Love Story

Customer of an e-cig lounge finds sparks with the site’s manager

Ashley Gunter and James Skivers of Roeland Park met at the e-cigarette lounge where she worked.
Ashley Gunter and James Skivers of Roeland Park met at the e-cigarette lounge where she worked. The Kansas City Star

Sometimes James Skivers, 34, liked to unwind at an e-cigarette lounge, the Vape Room, on Fridays after work. He enjoyed the family atmosphere and liked talking to the Northland shop’s lively young manager, 18-year-old Ashley Gunter.

First impressions:

Ashley: “James was quirky. He became part of the ‘vaping’ family and wanted to help out around the shop.”

James: “Ashley was a great, bright personality, very smart and pretty. She always had a smile and tried hard to remember everyone’s name.”

The unfolding: That October 2013, James was divorced with a 13-year-old daughter; Ashley was in a relationship that wasn’t really working out.

James volunteered to help create new menus and marketing materials for the Vape Room. He and Ashley met for dinner to work on the project and really enjoyed their time together. They exchanged phone numbers and began calling and texting.

As they spent time together, their friendship deepened into a romance. Ashley liked James’ sweet personality and his spontaneity. “He knows how to treat a lady,” Ashley says. “I felt at home with him.”

James appreciated Ashley’s energy and positive outlook. Last summer, James and Ashley camped out on his parents’ land near Excelsior Springs. That night, as they gazed up at the Milky Way, both of them realized they were in love.

Favorite shared activities: They enjoy watching movies, hiking, taking road trips and having adventures.

Careers and family: James works in IT at Eiko, a lighting products manufacturer. He also does storm chasing for the media. Ashley now works at Sarpino’s Pizzeria in Westport. They live in Roeland Park, and James’ daughter joins them every weekend.

What keeps their relationship strong: They read spiritual teachings to each other and discuss the concepts. Those conversations help them expand their knowledge of each other. They also complement each other: James is spontaneous and Ashley keeps him organized.

The qualities they most appreciate in each other:

Ashley: “James is so caring, and I love how safe I feel with him. We’re very compatible. I’m lucky to find love at such a young age.”

James: “Ashley is the greatest thing ever. She’s intelligent, a great listener, and she’s always got good advice. She’s good at planning ahead and coming up with ideas. She’s always there for me.”

Deborah Shouse is a freelance writer. The final Star Magazine Love Stories will appear here in Saturday FYI.