Monday, August 22, 2011

Tuesday Tales #3 - Kiss

This is my third Tuesday Tales, where writers are invited to create a story based on a prompt. This week's prompt is "kiss". My Tuesday Tales are part of a serial I've entitled "The Artifact". It's romantic adventure. Make sure to read all back issues before reading this one. Below is my list of previous Tuesday Tales.  Enjoy!

The Artifact
By Elizabeth Black

Chapter Three - Kiss

At the sight of Julian Archer, Victoria Crenshaw wrestled between an urge to rush into his arms and another, equally strong urge to claw his eyes out. Victoria did not believe in love. She swore she'd never again allow any man to get close to her, not after what Julian did to her.  He broke her heart so badly when he abandoned her he left a gaping hole where her soul used to be. The problem was although her mind rejected love and affection, her bruised and beaten heart needed it to survive.

He swaggered to her desk and perched on the corner. So close she could smell his spicy cologne and the mink oil emanating from his leather frock coat, she wasn't aware she backed away from him until her bum touched one of her recessed bookcases. Tattered heart thundering in her chest, she steeled herself, refusing to succumb to his iron grey eyes, tousled black hair, five o'clock shadow, smug smile that threatened to turn into a sneer, broad shoulders that cried out for her caress...

No! I'm not giving into to him no matter how hard he tries. "What the hell are you doing here?" To her horror, she whined like a petulant child. Eight years of pent-up rage boiled to the surface, and she snarled at him. "Give me my Aphrodite!"

"Claws in, darlin'. The last time I checked, the Aphrodite of Rhodes belonged to the Greek government. I don't think the Greek consulate would take kindly to you pilfering its prized treasure." He cocked his head in her direction, eyes twinkling in delight at the position he held her in. "You really are beside yourself, aren't you? I can't imagine someone as regimented as you losing a priceless statue."

"Get over yourself. I don't care why you're here or what you want, Julian." She sighed, exasperated and tired. "If you know where the statue is, please give her to me. It's dangerous for her to be missing. You know the effect she has on men and women. She's created and brought down civilizations. We need to keep her contained to prevent any trouble. Plus she's my responsibility and ... and I can't believe you are here, in my office, driving me crazy again! I wish you would leave."

He took a step towards her and she moved away until she backed into a ten volume set of books as rigid in their spines as she was weak in hers. Why am I acting like this? Any other day I would simply toss his luscious ass out of my office. What's the matter with me? His cocky demeanor dissipated, allowing a somewhat tender expression to cross his face. "Aren't you happy to see me, Vic?" 

"Why should I be? After what you did to me? How does Brittany feel about you being here with me?"

"We broke up six years ago."

Numbers tallied lightning-quick in her mind. "So you two barely lasted two years. She was a toothpick with plastic boobs. A tapeworm has a bigger brain. You left me for that?"

"She was a huge mistake, Vic, the second biggest I've ever made. The biggest was leaving you." He took another step towards her but she didn't back away. She fought an urge to throw herself in his arms with all her might. Her conflicting emotions tore at her, one minute demanding she lose herself in his embrace and the next minute demanding she thrust her jewel-encrusted Indian kris lying on her desk through his cheating heart. Legs cramping and will weakening, she felt the power of his animal magnetism and his brute strength as he closed in on her. She had nowhere to run. The corner of her office was only a step or two away. The only other way to avoid him was to rush past him but she knew she'd never resist falling into those strong arms.

"Vic, please... let's start over."

She laughed. Of all the arrogant, upstart, self-centered... "You can't be serious. Why would I ever begin again with you? You're a conceited, cocky, flighty bastard."

He grinned. "You used to love those qualities about me."

"I grew up. I don't need you anymore. I don't want you anymore." Vision clouded as her eyes filled with tears. Damn it, I can't hide behind lies. I still want him. I've craved his touch the entire time he was gone. Eight years is a long time to sleep alone at night. She choked back a whimper as she dug her fingernails into her thighs to ward off her pain. "Please leave me alone. Just give me Aphrodite and all is forgiven. I know you know where she is. I know you too well, Julian." She couldn't contain her anguish. A stray tear coursed down her cheek, leaving heat in its wake.

He walked to her until he stood so close he could touch her. She curled into herself, body and soul, and stared at her hands. Cocooned in the safety of ignoring his closeness, she stared down, avoiding his gaze. She absentmindedly tore at her cuticles until he took her hands gently in his.

"I hurt you worse than I thought I had. Can you ever forgive me, Vic?" She felt the warmth of his breath on her forehead, but she dared not lift her head to stare him square in the eyes. She feared what he would do if she did. She feared what she would do if she did! Her heart raced as his fingers caressed her hand. Frozen like a cornered cat, she trembled but no longer fought her tears as they fell one after the other down her cheeks like spring rain on parched ground.

His hand wiped away her tears. "What have I done to you?" He placed his thumb beneath her chin and lifted her face until she peered into his sad eyes. Her body shook with eight years of grief and pain, tears falling in an uncontrolled torrent. I want you. I need you. Please get away from me before I fall for you all over again.

He lowered his face to hers until his lips pressed against her own. At the touch of his kiss, she came to her senses and yanked her body away from his. Affronted, she drew back one arm and slapped him hard across the face.

He grinned but his grin was shamed. "I deserved that. You have some heft in that swing. Eight years of pent-up rage at me. I fully understand."

"Get out. Get out! First give me my artifact and --"

He crushed his lips against hers, pinning her against the bookcase. She struggled in his embrace but soon her spinning head and pounding heart could no longer resist. She had been without the touch of a man for nearly a decade, and as his strong hands kneaded her back she realized the only man she wanted all that time was him. She wrapped her arms around his body, partly craving his touch but also in an attempt to keep from losing her balance. His tongue slid into her mouth. He tasted of claret and fine Jamaican tobacco. His taste for the finer things in life haven't changed one bit. She felt one of his hands leave her back to fist her hair. He yanked her head back and planted his mouth against the pulse throbbing in her throat. Her body melted into his, eager for his touch. As she succumbed to his lust, she realized why she wanted him so badly against her better judgment. At her realization, a wave of depression washed over her.

It's the artifact. None of this is real. The Aphrodite Of Rhodes brings lovers together. It has inspired some of the most amorous unions in history. Julian is no different. There is no love here. It's only the artifact acting on both of our desires.

Julian held her so tightly she couldn't breath. She gasped, and he loosened his grip on her but did not release her. One hand found her breast and squeezed gently, making her feel weak in the knees. His tongue ran down her neck until it reached her collarbone, making her break out in shivers. Even though she knew their lust was not real and only an effect of the power of Aphrodite, she couldn't resist giving in to her arousal. She wanted to feel his hands on her body. She needed to taste his mouth. If only for a night. She'd been without affection for so long she'd take it if only for a fleeting moment, thanks to an ancient Greek statue.

"How did you know I'd be here?" She nibbled on his earlobe. "I'm surprised you were able to keep me in the dark about you working on this exhibit."

"You never would have come here if you knew I was in Nassau. I was afraid if you learned I was on the museum staff you'd pull out of the exhibit."

"I'd never abandon my career for you or any man, Julian. You're being rather presumptuous."

"I know, but that was my fear. I needed to see you so I did whatever I needed to do to get you down here."

Understanding the implication of his statements, she pulled away from his embrace. She eyed him up, a distressing sense of realization coming over her. "Exactly what are you saying, Julian?"

"I swiped the artifact hoping you would come here looking for it. And hoping you'd find me and not run away."

She rolled her hand into a fist, ready to strike him again. Her body shook with rage, but deep down other emotions warred with her fury; namely, her ego swelled knowing she had such a grip on him that he would risk his own career to lure her to paradise. But rage overtook her will and ran away with her.

"I ... can't ... believe ... you'd do such a stupid, stupid thing! Do you have any idea how much panic you've caused? All because you wanted to kiss me?"

He grinned and shrugged his shoulders. "Well, Vic, that's not all I had in mind..."

She lifted her arm, hand outstretched. "Don't tempt me to smack your other cheek. Now that your game is up, please give me that artifact so I may sleep well tonight."

"Okay, I got my point across and even got my way. You never could resist me, Vic."

"Don't push your luck."

He took her by the hand and walked with her to an office he shared with two professors. She sat on a plush couch and waited. He unlocked a closet door, opened it, and retrieved a large wooden box. Smiling, he lifted the lid, pulled out a large black velvet cloth, and reached into the box.

Then all the color drained out of his face.

She stood, fearing the worst. "What's wrong?"

"It's gone." His spoke so quietly she barely heard him, but his meaning was clear.


"It's gone! I can't believe that prick would steal it but I'm not surprised. Don't panic, Vic. I know where it is."

"You'd better know. Don't waste any time. Let's find it now. Take me to where she is."

"It's dangerous. I don't think you should go with me."

"I'm already in too deep. You take me there now, get that artifact for me, and get out of my life!"

"You'd might as well get your coat. We're going to be gone for awhile." He fished his keys from his coat pocket. "I hope you like the Goombay Festival. That's where we're headed."

"I've always wanted to go but not under these circumstances. Just get my Aphrodite for me. I'm counting on you."

She realized she told the truth. As they left the museum for his jeep, she realized something else. With the artifact missing, that kiss and her reaction to it - and to him - were very real. With the ghost of his kiss on her lips, she followed him to his jeep, wondering what the rest of the night would bring to her.


For more stories from other authors, please visit the Tuesday Tales web site. Next week's prompt is "marching band". Look for "The Artifact" to continue in the next installment.


  1. Wow...I can't wait to see what next week holds! I'm so torn...I can't decide if I like Julian, or want to slap him, too!

    Very well done!!!

  2. love that they have a history together- now the intrigue!!

  3. Love this story, you fooled me here and I'm ready for the next round. Will they get together? Who has the artifact? Can't wait for next week.

  4. I wonder how long the imprint of her hand stayed on his cheek. Hmm... :) Looking forward to next week!