"Encaustic Palette"
“Encaustic Palette”

Damn Those Kisses

Jessica set up her easel along the trail at the top of Goat Rock. She knew Chad hiked past this very spot every Saturday morning. It was oddly incompetent of any reputable operative to have such a predictable schedule. She always, always staggered her errands and habits so that no one could hunt her.

She mushed the brush against the canvas, trying her hand at abstract art. It was a mess, but hopefully no one else would figure that out. Just then, she noticed Chad, and his strong thighs, as he came up the trail from the beach. His blue eyes nearly pierced her. It was then Jessica realized Chad’s predictability may have meant that he wanted to be found – and he was expecting her.

Chad studied the vibrant explosion on the canvas. “You’ll never make it in this biz.” He slid the paintbrush from her hand to blend an errant splash of red into the rainbow of colors.

“I thought I pulled off the artist disguise quite well.” Jessica chastised herself for letting disappointment creep into her voice.

He handed the paintbrush back to her, leaning in for a quick peck on the cheek. “You’re too gullible, love.”

“And you’re too predictable, dear.” Jessica twisted her paintbrush, sending a plume of powder into Chad’s face, causing him to cough. “Sorry. Just business.”

“But you love me,” Chad said between coughs. He doubled over as spasms wracked his body.

Jessica smiled like a blushing bride. “All part of the job.” She sighed. She’d miss his kisses. He could make her toes curls with those kisses.

Chad straightened, his coughs morphing into chuckles. “Looks like we both had the same assignment.”

Jessica scowled at the poison-laden paintbrush still in her hand.

“Yeah, I discovered your stash.” He bounced lightly on his toes, like a schoolboy trying to keep a secret. He leaned in to whisper, “It’s in the paint.”

Horrified, Jessica stared at the yellow, orange, and purple splotches covering her hands and arms. The poison would be burning into her skin like acid.

“Cheer up, love.” Chad cupped her chin. “Your art will have some value now.”

Jessica sunk to the ground as Chad carried the canvas back down the trail. Damn those kisses.

***

This story originally appeared on Indies Unlimited’s flash fiction challenge “switched opportunity.” Initial text in orange served as the prompt, as provided by Indies Unlimited.

“Encaustic Palette” by Artotem via
Encaustic Palette
used under CC BY-SA 2.0