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This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales or persons is entirely coincidental. All characters involved in sexual situations are at least eighteen years old.
As always, any political, social or religious views in this story are those of the characters and their circumstances, and don’t necessarily reflect those of the author.
Author’s note: I haven’t ever published a story in installments before, but Promises is a long one (about 145,000 words — almost double the first Harry Potter book) so it seemed only fair to divide it into manageable chunks. All twelve parts are fully written, edited and waiting in the bullpen, so if you’re starting out before all of them are released, rest assured there won’t be any months-long gaps between.
Because I didn’t write Promises with installments in mind, the erotic encounters aren’t spread evenly among them. Some have tons of sex, but one or two don’t have any at all. Kind of like real life.
As happens far too frequently with me, this tale started with what I thought would be a clever hook for a short story, but then I fell in love with the characters and wanted to spend more time with them. Hopefully, you’ll want to do the same.
PART ONE — The First Promise is Made to a Most Unusual Girl
My feet pound out a simple rhythm on the frozen pavement while my mind chips away at a complex engineering problem. The frigid wind is bracing, but I’ve still worked up a light sweat by the time I round the corner at the far end of my run. Three miles down, three to go under the dull, steel gray skies of a mid-February Friday morning.
Winters in Minneapolis are cold, cloudy, depressing affairs, and despite my ancestry and life-long experience with this kind of climate, I’m starting to long for a place where the temperature never dips below freezing, much less to the current two degrees below zero. Fahrenheit.
I’m trying to stick to a seven-minute-mile pace while doing calculus in my head and listening to the local classic rock station, so my mind is fully occupied, yet the DJ suddenly manages to catch my undivided attention. Believe it or not, he’s just called out my full name, right over the air. This isn’t something that happens to me every day, (or ever, that I can recall) and the complex equation I was working out evaporates into the frosty air as the morning jock goes on.
“You’ve got 103 seconds to call in, starting right now!” he informs me. The DJ rattles off the special contest line’s number, which I memorize.
I would normally be listening to one of my playlists, but this is the morning of the big contest drawing on Classic Rock KIRA 103. They’d been yakking about it for weeks, so I’d gone ahead and entered, though still mostly on a lark. As someone with a good intuitive grasp of statistics, I’d known my chances of winning were miniscule, but despite the odds, I’d tuned to 103.1 megahertz this morning anyway. Someone has to win, right? Well now I guess it’s going to be me.
My hand automatically goes for my left front pocket, but the pants I’m wearing don’t even have pockets. “Damn,” I curse under my breath. Why did I go out of my way to listen to the drawing if I wasn’t going to bring my phone? Sometimes I can be a real idiot.
I stop and scan for a payphone. Yeah right, this is the twenty-first century. If I’ve seen one of those things in the last few years, I’ve completely forgotten about it.
I’m in an upscale residential area and there are no businesses that I could sprint to in the minute and a half I’ve got left. I can also forget about running up to a house and asking to use a phone. With my appearance, it’s unlikely the average resident would open their door to me. That leaves people on the street. Maybe someone’s got a phone they’d let me use.
Naturally, the sidewalks are nearly empty. There’s a clump of kids a block ahead of me, waiting at a school bus stop, but other than that, the only person in sight is a little girl. She’s maybe a fourth or fifth grader and she’s just come out of the big house I was approaching, apparently on her way to join the other kids. I mentally write her off, but then notice that she’s looking down and fiddling with what appears to be a phone. Jackpot! I run toward her, pulling my left bud out of my ear.
Unfortunately, with my mental clock counting down the seconds until I lose out on a totally sweet prize, I don’t take my usual painstaking care in analyzing the situation for appropriateness.
Her parent’s front yard is terraced, with a brick retaining wall of about table height, right up against the sidewalk. She reaches the edge of it, where the morning paper is practically teetering on the edge, at almost the same instant I arrive at the bottom. I note that we’re almost at eye level with each other this way.
“Hey, I need your phone,” eryaman bayan escort I blurt out.
She looks up and, as I would have expected if I’d given it even a fraction of the consideration I should have, her eyes get huge with fear. But this isn’t just the shock of a sudden surprise; I can see in her expression that she honestly believes I’m about to do something truly monstrous to her. Worse, her eyes have the look of someone who has experienced that kind of horror before.
Truly, I’m not in the habit of scaring the bejesus out of innocent children, but I’ve quite obviously done that now. This time, I go to my training for the correct response under these unhappy circumstances. I put an apologetic expression onto my face.
“Oh, hey, I’m sorry,” I say, making my voice as calm and friendly as possible. “I didn’t mean to scare you. I just have a really big emergency and I need to make a quick phone call. May I please borrow your phone for just a minute?”
She’s wearing jeans, light boots, and a long winter coat in a mature style that says to me that her clothes are chosen by her mom, not her peers. She has a thick wool scarf wrapped around the bottom of her face.
There’s a long silence as I wait for her response. I’m already calculating whether it would be smarter to continue my run and be well down the block before she regains her voice and starts screaming bloody murder, or if I should stay to explain my thoughtless actions to her parents when they inevitably race out to rescue their beloved daughter from a monster.
I’m waiting for the scream, but instead I watch something truly fascinating. A change is coming over her. I can’t see much of her face, but the parts I can see begin to calm down and relax. But it’s more than that. Her expression becomes that of someone more confident, wiser, and… well… older. Her eyes meet mine and I can see that she no longer fears me. I’ve never seen anything like this, and it’s weird.
“What kind of emergency?” she asks directly in a high-pitched little voice.
I’m the unsure one now. Watching her for the last ten seconds has been one of the more surreal experiences of my life. “Uh, a radio station just called my name to win a contest.”
“A Mexican beach vacation for two?”
“How did you know that?”
She points at her ear, fully covered by a Minnesota Vikings stocking cap. I hadn’t noticed the thin cord coming out from underneath, ending at her phone. Like me, she’s got her ear buds in. This kid obviously listens to her mom’s music too.
“It’s the ‘Get Naked with KIRA’ contest,” she says. The phrase “get naked” sounds very wrong coming from the mouth of a child.
“Uh, yeah, and I’ve got less than a minute before it goes to the next person they draw.”
“Huh? What does that have to do with anything?”
“Tick, tock, tick, tock.”
Good lord! She’s got to be the most self-assured child I’ve ever met. “No, I’m not married, not that it’s any of your business.”
“Living with anyone?”
Inappropriate much? I really don’t like her questioning, but she’s the one with the phone.
“No,” I answer. Not technically anyway.
“Then since it’s a trip for two, you’re taking me if I let you use my phone.”
This has gone from strange to completely absurd. “Sorry, kid, but there’s no way I’m taking someone’s child with me to a nude beach in Mexico.”
“Hey, I’m legal,” she says indignantly, pulling down her scarf so I can see the rest of her face. When I look closely, I can see that, incredibly, and despite her diminutive stature and child-like voice, she may be of high school age. There’s something else about her face that bugs me, though, like I should know her from somewhere. She’s not someone I’ve ever met before, but I’m almost certain I’ve seen her face. For the purposes of the conversation I’m having with her, though, that’s neither here nor there. The issue is her age. She may be older than I’d first figured, but is she that old?
She shrugs at my momentary indecision and begins to slip the phone into her coat pocket. I watch as my chance at a much-desired break from the winter doldrums begins to slip away. Probably as she intends, I’m forced to go for broke.
“Wait! Okay, I’ll take you with me.” My girlfriend’s not going to like this, but I can deal with that later.
“Promise me,” she says simply, her bright, clear eyes boring into mine.
I’m out of time, so I do as she asks. “I promise that as long as you’re at least eighteen, I’ll take you with me if I go. But only if your parents don’t object.” I add the last caveat because the last thing I want is to get into a hassle with the parents of a barely legal high school student.
“Fair enough.” She whips the phone out of her pocket and pulls the audio cord out of the jack. “Number?” she asks, quickly and efficiently.
She enters it as fast as I can recite it, her thumb a blur. I expect her to hand the phone to me, but escort etimesgut instead she holds it to her own ear. I’m close enough to her that I recognize the distinctive tones of KIRA’s “Roger in the Morning,” though I can’t quite make out his words.
“Hi, I’ve got Peter Malakhov here with me,” she says, evidently remembering my name from his announcement of it on the air. Wow, she really was listening! I also note that her voice, while still rather high pitched, suddenly sounds almost sultry and sexy. How did she manage that? I revise my estimate of her age upward again.
“Hi, I’ve got Peter Malakhov here with me,” I hear from my right earbud, almost exactly seven seconds after she’s said it into the phone. I belatedly remember that they’ve got a delay so they can use the dump button if someone uses a bad word. She’s on the air with Roger now. I mute my player.
“Who am I?” she says, obviously repeating a question from the other end of the phone connection. “Well, I’m Kira of course.” She gives me a conspiratorial wink. Cute. I hear a wispy burst of laughter from Roger and his faithful sidekick, Alice.
She listens for a little while longer, then looks me up and down rather thoroughly before she says, “Well, Peter’s six foot eleven…” A pause. “Yes, I said six foot eleven. He’s thirty years old and weighs about two-seventy. He’s got super thick, dark, curly hair, a really low, deep voice, a tough-guy beard, and he’s built like a very tall Greek god. Oh, and his butt looks really cute in the black running tights he’s wearing at the moment.”
I’m not sure about the “Greek god” or “cute butt” parts (and she’s made me two years older than I actually am) but the rest is amazingly accurate.
“What does he look like naked?” she repeats. I hope that question came from Alice, not Roger. “Well, a girl doesn’t kiss and tell.” She winks at me again. Another long moment. “Okay, here he is.” She hands me her phone.
“Hello?” I manage.
“Hello, Peter Malakhov,” Roger says.
I psych myself up to do a persona that I calculate is appropriate for the situation. “Hey Roger. Am I going to ‘get naked with KIRA’?”
“Sounds like you already have,” Alice quips. She and Roger belly laugh, almost convincingly. Then, before I even have the chance to ruin the moment for the radio audience by clarifying my relationship with the young lady, Roger jumps in.
“So what does Kira look like,” he asks.
I decide that saying she looks like a nine-year-old girl might be somewhat problematic, so I describe my actual girlfriend instead.
“She’s about five feet eleven, blonde, blue eyed, stacked, and totally gorgeous.” Again, all true (of my girlfriend anyway) but my tiny Vikings fan gives me the stink eye. Her eyes are brown, as is the long ponytail sticking out from under her cap. And as far as I can tell from the drape of her long coat, the “stacked” part certainly doesn’t apply to her either.
“Well we’re going to want to see pictures of you two at the beach, but you’re definitely going. You’re getting naked with KIRA!”
I’ve already calculated the correct response to that and now I whoop loud enough to be heard by the kids down at the end of the block, a few of whom turned to look. Little Miss Brown Eyes joins in as well.
“That’s right,” Alice says, with over-the-top enthusiasm, “you two are going to the Hidden Springs Beach Resort in Cozumel for a seven-day, all-inclusive vacation, airfare included. But the best part of this trip is that the beach at the resort is clothing optional. Peter, who is it that’s getting you naked on the beach in Mexico with your blond and stacked lady friend?”
I’ve listened to enough of their radio promotions over the years to know exactly how they’d like to end the on-air portion of this call. “Classic Rock KIRA 103!” I yell with gusto. Then we go off the air as the dulcet tones of Rod Stewart come on. Roger hands me off to his producer to tell me how to claim my prize.
The girl waits for a moment as I begin to give the station my info, but then she reaches inside her stocking cap and pulls out a very short pencil from behind her ear. She reaches down to snag the newspaper and tears off a corner of the front page. She quickly jots something down on it.
When I finally hang up and return her phone, she hands the scrap of news print to me. All it has is a phone number. “What’s your name for real?” I ask.
She looks at me like I haven’t been paying attention. “Kira.” Then she turns and heads right back for the front door of the house, newspaper in hand.
“Don’t you even want my number?” I call out to her.
She turns at the door. “Just remember your promise, Peter Malakhov,” she says, then slips inside and closes the door behind her.
I tuck the scrap of paper into the little nylon case that holds my Sony strapped to my arm, then switch to my normal play list. The plaintive sax intro to a Bob Seger live cut fills my ears and I begin elvankent escort to run for home, only now realizing that I’m thoroughly chilled from having stood still for so long in my lightweight running apparel.
I think about the situation as I get back up to temperature. Obviously, I can’t take the kid with me, even in the unlikely event that she’s actually legal. If I go, I’m taking my girlfriend. While, indeed, we aren’t technically living together, we’ve been exclusive for two months. I’m either going to have to buy out the other half of the vacation from “Kira,” have her (or more likely her parents) buy my half from me, or just give the whole thing to them. After all, without the use of her phone, I wouldn’t have won the silly contest in the first place.
The idea of not keeping my word to a pushy kid whose real name I don’t even know never occurs to me.
I live in a loft above my machine shop in an older, industrial part of town. I bought the building, aging CNC tools and all, for a song at a bankruptcy auction four years ago. It’s not zoned for residential, but I fixed up the space above the machinery as my own personal apartment anyway. What the city fathers don’t know won’t hurt them.
I unlock two big deadbolts and swing the heavy steel door outward. Stepping in and locking the door behind me, I hang my running gear on the hooks just inside the door and head over to the corner where I have my barbells, bench and squat rack. I clothe myself in a weight belt and get busy.
I push myself hard, concentrating on my form and trying to set a new personal best. I almost get a fourteenth rep on my third set of squats, but I come up just short. Unaided, there’s no way I’m going to get the bar back up onto the hooks. With no spotters, I might have been in trouble, but I’ve designed and fabricated alternate means to aid me on the last rep.
I bite down on the mouth switch I’m holding between my teeth, and a motor and cables begin to slowly lift the barbell. I don’t quit, though, still heaving with everything I’ve got left. I know this is the part of the lift that gives me the most results, going all out after I’m already exhausted. This is going to hurt later, but in a good way.
When my workout is finally completed, I hang up the weight belt, put on my steel toed boots, and tie on a thick, custom made shop apron that hangs clear to my ankles. Thirty seconds later I’ve totally put the workout and my vacation problems behind me as I suddenly envision an answer to the engineering problem I’d been contemplating during my run. Trying it out might take all day.
It does indeed take thirteen hours to tack together a good enough prototype to convince myself that the idea is going to work. From long habit, I’ve set an alarm to alert me when I need to get ready. I know myself well enough not to trust my usually accurate internal clock when I’m building something. The chime tells me I’ve now got precisely one hour before I need to meet my girlfriend at her favorite club. I put the boots back in their cubby, hang the apron on its hook, then trot up the stairs and into the shower.
The Time Zone is a trendy kind of place. The music is excruciatingly loud and modern, the crowd young and hip, the furnishings cold and sleek, the drinks watered-down and ludicrously over-priced. My mind is operating at maximum workload now, computing the correct responses and producing witty repartee for my acquaintances as I work my way through the crowd. I’m familiar with most of these people, though I’ve seen very few of them anywhere but here. I don’t really know who they are outside these walls and frankly, it hasn’t struck me that I should care. I just keep up my front as I make my way back to the table where I know my Destinee will be waiting for me.
She sees me from about twenty feet away and acknowledges my presence at about ten, rising to her feet and folding herself into my embrace. Heads turn as the most beautiful woman in the club kisses the tallest and most intimidating man. (I know I’m not the most handsome, but I seem to do okay). This is the payoff for all the time, money and effort that I’ve put in to make myself over into the kind of guy that can rule the roost at a place like this.
“I wanna dance,” Destinee says. I nod and offer her my arm.
The dance floor is an epileptic’s worst nightmare, with its brilliant, flashing strobes. I’m certain that the sheer volume of the pounding beat must interfere with the dancers’ cardiac functions as well. Real estate is at a premium since it’s a Friday night, but at my size, the crowd gives way and we take over a spot in the middle of the action.
Destinee is a good dancer, and this is where she looks her best. She really is a gorgeous woman. In fact, exactly the kind of woman I’ve dreamed of since my first stirrings of puberty. Her large, full breasts are only barely restrained by her bright yellow dress and appear ready to break containment at any moment. The men around us seem to be anticipating such an event and apparently want to be sure they don’t miss it. I suppose that most guys would get jealous, seeing so many men looking at their girlfriend’s chest with barely disguised lust, but for me, that’s the whole point.
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