First Kiss Blog Hop: The Professional

It’s the last day of our FIRST KISS Flash Fiction Blog Hop. It’s been extraordinarily exciting to wake up each morning and read the day’s stories. (I’m dying for it to be morning so I can pounce on Amber Belldene and Stacy Reid. Their stories. Not them. Although eight days of sexy first kisses have certainly demonstrated how attractive attraction can be!) 

I haven’t written flash fiction since grad school—for that matter, I haven’t put up anything for public consumption since then, either. So, wheeeeeee. I’m as jittery and giggly as dear Felicity, whom you’re about to meet…except I don’t get to kiss a handsome dude at the end of this. Sigh. Lucky Felicity. 

 

 

The Professional

She was an actor. A professional. Like billions of other people in the world, she was being paid to do a job. Today, her job just happened to be kissing Ian Cunningham.

Felicity’s steps faltered when an intern with a Secret-Service-style earpiece and an old-school clipboard gestured to the trailer next door. “That’s Mr. Cunningham’s.” The girl sounded bored. As if she hadn’t just pointed out the location of the world’s sexiest man.

“Have you seen him yet? Is he already here?” The intern raised a condescending brow and Felicity’s cheeks burned with red-hot shame. So much for professionalism. If the mention of his name alone sent her stumbling and acting like a crazed fan, how would she manage to stay upright when his lips pressed hers?

“Off limits to anyone except his personal staff, Miss Hale.” The intern scolded her as if she expected Felicity to bum-rush him before the shoot. Ask him to sign her bra. Father her children.

Felicity infused her voice with ennui and shrugged. “Of course. Thank you for showing me to Makeup.” First rule of a commercial shoot: don’t piss off the crew. Second rule: don’t stalk your famous colleagues. 

She was a professional, for heaven’s sake. If the intern wasn’t affected by the stratospheric levels of male pulchritude humming behind a flimsy aluminum door, she wouldn’t be, either.

This makeup trailer was like the hundreds of makeup trailers Felicity had been in before. Beige. Bland. Brightly lit. But she had this one all to herself. She fought back a squee of excitement and tucked her bag out of the way.

The makeup artist identified herself with a grunt, and, in lieu of shaking hands, started tugging on Felicity’s hair with alarming vigor. It was almost impossible to not wiggle in the chair, or asphyxiate on eau de patchouli, but she schooled her features and went for a leisurely leg cross. That earned her another grunt and a command to sit up straight. It was a good thing there were strips of hair extensions lying like fallen soldiers on the table beside them. Otherwise, there was a very real possibility she’d be almost entirely bald when kissing Ian Cunningham.

Stop thinking his name. Stop imagining if his lips will be cool or will taste like his whisky-rough voice.

Felicity tried to zone out and let her head move with the evil grunter’s motions. But she couldn’t turn off her brain—or her ladybits. Ladybits that had no business perking up on the job, she reminded herself. It was just a job.

She’d memorized and rehearsed her side all week, only to be told this morning when checking in for the shoot her part had changed. A quick call to her agent had confirmed there would be no lines for Felicity—which kind of sucked because that meant she’d get paid less.

It seemed her sole purpose in life today was kissing Ian Cunningham. And convincing women to buy a mouthwash she herself had yet to try.

“We’re filming out of sequence. Mr. Cunningham’s time is limited. Once you finish this shot, you’ll be in for another round of hair and makeup.” The assistant director perched his hip on the corner of the table and looked on dispassionately as the costumer tugged on Felicity’s bodice and encouraged her to plump up her bosom. When she didn’t move fast enough, the costumer did it for her.

Lucky, lucky Felicity. Getting to second base and kissing Ian Cunningham, all in one day.

“Once we have this shot in the can, we’ll move on. Got it?”

A kissing-Valentino-by-a-crystal-blue-Italian-stream type scene. Evening gown. Lusty, leering adventurer. An eventual voiceover that would announce: a fantasy kiss should leave you breathless. Your mouthwash shouldn’t…

She breathed in through her nose. Fantasy. Kiss. “Yep, got it.”

“Great. That one won’t take long. Just an establishing shot, a few close-ups. Kiss, kiss. That kind of thing. We’ll get you out of hair and makeup, and you’ll be back to your dumpy frumpy hausfrau look. Hey, sorry about this, but the advertisers insist you actually rinse with the stuff on the next shot.” 

Felicity’s mind went blank somewhere around dumpy. Maybe frumpy was what clinched it. As if the women watching daytime television weren’t smart enough to know the advertisers manipulated everything. She certainly needed no reminder that she wouldn’t be kissing Ian Cunningham under normal circumstances. Only when she was made up and trotted out like a show pony would she get her fantasy kiss.

Maybe she should ask to rinse with the mouthwash before this scene, too. After all, in the next, she’d just be gargling, sleepy-eyed and bed-headed. Who cared if her breath smelled fetid then? Now was when she really needed it. She’d be kissing Ian—

“And places, please.”

With so many people milling about, Felicity couldn’t even sneak a quick cupped-hand up to her mouth for a sniff test. Of course she’d brushed and flossed this morning, twice, but that had been hours ago, dammit!

The director was curt. He didn’t even pretend to run through her motivation with her, just told Felicity where and how to lounge on the nest of pillows in the wood. It made sense even if the whole evening-gown-in-the-woods setup didn’t. Who needed direction when facing a first kiss with the world’s sexiest man? She certainly didn’t.

No, as any one of her girlfriends could attest, Ian Cunningham was right up there on her “Marry, Mate, Murder” list—and it didn’t take much detective work to uncover which of the three Ms she wanted to do to him. With him. 

“Yes, just like that, Felicia,” the man said, shouting out direction and inanities at her. They’d pipe in some music later to match the dreamy, lusty look on her face. “We’re rolling. Keep it up. You’re anticipating your fantasy lover. We want to see you quiver in delight. You’re Aphrodite rising. Cut!”

Felicity hurt herself keeping a snort-laugh inside. Aphrodite, her foot. If anything about a mouthwash commercial was high art, she’d eat a hair extension. Someone was fussing with her bodice again. The commercial might skew to the hausfrau demographic, but they weren’t taking any chances.

And then he was there. Sun casting a golden halo around him, blinding her. It wasn’t fair that she couldn’t see him. Shouldn’t she be able to see the world’s sexiest man before they kissed?

Some strange bit of choreography maneuvered him to her. He was so close. Were they rolling? Had she missed her cue? That’s right. She had no lines. Did he? Dammit, why were the lights so bright?

He was close, but Felicity could barely hear the whisky-soaked voice over the chatter of the crew. “I’d hate to point out to him that you’re reclining on pillows, not rising from sea foam.”

“I—I—what?” She started to raise a hand to shade her eyes, but she’d been instructed by wardrobe not to move once in position. And she was a professional.

“Quiet on the set!”

And then there was nothing but the frantic thrumming of blood coursing through her body. A big hand resting on her waist, and a stranger’s lips hovering over hers. But he wasn’t a stranger. He was her fantasy kiss.

Cinnamon, she thought, and his mouth met hers. Ian Cunningham’s kiss burns like cinnamon. And she wanted more.

More of the hard candy taste of him and more of the hard body pressing into her. She wanted his hands in her hair, extensions be damned. He was unraveling her with low, rumbling hums against her lips. Just falling apart under the buzz and slide of his lips on hers. Each lick and bite of his kiss set off a slow burn under her skin.

And then he was gone.

A cloud passed over the sun and Felicity focused on the god of a man before her. He was everything she’d ever dreamed. Except…he wasn’t. There was a scar above his left brow. And were those freckles?

“That was great, Felicia. Philip. I think we’ll only need one or two more like that and we can call it a wrap.”

“It’s Felicity,” she mumbled, still woozy enough from the kiss that she wasn’t positive her name hadn’t changed.

“I’ve worked with this director before. Be grateful he doesn’t remember your name.” His voice was wrong. All wrong. And yet, at the sound of it, she swore a ribbon of spice wove around her. 

“Philip?”

The conspiratorial grin was gone and this Philip-slash-Ian person was staring at her. “Philip Craig. Pleasure.”

“Not—”

“Nope,” he cut her off before she could finish. “I only play Ian Cunningham in the movies. Body double.” He winked and grinned a wild, wicked grin that was all his. Not Ian’s.

There was more bodice-tugging, a check of the light meters, and just before their second kiss left her breathless, he murmured in her ear, “sweetest gig I’ve ever had.”

“Same here.”