featured author: Jessica Kate
Mackenzie McIntyre was one flute blast away from committing assault on national television.
She eyed the camera mounted on her RV’s dashboard, then the Australian man-child occupying the passenger seat. Well, this wasn’t live television. And the ‘national’ audience was Aussie, not American.
But this trip was almost over—one more segment, and season one of Tommy and Macca Wing It would be done. Tomorrow, she’d return to Boston and let her brother rejoin Tommy Shaw as one-half of their comedy duo. She’d only suffered through this month-long Australian-road-trip-slash-film-shoot because of a drunk driver, Jackson’s shattered hip, and the fact that Mackenzie’s type-A personality contrasted with Tom’s antics even better than Jackson’s.
Flute to his lips, Tommy inhaled and she braced for the onslaught—then had an idea. As Tommy unleashed his ear-splitting note, she checked her mirrors. Winked at the camera.
And slammed on the brakes.
Tom flailed as his seatbelt snapped tight, and he lost his grip on the pitiful flute he’d spent fifty dollars of their food budget on. He was righting himself as she grabbed the flute from the floor and tossed it out her half-open window.
Mac watched Tom in her peripheral vision as she accelerated toward their destination—the parking lot where this trip began. He didn’t protest, just smiled and slowly pulled a kazoo from his shirt pocket.
“No!” She lunged for it.
He gripped it between his teeth and flattened himself against the door. “Keep—” His kazoo muffled his word. She swiped for it, and he jerked his head back, whacking it on the window. “—your hands—” She punched his abdomen, and he spat out the instrument. Seizing her hand, he pinned it to the steering wheel. “—to yourself.” Leaning close to wrap his fingers around hers, his grin turned devilish. “I know it’s a challenge.”
She rolled her eyes. He smirked, then leaned forward to admire the emerging stars. Hard to believe that before he and Jackson took up comedy, this goofball studied astrophysics.
The remaining fifty miles passed as usual—him sharing mind-blowing astronomical facts from the perspective of a hyperactive thirteen-year-old. Mac planned to scour their raw footage when she got home and use it for her seventh-grade science class.
An unexpected pang hit her as she pictured sitting in her apartment, watching him on her laptop, knowing she’d never stargaze with him again. For all his annoying attributes, Tommy made life fun. She’d long questioned—even resented—Jackson’s decision to throw away his education and spend seven years failing at comedy with this crazy Australian—before their radio show took off and they landed a Netflix deal. But after spending a month diving with sharks wearing chum bucket costumes, taste-testing Australia’s hottest chili sauce, and doing whatever other ridiculous activities popped into Tom’s brain, she realized—he was a loyal partner. A clever businessman, despite his childish exterior. And hilarious.
She had one gag left before they tossed the keys to cameraman/director/producer Gerry, climbed into their cars and symbolically drove off—forever—in opposite directions.
She had to kiss him.
It would work better as a surprise. Authentic reaction and all. A funny conclusion to the show after their on-screen bickering. She’d said yes to Gerry’s no-pressure suggestion with little hesitation.
But as she pulled the RV into the parking lot, oh-so-aware of Tom’s citrus and spice scent, every muscle pulled taut. Nerves? Or was there an equally charged vibe from his direction?
She pulled the keys free and exited quickly. She had to do this outside, where Gerry had a higher quality camera.
Tommy followed her to a spot before their cars, parked trunk-to-trunk, with Gerry several feet away.
“So, Macca.” He dropped to one knee, trademark grin in place and closed palms upturned. “Before we never see each other again, will you accept this souvenir and admit that Winging It is infinity times better than Planning It, cross your heart and hope to die?” He opened his fingers, and she gasped. A tiny kangaroo—carved in opal from one of her favorite destinations, Coober Pedy.
She bit her lip and reached past his hands to grasp his collar. Held her breath for a single beat.
And kissed him.
Knees bent to match his kneeling height, she pressed her lips against his, one hand on his collar and the other at his jaw. His five o’clock shadow scratched her skin, and his lips smiled beneath hers. Uh-oh. She’d seen that smile a thousand times—the one he unleashed before turning the tables.
Suddenly he was at full height, hands sliding around her waist, then up her back. Instead of pulling away as planned, she took a leaf from Tommy’s book and winged it. She stretched on tip-toe to follow him, cupped her hands around his neck and smiled against his lips. He mumbled something about concentrating on what she was doing as his fingers slipped to the back of her head and he kissed her properly. Her world shrank to nothing but him, her, and the stars above.
He suddenly pulled back, out of reach. “Yes?”
She dragged her eyes open and blinked. “Yes, what?”
The glint returned to his eye, like he knew he’d made her forget everything save the last twenty seconds. He reached into his jeans pocket and produced the kangaroo.
She took it, ran a thumb over its smooth surface, then met his gaze. “Nope.”
His brow creased. “No?”
“No, Winging It is not better than Planning It.” That kiss had not been one or the other—but a delicious combination. “No, I won’t accept your gift—yet.” She extracted herself from his arms. “And no, I won’t never see you again.” Holding his gaze, she placed a tiny kiss on the kangaroo, then returned it to his palm and wrapped his fingers around it. “I’ll accept it next time.” She stepped back and tossed the RV keys to Gerry. “Tell Netflix—next road trip starts in Boston.”
She packs her novels with love, hate, and everything in between—and then nerds out over her favorite books, movies and TV in the StoryNerds podcast (official podcast of Reading Is My Superpower!) When she’s not writing or discussing fiction, she’s hunting the world for the greatest pasta in existence.
Her debut novel Love and Other Mistakes released July 2019, while A Girl’s Guide to the Outback hit shelves in January 2020.
Enjoy Road Trip? Receive Jess’s short romances The Kiss Dare and The Kiss Thief FREE when you sign up for her newsletter at jessicakatewriting.com
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