"Petal to the Metal"
A motorbike-riding heartthrob comes to the rescue of a florist in distress in this sweet and sunny love story by Courtney Kae, author of IN THE EVENT OF LOVE.
POV: Your ex-boyfriend calls off your wedding at your dream venue. You (understandably) fall apart, and then, months later, you open your dream business. A flower shop called FU Florals in sunny Los Angeles. It’s the morning of your first wedding gig, already a tense enough moment, and your van won’t start. Luckily for new florist Fern Underwood, help is on the way in the form of non-binary motorbike-riding hottie, Riley Hopper.
This charming short story from Courtney Kae, author of the just-released In the Event of Love, invites you to wrap your arms around Riley’s torso and ride all the way up the coast to Ojai, for a wedding that neither Fern or Riley will ever forget. At Heartbeat, Fridays are for happily-ever-afters.
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“Petal to the Metal”
“Damn you, motherfucking piece of shit!” I slap my useless steering wheel and glare out the windshield.
Please, holy Chris Evans. This is not happening.
The spring morning mocks me, wafting jasmine and freshly-baked bread through the oak-shaded courtyard. In the back of my delivery van, my flowers are vibrant, but it’s June in Los Angeles and without working A.C., the beautiful wedding arrangements I crafted with care will face certain death.
I cannot handle one more thing to worry about. Not today.
The engine groans as I push the key into the ignition, trying again and again to start the van. After getting as much action out of my efforts as I do from my sex life, I lumber out and lift the hood. Staring at my van's uncooperative guts, I try to swallow the lump in my throat.
Heading to this wedding venue is already hard enough. It should have been my wedding venue. It was supposed to be until a year ago when Devon said, “Babe, you’re so gorgeous. Don’t cry and ruin your make-up. You did everything right. I’m a jerk. That’s all this is.”
After our break-up, my first attempt at dating brought me to the Bumble app, which led me to find Devon’s profile—which had been active for a whole two months before he dumped me.
When our apartment sold above asking (thanks, L.A.,) I pawned my engagement ring, and leased my dream hole-in-the-wall flower shop, complete with pint-sized but perfect living quarters upstairs. A space that’s all mine. I called it FU Florals. The name stands for my initials (Fern Underwood) and an homage to my ex-fiancé. Like me, my customers seek plant-based vengeance and self-love. They snatch up philodendrons tagged with “leaf him already”, cacti called “you’re a prick”, and succulents labeled “you succ the big one”.
Today has to go well. I have to give Devon that final FU. Facing down our old wedding venue is my final step in moving on. Plus, rent is high and now there’s this van…
“Sounds like you need some help?” a voice calls.
Understatement of the century. I peek around the hood.
Riley Hopper strides into the courtyard our two businesses share, black tank top showcasing toned arms. Their bangs brush across dark eyes, sparkling in the sun. Riley owns Hopper’s, the brewery next door to my flower shop. After Devon dumped me, I spent long nights there, pouring out my heart to sympathetic bartender Riley. That was how I found the space for FU Florals; Riley was the one who encouraged me to take on the lease: You can do whatever you love, Fern, they’d said. And you love flowers. And they’re lucky to have you. On hard days, those words keep me going.
I’ve been so busy getting my business up and running, I barely have time to say hi anymore. Not from lack of interest.
“Can I give you a jump?” Riley holds up a loop of cables, biceps flexing.
You can jump me. Heat flares my cheeks. “Please.” I nod, swiping sweat from my upper lip. “I need to get to Ojai. I have a really important job up there.” I can’t even say wedding out loud.
Riley swoops in with the confidence of one who knows exactly how internal auto organs work. In seconds, they have the cables locked wherever they need to be, and connected to their beautiful, rust orange motorcycle.
Riley straddles the seat and revs their engine to life. “Try it now?” they holler above the noise.
I crank the ignition. Delivery Van says no. This repeats no less than ten times.
Riley’s engine cuts. “Fern? You need a mechanic.”
“There’s no time. I have to be in Ojai in two hours.” Panic floods my chest, gut, limbs. I’ll lose this money and future business, and that could snowball into me losing my business—my home. This place that healed me, made me feel like me again. Tears sting my eyes.
“Whoa, hey. It’s okay.” Riley’s hand is on mine, reaching through the open window. “Deep breaths.” Their thumb brushes my wrist at the hem of my yellow cardigan.
My shaking stills at their touch, cool and comforting. I’m here. Now. Breathing air in through my nose, out. Ivy on brick walls. Jasmine, bread, something musky—Riley? Riley’s hand. On mine.
They clear their throat, rubbing their undercut as they pull away. I grip the steering wheel against the impulse to reach for Riley’s hand, place it back on my arm.
“I’ll give you a ride,” they say. “If you’d like?” They tuck their bangs behind their ear, studying the door handle. Pink rises high on their suntanned cheeks.
I clear my throat, my thoughts. “On your Harley? Thank you, but the flowers won’t fit. And the brewery?”
Riley smirks. “On my Triumph. I just found out we’re overstaffed today, and I have a covered trailer for the flowers. You’re still gonna do great,” they throw up some finger guns and spring into action, gathering up the cables.
I flinch at their compliment, because what I hear is: You’re so gorgeous. You did everything right. Words that come before a fall.
Riley rounds the corner and disappears.
Glimpsing my frazzled reflection in the van’s rearview, I take a moment to smooth my long red hair and run a fingertip beneath my eyes to blend the pale concealer.
With one last belly breath, I round the back of the van and grab the first bucket of flowers. Water sloshes onto my jeans and Doc Martens as I haul the goods from this carcass of a vehicle.
Thud. Riley stands from placing a bucket of bouquets into a white cargo trailer, already hitched to the bike. I bring a pail over as they grab another.
“You don’t have to do this.” I bite my lip to keep from adding what I really want to say: I’m glad we get time together because during those late nights at the brewery, you were the one who inspired me to follow my dream. And you’re, like, really hot.
“I know I don’t have to help.” They grab another bucket. “We’re business neighbors now. I want to.”
My stomach sinks. “Right. Business.” I close and lock the trailer, the last of my arrangements tucked in tighter than this emotional grip on my throat. I must have misread their blushing.
“Plus, it’s a gorgeous day for a ride,” Riley says, flinging a long leg across their motorcycle seat. They settle in and don a helmet, then hand one to me. I wince. My hair is gonna be atrocious.
Riley starts the bike. Their backside is silhouetted in black jeans with a rip at the knee, tan skin peeking through. They glance back over their shoulder. “Hop on.”
A two-hour drive with Riley Hopper between my thighs?
I launch onto the seat and wrap my arms around Riley’s center. Their core clenches at my touch and a thrill shoots through me.
Helmet hair be damned.
L.A. blurs by in vivid color. The farther north we go, the kinder the traffic becomes. Sprawling orchards greet us with citrus perfume.
There’s a moment, while passing through Ventura, when the blue of the sky melds with the sea. Everything is an infinite dream space, and for a short time, I don’t dwell on where we’re headed. The present is perfect. With Riley.
We wind up the mountain road into Ojai. Stray hikers throw up peace signs. An outdoor market overflows with patrons.
Riley’s back goes taut as they lean into a curve, firmly pressing back between my legs.
The coughing fit I endured a half hour ago from swallowing an entire bug?
“Left here!” I yell, voice still raspy from the bug.
The engine lowers to a hum as we turn onto a dirt road marked with a white sign emblazoned with: Romance Ranch.
“Have you been here before?” Riley asks over their shoulder, profile aglow in the high noon sun.
“Not really.” I haven’t been here as a vendor. This was the venue I fell in love with when Devon and I toured wedding locales. I should have been suspicious when he never wanted to commit to a date, when he kept saying, “You’re so good at this, Fern. You have a great eye for detail. No need to rush.” Another compliment preluding a gut punch.
The familiar drive transforms from a nondescript trail of dust to a smoothly paved road walled by weeping willows, magenta begonias gracing their trunks like gems. Birdsong trills above the motor as we round the final bend.
A filigreed iron gate ushers us onto the grounds. Passing by vendors busy with preparations, we pull up to the back of what can only be described as a mansion on Miracle Grow.
Privately owned by a family who probably never has to worry about broken down delivery vans, Romance Ranch consists of rolling green hills, endless rows of grape vines, meandering gardens, and courtyards that could accommodate parties of hundreds. The house is as intricately crafted as it is immense. Pink climbing roses kiss every roof gable. Sunlight glints off stained-glass mosaics. Sheer linen curtains wave from all fifteen balconies.
“Is this place for real?” Riley asks, dismounting the bike and removing their helmet along with me.
That’s what I asked when I first saw it, too. I rub at my chest. A futile attempt to soothe a blossoming ache. “Let’s get to work.” Better to leap into action than think of painful memories. Or stare at the sweat glistening along Riley’s collarbones as they hang our helmets on the handlebars.
I yank at the trailer lid. It’s sealed shut, so I pull at the handle, using all my weight. In a flash, the lid flies open, and I fly back. The ground is…soft?
“Shit. Fern, are you okay?” Riley’s hand is beneath my head, gripping my hair, which explains the cushioned landing. Their eyes are locked on mine. My heart might burst through my throat.
“Ungh.” I grunt, nodding.
Riley clutches my shoulders and scans my face with an intensity that does nothing to quell the heart-in-throat situation. “I’m so sorry. That lid can stick. How many fingers am I holding up?”
There are three fingers, but more importantly, there is Riley’s mouth. Right. Above. Mine.
They lick their bottom lip.
I meet their eyes. “Three,” I rasp.
Riley’s gaze is so deep I could swim in it.
“Huh?” Their voice is soft, distant. “Oh. Right. Yes. Good.”
They don’t budge.
It would take one move to pull them in, seal the space between our mouths.
A high voice trills, “Thank god you’re here!”
I scramble up to find the bride I’ve Zoomed with ten times since she hired me. Her black hair is piled high in an elaborate updo, and her brown skin has that pre-wedding glow.
“Melanie? Hi!” I say, smoothing out my cardigan.
She throws her arms around my neck. “I was so worried you got lost!”
As she pulls back, I eye Riley, somehow a full five feet away from me in a matter of seconds.
Of course that longing gaze was all in my head. Just like my own wedding was, too. “I’m so sorry I’m a little late,” I say, refocusing on Melanie. “Car troubles, but we’re here now.” I wince at my automatic choice of the word we. Like Riley will be staying. I wish they would. It’s nice to not have to face this place alone.
“I’m happy to help if you need me,” Riley offers, stepping up beside me.
I try not to notice how my body drifts toward theirs, how my jaw unclenches at their offer.
“You aren’t the only ones who had car troubles.” Melanie’s chin puckers. Her bottom lip wobbles. “The bartender! Can’t! Make it!”
I stare at Riley, wide-eyed. How am I supposed to handle this? I deal with flowers. Not feelings.
Riley places a hand on Melanie’s arm. “Hey,” they soothe. “I can help with that. It’s what I do. Bartend.”
“They’re the best,” I add. “Their brewery is packed every weekend.”
Something passes over Riley’s features that I can’t quite place. They angle their head, studying me like a marvel.
“Thank you!” Melanie shrieks, gripping Riley in a vice-hug.
Riley stumbles back, laughing. “No problem. Just pay me whatever you agreed for the other person?”
The bride looks between us with stars in her eyes. “You make the cutest couple. True power team.”
My eyes fling wide.
Melanie bounds inside, and I turn toward the cart at warp speed.
We haul the buckets of flowers to a shaded courtyard in a not-at-all-awkward silence.
I place arrangements on each bar-height table to add a splash of color for the cocktail hour. Then, I string well-watered blooms along sections of the patio cover to make an airy garland, like Melanie wanted. Watching the bride’s dream come to life fills some hole in me. Like I’m reclaiming this space, a part of me that can hope again.
“You glow when you work with flowers like that.” Riley digs their hands into their pockets.
I smile. “Thank you.” That’s it. Just thank you. Wow, this is growth.
“So, uh. . .” They run a hand over their undercut.
My breath hitches. Do they want to talk about Melanie’s couple-bomb comment? Could there be something between us that isn’t one-sided?
“The bar situation?”
“Oh, right,” I stammer, cheeks heating. “Should be in there.” I point toward a set of massive French doors that lead to a pool house. “Thank you for stepping in.”
“It could be really great for the brewery to branch out like this. Power team,” they say, holding out a fist.
Despite my disappointment about clearly being in the friendzone, I return Riley’s fistbump. Currents jolt up my arm.
A power team of extra-high voltage.
Melanie and her bride are a sight to behold. After a ceremony for the ages, the crowd mills beneath a canopy of string lights, swaying to the sounds of a violin quartet. Against a lavender dusk, candles glow in glass teardrops among the willow branches, glittering off crystal garlands.
Melanie’s cousin was kind enough to lend me a silky little black number. My boobs don’t fill it out, but my hips do, and my Doc Martens don’t look half bad, even if most guests are in stilettos.
I haven’t seen Riley yet, but there’s a huge line winding to the pool house bar so I might not see them all night. Not getting to spend time with Riley on a night as magical as this…I rub my chest.
“Hey stranger.” A husky voice sounds from over my shoulder.
I whirl to find Riley with a drink in each hand. The low lights sparkle in their eyes, and they’ve somehow acquired a well-fitted button-down and slacks. Very well-fitted. Don’t stare, Fern. Say something. “I, um, yes.” Smooth. I take the drink they offer, grateful to occupy my useless mouth. It smells like roses. I sip and my eyes flutter involuntarily. Tastes like a spring morning. “This is incredible.”
Riley’s gaze goes soft. “I took what they had and doctored it up. I thought you’d like it.”
I nod. Sip again. The warmth in my chest is from the drink. Not because Riley thought of me. Fistbump. Friendzone. Right. “Are you on a break?”
“Actually, the original bartender just showed up, so I’m free for the rest of the night.”
My traitorous heart leaps, but I don’t want to assume that they want to stay. “My job is done here, if you want to get going?” Even as I ask the question, I regret missing what some time here…with Riley…could lead to.
“Ah. I have a proposal for you, actually.” They stare down at their glass.
“Appropriate setting for proposals.” I blush as the words pass my lips.
Riley rubs the back of their neck. “Melanie was so grateful for our help that she offered for both of us to stay overnight.”
I try to school my features, erase any shock. “They must have a lot of extra rooms in the house.”
Riley pulls at the collar of their shirt. “Not exactly. Each room is full.”
“Where would we be staying?” I ask, giving my drink a swirl.
Riley points beyond the reach of party lights, toward the dark green hills.
At the top of a vineyard, there’s an Airstream camper, two windows aglow with buttery light.
It looks charming. And small. I can’t help but smile. “Riley Hopper, are you telling me there is only one camper?”
Riley snorts. “I understand if you don’t want to. I’m happy to take us home now if you prefer.”
Coming from Riley, the words take us home do something warm and gooey to my knees. My stomach. My heart.
Even when I lived with Devon, I was never at home. His gaming accessories were everywhere. His voice was too loud. His presence filled our apartment, leaving me clawing for room to breathe.
But here, now, Riley gives me space and options, just like they listened to me ramble about my roughly-sketched flower shop dreams, all those months ago.
There’s no question in my mind. “I want to stay in the Airstream,” I say. “With you.”
“Yeah?” Riley asks, voice soft.
I nod, sharp and decisive.
“Fern, you look really good and I…” They reach over. But just as they’re about to skim my cheek with their hand, they stop. Redden. Back up a step. “Uh, can I get you a new drink?”
Why do they do that? Say something so nice then pull away?
I nod and hand over my glass. “Sure, thanks.”
Does Riley really think I look good, or are they just being nice? Are they trying to let me down gently? Does that include staying the night here? They brought it up, but I never asked if they wanted to stay. Maybe they don’t. Maybe–
Riley is not Devon.
And maybe tonight I can get past Riley’s walls and out of the friendzone…in a very small camper.
After a couple hours of tapas and sipping drinks while dwelling on nothing but The Airstream, here we are. The stars are brighter beyond the lights. A cool breeze soothes me and sways the grass around the soft blanket we sit upon. A heart-patterned fleece throw that Riley grabbed from a basket next to the camper’s steps, neither of us fully ready to plunge inside yet.
Riley sits cross-legged. A stray swath of hair brushes their brow. I want to reach over…
“This place is really gorgeous, huh?” Riley says, staring out at the hills.
I follow their gaze. The landscape looks like a painting. Endless hunter green to navy blue, silver splatters in the sky. Such a gorgeous piece of earth. “I’ve loved this place for a long time.”
Riley eyes me. “I thought you said you’d never been here before?”
I flinch. Dammit. My throat tightens. It’s gonna hurt in every way to talk about this, but it’ll hurt more not to. It’ll keep hurting. “No, this isn’t my first time here.”
When I meet their eyes, there’s a soft intensity there that makes me feel important, seen, safe.
“Remember how I was engaged?”
“We toured this ranch as a possible wedding venue. I fell in love with it, but my ex kept pushing the date off. Then, he dumped me. After dating other people, apparently. A little backwards there.” I jab my thumb into a fleece heart. “He told me nice things the entire time he planned to leave.”
“I’m so sorry.” They say it without an ounce of pity.
“It’s okay.” I can’t look up.
“No. He didn’t deserve you.”
I clench my eyes shut. Open. “Thank you for saying that.” They’re right. Devon didn’t deserve me. I smile.
Riley is quiet for a long moment, looping a blade of grass around their finger. “I lied, too.”
My head snaps up. “About what?”
“About how you look.” Riley’s gaze locks on mine and every muscle winds tightly in response. “You don’t just look good, Fern. You look fucking stunning. You always do.” They run their hand over their hair and it stands up at odd angles, looking adorable, and like a thing I’d very much like to play with, trail my fingers through. “And it’s not just that.”
They lean forward and their gaze bores into mine. “You, Fern Underwood, are a force.”
I can’t help but snort. “You are very kind, but I’m just a girl with a dead delivery van trying to conquer pain from my past.”
“Right. A force.” Riley inches closer. “And watching you set up the arrangements tonight…” Riley’s head tilts to the side. “You have an energy that lights up everything around you.”
I smile even as my cheeks burn. Being with Riley feels so good. But then, when they sprang away after catching my fall, when they fist-bumped me instead of discussing Melanie’s couple comment, when they started to reach for me then grabbed my drink. I take a deep breath. “Riley, I feel like we’ll have moments like this,” I gesture between us, “but then you pull away. Am I reading things wrong?”
“That’s fair.” Riley rubs the back of their neck. “That’s my fault. Not yours.” They place their hand beside mine. There’s one tiny pink heart between our fingers. “I’m sorry.”
I stare at that heart. “Why do you do that?”
They huff out a sad laugh. “I…get a lot wrong.”
There’s something deeply sad in their eyes that keeps me quiet. I want to listen to Riley like they would listen to me during all those post-Devon nights in the bar. They need space to get this out. I want to give it to them.
They clear their throat. “I went to Berklee on a scholarship for finance. I was good at math in high school, so it was the natural course. Dad does finance, Mom does finance, I was supposed to do finance.” They look down, lashes fanning across their cheeks. “And I did it for a while. But when I turned twenty-one, I got really into making home brews. I loved the way a good drink brought people together or celebrated a special occasion. I loved how it made people smile. I loved all that like I never loved numbers.”
“That’s a great thing to love.” And you love flowers. And they’re lucky to have you. They meant those words. Like I mean mine now.
Riley smiles. “My parents didn’t think so. When I told them I wanted to take my inheritance from my grandmother and open a brewery, they said it was a terrible idea. That statistically my business was doomed to fail, that I should know better and was being reckless with my grandmother’s legacy.” They let out a heavy sigh. “But I knew I loved it, so I went for it.” Their lips twist. “They haven’t spoken to me much since. They didn’t come to the grand opening of the brewery. It feels like they’re waiting for me to fail at this thing I created, like I’m not capable of making smart decisions or building something good.”
“Riley. I’m really sorry. You don’t deserve that.”
They look up. “Then there was you, in my bar, talking about how much you love flowers and the joy they bring others, and for the first time in a long time, you made me feel proud of following my passion, even if people—important people—don’t get it.”
My voice is soft when I say, “You were the first person to encourage me to follow my dream. If I ever talked about doing something like opening a business, Devon would say it was a cute idea, but that I should go back to college. He’d always give me compliments that weren’t real.”
Riley places their hand on mine, sheltering that pink heart beneath our palms. Warmth runs up my arm.
They nod in understanding. “My confidence was so shaken after how my family treated me, Fern. I worried that I was only ever going to fail, even at telling you how I feel. You are so wonderful and I didn’t want to mess up.” They shake their head. “I’m sorry. That’s so dumb now that I hear it out loud. I should have told you.”
My hand is hot beneath Riley’s. “How…do you feel?”
They meet my gaze, hold me in their deep brown eyes. “I like you. A lot. Your wit and charm and passion and big caring heart that wants to make people smile. Dresses paired with combat boots. The way the sun sets your red hair on fire. I want to know your secrets and bring you coffee every morning. I want you to know that you deserve every good thing.” They gently take a lock of my hair between their fingers. “And I’d really like to kiss you.”
I take a shuddering breath. Reach up. Run my thumb along their jaw. There’s so much I want to say back, but my brain is drunk on their words. “I like your mouth.”
Riley laughs. The sound bounces off the trailer and shoots right into my heart.
“So I’ll take that as a yes?” they ask, voice husky.
I lean into all of Riley’s warmth and grip the collar of their shirt. “That’s a hell yes.”
Then Riley’s gorgeous lips are on mine, hands in my hair, breath caressing my face.
I can’t help but moan, sink into their mouth. It’s so sweet in here. It’s so good. I gasp. Clutch Riley’s shirt. “I need to climb you like a goddamn tree.” I don’t even flinch at my boldness. Riley makes me feel safe.
Their eyes widen. Then a wicked smile curls those lips as they lean in and wrap their arms around my waist. “I’m more than happy to give you a boost.”
That’s it. I’m in their lap. I’m feral. I’m free. We’re everywhere at once with tongues, teeth, nails. Yes.
“Want to go inside?” I ask, breathless against their neck.
Riley takes me in with this look that’s equally tender and fierce and the blanket might catch fire.
They nod and stand, holding out their hand.
I entwine my fingers with theirs and try not to pull them into a running sprint. We scale the metal camper steps.
Inside, the lights are off, but moonlight lands on a big-enough bed. I perch on the edge of the mattress, more than ready. Riley leans against the counter, smiling back at me. “I’d like to do something,” they say, “and I’d really like for you to do something for me.”
I huff out a laugh. “Forward much, Hopper?”
Riley smirks. “Says the woman who just called me a tree.”
Riley’s cheeks flush as they walk closer. “I’d like to give you compliments.”
I scrunch my face. “Okay?”
“And I’d like you to accept them.”
I take in a tight breath. “Okay.”
“Good. That’s all I ask.” Riley’s fingers brush my shoulder in a feather-light touch that makes each nerve sing. “You have the softest skin.”
Riley smirks. “No deflecting.”
I sigh. “I use a lavender lotion.”
Riley leans in, breath warm on my neck. “You smell great.”
“It’s just lavender.”
“And something uniquely you. Flowers. Sunshine.” Their hands trail up my back and I arch into their touch.
“You smell like musky gasoline,” I rasp. “And I like it.”
They pull back, holding my face. Rough calluses scratch my jaw and I lean into their palm. “I like you,” they say.
I can only nod. “Me, too,” I whisper.
There’s so much Riley. Above me, around me, hands beneath my back. Still not enough.
I push my body farther up the bed, bringing them with me. Watching Riley crawl across the mattress in the moonlight? I’ll never forget this. There are these gorgeous auburn highlights in their hair. “I think you’re smart as fuck,” I say.
Riley’s brows crease.
“What?” I tease. “You’re the only one who gets to throw around compliments like confetti?”
They laugh. “Fine.”
“And you’re hot as fuck.” I trail a fingertip along the nape of their neck and relish how my touch raises goosebumps along their skin. “And you’re kind as fuck.” I twist to the side so Riley does too, then I climb on top of their lap, straddling them like their motorcycle.
Riley’s pupils blow so wide their irises are as dark as the night sky. “You like to say fuck a lot.” Their voice is a rough scratch and my nipples peak at the sound.
“That’s because I’d like to fuck you. A lot.”
“Damn, Fern. Jesus Christ.” Riley clutches my ass and drags my center up along their pelvis.
I moan. “Are we praying? What’s happening?”
“What’s happening is I’m going to take you to fucking church.”
I laugh as Riley takes my ring finger and sucks it into their mouth. Then I’m not laughing. At all. Their tongue. It’s doing. Things. I lower the straps of my dress and guide their lips to my breasts, running my nails along the rough buzz of their undercut. “God, yes. Holy shit.”
Riley smiles against my skin. “I’ll take that as another compliment.”
We roll into the hot pink comforter and it’s a good thing this trailer’s on blocks.
“You are perfect, you know.” Riley traces a hand through the air. “All of you.”
I kiss Riley and it’s sweeter than anything. Sincere and steady and solid and here.
I deserve this good thing. I finally believe that. And I’m never gonna stop.
Next week on Heartbeat, get ready for a short story from Kayla Hill.
Follow Heartbeat on Instagram at @storiesbyheartbeat for upcoming behind-the-scenes sneak peeks at Kayla’s story.
Three quick things from Georgia:
My dear friend Amy Shack Egan, founder of the wedding planning company Modern Rebel, recently gifted my wife and I a sample pack of gelato from Nancys Fancy and oh. my. god. I have not known happiness until this moment. The Italian custard. The Amareno cherry. A perfect gift.
Rom-com fans might enjoy the new film Look Both Ways, starring an actress I adore, Lili Reinhart. It’s an entertaining and measured parallel lives tale of an ambitious college student who gets pregnant, or doesn’t. The message is there is no one best path: happiness is possible no matter what life throws at you.
Five stars to Sea of Tranquility, by prodigious Brooklyn writer, Emily St Mandel. The smart series of nested stories spans centuries and is connected by time travel. Gave me Cloud Atlas vibes (one of my all-time faves). Absorbing, prescient, personal, and fascinating. What’s your current read? Comment below.