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Right Here with Me

F/F, Contemporary Romance, Friends-to-Lovers
[43 Pages / 14,000 Words]


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Jessa Nolli doesn't like to admit how much of a giver she is beneath the wry exterior. Heck, she gave her heart to her best friend years ago and still hasn't fessed up. How can she, when Amaia has no earthly reason to love her back?

Amaia Campos has landed a full ride scholarship to her dream school. There's only one problem: college means moving clear across the country, two thousand miles from her family and friends. The worst part is leaving Jessa behind without ever admitting how she feels.

A road trip is either exactly what they need or a disaster in the making. Faced with three days on the road—with nonstop driving, a box full of cacti, and only one bed—Jessa and Amaia have one last chance to get this right before everything changes forever.


Excerpt

By the time her car is loaded—both trunk and backseat packed to bursting with her best friend's entire life—Jessa Nolli has given up all hope of calming her frantic heartbeat.

Getting worked up is ridiculous. It's not as though she's going to drive Amaia halfway across the continent and never see her again. They have phones, and email, and half a dozen social media platforms between them.

Plenty of ways to live just as much in each other's pockets as before.

It won't be the same, though. You can't hug someone through a cell phone. You can't hold their hand when a scary movie makes them jump, or appreciate the smell of their shampoo, or snuggle sleepily on the couch at three in the morning. These things alone make her closely guarded crush bearable, and Jessa won't have them for four months. Longer if Amaia finds a job through winter break.

Fuck. Now Jessa's eyes are stinging. She blinks aggressively to banish any suggestion of tears. Amaia's seen her fall apart a handful of times—more than anyone else in Jessa's life—but Jessa hates crying. It always brings headaches and clogged sinuses.

Worse, if she crumbles now, Amaia will notice. And if Amaia realizes how upset Jessa is about saying goodbye, she could figure out other things Jessa's even less ready to admit.

It sucks to be left behind. All the worse because Amaia's been angling to put Iowa in the rearview mirror for years. She may never truly come home, which means today could be the moment everything changes forever.

Jessa stows all this baggage away with long practice, looking up just in time to spot Amaia approaching. Amaia carries one last cardboard box in her arms, plus a sun-faded duffel slung over one shoulder. Sun glints bright and breathtaking on her brown skin and tightly coiled curls. Her round face is flushed, her skin shiny with sweat. A blue tank top clings distractingly to wide curves, dampened at the edges from a morning of heavy lifting.

Amaia Campos is so beautiful Jessa's heart gives a pained twinge, even as a smile breaks across her face.

"No way we're fitting anything else in this backseat, dude."

"I know." Amaia's lips twitch sheepishly. "I can keep them up front. There's still a little space in the footwell. Or on my lap."

Jessa quirks an eyebrow and glances into the box. Amaia carries it like it doesn't weigh much, and the top flaps have been tucked down and in, allowing an unobstructed view of green and brown.

"Really?" Jessa's eyebrows rise higher as she gives her best friend an incredulous look. "Thirty hours of driving to get your ass to Stanford, and you're bringing your entire cactus shelf?"

"I can't leave them here. I want them to live."

Jessa snorts, but she can't counter such a persuasive argument. Kevin and Mary Campos are sweet and supportive, desperate to help in any way they can. They're a big part of the reason Amaia is attending Stanford, instead of somewhere local and more affordable.

But gardening is not among their talents. Jessa's never seen anyone kill a ficus or a potted herb faster than Amaia's parents.

"Fine," Jessa says with feigned grandeur, as though she's making some dramatic concession. "The succulents can come. But let's move already. Daylight's wasting."


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Book cover purple script above a winding highway: Right Here with Me
Cover design by Yolande Kleinn
ISBN 978-1-946316-20-2
 
 
 
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