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EXCERPT: “One Way Ticket”

One Way Ticket by Kate O’Keeffe & Melissa Baldwin
Published on January 9, 2018
Genre: Romantic Comedy

Would you switch lives with someone you just met?

Sabrina Monroe is poised and ready for her future as Mrs. Todd Edward Blakely. Everything seems perfect, but on the big day, suddenly she’s not so sure. Her nicely mapped out life ahead of her, she finds herself in her own movie scene as the runaway bride, climbing out of the bathroom window. All she can think is escape.

Addison Bloom needs a life makeover. She’s travelled the world to find love–and failed. On her way back from yet another friend’s wedding, she starts to feel ill at the mere thought of seeing another veil that’s not hers. Should she go back home and marry her former sweetheart, or stick it out looking for love in her new home?

Sabrina and Addison are both on the run, wanting to escape to a new life. As the two strangers talk at an airport, discovering they have the same job at opposite ends of the country, a crazy idea unfolds–one which might provide the answers they’ve both been looking for.

Is there such a thing as a One Way Ticket to a new life, or will they find they’re running from themselves, not just the past?



Checking both ways once more, I slid out onto the street, enjoying the feeling as I glided along. As I turned left across the next street, I gripped the handlebars. Taking easy turns around a quiet, residential block was one thing: this was quite another.

Sure, I was going at a pace a snail would be embarrassed by, but being around other traffic had my nerves jangling.

I stopped at a crossing, waiting for a group of trendy, young women with shopping bags to saunter across. They were deep in conversation and didn’t even notice me, my hands sweating with first-time nerves.

As I started up again, I must have given the scooter too much gas. I lurched forward, my body lagging behind. I began to wobble from side to side, veering toward the sidewalk.

This could not be happening!

In a blind panic, I yanked on the brake, but it was too late. My front wheel hit the curb, sending both me and Sabrina’s beautiful scooter crashing into a potted hedge. I lay, face down, my butt in the air and my helmeted head hanging over the large pot, wondering how I had got it so horribly, horribly wrong.

“Are you okay?” a masculine voice called from above.

Thoroughly dazed, I blinked at a pair of white sneakers in front of my eyes. Gingerly, I placed my hands on the sidewalk to push myself up.

The person in the sneakers crouched down in front of me. “That was quite a fall.”

“I think . . . I . . .” I trailed off as I raised my eyes to his. Warm brown with flecks of gold, his forehead crinkled in concern. His light brown hair was a little ruffled, as though he’d been running his fingers through it, and he was sporting more than a touch of five o’clock shadow on his chiseled jaw.

If I hadn’t already been lying face down on a city street, I may very well have swooned.

“Are you hurt? Any broken bones?” he asked.

Incapable of removing my eyes from his, I patted my face, wriggled my toes, and shook my head, checking everything was still in working order. “I . . . I don’t think so,” I replied with an embarrassed smile, my voice breathless—whether from my accident or being next to this guy, I couldn’t say.

“Can you stand up?”

Confident the only thing seriously damaged was my self-respect, I nodded my head. “I think so. I may need some help to get up, though.”

“Of course.” He stood up from his crouched position in front of me and disappeared from my view.

A moment later, I felt warm, strong hands around my middle. “Ready?”

“Yes,” I managed, and within a heartbeat, he had lifted me up, flipped me over, and held me in his arms. He smiled down at me.

I felt like a princess, saved by a valiant knight—only from a red Vespa called “Velma,” not an angry dragon.

I smiled at him, my heart beating hard as I enjoyed the feel of being enveloped in his arms.

I’d never been one of those girls who was into the fairy-tale thing, had never been overly interested in being “saved” by some guy.

I always figured, if I needed saving, I could do it myself.

This? This felt amazing. I’m sure the feminist in me was rolling her eyes, but there was something in having a hot guy—and this guy was most assuredly hot—coming to your rescue.

Far too soon, he guided me to a standing position, not removing his hand from my waist. “Are you sure you’re okay? Do you think you should get checked out? Just in case?”

I nodded at him, biting my lip. He was tall—at least six foot—his shoulders were broad, his white T-shirt hinting at a firm, athletic body beneath. I swallowed. “No. I’m okay,” I squeaked.

He nodded and smiled, his face lighting up, his teeth gleaming white next to his tanned skin. “Good. Sorry, I guess you don’t need me to hold you anymore, then.”

He pulled his arm away and I wanted to scream, “No! Take me in your arms once more!” Luckily, I didn’t, because that would have been beyond awkward—as much as I wanted it.

“I . . . I can’t believe I crashed,” I said, shaking my head, my hand on my chest.

“Well, it was more of a flop than a crash.”

My eyes widened. “A flop?”

He nodded, biting back a smile. “You just kind of fell off the scooter. I don’t think that really qualifies as a crash.”

Oh, this was getting better and better! Crashing the bike was one thing; flopping off a scooter was quite another.

“So, nothing’s broken? Well, other than the plant.” His voice was warm, like melting butter and sweet syrup on a stack of pancakes.

I tore my eyes from my cute Knight in Shining Sneakers’ face to assess the bruised and battered hedge in front of me. There was an Addison-shaped dent in the middle, much like the shapes cartoon characters formed when they burst through walls. “Oh, no!” I bit my lip. “I guess I’ll have to pay for a new one.”

“No, it’s all good.” I watched as he leaned over and reconstructed the bush, even picking up a couple of branches that had broken off on impact and stuffing them into the hedge. “See? Just like new.”

“Thank you.” I laughed as a blush bloomed in my cheeks.

He waggled his eyebrows in response. “It’s all part of the service. Hey, where’s your accent from? Australia?”

Ha! At least he had the right hemisphere. “New Zealand.”

“New Zealand, huh? That’s cool. Looks like a great place to visit.”

“No ‘it’s a long way away’ or ‘I’ve seen the Lord of the Rings movies’?” I replied and immediately regretted it. Just because that was people’s usual reaction didn’t mean this guy was going to say it.

“No,” he replied uncertainly.

“Sorry, force of habit.”

He smiled at me, and I swear my heart skipped a beat. “Want some help with that?” He gestured at Sabrina’s scooter, lying in the gutter.

“Oh, my god, the scooter!” My hand flew to my face. Sabrina’s gorgeous shiny red Vespa! In my post-accident-hot-guy haze, I hadn’t given Velma a second thought.

“Let me do it.” In one deft move, he lifted it up by the handlebars and righted it on its stand. “Cool bike. My . . . um, friend has one just like it.

“It’s not even mine. It belongs to a friend.”

“Well, it looks like your friend’s scooter has a dent.” He pointed at the front wheel guard, where there was indeed a small dent. “It probably happened when you hit the curb.”

“Yeah, I guess.” The heat in my cheeks intensified.

“Well, I’m glad you’re okay. I should probably get going.”

“Oh.” I was crestfallen. He couldn’t leave!

Weren’t brave knights meant to whisk their women off their feet, take them away to some castle, and marry them?

Okay, maybe a castle and marriage was taking things a little too far here—this was the twenty-first century—but I wanted more time with this guy.

“Drive safely. And watch out for those curbs.” He flashed me a grin and turned to leave.

“Hey, wait!” He turned back to look at me. “Can’t I at least buy you a coffee to say thanks?”

“Um, I wish I could but I have a meeting to get to.”

“Oh, okay.” I forced a smile, trying not to show him how disappointed I felt. “Thanks for helping me. It was great to meet you.”

“You too, Kiwi.” I smiled at the nickname. “Try not to drive into any more unsuspecting hedges.” He held my gaze for a beat, two.

“I’ll try,” I replied, breathless once more—only this time, I knew with certainty, it was because of him.

I watched him walk down the street, away from me, until he was lost in the crowd. I couldn’t stop smiling to myself as I inspected Sabrina’s bike, wondering how much it would cost to get the wheel guard fixed.

I thought of the handsome Knight in Shining Sneakers.

Biking accidents and damaged hedges aside, moving to San Francisco was quite possibly the best decision I had ever made.


About Kate O’Keeffe

Kate O’Keeffe is a bestselling author of fun, feel-good romantic comedies. She lives and loves in beautiful New Zealand with her family, two scruffy dogs, and a cat who thinks he’s a scruffy dog too. He’s not: he’s a cat.

She is a wife, a mother, and a chocolate expert. Seriously. She loves to read, to hang out with friends, and to hike up the big hill behind her house each day.

To date, she’s written the Amazon bestselling chick lit series, the Cozy Cottage Café, the Wellywood Romantic Comedy Series, a fun holiday novella, and co-authored One Way Ticket with fellow author, Melissa Baldwin.

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About Melissa Baldwin

Melissa Baldwin is an avid runner, planner obsessed, and has always had a love for writing. She is a wife, mother, and avid journal keeper who took her creativity to the next level by fulfilling her dream with her debut novel, An Event to Remember…or Forget. Melissa writes about charming, ambitious, and real women and is now a published author of ten Romantic Comedy novels and novellas.

When she isn’t deep in the writing zone, this multi-tasking master organizer is busy spending time with her family, chauffeuring her daughter, traveling, running, indulging in fitness, and taking a Disney Cruise every now and then.

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