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Authors: Nicole Trilivas

Girls Who Travel

BOOK: Girls Who Travel
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An imprint of Penguin Random House LLC

375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014

Copyright © 2015 by Nicole Trilivas.

Penguin supports copyright. Copyright fuels creativity, encourages diverse voices, promotes free speech, and creates a vibrant culture. Thank you for buying an authorized edition of this book and for complying with copyright laws by not reproducing, scanning, or distributing any part of it in any form without permission. You are supporting writers and allowing Penguin to continue to publish books for every reader.

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eBook ISBN: 978-0-698-19665-0

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Trilivas, Nicole.

Girls who travel / Nicole Trilivas. — Berkley trade paperback edition.

p. cm.

ISBN 978-0-425-28144-4 (paperback)

1. Young women—Fiction. 2. Self-realization in women—Fiction. 3. Americans—England—Fiction. 4. Travel—Fiction. I. Title.

PS3620.R55G57 2015

813'.6—dc23

2015030415

PUBLISHING HISTORY

Berkley trade paperback edition / December 2015

Cover photos: “Woman on Dock” © PlainPicture / Cultura.

Cover design by Sarah Oberrender.

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental. The publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for author or third-party websites or their content.

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One of my favorite childhood memories is of my dad taking me to the bookstore after dinner at the long-closed Sun Luck restaurant in Queens and letting me buy any book my heart desired. My father passed away before he could see this book published. This book is dedicated to his memory.

acknowledgments

First and foremost, I must acknowledge the two people who listened to me bitch about my writing struggles the most: Thank you, Jonathan Brierley. Words fall short of my gratitude for everything you do for me. You are my champion, my rock, and my hands-down favorite. You're also really, really funny and wonderful. Second, Georgia Stephens: Thank you for all those walks in Holland Park. Your support has never wavered—not for a second.

Next up, I must thank my lovely agent, Carrie Pestritto, for believing in me and taking a chance. It's been so great to do this together.

Thank you to the venerable Jackie Cantor; you answered my prayers! Thank you for
making
my dreams come true and for
being
an absolute dream to work with. My thanks also goes out to the whole Berkley team including Amanda Ng—thank you for being so wonderful to work with, and I hope to continue doing so for many more books.

Thank you to my mom, Maria, for taking me to the library and letting me take out as many books as I wanted (and then for taking me to Nino's for pizza after). And thanks to the rest of my family—Charlie, Sherry, and Jeremy—for the love. Oh, right, and a special shout-out to my sister Renee, who—in addition to being the original Mina—is just generally awesome and constantly helpful in terms of my writing and my life.

Thank you to the readers of my earlier work including: Ann Ehrhart; Amy-Lee Simon; Bayta Gideon; Carly Vasan; and Lauren Raggio;—you are all some of my favorite girls who travel, and we better keep running around the globe together, getting tipsy on local booze, and making to-die-for memories and questionable choices.

I would like to thank Wattpad, without which I may not even be here today, writing these acknowledgments in my pajamas (especially not without Marian Keyes and the Marian Keyes Short Story Contest). Thanks to Wattpad's Caitlin O'Hanlon for the backing, and tons of love to the Wattpad community—I've been absolutely floored by how loyal and caring Wattpad readers are, including Analise Anderson, an amazing stranger who generously helped me with early edits.

Thanks to Rick Del Mastro, who was always the best boss and who was the first one to give me space and time to write. Let's live our dreams, right, Rick?

Thanks go out to my Manhasset English teachers, Mary Jane Peterson in particular, for the encouragement and sturdy foundation.

Thank you to my unofficial family, the Island, for all the love. Let's keep jumping international flights like buses. And I will always looove yooou.

And lastly, thanks, Daddy. I hope you're proud.

1

T
EN
THOUSAND
MIL
ES
away, my mom was probably wondering why I hadn't called her. But when you're living inside a tropical screen saver and having knee-weakening sex with a professional Irish rogue, you tend to neglect mundane tasks.

Today. I will call her today.

I knew she was going to ask if I found out Lochlon's secret yet, and I had no update for her. Somehow, not knowing was bothering her more than it was bothering me.

“I don't get it, Kika,” she protested during our last phone call. “You've been gallivanting around South India with some guy who admitted that he's hiding his past, and you still haven't gotten any details?”

But after a year of travel through countries that had obligatory coffee breaks and nap times, I had been slow-cooked into a state of tender, fall-off-the-bone relaxation.

“He'll tell me when he's ready,” I downplayed to my mom and to myself. Still, she wasn't buying it and was clamoring for more frequent updates from me.

I will definitely call her tomorrow
, I decided as I got out of bed. I pushed the mosquito net aside, writhed into my clammy bikini, and left the beach hut. Feeling the sand against my soles brought up flashes of last night, when Lochlon convinced me that a midnight “swim” was in order.

“Get in the water, gorgeous.” He didn't know that no one in real life spoke like the heroes of paperback romances, and I sure as hell wasn't going to be the one to correct him.

“And leave these”—he hooked his finger into the band of my bikini bottoms, snapping them against my skin—“safe on dry land.”

I could do little else but nod dumbly. I vaguely worried that my inability to say no to him might present a problem for me one day.

Oh, but that day was not today.

I found Lochlon scribbling away in his leather-bound notebook in a patch of shade. He had dreams of becoming a writer, and I thought of him as my Irish Hemingway: all sun-shy skin and minimalist, declarative prose.

Before he noticed me, I found myself peeking over his shoulder at his notebook, proving that maybe I was slightly more curious than I let on. But he detected my presence and turned. Without speaking, he knitted his fingers into the fringe of my sarong and lowered me to my knees into the sand beside him.

“Mornin',” he hummed in his throaty Northern Irish brogue.

I put my face close to his, and he deftly slipped his hand
into the pocket of my sarong and onto my stomach. He slowly moved his hand up, up, up until his sandy palm cupped my—

“Ma'am!”

My face scrunched to a scowl.
Why is Lochlon calling me “ma'am”? What a horribly unsexy pet name.

I rattled my head to dissolve the soft-focus soap opera scene from my memory and lifted my eyes to regard the strict eyebrows of a Long Island Rail Road conductor.

“Eek!” I squeaked like a chew toy. My face flared with heat, burning away my daze.

“Ma'am, I need to see your ticket,” he repeated with a look that said,
Pull your shit together, lady.

I rifled through my fatally boring winter coat and most-adult-looking handbag.

“I didn't realize you were talking to me,” I chatted to buy time, “because I'm not used to being called ‘ma'am.'”

I shot him a squinty-eyed smile in an effort to wring out some human emotion, but he gave me nothing.

“Aha! Here, good sir, is my ticket to ride.”

He punched it without ceremony and moved on to the next train car.

“Next and final stop is Penn Station,” announced the train's speaker in a grainy belch.

I sealed my eyelids and willed time backward to that sugary beach day.
What happened next?
I interrogated myself.
Was that the day Lochlon revealed his mysterious history?
But the pressure to remember all the details in the correct order made the specifics shifty. It was like the tighter I squeezed, the more slippery my memories became, like a beach ball in water.

No matter—there was no more time for reminiscing, anyway.
I buttoned my winter coat in preparation to join New York City's rush hour crush. Somehow, when I wasn't paying attention, I had become just another pleb carrying my chain-store coffee to a soul-destroying office.

My life was not supposed to be like this.

BOOK: Girls Who Travel
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