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An Espresso Machine's Guide to Love and Mischief

Mia Harlan

I’m Diva Del Ray, and come coffee beans or boiled water, I’m going to save myself and get the guy… or should I say guys?

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Read an excerpt from An Espresso Machine's Guide to Love and Mischief

“We have to speed up, they’re gaining on us!” he shouts.

I can’t do it. I can’t go faster when there’s a risk we’ll crash, sink, and die. I know how to swim—hell, I learned from three former Olympians—but that didn’t save me or my sister, who had the same lessons and died on the same cruise as me. 

Asgard puts his hand over mine and pushes hard on the throttle, and my stomach lurches as the yacht speeds up. 

“No,” I gasp and yank the throttle back.

“We have to—”

His voice is cut off by something slamming into the back of the yacht. I stumble forward over the controls, and the wheel digs into my chest. Ow, boob pain! I never thought I’d miss that.

I whirl and squint through the glare of the kidnappers’ yacht to find it directly behind us with its bow nearly against our stern. It must have rammed us. 

People rush to board our yacht just like those pirates did off the coast of Greece. 

Fuck! What if our yacht’s damaged? What if it sinks? What if they come over here and drown us or…

“I’ll take care of them,” Asgard says. He turns to me and meets my gaze, his face lit up by the kidnappers’ bow lights. “Whatever happens, promise me you’ll keep moving. Get out of here and go somewhere safe.”

“What are you going to do?”

“Whatever it takes.” He grins. “I trained all my life for this moment. To protect you. I just didn’t know it until now.”

Tears spring to my eyes. 

“Promise me you’ll get out of here.”

“But—”

“Promise me!” 

“Okay, okay. But what about you?”

“I can handle myself,” Asgard says.

I’m not sure he can, given that I found him locked up in a cage. But before I can stop him, he bursts into a run straight out of the cockpit and to the helm. He punches one of the kidnappers and throws him overboard faster than I can blink. The others haven’t made it aboard our yacht yet, so he leaps onto theirs and lands in a roll. 

Go, go, go! McKay shouts.

I take a step toward the cockpit door to go after him. I have to help him. I can’t watch him get hurt or killed like that skunk who tried to rescue me. My heart feels like a ship’s hull cracking just before it starts to sink.

Diva, McKay says gently, I know how much this hurts. I can feel it. But you don’t want his sacrifice to be in vain. You promised you’d get out of here.

I swallow hard and turn back to the controls. It takes every last bit of willpower I have to force myself to push the throttle. The yacht speeds up, and I glance over my shoulder as a gang swarms someone on the kidnappers’ deck. I can’t see who it is from here, but I know it’s Asgard.

I can still go back and… but what would I do? I can barely control my limbs, and I promised to stay safe. 

How is it that since I died, I can’t ever help the people around me? Instead, they always seem to end up taking care of me. I used to be an ass-kicking Diva, if I do say so myself, and now that I have a body to work with, I can’t even tell if I need to poop.

I turn my back on the kidnappers’ yacht—and the man who saved me—and slump into the chair. 

You made the right choice, McKay says.

I don’t reply as I motor toward the mainland.