Authors: Micalea Smeltzer
Tags: #romance, #contemporary
How far would you go to find yourself?
That’s the question that’s been haunting Olivia Owens for years.
All Olivia has ever wanted to do is
and make mistakes, but her preacher father has made that impossible. She believes that her years at college will be her ticket into the real world and her chance to be wild and spontaneous.
But she’s never been able to do it on her own.
At the start of her sophomore year, she only has four things crossed off her Live List, but that’s all about to change thanks to a chance encounter with Trace Wentworth. She’s about to learn that there’s more to this reformed bad boy than just his looks and panty dropping smile.
Trace can’t explain what it is that draws him to Olivia.
All he knows is that he wants to get to know the girl with the sad smile but sparkle in her eyes.
When she tells him about her list, he knows that this is his chance to get to know Olivia Owens. Trace is determined to show Olivia that she can do all the things she’s ever wanted to do. So, he begins to help her cross things off her list, even the more outlandish requests.
What happens along the way is more than what Olivia or Trace ever expected.
Love, laughs, and a list.
That’s the name of the game when you’re Finding Olivia.
© Copyright 2013 Micalea Smeltzer
All rights reserved.
his book or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the publisher.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.
and Photography by Regina Wamba of Mae I Design
To anyone who has ever needed that extra push
to spread their wings and fly.
Life is not measured by the amount of breaths you take, but by the moments that take your breath away.”
p r o l o g u e
It’s hard pretending you’re perfect when you’re anything but.
For as long as I could remember, my dad, his eyes cold and calculating, judged every move I made.
I could hear his gruff voice
, clearly in my head, scolding me. “No, Olivia! You can’t play outside! You’ll get mud on your dress!” Or, “No, Olivia! You can’t play with those children! Their parents don’t go to church!” And one of my favorites was, “No, Olivia! You can’t go to that school dance! You might end up pregnant!”
He kept waiting for me to mess up, to make
a mistake that was unforgivable. It was like he knew that I really wasn’t this perfect girl that I pretended to be.
But I refused to give him that satisfaction.
As long as I lived under his roof, I hid who I really was. I was the perfect preacher’s daughter that he always wanted me to be. I wore my dresses and attended church every Sunday. I pretended that I wasn’t slowly suffocating on the inside.
wore a smile on my face to hide the pain I felt while I counted the days until I could leave.
I purposely picked a college that would put as much distance as possible between my father and I.
I wanted to live and spread my wings.
I wanted to be wild and spontaneous.
I wanted to make mistakes.
And that’s why I sat down and made my list on the last night I lived
under my father’s oppressive roof.
list was my way of finding myself.
I only hoped it worked.
Or had too much time gone by, and the girl I was supposed to be, was lost forever?
c h a p t e r
“No, no, no,
” I beat my steering wheel with the heel of my hand. “No! You’ve got to be kidding me!” I pulled off the road, my tire bumping along.
I put my car in park and climbed out to assess the damage.
My feet crunched on the gravel scattered alongside the road.
he oily burnt smell of my peeling tire met me.
Calling this a flat tire didn’t do it justice. This was complete and utter carnage.
I looked behind me, at the trail of tire pieces leading straight to my car, like a path of breadcrumbs.
It was starting to get dark
and this wasn’t exactly the safest road.
I was also a twenty-year-old girl, ripe for the picking.
I kicked the side of my car. “I don’t have time for this!”
I stalked around the back, to the trunk, lifting it and looking for the necessary tools to change a tire.
Which was pointless because, unfortunately, I didn’t know the first thing about changing a tire. My father had made sure that I only knew how to do a
I slammed the trunk closed and stalked back to the driver’s side
, pulling at the ends of my hair. I glared at the offending nail, that had to be four inches long, sticking out of the tire. How many nails did people drive over a day and I was the one to get a flat freakin’ tire?
Not at all.
I opened the door and reached for my phone to call my
roommate to come pick me up.
The sky was darkening and
I didn’t want to be stranded here.
I wrapped my lightweight jac
ket tighter around my body, as the wind gusted around me, blowing leaves off of the nearby trees. I watched the red, yellow, and orange leaves fall down and scatter over my car. One, unfortunately, got caught in my hair. I reached up and pulled it out before letting it drift to the ground.
Gravel crunched behind me
. I turned quickly, to see a guy getting out of a black car that looked like something old, but classic.
I hadn’t even heard
I backed a step away, thinking he might be a murderer, or a rapist.
But when I got a look at his face I was stunned.
He was tall, with a lean body, but muscular. He had short, dark brown, almost black, hair and the
greenest eyes I had ever seen. Five o’ clock shadow covered his cheeks and chin. My eyes trailed down, over the white t-shirt glued to his chest, and stopped there. I could see black ink underneath the white shirt and licked my lips. The fact that he had tattoos only made him hotter. To protect against the cold, he was wearing a long-sleeved plaid shirt.
—can I help you?” He asked, smiling pleasantly at me, and putting my earlier fears about him being a murderer or rapist completely to rest.
Help? With what? I needed help?
He grinned crookedly, tilting his head. “With your tire. Do you need some help?”
He had the deepest, huskiest, voice I had ever heard. I shivered at the sound. I was pretty sure I’d be happy for him to help me with a lot of things, and none of them included my tire.
“Help would be great,” I blushed, ducking my head.
He chuckled. “You do have a spare, right?”
“Yeah, it’s in the trunk,” I pointed, like he didn’t know where the trunk was.
He grabbed the spare, and all the necessary tools and sat down, next to the ruined tire.
—uh—would’ve changed it myself, but—uh—my dad never taught me,” I ran my fingers nervously through my wavy brown hair. “He said something about it not being appropriate for a girl to do and if I ever got a flat tire, I better hope Prince Charming came along. My dad’s very—uh—old fashioned,” I stammered.
He looked up at me. “Does that make me Prince Charming?” He
—uhm—Prince Charming is fictional, so I guess not, and he-uh-usually rides a white horse or something… I think.”
Somebody, stamp AWKWARD across my forehead already.
The guy threw his head back and laughed. “I guess a shiny black 69’ Camaro doesn’t count as a white horse. You watch a lot of Disney movies or something?”
“No,” I blushed tomato red. “At least not anymore.”
“You’re funny,” he squinted up at me, shielding his eyes from the orange glow of the setting sun.
“I hope that’s a good thing,
” I muttered. Unfortunately, I wasn’t trying to be funny.
“It’s a very good thing-” He paused, waiting for my name.
“Oh—uh—Olivia. Olivia Owens.”
“I’m Trace,” he reached a hand up to me and I took it. It was warm and calloused, swallowing mine whole. “Trace
Wentworth,” he grinned when my hand jerked at his touch.
We were both silent after that as he changed my tire. When he was done, he packed everything away
, and put my ruined tire in his trunk.
“You don’t need to do that,” I
reached for his arm. The guy had already stopped to help me; I certainly didn’t expect him to haul my ruined tire away as well.
“I’m a mechanic, I’ll get rid of it at work,” he closed the trunk
with a shrug. “You need to get a new tire on tomorrow. That spare won’t last you long.”
nodded, committing that tidbit of information to memory.
“Bring it by Pete’s
Garage,” he opened the door to his car and held onto the frame. “I’ll be there and fix it up for you.”
—um—okay. Thanks for fixing my tire and for-uh-stopping,” I said, walking backwards away from his car and towards mine.
“You say, uh, a lot,” he commented, a grin tilting his lips up at the corners. He had one of those smiles that made panties around the world drop.
I was tempted to check and make sure mine were still firmly in place.
“I know,” I
grimaced. “It’s a-uh-bad habit.”
Actually, I rarely ever said, uh, it was just that Trace turned me into a blubbering idiot.
He grinned, tapping his car door with his hand like he was playing a drum. “I’ll see you tomorrow, right?”
“Yeah, you’ll see me. Gotta get this stupid thing fixed,” I smacked the hood of the car.
“Ask for me, okay, Olivia?” His eyes grew serious.
“I will,” I
gave him a thumbs up, hating the way my body reacted to the way he said my name.
Wait, I gave him a thumbs up? What was wrong with me? That was not cool! He probably thought I was so dumb. Heck,
thought I was being dumb. How was it possible for one gorgeous guy to turn me into a complete pile of mushy goo? That didn’t seem fair.
Trace waited for me to get in
to my car and drive away before he did the same. Despite the bad boy appearance, he was obviously more of a gentlemen than most of the guys I knew.
I smiled to myself as I drove down the road and towards the college campus. My roommate, and best friend, wasn’t going to believe this. Things like hot guys pulling over to help a damsel in distress didn’t happen to me. In fact, I was pretty sure it didn’t happen to most people.
“What!? Oh my God!
” Avery, my roommate shrieked, as she gripped my arm like she was afraid I was about to run away. “
tell me you got his number!?”
“Uh, no,” I mumbled. “I didn’t even think about it.”
“Olivia! If he was so hot you should have been
over that!” She finally let go of my arm, and I grabbed my laptop off my desk, sitting on the edge of my bed.
“He did tell
me to come by Pete’s Garage and he’d put a new tire on,” I shrugged, turning on the laptop, and entering my password. I really hoped Avery never figured out my password or she’d be itching to get her hands on my computer and dig up my deep dark secrets. Because, according to Avery, everyone had a secret.
“He’s a mechanic!?” She shrieked, clapping her hands together. “That’s so hot! Just picture him shirtless, sweaty, and covered in grease,” her tongue flicked out to lick her red colored lips. “Oh yes, I do approve.”
“You haven’t even seen him, I could be lying,” I teased her.
She snorted. “I doubt that, I’ve never seen you wear such a
goofy look on your face. Plus, his name is even hot. Trace Wentworth,” she fanned herself.
“It doesn’t matter,” I scooted farther back on my bed. “I’m not going. I’ll find somewhere else to take my car.”
In fact, I was already doing that. It wouldn’t be hard to find a mechanic in Winchester, Virginia. One that
a particular hot guy with emerald green eyes.
Avery gasped like I’d said the craziest thing on Earth.
Hopping onto my bed, and jostling me, she brushed her red hair over one pale shoulder. “You
to go there!”
“And stutter like an incompetent fool again?
” I glared at her. “I think not!”
She narrowed her dark green eyes at me. “You are going Olivia Camille Owens, even if I have to drag you there.”
Oh no, Avery had that determined look on her face, the one she only got when she meant business.
“I’m not going
and you’re not dragging me.”
Her eyes narrowed further until they were slits. “Don’t make me drug you Livie, I keep Benadryl on hand for occasions just like this.”
“Fine,” I conceded, throwing my hands in the air, then snapping the lid closed on my laptop. “But
if you go with me,” I pointed at her. “You’ll make sure I don’t say something stupid.” Like I had tonight. Trace probably hoped I
She squealed shrilly, jumping up from my bed. “Deal! I have to figure out what we’re going to wear!”
“We need to get dressed up to get my tire replaced?” I asked her incredulously.
“No,” she rolled her eyes, “
need to get fixed up for Trace, and
need to get fixed up in case there are any other hot guys working there. I swear, do you not know anything?”