Killing Me Softly by Gregory Knight Miskin

The kiss began cautiously, as first kisses often do, but Jayne quickly pressed her approval back. Distances shrunk or vanished. Gasps came between long moments of held breath. As Brent slowly pulled away, he locked on Jayne’s intense, sparkling eyes. He’d been on some pretty good dates before, with some pretty good women but this completely wrecked the curve.

It wasn’t actually the first time he had kissed Jayne but the earlier ones were placeholders to make clear his intentions. He was not trying to be her friend. Not just. This kiss was the real deal.

Jayne leaned back against the car door while Jerry admired her, the whole and the magnificent parts. She enjoyed watching him looking at her, seeing his desire, his wanting her. It made her heart leap.

“Would you like to come inside?” she asked. Jayne liked this one. He was clearly very different from her usual fare.

“Yes! Oh, god, yes!” Brent shouted in his mind. To Jayne he said, “Sure.”

As Jayne reached for the door handle, Brent pressed two fingers on her leg above the knee. It was just enough to stop her.

“Oh, right,” she said. “I forgot. I’m not used to this!”

Brent got out, walked around and opened Jayne’s door, offering his hand which she took.

“Thank you.” He took her hand as they walked up to her door. Jayne lived on ten acres in Duvall, so quiet it sometimes hurt the ears. The house was impeccable but not flashy. Inside, Brent helped with her coat.

“Wine?” she asked.

“I’d like that.”

Jayne swayed to the kitchen, her sapphire dress teasing all the way. She called over her shoulder, “You open, I’ll get the glasses.” Brent sprang to follow. As she reached into the cupboard, he came up behind her, put his hands on her hips and nibbled lightly on her right earlobe. Jayne inhaled sharply.

He whispered, “I really want to screw…the cork.”

Jayne spun around and slapped him playfully on the shoulder. “You! The corkscrew is in the drawer over there.”

As the contents of a decent Malbec slowly disappeared, Jayne and Brent sat on the red sofa talking, teasing, kissing, touching, and revealing deep truths. And making out.

Brent could not be happier. Jayne had depth, the one immovable quality he sought and it didn’t escape his attention that she was gorgeous.

Jayne came so close to spilling her secret at least twice. This guy was different. He might just be the one she could tell. As much as she fought to keep hope at bay it simply refused to stay there. She put their glasses down and leaned in for another long, roaming, probing, breathy and breathless kiss. Then she sat back, studying this unique man.

“What?” asked Brent.

“You’re still here,” she said. “Most guys are long gone by now, after they get a glimpse of the real me.”

Brent smiled. “Want to know why?” She nodded. He took a sip from his glass. “I’m not a guy, that’s why. I’m a man. Guys are afraid of the very things that make a woman interesting to a man.”

Jayne’s hands trembled so she put one on his knee to steady it.

He continued, “I’ve seen things, I’ve been through things. I don’t scare easily. Whatever you think is so awful about yourself, I can handle it. It’s probably not as bad as you think.”

It was all Jayne could do to keep her voice from trembling, too. It was him, at long last. As foretold.

She stood up. “I need to get out of this dress.”

“I’m at your service, should you require assistance of any kind,” said Brent with exaggerated politeness. Jayne floated to her bedroom, leaving the door ajar.

“Keep talking,” she said. “I like to hear your voice.”

Jayne’s dress fell to the floor, followed by her lingerie. She put a hand to her forehead, indecision flushing her cheeks and scrambling her thoughts. So deeply did she crave to reveal her most dreaded secret that several times she misjudged with terrible consequences.

Jayne raised her voice, “If you’re so brave, what would it take to scare you off?”

Brent’s eyes never left the opening to the bedroom. He thought he heard a zipper sliding down and it made his mouth go dry. After another sip he answered, “You’re going to have to work a lot harder to scare me off. I like what I see so far. I want to know everything about you.”

“I like you, too,” came Jayne’s voice from behind the door.

“Unless,” said Brent, “you unzip your skin and you’re a lizard alien underneath.” He chuckled as his cleverness.

“Would that be a problem?” Jayne’s voice sounded oddly vulnerable. She stood behind the partially open door, tears pooling in her eyes.

“Oh, yeah,” smiled Brent, continuing the joke. “It’s one of my few deal-breakers. No lizard aliens.”

Jayne’s head slumped against the door, Topaz tears burning into the white painted wood.

“I’m sorry, Brent. You need to leave now.”

“What?” Brent was blindsided, stunned by this sudden, unexpected turn.

“Thank you for a lovely evening,” came Jayne’s achingly sad voice from the bedroom. “It’s just not going to work out between us.”

Brent stood, took a step towards the bedroom, “Jayne, please!”

Jayne’s voice became suddenly deep and throbbing, “No! Leave now!”

He grabbed his coat and walked out. On the porch, he considered going back inside but decided it wasn’t worth it. Women, he thought. It’s like they’re from another planet.

*Gregory is a software engineer, writer, and artist. He enjoys photography and videography, especially outdoors, and performing on stage every few decades. He is a regular contributor to Solo Magazine.