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Chapter 1


“Mom, if only you could see what I’m seeing right now. You’d understand completelywhy I never want to come back.”

Mom laughed. She’d always had a good sense of when I was only messing around. Though in this case, I wasn’t so sure that I was.

“You say that Georgie,” she said, using the nickname I only allowed her and Dad to call me. “But part of me wonders if you’re being serious.” Mom spoke in the same Dallas twang that accented my own speech.

As I stared out onto the shimmering water of the Mediterranean from my hotel balcony just north of Corinth, I wondered the same thing. The view was spectacular—like nothing I’d ever seen before. I watched as the water crashed onto the golden sand, froth covering the shore before receding. The ocean itself was a clear blue—so clear that I could see beneath the water from where I stood. Off in the far distance, the outline of the city of Corinth appeared in the hazy, low light of dusk.

“Well, maybe alittleserious. You’ve seen the pictures, haven’t you? Come on, you can’t tell me that those shots from the Loutraki waterfalls I sent you this morning didn’t have you wanting to grab Dad off the couch, jump on a plane, and fly over here.”

“You know your father,” she said. “It’s a miracle if I can get him to drive an extra fifteen minutes to go to the nice grocery store instead of the crappy one down the street.”

I chuckled, steering my eyes away from the sweeping vista and back toward the small, two-bedroom apartment where I’d been living for the last month. The place was small but cozy, with enough space to where I didn’t feel like I was constantly stepping on the toes of Colette, my French roommate. One of her many sundresses was draped over the back of the cream-colored couch, a deep blue dress that I was tempted to ask if I could wear to the party our class was having that evening celebrating our last night in Greece .

“I know you don’t miss Texas,” Mom’s voice snapped me out of my thoughts. “You’re not coming back here after you leave Greece. You’re going to Colorado instead, to… what’s the name of that tiny-ass town you’re moving to again?”

“Evergreen. And it’s not that small—it’s fifty-thousand people. Plus, it’s only a couple hours from Denver. Just outside of the metro area, actually.”

“When you live in Dallas, anyplace with less than a million people seems small.” She chuckled, then sighed in a wistful sort of way. “I just can’t believe it. You’re almost done with your Masters, ready to start your career. Seems like a dang week ago that you packed up that Volvo of yours and drove off to UT.” She paused, and I could tell she was getting a little choked up.

“Mom,” I said with a smile. It wasn’t a conversation with Mom without her squirting a few tears here and there.

“Oh, don’tMomme, my little girl’s a grown woman now! How else am I supposed to react?”

“Now Mom, I hate to break it to you, but I’ve been a grown woman for almost a decade.”

“Not as far as I see it. To your father and me, you’re always going to be our little girl.”

Although I’d heard those exact words from Mom countless times, it didn’t lessen the affect it had on me. The phone cradled between my ear and chin, I turned my attention back to the sweeping view, wringing my hands together as I did so.

“Oh!” Mom said. “Dad wanted me to tell you that he finished your latest book.”

“You’re kidding! He did?”

I’d always been a writer, having had a knack for coming up with stories ever since I was a little girl. During high school, I’d started a novel as a little project. My classes and schoolwork came easy for me, so I had plenty of time to pursue my own hobbies. I’d worked on it a little bit here and there, finally finishing it during sophomore summer break when I was home from college.

The book, titledMystery of the Minotaur, was an historical romance fiction based on my love of ancient Greece. I hadn’t thought much of it at the time—I’d considered it a little too amateurish to be anything more than a bit of fun. That changed, however, when my roommate Maddie came back to our apartment to find it open on my laptop in the living room. Always the nosy one, she’d taken a peek and, as she’d later said, “got hooked from the first sentence.”

She’d convinced me to shop it around and get it published. To my surprise, historical romance was kind of a thing, and after a little looking, I’d found an agent with Penrose Publishing who’d been happy to get it out on the market. After some editing and other behind-the-scenes work, my first real, published book hit the stands during the second half of my junior year.

It’d been a smash, becoming one of the biggest-selling romance books of the year. I couldn’t believe it—I’d always dreamed of being a writer ever since I was a little girl staying up late reading Charles Dickens and Jane Austin. Knowing that thousands and thousands of people had bought my book and loved it was almost too much to wrap my head around.

I’d wanted to write it off, to consider it nothing more than a lucky break and get back to finishing school, but my agent told me there was a huge demand for a sequel. So, after taking some time to come up with an idea, I got to work onThe Minotaur Returns, typing a few pages here and there during breaks and finally finishing it during the first quarter of my master’s program. The sequel had been released just a few months ago.

To my major surprise,The Minotaur Returnshad been an even bigger smash than the first book. Not wanting to get too caught up in my success, I remained focused on school, only taking my attention away when my accountant got in touch to let me know just how much I’d be making in royalties… well, it was more money than I knew what to do with.

I didn’t want to get too ahead of myself. All the same, I couldn’t help but daydream about all the things I could do with the money I’d earned. Working with my advisor we came up with a way to finish my master’s program online. Even more, my professors told me that if I wanted to, I could make my third book in the series my master’s Thesis.

How the hell could I say no to that? I picked out a place to live—a gorgeous modern condo in small-town Colorado—and went abroad on a trip to Greece for another dose of inspiration. My plan was to come back to the States, move and get settled in my new place, then spend the rest of the year writing and finishing my degree. It all sounded so amazing that I could hardly believe it was my life.

“He did!” Mom said. “You’re surprised that he’d take the time to read his little girl’s book?”

“It’s not that,” I replied, easing myself into one of the lounge chairs. “I didn’t think he read any books that weren’t about World War II. Well, aside from my first book.”

“Oh, he read it. And he’d never admit this to anyone but me, but he’s already wondering what you’ve got planned for book three.”

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