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Excerpt for Fork In The Road by , available in its entirety at Smashwords

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Fork In The Road

j.coyne

©2018







Fork in the Road is an entirely standalone short story with no cliffhanger and an HEA. It features MM, MF, and MMF themes.


If you enjoy Ella, Austin, and Daniel's road trip, I'd love to hear from you. You can sign up for my newsletter to get updates on my full-length novel, coming autumn 2018, as well as exclusive deals and discounts on future releases.


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one.

The air conditioning is out in the truck. Again.

The heat is getting unbearable. They've just passed a mile marker with a sign advertising fast food and motels several exits away. Ella thinks it's about as far as they're going to get today. They'd wanted to make it further—or she had, anyway. She's tired of all this Montana scenery looking the same.

It doesn't really matter. It's not like they have a real plan or a destination, at the end. They're just driving and driving, heading nowhere, heading everywhere.

"Can you fix this?" Austin asks, glancing over at Daniel in the driver's seat. "I'm dying here."

"Should be able to," Daniel says. "I'll have to look at it when we get in."

"Want to switch?" Ella asks, nudging her shoulder against Austin's, but not letting it linger the way she normally would. It's too damn hot for that. She's got the seat by the window, so at least she's getting some air, even if it is the sticky, humid highway breeze. Austin's been in the middle for hours, so she thinks it must be worse for him.

"It's fine," he says, shaking his head. "We're stopping soon, right?"

"Yeah, we should eat, anyway," Daniel says. "And if we get a room, I can work on the truck," he adds, shifting into the center lane as he does. Austin nods and settles back against his seat, tugging on the collar of his shirt, like he's trying to pull the heat away from his body. Ella watches his hand, seeing his flushed skin becoming more visible with the motion. She should try harder to tear her eyes off him, but lately, the rules have all started to slip away.

Ella puts her feet up on the dash, hoping to get some air on her bare legs, flinching when her thighs stick to the interior leather as she shifts them up and away from the seat. She tugs on the bottom of her shorts, mostly trying to wick away the sweat.

It helps, marginally. And it serves another purpose.

She can feel both of the guys' eyes on her, on her skin, as she stretches out. Daniel's gaze is quick, flicking to the side once, lingering in the rearview mirror a second time, before going to back to the road. Austin's is longer, not nearly as well concealed.

Not that either of them can conceal much from her anymore. She knows them far too well; she's figured out what their tells are.

"Comfortable?" Austin asks her.

"That's one way to put it," Ella says, laughing lightly. Then another mile marker passes and she sighs. She'll be glad to get out of the truck, to actually stretch her legs, take a shower and eat some real food. This morning's sodas and two packets of Pop-Tarts split between the three of them had hardly filled her up.

"How are we, money-wise? Can we eat somewhere decent today?" she asks Austin. She can't keep track of it all, so she never tries. It's his money, anyway, and he's better at that sort of thing, always has been.

"We can splurge on the finest meal that exit 253 has to offer," Austin says.

"I think there was a diner on the sign," Daniel puts in.

"Boy, you two sure do know how to treat a girl," Ella jokes, whistling low.

"Only the best for you," Austin smirks.

"I wouldn't stand for anything less," Ella says.

There was a time that this all would have felt strange, that she would have been a lot more serious about that sort of thing. But she's left that girl behind, put seemingly endless miles between that life and this very moment. She would have, months ago, wrinkled her nose at the mere suggestion of a road trip. She'd have scoffed and said she didn't do motels, camping, or truckstop food. She'd have been lying, of course, but she'd have felt like she had to.

It's getting harder and harder to remember why.

"You never have," Daniel says, meeting her eyes in the mirror. She smiles back, holding his gaze.

Sometimes, out here on the road, somewhere between hopelessly lost and exactly where they're meant to be, she feels like she's always had it backwards until now, that maybe all of this is more than all those things she used to tell herself were so important.

She's still working out what do with that thought, still trying to figure out what it means for her.

Maybe by the time they run out of miles, she'll have figured it out.


two.


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