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An Accidental Odyssey

An Accidental Odyssey

by K. C. Dyer
An Accidental Odyssey

An Accidental Odyssey

by K. C. Dyer


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An unexpected phone call derails a young woman's wedding plans and sparks an epic adventure around the modern-day Mediterranean in this “mouth-watering voyage” (Kirkus Reviews) of a novel by kc dyer.

Gianna Kostas is on the cusp of a fairy-tale life. Sure, she's just lost her job, but she's about to marry one of New York's most eligible bachelors. On her way to taste wedding cakes, though, things go sideways. Shocking news sends Gia off on a wild journey halfway around the world in pursuit of her ailing—and nearly estranged—father.

In Athens, she learns Dr. Kostas, a classics professor, is determined to retrace Odysseus's famous voyage. This is a journey her father is in no condition to take alone, so Gia faces a tough decision. When an unexpected job offer helps seal the deal and quash the guilt Gia feels from her disapproving groom-to-be, the journey is on. But as Gia adventures—and eats—her way around the Mediterranean, she discovers that confronting epic storms and ripped surfer dudes might be the easy part.

Along the way, as she uncovers family secrets, finds heartbreak, and learns more about a certain archaeologist with a mysterious past of his own, Gia discovers that fairy-tale endings might be messy and complicated, but they can happen anywhere.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780593102060
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 12/14/2021
Series: An Exlibris Adventure , #2
Pages: 400
Sales rank: 685,489
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.10(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

kc dyer resides in the wilds of British Columbia where she likes to walk in the woods and write books for teens and adults. Before An Accidental Odyssey, her most recent novels for adults were Eighty Days to Elsewhere and Finding Fraser, both romantic comedies published by Berkley. For teens, kc's most recent work is Facing Fire, a sequel to the acclaimed novel, A Walk Through a Window, published by Doubleday.

Read an Excerpt

chapter one


Friday afternoon


New York Fries


Gia Kostas, NOSH staff writer


I like my fries like I like my guys-a little greasy, a lot salty, and soft on the inside. This recipe tastes hot off the street cart . . . and if you're a purist, I've got a quick and dirty ketchup concoction waiting for you in the sidebar.


To feed four, all you need are six large potatoes-Yukon Gold, if you can get 'em-five cups of avocado oil, and a whole lot of finely ground sea salt.


To begin . . .


Reaching across my keyboard, I click the return button, and my piece shoots off with a tiny, audible zing into cyberspace. In reality, this means it only travels to the far end of the floor and behind a closed door before landing safely inside my editor's inbox. It's got the most smart-ass tone of any of the articles I've ever submitted-especially that opening line-which could not be further from the truth. But real journalists are always a little bit sassy, right?


Still, I can't suppress a sigh as I lean back in my chair. My final assignment submitted. I should be celebrating.


As if on cue, a head pops up, appearing through the smudgy plexiglass above the cubicle wall. The wall is one of those soft, grey fabric jobs; easily moveable and designed to absorb sound in an open-plan office. The grey color is soul-crushing on the best of days, and I'm not sure the things do much for absorbing sound either. In any case, mine is covered in recipes, mouthwatering food shots destined for Instagram, and a map of Manhattan with pushpins indicating all the places I've written pieces about. The plexiglass is left over from the company's social-distancing efforts. Even though the worst appears to be over, nobody seems willing to take these ugly things down just yet.


The head belongs to my cubicle neighbor, Janelle. She beams at me, her face poised above the shot of a beautifully plated selection of sushi that adorned an article I submitted last week.


"Drinks at five?" Janelle says and waggles her key chain at me. The key chain bears a little martini glass, complete with tiny olive. "Billy Rae's has two-for-one Fridays for the whole month of May."


In spite of my interior gloom, I can't help grinning back at her. Janelle's smile is infectious, her wide mouth bracketed with a pair of dimples on the left and a single on the right. The effect is just off-kilter enough to charm the hardest heart. She jingles the key chain again, plainly not convinced by my expression, and steps around the wall into my cubicle.


"I heard your story go through," she says, tapping my monitor with her pen. The pen, I can't help noticing, exactly matches the shade of lipstick she's wearing. Which, in turn, perfectly complements the blouse beneath her neatly tailored suit. "That means you're done, right?"


Janelle's ability to look uncreased at the end of her workday is a skill I've not managed to master in my time here. I sigh again and reflexively run my palms across my own crumpled skirt.


"Yeah, that was the last piece. Apart from edits, I guess I am done."


Janelle's grin widens. "And I've just finished the last of my three-parter on this year's local Michelin stars. So it's a celebration, then. Excellent." She perches on the corner of my desk, scrolling through her phone screen. "They do a classic Gibson too. Perfect for a rainy Friday."


My neck crackles as I push back my chair and stand up. "I'd love to, but I can't," I reply, averting my eyes. "I promised Anthony I'd meet him at Hudson Bakes. Cake tasting."


"Hudson Bakes? Cripes, Gia-that's the most expensive place in the city." Janelle, shocked out of her menu scrolling, drops her phone on the desk. "Forget drinks. I'll come with you. I'd give my right arm to taste their chocolate raspberry truffle cake again."


I contemplate Anthony's reaction to me showing up with a work colleague. Considering he's already vetoed me bringing Devi-my maid of honor-I don't think it'll go over very well.


"This is special, Gia," he'd told me on the phone that morning. "We're never going to have a day like this again. Who cares what everyone else thinks? Let's choose something we both love."


And so it was decided.


"I'd really like to," I tell her, entirely honestly. "But he's planned a special date night for us, with the tasting as the centerpiece. Sorry."


Janelle leans forward and puts a hand on my arm. "God, Gia-you're so lucky. When I got married, it was all I could do to get Mitch to show up for the ceremony. 'It's your day,' he'd say every time I asked for help making a decision. 'You just need to tell me where to stand, and I'll leave the rest up to you.'" She sighs. "I'd have done anything to have such a supportive partner."


There's a fine line between supportive and bossy, I think, and then clamp my lips shut on the thought, guiltily.


"You're right. I am lucky," I reply instead.


Reaching into a dark corner, I haul out an old box I've been hoarding from under my desk and start loading my things into it. In spite of the fact that the clock has just ticked past five, my boss's office door remains firmly closed. Charlotte Castle, my no-nonsense, incredibly organized editor, gave me a warm farewell when we passed in the hallway just after lunch and wished me luck. But she didn't offer me a contract.


"Last day and no job to come in for on Monday," I add gloomily. "I kinda wish I'd made a better impression on the powers that be."


Janelle folds her arms across her chest, and a careful look comes into her eyes. "Listen," she says. "It's not just you. It's a rough time for journalists everywhere. NOSH is a small company-one of the last independents. And we're only now getting back up to full speed after having to work from home for so long. Anyway, Charlotte has nothing but good things to say about you-you'll get a fantastic reference, for sure."


I step around her and begin pulling recipe cards off the wall. "I know. It's just . . ."


"Besides," she says, capturing my left hand as I reach for the last card, "you've got cake to look forward to, right?"


She turns my hand so the diamond catches one of the last rays of the setting sun gleaming in through the window.


I slip my hand out of hers and shoot her a wry grin. "The wedding's not until the summer. And I'd rather be thinking about my next story here, to tell you the truth. This whole 'big wedding' thing has me a bit freaked out."


"Girl! Anthony Hearst is one of the city's most eligible dudes. I wouldn't give working another thought if I were in your shoes. I'd be sitting back, drinking a Bellini, and leafing through Billionaire Bridal."


Rolling my eyes, I jam the last of my tear sheets into the box. "Janelle Olsen, you're the last person I thought would tell me to quit work because I'm getting married. What is this, the 1950s?"


As I say this, I collect the last item from my desk-a framed photo of Anthony and me from the day we got engaged. I drop it into the top of the box. With all personal traces removed, the cubicle looks like what it is. Empty desk space for a temporary intern.


Janelle's dimpled smile flashes as she plucks my coat from the hook and hands it to me. "Don't look so gloomy! All I'm saying is that you don't have to worry financially. You can take some time, plan the wedding, and keep an eye on the job market for when your schedule lightens up."


I'm just about to nail her again for her weirdly archaic attitude when my phone rings. It's slipped down inside the box, and I need to pull out my stapler and the framed photo to get to it. The photo is a little out of focus since it was taken from the Jumbotron at a Yankees game. It shows me standing on the infield looking stunned-and with one eye half closed-as Anthony beams straight into the camera from his position down on one knee.


Dropping the photo, I grab the phone, which is displaying a number I don't recognize, and answer it.


"Gia Kostas." I hold a finger up to Janelle to let her know she's not off the hook with me just yet. But every cogent thought vanishes in the next moment.


"It's Beth Israel ER, Ms. Kostas," a voice says through the line. "Your father has just been admitted with symptoms of stroke."



The NOSH offices are just off Union Square, so it's actually faster to run to the hospital than taking the L line. Janelle scoops up the box for me, offering to drop it at my place on her way home. I give her a quick squeeze before tossing my heels into the box and slamming my feet into Nikes. Charlotte's office door is still firmly closed, so I make an executive decision to call in my goodbyes and then bolt for the stairs. This building was renovated some time before the turn of the last century, and a person can age out before the elevator arrives.


As a native New Yorker, I am nothing if not an expert at typing on the fly, so by the time I hit Fourteenth Street, I've already left an e—mail for Anthony and a voice mail for my best friend. Anthony keeps himself on a strict communications schedule, so even though he doesn't reply, I know he'll be checking his e—mails on the hour. My friend Devi's residency is in the Emergency unit of the same hospital I'm running toward. So, while I don't expect her to pick up either, it's a relief to know she'll be nearby. It's not until I jog up to the front of the building that it occurs to me to call my mother, but the sight of an ambulance unloading pushes the thought out of my mind. I can call her when I have actual news. For now?


I just want to see my dad.



So. My dad.


Professionally, Dr. Aristotle Kostas is a well-regarded academic. He's got a string of initials behind his name and more degrees-earned and honorary-than I've ever actually counted. He's retired now, but since he's still technically professor emeritus at NYU in the Classics department, they let him keep an office there. Which mostly means he hangs out on weekdays, puttering around and giving the graduate students grief.


On the personal side, though, I can't really say things are as successful. My own relationship with him was totally rocky, at least while I was growing up. I almost never saw him, and my mom didn't have much to say that was positive. But lately-mostly since he's retired-things between us have been on the mend.


The biggest problem, if you ask me, is that my dad considers himself a lifelong romantic. He's told me many times-usually after too much ouzo-how helpless he is in the face of love. I know for a fact that others, out of his hearing, are less charitable. Having a reputation as a bit of a dog wasn't such a problem in the twentieth century, but it doesn't carry very far in the era of #MeToo. My dad's been married three times-his last wife being my mom, who is twenty-five years his junior, because they met when she was one of his students. By then, he was already a father to two boys. Both of my half brothers are much older than I am, and married with families of their own. Alek lives in Los Angeles and Tomas all the way over in London, England. With the uncomfortable situation between our respective mothers, we have never even exchanged Christmas cards. After my mom left a decade ago, my dad moved in with his girlfriend Kallie. They were still together until last year, when I'm pretty sure she threw him out. In fact, that might just be the longest time he'd been with one woman. So, yeah, like I said. He's a dog.


Once I started college and moved out on my own, though, things began to warm up a bit between my dad and me. Not having my mom in the room when we talk these days doesn't hurt, though I have to admit their relationship has improved, too, since she's remarried-and moved to Connecticut.


Now that he's retired, he makes more of an effort to spend time with me too. He's a lifelong season-ticket-holder for the Yankees, and I'll tag along and take in a game with him now and then. During my whole internship at NOSH, he's treated me to lunch at least once a month. So now? The thought I might lose him just as I'm finally getting to know him is terrifying.



Hospitals feel like scarier places to me now than they did in the Before Times. There's nothing like a plague sweeping across the planet to give you a sense of your own mortality, I guess. And while everyday life has pretty much returned to my city, somehow it still doesn't really feel like it's back to normal. I'm not sure anymore what normal is, to tell you the truth. But as I pass through the front doors of Beth Israel, everyone around me just looks calm and efficient. Luckily, it's too early in the year for my hay fever to flare, so I can assure the nurse at the desk that I am symptom-free. She issues me a mask, and I skitter off along in the direction she points me, not quite running-but not quite not-running either.


The hospital is a maze, and by the time I find the correct floor and skid into the right room, I'm sweating and breathless. A nurse, standing just inside the door, raises her hand to stop me from going further. Curtains encircle three beds, with a fourth partially drawn. I can see my dad inside, propped up in the bed, an IV tube taped to his arm. He's in conversation with a woman who appears to be holding his hand.


"Pops!" I gasp, and they both turn to look at me.


". . . entirely out of the question," the woman says, unclipping something from one of his fingers. She hands a tablet computer to the nurse, and I hurriedly sanitize my hands again at the station by the door before heading over to the bed.

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