In case you are a fan of #Wibbroka (adorable author couple that is Austin Siegemund-Broka & Emily Wibberley) or just generally a fan of romance books that will absolutely win your heart, stick around. We’re revealing an excerpt for Wibbroka’s upcoming release Time of Our Lives! Scroll down to start reading/falling in love.
When I wake up, I’m alone in the room. On the pillow next to me, I find a note written on the bed-and-breakfast’s stationery. In hasty handwriting Lewis has explained he’s gone to grab food. I’m stunned he’s awake, what with his penchant for sleeping in late and his extended stay in the bathroom last night.
I lie in bed, squinting in the uncomfortable sunlight. I don’t want to heave myself out from under the covers. Really, I don’t want to face the fact that last night is over.
It feels like a dream, close enough to impossible, like I really could have just conjured the entire evening with Juniper in my head. In the morning light, the wonder of the night feels nearly unreachable. Fugacious. Fleeting, with the tendency to disappear. I know with every passing minute and mile, it’ll be harder to imagine it was ever real.
I remember the dictionary—trading the book back and forth, underlining the words we read to each other. I reach over to the nightstand where I left the Dictionary of Unusual Usages before I went to bed, feeling a rush of gratitude I have the pages and the ink to tie me tangibly to the night with Juniper. Proof it was real.
I thumb open the book, reading the underlines. Lissome. Desuetude. Embrocate, which we only underlined because Juniper found it funny that the stately, flowery word means “rubbing on lotion.” I’m close to the end of the dictionary when my fingers catch on something. My breath catches with them.
There’s a dog-eared page. I never dog-ear pages. I kind of resent the practice, and in other circumstances, the defacement of my dictionary would piss me off. Not this time. With the heady tingle of nervous excitement, I open precisely to the folded page.
I immediately narrow in on the underlined word. It’s not one I remember either of us reading out loud, though. Serendipity. Fortunate coincidence. Finding what one did not know one needed. The word is underlined in one of Juniper’s unmistakably neat strokes.
Next to it, I find ten digits. It’s a phone number.
It’s her phone number.
I do not know how to process this realization. I feel myself blushing goofily, elated yet reminding myself to be cool, to not read into the gesture, to remember she’s probably only being friendly. She must have written the number down when I wasn’t paying attention, when I was looking the other way, or—I don’t know. It doesn’t matter. It deeply doesn’t matter.
I’m staring at the ten perfect little numbers when the door handle rattles and Lewis pushes his way in. He’s holding a Dunkin’ Donuts bag and a tray with two coffees. In no way does he look like he spent the night hunched over the toilet. He’s showered and freshly shaven, his eyes clear.
Oddly, it reminds me how wrecked I feel. Under the elation of finding Juniper’s phone number, I’m severely tired. It’s only been two full days of this trip, one in Boston and yesterday in Providence. But it feels like weeks since I took the bus—the buses—into South Station. Traveling is exhausting.
My stomach growls, like it’s hearing my thoughts. Lewis drops the paper bag in my lap. If he thinks this makes up for having to listen to him puke for hours, he’s . . . on the right track.
He stands over his open suitcase, sipping his coffee. For a second, he studies me, and I wonder if he’s going to say something about last night. About the girl he danced with or how I got his stumbling ass back to the room. About what I said to him.
He doesn’t. I don’t either. Serious conversations aren’t something I know how to have with my brother. Maybe it’s because we’re not close enough, or maybe it’s because Lewis isn’t capable of being serious about anything. Probably both.
“So,” he says, watching me with keen interest despite his utterly relaxed posture, “are we heading home?”
I glance at the dictionary. At Juniper’s phone number. Impossible to say.
She wasn’t just repeating my words. She knew she’d left her number and was hinting there’d be a way to ensure we saw each other again.
But I won’t see her if I go home now.
I return my gaze to Lewis. “No,” I say, a grin slipping across my face.
Text copyright © 2020 by Austin Siegemund-Broka and Emily Wibberley
Looking for more amazing reads? Check out this excerpt of THE JEWEL THIEF!