When Lucy Hawkins receives a job offer in San Francisco, she can’t wait to spread her wings and leave her small Virginia hometown behind. Her close-knit family supports her as best they can, by handing over the keys to a station wagon that’s seen better days. The catch? The cross-country trip comes with a traveling companion: her older brother’s best friend, aka the guy who took Lucy’s virginity hours before breaking her heart.
After spending the past four years and every last dime caring for his sick father, Reece Sullivan will do just about anything to break free of the painful memories—even if it means a two-week road trip with the one girl who’s ever made it past his carefully guarded exterior. But after long days of bickering in the car turn into steamy nights in secluded motel rooms, Reece learns that, when it comes to Lucy, their story is far from over. And this time, they just might have a shot at a happy ending.
Praise for Love Story
“WARNING: This book will cause unexpected outbursts of laughter and massive amounts of swooning. Prepare your family and friends—you’re about to become obsessed with Reece and Lucy!”—Cassie Mae, author of Pillowtalk
“A sweet and satisfying second-chance romance. Reece Sullivan is destined to be your next book boyfriend!”—Delancey Stewart, author of Mr. Big
Lauren Layne’s New York Times bestselling Oxford Novel series can be read in any order:
I WISH YOU WERE MINE
SOMEONE LIKE YOU
I KNEW YOU WERE TROUBLE
I THINK I LOVE YOU
Don’t miss any of Lauren Layne’s hot reads:
The Love Unexpectedly series: BLURRED LINES | GOOD GIRL | LOVE STORY | WALK OF SHAME | AN EX FOR CHRISTMAS
The Sex, Love & Stiletto series: AFTER THE KISS | LOVE THE ONE YOU’RE WITH | JUST ONE NIGHT | THE TROUBLE WITH LOVE
The Redemption series: ISN’T SHE LOVELY | BROKEN | CRUSHED
The I Do, I Don’t series: READY TO RUN | RUNAWAY GROOM
Includes an excerpt from another Loveswept title.
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About the Author
Her hobbies include maintaining a designer purse addiction and observing cocktail hour. Lauren lives with her high school sweetheart in midtown Manhattan, where she writes romantic comedies with just enough sexy-times to make your mother blush.
Read an Excerpt
“You’re being weird.”
I shove at the suitcase I’d just loaded, but it doesn’t budge far enough for me to close the trunk. “You’ve been saying that all morning,” I mutter.
“Because you’ve been weird all morning,” my sister says, joining me in trying to move my suitcase. Only she weighs all of, like, a hundred pounds, and the thing doesn’t budge. Not with the other suitcases, moving boxes, and general amount of crap I have already stuffed in there.
I stand back up and blow out an irritated breath, pulling the hair tie from my wrist and twisting my hair into a messy bun. “I guess it’s just hitting me that I’m really doing this. I’m moving to another state. Another time zone.”
Brandi turns, leaning against the suitcase protruding from the trunk, and crosses her long, skinny arms as she studies me. “Nah.”
“What do you mean ‘nah’?”
“You’re all on edge because you’re about to spend two weeks with Reece. In a car. Just the two of you.”
Just the sound of his name sends something through me. I bite my lip and resist the urge to pull my phone out of my back pocket and check the time. We’d agreed to be on the road by seven a.m., so he should be here any time.
“I still can’t believe he agreed to this after what went down between you.”
I narrow my eyes. Brandi is the only one—and I mean the only one—who knows about our history, and only because at the time Reece and I had been doing whatever we were doing, she was fourteen to my eighteen, which is just about the most annoying, prying age in the history of adolescent females.
Although I suppose in some ways, it worked in my favor that she was the one who had caught us kissing once. My brother would have beat the crap out of his friend. My parents would have been . . . I don’t know . . . I think their brains would have exploded.
But Brandi had been in ninth grade when she’d walked in on us, and though she’d been wide-eyed and shocked, she’d also been totally eager to keep a secret “just between us sisters.” I’m pretty sure the sheer drama of it had fueled her for most of high school.
Six years later, she’s kept my secret, although I’m almost wishing she hadn’t. Maybe if the fam knew about just who and what Reece actually was, they wouldn’t have come up with this ridiculous plan.
“You could have warned me, you know?” I mutter.
“There wasn’t time. Truthfully I didn’t know what they were planning until the day of. I mean, I knew they were giving Reece the car, but I didn’t know that he was headed to California or that your car had bit the dust.”
“Well it’s not like you needed enough time to send a freaking telegram. A quick text, ‘Hey, sis, Mom and Dad are going to try to send you and the biggest dick on the planet on a two-week expedition together,’ would have been great.”
Brandi looks away, and I narrow my eyes.
“Tell me,” I say.
She shrugs and looks back. “I don’t know, I guess I just thought . . . maybe it’ll be good for you guys. Work things out. Nothing’s been the same since whatever it was went down with you two.”
Now it’s my turn to look away. Brandi knows that Reece and I were together, but doesn’t know why we broke up. That’s one piece of the puzzle that nobody knows.
Well, Reece does. Seeing as he was the cause of it.
“It’ll only be ‘good for us’”—I put this in air quotes—“if one of us ends up dead, and that person is him,” I mutter.
Brandi merely looks at me, her eyes appearing wiser than seems fair for a twenty-year-old.
“Where is everyone?” I ask, changing the subject before she can psychoanalyze me the way she does everyone since heading off to college.
Brandi ticks off with her fingers. “Mom’s in the kitchen, packing a cooler for you and trying not to cry. Dad is pretending to fix the perfectly fine shelf in the bathroom, also trying not to cry. . . .”
“Oh boy,” I mutter on an exhale.
She nods solemnly. “You broke the family.”
“Where’s Craig? He can say something stupid and distract the ’rents. His specialty.”
She shrugs. “He promised to see you off before he headed to work, but since he’s always running late, I wouldn’t be surprised if he meant he’d pass you on the freeway and wave. Is this all your stuff, or is there more upstairs that’s not going to fit?”
I push Brandi away from my suitcase and resume trying to shove it into the trunk. “I’ve got one more duffel and my laptop bag that need to get in there somewhere.”
“I’ll get ’em,” Brandi says, all but sprinting into the garage.
Two seconds later, I realize why she was so eager to be helpful.
“Nice of you to leave room for my stuff.”
I take a deep breath and turn, annoyed to see that Reece looks well rested, perfectly calm, and not the least bit frazzled about the fact that he’s about to move across the country.
He’s wearing jeans and a white T-shirt, both of which should be boring, but instead look incredibly good on him. He’s gotten bigger since he was nineteen and I mean that in the best way possible.
Reece has always been fit, courtesy of high school sports he’d never cared about but always been good at.
But he’s filled out even more in all the right places: shoulders broad, hips and waist narrow, arms tanned and strong. There’s an unfamiliar tattoo peeking out from the sleeve of his right arm, and my fingers itch to reach out and push up the cotton to see what it is.
Once, I could have. Once when we were best friends. Once when we were a good deal more than friends. But now . . . now I’m pretty sure his skin would burn me. Brimstone, and all that.
“Is that all you’re bringing?” I ask, my eyes skimming over the cross-body bag slung over his shoulder and the canvas duffel by his feet.
“A good thing too,” he says, glancing into the overstuffed trunk.
“We’re relocating,” I say, my voice just a little bit whinier than I want it to be. “We’re supposed to bring all this stuff.”
“Yeah, well not all of us that are relocating have all this stuff,” he says, a gruffness to his voice.
I instantly feel the sting, extra-sharp because I suspect Reece is speaking a simple truth rather than trying to piss me off.
My family’s not wealthy. Not even close. We’re middle-class in the most solid sense of the word, and Christmas gifts often came from secondhand stores.
Reece didn’t even get that much.
Dinner might never have been fancy the nights Reece ate with my family (which was often), but the spaghetti, or leftover chicken, or whatever out-of-the-box meal we were having was more than his dad or sister remembered to feed him back home.
“Move,” he mutters, jerking his chin to gesture me out of the way.
I don’t budge, and our gazes clash, a silent battle of wills that he wins only by physically elbowing me out of the way.
Without another word, he begins hauling out everything I’ve put in the trunk.
“Hey! I need all this,” I say, dodging the garbage bag stuffed with bedding.
“Well then, shut up and let me figure out how to fit it all in here,” he says, hauling out an enormous suitcase like it’s nothing.
The sleeve of his T-shirt rides up a little higher, distracting me, but I can’t quite see what the tattoo is.
“Why’d you agree to do this?” I ask, relenting and helping him pull the last of my haphazardly packed stuff out of the car so we can reload it.
“Agree to what?”
I roll my eyes. “The car trip.”
“Well, way I see it,” he says, resting his hands on his hips as he surveys the stuff that is now all over the driveway, “you crashed my trip. Your folks offered me the car if I could fix it up, and I needed a way to get out of here. Wasn’t counting on you.”
I bite my lip, feeling a little stab of guilt. My parents love Reece, almost like a son, but it bothers me a little that they think nothing of foisting their daughter on him. It wasn’t quite reneging on their promise to him, but it’s sort of a bum deal.
“I can back out,” I say quietly. “Get a plane ticket.”
He bends down, picking up the largest of the cardboard boxes and easily setting it into the trunk before maneuvering it toward the seats I’d folded down. “You wouldn’t get to see your boyfriend then.”
It’s more than alarming that I’ve barely thought about him in the two days since learning that Reece and I’d be making this trip together. Heck, half the reason I wanted to do the road trip in the first place was to stop by Miami, and now I’m just . . . I don’t know.
I’d told Oscar the good news that the road trip was back on, but I’d deliberately misled him on the timing. I want to surprise him. I’ve been planning it for weeks, although nowhere in my imagined scenarios of seeing Oscar’s happy, surprised face was there Reece Sullivan lurking in the background.
Reece picks up the box near my feet, then gives me an incredulous look as he manages the weight easily. “What the heck’s in here? Air?”
“Yup, just stuffed a whole lot of air in there, Reece. Never know when you might need it.”
He rips open the top flap, then gives a grunt of disgust when he sees the pillows inside. “Take them out.”
“They were expensive. Down. They’re coming.”
“Your down pillows can still come, but there’s no reason they need to be in the box. We can shove them around the other stuff.”
“Have you thought about the sleeping arrangements?” I blurt out, ignoring his command about the pillows, and watching as he continues to load the trunk, somehow making everything fit a hell of a lot better than I did.
He doesn’t pause, doesn’t even look at me, which is mildly insulting. “When I planned the trip, I saved up enough for cheap motels. I’m assuming you did the same.”
He’s right. I did save up, but it’s a little jarring the way he doesn’t even seem to joke about us saving money and sharing a room.
Sharing a bed.
I chew my lip again. “I just feel bad, knowing you probably planned for a few nights on the road, and I planned for two weeks.”
“What Lucy wants, Lucy gets. Isn’t that the way it works?”
“I’m trying to be decent here, Reece,” I say. “I’m saying I can help pay for your room, some of the nights, since I know it’s my fault we’re extending.”
His blue gaze is murderous when he glances over at me. “I don’t want your money. I don’t want anything from you. Haven’t in a long time.”
My own temper snaps right along with his. “Yeah, I picked up on that. Because what I was giving out, you could find from some other girl if you wanted to, right? Oh wait. You did want to.”
He tosses his own stuff in the trunk before slamming the station wagon hatch shut. “Go tell your family goodbye. Let’s get this nightmare on the road.”
Right. Right. Because heaven forbid we put off the inevitable of finishing what we started years ago: destroying each other.