The group of family and friends headed back to Bob and Mary’s after a riot broke out at the concert. They made it through five songs before the crowd grew and people started fighting. Karmen put on music so the ladies could keep dancing.
Justin watched Karmen dance. He knew it wasn’t polite to stare, but someone would have to be dying for him to tear his eyes away from her. He didn’t know how she got this power over him, but damn, he was helpless to her charms.
She danced with Miranda and Cee to Cher’s version of “ The Shoop Shoop Song (It’s in His Kiss).” She was dramatic in her movements, like she was genuinely telling her friends the story of how to find out if their men really love them, and her friends inquiring for more information. Kevin imagined this song was a staple at many sleepovers for the friends when they were teenagers. Their movements were so choreographed and in sync. Justin noticed that most eyes were on Karmen. There was just something about her people were drawn to. He understood that she was the fire and the rest of the universe the moth.
The difference between him and everyone else, given most of them were her family, was that he couldn’t help his mind from wondering what else she could do with those hips. Sexy seemed to come so naturally to her.
“Where did this human come from?” He wondered internally.
“Dude!” Harrison laughed. “Your eyes are glazed over more than Willy Nelson’s on a, well…” he paused to collect his thought, “on any day.”
Justin couldn’t help his laughter over his friend’s comment. “No use denying it.” He admitted. “I’ve got it bad.”
“Really? I couldn’t tell.”
“Har har.” Justin mocked. “I’m going to make some coffee.”
“This late?” Harrison asked. “We’re middle-aged.”
Justin scoffed, “That’s why I need it to stay awake. It’s going to be a long night.”
He turned on his heel and ran over to his sister’s kitchen.
Anna was right on his heels.
“Whatcha’ up to, baby bro?”
“Making coffee. Want some?” He inquired.
“No, thanks. Too late for me.”
He nodded in understanding.
“The Jane’s have a kitchen, ya know?” Anna’s southern accent came through in her tipsy state despite not having lived in Georgia for the past twenty-five years.
“Wait, Mary, is Mary Jane?” Justin inquired.
“That’s right.” Anna giggled.
She turned serious for a moment and stared at her brother.
Her gaze disturbed him.
“What?” He asked in an annoyed huff.
“What are you so scared of?”
“I’m not scared.”
“C’mon, Justin, I’m your sister. You can talk to me.”
“I feel a little foolish,” He admitted. “I mean, this is insane, right? I barely know Karmen, but I feel like I’ve known her all my life. My soul recognized her immediately.”
“It does sound insane, but maybe love isn’t supposed to make sense.”
“How very fortune cookie of you.”
Anna giggled, “Seriously, bro. Maybe for once in your life, don’t screw something up by overthinking it. Just go with the flow on this one. Let go and let the chips fall where they may.”
“You say that like it’s easy.”
“I know it isn’t, and if you try and she rejects you, you might lose a friend, and that sucks, but if you don’t try, you’ll lose everything because you will never know what her answer might have been. What if she’s in love with you, too?”
“Have you seen her?” He motioned with his hand as if he were pointing in her direction even though she was still outside dancing. “She could have any man she wanted. Why would she want me?”
“Why not?” Anna asked. “I’ve seen the way she looks at you, lil’ bro. What if she turns out to be the love of your life?”
Justin didn’t answer her question, but he pondered it.
“She is stunningly gorgeous,” Anna admitted. “What cover of what magazine did you pull her off of?”
“If a mosquito landed on your ball sack, would you swat at it?” Karmen asked her uncle.
“Of course not.” Uncle Pappy replied.
“See,” Karmen put her hands on her hips as she glared at Uncle Pappy. “There is always another way. You do not have to resort to violence.”
“I obviously missed something,” Justin announced his presence.
Karmen smiled at him. “I was just informing Uncle Pappy that violence is not the answer when dealing with conflict.”
Uncle Pappy turned his attention to Justin, “Someone physically hurt my sweet niece, and you don’t intentionally cause harm to someone who only wants to spread love.”
“You just don’t,” he returned his attention to Karmen.
“Just like it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.” Aunt Mary kissed Karmen’s cheek.
Karmen briefly smiled at her aunt’s reference before releasing a sigh and turning her attention to the man who had been living rent-free in her mind.
“Completely warranted,” Justin informed her.
“I like him,” Uncle Pappy pointed over his shoulder with his thumb.
Justin smiled down at him before carefully approaching Karmen. “Listen,” he started softly, “I would normally agree with you, but your uncle is right. Sometimes, the only way to teach someone a lesson is to give them consequences for their actions by leveling the playing field. When it comes to me, I’m happy to step aside and let karma do its job, but when it comes to the people I care about, I am karma.”
Karmen sighed in defeat. She wasn’t sure what to believe.
Later that same night, Karmen and Justin found themselves walking along the beach. They fell in step and walked in comfortable silence. Justin kept stealing glances at her and the way the moon highlighted her mouth. He couldn’t recall the number of times he stared at her picture, studying her full lips that begged for his kiss, and he was dying to kiss her.
His eyes moved from her face to her hand and back again, and Karmen caught the movement of his gaze in her peripheral view. She couldn’t contain the smile that crossed her face.
Justin caught her smile and reached for her hand. Karmen interlaced her fingers with his, and they exchanged smiles as they continued walking for a few more steps.
Justin suddenly stopped walking. Karmen noticed only after taking her next step in stride and feeling the resistance when he didn’t step with her.
She turned to look at him, and Justin looked as if he had just seen a ghost.
“Is he terrified?” Karmen wondered.
A look of concern crossed her pretty features. “Are you okay?”
Justin’s shoulders fell, and his eyes held the same glow of adoration they always did when he looked upon Karmen.
“Yes,” he replied immediately.
“No?” He did not mean for his tone to come out as a question, but he couldn’t take it back now.
“I don’t know,” Justin confessed as he let go of her hand and dropped his arms to his sides.
“Justin?” Karmen took a cautious step closer to him.
“This!” He announced as he motioned his hands towards her.
She took a step back, afraid she might have misread his signals. “Wait, no,” she thought. “He grabbed my hand. What the hell is happening?”
“I am trying to tell you something, but the moon has you backlit like you’re some kind of angelic mermaid coming to pierce your trident through my heart.”
He immediately cringed. He had hoped his confession would go much more smoothly.
“My god, Karmen. Isn’t it obvious?” He inquired as he looked into her eyes, knowing he could get lost in them for days. “Everyone else can see right through me and tell that I am hopelessly in love with you. You sunk your hook in deep, and I don’t know what magic you wielded to pull me under your spell, but here you stand, your beauty distracting me from confessing that you’re the missing part of me.”
Karmen stared at him for a few wondrous seconds. Well, the seconds were wondrous for Karmen, but they were agonizing for Justin. No one had moved Karmen so much by words alone, but Karmen didn’t need words right now. There was no need for more talking. She walked up to Justin, wrapped her arms around his neck, stood on her toes, and finally put him out of his misery by kissing him as if his mouth was water, and she had been lost in the desert for hours.
Justin was stunned for a moment, but he quickly recovered and kissed her back just as fervently. He wrapped his arms around her waist and pulled her as close to him as humanly possible.
He felt her smile against his lips, but neither seemed to want to pull away. Time was teetering on the edge of too long and not long enough.
Karmen pulled away first, and Justin rested his forehead against hers as they caught their breaths. His hands rested on her hips, and he wanted to savor the moment for as long as possible.
“You have no idea how long I have wanted to do that,” he whispered before pulling away and looking her in the eyes.
“Everything you imagined?” She inquired.
“Without a moment’s hesitation in his response, Justin answered, “Better.”
Karmen flashed him a smile that met her eyes, “Good because I want to do it again.” She wrapped her arms around his neck and leaned in.
“Wait,” Justin chuckled at her eagerness. “Does this mean you love me too?”
She shot him a look that screamed, “really?” But she found his reaction adorable.
“Yes, Justin. I am in love with you, too.”
Justin couldn’t remember the last time he had felt this happy. The moon seemed to shine a little brighter that night.
Karmen moved her hands to the sides of his face, “Kiss me. Kiss me as if it were the last time,” she demanded.
He pulled her flush against him, and in one swift motion, he dipped her before responding, “Here’s looking at you, kid,” recognizing her Casablanca reference.
He kissed her deeply before she could ruin the moment by bursting into a fit of giggles. They gently fell onto the beach, and Justin showed Karmen why she should always be careful what she asks for because she will likely get it.
On the walk home, Karmen took the time to really take in Justin’s features. Not that she hadn’t taken the opportunity to look him over the moment he walked into her aunt’s house the night before, but all of Connecticut shivered over the look she gave him at that moment.
The moon highlighted the five o’clock shadow lining Justin’s jaw, and Karmen’s thoughts drifted…
Justin destroyed her with lips thirsty for thighs and knees pushed apart. The roughness of his five o’clock shadow rubbed against the softness of her inner thighs. His strong hands were her undoing. Her mouth agape as moans escaped her full lips, begging for ruthless kisses and hair pulling. The unclasping of her purple bra right here on the porch of her beach house, listening to the waves crash into the shore, the wind nipping at her bare skin, his mouth warming every goose bump.
“Penny for your thoughts?” He inquired as he gently brushed a lock of hair from her face after they reached her front porch.
“Oh, nothing really,” she replied, returning her gaze to the moon.
To be continued…