On the Way to You

On the Way to You

What makes you happy?That was the question Emery Reed asked me the day we met, and I couldn’t give him a single answer. I could have said my dog, or my books, or yoga — but I just stared.And then, I got in his car.It was crazy to take a road trip with a stranger, but after years of standing still, he was my one-way ticket to a new life, and I wasn’t going to miss it.We sha...

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Title:On the Way to You
Author:Kandi Steiner
Rating:

On the Way to You Reviews

  • Paige

    5+ “Little Penny” Stars

    Love and Hope. Gorgeous and Broken. On My Way to you was everything I hoped. Cooper and Emery’s story consumed me. I *felt* it all. It resonated with me. This is going to be one of my favorite books I’ve read this year because by the end, it was more than just a story.

    Cooper is biding her time. She’s self-sufficient. She’s got goals. She’s just waiting for the time to be right. Emery comes along at just the right time. She doesn’t know it right away though. Something abou

    5+ “Little Penny” Stars

    Love and Hope. Gorgeous and Broken. On My Way to you was everything I hoped. Cooper and Emery’s story consumed me. I *felt* it all. It resonated with me. This is going to be one of my favorite books I’ve read this year because by the end, it was more than just a story.

    Cooper is biding her time. She’s self-sufficient. She’s got goals. She’s just waiting for the time to be right. Emery comes along at just the right time. She doesn’t know it right away though. Something about this stranger she meets at the diner where she works gets to her. When he asks her to come on his road trip with him, well all bets are off. As they begin their journey, Cooper notices that Emery goes from quite to chatty seemingly without cause. And the more time she spends trying to get to know him, the more she wants to know. And when she has a chance to read his thoughts, she takes it, even though she knows it’s wrong. What she learns makes her heart hurt and makes her fall even harder for him. But she realizes that the things she’s learning about Emery shouldn’t be learned this way and it eventually costs her everything.

    I just loved everything about this story. Their individual struggles. Their relationship struggles. Their desire for more. Neither Cooper nor Emery are perfect. Both have issues they have to face and they’re issues that aren’t unique to them but still affect everyone differently. Having experienced some of what these two went through made me love them even more. I think everyone can take something away from this book because I know I did.

    ARC provided to A is for Alpha B is for Books for honest review.

  • Angie - Angie's Dreamy Reads

    I adore Kandi Steiner's books. Her stories are always

    than romance. They have a theme of hope and second chances that really inspires a reader. The way she writes, with intensity and fervor, make you

    every word of her novels. I truly connect to her characters and her storytelling, and

    was no different. I fell in love with Emery and Cooper, and was actively invested in them. This story is heavy and haunting in parts, but also so beautiful and heartfelt and sexy with th

    I adore Kandi Steiner's books. Her stories are always

    than romance. They have a theme of hope and second chances that really inspires a reader. The way she writes, with intensity and fervor, make you

    every word of her novels. I truly connect to her characters and her storytelling, and

    was no different. I fell in love with Emery and Cooper, and was actively invested in them. This story is heavy and haunting in parts, but also so beautiful and heartfelt and sexy with the gorgeous romance that springs to life. Everything about it hooked me. And I found myself feeling a million and one things. If you know me, you know I thrive off angst, and

    has many different types of angst. From the slow burn, slow building relationship feels, to the deeper, more raw and poignant emotional issues, this book has a little of everything, and that's what makes it a must read.

    Well, the blurb pretty much says all you need to know. Emery comes to town and stops in at the diner that Cooper (our heroine) works in. He asks her a really random question.

    Now for me, I double blinked like, "huh." LOL. It's a weird way to greet someone, but I have to say it

    caught my attention and intrigued me. Cooper is also caught off guard by Emery. He's different and beautiful, and when an opportunity to tag along on his trip arises, she finds herself making a rash, impulsive, and crazy decision that changes her life completely.

    From there this story takes off. Emery and Cooper are both characters that are haunted by their pasts, but the way they attack life is so different. It's heart wrenching and eye opening to go on this journey with them. I could not get enough of them together and felt so moved by the way they reacted to each other. Emery is a man with some serious baggage and goodness, I broke for him. Over and over and over again. And Cooper is a girl with such a big heart and so much potential that I just fell in love with her.

    Overall, I was left a speechless by this author. She always creates a story that has a message, and I really felt that with

    I felt like she was bringing us more than a simple redemption/second chance/self discovery romance. She was trying to bring hope to the hopeless. And I really really really LOVED that she shared this with us. It's one I'll remember for some time to come and one that has definitely made a lasting impression.

  • Patty Belongs To Kellan~Jesse~Lautner~Miller~Jack~Racer~Rafe~Liam~Prince Nicholas~Hayes~Simon~Gianluca & Archer

    {ARC Generously Provided by Author}

    {ARC Generously Provided by Author}

    I can’t remember the last time I read a book by an author that was new to me that I ended up loving with all of my heart!

    is hauntingly beautiful in its sadness and Kandi Steiner’s exquisite writing has left an indelible mark on my heart. The characters are incredible and their flaws which to most might make them seem imperfect only helped to further endear them to me. I am completely in awe of the beauty of this story. I felt a gamut of emotions while reading this book and I can tell you it seriously was unputdownable. Never did I feel like I was on the outside looking in. It was as if I was experiencing everything with Cooper as she traveled across the country with the beautiful but broken Emery. I have found another author whose writing I have fallen madly in love with. I can’t even tell you how many lines I’ve highlighted in the book and how many tears have been shed while reading it. If you’re into emotional reads, this is one you simply must not pass up.

    Cooper Owens has been biding her time until the day she would be able to leave the rundown trailer park in Mobile, Alabama that she has called home for nearly twenty years. She’s been working at a local diner for the past several years and saving as much as she can to pay for her tuition and living expenses in a college in Seattle. Cooper is a vibrant young woman, filled with determination and light. We learn early on that she lost the lower portion of her left leg in a car accident when she was twelve. This would destroy most people, but not Cooper if anything it made her stronger. You can’t help but fall in love with her from the very start.

    During one of her early morning shifts at the diner, a handsome stranger sits at one of her stations. Cooper is a little stunned by how gorgeous the guy is and also caught off guard when he asks her--

    A seemingly simple question but one she couldn’t find the words to provide an answer to. While making small talk with him, Cooper finds out he’s on a road trip by himself heading to Washington. After she tells him that’s where she is attending school in the fall, he offers to give her a lift. While hesitant at first, she eventually throws caution to the wind and takes Emery up on his offer and soon with just a few items of clothing and her little dog, Kalo, the two are off to start a journey that will bring them to some of the many picturesque locations across the country and it will also become a journey to self-awareness.

    Early into their travels, Emery starts to have moments where he mentally shuts down and closes himself off to Cooper. At first, she doesn’t question it but as time goes on and tender moments pass between them sporadically, her feelings start to intensify for Emery. His darkness starts to affect her and Emery’s unwillingness to open up to Cooper has her resorting to deceitful behavior when she betrays his trust by secretly reading his journal in hopes of getting inside his head. Cooper knows what she is doing is wrong and every time she goes against better judgment and continues to read his journal you can’t help but feel trepidation as to what will happen when she is caught in the act. There’s just no way that it couldn’t happen, right?

    At some point during their travels together, Cooper is able to break through Emery’s defenses and believe me he’s wanted her just as much as she’s wanted him but his belief in the fact that he's not capable of giving her what she deserves, has helped him to keep his distance from her. But one night he’ll be too weak to fight it any longer and all I can say is I honestly don’t think I’ve ever read a more beautiful description of two people making love for the very first time. My sappy romantic self was over the moon and floating on a cloud high in the sky. It was passionate, and it was panty melting but the description was poetic and beautiful. It was Cooper’s first time and Emery made sure it was filled with tenderness and reverence.

    Every time they had a good day, I felt all the warm and fuzzy butterflies fluttering in my stomach but I also knew that soon enough there would be days of darkness and despair when Emery was lost to the depression that plagued him and my heart broke with Cooper’s every time. I had such a feeling of foreboding through the second half of the book but I knew that I had to see things through with Emery and Cooper.

    Here are my overall ratings on the book:

    I don’t want to give anything else away. All I can say is that I am so honored to have been able to receive an advanced copy of this truly amazing story and I know on release day I will be gifting this book to some of my book besties!

    For those of you who battle with depression or have been in love with someone who suffers from depression, this is one story that will surely hit close to home. I especially loved the author's note after the epilogue.

    releases on November 16th. Pre-order it now for only 99 cents!!

    ✩ Amazon US ➜

    ✩ Amazon UK ➜

    ✩ Amazon CA ➜

    ✩ Amazon AU ➜

  • Jemima

    Words will never be enough to express what I just read. On the way to you is a story of loss, self-discovery, Hope and strength.

    This is my first Kandi Steiner book and I can't even begin to tell you how much her writing has affected me. It's rare for a book to leave such an impact on me... yes I love to read but there are always those true gems that you will forever remembe

    Words will never be enough to express what I just read. On the way to you is a story of loss, self-discovery, Hope and strength.

    This is my first Kandi Steiner book and I can't even begin to tell you how much her writing has affected me. It's rare for a book to leave such an impact on me... yes I love to read but there are always those true gems that you will forever remember, On the way to you will be one of those.

    This hauntingly beautiful story is poignant and heartbreaking and one of the best books I have read this year.

    It's so easy for a reviewer to spill it all out...reveal the storyline. I highlighted so many things in the book, took so many 'notes' to write this review but I can't seem to write them down. What good would it do to you, as readers, if I spill it all out? why reveal the journey of Cooper and Emery when you can tag along with them and experience the joy and sadness, the light and the darkness, the struggle of self- discovery and the triumph over evil.

    The struggle for me at this moment is weather you'd appreciate this review enough to read this beauty of a book because I can't recommend this book enough! It's raw, it has a no-bullshit attitude to it that I admire, it's as real as it gets.

     

    For more reviews and giveaways follow my blog at

  • Megan✦❋Steamy Reads Blog❋✦

    OMG… Kandi Steiner’s newest release

    is unbelievable and amazing. Kandi’s carefully crafted words were heartbreaking, beautiful and touched my heart beyond all belief. I loved, loved, loved it. I have been a massive Kandi fan for a while now ever since reading

    I know it sounds clichéd, but that story literally changed my life and I knew I would always be drawn to

    OMG… Kandi Steiner’s newest release

    is unbelievable and amazing. Kandi’s carefully crafted words were heartbreaking, beautiful and touched my heart beyond all belief. I loved, loved, loved it. I have been a massive Kandi fan for a while now ever since reading

    I know it sounds clichéd, but that story literally changed my life and I knew I would always be drawn to her amazing storytelling for thereon in.

    This should be a simple question to most, but when Cooper was asked this very question by a gorgeous stranger while at work at the local diner, she was unable to form an answer. This question is so powerful to me, so simple, but has so much meaning.

    Cooper dreams of one day leaving her trailer park in Alabama and moving to Seattle to attend College. Through one diner shift at a time, she knows she is saving up the money she requires to make her dreams a reality. It is no longer a pipe dream and it is when, not if.

    Emery is on a road trip to Washington all by his lonesome when he stops at a diner and asks the waitress “What makes you happy?” After idle chit chat Emery discovers that Cooper is fast on her way to Seattle to attend college. He decides to offer her a lift, one that will change their lives forever.

    Emery does not always find it so easy to open up and can at times be quite dark and somber, whereas Cooper is a positive ray of sunshine. Where Cooper is day, Emery is night, but together they are simply beautiful, no words I will say will do this couple the justice they deserve, positively breathtaking.

    I don’t want to go into too much detail because this amazingly beautiful story needs to be read spoiler free and trust me when I say this, it will break your heart and move you beyond recognition. This story for me was absolutely unforgettable and a definite favorite of mine so far this year. If you are looking to read something so poignant and something that is guaranteed to stay with you long after the last word is read then check out

  •   KAT ⚛ Kitty Kat's Crazy About Books ⚛

    is a standalone, full-length, A New Adult Romance Novel by Kandi Steiner. Get ready to meet Emery Reed and Cooper Owens.

    Happy go lucky, optimistic Cooper is a twenty-year old female living in trailer park in Alabama with deadbeat parents who don’t give a damn about her, working at the Papa Wyatt’s local diner she’d called home since the age of sixteen dreaming about her dream school Bastyr which is situated three t

    is a standalone, full-length, A New Adult Romance Novel by Kandi Steiner. Get ready to meet Emery Reed and Cooper Owens.

    Happy go lucky, optimistic Cooper is a twenty-year old female living in trailer park in Alabama with deadbeat parents who don’t give a damn about her, working at the Papa Wyatt’s local diner she’d called home since the age of sixteen dreaming about her dream school Bastyr which is situated three thousand miles away on the Pacific Northwest Coast, where she wants to study Naturopathic medicine. She's just awaiting her acceptance letter.

    A good looking guy travelling alone stops at the diner where Cooper works and asks her one of the most oddest questions she’s ever been asked before.

    What she wanted to say was…

    But in the end she said nothing because he unnerved her, he looked like he'd just walked off the cover of a magazine.

    Talking to this boy she discovers that he's passing through on his way to Washington and revealing that her dream school is there out of the blue he asks her if she wants to come along. So when an offer in a lifetime comes her way she’d be silly to turn it down wouldn’t she?

    Grabbing what she could fit into a bag and her Australian shepherd mix dog named Kalo she was set to take this crazy journey through many states with a guy she didn't know. Her dream of finally leaving Alabama behind had finally come true.

    Twenty three year old Emery was taking a trip to a place that held a lot of meaning to his recently deceased Grandmother and on her deathbed he promised her he would go and see it.

    Emery is the complete opposite to Cooper, she's sunshine and happiness, he's dark and gloomy but together they just work.

    A unique beautiful journey of self discovery, survival, self reflection and love, this will pull on your heart strings like no other book I have encountered this year, these two were perfect for each other, I truly loved how they took care of each other travelling towards their destinations.

    * Teasers used are off the Authors facebook page *

  •  Sonya ♕Chatterbooks book blog♕

    As I sit here and try to write what I’m feeling in this exact moment, I realize that it’s impossible. How can I do that when I’ve just read some of the most powerful words that has not only touched me, but made me ask myself a simple but life changing question. “What Makes you Happy”? I had no idea that those four words and these two characters were going to forever change my reading experience, but I’m glad it did.

    is a story about loss, love, and finding hope and streng

    As I sit here and try to write what I’m feeling in this exact moment, I realize that it’s impossible. How can I do that when I’ve just read some of the most powerful words that has not only touched me, but made me ask myself a simple but life changing question. “What Makes you Happy”? I had no idea that those four words and these two characters were going to forever change my reading experience, but I’m glad it did.

    is a story about loss, love, and finding hope and strength when you were at your last wit’s end. I’ve always believed in the saying that there are people who enter your life for a reason whether it’s just for a few minutes or a few years. Good or bad, they make an impact on you and whether we want to admit or not, some of them shaped our lives.

    Most of us know what it’s like to be in love and experience that type of heart stopping emotion with someone else, having your heart race from a simple touch, and knowing the exact moment you realize that this person is the one for you. Cooper hasn’t felt anything like that because she’s stuck in her small town with nothing but big dreams and a hopeful future. When a stranger walks in and asks her the biggest question of her life, something changes for her and from that moment, Cooper took her long awaited journey and threw caution to wind. But what happens when the trip of a lifetime become so much more than what Cooper was expecting?

    I honestly wasn’t expecting this story to hit me with such an emotional force if I’m being honest. I loved that it was different and unique and for me, that was a breath of fresh air. I reveled in all of the different quirks of these characters and seeing their journey and emotional break throughs was some of the best moments for me. Two people who didn’t have anything in common, we’re suddenly joined by fate and because of that, we were given one friendship in the making and an incredible love story for a lifetime.

    If you’re looking for completely different and touching story, this is it for you. No need to look any further because THIS.IS.IT.

  • Christy

    Kandi Steiner is one of those authors that gives me all the feels when reading. I love her words. This book is different from anything else she’s written. It’s emotional, powerful, and the writing is stunning!

    If someone asked you ‘What makes you happy?’ right this moment, could you answer them honestly? Not some superficial answer, but true happiness. Cooper couldn’t. When Emery Reed spoke those four words to her, she couldn’t answer him. Cooper seems happy

    Kandi Steiner is one of those authors that gives me all the feels when reading. I love her words. This book is different from anything else she’s written. It’s emotional, powerful, and the writing is stunning!

    
If someone asked you ‘What makes you happy?’ right this moment, could you answer them honestly? Not some superficial answer, but true happiness. Cooper couldn’t. When Emery Reed spoke those four words to her, she couldn’t answer him. Cooper seems happy where she’s at, but she’s not. She craves adventure and has dreamed about getting out of Alabama to go to the northwest. When Emery offers her a ride, as strange as it may seem, she goes. It’s time to take a risk and live a little.

    I love road trip books! In my opinion, there aren’t enough of them! This was not your normal road trip book, however. Emery and Cooper’s journey was much different. It’s one of those books you need to read for yourself so I won’t delve into the plot of the book. Just know the romance is gorgeous, but it’s so much more than that!

    is a romance, but it’s also a story of self discovery. It’s a book about love, loss, friendship, and it battles hard topics like mental health. Kandi wrote this topic so realistically. If you have ever struggled with severe depression, or know someone who has, you will be able to relate to Emery. Cooper is a beautiful soul. She loves with all she is and she tries to be understanding and helpful

    . Their story isn’t the hearts and flowers, conventional romance. It’s unique to them and it’s beautiful.

    Kandi Steiner. You have a way with words. I’m so glad you wrote this book. I think it’s a book that needs to be read. It’s a story that will stay with me. This book broke my heart, but also healed it in a beautiful way. If you’re looking for a romance that goes deeper than the traditional romance, one that will touch your soul, make you think and make you feel, pick up

    !

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  • Dilek VT

    This is the story of Emery and Cooper. It is not an entertaining read if it is what you need. It is depressive. You just need to prepare yourself for it because the book literally sucked the life out of me.

    Emery is a young man fighting with

    and he is

    .

    Cooper is a young girl with a

    . She has lost one of her legs in a tragic accident. Still, she is full of life, though.

    I hate it when writers do this. I am sorry but

    !

    I would prefer to read a boo

    This is the story of Emery and Cooper. It is not an entertaining read if it is what you need. It is depressive. You just need to prepare yourself for it because the book literally sucked the life out of me.

    Emery is a young man fighting with

    and he is

    .

    Cooper is a young girl with a

    . She has lost one of her legs in a tragic accident. Still, she is full of life, though.

    I hate it when writers do this. I am sorry but

    !

    I would prefer to read a book where a flawed man, (

    ), to be loved by a person without a significant flaw. And I also would like to read a book where a girl with a disability (

    ) to be loved by a totally perfect man, no physical and psychological impairments at all.

    Dear writers, please give us a world where you do not have to make both of them imperfect, flawed or with a disability. Even if one of them is physically and another psychologically impaired, it still makes me feel that you believe a girl like Cooper doesn’t deserve a hot guy who is completely sane and healthy or likewise it makes me feel that you believe a guy like Emery who is mentally ill doesn’t deserve a completely perfect woman...

    So, that was the thing that disturbed me most in this book. This cliché matching of the flawed! And I take 1 point off just for this reason.

    :

    Cooper is a girl who has dreams of leaving her home town and her pathetic parents one day. She works in a diner and saves up money for her dreams.

    One day a guy named Emery walks in the diner and into her life. He asks her what makes her happy. She cannot answer right away but later she talks about her dreams. Then, he offers to give her a ride to the city she dreams of going.

    She refuses first but then considers it. She talks to her friend and she encourages her (

    )

    And long story short, she goes on a road trip with this stranger despite her fears and this trip changes the lives of both of them.

    I hated Emery for the first %50 of the book or so and then, gradually my hatred left me and I can say that I feel neutral for him now - no love, no hate!

    As for Cooper, I liked her. I thought she was too good to be true most of the time. Even though she was wrong when she invaded his privacy by reading Emery’s journal without his permission, I couldn’t get mad at her. She needed to get to know him, she wanted to help him.

    The road trip takes them to different states and different places. Sometimes they have a good time and sometimes they have a bad or very bad time, depending on Emery’s mood on that day.

    There is a good ending to their story. It ends in a “happy enough” place, and thank God, not married with 3 children in the epilogue because that wouldn't fit the mood of the book, but it still ends with a lot of hope on the way to a happily ever after.

    There is also some wisdom in it and some insight to finding happiness in being less attached to material things and being more focused on living and experiencing different things in life. I liked that.

    All in all, the book is kind of 3,5 stars for me but not 4, unfortunately...

    I do not want you to think that the subject of depression bores me and that's why my grade is low - no it doesn't. It is in fact a topic I like reading about as I have been struggling with depression for the past 3 years, myself. It is this book itself, the way it is plotted and written.

    Unveiling The Sky by Jeannine Allison is also a book about a girl fighting with depression and I gave 5 stars to this poetically written book. Just saying... not to be misunderstood...

  • Kandi Steiner

    Here's what you need to know about this book right MEOW:

    ★ It's my favorite cover to date

    ★ It's my favorite BOOK I've ever written to date

    ★ It's a road trip story

    ★ It's got the angst you love from me

    ★ It's got those FEELS you crave from me

    ★ It's NOW AVAILABLE (and #FREE with #KindleUnlimited!)

    ✩ Amazon US ➜

    ✩ Amazon UK ➜

    ✩ Amazon CA ➜

    ✩ Amazon AU ➜

    Keep reading for a Goodreads EXCLUSIVE sneak peek!

    .

    ..

    ...

    ....

    .....

    ......

    .......

    As soon as I

    Here's what you need to know about this book right MEOW:

    ★ It's my favorite cover to date

    ★ It's my favorite BOOK I've ever written to date

    ★ It's a road trip story

    ★ It's got the angst you love from me

    ★ It's got those FEELS you crave from me

    ★ It's NOW AVAILABLE (and #FREE with #KindleUnlimited!)

    ✩ Amazon US ➜

    ✩ Amazon UK ➜

    ✩ Amazon CA ➜

    ✩ Amazon AU ➜

    Keep reading for a Goodreads EXCLUSIVE sneak peek!

    .

    ..

    ...

    ....

    .....

    ......

    .......

    As soon as I expelled a long breath and lifted my eyes to where the boy from the diner stood leaning against his car, I halted.

    He’d followed me as I rode my bike back to my house, and I’d ditched that same bike in my front yard before sprinting inside without another word. But here he was, waiting for me, and again, the same three words cycled through my head.

    “I don’t know if I packed the right stuff,” I admitted, feet moving toward him and the car. “I wasn’t sure what to pack, honestly. It’s still hot here but I know it won’t be in Washington. Then again, we’ll be in the car, so I guess it doesn’t really matter too much what the weather is like. We can just adjust the air. I mean you can, since it’s your car. I won’t touch the air. Or the radio. I promise. I’ll be like a fly on the wall. Or, well, not a fly, because flies are annoying. I’ll be like a butterfly. Like, the caterpillar in the cocoon before the butterfly actually happens.” He was just looking at me with those same questioning eyes, though the corner of his mouth twitched at a smile. “I won’t be a problem, that’s what I’m trying to say.”

    “Good to know.”

    I nodded, adjusting the yoga mat under my arm. He was just leaned up against the car, which I realized now was not only a convertible, but a BMW, too. His hands were tucked easily into the pockets of his navy blue pants, one ankle crossed over the other as he watched me.

    When he stood straight and opened the passenger side door, Kalo bolted from where she’d been sniffing the grass at my side and jumped right into the front seat, parking her little butt down and letting her tongue hang out as she panted up at us.

    He eyed her, one brow cocked as he turned back to face me.

    “Kalo. I rescued her when she was a pup.” I shrugged. “Can’t leave her behind.”

    He wet his lips, looking back down at Kalo with a curious stare. “Will you be like a butterfly, too?”

    Kalo popped up, little paws pressing into his chest as she lapped at his face before jumping into the backseat.

    He chuckled, wiping at the slobber on his chin before turning to me with an outstretched hand aimed at the bag over my shoulder. I handed it to him, mind still racing with all the reasons this was the dumbest idea ever as he loaded my bag into the trunk, taking my yoga mat next.

    I dropped Kalo’s bed into the back seat and she immediately climbed into it, turning in two circles before plopping down.

    And then I had a panic attack.

    “Wait!”

    He paused mid-reach for the handle on the driver door, but he was still relaxed, a peaceful expression on his face as he did what I asked.

    I couldn’t catch a steady breath, ears ringing and fingers reaching blindly for my braid. I pulled it over my shoulder and picked at the ends of it, mind racing, questions burning through me.

    “What’s your name?”

    “Emery.”

    “Emery what?”

    “Emery Reed.”

    I nodded, over and over, still picking at my split ends. “Okay, Emery Reed, and have you ever been convicted of a crime?”

    He laughed, just one quick, humored bark, the noise warm and comforting. “No. Have you?”

    I wrinkled my nose. “Of course not.”

    “Okay.”

    “Okay,” I agreed, looking up and down my street. One of my neighbors a few trailers down was sitting on their porch, watching me with curious eyes. “Are you dangerous?”

    “If I was, I wouldn’t tell you.”

    “But you’re not, right?”

    He shrugged. “Guess you’ll find out.”

    I scoffed. “I’m serious. You’re not like… crazy or anything, are you?”

    At that he threw his head back and laughed again, eyes warm when they found mine. “Of course I am. Aren’t you?”

    A warm breeze blew between us then, the faint smell of pumpkin riding on its wings, giving me the first scent of fall I’d had all season.

    “Can I get in now?” he asked, eyes not leaving mine.

    I swallowed, and then with a quick nod, he opened his door as I slipped into the passenger seat, and we closed the doors at the same time, the quiet thunk of them solidifying my choice.

    I was leaving Alabama.

    I was going to Washington.

    With a strange boy.

    Whom I had just met.

    Who admitted out loud that he’s crazy.

    He fired up the engine, the soft purr of it sparking a wave of chills up my arms. And there was no ceremonious goodbye, no rush of memories as he put it in drive and pulled away from my house that never was a home.

    I’d nearly shredded the end of my braid, so I threw it behind me, right leg bouncing as I wrung my hands together in my lap.

    “I’m Cooper,” I finally said when we pulled out of the trailer park. “Cooper Owens.”

    “Nice to meet you, Cooper.”

    I nodded, leg still bouncing.

    “So, why are you going to Washington?”

    He shifted, switching hands on the steering wheel as those two familiar lines creased between his brows. “There’s just something I need to see.”

    “Well, that’s not vague or anything.”

    He didn’t respond, pulling onto I-10 and picking up speed. The wind blowing through the car from the top being down whirled more now, picking up the stray strands of my hair and twirling them around me.

    “How old are you?” I yelled over the wind, heart still thundering under my ribs, nervous system in a practical breakdown as it fired off all the warning signals.

    DON’T TALK TO STRANGERS.

    DON’T GET IN CARS WITH STRANGERS.

    DON’T TRAVEL ACROSS THE COUNTRY WITH STRANGERS.

    “Twenty-three.”

    “What do you do?”

    He shook his head, as if my question disappointed him. “I drive.”

    “Like for a living?”

    “No, like right now, in this moment, I drive.”

    “Well, that’s not what I meant.”

    “What did you mean?” he challenged, glancing at me quickly before returning his gaze to the road.

    I stammered, hands waving erratically around me. “I don’t know, just like, who are you? Tell me something to help me freak out less about the decision I just made to get in the car with you.”

    He paused. “If I do kill you, I promise to take care of your dog.”

    I narrowed my eyes. “Funny.”

    He bit back a smile, and I lost my train of thought watching the slow spread of it on his face, the wind whipping through his sandy blond hair, the sun casting a warm glow over half of his face and cool shadows over the other.

    “Wait, I know,” I said with a snap of my fingers, pulling my cell phone from my back pocket. “Is your name Emery Reed on Facebook? I can just look through your profile and reassure myself that you’re not a serial killer.”

    “I don’t have a Facebook.”

    I balked, heart stopping in my chest before kicking back to life. “What do you mean you don’t have a Facebook? Everyone has a Facebook.” My nerves sparked to life again, head shaking of its own accord. “Oh, my God, you really are going to kill me, aren’t you? Oh my God, oh my God.”

    Suddenly, the car veered to the right and a scream ripped through my throat, Emery riding the tail of a semi-truck and cutting off an old van before pulling off onto the shoulder, stopping us altogether with enough force to send me flying forward before I was jerked back against the seat again.

    “We almost wrecked!” I panicked, checking the backseat to make sure Kalo was okay. She just stared up at me goofily from her bed like I was the crazy one.

    “Hey,” Emery said, calling my attention back to him. “Are we doing this?”

    Cars and trucks zoomed by behind him, each one rocking our car with a whoosh as I tried to calm my racing heart. He wasn’t annoyed, his face wasn’t screwed up with impatience, his eyes weren’t accusing or judging. He was simply watching me. He was simply waiting. I knew that look, because I’d been waiting my entire life.

    “Are we doing this,” he asked again, voice even steadier than before. “Or not?”

    And in perhaps the most chaotic moment of my life, on the shoulder of I-10, with cars zipping by and a stranger waiting to drive me to my new life, I closed my eyes, pressed my head into the warm leather seat, and took my first breath.

    “We’re doing this,” I whispered, eyes still closed.

    “Okay,” he said, and then I felt a hand on my knee.

    My eyes shot open, heart back in my throat.

    “Seatbelt,” he said, squeezing my leg before reaching into the center console for his sunglasses. He slid the frames into place. “And I hope you like The Black Keys.”

    His hand reached for the knob, cranking up the volume, and then he pulled back onto the highway, effectively ending my freakout.

    Kalo popped her head between our seats, nudging my elbow with her wet nose. I looked down at her, still in a daze, numbly petting her head to assure her I was okay.

    Then, with one more deep inhale, I shook the negative thoughts from my mind, choosing instead to embrace the moment.

    I was leaving Alabama.

    I was going to Washington.

    Everything I’d always wanted was finally happening, even if it wasn’t exactly how I’d imagined it, and the next breath that left my lungs also left a sense of peace behind it, one that filled me from the inside out.

    I think I knew, even then, that the greatest adventure of my life was about to begin.

    I didn’t know who I was, or who I’d become, or where I’d go when we got to Washington. I didn’t know where we’d stop on the way, or how we’d get along, or how I’d feel when we hit our final destination, when we said goodbye and went our separate ways.

    I didn’t know any of that.

    But I did know something about that day, and that boy, and that car felt right.

    I knew as the sun warmed my skin and the wind blew through my hair that I was never coming back to Alabama.

    And ten minutes later, when we crossed the state line, I smiled.

    I smiled, and I didn’t look back.

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    PRE-ORDER: Sunday, November 12th

    RELEASE DAY: Thursday, November 16th

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