Warning: One kiss can lead to another...
Quirky cartoonist, Zoe Andreis puts her life on hold, flying back to the States to care for her ailing father. Spending her post-college years gallivanting all over Europe while capturing her adventures in comic form, Zoe grapples with the notion of being shackled to one city.
When she encounters Max Kiss, Zoe's true adventures begin. Although Max would love to branch out and take carefree and crazy chances of his own, he too is tied to LA, tending to his aging father. Stirred by Zoe's zest for life, Max longs for a future full of love and spontaneity.
While they struggle to find balance between caring for their parents and living a life of their own, Zoe and Max form a strong and sensual bond. When tough challenges surface, Zoe and Max search for a way to have the life they want without feeling the burden of guilt. Can they find of balance of duty and excitement while building a future together?
The car display lit up. Ringing filled his car. He glanced from the bumper-to-bumper traffic to the caller I.D., Miklós Kiss.
“Where are you, Max?” His dad’s tone was belligerent. One deep breath. Two. Three. Then he spoke.
“I’m in my car on my way to work.”
“I can’t get the stove to work. I want toast for breakfast!”
“Dad. Turn off the oven.”
“Make sure all the knobs line up. The word ‘off’ should be at the top of all five knobs.”
Max held on. He was out of sick days. Out of personal days. Family leave required planning. There was no way he could rush up to Santa Clarita to check on the gas stove at his father’s house. He was going to have to manage this from his car. And hope his father didn’t blow himself and the entire neighborhood to kingdom come.
Clattering of plastic receiver against the wall. His dad was using the hardwired phone his parents had installed nearly forty years ago.
“It’s off. I double checked. How do I get toast? You haven’t answered that one.”
“Use the toaster I bought you two months ago,” he said before he could filter the exasperation from his voice.
“Look on the left side of the kitchen,” he said, swerving around some guy who looked like he was reading a magazine. Angelenos had taken multi-tasking to a whole new level. “Next to the drain board.”
“God damn it. Why didn’t you tell me about this before?”
Max resisted the urge to yell back. Of course he’d told his father about the toaster. He’d stood with Miklós in the kitchen reviewing the instructions. He’d watched his father make and eat that first batch of toast.
“You know now, Dad. Get the bread from the fridge. There’s butter on the counter.”
“Where’s the kenyérszalonna?”
The Hungarian bacon without a hint of bacon in it was hard to get in California’s health-obsessed markets. “That’s not an American food, Apa. I’ll look a little harder. But for now there’s butter, okay?”
“Fine. I’m hungry enough to eat this,” Miklós said before the phone clattered in the bracket.
Looking at the watch helped calm Max. He wouldn’t let his dad or the morning’s traffic snarl make a dent in his mood today because the 1960 Rolex Oyster Date was keeping time like a champ.
With no further calls from his father, he knew he’d dodged a bullet today. He could kick the can of part-time or round-the-clock care down the road a little bit further.
Maybe the watch had brought him a little bit of good luck. He’d made it in early for his shift, no problem.
“You want to switch routes?” Carl Fonseca asked when he got to MTA’s depot in Sun Valley.
Carl had one of the most coveted routes, not because it was the prettiest or safest, but because the layover at the corner of Van Nuys and Moorpark was right next to an In-n-Out Burger. It was what Carl had gotten with a ton of seniority and serious maneuvering.
“I’m good,” Max said, trying not to think about the fresh made-to-order burger he’d be missing. Instead he was focused on the extreme unlikelihood he’d see Zoe again. The sliver of a chance had him banking on the forgettable lunch options of his regular route. He’d trade the burger for the chance of a little bit of sunshine Zoe could bring to his day. He’d been caring for his parents for so long that he’d forgotten what it was like to have a little bit of a crush on someone. To be a bit eager for a glimpse of an attractive woman. “I like the chicken wraps from the place on Sunset fine,” he said in response to Carl’s perplexed look.
“Just wanted to say thanks for covering for me when my wife was sick.”
“Make me the offer again in a couple of weeks,” Max said, sure he’d be more appreciative when Zoe faded from his memory. Or when he needed to switch for an appointment with the gerontologist he’d found for his dad.
About Sylvie Fox
Sylvie Fox is the author of smart women’s fiction. Her compelling stories are boldly told, designed to keep readers turning the pages. Whether you’re reading romantic women’s fiction or legal thrillers, written as Aime Austin, she wants you to enjoy the heroine’s journey.
She splits her time between Los Angeles and Budapest, where she enjoys yoga, knitting, farm-to-table cooking, and life with her husband and son. When she’s not writing, her nose is stuck in a book.