500-mile road trip! Mission? Get over the guy you kinda-sorta hooked up with. Problem? He’s your new road-trip companion.
So, yeah. Here’s me heading out on this stupid soul-searching road trip to get over The Turd, and here he is leaning against my car, all easy charm, batting his ridiculously long eyelashes, and asking for a ride. Explaining why he can’t come along would be admitting my struggle to purge him from my thoughts. The universe is laughing at me. I can’t fall for a short-term playboy. But tell that to my body, which up and goes hey there as soon as his pheromones get within sniffing distance.
Or Not to Play…
My reputation as a player isn’t just smoke and mirrors. I play the field. Constantly. No strings sex? Perfect. But ever since a certain shy book nerd slipped under my skin, I haven’t wanted anyone but her. The kicker? She blew me off the next morning. Now that I’m stranded and she’s my only ride, maybe I can find out why our awesome night together turned into her ghosting me.
She appears through the break in the trees, the weathered wooden sides of the Boat-in-the-Moat restaurant behind her. And she’s sporting the biggest grin.
That grin is doing some voodoo in my gut. Yeah, this trip is looking more and more like one of my more epic mistakes. Instead of shedding her from my system by being on a boring road trip with her, she’s only verifying my initial impression of her.
Maybe I’m coming down with something. Tampa. I can get off in Tampa. If her car starts, I’ll ask.
When she nears, she thumbs behind her. “There’s a sign above the bathroom doors that says, ‘Rooms To Go.’ ”
“Forget Da Vinci of Debris, that guy was the King of Corny Jokes.”
“Right? The whole time during the tour I kept wanting to go—”
She mimes hitting a drum kit, and I provide the sound effects. “Ba-dum-tissshhh.”
She’s still got that grin on her face, and it’s definitely the grin affecting me, not a cold. It’s as if I’m seeing all of her, unfettered. I fall in step with her as we head back to the car. I pass her a small paper bag. “Got ya something.”
She opens the bag and pulls out the postcard I bought at the gift shop.
“For your journal,” I say, since she seems lost on why she needs a postcard.
“Thank you.” And just like that, she appears to curl into herself again.
But she sticks it into the back of her journal. And as we walk side by side to the parking lot, a heavy weight descends on me. I finally identify the feeling: dread. The cause? That her car will start fine. That I’ll leave her alone and then the car breaks down. That I’ll leave and…miss her.
I pull in a deep breath. “So where next, Don Quixote?” Decision made, something shifts inside that makes things feel right.
“Up north to Lake Wales, to something called Spook Hill, and then on to…” Here she turns her head away, and I can’t hear the rest.
She walks around to the driver’s side of the car and arches that little dark brow. “To the Potty Chair.”
Breath explodes from me. “A potty chair? What’s weird about a potty chair, except for someone thinking it’d make a great tourist spot?” We’ve only been to one spot, yeah, but this is Claire who devised this trip. The theme’s clear: weird.
“It’s twenty-four feet tall,” she says with no inflection.
After dropping that nugget, she steps into her car. We parked in the shade, so the inside’s not as hot as it could be, but thankfully, she starts the car and cranks the A/C.
“Okay. That is weird,” I concede as relief floods me that I decided to continue on this crazy trip whether her car started or not.
We move to buckle up, and our hands brush. We both tense. Me, because for some reason, a jolt of—okay. Fuck this. It wasn’t a jolt of desire. No way. It was…surprise.
That’s all it was.
She tensed, because…memory of our sexually charged standoff outside her door last night comes crashing back.
From the corner of my eye, I see she’s looking at me too. A softness in her eyes scrambles my brain. Her gaze drops to my lips, and, Jesus fuck, mine drops to hers. Again admiring the asymmetry.
It’s as if she’s rocking a lip mullet, but, you know, sexy. Unlike a mullet. Business up top, with its conservative lines, and party on the bottom, with its plump, kissable…
I pull away on a sharp inhale as I realize we’d both drifted a shade closer.
That was close. Too close. Get your head screwed on right, Aiden. I fiddle with the air vents, getting the ones on my side angled just right. Yeah, a little more to the right. And up. There we go. Perfect. Yep.
“I’ve got a new rule,” I say, trying to make my voice all normal.
She clears her throat and clamps her cell into her dashboard holster. “What’s that?” Her voice is slightly higher-pitched than usual.
“Claire wants to encourage you to be spontaneous, right?”
“There’s no maybe.” I risk eye contact now that I’m back in control of myself. “Part of what made this visit so awesome was because we neglected to Google it. We had no idea what to expect. Normally, we don’t have that luxury.”
She looks away briefly from typing in the next destination address into her cell and pins me with her serious gaze. “What do you mean?”
“If you or I were planning this trip, we’d have done the research and picked these spots, and so we’d already know what we are in for.”
She nods and resumes typing into her cell.
I prop my arm on the seat and turn to her. “My new proposed rule is that we don’t look up info, other than directions, for each site.”
Her bottom lip moves across her top one, as if she’s tasting the option. My dick chubs up a little at the sight.
“Do I have a second?”
She smiles. “Second.”
I sit forward and stretch out my legs. “So moved.”
“Yeah, but you love it.” Then I realize what I said, and I cover it by giving a mock innocent whistle and looking out the front window.
I look back at her. “Yes?”
She looks a bit shy, and I’m worried what the hell she’s going to risk saying. “Thanks for the postcard.”
About the Author
Angela is a USA Today bestselling author. Her debut novel MUST LOVE BREECHES swept many unpublished romance contests, including the Grand Prize winner of Windy City’s Four Seasons contest in 2012. Angela loves history, folklore, and family history, and has been a hobby historian for twenty+ years. She decided to take her love of history and her active imagination and write stories of love and adventure for others to enjoy. When writing, she’s either at her desk in the finished attic of an historic home in beautiful and quirky Mobile, AL, or at her fave spot at the local Starbucks. When she isn’t writing, she’s either working at the local indie bookstore or enjoying the usual stuff like gardening, reading, hanging out, eating, drinking, chasing squirrels out of the walls, and creating the occasional knitted scarf.
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