Exclusive First Look at Anywhere With You: A Novella
Book 2 in The Happy Endings Resort Series!
The day after I graduated high school, I packed everything I owned into the back of a Volkswagen van—yes the cliché hippy van. And never looked back.
Everyone asks me: Why the van? They laugh every time I tell them it’s because I saw it once in a photo on Pinterest and simply fell in love with it. Sure, it isn’t the greatest thing on gas but I knew it was the vehicle I needed for my road trip out of Lincoln, Nebraska.
I searched Craigslist for what felt like forever trying to find a retro van that was in good enough condition and was dependable but affordable. One year later after I walked the stage of my high school and received my diploma, I finally found the van of my dreams. Sure, it needed some fixing up, but in my eyes, it was the stepping stone to my freedom. From the age of seven, I lived in foster care. I never knew my dad and my mother never put his name on my birth certificate so when she passed away from a drug overdose, I had nowhere to go. My grandmother was in a nursing home with Alzheimer’s and my mother had no other immediate family to take me in.
I always hoped I’d finally find my forever family, but sadly, that never happened. When I turned fifteen, I gave up on the idea and instead started working to save up for the day I turned eighteen and would finally be able to set out into the world on my own— free from social workers and bratty kids who constantly invaded my privacy and stole my belongings.
Now at the age of twenty, I’m living my dream. It isn’t glamorous but it’s perfect for me. I’m on my own. I have a roof over my head. I have the best friend a girl could ask for, which is my little mini dachshund I rescued last year from the local shelter. Her name is Blue and she is the only family I have or need. I live in Newport Beach, California in a small apartment above a diner where I work. It’s not much, but the way I look at it, I’m walking distance to the beach and it’s better than living in my van.
I live and breathe surfing. I took lessons when I first moved here from a guy I met at the beach one day. We ended up dating for a year, but he moved to Los Angeles to pursue acting, so now I’m currently single.
Right now the sun is shining and more than likely there are some killer waves down at the beach. Though instead of taking advantage of this beautiful summer afternoon, I’m at work taking orders and pouring cup of coffee after cup of coffee. I have an hour left for my shift and then I’ll finally be able to get out of here and join some friends for a few hours of fun in the sun followed by dinner at our favorite sea side restaurant that serves the best in freshly caught seafood.
Until then, I’ll have to be satisfied with getting to enjoy the warm rays as I go outside to the outdoor seating and take orders.
With my notepad in my apron, I walk out of the air conditioned diner and into the warmth and sunshine. The outdoor seating is made up of a bunch of picnic tables with large umbrellas in the middle for shade. It’s the seating of choice when it isn’t too hot outside during our lunch and dinner hour. Right now, it’s packed with people at every table, mostly our regulars with likely a few tourists.
As I make my way around with a coffee pot in my hand, I give a few tables refills before approaching a table that is empty with all but one person. He’s dressed in dark jeans, a concert t-shirt and a black Hurley ball cap. Maybe he’s one of those dark emo people. Me, I’m the total opposite. Everyone who knows me says my name suits me perfectly because I’m warm, colorful and like a ray of sunshine. I’m probably the happiest person you’ll ever meet. Even with everything I’ve been through, I don’t find it reason enough to let it get me down.
The way I look at it, there’s always tomorrow. Today may suck. But you always have tomorrow to look forward to…a fresh start. Make tomorrow better than today and things will always be looking up.
“Hi, I’m Summer and I’ll be your waitress today. Can I start you off with a cup of our favorite house blend coffee?” I ask Mr. Dark and Brooding, sweetly, flashing him a mega-watt smile.
He glances up at me over his menu, at first looking disinterested and dropping his eyes back down the list of food items, but then quickly snapping them back up to mine. I feel my heart flutter in my chest and butterflies flutter frantically in the pit of my stomach as a small, stunning smile spreads across his lips.
Now that I can see his face that he was hiding a moment ago beneath his hat, I have to say he is the most gorgeous man I’ve ever seen. For a moment, I try to place his face because it seems familiar for some reason, but I can’t place from where.
“Why, hello, Summer. I’m Killian, and I’d love a cup of coffee.”
Pouring his cup, I try to steady my shaking hand. I feel his eyes on me, making me that much more nervous. I meet hot surfer type guys all the time here. Normally, they’re the type I go for, but there’s just something about this Killian guy that makes my heart skip a beat with just the slightest smile.
“Here you go, Killian. Cream and sugar are on the table. Do you know what you want or would you like some more time?”
Leaning back, he gives me a cocky smirk as he sets the menu down on the table. “I’ll have a bacon burger with fries—and possibly a date with the most beautiful girl in all of Newport Beach?”
I choke out a cough in between laughing. Wow. He is bold. Nothing like putting a girl on the spot.
I glance around, nervously trying to look anywhere but at him because my cheeks are burning from blushing so hard. Crossing my arms, I smile down at him, “Burger and fries coming right up…and my shift ends in an hour.” With that, I spin on my heels and walk quickly back inside to hand in his order and try to catch my breath as I wrap my head around what just happened out there.
My heart is racing in my chest as I look myself over one last time in the full length mirror attached to my closet door. I have no idea where Killian is taking me for our date but he’s dressed casually so I’m guessing nowhere too fancy. So I’ve settled on a flowing maxi skirt and tank top and a beaded headband.
Slipping my flip flops on, I grab Blue’s leash and walk back outside where I find Killian waiting for me. He’s sitting in one of my beach chairs sipping on his coke he brought up from the diner and looking out over the rooftops of the houses in front of us down towards the blue Pacific no more than twenty feet away.
The sun is warm, and the breeze smells of salt water as it whips gently off of the water and across the street onto us. Gripping Blue’s leash, I lean against the railing of my second story porch and watch as she bounces around at Killian’s feet excitedly as Killian leans down petting the top of her head, while gazing up at me with a crooked sexy smirk.
“I’m not sure where you plan on going for our date. I just need to know if it’s pet friendly or not. If not, I’ll ask Rosie if she can watch Blue for a few hours.” I chew on my cheek nervously as I find my eyes roaming over this gorgeous stranger taking in every feature from his face.
He has a strong jawline that’s freshly shaven. A slightly crooked nose that looks to have been broken a time or two, leading me to believe that the mischievous glimmer in his eye is telling me that he’s handsome beyond words, but has a rebellious streak hidden beneath the surface.
Unfolding himself from the chair, he takes a few steps towards me before coming to rest against the railing beside me. Having him so close is making it hard to think, breathe, or force myself to stop gawking at him.
“I was thinking we could go down to the beach and head over to the pier to play some carnival games. Let me try to win one of those obscenely gigantic stuffed animals that guys win girls when they take them out on a date and then from there we can grab a bite to eat wherever you want.”
Breaking eye contact no matter how badly I don’t want to, I bend down and scoop Blue up in my arms, hugging her tightly against my chest before pressing a kiss to the top of her head. “I think I’m going to have you spend a few hours with Miss Rosie,” I say before turning back to Killian. A soft smile spreads across my lips. “That sounds like the perfect date. I think we’ll have more fun not worrying about potty stops with her so I’ll run next door and see if Rosie will take her.”
Nodding, Killian watches me as I make my way down the porch towards the other side of the upper level to Rosie’s apartment. She and her husband live on one side and rent me the other. She always leaves the diner at five and then her husband manages it until it closes at ten. They are the sweetest people I’ve ever met and I have no idea where I’d be without them.
Thankfully, Rosie was more than happy to watch Blue while I went out with Killian. She told me I’m too young to spend a Friday night sitting inside my apartment watching Lifetime movies. I need to get out and have some fun. How can I argue with that? Of course she told me to make sure if I need anything to call her or her husband. Finally, after five minutes of her talking my ear off, I am able to head back to Killian who is patiently waiting for me in front of my apartment door. As soon as our eyes lock, I can’t help but smile across the porch at him.
There’s something about him that is making me feel like a giddy high school girl who’s about to go out on a date with her ultimate crush. It’s crazy because I only met him a little over an hour ago.
I can’t place it, but he seems familiar to me. When I look at his face it feels as if I’ve seen it before. Like I’m having a moment of déjà vu. For now, I decide to push those thoughts into the back of my mind and enjoy my first real date in I don’t know how long.
I’m so nervous that I doubt I’ll even be able to eat a thing tonight. I’ve never done anything like this before. This man is a complete stranger and I’m about to go out on a date with him.
Usually at least one of my few girlfriends I have here knows the guys from around here and can give me a thumbs up or a thumbs down to warn me if they’re worth my time or not. With Killian, I’m having to go purely off of instinct. For some reason, my gut is telling me he’s a thumbs up kind of guy.
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