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Matchmaker's Mansion: Ch. 4
“It’s so good to see you again,” Shaun clapped his hands together, a short lock of his gelled bangs bouncing over his forehead.
“Yes, well,” Asha shifted on the white chair. Her heart was battling with her mind, arguing whether she should leave or stay.
“Oh, and look at the results of your last quiz. They’re excellent! Oooo….except for the last boy…but that wasn’t your fault.” Shaun’s eyes roved over the papers he held in his hands. He shuffled a
few. “And you said at the end of your last session that you wanted all three of the boys back today. I hope you’re excited.” He slid a paper across the desk towards her and handed her a pen, which she took.
A single line sat in the middle of the white paper. “I grant any of the partners assigned to me permission to kiss me.”
A shocked Asha looked up at Shaun with wide eyes.
“We have to warn you ahead of time. Some people don’t like to be kissed without notice.” He smiled warmly.
“Oh,” Asha said, not being able to find anything else to say. She swore she was cursed with a tongue-tied disease whenever she stepped into Matchmaker’s Mansion.
She read the sentence one more time and signed on the line beneath it.
“Very good, I’ll lead you to your room then,” Shaun said, quickly putting her signed paper in a business folder.
Through the curtained door they went, weaving in and out of brick-walled corridors that smelled of wet stone until they stopped at a door with a golden sun engraved into its woodwork.
“This,” Shaun said as he pushed the door open, “is the Sun Room.” A wave of fragrances poured out of the room.
Asha gasped at the sight of the floor-length windows and the flowers so bountiful they were nearly spilling out of their flowerbeds. On little raised islands of marble, the flowers sparkled with dew drops in the rich dirt.
“Wow, it’s so beautiful! This place looks like it could be in Heaven,” she twirled in the sunlight streaming through the windows, looking up at the ceiling painted blue with puffy white clouds.
“Yes, it does seem that way,” Shaun said as she bent over to smell a patch of red roses. “But we have a quiz to complete and only so much time to complete it. Please take a seat on this bench.” He pointed with his entire hand at a stone lover’s bench. Its rock surface was warm from the sun and the heat soaked into her cold legs when she sat down on it.
“Now don’t be alarmed. I have to blindfold you,” he produced a long white clock from his suit pocket.
“But why?” she said as he tied it behind her head, unintentionally catching a few of her brown hairs in the knot. The flowers vanished from her view, only seeing the cloth.
“Because the results of this quiz will only be determined correctly if you have not met or seen your three partners.”
Asha sighed. “When will I ever get to finally see them?”
“Patience, miss. It will be soon enough. Can you see my hand?”
“Only a faint shadow,” she said.
“Very good. I’ll send them in soon. Expect three kisses, one from each. Afterwards we’ll collect information on your feelings toward each one. I’ll be leaving now.” She heard his shoes clap on the polished stone as he walked over to the door. The door opened and shut with a thud and once again she was alone. But not for long.
She stiffened at the sound of a soft patter on the floor and a shadow darkened in the blindfold over her eyes. His presence was nearly overwhelming. She could feel the way he held his rigid back, his body resonating with power.
Slowly, he leaned forward, pausing a few inches away. His minty breath caressed her skin, which had formed goosebumps from his closeness. Her heart beat rapidly, almost near ready to explode.
Leaning forward just a little, her lips met his. His lips were soft against hers, becoming gentler as he deepened the kiss. His kisses were so light as though he were afraid that if he kissed her too hard that she would shatter. Asha’s mind buzzed with electricity, but slowly he pulled away, his gentle warmth receding into the shadows. His only remnant was a minty smell that hung in the air.
Asha was left feeling confused. He had been willing yet withdrawn at the same time.
Before she even had time to recover from the last kiss, a pair of lips aggressively pressed against her’s, then softened. He pulled away a little, then when he went back for more, teasing her by flicking his tongue over the edge of her bottom lip. Asha’s heart did a flip, wishing she could rip off her blindfold and jump into his arms. But the kiss slowed and he ended it with a soft kiss to the corner of her mouth.
She smiled once he had completely pulled away, relishing the sweetness that lingered on her lips and brain. Little sparks bounced up her arms and she shivered them away.
Pausing, she felt a new presence in the room, a dark and mysterious mood. It neared and connected with her when his finger turned her chin up. His lips descended, lightly touching her’s, and then pounced, nearly devouring her lips.
Asha never thought someone could tell who “the one” was through a kiss, but as his soft lips moved over her’s…she felt like they were two opposite magnets locked together by a powerful force. Fireworks exploded in her head, making her feel as light as a cloud. And she literally found herself floating upward—rising from her seat to push deeper into the kiss. They didn’t miss a beat as she stood up on her tiptoes, his chest warm beneath her hands. Their hearts thumped a million times per second, lips working in perfect synchronization.
All of a sudden, when the kiss was nearly at its climax, he broke away, leaving her breathless and in slight shock. She stood there, missing his hard chest under her hands and his passionate kiss. Standing all alone she couldn’t handle the mystery any longer, she ripped off the blindfold to find herself alone in the Sun Room, the dying sun hovering above the horizon through the window.
She slowly licked her lips, the pressure still fresh on them along with the taste of strawberries. Sighing deeply, she wondered which of the three boys he was. She would find him somehow…
Asha absentmindedly swirled her dish towel over the dripping plate.
“Asha, are you alright?” her mom looked over at her with an alarmed expression. “You’ve been drying that same plate for the past few minutes and it still isn’t dry.”
Asha snapped out of her daydream to realize what she was doing. She laughed guiltily, “Sorry, mom.” She put the dish down and took a new one from the drying rack. “Mom?”
“Yes?” she said as she leaned over the sink, stray locks of her brown hair hanging over her tired face.
“How did you know that dad was truly “the one?” Asha tilted her head.
“Well,” her mom said, pulling off her rubber gloves and laying them on the edge of the sink. “I’m not really sure there was a certain moment…it was more like an instinct.” She handed Asha another wet plate. “But there was that one thing that sealed it all, like everything just clicked.”
“What was it?” Asha leaned forward, ready to absorb her every word.
“A kiss,” her mom smiled, gazing out the kitchen window into the night. “And he wasn’t even a good kisser,” she laughed lightly, but her eyes were misty.
Asha quickly put down the plate and enveloped her mom in a tight hug. “I miss him, too, mom. But he’ll be back soon. Right after he gets enough money and finds a job closer to us.” She squeezed her mom a little tighter.