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Kissing Stone

by Tielle St. Clare




Copyright © 2018 T. L. Green



Smashwords Edition


All rights are reserved. This e-book is licensed for individual readership only. No portion of this e-book may be resold or redistributed in any format.


Author’s Note

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters and events are creations of the author’s imagination.  Any resemblance to any persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.


Smashwords Edition, License Notes

This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please return to Smashwords.com and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.





Author note: Kissing Stone was originally published in 2004 so references to technology or culture might have changed a bit. Enjoy!






Chapter 1

“Jess. Kit. It was fun, as always. I’ve got to get to class.”

Kit, in mid-bite of her peanut butter and jelly sandwich, nodded as Jackson Knight, Jax to his friends, grabbed his shoulder bag and stepped away from the table.

“What time are you getting out of here?” he asked Kit.

She swallowed quickly, peanut butter clogging her throat. “I’ve got some kids coming in at six. I should be done by seven.”

“I’ll be in my office until then. Stop by on your way out. It’s Wednesday. McGill’s is calling my name.”

Again she nodded. In the six months that they’d known each other, it had become tradition. Wednesday nights. Beer and corned beef at McGill’s. Jax and Kit. It was like a bad buddy movie.

“See ya later. See ya, Jessie.”

Jax turned and walked away—his pale khaki pants highlighting the exquisite male butt and long strong legs.

Kit tried to pull her eyes away, but like almost every other woman in the room, she had to look. Had to watch that deliciously curved tush walk away and think about giving it a light pat, a gentle squeeze. Still, the man was her best friend. She shouldn’t be lusting after him. She took a deep breath and once more dragged her thoughts away from sex.

As he turned left out of the dining room, Kit heard Jessie whimper softly beside her.

“I know you said you two are just friends and there’s nothing romantic between you—” Jessie spun in her chair and nailed Kit with her eyes. “But sometimes, don’t you just want to grab him, throw him on the floor and bounce on him for hours?”

The man was as near to physical perfection as Kit ever expected to see. Tall, with sandy blond hair, a muscular chest, well-ripped arms and a tight ass. And damn it, he was a nice guy.

“Almost constantly,” Kit moaned before collapsing onto the table.

“What?!”

Jessie’s shriek of laughter drew the room’s attention, forcing Kit to straighten and shield her eyes. Though most of the students ate at the other dining hall during lunch and the room was half-empty, Kit hated to be the center of attention.

“Keep it down,” she hissed.

“I’m sorry,” Jessie said between giggles. “I just wasn’t expecting that. You’ve always professed an undying, platonic relationship. But you’re secretly lusting after him. This is so great. It renews my faith in single women.” Jessie, married for fifteen years, liked to believe that Kit lived a wild and crazy life—filled with wild and crazy sex. Until now, Kit had been a major disappointment.

“Very funny.” Kit sipped her soda and tried to think of a way to steer Jessie off this conversation. “Are you ready? I’ve got some students coming in soon.” In reality, no one was scheduled for an hour but Jessie didn’t know that. Kit stood up. Jessie followed suit.

“So, why don’t you go for it?”

“Go for what?”

“Jax. Mister Tall, Dark and Gorgeous. Not to mention Mister Rich, Nice and He Likes You.”

Kit let her book bag fall to the floor. “Jessie, Jax and I are friends. I want to keep it that way. Even if I could persuade him to—“ fuck me silly “—uh, be interested in me, it wouldn’t last. I’ve seen the kind of women he dates and they don’t look like me.” She made a casual wave toward her less than voluptuous body. “And I don’t want to risk our friendship for a few nights of—” Really, really hot sex. “—Uh, you know, romance.”

“Who cares about romance? Go for the sex,” Jessie said, practically reading Kit’s mind.

The tinny ring of a cell phone interrupted Kit’s strangled groan. She silently sent a “thank you” to the heavens when she realized it was hers.

She flipped the phone open and waved goodbye to Jessie all in the same motion. She didn’t care who was on the phone. It got her out of the conversation about Jax and sex.

“Hello?”

“Kit? So glad I got a hold of you.”

It took only seconds for her to run through her memory and attach a face to the feminine voice on the other end. Alison Doyle, the publicist hired to promote the book Kit had written with one of the other professors.

“Listen, we’ve run into a snag with the America Today Show.”

Kit ignored the panic in Alison’s voice. Alison surrounded herself with drama and made a production out of everything. But Kit knew that she would work through it. She usually needed a few hours to rant and rave before the perfect solution presented itself. No reason to get her own blood pressure up.

“What’s wrong?” Kit asked patiently as she headed out the door and into the beautiful spring air. She took a deep breath as Alison once again reminded Kit how important it was to be on the national morning talk show, how it would provide much needed publicity for the book she and Tim Tyler had written.

“So, they’ve scheduled the interview for Friday. And Tim’s in Greece.”

Kit’s co-author for “Living Myths and Legends” spent his free time traveling the world supposedly researching local myths. But since Kit had done most of the research for this book, she wasn’t sure what Tim did during his travels. Not that it mattered. Tim was a great co-author. His writing style matched hers. He was clever and, best of all, Tim loved the press and the public. If it involved a crowd, Tim wanted to be in front of it.

Kit froze up in a group larger than three people.

They worked well together.

“Don’t worry,” Kit soothed the ruffled promoter. “Tim’s scheduled to be back tomorrow morning. Plenty of time to get ready for Friday.”

“No. It seems Timmy T. decided to bring home a few souvenirs that the Grecian government views as national antiquities. He’s in a jail cell until they figure this out.”

Kit sighed. Tim had a knack for getting himself into situations like this. He also had a knack for getting out of them. She didn’t doubt he would be back in a few weeks.

“Reschedule.” She shrugged even though Alison couldn’t see her.

“You don’t understand. We can’t reschedule. No one reschedules for America Today. It’s just not done.”

Kit felt her own heart start to pound. This wasn’t good. The panic underlying Alison’s voice was coming to the forefront. And sounding decidedly real.

“So, what do we do?”

“We have to send someone else.”

The silence between them was ominous. Dread the likes she hadn’t felt in years crept into her stomach.

“Who?” she asked though she could predict the answer.

“Kit…”

“No, you can’t be serious. You can’t mean it.”

“It has to be you. They want one of the authors. That’s you or Tim and it’s unlikely they’ll give Tim a weekend pass out of a Greek dungeon.” Alison’s voice was starting to squeak.

“But…you don’t understand.”

“I do understand. I do.” The sympathy in Alison’s voice did nothing to calm the churning in Kit’s stomach or the rapid increase in her heartbeat. “But it has to be you. There isn’t anyone else. Listen, hon, I’ve got another call. You’ll be great. We’ll talk soon. Plan on being in the city at six AM on Friday. Ciao.”

The connection ended before Kit had a chance to protest. Or to beg Alison to call 911 because she was going to have a heart attack. She stared at the ground a full minute—listening to her heart pound.

Her chest began to bellow. She had to hide, run, escape. Still clutching her phone, she looped her book bag over her shoulder and took off in a full-length stride. Gut-wrenching, skin-peeling fear chased her across campus. The rapid pace seemed to draw off the excess oxygen her body was consuming and her breath calmed to a normal rhythm.

She couldn’t do it. Flat out. There was no way she could talk on national television. No matter how much she loved her book, this hadn’t been part of the agreement. She couldn’t even speak in front of a class of students. That’s why she’d ended up tutoring instead of teaching. The thought of twenty-five faces staring up at her ignited panic attacks that no medicine could quell.

Turn those twenty-five students into twenty-five million viewers…

She couldn’t even think about it. She concentrated on walking—putting one foot in front of the other. Distance disappeared. She was vaguely aware of leaving the campus and heading toward the business district. She found herself walking down a street, lined with gunmetal gray warehouses. The scenery was easy to ignore and her mind did so, dragging her back again and again to the reality she was trying to avoid.

It has to be you. Alison’s voice haunted her, increasing her speed.

A clap of thunder stalled her turbulent thoughts, scattering them as she looked up. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky. No predictions of rain. The thunder rumbled again.

And rain started to fall. First in light layers, then with growing strength. Drops splattered onto her cheeks and spilt into her eyes, stinging her skin.

Blinking the water from her lashes, she searched for shelter and spotted a little shop crammed between two warehouses. The sign swaying in a nonexistent breeze declared it The McMac Shop—Fine Irish Goods.

Kit didn’t care how fine the goods were. She just needed a place to escape the rain.

The storm was at her back, almost as if the rain was driving her in that direction. She ran across the street. Water dripped from her hair, soaked through her shirt, and shivered down her back by the time she opened the door and lunged inside.

“Whoa. That was weird,” she said to the empty room. Or it appeared empty until a little Irish man popped up from behind the counter. That he was Irish there was no doubt. He looked like a leprechaun. Complete with pipe, beard and mischievous eyes. Bigger than she would have expected a leprechaun to be, but still, there was no mistaking the image. Well, the costume fits the store, that’s for sure.

“Good afternoon, lass. Welcome to the McMac Shop.”

“Hi.” She whipped her hair back. The chin length strands clung to her face like slimy claws.

“How can I help you today?”

“Oh, I really don’t need anything.” She looked around at the sweaters and silver that decorated the store. And there’s probably nothing I can afford. “I just ducked in to escape the rain,” she said, a bit sheepishly.

“Well, that’s fine then, but I’m thinkin’ I can interest you in something that might change your life.”

That seemed like a mighty big goal for an Irish knick-knack shop but Kit smiled.

“Come in and tell Murphy what brought you here today.”

“Uh, nothing. I mean I was just out walking and…” She let her voice trail away as she wandered toward the counter and the little man behind it. She tried to smile but it was a half-hearted attempt.

“Now, lass, you look like a woman with troubles. You can share them with ol’ Murphy here.”

Even knowing he couldn’t possibly care about her troubles or that ranting about the situation wouldn’t help, she found herself telling him all that had happened.

“So, what does your young man say about all of this?”

“My what?” She shook her head in confusion. “Oh, a boyfriend. I don’t have a boyfriend, or anything.”

Murphy stepped back and stroked his chin as he observed her. “That’s odd because you have the aura of someone in love. Or on the verge of love.”

Kit choked on the thought. “On the verge of love? I just want to be on the verge of not making a fool of myself on national television.”

He stared at her for another long, penetrating moment.

“I think I have the perfect thing for you.”

He ducked down behind the counter. Soft crashes and thuds reached her from the other side. She looked at the door. The rain had stopped. She could make a run for it before he stood up. But he had been kind enough to listen to her ramble.

“Here it is. I was afraid I’d lost it and then I’d be in a world of hurt now, wouldn’t I?” He straightened. Dust covered his hat and the tip of his nose. “This will be fixin’ all your troubles.”

This turned out to be a piece of…rock. Green rock, appropriate for an Irish store, but still, it was just a piece of rock.

“Uh, thanks, but you know, I don’t need any rocks right now.”

“This is no ordinary rock.” He leaned forward and his voice dropped to a whisper. Kit found herself leaning in to hear him. “This is a piece of the Blarney Stone. The real Blarney Stone, not that one tourists smooch all the time.” He leveled that strangely observant gaze at her. “Do you know the legend of the Blarney Stone?”

She smiled. “I do, actually. I deal with legends every day. I believe the tale goes that a man—“ She waved her hand vaguely in the air. “I can’t remember his name, kissed the stone and was able to keep the queen from taking his castle.”

“Not just that. He was able to persuade her, convince her. That’s what this stone does.” He held up the green rock. “You kiss it and you’re given the gift of gab, persuasive eloquence.” He kissed the rock and placed it on the counter. A strange glow surrounded it for a moment but when Kit blinked, the light was gone.

Great, now I’m hallucinating.

“Now, as you can imagine, I wouldn’t sell this to just anyone.”

Kit had to stop herself from rolling her eyes. The man was really getting into this sales pitch. Well, she wasn’t having it. She didn’t need any more knick-knacks cluttering up her house.

“Believe me. It’s a special prize for a special person. Someone who will use it wisely. It’s a powerful stone but used properly, you can find the most powerful gift.”

As she listened, she couldn’t help but stare at the stone. His words settled into her head. The stone was pretty and it wouldn’t hurt to have it around the house. She could use it as a talisman—to give her confidence when she needed it. Like that feather they gave the elephant to convince him he could fly.

“I think it’s made for you, lass. The stone itself is calling you.”

She could almost feel it. Something deep inside her wanted that stone. Kit nodded. “I’ll take it.”

Murphy’s smile contained a whiff of triumph but Kit ignored it.

“How much?” As she said the words, a soft voice reminded her that she wasn’t going to buy this stone. Somehow that didn’t seem to matter now.

“Fifty dollars.”

For a chunk of rock he probably picked up in the street? She ignored the logical sentiment and opened her purse. Mentally slapping herself for being silly, she wrote a check for the amount and collected the stone.

“It will bring you what you most desire.” He looked around, his head snapping side to side as if he was sure he was missing something but didn’t know what. He clicked his fingers and disappeared behind the counter again. He popped up almost immediately and slapped his hand on the counter. “And you’d better take those.”

Kit looked at the four cellophane wrappers.

“What? You give out free condoms with every purchase?” That was taking promoting “safe sex” a little too far.

“Not every purchase but this is special.” He reached beneath the counter. “Take these as well.” Two more condoms joined the pile.

Six condoms? Why would he think she needed one, let alone six? “Uh, I haven’t used six condoms total in the past two years.”

He winked at her. “I have a feelin’ that’ll be changin’.”

Not sure what else to do, she gathered the condoms and slipped them into her purse along with the rock. Her fifty-dollar rock. “Well, thanks.” She walked to the store window. The rain was gone. The sun dominated the sky again. Weird storm, weird man, weird day.

She replayed the encounter as she walked back to campus. And each time she came to the same conclusion.

“He scammed me.” She grimaced as she entered the tutoring lab and took her place behind the desk.

She had four hours to go. As she opened the lab, students began to wander in searching for help on every subject from English (her specialty) to math (not her specialty). She did her best to help and logged the questions that required answers. It was a busy afternoon with midterms only a week away. Every time she had a break, her thoughts went back to Alison’s phone call and the terror of potentially being on television. Kit looked at her watch. Another hour and she was done. Then she could meet up with Jax. He would know how to get her out of this.

* * * * *

“I don’t think you can get out of it.” Jax shrugged and took a sip of his beer. “Your publicist is right. It’s a major deal to get on America Today.”

He would know. He’d spent years working for promoters and public affairs groups around the country. He’d taken the job teaching Communications at the University because he was ready to leave the fast lane but he knew the ins and outs of publicity.

“I know it’s a major deal, but there has to be a way that someone else, anyone else, could do it.”

“Kit, it’s you or Tim and it doesn’t sound like Tim’s going to make it back in time.”


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