Well Traveled by Jasmine Aherne
contemporary sensual romance
full length novel (65K)
Temporarily living in London to care for his ailing father, travel writer Wade is torn between his urge to globe trot and his love for his dad.
Enter broken hearted but free-spirited Kiersten. After a spilled cup of hot chocolate brings them together, Kiersten shows Wade that he doesn't need to get on a plane to find places to explore. The city opens up before his eyes, and he starts discovering things about London - and about himself - that he never expected...
The corner of Wade’s mouth tugged up in an adorable half-smile. “Just thought… seems like a hell of a day to be drinking alone. Even if you haven’t started on the hard stuff yet.”
Kiersten shook her head on a sad, half-laugh. “On the contrary, I’d say it’s just about the only day when drinking alone is positively encouraged. It’s the only way to cope with the twenty-four hours geared around hugs, roses, and puppies.”
Wade laughed into his beer. “Is that why you’re here? Avoiding the small, pink-collared dogs tumbling from the sky?”
Kiersten sipped her hot chocolate slowly, contemplating a lie, or saying nothing at all. Finally she decided that she had no reason not to just tell him the truth. “No. My boyfriend ran out on me.”
He’d been about to take a drink, but Wade paused with the beer mug halfway to his lips. “Jeez. I’m sorry. That blows.”
Kiersten found herself smiling, or perhaps it was more of a grimace. “Yeah. It sort of does, actually.”
Silence threaded between them for a moment.
“Today?” he asked, as if to clarify Billy’s status as a “Bad Person”.
“Yesterday. We’d planned to take a trip for our anniversary. He left last night for our hotel. And he wasn’t alone.”
Wade’s eyes flashed wide for a second. “Seriously?”
Kiersten just nodded. The look on Wade’s face confirmed it; Billy had officially become a “Bad Person”.
“Wow.” Wade lay a gentle hand on her shoulder. “What a jerk-off. I’m sorry.”
He dropped his hand. For a moment Kiersten felt the loss of the human contact keenly, then she took another drink of her hot beverage. When the silence dragged again, she started a new conversation.
“So what brings you out on this day of the hugs and puppies saint?”
Wade rolled his eyes good-naturedly at her words. “I’m here visiting my father.”
Kiersten’s brows dipped. “And you didn’t bring him along for a beer?”
“He’s in the hospital.”
Oh. Kiersten swallowed. Open mouth, insert foot. “I’m sorry.”
He half-shrugged. “Don’t be. How could you have known?” He sighed and leant against the bar, staring into space for a few seconds that stretched. “He’s tough as an old boot. He’ll pull through.”
“Have you come a long way?”
He shrugged again. “Ithaca, New York state.”
A pretty long way to come, she thought. “Are you staying long?” She met his eyes, dark brown, the colour of really rich cocoa.
“I’m leaving tomorrow.”
“Oh.” Kiersten was surprised at the sudden stab of disappointment his words brought. There was no reason for it – she didn’t even know him. “Did you grow up in Ithaca?”
“Yeah, born and bred. My parents had a holiday apartment here in London – they loved it here. When my mom died, my dad decided to move out to the holiday place, at first temporarily. I guess he… found it hard to live in the house he and my mom had lived in for so long. Too many memories.”
Wade shifted, then pulled out the stool next to Kiersten’s. He sat, and the movement made his denim-clad thigh brush against hers. A frisson of awareness shot up Kiersten’s leg.
She felt equally surprised and disgusted. She’d just seen off her fiancé, a man she’d loved. Still loved. Now was no time to be feeling sexual attraction to a stranger.