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Closing my eyes, I tried to block it all out. Convinced I was about to die, I was only partly aware of his arms around me.

“You said you wanted an adventure,” he said quietly, teasingly, as he tightened his hold.

My stomach dropped out as an intense and complete feeling of weightlessness engulfed me. The wind stung my face as memories flooded my mind. I thought of my parents, of all the things I wanted to tell them but never did, my friends from home, and the experiences I longed for. Quickly my thoughts changed to more recent memories, to Levi.

“Open your eyes,” he whispered, somehow knowing my eyes were clenched shut.

Against my better judgment, I listened. The scream died in my throat as we hurtled toward the water that had seemed so beautiful from the roof above.

Chapter One

I’d sworn off men, or really boys, because those were the only type of males I tended to attract. The numbers on the pump moved painfully slow as I reminded myself of the decision. Tying my hair up in a knot on the top of my head, I struggled to save my neck from the heat created by my long brown hair. Even a ponytail wasn’t enough for the Mississippi heat. I had heard all about the hot summers of the south, but I didn’t expect the temperatures to be quite so scorching in June. I was terrified to think about what August would feel like.

Finally finished with the gas, I got back in the car to wait impatiently for my best friend Jess. We were only a few hours away from New Orleans, but after two days of driving, every minute was torture. I started the engine and turned the AC on high before leaning back into the comfortable seat. The new car smell still permeated my Land Rover, an over the top high school graduation gift from my father. I loved it and appreciated the gift but wished my dad had checked with me before special ordering it in what he believed was my favorite color—lavender. I didn’t have the heart to tell him that purple had stopped being my favorite when I was five.

After a few minutes, Jess slid into the passenger seat. “Want some chips or soda?” she asked while smoothing out her blond hair, putting a few strands back in place behind her ear. The effort was wasted. Her hair was still messy and matched the flushed expression she wore.

“Please tell me you didn’t make out with someone to get free chips.” I rolled my eyes hoping she would surprise me just this once by not having done it. We had been best friends since the sixth grade, and she had been boy crazy the whole time I’d known her.

“I didn’t make out with him for the chips; I did it because he was hot.”

Stifling a laugh, I pulled back out onto the road toward I-59. “Sure.”

“We’re only young once. Don’t be so uptight.” Jess snapped her gum loudly.

“Hey, it’s fine, but don’t come complaining to me when you get some weird communicable disease from one of the random guys you hook up with.”

“Allie, I love you, but you have to relax. Promise me you’ll at least try to have fun this summer.” She sighed dramatically.

“I’ll try,” I said with exaggerated frustration. I planned to have a great summer, just one that didn’t involve guys.

“That’s not good enough. You’re not going to let Toby ruin the entire summer are you? So you dated a jerk, who cares, forget about him.”

“I’m not going to let Toby ruin anything. I’m the one who dumped him, remember?” Thinking about Toby threatened to put me in a worse mood. He had only been the latest in a string of disappointing dating experiences. First there was Steve, we broke up when I found him cheating on me—with my best guy friend. After that was Matthew, who took commitment phobia to a whole new level when he actually set a cap on how often I could text message him. With Toby it wasn’t anything dramatic, the romance just didn’t live up to my expectations. Somehow, his declarations of how great of a power couple we would make didn’t cut it. As relieved as I was about avoiding him all summer, I still had to deal with him at Princeton in the fall.

“So does that mean you’re ready to move on?” Jess asked excitedly.

“No. I told you, I’ve sworn off men.”

“Sweetheart, you do realize that men have many valuable roles other than boyfriends, right? Instead, how about you swear off boyfriends and just have fun?”

“I don’t care what you do with guys, but I am never going to be the girl that just hooks up, okay?”

“We’ll see about that.”

Wanting to avoid a fight, I decided to ignore her last comment. Sometimes it was easier to let her think she won.

When I didn’t answer, she decided to continue. “Maybe getting away from high school boys will help.”

“Maybe,” I mumbled under my breath.

She appeared not to hear me and changed the subject. “It was so cool of your dad to let us come down and hang out at the hotel all summer!”

“You mean it was cool of him to give us jobs, right?” I tried to keep a straight face, but really, I wasn’t surprised by her choice of words. When Dad called to ask if I wanted to work at a hotel he had recently purchased in New Orleans, I agreed only if Jess could come with me. She wouldn’t be much use as a coworker but she did have the ability to make any situation fun. I was counting on her working her magic.


The Crescent City Hotel looked exactly as I expected; a historic building complete with wrought iron balconies and the dangling ferns that were in every picture I had seen of the French Quarter. Following along with the GPS, I turned onto Royal Street and pulled up front to the valet, not sure where I was supposed to park. Before I could worry for long, my dad knocked on the window.

He opened the door once I unlocked it, taking my hand to help me out. “Hey sweetie, how was the trip?” He pulled me into a hug as soon as my feet hit the pavement. If you didn’t know any better you’d think we had a normal father-daughter relationship.

“It was fine, we made great time.”

“Hi Mr. Davis!” Jess yelled as she ran around the car.

“Hi Jessica, I’m so glad you were able to come down with my Allie.”

“Of course! Thanks again for the job!”

“It’s my pleasure; I hope you girls have a nice time.” He caught my eye over Jess’s head. Even as little as he knew Jess, he was under no misconceptions about her work ethic.

Dad glanced behind him, lifting a finger and a bellhop a little older than us started unloading bags from the back of the car. Before he had finished moving our bags to the cart, Jess was already chatting him up. With my dad watching, the poor guy was trying to stay professional.