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“I’m Sam.” He leans against the counter. “You’re Abbey, yeah?”

“Yeah. Is there a sign on my back?”

“Jack talks about you.”

“Oh.” An embarrassed blush heats my face. “Don’t believe a word of it.”

“All good stuff. Promise.” Sam’s got a disarming smile and easy demeanor about him. “You’re quite fit, you know. I see why he didn’t mention that.”

I laugh nervously because I don’t know how to take that. “You just put it right out there, huh?”

Sam shrugs with a bright, tipsy grin. “Was that a bit cheeky?”

“Maybe a little. Please, don’t let me stop you.”

His grin widens as his gaze travels over me, lingering briefly on the bare skin revealed by my off-the-shoulder sweater. Despite Lee’s best efforts to dress me tonight, I chose my own outfit. Oversized sweater, denim skirt, and black combat boots. Cute and casual. Even Lee grudgingly admitted I looked good when he saw me walk out of my room. I’m sure it pained him to do so.

Someone turns up the music in the living room. Not a song I’m familiar with, though I’ve been absorbing a lot of British rock lately.

“Shall we have a dance?” Sam asks.

Nashville Abbey would say no. She’d be too far out of her comfort zone and self-conscious about looking silly in front of a crowd.

London Abbey has a few drinks in her and needs something to chase away the idea of a guy out of reach. So I chug my wine and grab his hand, leading him to the living room where others are crammed together.

For a few minutes, I let go of all my apprehensions and distractions. I let Sam pull me close as he presses his lips to my hair, uttering flirty words I don’t entirely discern through the music and his accent. I just nod and smile, amused for the moment to go with it. There are worse ways to spend an evening, and more destructive means of forgetting a guy.

Across the room, I notice Jack noticing me. His usual unbothered smile falters as he sizes up his friend. His eyes narrow. When Sam nuzzles the side of my neck, Jack walks away from his conversation to approach us.

“Oi, mate.” He jabs Sam’s shoulder. “You’re slobbering on the girl.”

“He’s really not,” I counter, still dancing in Sam’s embrace.

“On my best behavior,” Sam says, still grinning and unaffected. “Swear it.”

“House meeting.” Jack gives Sam a shove, and although Sam raises a curious eyebrow, he backs off.

“Thanks for the bottle opener,” he tells me. With a wink, he retreats.

Jack takes his place, but with quite a bit more distance between us. That doesn’t stop his addictive scent from gripping my senses. He always smells so fucking good, like soap and sandalwood with a hint of spice. He’s wearing a soft gray jumper and black trousers that make his ass look delicious (I know this because I confirmed it with my eyes. Multiple times).

Propelled by the music, I continue to dance, defiant. After a beat, Jack begins to move too, probably because he feels awkward standing still.

“That was cute,” I tell him. “Petty, but cute.”

“Go on,” he says, sporting a scowl that’s more endearing than threatening.

“No, it’s cool. I get it. Don’t want other kids playing with your toys. I’m sort of flattered.”

He lifts a brow. “You think I’m jealous?”

“Sam already gave you up. He told me all about how you can’t stop talking about me to the team. Like you’re basically obsessed with me.”

It’s the wine talking. A lot of it. More than I realized until I remember I had a glass while we were cleaning up for the party. Then a glass while I was getting dressed. A glass for every time I resisted the urge to ask Celeste if Nate and Yvonne were coming.

And, well, they’ve kind of added up.

Jack grins at me. “I’ve never mentioned you once. Someone asked me earlier if you were a lost neighborhood child. I said, no, that’s the mouthy American who doesn’t know how to put her dishes away.”

“Uh-huh. That’s why you practically threatened to fist-fight your friend so you could cut in, right?”

“I was protecting him. He’s very dumb and unsuspecting.”

“Protecting him from what? I mean, worst I’ll do is take him upstairs and fuck him. Seems like a sweet deal for Sam.”

Oh my God.

I can’t believe I just said that. And it isn’t even true! I’m not the bring-a-total-stranger-upstairs-and-fuck-him kind of girl. Yet for some reason, wine always emboldens me when it comes to Jack.

I glimpse a spark of heat in his eyes before his features strain. “Don’t think I’ve heard you say that before.”

“Say what?”


My forehead wrinkles. “I say the word fuck all the time.”

“Not in that context.” He licks his lips. “So. Is that it? You want to fuck my mate, do you?”

“No,” I stammer. “It was just a joke.”

My heart’s suddenly pounding louder than the bassline of the song, beating even faster when I realize we’ve managed to work ourselves closer together. His hands on my hips. Mine resting on his chest. A rapid rush of excited nervousness charges across every inch of my skin. I tip my head up at him to see his expression is slightly hazy. Eyelids heavy. I wonder if he feels it too, or if it’s just the alcohol crossing our wires.

It’s the same exhilaration I felt the first time I saw Nate. Which is even more confusing, because the two of them are so diametrically different. Jack’s easygoing. Quick with a laugh. Nate’s more complicated. Intense and guarded.

I’m attracted to both of them.

And they’re both equally out of reach.

  • Girl Abroad - Elle Kennedy

    New York Times bestselling author Elle Kennedy brings her signature angst, drama, and humour to new standalone romance, Girl Abroad.

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