Keeping Score: $10K for a Perfect 10 (excerpt)


(Excerpt from Keeping Score, the precursor story to Capturing Captain America)

She wore her hair up in a chignon while large hoop earrings contrasted against her sculpted oval face. In the right shade of natural sunlight her green-hazel eyes could seem violet in hue. The honey highlights in her hair, coral summer dress with its matching sandals created an image for a day on a yacht. Los Angeles was hot and less congested this early morning. Kaja wasn’t sure why she woke up so soon after falling asleep at 4:00am. Bleue Spinnakers had stayed open till 3:00am for a private function which made for a very good tip night. Today there was no school or homework to do. Freshman year  finals were over. Her internship at Ronan’s father’s company didn’t start for another two weeks. Why did she feel the need to show up today for this?

Ronan was done with the school year too and his summer began today. He was fulfilling his ROTC obligation and heading down to San Diego. This morning he was boarding a military bus with other ROTC recruits. Most were there with their families and girlfriends or wives. All were in their early twenties. Kaja wasn’t there to say anything but to watch as Ronan left.

It was Jayma, not Kaja, who saw Ronan off. Ronan wearing his gear and a newly updated buzz cut. Jayma hugged Ronan a long time. Naturally. He wasn’t deploying but four months of no physical contact had her gripping for every second. Jayma herself had a busy summer too. She would fly out to New York to try her luck modeling in various print and runway campaigns. The whole thing was cliché to Kaja. Just another Southern California beauty queen on Ronan’s arm whose letters and pictures he can show off in the barracks.

Kaja watched from a distance at the Coconut Grove Wine Bar across the street from the bus station. Usually Kaja only went to another bar to scope out the competition for Justin and Randall. This morning she was drinking a virgin cocktail as she secretly saw Captain America leave. Ronan couldn’t see her as she sat on the upper balcony wearing a large summer beach hat. Kaja had also dyed her nearly black hair a dark copper red. Justin and Randall had been urging her to try a new look thinking it would soften her. If she looked more approachable the owners felt Kaja would attract more patrons, make more tips, and ultimately increase the summer traffic with tourists and traveling businessmen.

Ronan and Jayma gave themselves a final kiss before his parents said goodbye. He boarded the bus and stuck his head out from a window.

“Call me when you arrive in New York. I need to know you’re there OK.”

“I’ll call you as soon as the plane lands at La Guardia.”

In 24 hours Ronan and Jayma will be three time zones apart, almost 3000 miles in separation, and one in the cosmopolitan world of Manhattan with another on a military base. Kaja pondered how Jayma could handle the separation without temptation. Jayme wasn’t a woman intimate with aloneness. Jayma with her clear skin smile would be one of those who would marry young and then retire. She would go from $10,000 a day for being a perfect 10 to being the spouse of either a trust fund victim or Investment Banker. Captain America may not be enough for Jayma if a titan of Wall Street came courting this summer. One more Dear John letter or email by August Kaja thought. I wonder what it would feel like for me if he wanted to know if I were ok, another thought passed Kaja’s mind.


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