01 Dec Last Goodbyes: Chapter 3 in a Short Story Sequence
This short story sequence is a series of several deleted scenes that didn’t make it into the final version of I Am Girl Power because it leaned into Contemporary Romance and wasn’t exactly in line with the vision I had for Megan.
But there’s no reason we can’t explore that now!
If you haven’t read Chapter 1, click here to read that first!
Click here to read Chapter 2!
The reason I’ve given the short story sequence to you here is because it’s separate from their story for now—and some future books that I may write for them. Assume that we’re back at Adventura before the summer ends, when the tension between Justin and Meg is at its highest.
I think you’ll love this short story sequence.
Later that night after finding out about Justin’s grandfather’s death, stars poked through the canopy of branches outside. I lay on my back, on my cot, letting the cool summer air wash over me. My legs hummed after the lift from earlier, and I couldn’t get Justin out of my mind.
A knock on the door interrupted my train of thought.
“Yeah, come in.”
Mark and JJ stepped inside, looking somber. JJ wore his hat backwards, his long hair resting on his shoulders. Mark ran a hand over his head and rubbed his face. His eyes were drawn and bloodshot.
“Hey,” I said, sitting up. “What’s up? Everything ok?”
“Just talked to the gladiator.” JJ leaned against the doorframe and folded his arms across his chest. Mark turned my hanging lantern on. Light flooded the cabin with light and shadow. The sounds of campers laughing in the distance filtered through my open window.
“Tough news, huh?”
“Really tough,” Mark said. “Justin and his grandfather were close.”
It was the first time I’d ever heard Mark use Justin’s real name. “Did you ever meet him?”
“One of us were going to go back with him.” JJ motioned between the two of them with a jerk of his head. “But we can’t leave the camp. We have the largest group of the summer coming next week, and Mark would fall apart without me.”
“Truth. Go back to California with the gladiator, Blister. Give him some friendly support. Mom can cover medical until you get back. Besides, the funeral is Sunday. You’ll leave in the morning, which is Friday. So it’ll just be tomorrow that we need coverage for the campers. The staff can have sandwiches or something.”
“He doesn’t have any family now,” JJ said. “Just us, really. A few staff members at his grandfather’s estate that he’s chummy with, but not the kind of people to give emotional support while burying the only family you had left.”
“Me?” I swung my legs off the cot, secretly thrilled. Secretly terrified. “But I just met Justin this summer.”
The twins exchanged a look I couldn’t interpret.
“Sure,” JJ said. “Tell yourself that. Regardless of your denial, he still needs a friend.”
Questions whirred through my mind, the least of which involve the words estate and staff. Mostly I couldn’t figure out why they’d want to send me. My heart nearly climbed out of my chest at the thought of spending so much time alone with Justin, but I forced it down.
I don’t need the complications of a relationship, I told myself, but it sounded hollow. Even though my last breakup wasn’t so far in the distance. Besides, this would entirely revolve around being his friend in a time of need, not me girl-crushing like a junior high teenager.
That was Lexie’s thing.
“Okay. I’ll go.”
Relief spread through their faces simultaneously, affirming my belief that they often operated from one brain.
“Thanks, Blister. We owe you one.”
Mark smirked and headed for the door. “Or not.”
After that, he winked at me. And though I didn’t know how to interpret what he meant, I rolled my eyes.
The twins left to give Justin the news while I stare at the shadows on my wall until sleep overcame me in one long, slow wave.
* * *
“Flight’s on time.” Justin sat next to me. I moved my traveling backpack out of the way of his feet and leaned against the stiff airport seats.
He wore a metallic gray shirt and tan pants today. Even with grief in his eyes, he looked as delicious as ever before. Despite the long ride to the airport, we hadn’t spoken much all morning. I had let the long stretches of quiet ride to honor his introspective mood. The silence had been easy.
“Who else will be at the funeral?” I asked.
“Just the two of us and a few other loyal staff members.”
He didn’t look at me. “Yep.”
I let it go. Our flight into California would be less than three hours, and we boarded soon, which means I would find out before too long. Justin’s mysterious persona intruded annoyingly into my thoughts.
Justin pressed his forearms into his thighs as he leaned forward. “My grandfather was a very wealthy man,” he said. “He’s had the same people working at his estate for awhile now. They loved him. And me. You’ll meet them soon. James will probably pick us up.”
I studied him in surprise. “I never would have guessed. You seem so . . .”
Amusement crowded his eyes. I smiled.
He shrugged. “It wasn’t my money, it was his. Besides, I didn’t want to stay on an estate in California. I wanted to see the world. So that’s what I’ve been doing.”
“Did you go to college?” I asked.
He nodded. “I have my Masters in Business. I got my MBA at 23.”
My voice rose. “Masters in Business? And you work at Adventura?“
His smile deepened. “Just you wait, girl power,” he muttered, messing with a necklance on his chest. “I’m full of surprises. Oh, and thanks for coming. I’m not sure if your brothers forced you into this but—”
“They didn’t.” The words popped out so quickly that my cheeks burned. “I just . . . it wasn’t . . . I’m happy to be here.”
“Well . . . thanks.”
A flight attendant’s voice blared over the speakers, announcing the beginning of boarding for our flight. I stuffed my jacket into my backpack and zipped it closed. He carried a new book, Treasure Island, though he hadn’t been reading from it. He’d spent most of the morning staring, in deep thought.
“Ready to see my home, girl power?”
You have no idea.
“Let’s go have an adventure.”
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