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I’m no stranger to beautiful places and beautiful women; the life I’ve led has left me jaded to both…or so I thought. Then a working holiday photographing the wild, lonely places of America leads me to a goddess. She’s all long black hair and dangerous curves, fiercely independent, with art in her soul. She sets me on fire, she turns me inside out—and in so doing, she shows me the man I’ve kept hidden within the inner sanctum of my lonely heart.
She is Poppy Goode, and I cannot live without her.
* * *
Hitchhiking from Manhattan, New York to Ketchikan, Alaska seems like a pretty interesting way to discover one’s self, and one’s purpose in this universe. I meet all kinds of people along the way, so it’s not entirely surprising when I catch a ride with a gorgeous traveler from New Zealand. He’s golden, tall and lean, and his accent is to die for—a New Zealand twang and roll that lilts and makes me laugh. He’s got a million stories, each more unbelievable than the last: he’s an adventurer and a photographer for Nat Geo, but none of his crazy, fascinating stories can hide the sadness in his eyes.
We are both brave about everything except ourselves, and we embark on a path that
takes us over the craggy mountains surrounding my heart and his. We share scorching, undeniable physical chemistry, but letting ourselves be really free requires immense courage, unflinching honesty, and vulnerability…which neither of us are certain we possess.
There’s a map for highways, but if there’s a map for love, I never got it.