Authors: Piper Vaughn
5032 Capital Circle SW
Ste 2, PMB# 279
Tallahassee, FL 32305-7886
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are
the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any
resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments,
events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
One True Thing
Copyright © 2012 by Piper Vaughn and M.J. O’Shea
Cover Art by L.C. Chase
Photo by Andy Kay, Boycrush Studios
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted
in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including
photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval
system without the written permission of the Publisher, except where
permitted by law. To request permission and all other inquiries, contact
Dreamspinner Press, 5032 Capital Circle SW, Ste 2, PMB# 279, Tallahassee,
FL 32305-7886, USA.
Printed in the United States of America
eBook edition available
eBook ISBN: 978-1-62380-047-5
For the adorable Sue N. Friend,
sister cat, fellow lover of cheap, frozen booze.
We love you, babycakes.
Thank you to all the people who helped us make
this story better.
TWO days in California and I was already in love.
How could I help it? The palm trees, the heat, the
pretty people wearing brand names I could admire
but never afford. I hadn’t gotten one weird look for
my clothes or my nail polish or my piercings. Even
the sun felt different than it had back in
Wilmington. Warmer somehow, freeing. Or maybe
it wasn’t the sun that had changed. Maybe it was
I guess leaving your home state and driving
across the country alone can do that. I wasn’t the
same guy who’d shoved all his worldly
possessions into the back of a rusted powder-blue
Chevy station wagon and put Delaware in his
rearview mirror last week. This was the new and
improved Dusty. Dusty 2.0. Version one was still
back in the ’Ware. I’d left him behind, along with
every hard time and bad memory I’d experienced
there. California meant a fresh start, another
The Life and Times of Dustin Davis
And what could be better than starting that chapter
in a place as awesome as West Hollywood?
I smiled to myself at the thought
and transferred my keys and iced latte into one
hand so I could dig into my pocket for my phone
with the other. I wanted to call my friends, Rue and
Erik, share some of the excitement, tell them I
adored our new little house and the neighborhood
that surrounded it.
I’d spent the whole morning exploring,
walking up and down the boulevard, checking out
the shops and restaurants. Rue was going to love it,
I already knew, and I thought Erik might too, once
he got settled. It was a change for him—for all of
us—but a good one.
I hit the speed dial for Rue’s number and
lifted the phone to my ear, nodding at the woman
who was walking past me with a primped-out
poodle at her side.
“Hey, Dust,” Rue answered after a couple of
rings. “How’s it going?” I started to respond, but
his voice interrupted me. “I’m gonna put you on
“It’s great!” I said once I heard Alice, Rue’s
daughter, babbling happily in the background. “I
found this awesome little coffee shop. Kind of
reminds me of The Bean, but don’t worry, Erik,
it’s a lot cleaner.” Rue’s boyfriend laughed at my
words, the sound familiar and warm, making me
smile. God, I missed him. Rue and Alice too. I
couldn’t wait until they were with me.
“You guys are gonna love it here,” I went on,
moving to the edge of the sidewalk so a woman
pushing a double stroller could get around me.
“It’s totally gorgeous, and the house is so cute! The
pictures didn’t really do it justice. Just wait ’til
you see. And the neighborhood is so nice and
quiet, and, Erik, you’re going to love the backyard.
There’s plenty of room for a garden and maybe
even a pool if the landlord would let us—”
I broke off when the front of one of my flip-
flops got caught on an uneven section of sidewalk
and nearly sent me flying forward. I stumbled,
almost dropping my phone, and probably would
have fallen flat on my face had someone not
reached out to grab my upper arm and steady me.
The touch went through me like an electric shock,
instantaneous and hot, sending a rush of goose
bumps across my skin. My breath caught, and
every fine hair on my body stood on end.
I looked up, speechless, mouth hanging open,
and found myself staring into the prettiest brown
eyes I’d ever seen, rich and warm as dark amber
honey, and surrounded by what seemed like an
unfair amount of thick, curly lashes.
The face that went along with those eyes was
just as pretty. More than. Beautiful maybe. But, no,
that wasn’t quite right either. Stunning. Yeah… that
was exactly it. Because this guy, this gorgeous guy,
with his strong jaw and straight nose, high
cheekbones, elegant eyebrows, and olive skin,
he’d stunned me silent. And that was
to his lips, which were so lush and full it took all
my willpower not to lean in for a kiss.
I blinked at him, trying to think of
something, anything to say, like “hi” or “thanks for
saving me from falling on my face,” or maybe even
“marry me,” but I couldn’t get my throat to work. I
just stared up at him, struck stupid by his eyes, his
mouth, his gentle fingers and their steadying grip.
“Okay?” he asked, and those lips, those oh-
so-kissable lips, curved up into a grin that hit me
right in the solar plexus, dead center, straight shot
I blinked again, seemingly incapable of
speech, and his smile broadened.
“Yeah, you’re okay,” he said, sounding
amused. He released my arm and stepped back.
Before I could muster any type of coherent
response, he was walking away, and I finally
registered Rue’s voice in my ear. “Dust? What’s
up? Did you wander out into traffic?”
“Who is that?” I murmured without thinking.
The awe was clear in my voice, even to me.
Rue laughed. “You haven’t even been there
two days, and you’re already checking out the
After a moment, I forced myself to laugh too.
“You know I’ve been checking them out since day
one,” I said, and that was true. But I hadn’t seen
anyone like him. Not anywhere. I needed to find
out who he was. “Hey, guys, I’ll call you later,
I hit “end” on my phone and quickly shoved it
back into my pocket, turning around to look in the
direction the guy had gone. The latte I’d bought and
completely forgotten about was cold in my hand. I
dropped it into a garbage bin as I moved up the
street, eyes searching the group of people in front
of me, looking for a head of sun-kissed brown hair.
He’d had a few inches on me, but unfortunately not
enough height to really stand out in the crowd.
Where did he go?
I had to find him. I needed
to know his name, get his phone number, his
address, e-mail, whatever, it didn’t matter. I’d
seen beautiful men before, even had them flirt with
me a time or two, but I’d never reacted so strongly
to anyone. No one’s touch had ever felt like that.
No one had ever taken my breath away by just
looking at me. Twenty-four years of life and I’d
never experienced anything as intense as that
moment, those few seconds, standing on a
sidewalk in the middle of a crowd with a complete
It meant something. It
to mean something.
But I didn’t get to find out what. I looked, and I
looked. I even took that same walk the next day,
and the two days after that.
I didn’t run into him again.