Have you ever wondered who was in the car next to you? Wondered where they were going and why? A vacation? Business trip? Or is it someone’s only chance to run away…
Brett Myers needs a change; a soul searching move to another city. Walking in on your brother and girlfriend in bed together will do that. So after two weeks of sleeping on a friend’s couch, Texas is his destination. A new town and a new life. He’s ready to start over.
Mia Brown needs a change; a soul-searching trip to her past. More than ready to leave her controlling boyfriend and life in North Carolina, Mia uses this chance for a fresh start. There’s no plan. Just to hit the road, head out West, and never look back.
When their paths cross on a long stretch of Highway 85, these two strangers will learn just how much they need each other to heal.
She jumps at the sound of my voice, giving me a faint smile that strengthens my resolve to talk to her.
I stick out my hand. “Hi, I’m Brett.” She takes it, timid but firm.
“At risk of sounding like a creeper, we’ve been following each other since Charlotte.” I lean against the gas pump. Mia takes a look around me and her smile grows.
I run my hand through my hair. “I’m going inside to grab a drink. May I get you something?”
She replaces the pump and tightens the gas cap on her car. “Are you trying to pick me up at a gas station?” The humor is dancing in her eyes.
“Well, yeah, I guess I am.” I shrug. “If we’re road tripping, probably not smart to take you to a bar.I mean, I know its not Starbucks, but–”
She brushes her long hair off her shoulder, the corner of her mouth twitching. “A cup of coffee would be great.”
I push off the pump station and turn to replace the pump. We lock our cars and walk toward the store.
“So Mia, where are you heading?”
“San Antonio. You?”
Grabbing the door, she walks under my arm inside, leaving a trace of vanilla and cinnamon behind. I could breathe that in all day.
I follow her to the coffee machines, noticing her petite frame. Her arms are smaller than they should be and a worry I can’t explain overcomes me.
Without looking at me, she reaches for a coffee pot and pours the liquid into a small cup. “Austin, huh?” I watch her full lips blow the steam across the top and I have to remind myself that I’m in a public place.
“Yeah, looking for a new adventure.” Her eyebrows perk up. I grab a large coffee cup and rip open four sugar packets. Placing the cup under the instant coffee dispenser, I hit the button for the vanilla cappuccino. Out of the corner of my eye, she’s staring at me, mouth open.
She laughs even harder as I scrunch my face. “Ugh! Why would you want to taste that?” Her laugh is adorable and hearty. And contagious.
I stir my cup and lean against the counter. “Don’t judge my coffee.” Chuckles rumbling through my body.I take a sip and tip my head to the snack aisle.
“Drinks and dinner? You sure do spoil a girl on a first date.”
“I do what I can.”
We walk around the back side of a rack to the snack aisle. I immediately grab a bag of gummy worms and beef jerky. Mia’s bottom lip is clamped between her teeth, her shoulders twitching with a laugh.
“What?” I give her a glare. “Are you judging my food too?”
“I would never!” Her mock horror has me laughing along with her.
“Whatever. Beef jerky is healthy. It’s protein.”
Her eyes twinkle. “Whatever you say.”
“What are you going to have?”
“Oh, no. I’m good. Maybe just a bottle of water.”
I purse my lips in disbelief as she starts to walk towards the coolers. “Can you grab me one too?” I call. She whips her head around and nods, giving me a small smile that makes me want to stay in this gas station for a long time.
I finally decide on my snacks and realize that Mia isn’t back. I walk towards the coolers looking for her. Rounding the corner, I see her sitting on the floor next to a key chain display, laughing.
“What are you doing?” I squat next to her.
“Sorry, this caught my eye and I just kept reading them. Here.” She hands me one of the key chains. It says “Nothing like a good…” with a close up picture of a peach on it.
I chuckle as she laughs. “Well, they aren’t wrong.”
“I don’t know why I find that as funny as I do.”
I look up, noticing the trucker hats hanging on the wall. “If you think that’s funny—” I grab a red cap with a girl’s silhouette on it on all fours. “Booty hunter.”
Mia throws her head back as I model the hat. “That’s amazing. You look like that fits you perfectly.”
“Well, what can I say. I have a good aim, if you know what I mean.” I wink as her, sending her into another fit of giggles.
Standing up, she grabs a black one that says ‘I’d rather be F___ing.’
“Yep, this is the hat for me.” She adjusts it on her head and turns to model it, giving me the duck face.
“You’ll probably get some attention, that’s for sure.”
“Read the fine print, perv.”
I lean closer, that smell of cinnamon and vanilla wafting through my senses. “Fishing? Shit, got me.” She laughs, taking the hat off.
“God they have some tacky stuff in here.”
“You seem to be loving it.”
She nods. “Duh. How could you not?” She picks up her coffee and checks her watch. “We might want to get a move on. Burning daylight.”
“Are you sure you don’t want anything to eat?”
“Liquid diet right now.” She holds up the coffee.
“So I’ll be prepared to stop in thirty minutes when you have to pee?”
Mia pops my arm. “Or when your stomach turns on you.” She eyes my snack selection.
“I have a steel stomach, Doll.” I pat my stomach as she rolls her eyes.
Checking out, we walk back to our cars.
“I know this is weird, but can I get your number? If we’re heading the same way, might be nice to have someone to talk to.”
Mia nods. “I’d love that.” She hands me her phone as I hand her mine.
“Booty Hunter?” She laughs at the name I put in her phone. I look down at mine and laugh with her. “F***ing Mia? Classic.”
As she climbs into her car, I lean into her door frame. “Go on ahead, I’ll catch up with you. I forgot something in there.”
“Did you forget another candy bar?” Humor dances in her eyes as she teases me.
Nervously, she plays with her coffee sleeve. “I can just wait for you.”
I nod and stand back so she can close her door. “I’ll just be second.”
Running back in, I grab the two hats from the wall, along with the key chain. I don’t know why, but I want to collect as many key chains with her as I can.
I nod to her as I climb into my Jeep. I’ll surprise her with them later. An excuse to see her again.
Mira Day is a Romance writer, born in the Carolinas with a passion for food. She loves the outdoors, NFL football and exclamation points! You’ll usually find her working, writing or catching up with Friends on Netflix.
Mira has two Holiday Novellas published, Finding the Christmas Spirit and Choking Cupid and her debut novel, Playing House. After Runaway Road, look for her third book, Bourbon and the Midnight Show, coming Spring of 2017.