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The Breakup Vacation

Part of Beach House

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About The Book

It’s the summer before senior year of college, and Grace is about to make the worst decision of her life in this “sexy, sun-drenched cocktail of chaotic good fun and heartfelt hilarity” (Sarah Kuhn, author of the Heroine Complex series) that captures the messiness of your early twenties, while highlighting the necessity of girlfriends at any—and every—age.

How far would you go to win back an ex?

If Grace is being honest, she knows her choices skate past questionable and probably into destructive. But her heart is broken and the guy who broke it—her ex Josh—keeps hinting at a reunion. So when her best friends, Tiff and Camille, suggest they take a girls trip to help her get over her heartache, Grace doesn’t hesitate to recommend Cancún. She just doesn’t mention that Josh also happens to be there.

But juggling her friends, Josh, and the increasing number of lies she’s telling is a lot harder than she expected. And things only get more complicated when she clicks with a hot local guy, Daniel, who turns out to be half Taiwanese too. As the days unfold, Grace starts to think maybe she’ll get away with it. But will her past decisions and her need for closure come back to ruin the relationships that matter most to her?

“Full of true friendship, deep self-discovery, and all the swoons,” (Courtney Kae, author of In the Event of Love), The Breakup Vacation captures the hilarious chaos of being twenty-one, when love is still new, when adulthood feels so close and yet so far away, and when friends are everything.

Excerpt

Chapter One CHAPTER ONE
“I’ll never let go, Jack. I’ll never let go.”

Titanic (1997)



Cutting bangs after a breakup was so cliché. And yet, here Grace was, staggering home with a sweaty homemade version of Wednesday Addams’s fringe stuck to her forehead.

“Wednesday Addams,” she said aloud, using the same accent as King George III in Hamilton, making herself giggle. Her theater teacher had said to practice different voices. Not that it mattered now.

She swerved back and forth down the sidewalk in her blue-and-white-checkered Mary Jane pumps, pulling out a mini bottle of vodka from her cleavage and taking a swig. It probably hadn’t been the smartest decision to ditch her friends when she was in this state, but Grace needed to be alone. That is, she needed to be alone for where she was headed next.

She stopped to check her reflection in a car window, wiping a smudge of something black off her cheek and tucking the liquor bottle back inside her baby-blue corset, right next to her house keys. (Who needed pockets when they had boobs?) She looked a little disheveled, but still hot enough to tempt Josh. Grace could pull him away from just about anything with the promise of boobs.

She turned left at the next street, heading for the weathered yellow house she’d spent the majority of the past six months sleeping in. Josh hadn’t specifically invited her over that night, but they still slept together on occasion, so it wasn’t like she was a stalker ex-girlfriend who didn’t understand boundaries. She could stop by, and it wouldn’t be weird or desperate because she was just checking in. As a friend.

Her heels sank into the soft, wet grass, and Grace could feel moisture seeping through the sides of her shoes as she made her way across the lawn toward his bottom-floor window. Usually, she’d be much more concerned about her shoes, but they’d already been ruined when some frat guy spilled an entire cup of beer on them at the end-of-year party. Never before had she so longed for one of her cozy nights in with Josh, curled up on the couch watching old movies together. Preferably barefoot and dry, but she could stay in these a little longer if it meant getting invited inside.

Josh’s window was open a crack, the warm night air of late spring ruffling the curtains inside. Grace had been the one to choose them, the tiny film-reel pattern because of Josh’s ambitions as a filmmaker. Goddamn, she was a thoughtful girlfriend—between that and the boobs, how had he been able to break up with her?

Grace tapped lightly on the glass three times before struggling to slide the old wooden window up. They’d decided this method was easier since she often came over late at night, so Grace wouldn’t have to stand in the cold, waiting for Josh to open the front door. And anyway, Tiff had made Grace leave her phone at home to keep her from texting Josh. Oh, the irony.

“Josh,” she stage-whispered, her arms still battling the window casing. It was sort of inconsiderate of him not to leave the window open at least wide enough for her to crawl through, but she was an industrious girl. Her theater teacher always said that persistence was the key to success in acting. Well, that, and nepotism.

“Josh,” she rasped again, having gotten one knee up onto the sill to give herself more leverage as she futilely shoved at the window. The scraping sound of wood on wood was truly heinous, but she’d already come too far to give up now. Josh would see her tonight, whether he liked it or not.

Of course, she preferred that he’d like it.

Grace heard footsteps hurrying into the room. A moment later the curtains were shoved aside, and Josh’s magnificent face appeared.

“Gracie, baby, what are you doing here?”

“Just… trying… to… oof.” Grace fell back, her butt landing hard on the wet ground. The window hadn’t budged a single inch. “I think your window’s broken.”

Josh seamlessly opened the window (okay, fine, maybe the alcohol had impaired her motor skills) and leaned his head out, his eyes brimming with concern. “Are you okay? What happened?” He looked so worried about her, she nearly teared up on the spot.

Of course she wasn’t okay. She was crumpled in a tiny heap outside the window of her ex-boyfriend’s, who was looking at her with pity instead of joy. But being the actress she was (or wanted to be, anyway), she pasted on a smile and gave a little laugh as though this were a minor mishap and not moderately to significantly humiliating with a side of literal pain in her ass.

“I was just… walking by…” she huffed, trying to sort her limbs into a position where she could reasonably stand again, but the ground had inexplicably become rather wobbly. Maybe Northern California was finally getting the big earthquake that was long overdue. She could claim omniscience and say she’d come to warn him, the two of them huddled together under a table or something to stay safe. Proximity was always his weakness around her.

Josh raised his eyebrows but wisely said nothing. It would have been rude to point out that his house was not remotely on the route back to her own house, and Josh was nothing if not unfailingly polite. He’d even been polite when he’d broken up with her.

“Do you need me to call Tiffany for you?” he offered.

“No!” Grace nearly shouted, her arm outstretched as though she could stop him from her position on the ground. Tiff would not be happy to find Grace here, especially since she’d discovered Grace’s habit of casually cruising by his house since the breakup. It wouldn’t be long until Tiff and Camille realized Grace had ducked out of the party early, so if she could just get inside Josh’s, she’d be in the clear. Tiff would never deign to step inside his place.

“I thought you might miss me,” she said, smoothing her skirt as she tried to ignore the wetness now seeping into her underwear, ratcheting up her discomfort to a new level. It would probably be off soon enough. “And I know how much you like this outfit, so…”

Josh looked pained. “God, you look good. You went out all night in that?”

Grace could practically see his hazel eyes growing greener at the thought.

“Mm-hm,” she murmured, trying to sweep the bangs off her forehead in a way that seemed demure. Ew. Her hands were wet from the grass. No matter.

Josh worried his lower lip, as though he did want to invite her in, but shook his head instead. “Sorry, Gracie, tonight’s not good for me. You know I would have texted otherwise. I thought we agreed to give each other a little bit of space? To make it easier on the both of us?”

“No, you decided on space,” she spat, angrily remembering his post-sex speech about how he needed to focus more on his filmmaking and didn’t have time to devote to the kind of relationship they’d (already) been having.

Josh’s look turned pitying again, and Grace chided herself for not keeping her feelings more hidden. It wasn’t exactly a secret that she was against the breakup, but it wouldn’t do for him to know just how much it had hurt her. Especially when he seemed like he reconsidered that decision every time he saw her. It was only a matter of time before he realized what he’d lost. She just needed to keep herself in proximity.

“I thought you might be lonely,” Grace purred, switching back into the innocent voice she knew Josh couldn’t resist. “And now that finals are over, you might have time to relax a little.”

Josh regularly said that sex was his favorite form of stress relief. Whenever he was upset or anxious, he always turned to Grace, who was more than happy to help, as it were. Him needing her proved they’d gone beyond surface-level stuff. He couldn’t function without her. But he wanted to.

Josh groaned, a tightly clenched fist in his teeth. “Don’t make this harder on me, Gracie,” he begged, running a hand through his shaggy hair. “I’ve been so good the past few days.”

She felt somewhat guilty for exploiting his weakness for sex, but not guilty enough to actually leave him alone. This was just as hard on her.

“Josh? Who are you talking to?”

The high, breathy voice floated into the room, quickly followed by a body and head Grace recognized. A face (and personality) Grace loathed.

Villainous music played in her head as Caity “I speak all the languages of my ancestors” Ruiz marched across Josh’s bedroom. Grace knew it was childish to have a nemesis in her twenties, but hating Caity Ruiz was what fueled her. Hating her stupid fucking pretend-shocked face when she’d been cast as yet another lead this past spring, even though half the class insisted Grace had had a better audition. Hating her stupid fucking balayage hair that wasn’t even in fashion anymore, but Santa Cruz was far-flung enough that somehow people still thought it was fresh. Even hating her stupid fucking name. What kind of Asian parent named their kid Caity?

She was probably one of those girls who constantly changed the spelling of it in middle school to seem edgy. Kaytee. Caytie. KT.

Josh had said Caity was dull. Safe. Didn’t take chances with her acting. He’d watched Grace ugly cry after she’d lost the role to Caity and reassured her that Professor Tester just had a different vision for the part than she could offer. And now he had her in his bedroom like he’d never meant a single word of it.

“Oh, hi, Grace,” Caity cooed. She tossed her hair over her shoulder as if she were in a low-budget Pantene commercial. “What are you doing here?”

Even in her inebriated state, Grace could swear Caity emphasized the you. Like it was such a shock that Josh’s very recent ex might still be in contact with him.

“I could ask you the same thing,” Grace slurred, struggling to stand once more before giving up again. “I hope you’re not planning to crash our trip to LA next weekend.” She slowly pronounced the word “our” to make sure Caity understood that Josh already had one unofficial relationship and wasn’t on the market for her brand of know-it-all-ness.

Josh cleared his throat, his hand agitating his hair as he shot Grace a preemptive look of apology that made it very clear that LA was no longer happening. “Shit.”

Her brief spark of joy from seeing Josh died. “It’s fine,” she said dully.

Sure, why not? She already had to trash her outfit and her one summer trip—what was one more loss? What had she been expecting? For her ex to follow through on a promise made long before they’d broken up? It was her fault for not confirming earlier.

Josh looked conflicted, as if he wanted to say something to her but not in front of Caity “I’m always so jet-lagged when I fly back from the Philippines” Ruiz.

He said nothing.

Grace decided now would be an excellent time for a drink. She fished out the tiny vodka bottle from her cleavage and promptly downed the remainder of it. With any luck, it would help her forget that her sworn enemy had just witnessed her, ass-on-the-ground-drunk, in front of her ex’s window as he gently rejected her once again.

“Are you drinking straight vodka?” Caity gasped, a hand to her chest as though they lived in the Prohibition era and Grace had been caught slinging moonshine.

God, she was a boring actor.

“It’s made from potatoes, you know,” Grace replied, dimly aware that her words were beginning to merge with one another. “I’m basically carbo-loading. Like an athlete. Team USA!” Grace raised the empty bottle in a mock toast and was rewarded with a chorus of cheers and hoots from a group of similarly drunk students walking down the street. “See?”

Josh cleared his throat again, and Grace felt like a child about to be scolded. But she’d come this far. If Josh was going to make a (bigger) fool of her, he might as well get it over with. Even if it had to happen in front of Caity “I couldn’t watch Mary Poppins as a kid because Dick Van Dyke’s accent was so bad” Ruiz.

Grace was in the final battle scene of Gladiator, waiting on Josh’s thumbs-up or -down to decide her fate. She didn’t mean to be overdramatic, but the rest of her life hinged on this LA trip. Josh had promised to introduce her to his dad, who was a producer with a small indie studio in the Valley. Grace didn’t have any connections of her own in Hollywood, and she’d been relying on Josh to help her navigate it all.

“I’ll still talk to my dad for you,” Josh said, reassuring her even as he was breaking her heart. But then he shot an anxious look at Caity, and Grace knew more bad news was coming.

“Caity got me a job on her dad’s film set down in Cancún. It has that Black French singer girl you listen to in it. Caity and I are flying out in the morning. They’ve been filming for a few weeks already, but her dad said I could shadow him and help out wherever I am needed until they wrap. It’s not much, but this could be huge for my career. I meant to tell you…” He trailed off, knowing there was really no good way to end that sentence.

He was leaving her. Literally ditching her to go on vacation with Caity. Her nemesis. Grace was trapped in a fucking horror movie, frozen in place as the killer inched toward her.

“I’m so sorry,” he apologized. “I’m an asshole for not telling you sooner. Do you hate me?”

“Of course I don’t hate you,” Grace replied reflexively, even as her heart shriveled to the size of the Grinch’s at Christmas. She couldn’t be mad at him for taking the opportunity. It was a big deal to land a job on a movie set, even if that opportunity came from Caity “Have I mentioned my dad is a director?” Ruiz. If Grace had some kind of lure like that, she wouldn’t have hesitated to use it either.

Score one for the bad guys.

Where it left her, however, was another question. It was taking all of Grace’s energy just to sit upright, let alone do something about the tears pooling in her eyes. All she could do was keep blinking like a haunted doll, her false eyelashes sliding ever closer to the edge of her lids.

She couldn’t cry in front of Caity “I only drink water with electrolytes to keep my skin healthy” Ruiz. Crying would mean conceding. Josh would see it, Caity would leap onto the windowsill—Grace’s windowsill—like a victorious Spartan, and Grace would be buried looking like a mangled doll come to life, only seven of her ten toes painted because she’d gotten distracted at the time and never finished.

Some enterprising film student next year would probably write a screenplay about it. Maybe even Josh himself. The sad story of the unwanted girl, beloved by everyone except those she really wanted to love her. It would be a tragedy, of course. But with excellent costumes. And a soundtrack of pop songs sung in slow tempo to give it a dramatic indie vibe.

“Grace! There you are! We’ve been looking everywhere for you!”

Tiff was a blur of hair and tiny legs as she and their much, much taller roommate, Camille, rushed toward Grace. Pulling her up, Tiff brushed the wet clumps of grass from Grace’s backside with what could only be described as excessive enthusiasm.

“I should have known,” Tiff muttered as she smacked at the few remaining bits of grass clinging to Grace’s ass.

“What does that— Ow! Not so hard!—mean?”

Instead of answering her, Tiff turned to Josh. Her eyes were slitted, her smile bordering on feral. “Joshua,” she clipped, each syllable ending in its own punctuation.

The side of his mouth curled up as he nodded his head in acknowledgment. “Tiffany. Camille.” He said it like “Kimmy.”

“Caity,” Caity chimed in, pointing at herself as though everyone was just calling out names.

Camille looked amused as she corrected Josh’s pronunciation the way she did every time. “Camille.” Her French accent made it sound like Ka-ME.

Caity’s eyes lit up. “Tu es française?”

Oh, absolutely the fuck not. Grace might well be on the verge of puking and unable to fully stand on her own, but she was not sharing another person in her life with Caity “I pronounce it ONvelope” Ruiz. Especially not as Josh told her silently with his eyes that he was so, so sorry for breaking up with her but still wouldn’t take it back.

Scooping up her chunky heels in one hand and tugging on Tiff’s with the other, Grace marched toward the street with the precision of a soldier performing a changing of the guard. She would salvage her dignity in this moment by walking away. She was an actor, goddamn it.

If only she’d noticed the edge of the curb.

With bare feet and only a fleeting sense of balance, Grace misjudged the distance and promptly fell into the street, crumpling like a paper bag getting stepped on.

“Oh fuck, ow, ow, ow,” Grace cried, clutching her foot as she rolled around on the gritty asphalt. “I think I rolled my ankle.” She groaned. “And my back. And my wrist.”

“Are you okay?” Josh and Caity called out at the same time. They gave each other a surprised look, and Grace mentally flashed forward to it becoming one of those cute little things a couple did all the time.

She was supposed to be the one on the same wavelength as Josh. She deserved those little things.

“Hold on tight, we’ll help you walk.” Tiff pushed her mane of curly black hair out of the way as she reached for Grace’s arm for the second time that night. “Camille and I will each prop up a side of you.”

“Please, just let me die.” Grace moaned. Her last attempt to save face had somehow made the rest of the night seem pleasant. If Josh came outside to check on her—or, God forbid, Caity—Grace would have to transfer colleges. Or hire a hitman.

There was no coming back from this.

“I’ll give you more alcohol if you get up right now,” Tiff coaxed.

That got Grace to her feet. “What kind of alcohol? Something good? Or that terrible wine thing Camille made me drink last time that tasted like potpourri?” Grace turned the word over in her mouth like one of her diction exercises. “Pote-purreeeeee. Pot-poory.”

“Please stop,” Camille begged, using her free hand to cover one ear. “French people are already depressed.”

“Oh, Camille,” Grace warbled, her drunken brain unable to stay focused on any one topic for long. “I was just kidding around. I do a mean French accent. I’ve been studying.”

Camille made a noncommittal sound, and Grace sucked in a gust of air. “You dare doubt me?” she demanded in a French accent.

“Ah. I see. French accent in English,” Camille clarified.

Grace laughed. “Of course in English, what else would I be speaking?”

“Uh, French,” Tiff supplied.

That sent Grace into a fit of giggles.

“Are you sure she’s okay?” Josh called out.

Grace whipped her head around, and even from a distance, she saw the hesitation in his face. Like maybe he did want to come after her. Because he cared about her.

“We don’t need any help from you, that’s for fucking sure,” Tiff shouted back, much louder than necessary. “You and your new girlfriend can go back to whatever boring-ass missionary-style sex you were having before we got here.”

Grace’s eyes went wide, and she sent a sharp elbow into Tiff’s ribs. “Why would you say that?” she hissed.

Tiff shrugged. “He looks like a missionary-only kind of guy.”

He was, mostly, but that wasn’t Grace’s point.

“I mean that you’re encouraging him to have sex with her!”

Tiff mockingly replied with an equal measure of outrage. “Yes! I am! Because then maybe you’ll see he’s moving on and you should too.”

Tears sprang into Grace’s eyes again, and Tiff immediately apologized.

“Okay, okay, I’m sorry. He’s not moving on. You’re the one leaving him right now.”

Grace drew her eyebrows together. “I am?”

“Yeah! Look at you!” Tiff tried to stand a little taller, which was hard since Grace was putting almost all of her weight on her. “You’re walking away, and all he can do is watch you go.”

“He’s still watching me?” Grace asked.

“Do not read into this,” Tiff warned, heaving Grace into a more upright position.

“How close is he standing to Caity?” Grace asked, employing the last crumbs of her willpower to keep from looking back at the window.

“This girl?” Camille scoffed. “She has nothing to compare to you. I am sure they are just friends.”

“Friends with benefits,” Tiff muttered. “Just kidding!” she added when she saw Grace’s face. “Camille’s right. Nothing is happening, and you are walking away from this so we can bring you home and get you so drunk you’ll never even think of him again.”

Grace stared into Tiff’s face, wishing her best friend was even half as convincing as Josh. But she played along, grateful her friends were trying so hard to cheer her up. “How much do I need to drink so I never think of Caity again?”

About The Author

Photograph © Anna Gracia

Anna Gracia was born and raised in Minnesota, where she survived on Dairy Queen Blizzards and the wild tales of Jessica Wakefield. She is the author of the YA novels Misdirection of Fault Lines and Boys I Know, which was both an Indies Introduce and an Indie Next pick, as well as the adult novel The Break-Up Vacation. Her books have been featured in The New York Times, Paste, Seventeen, and more. When not writing, you can find her napping or wishing she was napping. See more at Anna-Gracia.com.

Product Details

  • Publisher: MTV Books (March 5, 2024)
  • Length: 320 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781668010969

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Raves and Reviews

"Full of debauchery, deep friendships, and infallible young twenties' logic, Gracia’s novel made me nostalgic for a time when anything was possible. This adult debut will have you rooting for summer to never end.”—Carolyn Huynh, author of The Fortunes of Jaded Women

"A breezy beach read that's a double shot of sarcasm and sensuality, with a chaser full of heart, friendship, and self-realization." —Nathan Ramos-Park, award-winning playwright and co-writer of Five Blind Dates

“A sexy, sun-drenched cocktail of chaotic good fun and heartfelt hilarity. It’s like the best summer vacation ever in book form. It's like the best summer vacation ever in book form.”—Sarah Kuhn, author of the Heroine Complex series

The Breakup Vacation grabbed me from line one and never let go! With sparkling wit, a dynamite voice, and supremely well-crafted plot and characters, Anna Gracia comes to the page with fireworks booming. Full of true friendship, deep self-discovery, and all the swoons, books like this are why we read romance. Gracia is a star.” —Courtney Kae, author of In the Event of Love and In the Case of Heartbreak

“Steamy, witty, and pure summer fun! Gracia’s characters have dynamic personalities and hilarious banter in a book with everything from sisterhood and cultural commentary to a dreamy book boyfriend.”—Riss M. Neilson, author of A Love Like the Sun

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