Posted On March 24, 2011 by Print This Post

Kristan Higgins: Excerpt, MY ONE AND ONLY

The road wove through the forest, then came out into a more open space. My breath caught. To the left, the earth dropped steeply away into a field of long, golden grass twined with blue, red and pink wildflowers. It was breathtaking. After a while, I turned onto Going to the Sun Road…what a beautiful name! A vast, oblong glacier capped the bare and jagged ridge across the way.

Four o’clock already. I’d thought we’d be there by now. Stepping on the gas, I almost immediately caught up to a car in front of me.

A slow car, despite the fact that it was a classic red Mustang, built for speed and midlife crises. Or octogenarian females, I guessed, from the dedicated way the car stayed precisely on its own side of the road, never straying above thirty miles an hour. No more, no less. Great. Why buy a ’Stang if you were going to do the speed limit? Didn’t that defeat the purpose of the pointless effort to recapture one’s youth and laugh at the specter of Death? I couldn’t see the driver, as the sun glared off the back window, but judging by the way we were inching along, Eeyore here was 103 years old, blind in both eyes and had already cheated death. Many times.

I slammed on the brakes to avoid rear-ending the red car in front of me.

“Jesus!” I blurted, leaning on the horn. The Mustang driver had stopped, right in the middle of the road.

“Everything okay?” Dennis asked blearily.

“Yes. Sorry, hon. Some idiot who shouldn’t be driving.” The woman had just stopped. Yes, the ranger had warned about wildlife on the road, but there was no elk, no moose, nothing to explain the delay.

Dennis sat up, rubbing his eyes. Coco licked him on the chin, then poked her little nose out the window, snuffling. She whined and wagged. “You like it here, honey?” I asked my pet.

“It’s pretty,” Dennis said.

The red Mustang had not moved an inch. We were on a sharp curve, too, so passing would definitely be inadvisable, not that I’d seen many other cars. Should I try it? I tapped the horn again. Nothing. No grizzly bear, no elk, no goat, no response. “Come on,” I groaned. The sooner this weekend started, the sooner I could get back to normal. The driver didn’t move. Stroke? Heart attack? Flashback to the Civil War? I leaned on the horn again — alas, it was a rather friendly-sounding horn, as the rental was a Honda. Give me a good old fashioned Detroit-made blare any day.

“Come on, Florence!” I yelled out the window. “Can you please move it?”

The driver of the car extended an arm out the window. And a finger.

It was a male arm…and finger.

And then the car door opened, and the driver got out, and was neither female nor a Civil War veteran. My hands slid off the steering wheel.

It was Nick.

He took off his sunglasses and looked at me and though I was fairly sure my expression hadn’t changed—I was rather paralyzed at the moment—my heart lurched, my mouth went dry, my legs turned to water.

Nick. He folded his arms and tilted his head, his eyes narrowed, and my heart flinched as if it had been punched. A roaring sound filled my ears.

Coco yipped.

“Problem?” Dennis asked.

“Um…no.” Without further explanation, I put the car in Park and got out.

“Harper?” Dennis asked. “Dude, don’t make a scene.”

Funny, to be so outwardly calm as I approached my ex-husband. You’re not a dumb kid anymore, I reminded myself distantly, but the words didn’t mean much, not when my entire being burned with electricity.

“Oh, Nick, it’s you,” I said mildly, pleased to find my voice sounded mostly normal. “I assumed you were an old woman riddled with cataracts.”

“And I assumed you were a Massachusetts driver with anger management issues.” His tone was as pleasant as mine. “I see one of us was right.”

He was older. Abruptly, there was a lump in my throat. Of course he’s older, I told myself. So are you. It’s been a long time. His dark hair was shot with silver, and crow’s feet radiated from his eyes, those tragic dark-brown gypsy eyes a little cool, a little suspicious.

Twelve years. What a horribly long time, and yet not even close to being long enough.

Then he smiled the way I remembered — that instant smile that flashed like lightning and had about the same results. Heat, electricity, light and possible injury and/or death, and I was glad I still had my sunglasses on. The last thing I wanted was for Nick to know he could still…affect me. One crack in the armor, and Nick would be in there with a hammer and a chisel.

“You look good,” he said, sounding almost surprised.

“You too.” Then, hoping to get him to look away from me, I nodded at the Mustang. “I see you’re having a midlife crisis,” I said.

“Same to you,” he returned, jerking his chin. Ah. Dennis was approaching. Thank God. My boyfriend’s overall manly appearance was somewhat diminished by the fact that he was holding my rather tiny dog and stroking her head, and she wore her pink patent-leather collar, but still.

“He’s a firefighter,” I said, apropos of nothing.

“Of course he is. It was that or pool boy.” Nick smiled as Dennis drew near.

I looped my arm through my boyfriend’s. “Dennis, meet Nick Lowery. Nick, Dennis Costello.

“Nice to meet you, Dennis.”

“Same here.” They shook hands. “Are you going to the wedding, too?” Dennis asked.

“Yes, I am.” Nick raised an eyebrow at me.

“Cool,” Dennis said. “So how do you guys know each other?” he asked.

“Biblically,” Nick answered.

“Nick’s my ex-husband, Dennis,” I said a bit sharply. “I’m sure I mentioned it once. Possibly twice.”

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5 Responses to “Kristan Higgins: Excerpt, MY ONE AND ONLY”

  1. Very cool! I can’t wait to read it!

    Posted by Tonya | March 24, 2011, 5:35 am
  2. Excellent! Looking forward to the chat tonight and the book next week!



    Posted by Carrie Spencer | March 24, 2011, 7:12 am
  3. Great excerpt! It makes me want to read the book.

    Posted by Edie Ramer | March 24, 2011, 7:15 am
  4. Oh, Kristan! My fave bit of dialogue is when Nick says “Biblically.” I love him already!

    Looking forward to this evening.

    Posted by Kelsey Browning | March 24, 2011, 10:44 am
  5. I’m so excited to read this! Every one of Kristan’s books is on my keeper shelf. I didn’t want the excerpt to end!

    Posted by Becke Martin Davis | March 24, 2011, 5:38 pm

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