Title: The Map to You
Author: Lindy Zart
Publisher: Lyrical Press, an imprint of Kensington Publishing
Release Date: November 28th, 2017
Keeping his inner demons at bay means Blake Malone has more than enough trouble on his plate. He doesn’t need any extra complications. But that’s exactly what he gets when, on his way to North Dakota, he leaves his truck unattended—and returns to find a beautiful woman sleeping in the front seat.
Opal Allen seems to have a knack for attracting trouble. Which is why she isn’t about to tell her new road trip companion the real reason she needs to hightail it out of town. But Blake has a way of seeing right through her, which is both terrifying and exhilarating. Now her biggest problem is figuring out how to resist their undeniable attraction. Because once this road trip is over, she plans on never seeing Blake again.
But the best adventures don’t go according to plan.
Last I checked, I was traveling alone.
I walk to my grandfather’s truck, a 1987 Ford F-series pickup in blue and white, and blink at the small form curled up on the seat.
Under the darkened dome of the sky, it’s hard to discern anything other than the size of the thing inside my truck, and that it has dark hair. It could be a man, a woman—even a kid. I quickly scan the parking lot, searching for any accomplices to a premeditated crime involving yours truly.
It’s the end of August, and the days can be wicked humid and hot, but the same can’t be said for the nights. I have on a light jacket to help keep the chill off my skin. I glance into the cab of the truck. Small as this person is, they have to be feeling the cold.
The night is still and quiet, only two other vehicles taking up parking spaces of the 24-hour convenience store. It’s after midnight on a Wednesday. Most sane people are home and in bed. I focus on the stranger in my truck. Whatever they’re up to, it’s bound to be nefarious. I like my share of nefarious dealings, as long as I’m the one doing them.
Muttering to myself and craving a cigarette, I carefully set down the plastic bag of chips, beef jerky, and orange juice I purchased to curb the hunger gnawing at my gut. I rub the stubble along my jaw, head cocked, as I come to a decision. It’s an easy one—whoever they are, they can’t stay in my truck.
Hands out, palms down, I soundlessly skulk around the front of the truck and toward the passenger side. My eyes shift from side to side in pursuit of any possible friends of theirs hoping to make my night especially spectacular with a blunt object to the back of the head. I feel ridiculous, sure I look like the Pink Panther slinking around in the dark.
My boot kicks a piece of gravel and it pings against the side of the truck my mother secretly kept in a storage unit all these years for me. I didn’t even know the truck was still around until my brother Graham unknowingly drove it from North Dakota to Wisconsin my last week in the Cheesehead state. I just about cried when I saw it. Just about, but not quite—because crying would be bad for my image. My throat burned from keeping it in, though, and when Kennedy, Graham’s girlfriend, commented on the redness of my eyes, I told her it was a reaction to whatever perfume she’d doused herself in.
Smooth, that’s me.
I wince, hoping the rock didn’t do any damage to the truck. This is one of the last pieces I have of the man who never judged me in all the years he was alive. Good thing for my grandfather’s untarnished view of me that my life didn’t completely fall to shit until after he died.
A head snaps up, and large, dark eyes slam into mine. I freeze against the unexpected jolt of them. The woman appears youngish, her face pointy and elfin. Her features are interesting, like it couldn’t be decided whether to make her look exotic or plain. We study one another for one charged moment, and then whatever had her immobile collapses. Her mouth opens in a piercing scream, and she scrambles to the middle of the cab. I jerk back, her reaction startling me.
“What the hell kind of a person creeps up on someone like that?” she accuses. Her voice is breathless, but there is an undertone of huskiness that brings my nerve endings to attention.
I open my mouth with the intention of apologizing, and then realize what I’m about to do. Scowl taking over my features, I grip the door handle and pull. She scoots across the seat with her back to the driver’s side door and, wide-eyed, looks back at me.
“Get out…of my truck,” I say slowly, setting my palms on the worn and torn vinyl upholstery to lean forward menacingly.