Title: What We'll Leave Behind (Left Behind, #0.5)
Author: Len Webster
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release Date: June 23, 2015
One chance meeting on a white beach in Thailand would set their story in stone.
Eighteen and fresh out of high school, Stevie Appleton is about to embark on a form of freedom she has never known. When offered the chance to go to Thailand to celebrate the end of high school, she takes it. What she doesn’t know is that saying yes would lead to meeting him.
Having just finished his Bachelor, Julian Moors can’t wait to party away the last three years of university. All he wants from his holiday in Thailand is to relax on the beach, drink and have the time of his life. However, the moment his eyes land on the beautiful blonde reading on the beach, he knows he can’t stay away. All his other wants no longer matter. What does matter is getting to know the girl behind the mockingbird.
Enter Stevie and Julian’s memory vault.
No names. No past. Just right now.
Seven days to fall in love.
Seven days until their end.
Seven days until they both wake up heartbroken.
And four more years until they meet again.
She shook her head at her own stupidity. This Julian was attractive. Really attractive. And this really attractive male—with his Australian accent, light brown hair, soft, blue eyes, and an impressive body—sat next to her. With a sigh, Stevie took her hat off and set it on top of her bag.
“So, what do we do now?” she asked, keeping her eyes on the clear water.
“Well.” He paused. “What do you want to do today, Stephanie?”
Stevie cringed. No real names. If he ever tried to find her, he’d find it hard. She never used ‘Stephanie,’ so she’d go undetected.
Exhaling, she picked her hat up and put it on before lying back on the hot sand. Then she covered her forehead with the backs of her wrists and stared at the blue sky. After watching a cloud slowly move an inch, she closed her eyes.
“What do you want to do today, Julian?” she asked, enjoying the way the sun warmed her skin.
Julian, I don’t want your surname.
We’re ‘holiday’ friends.
He didn’t respond, but she would force it out of him. If they were to stay on the beach all day, then so be it. It was a much better option than being locked out of her hotel room as her roommate got laid. The first thing she would do when she returned to the resort was call housecleaning to somehow disinfect the room and change the sheets.
Something obstructed the sun and created a shadow behind her eyelids. When she moved her face, the shadow followed her. Stevie’s eyebrows knitted and then she opened her eyes. She flinched when she saw Julian hovering over her, his nose close to hers.
“Dude!” she squealed as she slapped his jaw away. Then she sat up, holding her hat.
Julian chuckled like a six-year-old.
“What’s so funny?” she asked, dusting the sand off her arms.
“When you freak out, it’s hilarious.”
She glared at him. “You’re kind of annoying. You know that, right?”
He smirked and then nodded. “I do. It’s what I’m known for,” he explained, placing his hands on his hips.
“That’s not a good thing.”
“It’s what got you to talk to me, didn’t it?”
Damn. He’s right.
She rolled her eyes. “Shut up.”
Julian took his hands off his hips, dug them into the sand, and leant in close, his face a whisper away from hers. Then he squinted at her, as if to decipher her thoughts.
“What?” she asked, pulling back.
He had pursed his lips before he sat back on his rear. “You’re different.”
Pressing her lips together in a fine line, Stevie picked her bag up. “Gee, thanks.”
“I was being sarcastic.”
Julian nodded along. “That’s what friends do.”
How can I be ‘friends’ with an idiot?
“Julian!” someone yelled.
Stevie craned her neck to see a group of men near the shore. With their wet bodies and hair, it was clear that they had just come from the water. They waved Julian over, and Stevie heard him release a frustrated exhale next to her.
“I gotta run, Blondie,” Julian said, standing up.
She tilted her head up to meet his eyes. His really nice eyes. “I guess it was good meeting you.”
Julian slowly grinned, and her heartbeat didn’t miss the gesture. It was the perfect fluidity of movement. Like calm beach water. The way his soft, blue eyes lightened had her swallowing hard. Really attractive was starting to worry her. Really attractive was really out of her league.
He said that.
He wants that.
We can be that.
“It was really good to meet you, too, Stephanie,” he said so genuinely that her stomach filled with butterflies. To the point where it could be hailed as a sanctuary rather than a display. So many butterflies.
Butterflies that made her sick.
Butterflies caused by him.
Butterflies brought to life because of a stranger.
Stevie smiled, trying to forget her silly thoughts. She pulled her iPod out of her bag, wanting to listen to music more than she wanted to return to her hotel room.
“Listen,” Julian said, gaining her attention.
She stopped untangling the headphones from around the iPod and raised a brow at him. “Yeah?”
“You know of the moonlight parties they have on this beach at night?” he asked, scratching his right arm as if he were nervous.
Staring at the way his nails were digging into his skin, she couldn’t help but smile at the thought that maybe she made him nervous. She hadn’t made anyone feel that way before. And with that, she filed that away as a victory for her self-confidence.
I’ll take what I can get.
I don’t think Julian has really looked at the women on this beach.
I’m, like, a negative ten in comparison.
I could have sworn a Victoria’s Secret model was around.
I should tell him that… Friends share that kind of info, right?
She cleared her throat, trying to act casual. Because, well, that was what they were. “Yeah, I’ve heard about them.”
His smile now showed his perfectly white and straight teeth. “So, I’ll see you here tonight?”
Her body flinched. “What?”
Julian placed a hand on top of her head and moved her head to make nods. “Oh, so, that’s a yes. I’m so glad. I’ll see you tonight, Blondie. Wear something nice, ’kay?” Once he removed his hand from her head, he raised his hand to signal to his friends.
“Uhh, oh-kay?” Stevie replied, confused about what he meant.
Then he winked. Cool, calm, and carefree. A wink that sent shivers down her spine. A wink she scowled at.
“I’ll see you tonight, Stephanie!” he said with a hint of excitement in his voice before he left her alone on the beach.
Stevie turned her head and watched him as he picked his towel and bag up and walked down the beach with his friends. Just as she was about to look away, Julian spun and his eyes met hers. He seemed almost relieved to have caught her staring. And when he smiled almost gratefully, her heart clenched and caused a tiny fault in her breathing.
“Oh, no,” she breathed.
Because she knew why her heart had decided to play the victim rather than a champion. It was him. Plain and simple. Her body had ignited at the thought and nearness of him.
Attraction, you are an absolute asshole, you asshole.
Len Webster is a romance-loving Melburnian with dreams of finding her version of 'The One.' But until that moment happens, she writes. Having just completed her BBusCom from Monash University, Len is now busy writing her next romance about how a boy met a girl, and how they fell completely and hopelessly in love.