A Kiss in the Bargain

Staff Feature: Sheri Yutzy

Lise froze with her fingers on the corner of the ten-pound sack of oatmeal. The tanned soldier two yards away looked right through her, but something was furrowing his brow.

She’d sneaked into the commissary in broad daylight because that was the only time the gates were opened. She could do many things—sew a perfect hemline, charm a wad of bills from a soldier’s pocket, turn invisible—but climbing a barbed wire fence in the dark was not one of those things.

The Americans stationed at this supply tent had been distressingly immune to her beguilement, hence Lise’s attempt at outright thievery.

“Who’s there?” The soldier’s voice sounded too young and easy to be wearing a uniform. His bronzed gold hair matched his eyes, and Lise spent half a second wishing she’d tried one more time to win this one. He stepped closer, glanced behind him toward the tent entrance. His partner’s crossed boots stuck out from behind an aisle of food. High noon meant low traffic, and they’d been taking turns napping.

He shrugged and started to turn away. Just as she let out a slow breath, he lunged, his hand grazing her wrist. Too late, she staggered back against the shelf, breath whooshing from her. His touch had made her visible.

“Dadgum,” he muttered. “You’re one of them.”

She scowled. Could she dart past him? The aisle was too narrow, and he’d catch her if she ran toward the back of the tent. “Brilliant observation.”

“You’re stealing, aren’t you?”

“How else do you think we get food?” Irritation clipped her words.  

His eyebrows shot up. “I’ve been wondering where the missing sacks have gone. How many of you are there?”

She smiled her sweetest, the one full of promises. “As if I’d tell you. Turn around like a good boy, and I’ll be gone.”

His grin flashed white against his jaw as he put out his hand. “My name’s Jack.”

She threaded a hand through her black, bobbed curls and braced her elbow on the shelf. She wasn’t going to shake his hand—her wrist still tingled from the callouses on his fingers.  “Listen, Jack. I’m still here talking to you because I don’t want to make a fuss. I’ll be gone as soon as I mean to.”

“Really?” He shoved one hand into his uniform pocket and lounged against the shelf beside her. “Or is it because you can’t use your power while I’m looking?”

Her mouth froze half open as his gaze wandered down to her neck. “I—no.”

“How about this?” He leaned closer, bringing the scent of his aftershave with him. “Give me a kiss good enough to make me close my eyes.”

Her cheeks flushed painfully hot. “Most soldiers want people like me imprisoned, you know. How do I know you won’t take me to your commanders?”

He touched one of the curls by her cheek. “Why would I want to share a pretty girl with them?”

The heat in the tent closed tighter. A drop of sweat rolled down the small of Lise’s back. Jack curled his hand around the nape of her neck, and she lifted her face. As his lips enclosed hers she reminded herself the kiss was to make him close his eyes, not because her heart raced like a gale force wind and her fingers and toes were tingling with his nearness. She touched his shoulders, and he wrapped an arm around her waist. For a long moment she forgot the camp full of hungry women and men hidden in the woods, all of them gifted with powers the government deemed dangerous. She forgot her own advice to never give her heart to a soldier.

A creak from the tent entrance. Lise returned to the tent’s heat and spun away from Jack’s hands, turning herself invisible. He kept his eyes closed for a moment, then opened them, looking just over her shoulder.

“At least tell me your name,” he murmured.

“Lise,” she whispered.

He smirked as she picked up the sack of oatmeal, and it disappeared.

“Who’re you talking to, Jackie?” the other soldier called groggily down the aisle.

Lise slipped into another aisle while Jack chattered about catching a rat in the oats again. At the entrance, she paused with a hand on the tent flap to look back, and Jack was looking right at her. His grin was as bright as the sun on her neck.

“Come back soon,” he mouthed.

Her answering smile was full of promises she meant to keep.

Sheri Yutzy
Sheri Yutzy writes YA fantasy inspired by places she’s traveled to–from novels to short stories to flash fiction. She loves forests under the night sky, trying new foods, and drinking Irish tea.

She’s married to a musician who looks good in black, mama to three curious kids, and Airbnb host of a cozy Cape Cod Cottage in Ohio.

Connect with Sheri on her website, Instagram, or join her newsletter list for a free copy of Stories of the Stars, her short story collection.