Kathryn flushed, but before she could retaliate, Millicent and her husband descended on them, pulled their hands together, and looped a red ribbon around both of their wrists. Millicent tied a big bow and cried, “Hank and Kathryn.”
Everyone around them whistled and cheered.
“What is she talking about?” Kathryn hissed.
Great. Just great. I’m her victim this year instead of Grandpa. “Every year Millicent gives this party to raise money for local charities. There’ll be other fund-raising activities before the evening’s over, but this one is the silliest thing I ever heard of. It’s the one stunt she does every year.”
Apprehension flooded Kathryn’s face. “What do we have to do?”
“If we stand in front of another person and kiss each other, that person has to make a one hundred dollar donation.”
Kathryn looked as appalled as he felt. “I thought the fund-raisers you rich people gave were supposed to be tasteful and elegant! I’ve never heard of anything so tacky.”
“Yeah, well, Millicent doesn’t have a tasteful bone in her body.”
“I believe you.” Kathryn stared at the red ribbon as if it might bite her. “Can’t we take this stupid ribbon off?”
“Not until we raise a thousand dollars.”
Kathryn looked both angry and miserable at the same time. “I was having a good time until you came along. I like parties, but kissing you will ruin the entire evening.”
“You aren’t going to cry, are you?” Hank begged. I hope not. I’ll never live it down if she does.
“It’ll be a cold day in Hades before I cry over you.”
Hank could practically see steam rising above her. Kathryn had a temper. “Why is that?” he asked. I really do want to know. Why does she dislike me so much? Presumably she doesn’t think my mother murdered anyone, so why the attitude? Surely she didn’t expect me to fall for that time travel crap she tried to sell.
Kathryn seized the opportunity to tell him what she thought. “You have insulted me professionally, which is unforgivable.”
“What did you expect when—”
“Oh, shut up. Let’s just get this torture over with.”
Hank had to bite his lip to remain silent. I wish I could jerk my hand away and go home, but if I did, it would cause more talk than doing the damn stunt will. If I never see Kathryn Sinclair again it’ll be too soon.
“Let’s get that guy at the bar,” Kathryn ordered as she pulled Hank across the floor behind her, her high heels tapping a staccato rhythm on the marble floor.
Oh, nice. Kathryn had targeted Jeremy Miner, his grandfather’s friend. Hank showed him the red bow.
“Go for it,” Jeremy ordered with a smirk.
Hank gave Kathryn a brief, chaste peck on the lips. “That kiss isn’t worth a hundred dollars,” Jeremy protested. “If you want the money, you’ll have to kiss her properly.”
By this time they had attracted quite a crowd. “Get it over with,” Kathryn muttered. She turned up her face, and he kissed her.
Had he died and gone to Heaven? He had kissed women before, but this time he literally saw stars. His heart thudded so hard he could hear the blood pounding in his ears. He chanced a quick peek at Kathryn and glory be! She had the same dazed expression he felt sure was plastered across his own face.
“Now that was worth a hundred dollars.” Jeremy pulled a one hundred dollar bill from his pocket and gave it to Hank. “Merry Christmas, Hank.”
After that, everything seemed blurry and surreal to Hank. He had never done anything quite so stupid, yet each and every time she kissed him, it caused his knees to shake.
"First Lady Kills President Lovinggood"
December 29, 2018
Thirty years later Hank Lovinggood embarks on a quest to prove his mother's innocence and punish the killers who took his family from him. Together Hank and lovely physicist Kathryn Sinclair confront an implacable, twisted, merciless enemy who'll do whatever it takes to hide the truth forever.