I tried not to look skeptical.

One thing I’d learned in life: the phrase “Close your eyes” was usually either followed by something very good (i.e., kissing) or very bad (i.e., murder, pranks, or something gross placed in your hand).

I was really hoping this would fall more on the kissing side of the spectrum. His hands squeezed my shoulders in encouragement, and I let my eyelids fall. The anticipation coated my skin, a thin frost that had me shivering. One hand left my shoulder, and I felt him walk around to stand at my back. His breath touched my neck, and the heat melted the frost. I had to concentrate to keep from falling back into him.

“Don’t open your eyes,” he spoke into my ear.

I couldn’t manage to piece together words myself, so I nodded, and his cheek grazed mine.


That was all the warning I got before he took hold of my shoulders and began to spin me.

“Are you kidding me?”

“Keep your eyes closed!”

He spun me three times, then stilled my body with his hands.

“Point,” he said.




I threw my hand up and he said, “Open your eyes.”

He reached around me and placed his finger on the metro stop closest to where I’d pointed. Malostranská. “That’s where we’re going,” he said.


He picked up our bags and said, “Really.”

“What if it’s a terrible neighborhood? It could be dangerous.”

“I told you I would never let anything bad happen to you.”

“Some things in the world are outside even your control.”

His shoulders tensed, and his gaze darkened. “I know that. Believe me . . . I know.”

A haunted expression stole over his face, filled with ghosts and shadows. It was the kind of look that told me more about him than any words he could ever say. He meant it when he said he would protect me. It was written as plainly across his face as whatever tragedy tore through his memories because of my words.

I couldn’t look at that face and not trust him.

I laced my fingers with his and said, “I’m in.”

When he smiled, it was almost like those ghosts had never been there.

We bought our metro passes, and together figured out which train to take. The metro platform looked like something out of a science fiction novel. Everything I’d seen of Prague before this looked like I’d stepped into the past, but this was the opposite. The walls and ceilings were composed of gold, silver, and green tiles with hundreds of small domes that formed one long tube. A thin, bright line ran the length of the curved ceiling, casting the whole tunnel in an eerie glow.

The train was quiet as it sped into the station, but my hair tossed in the wind it created. The train car we entered was already pretty full, and new riders streamed in front of and behind us. I was still searching for a place to sit or stand or even grab hold when the train started moving. I teetered sideways into my neighbor, then felt Hunt grip my arm and pull me back toward him.

“Grab on, princess.”

I clutched at his waist, and used his body to steady myself.

He spoke into my ear. “I meant grab the overhead bar, but that works, too.”

I said, “I don’t think I can reach it.”

In reality, I didn’t even want to try. I much preferred holding on to him.

The train was so packed that at any given time I was touching at least three people. On the opposite side of Hunt, a tall guy in his midtwenties with shoulder-length hair smiled down at me every time I brushed against him. The train slowed as it came into the next station, and Hunt’s hand gripped my hip to keep me steady. It stayed there even once we started moving, possessive and strong. I could feel the heat from his hand through my jeans like a brand.

As soon as a seat near us came open, he nudged me toward it. I collapsed back onto the bench. I gestured for him to hand me my backpack, but he shook his head.

“I’m fine.”

He stood in front of me, directly between me and the long-haired guy, blocking me like a bodyguard. I’d be pissed if it weren’t so hot. He lifted both hands above his head to hold on to the bar, and it revealed that same section of skin at his waist that had been driving me crazy for the better part of twelve hours.

My mouth went dry.

Would it be weird if I reached out and touched the toned muscle there? With my face?

If he weren’t currently glaring at the long-haired guy, I’d think he was doing this on purpose.

We pulled into the station I’d chosen, and Hunt picked up my hand again as the train slowed to a stop. I followed him out of the station and up to the street, and even once we were out of the crowds of moving people, his hand stayed tight around mine.

Whatever had happened between us last night . . . it had changed him. He was touching me again now, but it was different than the way I could remember him touching me last night. Now he touched me like he knew me, not like some stranger in a bar. He looked at me when he thought I couldn’t tell. And he wasn’t asking questions, at least not any prying ones.

Something in my stomach began to cave in, and I could feel it falling away.

“Nothing else crazy happened last night, right?”

“You mean besides your pansy comment?”

That actually sounded exactly like something I would say.

“Yes, besides that.”

“You might have declared your love for me once or twice. Asked to bear my children.”

I rolled my eyes. “Be serious.”

“You don’t think a declaration of love is serious?”

“I don’t think a declaration of love happened.”

“Are you remembering more?”

“No, I just know myself. I might get touchy-feely when I’m drunk, but it’s the other kind of touchy-feely.”

He nodded, and no more jokes came, so I guessed that I had hit it on the head. He didn’t know my secrets. I’d just hit on him. A lot if I could guess. That’s why he was acting differently. And that I could deal with.

He tugged on my hand, and together we surfaced out of a stairwell into our spontaneous destination. The neighborhood was quaint and picturesque with narrow, winding, cobblestone streets. Those streets were dotted with trees under a blue, blue sky.

“You’re right,” Hunt said. “This neighborhood is incredibly dangerous. Downright terrifying. I’d understand if you wanted to go back.”

I swatted at him, but he ducked my blow, laughing.

“Come on, princess. Let’s see what kind of trouble we can get into.”

I wanted to get into all of the trouble with him. Every kind. Multiple times preferably.

We wandered for a while, turning when something looked interesting, taking our time, just admiring the scenery.

(I was totally counting Hunt as part of the scenery.)

“So where to next?” he asked.

“Um, straight, I guess?”

“I meant after Prague. Where are you jetting off to next?”

I sighed, and wiped at a trickle of sweat on my forehead. “Nowhere.”

“You’re staying here?”

“No. I mean I’m going home. I think.”

I pulled my hair over my shoulder, trying to keep it off my heated neck.

“You think? Are you homesick?”

If home was my past, sure. Otherwise, not a chance in hell.

“It’s complicated,” I said. “I don’t know what home is anymore.”

“I think home is wherever you are happiest.”

I wanted the ease and joy of my college friends. At eighteen, they’d been my first real taste of family, and now that family was broken up into tiny pieces and scattered all over the U.S. It wasn’t fair that I only got to keep them for four years before they went back to their real families or started new ones with stupid British boyfriends.

“What if home’s not a place you can ever go back to?”

We turned from the road we’d been following onto a path that led into a park. The long line of trees and sweeping fields of green relaxed me.

He said, “Then you find a new home, a new place that makes you happy. It’s not a once-in-a-lifetime deal, Kelsey. People find home in new places, new dreams, new people all the time. Home should feel effortless, like gravity.”

I didn’t trust gravity. It seemed to always be pulling me in the wrong direction.

“It’s not that simple,” I said, then I pulled away and walked a little faster, hoping he’d take that as a clue to change the subject.

“Of course it’s not simple. The best things usually aren’t.” He caught up beside me and said, “Why go home if it’s not where you want to be?”

“Because I don’t know what else to do.”

He took hold of my elbow and pulled me to a stop. “You could keep traveling.”

“I’ve done that. It’s not working.”

“What do you mean it’s not working?”

I wasn’t about to tell him that it wasn’t working because I was still depressed. This guy had seen more vulnerability from me in a few days than anyone else had seen in years.

“I just mean . . . I’m not having as much fun as I thought.”

“Maybe you’ve been doing it wrong.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

He let go of my elbow to rub his hand along his jaw. When he spoke, he did it slowly as though he were choosing his words carefully.

“You said you wanted an adventure. What’s the most adventurous thing you’ve done?”

I’d done plenty of adventurous things. I’d lived completely in the moment, exactly like I’d planned.

But when I thought back, trying to pick a moment for him as proof, each day kind of bled into the next. I mean, I’d met different people, and I’d gone different places, but the end result had always been the same. We ended up at a bar or a club. Drinking, dancing, and sex.

I opened my mouth, but I couldn’t say any of those things out loud.

He continued, “Tell me this. Ignoring the fact that you’re in a different place with different people, have you done anything drastically different from what you would do back home?”

I swallowed. And I had to tuck my pride away to admit, “Not really. Not unless you count today.”

He smiled.

“The best parts of life are the things we can’t plan. And it’s a lot harder to find happiness if you’re only searching in one place. Sometimes, you just have to throw away the map. Admit that you don’t know where you’re going and stop pressuring yourself to figure it out. Besides . . . a map is a life someone else already lived. It’s more fun to make your own.”

I knew, logically, that he was right. As long as I was trying to force myself to be happy, I never would be.

“Don’t think too much,” he said. “Just decide on something you want to do. The first thing that pops into your head, and do it.”

I wanted to kiss him.

There was absolutely nothing I wanted more.

My eyes found his lips, and if ever gravity had been pulling me in one direction, that was it. I pulled up on my tiptoes, balancing a hand on his shoulder. Before I could even get close, he cleared his throat and took a step back.

Just do anything but that, apparently.


Damn it. Why did I keep doing this to myself? That made twice I’d been rejected by him. Maybe more, considering I couldn’t remember half the time we’d spent together.

I could spend time with him without throwing myself at him. I could do that. Though, I didn’t particularly want to.

I sighed and looked away. Maybe a hundred yards away was a playground. He’d asked me what I wanted. And other than kissing him, that was what I wanted.

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