Air kiss a running on ai.., p.1
Air Kiss: A Running on Air Novella, page 1
A Running on Air Novella
About the Author
Also by L.H. Cosway
Copyright © 2019 L.H. Cosway.
All rights reserved.
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This is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to persons living or dead is purely coincidental. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission from the author.
“They were stars on this stage. Each playing to an audience of two.”
F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Beautiful and Damned
“I’ve never seen you this nervous,” Paul commented as he ran his attentive gaze over me. “Are you sure you’re feeling okay?”
The bloke was my best friend, but man, sometimes I hated how perceptive he was. I thought I was doing a good job of covering my nerves. Obviously, I wasn’t.
“I’m fine,” I told him and kept walking. We were on our way to an informal interview for an up-and-coming reality TV series, showcasing a group of freerunners from London. And yes, being that parkour was my life, I wanted to be a part of that group so badly it practically seeped from my pores. Maybe that’s why I was so on edge. I couldn’t remember a time when I wanted something more than this.
Paul was friends with some of the guys involved, and when they contacted him in their search for people to come on board, he was kind enough to put my name forward, too. That was Paul for you. Always thinking of others. He was the nicest person I knew, if not a little quirky. Anyway, it was too bad we didn’t have romantic chemistry, because he would’ve made the perfect boyfriend.
Paul chuckled, the sound deep and attractive. His blue eyes made a distinct contrast with his bright auburn hair. “You look like you’re about to shit a brick.”
I tugged on the hem of my T-shirt. “Can you blame me? I’m about to meet Trevor Cross, Callum Davidson, and James Khan. They’re like, the holy triumvirate, the frickin’ parkour Gods of London. I know they’re your buddies, but to me, they’re these illusive mythological creatures only few have had the fortune to know.”
“Okay, you’re building this up way too much in your head. They’re just normal blokes. When you meet them, you’ll see.”
I wasn’t so sure about that. In my world, those three were spoken about but rarely seen. If you were lucky, they might show up when you were at the park one day. I’d watched them from afar several times but never had the nerve to introduce myself. They were like those obscure indie bands with cult followings, who only played secret gigs that spread through word of mouth. Or graffiti artists known solely by their name and work.
They had this aura of untouchability.
I shrugged as I glanced up at Paul. “Yeah, maybe.”
He grinned and teased as he poked me in the arm. “If anyone else knew there was such a soft centre underneath that tough exterior, you’d lose all your street cred.”
I poked him back with a lighthearted threat. “It’s a good thing you’re too much of a loyal friend to ever tell.”
He winked. “I’m pretty fantastic, aren’t I?”
I chuckled at his playfulness and focused back on where we were headed. We were meeting said “holy triumvirate” at a café on the South Bank. Paul wanted to take a taxi from the Tube station to avoid being late, but I insisted on walking. I needed the extra time and fresh air to get my shit together. Unfortunately, by the time we arrived, my shit still hadn’t found itself. Fortunately, I put up a good front. Paul was the only one who knew me well enough to see through it.
I spotted them before they saw us, sitting at a table chatting casually. They were just like Paul described them, three regular blokes. Trev Cross was fair-skinned, dark-haired and light-eyed, while James Khan was dark-skinned and dark-eyed, his hair shaved short. Then there was Callum Davidson. He had honey-brown hair, piercing green eyes, and ink covering every inch of his arms and neck. I was sure it extended to the rest of him as well, but since he was clothed, I couldn’t see.
More’s the pity.
I was a sucker for tattoos.
His arms were attractively muscular and he had the cheekbones and jawline of a catwalk model. I watched as he pulled a pair of black Ray-Bans from his pocket and slid them on, shielding his eyes from the sun. He might as well have been in slow motion, with “Sexy Boy” by AIR for background music, what with all the fluttery fangirl feelings I was having
“Hey!” Paul greeted as we approached, drawing the attention of the three.
All eyes came to us and those aforementioned nerves caught in my throat. I felt like I was meeting the Queen. My hands grew clammy and my stomach flittered with butterflies.
The pale, blue-eyed one stood first and pulled Paul into an enthusiastic man hug. “Paul! Good to see you,” he said before turning to me. “And you must be Leanne. I’ve heard great things. I’m Trev.”
With the attention of all of them on me, I felt a wave of self-consciousness. I wore a pair of black jeans, a white T-shirt, and my favourite Asics trainers. It was what I wore most days, because I was a low maintenance sort of gal. I didn’t really wear makeup and kept my hair cut short. In fact, I was pretty sure the last time I wore a dress was my tenth birthday party. Because of this, people often mistook me for a lesbian, which was a ridiculous stereotype because I had lesbian friends who were more glam than half the straight girls I knew.
I shook hands with him as the next guy approached and offered his hand, too. “I’m James. Paul’s been telling us all about you. I’m excited that we might get to work together,” he greeted me warmly and my nerves started to subside. They were nice guys; open, friendly, welcoming. All my worries had been for nothing.
Just as soon as I had the thought, it was quashed by the fact that Callum Davidson sat there surveying me from behind the dark lenses of his sunnies. His mouth formed a hostile slant.
“Hello, we’ve not met before. I’m Leanne,” I said, hoping to break the ice.
His gaze dipped to my hand, then up to my face as he replied in an unimpressed voice. “Yeah, I know.”
Well, I guess all three of them being happy to meet me was just wishful thinking. Perhaps I should be thankful that Trev and James seemed nice. I could deal with Callum’s less than friendly attitude. Since my day job was working at a Starbucks in Canary Wharf, I was no novice at handling egos. Those financial types were dead fussy about their coffee.
I withdrew my hand and shoved it in the back pocket of my jeans, unwilling to let his hostility phase me. “My reputation precedes me then,” I joked but it didn’t make a dent in Callum’s antipathy.
“Please, take a seat,” James said, clearing his throat as though to squelch the awkward vibes. He gestured to the two empty places at the table. A waiter sidled over and took our drink orders, then left as swiftly as he’d arrived.
“So, I guess we should get down to business,” Trev said. “The three of us have been signed for a new reality show with Channel 4, but they want another two freerunners to come on board. Paul was a top choice for all of us, and since he suggested you above anyone else, we feel like we can trust his judgement. This meeting is just a little get to know you so we can decide if we all gel together as a group.”
Callum quietly scoffed and I bristled. What was his problem? Trev either didn’t hear it or decided to ignore him, because he continued talking. “The big question is, are you both interested? It’s important that yo
“I’m okay with that. No skeletons here,” Paul said.
“Yeah,” I added breezily. “Me neither. Well, not unless you count that one weekend I spent with Charlie Sheen,” I went on and everyone laughed except for Callum. Perhaps dark humour wasn’t his thing. I wondered if maybe he was just having a bad day and endeavoured to break the tension by way of a compliment. I slid forward in my seat and gestured to his arms. “Wow, your tattoos are amazing. Are they all done by the same artist?”
He arched a derisive brow, like I was being nosy instead of polite. “You writing a book?”
I sucked in a breath as my stomach twisted with unease. Okay, I was reverting back to my original impression. He was just a dick.
“Christ, Cal, don’t be an arsehole.” James shot me an apologetic look.
Callum cast his attention to James. “What? It’s none of her business.” He paused and glanced back at me, assessing. “Wait, you are a girl, right? It’s kind of hard to tell.”
Jeez, cut me to the quick with a rusty blade, why don’t you. It wasn’t that the insult was particularly offensive, because I’d heard the same shit a hundred times before. It just hurt coming from him. As a freerunner in this city, I’d looked up to Callum Davidson, not to mention crushed on him like mental.
Paul glared at him angrily in my defence. “Who pissed in your cornflakes?”
“Watch it, Sheridan. I might like you, but that doesn’t mean you’re in yet,” Callum threw back.
“If this is how you talk to people, then I’m not sure I want to be in,” Paul replied.
“Listen, can everyone just calm their tits,” Trev intervened as he levelled his gaze on Callum. “And Cal, try to tone down your inner dick, just for the next half an hour, yeah?”
“Can you blame me for being pissed? The show was supposed to be just the three of us. Now we’re bending over backwards and letting them change the format. I’m sorry, but that’s bullshit.”
Ah, now I got it. Callum didn’t like the idea of more people coming on board, more mouths to feed, so to speak. Not to mention more people to cut in on his potential airtime. Huh. I couldn’t tell if he was egotistical or insecure. Possibly both.
“Are you worried we’ll take the shine off your apple? Or is this a money thing?” I asked bluntly, never one to beat around the bush.
Callum barked a hostile laugh. “Honey, do you seriously think I care about you outshining me? I mean, look at me,” he said and gestured to himself.
Okay, that was possibly the most unattractive thing I’d ever heard from an undeniably attractive man. “Wow, arrogant,” I muttered under my breath.
I knew Callum heard when he pulled off his sunglasses to level me with a challenging look. Damn, his eyes were far too beautiful for someone so conceited. “I’m not arrogant, I’m confident. I know for a fact that I can outshine anyone who tries to come at me.”
I’d always been a defiant person. Some would even say stubborn. Put me under depraved methods of torture and I’ll be the very last person to break, which probably explained the next words out of my mouth. “I could outshine you without even trying, honey,” I said, throwing his own sarcastic endearment back at him.
Now he looked at me, considering, his gaze astute. I got the sense what I just said interested him.
He made a sweeping hand gesture as he replied, “Go for it, then. Outshine me.”
I scoffed. “I’m pretty sure you have to shine first, and so far, all you’ve done is sulk.”
Trev barked a laugh. “Ha! She’s not wrong. You’ve been a right moody bugger all morning.”
Callum narrowed his gaze. “You’re not my target audience, Trev. I’m shining for that blonde over there.” He indicated an attractive woman sitting a few tables away. “She can’t take her eyes off me.”
He was right. She was staring at him with marked interest.
It was incredibly irritating, and my urge to take him down a peg or two increased tenfold. Standing from my seat, I walked toward the banks of the Thames and with several strides jumped atop the wall that ran along it.
I did a quick handstand then completed three flawless backflips, the final one landing me back on the path. Several passersby clapped at my performance and I grinned in triumph. On my return to the table, I made a show of dusting my hands as I levelled my new nemesis with a cocky look, “Top that, sunshine.”
Parkour was the living, beating heart inside my chest. I wouldn't allow Callum Davidson to taint it for a single second, even if he was one of the sexiest men I’d ever met. Come hell or high water, I was going to be a part of this show.
Bloody hell, she was sexy.
And I wasn’t talking about the leggy blonde eye-fucking me several tables away. I was referring to the petite tomboy with the peachy arse and gorgeous blue eyes. I’d resigned myself to being pissed about the TV people wanting to bring on more freerunners, and since Leanne was one of those interlopers, I wasn’t going to give her an easy time.
I knew Trev and James thought I was just being selfish, and in a way, they were right. I was selfish, and that was because I knew where the opposite got you: nowhere. If I was going to create a better life for me and Mum, then I had to be ruthless. I didn’t want her living in that shitbox apartment block any longer than necessary. We’d both spent way too many years there already.
So yeah, I needed every penny I could get out of this TV deal, and bringing on another two people was going to cut into it.
Just think about the Polyphonic Spree. There were way too many motherfuckers in that band for them to have gotten a decent cut. And remember So Solid Crew? I bet none of those bastards were living the high life right now.
“Top that, sunshine,” Leanne said as she sauntered back over, lowered herself into a seat and crossed one leg over the other. Too fucking cute. She was sexy and adorable and somehow tough in one completely tempting package. I’d never give her the satisfaction of knowing it though.
I was a stubborn prick like that.
Judging from the firm set of her jaw, I was willing to bet she was stubborn, too.
Maybe that was what I liked about her.
Or maybe it was just that peachy arse.
I folded my arms and flashed her a wicked grin, satisfied when the tiniest flush marked her cheeks. My grin always worked, even on women who didn’t fancy me. It was my greatest weapon.
“I will,” I replied casually. “When I’m ready.”
“Ha! That’s a cop-out,” she taunted, but I didn’t rise to it. I would show her up when the time was right, and she’d admit I was the better freerunner willingly.
“Maybe we should get back to the matter at hand,” said James.
“Yeah. I’m already sold on the fact that you two are going to suck viewers in with your rivalry,” Trev chuckled.
Leanne raised both eyebrows but didn’t say anything. I wondered what she thought of all this. And I thought about what Trev said. Maybe he was right. Maybe this odd rivalry between us would make for good TV. I wasn’t sure why, because I didn’t even know her, but there was some natural instinct in me that wanted to rub her up the wrong way.
Then again, it probably just went back to the money.
“So, you both work at Starbucks in Canary Wharf?” James said. “You’ll likely have to give those jobs up if you get signed.”
Both Paul and Leanne shot each other looks as if to say, oh no, please don’t make us leave our beloved coffee slinging behind. I resisted the urge to smirk, because I knew all too well how shitty it was working in the service industry. I was still an assistant manager at Urban Outfitters. Don’t laugh. As soon as this TV thing was set in stone, those
“Yeah, that’s not going to be a problem,” Leanne said with a healthy dose of sarcasm, and I hated how much it made me warm up to her. Appearance-wise, she was the exact opposite of the usual girls I went out with, so the fact I was attracted to her was surprising. And inconvenient.
I was grumpy about them bringing more people in, but I kind of wanted to see where this whole thing went. Not to mention I’d always liked Paul, even if he was a little too nice for his own good. Usually, when people were that nice, it meant they were up to something.
I realised I’d been staring at Leanne for too long when she arched an eyebrow and shot me a questioning look. I frowned, slid my sunglasses back in place and stared at a random spot in the distance.
She had nice skin.
I wouldn’t mind touching it.
“There’ll also be some travel involved,” James continued. “We’ll be in Manchester and Newcastle for the filming of several episodes.”
He kept talking and the conversation progressed. I didn’t really take part, still mulling over the idea that maybe it wouldn’t be so bad to have Paul and Leanne around. At least when I got bored, I could amuse myself by checking out Leanne’s arse.
“So, how about we all meet for a run on Saturday?” Trev suggested as we got up to leave. “That way we can get a proper feel for how we work together.”
“Sounds good to me,” Paul said.
“Me, too,” Leanne added and I was oddly looking forward to seeing her run. If those backflips she did earlier were anything to go by, she was no novice. I noticed her cast me one last contemplative glance before we parted ways.
by L.H. Cosway / Contemporary Romance / Urban Fantasy have rating 4 out of 5 / Based on32 votes