Touch-Starved, page 1
Copyright © 2019 by Celia Crown
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This book is a work of fiction. Names, places, characters, and events are from the author's imagination or folklore, legends, and general myths.
The book or any portion of the book may not be reproduced or used under any circumstances, except with the written permission from the author. Public names, movies, televisions, and locales, or any references are used for atmospheric purposes. Any similarities and resemblances to alive or dead people, events, brands, and locales are all complete coincidences.
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by Celia Crown
Jacqueline is an artist at heart; it’s what she loves doing and nothing can change that.
Inspiration comes from everywhere if she goes looking for it—a chase of an endless dream of beauty and fairy tales. Her art is a story of colors, a journey of seeking muses, and a voice of interpretation.
She is aware that not everyone finds that something in her to make them stay. Her boyfriends can attest to that. She has habits that don’t sit right with people, a tongue of sass, and no one has had the patience to accept her, but that was fine.
She has her best friend. Danni is her lifeline, and she would do anything for that woman.
Then Eli shows up out of the blue.
Domineering, rude, and overbearingly protective. He turns her head with those rippling muscles, heats her body with the trail of his green eyes, and the sharp cut of his tongue steals her heart.
He’s also a ghost.
“Jackie, you’re going to skin me alive.”
I take my sunglasses to the tip of my nose and peer through the top frame to watch my best friend, Danni, wince with a body of a new shade of pink.
“You’re going to have to put some context here. People will get the wrong idea,” I slip the sunglasses up and lay back on the beach lounging chair.
The umbrella above me provides nice shade, but the humidity is enough to set a trail of goosebumps on my arms when a couple of cold water droplets fall onto my bare legs.
“What’s wrong with people knowing you eat humans?” Danni stands with her arms stiffly to her side, never touching any part of her as she winces.
“Well, for one,” I roll my eyes behind the shades, “My name isn’t Hannibal Lecter, and two, I’m not getting arrested on a day like this.”
“Like what?” she scoffs, tentatively sitting down on the beach towel-covered chair with her own beach umbrella preventing the towels from burning.
“Like a day of being roasted under the sun?” Danni groans, reaching down to her bag to fish something out. “I need you to put Aloe Vera on me and be gentle. I’m not walking around like a medical muscle anatomy model.”
“Faraday University of Medicine wouldn’t want your chimera skeleton anyway,” I say with a grin forming on my lips.
“Please,” she huffs with a lighthearted tone, “My body is a work of art.”
Danni was born with a condition that is rare, but it can occur naturally when a fetus absorbs its twin. Her skin is two-toned; the base color is a rich deep chocolate shade that is always butter-soft while the intriguing shapes of her whiter spots are sometimes seen as a vague representation of flowers and clouds.
“You are beautiful,” I admire; the artistic perspective comes out when I look at her and even if I wasn’t into art, Danni would still be the most beautiful woman I have seen.
“Oh, stop it,” she whips her hand down with a flushed scowl, “You’re making me blush.”
“Are you falling for me?” I tease, tilting my head to the side and pressing my ear to the towel that lays underneath me in case my bikini gets trapped.
That’d be a disaster. I’m not that confident in my body to have the whole world see me topless.
“Since you told me I looked like a swirl of vanilla and chocolate fudge.”
I laugh with my belly trembling as I remember the first day of Kindergarten. She was the first person to catch my attention, not because she was different from the colors on her skin nor because of the withdrawn body language, but it’s because I was a child who was always hungry and I thought she was a fudge.
She was very soft and smooth.
“Stop thinking of it,” Danni snaps her teeth at me, “And, you’re drooling.”
“You can’t blame me, okay,” I pout as my body sinks into the chair, “I’m weak against you.”
“I am irresistible,” she hums, handing me her bottle of soothing gel and presenting her back to me.
“Why do you need this when you’re already peeling?” I squeeze the bottle and the cool gel swirls on my palm.
“Because my white spots aren’t meant to be pink.”
“No one will know the difference, Dalmatian,” I rub my hands together to spread the gel evenly before applying it on her hot skin.
There are so many nicknames that I have given to her over the last fourteen years, and she writes down each one on her notebook where she noted all of my stupidity as well.
I thought that was rude, and I tried to get her drunk on her twenty-second birthday party last week so she can tell me what other blackmail material she still has up her sleeves.
It was harder than I thought because her alcohol tolerance is of a middle-aged woman who has had years of practice of downing a bottle of vodka.
“Ow, be gentle!” she grunts with an overdramatic jerk of her body, “I’m more tender than a baby’s ass.”
“At least a baby doesn’t complain as much as you do,” I say, but I lessened the pressure I am putting on her skin.
“They cry and that’s complaining to me,” she turns her head and peers over her shoulder.
I resist the urge to roll my eyes for a second, but then this is Danni and I’m allowed to show her how ridiculous she is, so I roll my eyes extra hard.
I might have prayed that they don’t get stuck halfway through; that’d be embarrassing.
“What are you now, a baby whisper?” I snort unattractively.
One thing about me is that there is not a feminine gene in me; I have no interest in fashion nor do I have any skills in honing my female figure.
As an artist, I am more about comfort and serenity; some fun times here and there to get my creativity flowing while simultaneously judging men who come up to us at bars when it’s our girls’ night out.
We have heard pickup lines so bad that even cringing isn’t enough.
There was a man who posed himself as an oil tycoon looking for, he said and I quote, ‘a lady friend for a night of wild tumble in the hays’ end quote.
I swore I snorted the Cosmopolitan up my nose, but the classy Jacqueline in me refuse to make a fool out of herself. I can do that in the comfort of my own apartment with Danni if she doesn’t take the man home.
Thank goodness she doesn’t leave with him, but that was a foreseeable outcome when we both thought that an oil tycoon would never be seen in a bar at a decent neighborhood. If he was as rich as he flauntingly claimed to be, then he would be in his multi-million home with high-class women in his arms.
Danni went home with him that night.
It was her twenty-second birthday present, and she came home with a ring on her finger.
What the hell was the suitable question I had for her?
Danni said they did not elope to Las Vegas. She left his place in the morning and stopped by a shop where they sold tickets. The ring caught her attention and she bought it, and it had nothing to do with that hunky bartender.
What was I supposed to think other than a cliché scenario where she and that man ran off to get married with a night of booze and woke up in a shady motel. Maybe she would have come back with a surprise in her stomach.
An unexpected baby from her passionate night with the man who looked like he could have been Jason Vorhees’ stunt double, and he hadn’t wanted a baby, but they needed to be together for the sake of the baby.
They fall in love over time.
That was the story I had conjured up in the span of five seconds when I saw her ring, but Danni was cruel when she destroyed my story with her logical explanation.
I would be a scriptwriter if I wasn’t a digital artist. Though, I would have sucked at it since I’m full of clichés and a side of bizarre creativity.
I need that for my art.
A man’s voice says nasally; his ending laugh has two breaths and each one is individualized with a punctuating sound that is simply uncomfortable.
Danni and I look to our side where a man in his swim trunks had let the strings of it loose so it sags down to what he assumed was a sexy cut down to his private area.
Danni is looking at his sunhat that’s too small for his big head while he has his beady eyes on my cleavage, but I couldn’t meet his eyes because they’re trained on the curls of his chest hair.
A shudder passes down my spine, and he takes it as a reaction to his body, and I tell myself that visibility gagging would be a disrespectful thing to do. I’m one thin string away from hurling my breakfast onto the sand when he flexes his nonexistent muscles.
Please go away, I mentally pray.
“Can we help you?” Danni asks, polite and to the point as she takes her sheer white coverall over her body with the gel dried on her skin.
I rub the rest of the gel into my hands quickly, and the man’s eyes darken when he watches me. A part of me already knows what’s going through his mind and a perverted smile plays on his lips.
Taking my overall and wrapping it around me, I hold it close around my chest area since that seems to be his focus.
I do have eyes right below my forehead, but I also did stare at the unruly chest hairs so I silently apologize for staring.
The man spares Danni a glance and a curl of disgust twitches on the corner of his lips, but I caught that instantly. I have been there when people were judging and being mean to her with their comments, and I see all the unsubtle eyes and whispers of adults when they look at Danni.
They wouldn’t let their children play with her because she could have been contagious. They had ignorance of the medical condition and arrogance of the status they held to make themselves believe that they are above everyone else.
I have experienced the social isolation from other children and adults because I am friends with Danni, and I have learned to read facial expressions to see if they are genuine.
Some are truly curious and kind to Danni. I appreciate those who take the time to get to know her because Danni is my top priority and they better not make her shed one tear because freedom of speech covers my artwork and I can convey a lot of subliminal messages in them.
The people on the internet and my fans are detectives when they pick up on something; it would be a storm of chaos for interpretations of my art.
“I thought you had the sweetest eyes from afar, but now,” he kneels, and I honestly want to phase through the chair and sprint out of here, “Your eyes are the windows to the sky, richer than the ocean and fresher than nature.”
“Thank you,” I say with a strained smile.
If he waxes out poetry, I might just have to be just a tad rude and run away. My stuff can be looted, but I don’t care since I value my life more than materialistic things.
I shoot Danni a look; her help would be appreciated if she can focus on not laughing behind her hand.
“Come join me. I have beer and music. It’s better than being here,” he offers with a smile and tries to touch me with his sausage fingers.
I scoot to the back of the chair and laugh politely, “No, thank you. We’re alright here. In fact, we’re leaving anyway.”
“It’s not a problem. I can get my stuff and we can go to the bar for a drink.”
Oh my god, can this guy not take a hint?
“My boyfriend is coming to get us,” I say, and the man doesn’t even flinch at the mention of my fake boyfriend.
He doesn’t know that or he just doesn’t care, but I would love for a man to manifest himself out and pretend to be my boyfriend like those damsels in distress in movies.
He must sweep me off my feet and carry me into the sunset. I’ll pay him to be extra dramatic if it means to get this man off my back.
“More the merrier!” he exclaims.
“I don’t drink, and he will be here any minute now. We must go,” I clear my throat, picking up my bag and slinging my towel over my arm with the bag handle.
Danni follows my lead, and I say a goodbye to him before he can say anything else. I can’t let him say anything; it’s troublesome if he follows us and my ‘boyfriend’ isn’t there.
“Let me wait with you; it’s dangerous for a beauty like you to be alone,” he’s right behind us and why he just won’t take the kind rejection is beyond me.
“I’m with her,” Danni steps in with a vexed expression on her face.
Finally, I thought I was going to have to resort to a more forceful rejection, and I don’t want to create a scene because he couldn’t take no for an answer.
People like that are typically entitled. They think that they have the right to approach women and thinks themselves as the better ones so rejection doesn’t register in their minds unless it’s said in blatant and clear voices.
A disrespectful noise comes from his lips and I take Danni’s hand; it’s a hold on her to prevent a fight and it’s so we don’t give him the satisfaction of anything.
“Look,” I say as I spin around with a sigh, “I told you I have a boyfriend. I’m not interested.”
His face twists, “I’m giving you attention, but bitches like you can’t even take what they dish out.”
“Excuse me?” I bristle, temper burning the voice in my throat.
He puffs up his chest, and I stop the shudder of disgust when his chest hair comes another inch closer to me.
“You tease and tease, but when I come over, you play hard to get,” he tips his chin up.
Trying to look intimidating and angry with his double chin is hard. I can’t even see his eyes and that ruins all the effort to make himself look bigger.
I’m not even going to entertain this clown, “Excuse us, sir. We have matters to attend to.”
Matters that are way more important than his self-absorbed entitlement, and I don’t care if he makes a scene now. The more people he gathers, the better we are since everyone will see how utterly stupid this man is.
It’s a shame that he doesn’t; he just walks away with a bark of insult about little girls not appreciating men like him.
He’s right. I don’t appreciate men with arrogance reeking off them like a pair of stinky socks. Nothing turns me away from men more than their stuck-up attitude. I don’t owe them anything and I don’t even know them.
I once had someone buy me a drink with the intention of taking me to their place or getting a phone number, but I told them I wasn’t interested in sex or anything. I was just
That doesn’t even warrant a response because there was nothing to say.
“Where were you going to find a boyfriend if he wouldn’t back off?” Danni asks, shouldering her bag as she pulls me along through the sand.
It slips in between my toes and into my sandals while the crashes of waves and laughter surround us. It’s still in the high noon, and people are just coming out to play with their children, but we have been here since ten in the morning and we have had enough of salty air and seaweed toes.
“Rent-a-boyfriend,” I said with a nod.
She pauses with her head turned to her shoulder, “That’s a thing?”
“Or I could borrow your bartender boyfriend, Scott.”
“He’s not my boyfriend,” Danni huffs, flopping her sandals on the sidewalk where cars are parked.
“Friends with benefits,” I correct, mimicking her actions to get the sand away from my feet.
I need to get home and wash away the sand because it’s in places that should not have them in the first place.
I’m talking about the itchiness in my ear but other places too since anything is possible with the amount of time we were in the water.
“Don’t try to argue me on this. I know you. Scott is the first one to make you have heart-eyes.”
She glares at me; the playful hint makes me smile as she scrunches her nose, “I don’t have heart-eyes.”
“You do,” I wag my finger at her while we put our sandals back on.
People on the sidewalk have different reactions to Danni’s body, but none of them are bold enough to say what’s on their mind. I can tell most of them are negative by the way parents shield their children’s curiosity and the judgmental glances.
We walk away from them and down the way where our home is; it’s just a couple of blocks down as we see a food truck. The smell of cooked meat has my stomach rumbling. Danni echoes after me and we share a laugh.
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