Thursday, March 6, 2014

Kissing Eden by T.A. Foster-Blog Tour: Excerpt!

Book Blurb:
Have you ever thought of taking a vacation alone? I mean step on a plane, check into your hotel, and lie on the beach completely and utterly alone. No? Me either, but then right before senior spring break I got dumped.
Something about break ups makes you do things you didn’t want to do, and try things you didn’t know you were capable of.

That’s how I ended up at the Palm Palace.
That’s how I met Grey.
That’s how my spring break turned into the most unforgettable week of my life.
“Here you go.” The driver parked next to a cabin-sized building. A red vacancy sign illuminated the sidewalk with quick bursts of flashing light. He waited for me to pay him the five dollars it cost to drive two minutes from the Island Sun Resort.
“This is the Palm Palace?” Nothing about the place looked palatial. I already missed the bright hibiscus flowers and the nice girl from the front desk.
“Yep. You’re here.” The driver strummed his fingers along the steering wheel. I’m sure he had designated driving tips he wanted to collect, and wasn’t afraid to demonstrate his impatience. My hesitation was holding him up.
I handed him a crisp five-dollar bill and pushed open the car door. Before I could climb back in, he had made a full U-turn and was back on the highway. I watched the taillights race toward the cluster of resorts and abundance of spring breakers. I pivoted on my heels to face the Palm Palace. The sign blinked in front of me. This was it—my only option.
I smoothed out my shirt and took a deep breath. I reached for the handle on the office door, but it was stuck. I jiggled it a few times, trying to move it left or right until it broke off in my hand. Great, I already had damage charges and didn’t even have a room yet. I knocked on the door.
The door whipped open. A towering figure stood in front of me. The light behind his head made it difficult to make out the features of his face, but I could see the outline of a chiseled jaw and broad shoulders.
“I—uh—I broke your doorknob.” I offered the part to the shadowed guy.
“Dammit,” he mumbled.
“It was an accident. I didn’t mean to break it.” I followed him into the dim-lit office. In the side, a window-unit hummed and blasted cool air into the small space. “Sorry.”
“Yeah, I know. I’ve been meaning to fix that door.” He placed the doorknob next to the phone. “What do you need?” He exhaled through his teeth and glared at the broken piece of metal.
The smell of fresh paint permeated the office. The corner of a paint can was exposed on the floor behind the desk. I watched as he nudged it out of view with his foot.
“Maybe if you took better care of this place it wouldn’t break when your customers walked through the door.”
“Tell me about it. Doorknobs are just the beginning. Wait, did you say customer? You have a reservation? I wasn’t expecting anyone tonight, and not for another week.” He rubbed his palm along the side of his face that I guessed hadn’t seen a razor in a week. His stubble was dark, like the rest of his brown hair. For the first time since I had walked in the office, he looked up.
I was tired and irritated from the trip, but it’s not everyday you see eyes like that. Eyes that held depth and soul. Eyes that made me forget why I was so annoyed. Eyes that kept me locked in place. I stared a little too long, trying to think where I had seen that blue before.
“I asked you a question. Do you have a reservation?” His snappy probing shook the trance I had entered.
Not only was the Palm Palace falling apart, but it was also lacking in the customer service department. I really didn’t need this after the day I had, pretty blue eyes or not.
“No, but I need one for the week. Apparently, this is the only place that has open rooms. Now I know why.” I frowned at the doorknob.
Through the window, I could see that the pool was only half-full. A garden hose was draped over the ladder with a slow trickle of water running into the deep end.
The guy looked me over. I was sure he saw the soda stain on my jeans. “Well, if it’s not up to your standards, don’t let me keep you.” He nodded toward the door that no longer had a doorknob.
“No, it’s—” I searched for a word that wouldn’t insult him further. “—quaint.”
“Did you say you needed a room for the entire week?” He looked at the space next to my feet. “Where’s your luggage?”
“The airline lost it. You wouldn’t have those fluffy robes here, would you?”
“Darlin’, look around you. Does this look like the kind of place with fluffy robes?”
This place didn’t look like it would have running water, but a girl could dream. All I wanted was for him to swipe my credit card and point me to my room and maybe some food. My stomach growled. The pretzels I had eaten on the morning flight from Raleigh hardly counted as a meal.
“Ok, I get it. You’re not Mr. Customer Service. Can I just check in? I’ve had a really terrible day, and I could use a hot shower and something to eat.”
I couldn’t believe the Palm Palace management had placed the handyman in charge of the front desk for the night. The white T-shirt that clung to his torso was speckled with paint, and he had hooked a hammer along the rim of his back pocket.
He pulled out a notebook and flipped open the faded blue cover. He traced the lines with his finger. “Yep, there’s a room for you.”
“You keep your reservations in a notebook?” I hadn’t really noticed until now that there wasn’t a computer in the office.
He looked at me. “Do you want a room or not?”
“Sorry.” I bit my lip to keep from sparring with him further. I couldn’t risk him tossing me out.
“It’s fifty dollars per night. Do you have a credit card?”
I handed him the plastic card my mother had given me at Christmas for spring break. She and my father had loaded it specifically for this trip. I had managed to avoid using it for the past few months, even when I saw a cute fringed bikini that called my name.
“What happened to your hand?” He glanced at my knuckles.
With the hotel hopping, I had forgotten that it had turned red and was starting to swell. “I ran into something. It’s fine.”
“Something or someone?” I thought I saw the corner of his lips form a smile.
He withdrew a piece of carbon paper and a metal rectangular device. I watched as he affixed the paper, placed my card on top, and then swiped a lever across my card.
“What are you doing?” I asked.
My father’s warnings about credit card fraud echoed in my memory. What if this was some kind of scheme to steal the last bit of money I had?
He let out a sigh. “It’s a credit card machine.”
“Are you serious?” I think I had seen something like it in an eighties movie.
“Yes. I’m serious. Here you go.” He handed the card back to me and pointed to the bottom of the slip. “Sign here.”
I scribbled my name along the line, being careful not to press too hard with my knuckles. They were tender. He handed me a brass key attached to a palm tree key chain.
“You’re in room twenty-three, which is all the way down this side.” He pointed out the window. “You’re the last room on the right. Ocean side.”
Ocean side? At least there was something redeeming about the Palm Palace. The palm tree was heavy in my hand. “Thanks. Is there somewhere around here I could get dinner and maybe some clothes?”
I was worried the airline still hadn’t called me and I would have to face the morning with my alcohol-stained jeans.
“There’s a local hang out a few blocks down and across the road on the sound side called Pete’s. It’s not a party scene; you’ll have to head back to the resorts if you want a DJ and dancing. About a block down is a surf shop and general store. I’m sure they’ll have something you can wear.” I caught him eyeing the dip in my shirt with his smoldering eyes. Eyes like that were hard to ignore.
“I’m not here for the party scene. Dinner sounds good.” I turned to pull the inside frame of the door. I wasn’t sure why I had told him that. “Thanks.”
“Oh, and, Rocky, there’s an ice machine on the way to your room. You might want to put some on that hand before it gets much worse.” This time I was certain he was smiling.


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