Monday, May 28, 2012

Drive Me Crazy excerpt

by Jenna Bayley-Burke

"Cross a meandering playboy with a studious control freak driving cross country and you have a plot that is fresh, fun, and blatantly sexy!" 5 stars, Slick Reads at Guilty Pleasures

**Blog Exclusive Excerpt**

The sky darkened and the storm that had been threatening for the past few hours loomed in the distance. Xavier must have sensed it too. He’d raised the roof of the convertible, closing them in the small space with no distractions from the conversation they needed to have. But even with over an hour of driving behind them, she still hadn’t figured out how to talk him into getting her to Oregon as fast as possible.

She turned in her seat and pulled out her travel folder, then placed it on her lap. Inside were the maps of three different routes they could take, with hotel stops marked along the way. She’d taken the drive so many times she barely needed them anymore, but it was always best to be prepared.

“What do you have there?” Xavier’s deep voice slid over her like molten chocolate over a truffle.

Truffles. Like the white chocolate version Allison had ordered for the wedding. Jaime blinked and steered her mind back to business.

“Driving directions. Since we got a late start and it looks like a storm up ahead, I think we should stop in Pittsburgh for the night. If the weather holds we might be able to make it to Ohio.”

His hands tightened on the steering wheel, his knuckles turning white. “How long were you thinking it would take us to get across the country?”

“Less than three days if we drive in shifts and get lucky with the weather. I don’t mind driving in the dark as long as it’s clear, but when it storms I’d rather be inside.”

“I don’t think we should get too caught up in the details, J’aime. It’s far too restricting.”

“It’s much more efficient this way.”

The muscles in his neck flexed as he swallowed. “I think we should stop sooner rather than later. That way we can get a few things straight before we head out tomorrow.”

Her eyebrows shot up. “Such as?”

“I’m not driving three thousand miles to get somewhere; I actually want to see the country. I won’t be driving at night, or in a hurry. I want to enjoy the trip. You should too.”

She opened her mouth to speak, but wasn’t sure which argument to make. It wasn’t that she was against enjoying the trip. It just didn’t serve the purpose of getting to Oregon. She had to get there soon so she could start networking her way into a teaching position and find an apartment. She’d been on her own far too long to live at home for more than a couple weeks.

“This is an adventure. When was the last time you did something exciting? Something just to enjoy it?”

She couldn’t come up with a single instance, but would die before admitting it. “My life has plenty of excitement.”

He smirked. “Tell me about it.”

Clearing her throat, she offered up the graduation party she’d chaperoned, carefully omitting the fistfight that had broken out in the parking lot.

“That’s work. Do you ever enjoy yourself away from the kids?”

Again she felt like a fish, her mouth gaping open. “I run and I taught rock-climbing classes.” He looked thoroughly unconvinced she’d ever experienced elation. “Teaching is fun for me.”

“But what do you do for you, J’aime?”

Lightning flashed in the distance, illuminating angry clouds and a horizon blurred by driving rain. Electricity crackled in the atmosphere, the current flowing through the dense, humid air. She spied a road sign as they barreled down the freeway. Ten miles to Bedford. She checked her notes to see if they could stop there.

“What are you doing?” His voice held a mocking quality she didn’t appreciate.

“Looking to see if there is a Holiday Motel in Bedford. The weather looks pretty nasty up ahead.” The thunderous skies above them loomed ominously, waiting to release their fury.

“We’re not staying in a motel.”

“I have a preferred-customer account there. For every ten nights I stay, I get a night free.” Jaime rifled through the papers, looking for the list of participating motels along their route. “There isn’t a Holiday Motel in Bedford, so we’ll have to keep going. The closest one is in Mt. Pleasant, but that is barely an hour from Pittsburgh, so we might as well go all the way.”

“J’aime, can I see that folder?” He held out his large hand, never taking his attention from the road.

“While you’re driving?” To emphasize her point, large raindrops began to splatter on the windshield.

“I want a better look at that map on the top of the page.”

Reluctantly, she slipped the folder into his hand. He set it on his lap and pressed a button to lower the window. Before she could decide what he was up to, he’d slid her folder out the cracked window.

“Hey!” she yelled, the seatbelt cutting into her shoulder as she turned to watch the pages fluttering behind them. “That was mine. And littering is a huge fine, I’ll have you know.”

“Do you feel better?” A drum roll of thunder underscored his words.

“Better? I’m in a car with a crazy man who just dumped our itinerary in the middle of the road.”

1 comment:

Maria D. said...

Good excerpt - I love seeing the give and take between Jaime and Xavier...they have great verbal chemistry.