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Road Trip with the Enemy

Road Trip with the Enemy

by Kelsie Stelting

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I made two promises after my brother died: to run a charity marathon in his place and to avoid Jeremiah Dermot at all costs.

So when my car’s broken down on the side of the road while my parents are at a retreat to save their crumbling marriage, of course Jeremiah’s the one who pulls up and offers to give me a ride.

I don’t care how handsome he is when he looks at me with those adventure eyes or that any other girl would give everything to drive across the country with him. No, I’m thinking about my brother and the little boy in hospice he wanted to run this race for.

Now I have two choices: break a promise to my brother, or take a road trip with my enemy.

Get lost in this story that makes you feel in ways you've never felt before. Road Trip with the Enemy will leave you breathless, restless, smiling, and believing enemies can have a happily ever after.

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Chapter One

THERE WAS one date I’d never break. Every Saturday morning, I went to the comic book store, bought something from the indie corner, and drove across town to the saddest yet happiest place on earth. I’d been doing it for the last four months, now that my brother couldn’t.

Every morning, including Saturday, Liam sat at the dining room table to watch the sun rise over the Cape Fear River. He said he wanted to count how many colors of orange there were in existence.

The hospice house looked like any of the other buildings lining the river, but this one had a keypad for entry and smelled like cleaning supplies. Inside, it could have been a home, if not for the hospital equipment in each room, the widened doorway to allow wheelchairs through.

I went inside, washed my hands at the sink by the door, and greeted his nurse in the kitchen. “How’s he doing?”

From here, his shoulders looked a little smaller. Like he was a ten-year-old for once.

“He’s having a hard day,” Ms. Louisa whispered.

I turned to her, to the plate of chocolate chip pancakes topped with strawberries and whipped cream that he would only eat a few bites of. Our eyes passed a message we couldn’t say out loud.

My own shoulders sagged, but I tried a smile bright enough to match the sky, colored with every shade from indigo to pastel pink.

“Hey there,” I said, stepping closer to the dining room.

Liam turned in his wheelchair and smiled back, the pale light re!ecting o" his skin. “Three hundred and twenty-four.”

I rolled my eyes because if I showed him how much I wanted to cry, my visit would be doing more harm than good. “You sure? This one looks a lot like one-twenty-seven.”

“No, this one’s special.” He said it with such certainty, I’d be crazy to doubt him. His eyes ticked to the comic in my hand. “What did you bring me?”

I held it up. “Only the most obscure and ridiculous running comic you’ve ever seen.”

His tired smile got wider, and he reached for the book. “The Running Runner? Who comes up with this?”

I shrugged and dropped into my chair at the table, inhaling deep to smell all the delicious food. “Ms. Louisa fixed us up good today.”

As if on cue, she came in, all bright and cheery. “I sho did. Your favorite, boo.”

His eyes glanced over the food and went back to the window. “I’m not hungry.”

“You sure you don’ want none?” Ms. Louisa asked.

He shook his head again. “But you know Syd’s going to eat all of them anyway.”

We laughed, and I started dishing myself some food. But truthfully, eating was the last thing I felt like doing.

My brother, Greg, had been a stronger person than me, visiting Liam almost every other day and always coming back home in a better mood.

Maybe because he didn’t think of how little time we had with him. These precious few minutes we got to be alive in the grand scheme of the universe.

For a while, Liam and I sat in silence, watching the sun slowly wake up the city. Even though people sped through their day, the river and the sun were always the same, in on some secret joke while the rest of us rushed around.

Once all the orange was gone from the sky, Liam turned his wheelchair to face me, his pointed face all business. “How are you feeling?”

“Fine.” And yes, it struck me as odd that he was asking me that question. “Nervous, I guess. Twenty-six miles is a long way to run.”

He folded the comic book to his chest and leaned in. “Did you know it takes about a thousand-ish steps to run a mile?”

I tapped the step counter on my wrist. “One thousand, seven hundred and four.”

“Which means it will be about...” his lips tightened as he thought.

“Forty-four thousand steps,” I finished. I’d already done the math.

He nodded. “And the fastest someone has ever
run a marathon is like—two hours. That’s shorter
than a Harry Potter movie.” He shrugged, like it was
no big deal.

Of course he and Greg got along so well. Greg with his unshakable, cavalier confidence. Liam with his straightforward view of the world. Spending time with him was almost like having my brother back.


I chewed at my lip.

“You don’t have to do it, Syd,” Liam said. “I know the marathon was Greg’s thing.”

I shook my head and put my hands on Liam’s knees. He told me once that Greg was the only person who ever touched him there aside from the aides and doctors. The amputations made everyone else uncomfortable. Even his parents.

“I am running this marathon,” I said. “For Greg.” And then I put my thumb under his chin and looked in his tired eyes. “And for you.”

If Liam could fight osteosarcoma, I could run a race. I would do it if it killed me.

Footsteps sounded behind us. Liam’s mom smiled at us. “What’s the count?”

Liam told her.

“And the new comic book?”

He held it up.

She came closer, dropped a kiss on his forehead. “When’s Jere coming?”

That name dug its claws into my heart and squeezed, but I evened my expression. It could be someone different. “Who’s Jere?”

Liam turned his eyes away, refused to make eye

I looked to his mom for answers, but her eyes were on the doorway. On Jeremiah Dermot.

And the river was inside my ears, rushing water over my brain, making it impossible to think, to hear, to understand.

Liam looked up at me, all wide-eyed and innocent. “He said you haven’t talked to him since January.”

My head darted from Jeremiah to Liam to Liam’s mom. “I...” My mouth was dry. Too dry. I swallowed. “I’ve got to go. I’ll see you next Saturday,” I said to Liam. “With pictures.”

And then I left, because Jeremiah wasn’t just the last person I wanted to see. He was my enemy. For as long as I lived, I would never forgive him for all he’d taken away from me.

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About Kelsie Stelting

Hi! My name is Kelsie Stelting. I'm an author of relatable, heartfelt teen romance. Growing up, I always wanted to read books about girls like me. Girls who felt insecure sometimes, who tried their hardest, who sometimes failed and found a way to get back up every time they fell down.

Since I couldn't find those books... I wrote them.

Since publishing my first book in 2016, I've written and released more than twenty books, including my flagship series, The Curvy Girl Club. 

When you read these books through my website, you get a great deal and stories you can read in your preferred format and your preferred devices. You're also supporting my small business that supports myself, my husband, and our three children.

I appreciate you supporting my work and immersing yourself in these books! <3