Promotional Event Information
Genre and Age Group: Young Adult
Author: Courtney Cole
Release date: July 2012
Event dates: Sept. 10-29, 2012
I have spent every summer since I was ten years old with my father in London. Every summer, since I was ten years old, has been uneventful and boring.
Until this year.
And this year, after a freak volcanic eruption strands me far from home, I have learned these things:
1. I can make do with one outfit for three days before I buy new clothes.
2. If I hear the phrase, “You’re not in Kansas anymore, Toto,” even one more time, I might become a homicidal maniac.
3. I am horribly and embarrassingly allergic to jellyfish.
4. I am in love with Dante Giliberti, who just happens to be the beautiful, sophisticated son of the Prime Minister of a Mediterranean paradise.
5. See number four above. Because it brings with it a whole slew of problems and I’ve learned something from every one of them.
Let’s start with the fact that Dante’s world is five light-years away from mine. He goes to black-tie functions and knows the Prime Minister of England on a first name basis. I was born and raised on a farm in Kansas and wear cut-off jeans paired with cowboy boots. See the difference?
But hearts don’t care about differences. Hearts want what they want. And mine just wants to be Dante’s girl.
My heart just might be crazy.
Winner’s choice of a gifted ecopy (Kindle or Nook) of Princess or Soul Kissed. Open International. If winner lives within US/Canada, they will also receive a signed 4×6 glossy of Dante’s Girl. Leave a comment with why you would like to win in the comments with a way to be contacted if you win. Winner will be selected October 1, 2012.
Dante’s Girl by Courtney Cole
It is impossible to look hot in the dingy fluorescent light of an airport bathroom. Or as my best friend Becca would say, hawt.
At this particular moment, I’m not hot or hawt. I make this revelation as I vigorously scrub at my arms and face and then use a wet paper towel under my pits.
And what is it about peeing in an airport toilet ten times in a day that makes you feel so completely scummy? I glance around at the crumpled tissues strewn about on the scuffed floor and the dirty toilets peeking from behind half-closed doors and cringe. That answer is clearly ‘because of the germs’. Ack.
Trying not to think about it, I clean up the best I can. After running a brush through my hair, I stick a piece of gum in my mouth, apply a thin layer of lip gloss and call it good. I glance into the mirror and cringe. It isn’t good enough, but it will have to do. Very soon, I’ll put this dreadful four hour layover in Amsterdam behind me and before I even know it, I’ll be in London.
With my father.
For the summer.
It would be torture.
Just shoot me now.
And it’s not because I don’t love him, because I do. My reluctance doesn’t stem from lack of love. It comes from the deep-seeded fact that Alexander Ellis doesn’t understand me. He never has and he never will. It’s something that I’ve made my peace with and I’m not angry about it.
I’m his only child and he works his life away as some top-secret agent for the NSA. His job is so secret that I don’t even know what he does. In my head, I imagine him jumping from helicopters and saving starving children in war torn areas. But in reality, I know he probably sits behind a desk and analyzes information from a satellite stream or a taped telephone conversation. I’m pretty sure that’s what the NSA does, anyway. They aren’t the cool kind of spies.
Also, he isn’t exactly sure what to do with a daughter. I was supposed to have been a boy. Seventeen years ago, sonograms apparently weren’t as absolute as they are today, because the technician told my parents that she was 99.9% sure that I was a boy. They painted my nursery blue and picked out my name and everything. I can only imagine the shocked horror on my father’s face when I was born with lady parts.
Regardless, I know he loves me. Even though he had willingly given my mother full custody when they divorced years ago, I know he only did it because he works overseas so much and he isn’t exactly sure how to raise a girl. He does okay. But then again, I do have some reason to believe that he still pretends that I’m a boy, just to make it easier on himself. It’s fairly easy to do since I still have the boy name that they originally picked out.
With my head down, I trudge back out into the congested halls of Schiphol airport. Weary travelers bustle around me and I shift my bags so that I can pull the stubborn strap of my tank top back over my shoulder where it belongs. As I do, I crash into someone with enough force that my bags go flying out of my hands and scatter onto the ground under people’s feet.
“Son of a –“ I blurt before I even think.
“Buck?” a male voice offers helpfully.
Looking up, I stare into the most unique and beautiful shade of blue that a pair of eyes has ever possessed. Of that I am certain. Blue just shouldn’t be that multi-faceted and twinkling. There should be a law or something.
Or at least a warning label:
Caution, these eyes may cause female knees to tremble.
Before I can help it, I scan the rest of him. Sweet Mary. This guy had lucked out in the gene department. Tall, slender, beautiful. Honey colored hair that had natural highlights that could even catch the crappy airport light, broad shoulders, slim hips, long legs. He is tan and golden with a bright, white smile.
I am surely staring at Apollo, the god of the sun. Probably with my mouth hanging open, which makes me realize that I must look like an idiot- the personification of what foreigners think Americans to be. I snap my mouth closed.
“I’m sorry,” I say quickly, trying to still my racing heart. “Did I run into you?”
“Only a bit,” Apollo says gentlemanly, with a shrug of his strong shoulders. I can tell he is strong even through his shirt sleeves, which are snug across his toned biceps. Sweet baby monkeys.
“How can someone run into someone else only by a bit?” I ask with a nervous smile as I kneel to retrieve my stuff.
Please don’t let him smell me right now, I silently pray to any god who cares to listen. I am sure that at this point in my travels, I probably smell like soiled hamster bedding.
He bends next to me and picks up the contents of my spilled purse. He smells like sunshine. And rain. And everything beautiful that I can think of. I try not to cringe as his fingers grasp a tampon and slide it back inside my bag. He doesn’t even flinch, he just casually continues to pick up my things like he’s used to handling feminine hygiene products.
“Oh, it’s fairly easy, really,” he answers. He has an exotic sounding accent that I can’t place. “At least, when you’re not looking where you’re going.” My head snaps up and he laughs.
“I’m kidding,” he assures me as he extends an arm to me. Even his hand is graceful. I gulp as his fingers curl around mine. “You can bump into me any time you’d like.”
“Thanks,” I mumble. “I think.”
“I’m Dante,” he tells me, his impossibly blue eyes still twinkling.
“I’m Reece,” I answer with a sigh, already anticipating his reaction. “Yes, I know it’s a boy’s name.”
“You’re not a boy,” Dante observes. “Most definitely not a boy.”
Is that a note of appreciation in his voice? Surely not. I look like a bedraggled Shih Tzu.
“No, I’m not,” I agree. “I just don’t know that my dad ever got that memo.”
I look past Dante and find that he is alone. He seems to be about my age so that’s a little unusual in these circumstances. My parents had flown me as an ‘unaccompanied minor’ across the ocean for years, but other people’s parents are usually a little squeamish about that.
“I’m sure that fact hasn’t escaped him,” Dante tells me in amusement. Why do his eyes have to sparkle so much? I usually go for brown-eyed guys. But this boy is most certainly making me re-think that stance.
“That’s debatable,” I sigh. Realizing that we are impeding the busy pedestrian traffic like a dam in a rushing river, I smile.
“Thank you very much for helping me pick up my things. Safe travels!”
I turn on my heel and pivot, walking quickly and what I hope is confidently in the other direction. Hitching my heavy purse up on my shoulder, I fight the urge to turn and look at him. Something about him is practically mesmerizing.
But I don’t look. I keep walking, one foot in front of the other. When I reach the moving walkway, I hop on and focus ahead of me, eyes straight forward.
Don’t look back.
Don’t look back.
Don’t look back.
Regardless of my silent chanting, when I step from the walkway I discreetly check behind me. Apollo is nowhere to be seen. With a sigh, I continue on to the British Airways terminal. Only three short hours left until take-off. Plugging my earbuds into my ears, I settle into a seat and close my eyes.