“You’re the insane one, Gecko Lady.”
“Whatever. I’m going to get more wine,” I say, easing myself out of the chair. “Then I’m going to bed.”
“Oh, by the way,” he calls out after me as I’m about to open the screen door. “I talked to the exterminator guy today. They’re going to need at least another day before we can return home.”
I sigh. Of course they are.
I wake up to a pinch on my arm.
My eyes fly open and I don’t have to hear the high-pitched whine in my ear to know what’s happening.
There’s a fucking mosquito in my room.
Okay, here’s the thing about me.
I hate mosquitos.
I mean, I loathe them.
Public enemy number one.
I don’t know when this vendetta against them started. I’m going to blame camping trips growing up in the Pacific Northwest, where my father would drive us out to the Olympic National Park every spring and we would get eaten alive.
Since then, they’re the bane of my existence and it’s only gotten worse. The mosquitos in Hawaii are different, too. They’re top-notch predators. They’re smaller, quicker, relentless. They don’t land on the wall and bumble around like they do on the mainland. No, here they go straight for you at the speed of light, darting at you, anticipating your every move. You don’t even hear them half the time.
As it is, I can’t fall asleep until the mosquito is dead, and that means I’ll wake up in the dead of night and go absolutely ballistic, even if it takes several hours to hunt that one mosquito down.
Like I’m about to do.
I roll over and quickly flick on my nightstand light. My mouth is dry from the wine earlier but I ignore it. I only have one thing on my mind right now.
It won’t be attracted to the light—it’s too smart for that—so I have a little contraption.
I get up and reach into the side table drawer, pulling out my head lamp and place it on my head like a crown, switching the light on the end on. Then I grab my fly swatter and my insect repellant spray, climb on top of my bed, and wait.
There’s a reason why I let Dwayne Johnson and the other geckos in the house—they’re the number one mosquito killers. Unfortunately, Dwayne’s probably too scared of Kessler to come back in the house.
I stand on top of the bed for a good five minutes before I’m dive-bombed.
I yelp, start swatting the air violently, then jump off the bed, following the blood-sucking bug as it zooms across the room. If it could just skirt along the wall for a minute, I could get a good shot. Once it’s in my sights, I rarely miss.
Except this time, it refuses to do anything but come back right at me, straight into my headlamp.
I shriek again, thumping into my dresser before flailing around in a frantic circle, spraying the repellant like a firehose with one hand while I swat the air with the other.
“Jesus Christ!” Kessler calls out.
I stop spinning to see Kessler in my doorway, his eyes pinched shut, wiping them with the heel of his palm.
“Oh my god,” I cry out, coming over to him. “Did I spray you?”
“Right in the fucking eyes,” he cries, trying to look up at me, eyes red and wet. “Why are you trying to mace me!?”
“It’s mosquito repellant!”
“Same difference,” he says, eyes blinking rapidly. Then he frowns at me. “Why are you wearing a headlamp?” Then his eyes trail down my body and only then do I realize that I’m wearing a tiny cropped camisole and booty shorts. Now he’s laughing, still rubbing his eyes. “What is going on?”
“There’s a mosquito in my room,” I tell him stiffly, looking around for it. I’m not going to let him distract me, even though he is standing there in just his grey boxer briefs and I can clearly the see the outline of his half-hard dick. I swear the man always has a boner ready to go. It’s my fucking kryptonite.
“So?” he says. “You’re wearing a headlamp to fight a mosquito? You look like you’re going to work at a fucking coal mine.”
“I can’t sleep until I kill it,” I tell him. “So, if you’re not going to help me hunt it down, I suggest you leave.”
Then I see it zip over my bed, heading to the opposite wall.
I run over and jump on the bed, watching as it tries to land above the headboard. I take a leap, striking it like a praying mantis. “Got you, bitch!” I yell but when I remove the swatter, the mosquito flies away, unscathed. “Shit!”
Meanwhile Kessler is laughing his ass off behind me and I can’t tell if those tears are from laughter or from DEET in his eye. I whip around to give him the stink eye, realizing he had a very good view of my butt as I did all that. “What?” I hiss.
“This has to be the most ridiculous, most adorable thing I have ever seen,” he chuckles, gesturing to me. “Maybe even the sexiest.”
I give him a withering stare. “Are you going to help me or no?”
“Well I’m up now,” he says. “And I doubt I’ll be able to go back to sleep with you yelling and thumping about in here. Show me where the sucker is.”
“That’s the thing. You don’t know where he is. They’re sneaky.”
“It’s just a mosquito.”
I gesture to the wall behind his shoulder. “There’s a gecko behind you.”
He jumps, shrieking “Ahhhh!” like a little girl as he spins around.
There is no gecko behind him, I’m just trying to prove a point.
“You were saying?” I say.
“That’s not funny.”
“Neither is this.”
“It’s kind of funny,” he muses and suddenly his attention is captured, his eyes darting to the side. “I’ve spotted it,” he says.
“Where?” I jump off the bed, trying to point my headlamp in the right direction.
He points to the wall. “There.”
I see a dark smudge and slowly approach it, fly swatter raised in the air. I peer at it as I get closer and it’s only when I’m up close that I realize it’s actually a dead mosquito that I must have killed some other time and—
Suddenly a million creepy crawlies are running up and down my sides, tickling me and I’m yelping, spinning around, realizing it’s actually Kessler who’s doing it to me, his fingers making quick work of the bare skin of my waist.
“You dick!” I yell at him, punching him on the chest and shoulder but the tickling only intensifies and now I’m doubling over in the worst kind of laughter, trying to escape, my headlamp slipping off and crashing to the floor.
Kessler wraps his arms around me, picks me up and spins me around and the next thing I know, his hand is disappearing into my hair and he’s leaning in and…
He’s kissing me.
I’m momentarily stunned as his lips press against mine, full and soft and sweet.
But just for a moment.
A moment before I realize how wonderfully familiar this kiss is, how well his lips meld to mine, how easy it is to fall into this rhythm of our mouths. Wet, warm, silk, his tongue slips against mine and I’m taken, I’m falling, I’m hungry. My hands go to his hair, so wonderfully thick and I wrap my fingers around the strands, tugging until it elicits a moan from him, the kind of moan that makes me wet between my thighs.
It’s been so long since I felt like this over a kiss, over anyone, that my body is practically weeping for more of him, for this to never end, for this—
Hunter’s cry breaks us apart and Kess and I stare at each other wide-eyed and I can feel his heart pumping as fast as mine, our lungs heaving, almost breathless.
Then the biggest, most incredulous smile spreads across Kessler’s face.
“Daddy,” Kessler whispers to me in awe. “He’s never called me Daddy before.”
Suddenly the kiss is forgotten as Kessler basks in his fatherly milestone. He turns around to face Hunter who is standing in the doorway in just his pajama top, totally naked from the waist down. Such a mini-Kessler already.
“What is it Hunter?” Kessler asks him, pride choking his voice.
Hunter smiles. “Daddy. I pooped on the floor.”
Kessler’s mouth drops, the wind taken out of his sails. He glances back at me with a sheepish shrug. “Okay. Well. That happened. I guess I’ll go deal with that.”
I bite my lip to keep from laughing and watch as Kessler walks over to Hunter, taking his hand. “Okay buddy, show me where you pooped.”
“Good night Kessler, good night Hunter,” I call out after them.
“Bye!” Hunter cries out as he disappears down the hall, Kessler giving me an apologetic look over his shoulder.
I go over and close the door, leaning back against it, trying to calm my racing heart. Even though I needed that kiss like nothing else, I’m grateful for Hunter’s interruption, though I’m sure Kess doesn’t quite feel the same way.
It’s just that I was seconds away from giving in, giving him everything, in a way I could never get back, in a way that would complicate our car wreck of a relationship even further.
I need to keep my head on straight.
I need to keep my heart in the clear.
I need to remember what happened the last time Kessler and I got together this way. No matter how good it feels, no matter how badly my body needs it, it’s my heart that will pay the price.
Somehow I fall asleep without having killed the mosquito.
“You put the lime in the coconut and you drank ‘em bot’ up,” Bradah Ed sings, as the waitress passes us our drinks, that happen to be in coconuts.
“Oh yum,” Kate exclaims, sipping from her straw. “Remind me why we don’t do these touristy things more often? I mean, what is the point of living in fucking Hawaii if you can’t sit on Waikiki Beach at sunset and drink out of fucking coconuts?”