My real day begins after my run. Thick foundation and powder must be applied, and I am still only half as beautiful as I once was. My face was flawless once. No deeply ridged scars running across it. They are my daily reminder of what can happen if you get into a car with the town drunks; even if they are your parents. Escaping a wreck that took my Mom and Dad’s lives with only facial scars seemed like a small price to pay.
In my original life plan I was going to be a model or actress. Something fun and glamorous that paid well, taking little effort. I sure as hell didn’t want to work at a grocery store until the age of twenty-five. But, as my Grams used to say, “If you want to make god laugh, make plans.”
I can’t really complain, people are nice to me at the Higgins Grocery. The other clerks are used to my scars now but there is no one I would really call a close friend. With my family’s history there weren’t many close friends even before the accident and after, they were nonexistent. But like I said, I can’t complain.
It’s the times when I have to work the counter that are hell on my self-esteem. Most people are polite and only glance at my face; then avoid eye contact all together. Others blatantly stare while I’m busy checking their purchases. Like I can’t feel their eyes on me and see their gaze jerk away when I look up. The only ones I don’t mind looking are small children. They are only trying to understand what makes me different to look at. There’s no pity or disgust in their eyes.
I happened to be working the register the day that Roger came into my life. He bought a frozen lasagna and milk. It’s strange the things you remember.
He walked up to the counter and I immediately ducked my head, using my dark brown curls to hide my face. He was the most handsome man I had seen in real life. Rugged masculinity, with a bad boy flair, the kind of man that I would’ve had no problem flirting with before.
I scanned the items all without looking up, and told him “$22.57” as quickly as possible. Then waited. He didn’t swipe a card and leave as I thought he would. Instead, he slowly and methodically pulled his wallet out and held up a $100 bill. All the while I could feel him looking at me. When I reached for it he pulled it back and my eyes snapped up to his face. Figuring he thought it would be funny to mess with the poor disfigured girl, I got pissed. But before I could let my anger loose on him he smiled kindly. I was stunned, his smile was so beautiful.
“There’s those gorgeous blue eyes.” he said and gave me the money.
It felt like someone threw a fireball at my face and I was thoroughly confused. I said nothing and put my hand out to give him the change while my brain went into overdrive. “Your change is $77.43. Thank you for visiting Higgins, come again.” somehow came out of my mouth but I really don’t remember having the thought to say it.
He cocooned my hand with both of his while taking his change. They were rough and so big compared to my small pale hands. “I definitely will.” he said with a sultry tone; released me, and walked out the door with his purchase. Only then did I remember to breathe.
I knew it was ridiculous, but the next few days I spent a little extra time with my makeup and actually put on some jewelry before going into work. Feminists around the world would probably attack me for saying this, but nothing makes a woman feel sexier than getting a little attention from a hunky man.
A day went by, then a week, and I figured that he was just someone passing through. I would never see him again. I kept up the added attention to my appearance. I found it did have an effect on how I felt.
Two weeks after our initial meeting I was on my morning run up Skyline mountain loop trying to beat my best time, when he passed me on the trail.
“Keep up slow poke!” he said over his shoulder and smiled.
Somehow, I didn’t even hear him coming from behind me and was so startled that I screamed, then tripped over my own feet. I bit it hard. Gravel scraped my hands and knees. There was going to be blood. I could tell.
He came back and helped me to a sitting position instead of the wild sprawl I had landed in. “Are you alright? I’m so sorry for scaring you.” I shook my head, “It’s ok. I’m ok. Just a few scratches.” I picked the larger stones from my knees and stood to go back down the hill. It stung badly, but if I kept moving the pain would fade quickly.
“Woah, where are you going?” he asked in a bit of a panic. I pointed back down the hill, “Back home, I can’t just wait here for it to get better.” I smiled at his silliness.
His expression changed and I heard him say softly “Wow, pretty.”.
Embarrassed beyond words, I turned and began walking towards my house near the trail-head.
“Hey, wait. Let me walk you back. I’m sorry, my names Randy, what’s yours?” I looked back, “It’s Kim.”
We walked back down the trail in totally awkward silence. I tried desperately to come up with something to say but failed horribly. Towards the end of the walk I became convinced that Randy was just trying to be nice by following me home. He wasn’t interested. We reached my porch, I told him “Thanks for walking me back, I’ll be fine now.” I thought he would be relieved to be off the hook but he looked a little sad.
“I’m sorry. I was trying to be cool and impress you but ended up getting you hurt.” he took my hands in his and asked “please just… just let me bandage you up. Will you let me do that for you?” His sexy green eyes pleaded with me and I didn’t pause a moment before I opened the door and let him.
The neighbors say I’m part of the tiny home movement, but really, it was all I could afford after the accident. Five hundred square feet of cabin was cozy and quaint, when there was one person. With Randy and I both standing there was no room for personal space. He was in mine and I was in his. Especially when I squeezed past him to get in the bathroom, I swear there was a low moan.
“Sit down, uh there..on the the bed, I mean sofa.”. He sat and looked around at my little cubby home. The bed/sofa took up most of the room and across from it was the kitchenette. The look I was going for when I had it built was Danish modern so I always kept it neat. Really you had to or it was impossible. Everything in its place and a place for everything.
“I really like your house” he said . After retrieving my first aid kit I sat next to Randy. “Thank you, I like it too. Does the job.” and then I giggled for some reason, probably stress.
My heart was beating a million times a minute and I know he had to see it when he took my hand to bandage it. Randy kept looking up at my face to make sure I wasn’t in pain while he gently cleaned the scratches on my palms.
With him so close, I could smell his delicious cologne, feel his large rough hands holding mine, and my thoughts went south. My face was grew redder and I had to think of something to say so I blurted out, “I’m a klutz!” getting redder still, “I mean… it wasn’t your fault I fell. I should have been more aware of my surroundings”.
He smiled again. Well, like I said, if I hadn’t been trying to show off, you wouldn’t have tripped.” Finished with my hands, he bent to grab my feet and placed my legs over his lap. “I’ve got to get your knees.” he said and began wiping the small amount of blood away. His hands were so warm against my skin. I couldn’t help but him imagine him running them over other parts of me. All of me.
“So, you were trying to impress me?” I had to ask. I didn’t want there to be any misunderstanding.
Randy blushed in the cutest way and nodded. His hair was a lovely honey color and I could tell by the small curls at the nape of his neck that he had waves when it grew out. So hot.
I wanted to touch him so badly and was thinking so hard about it that I jumped when he spoke. “Would you like go to dinner with me tonight..I mean if you don’t have plans or work? I know it’s late notice but” I placed a hand on his shoulder and interrupted, “I would love to”
His beautiful grin appeared again. “Almost finished” he said and blew on my knees to take the sting out of the medicine. There were head to toe chills, and I had to rub my arms to calm it. He watched me and then stared at the ceiling for a couple of seconds. I looked also.
“What is it?” I asked.
Randy chuckled, “Just looking for something.”
I looked again. “What are you looking for? ” He did another rumbly chuckle, “My self-control.”
I watched him for a moment and when he looked into my eyes I knew he was going to kiss me. We both leaned in and our lips met, softly at first. So tenderly. When his tongue brushed over my lips and met mine, a wave of lust swelled up inside me. I wanted to crawl the rest of the way into his lap. I ran my hand up into his hair, just as soft as I imagined. His hand came up to cup my cheek and I instinctively pulled back. Breaking the kiss.
“I’m sorry, did I hurt you?” Randy looked confused.
I shook my head and looked away, embarrassed at my fear of having him caress my scars. Scared of taking the chance that he may be repulsed by them. By me.
“Its ok. I’m just weird about my face. I don’t like my scars touched, they’re gross.” I stood and went to the door. I kept my face down to hide the tears that were trying to escape. Sure that he would want to leave.
He came to stand in front of me. “Kim, you are the most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen. A few lines on your face aren’t going to change that fact.” Tipping my face up to meet his, he wiped the stray tears that had managed to run down my cheek. When he kissed me, it was just a quick brush against my lips. But, perfect.
“Pick you up at seven?” he asked.
(To be continued)