My new novel, Lyfers, will be released Tuesday, February 9. Until then, here’s a preview!
“So what are the guys’ names again?” Cody hiked his duffel bag over his shoulder, flashing his tanned bicep to curious onlookers. The surrounding passengers had to be wondering who on earth was paying over a thousand dollars for this cruise but didn’t know the band. Some girls did double-takes when they caught sight of him.
Cody was part of the handful of men surging toward the ramp leading up to the opening of the ship. Most of the female passengers dragged a suitcase on wheels behind them, while some adjusted overstuffed paisley quilted weekender bags on their shoulders. Still others clutched pillows, bringing the security of home along with them, because this pillow was hypoallergenic or perfectly curved to their head or stuffed with the finest goose down and would be far superior to the wimpy cruise ship pillows. Once on deck, the crowd fanned this way or that, the veterans en route to their favorite stateroom, dodging the newbies, like Cody, with their darting eyes and shuffling feet.
Cody’s friend, with her smooth brown skin and black hair cut into a bob with side-swept bangs, pursed her lips. “You know exactly who they are, Cody.”
“Humor me, Darice.” He mimicked her unamused tone, laying it on thick by overemphasizing both syllables of her name. Her features didn’t soften. “I need a refresher to blend in with the super fans. Braden’s the one who looks like me, right?”
Darice opened her mouth to answer when another girl around their age, early-to-midtwenties, appeared out of nowhere and talked across her to Cody. “I thought you looked familiar! You look just like Braden when he was younger. You are going to turn a lot of heads this weekend.”
Cody cast a glance at Darice and then back at the girl. “That’s the idea.”
The girl giggled. “OK, so you know Braden.” She put one finger up, then a second. “Then there’s Markus. He’s the bad boy.” For each guy, she added another raised finger until she had an open palm. “Luc is…”
Darice interjected. “The ugly one.”
“Well, he’s not ugly. He’s just not the cutest. That would be Rusty. Or Russ, I guess he prefers to be called now. He’s the baby of the group although now he’s almost 40. Last, there’s Vaughn, who’s the straight-laced, big brother type.”
“That’s her favorite.” Cody pointed his thumb at Darice.
“Ah, you’re a Vaughn girl.”
“Have you been on this cruise before?” asked Cody.
The girl nodded. “This is my second. What about you guys?”
Darice moved her dark, bug-like sunglasses from her face to the top of her head, revealing her dark brown eyes framed by lashes expensive enough that someone wouldn’t be able to tell for sure if they were real or fake. “We’re virgins.”
Cody didn’t miss a beat. “Please go easy on us. Or don’t.” He winked.
This exchange sent the girl into titters. “Well, if you have any questions, let me know. I’m not a pro, but I kind of know what’s up.”
“I do have one.” Darice fished around in her bag and held up a piece of paper with their traveler information. “Which way to room 8217?”
“That’s right by my room! Follow me.”