her, to see an old convertible. The classic yet timeless style fit him perfectly.
He led her to it with a palm on the small of her back, and got the door for her.
Eliza slid inside. “What a gentleman.”
He tipped an imaginary hat and rounded the car to get to his seat.
The date started off perfectly, and Eliza let herself hope it would continue that way.
The short drive was promising too, with her making small talk, and him sending those mysterious smiles of his her way. He opened doors for her, and held her hand while they meandered around tables inside the bar. The place wasn’t packed yet, but Eliza knew it would be. A local band was performing, and people would soon be streaming in, so when they found a spot close to the stage, she thought her luck was holding up.
She reconsidered, once they made themselves as comfortable as the old wooden chairs would allow. Her ex-boyfriend and his buddies sat at the table to her right. She didn’t notice them when she first sat down, as Alan had been saying something incredibly profound. She really couldn’t remember what, but his eyes shone, his brow was furrowed, and he seemed sad. When she saw the guys in the next table, it was too late to do anything but turn her chair sideways, to keep them at her back, and focus all her attention on her date.
“It just wasn’t meant to be, I guess. At the time I thought it was true love, but I was alone in that.” Right. His last relationship. She sensed a lot of repressed feelings there, and felt honored she was the one he chose to open up to about it.
She smiled encouragingly, but he stopped talking and took hold of her hand in both of his. “Enough about me,” he said. “I want to know all about you.”
She smiled, flattered by his interest. “Well, there’s not much to tell, really.” She lowered her gaze to the table, wondering where to start. “I’m a junior, as you kn—”
“Actually… can you hold that thought?” He looked somewhere behind her and let go of her hand with a disarming smile. “I’ll get us something to drink.”
By the time it took Eliza to decide whether she should be offended or not by his apparent lack of interest, he was already leaving the table. “I’ll have a diet Coke,” she said to his back.
If he weren’t so cute, she’d have probably written him off. Super shallow and all, but she could forego her better judgment in favor of hotness once in a while.
The mystery kisser has to be one of the men sitting nearest to her, and Eliza is determined to kiss as many frogs as she needs to, until she finds her prince.