At nineteen, Nina has endured two lifetime's worth of humiliation. Tired of waiting for it to get better, she decides to get going-across the globe to New Zealand. There she soon faces what she most fears: a super sexy guy ready to be Nina's next mistake.
Once Sam's life was all about having fun. That was before the accident. Now his friends have bailed and his world is broken. But when a gorgeous girl on his flight looks at him with passion instead of pity, Sam feels his old self coming back to life.
Now traveling together, Nina and Sam know this isn't just a fling. They're falling fast, hard, and deep. More than anything, Sam wants Nina to forget her fears. But to help her do that he must reveal his own painful secret-and risk Nina never seeing him the same way again.
“It just seems like the safest thing for you, and for all of New Zealand, is to not let you travel on your own. I mean, what if you sank the country? Or worse, blinded the millions of sheep with your flagrant display of body parts? How could I live with myself?”
She rolls her eyes and fights the smile tugging at her lips. “That’s quite the sales pitch. But...what are you suggesting?”
“Travel with me.” I wasn’t planning this. Any of it. I just needed to get to her and make sure she was okay. With the words out, I know it’s what I want. I need to see those bedroom eyes again. Touch her bare back. Again. We can travel together for a couple of weeks, hopefully get down and dirty, then I’ll take off.
“Sorry?” She swallows heavily. “With you?”
“Yeah, with me. You and me in my sweet ride, touring the country.” She squints at my recently purchased rusted, red station wagon. “Don’t look at her like that,” I say, motioning to the car. “I bet she’s been through a lot in her life.”
She hums to herself and chews her lip, but she doesn’t speak. Getting her to travel with me might not be so easy. But I can’t walk away. I chased her across New Zealand for Christ’s sake. I’m addicted to her sexy-as-hell glances.
I dip my head to meet her eyes. “So, Nina? What do you say? We can try to sell off your Kiwi bus pass. I mean, I know we’ve hung out a bit, but I don’t think you get how truly awesome I am. I’m a blast to travel with. Like if there was a show called Traveling New Zealand with the World’s Coolest Travel Partner, I’d star in every episode.”
She leans back, sizing me up. “Then why does it feel like I’ll be starring in the made-for-TV movie: The Disappearance of Nina Gabri?”
Verbal chess matches are usually reserved for my buddies, but she has me thinking on my feet. I nod thoughtfully. “Oh, okay. I get you. It’s the weird I-chased-you- across-the-country thing. That’s fine. On second thought, I don’t think you should consider getting in that car with me. And you definitely shouldn’t think about how much fun we’d have driving around in my fine automobile.”
“Reverse psychology? Really? I have five younger siblings, Sam. I am the reigning queen of reverse psychology. What’s your next tactic?”
“Wow.” I scratch my head. “That’s it. That’s all I’ve got. Usually I smile, and the girls are hacking off their own limbs to fit in the trunk.”
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She laughs at her own jokes and has been known to eat her feelings—Gummy Bears heal all. She’s also an incurable romantic, devouring romance novels into the wee hours of the morning.
She is represented by Stacey Donaghy of the Donaghy Literary Group.
2015 Golden Heart® Finalist