Maya knows she’s doing the right thing by moving to Alaska with her parents, but that doesn’t mean she has to be happy about it. Forced to give up a scholarship to a prestigious art school, she relocates to a Podunk town with one college the size of her high school cafeteria, all to help hold her family together after the death of her little sister. But a fresh start can only do so much.
Jake doesn’t like handouts and he certainly doesn’t need any distractions. Working on a salmon boat in Kodiak, Alaska is the only way to pay for his mother’s surgery back in the lower forty-eight. Juggling college courses and constant worry about his mother’s health, Jake couldn’t imagine anything else fitting into his life. That is, until he meets Maya, the sexy Californian artist who tints his world in technicolor.
But when Maya’s family starts to crumble and Jake’s mom takes a turn for the worse, will they drag each other down, or can they find what they were missing all along?
In this new adult romance, Theresa DaLayne paints a swoon-worthy story about life under the midnight sun, following your heart, and learning to live on the edge.
She searched the room to see the same guy who bumped into her, scarfing on a glazed donut. His dark brown hair curled from under a grey beanie, the ball bearings of his eyebrow ring glinting in the light as he chewed. Her throat tightened. He was even better looking from a distance.
He raised his gaze, immediately meeting hers. She half-smiled. He watched her for a moment, not smiling or frowning.
Maya shifted her weight.
The art professor stood from behind his desk, grabbing Maya's attention. "Hi everyone." The tall, lanky man stepped around the side of his desk. "My name is Mr. Stuart, and I'll be your art professor this semester." He pushed his glasses up to the bridge of his nose. "Today is day one, so I'm going to see what you all are capable of."
Maya checked out the blue-eyed guy a second time. He had finished his donut and was now focused on the teacher.
She didn't mean to stare, but, wow. The sharp angle of his jaw made her forget every California guy she’d ever called eye candy.
"Grab a piece of paper," the professor continued, "and choose your preferred method of creation. Make something that will impress me." The professor sat back down behind his desk. "You have ninety minutes."
The classroom filled with chatter as Maya rose from her seat and approached the acrylic paints. She scanned the colors and gathered them in her arms.
The guy moved to stand beside her, checking out the paints like they were extraterrestrial. Maya couldn't help but grin. "Not familiar with acrylics?"
He examined the row of bottles she was holding. "No, but I have a feeling you know exactly what you're doing."
She shrugged. "It's kind of my thing."
"I can see that." He plucked a puke-colored green from the pile. “Maybe I’ll give it a shot.”
Maya crinkled her nose and took the bottle from his hand. "Not that one. It’s muddled." She picked a few bottles of primary colors and handed them to him. “Start with the basics. If you need help, there’s an empty seat next to me." Maya tried not to smile when he took her up on her offer and followed close behind her.
"You're new here."
"And you're not the first person who's noticed." She glanced over her shoulder. "Is it that obvious?" Maya found her seat and spilled the pile of paints onto the table.
"It's a small town." He pulled the seat out beside her and sat, leaning back in his chair while staring up at her.
Those blue eyes again.
She sat and organized the paints in a row, dark to light. "So does the whole town know I'm here?"
"Probably." He chuckled and extended his hand.
She wrapped her hand in his. His hands were callused, but he had a strong grip. "I’m Maya, by the way."
“Jake.” He pulled his hand back and leaned forward, propping his forearms on the table. "So what are we painting?"
"We?" She picked up a slanted brush, loading it with dark brown. "I'm painting a mountainside."
Jake grabbed an abandoned piece of paper from beside him and a straight edge paintbrush. "I'm thinking, a snake. Or a worm."
Maya smiled. "You mean a squiggly line?"
Maya dragged her brush over the paper, making thin, vertical lines, then set it down and chose a fan brush. Hunter green would work, though she noticed most of the trees on Kodiak weren't that dark. A few strategically placed strokes over the brown trunks would make great spruce trees.
"There," he said. "Done."
“Already?” Maya picked up her brush and looked at Jake's painting—a grey streak across the paper with solid red eyes and a forked tongue, painted in electric blue. She raised her eyebrows. "What is that?"
"It's a snake." He set down the brush.
"Sorry to break it to you, but that is not a snake."
"What? It's an endangered species."
Maya giggled. "More like radioactive."
Theresa DaLayne a north-south-east-western kind of girl with a quirky personality to match her nomad life. Born in the garlic capital of the world, she spent her childhood exploring the US with her family, including a seven-year stay in Kodiak, Alaska. Now married, she has spent ten amazing years with her (arguably) better half traveling the world and growing their family.