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Everyone's a Winner with a Heart That Small



Gigi didn't remember pulling her lace dress over her head and kicking off her shoes. She didn't remember diving into the deep end of the pool or the cold water that made her gasp at the contact. She didn't remember the sudden delay of movement that her body seemed to experience once she was submerged in the water and she didn't remember slowly sinking to the bottom, completely surrounded by nothing but blue.

She could hear someone calling her name, but to her, it sounded distorted and distant. Her lungs were on fire and her eyes felt so heavy that she couldn't pry them open no matter how hard she tried. Her entire body was limp and she felt glued to her spot, unable to move.

A sudden jolt to her back caused her eyes to fly open as she coughed and sputtered, her throat burning and tears pricking her eyes. She gasped desperately for air and when she finally looked around, becoming aware of her surroundings, she was confused. She was sitting on the warm concrete only a few feet from the edge of the swimming pool, fuzzy figures standing around her on every side.

"Jesus Christ, G! What the fuck were you thinking?!"

It took a moment for her blurry eyes to focus on Ezra, who was crouched down next to her, rubbing her back soothingly as he leaned forward to look into her eyes. "What happened?" she croaked. Her throat ached with the strain of speaking and Ezra brushed her wet hair back from her face. She took a closer look at her cousin, realizing that he too was dripping wet, but he was still fully clothed whereas she was no longer wearing her dress from the party, only her black bra and underwear.

He shook his head, not answering her as Cora weaved through the small group of people, a beach towel in her hands. She handed it to Ezra and he draped the towel over Gigi's shaking shoulders before helping her slowly off the ground. The group made a path for them and they walked back up into the house, Gigi leaning heavily on her cousin for support.

The stairs took a few minutes to conquer but eventually they made it to the guest room where she'd been staying all summer. She sat down on the edge of her bed, pulling the towel tighter around her now cold body. "Ezra-"

"You drank a whole bottle of Stoli and decided to try to swim, G. Do you know how fucking stupid that was? You almost drowned!"

She blinked in surprise, not remembering anything that had happened. Although now that she thought about it, she did feel a little nauseous, which was probably a result of downing an entire bottle of vodka. Tears threatened to leak from her eyes as she swallowed hard and looked down from his carefully watching eyes. "I'm sorry," she mumbled.

"What did he say to you?"

She shook her head and began to mindlessly twirl a strand of her wet hair around her index finger. She didn't want to tell Ezra what Graham had said in their conversation because she didn't want him to think that it had upset her to the point of near suicide. The truth was she absolutely didn't want him back and she didn't feel anything for him anymore, but she was still hurt by the way he'd acted. And though she understood why John was angry with her, she was more upset about that than she was Graham. She had some very worrisome feelings for John that she had yet to confront.

"What did he say to you, Georgianna?" Ezra was beginning to get angry all over again, his breathing speeding up and his fists clenching at his sides.

"He's with someone," she finally said after a few silent moments. "He wants to marry her so he just came to clear his conscience before he does, I guess."

"You're fuckin' kiddin' me," he grumbled under his breath. He grabbed her by the shoulders and pulled her gently to her feet before crushing her to his chest in a hug. "I'm sorry he turned out to be such a dick. If I'd known then-"

"Ezra, how many times do I have to say that it's not your fault?" she asked, pulling back to look up at him. "It was me who hounded you about meeting him for months. It was me who fell in love at fifteen fucking years old. It was me who decided that getting married at eighteen was a good idea. It was all me. You didn't do anything. Nobody blames you."

"I blame me.You never woulda met him if it wasn't for me. He completely wrecked your life for five fucking years and I'm the reason he even had the opportunity." She shook her head in protest and started to speak but he quickly cut her off. "Don't even try because you're not gonna change my mind."

She frowned but leaned in to him again, letting him wrap his arms around her. "Could you maybe not tell John about all this?" she mumbled into his damp-clothed shoulder.

"Sure, but I can't guarantee that the other ten people who witnessed it won't."


She sighed heavily and Ezra released her from the hug but kept his hands on her shoulders. "It's been a rough night. You should try and get some sleep." He kissed her forehead before letting her go and he walked to the door, leaving her alone with a million things she didn't want to think about.


It had been a good five hours since Ezra had left her to get some rest, but she'd done nothing but pull on some warm clothes before curling up under her blankets and fixing her eyes on the ceiling that was just barely lit by the moonlight streaming in the window. Sleep was impossible with all the things that were weighing on her mind.

Cora tip-toed into her bedroom at ten til six, saying nothing as she slid under the covers and gave her best friend's hand a gentle comforting squeeze. The two of them stayed silent as another hour or so passed; Gigi suspected that Cora must have fallen asleep again because there was no way she could have restrained herself from asking a million questions for that long but when she turned her head to look at her, she found Cora's dark brown eyes staring back her.

Gigi rolled over onto her side to face her friend, which caused her entire head to throb painfully. "Ezra told you?"

Sympathy was written all over Cora's face as she slowly nodded. "Graham's a dick."

"I fucked up, Cor. John asked me not to go and I just brushed him off. He got mad and left and I somehow almost managed to accidentally kill myself. I would've fucking succeeded if it weren't for Ezra."

"You're bein' too hard on yourself, G. I mean obviously deciding to go swimming when you're completely bombed off your ass was really fucking stupid. But as for the rest, it's perfectly natural to want answers in a situation like yours. I mean, Graham did show up at the worst possible time and maybe you should've told him to come back later, but it's done. You can't go back and change it, so there's no use in moping."

Gigi sighed sadly. "I just don't want to lose John over it."

"You're not gonna lose him. He probably won't even be mad at you anymore if you just explain. You hadn't seen your estranged husband in almost five years, so naturally you had some questions. He can't blame you for that."

"I hope not," she whispered, blinking back the thick tears pooling in her eyes. "Cause I think I'm in love with him."

Cora's eyes widened and she had to fight the grin that was itching to show itself on her face. "Oh, sweetie," she cooed, sliding over to hug her best friend. "I didn't know you were there yet."

"Neither did I."

"Are you gonna tell him?"

Gigi shrugged as she rolled over onto her back to stare at the ceiling again. "Doubt it. We're not even in a relationship, Cora. It'd probably just scare him off. Besides, I'm going home in like two weeks so it won't even matter anymore."

"That doesn't mean shit. I'm going home in two weeks too, but Ezra and I are gonna stay together."

Her eyebrows shot up as she looked over at her friend. "You are?"

"We tried it when we were teenagers and it didn't work, but we're older now; we've changed and matured. I'm willing to try it again no matter how hard it's gonna be because I know there's nothing in this world that I love more than that boy." Gigi couldn't help but smile, knowing how happy Cora and Ezra made each other. "You know, just because you tried something once when you were a teenager and it didn't work.....That doesn't mean you can't try again too."

A sharp knock on the door interrupted their conversation and before Gigi could tell the person to come in, the door swung open. Both girls lifted their heads to look as John stormed into her room, his features clouded over with anger. His breathing was heavier than normal and his hands were clenched into fists by his sides. "What the fuck happened last night?"

Cora glanced over at her best friend before silently sliding out from under the covers and slipping past him to leave the room and give them some privacy. Gigi sat up in her bed, wincing at the throbbing in her head and the dull ache in her chest when she took a deep breath. She threw the covers off her body and leaned her back against the headboard as she curled her knees up to her chest, wrapping her arms around them.

"I just got a phone call from Tim telling me you almost drowned!"

"It was an accident," she mumbled, looking down from his piercing stare.

"How do you almost kill yourself by accident?"

"I was drunk. I guess I thought I could still swim." He had guessed that she was drunk just by reading the apology she'd texted him almost an hour after he'd left the party the night before. She'd somewhat rambled as much as her impaired dexterity would allow and most of the words either ran together or were misspelled.

It was evident that she'd been thinking of him as she sipped herself further and further into oblivion, which made him feel uneasy, the guilt settling into the pit of his stomach. He sighed heavily, his body dropping onto the foot of her bed, and he roughly raked his hands through his dark hair as he fixed his gaze on a particular swirl in the wood of her floor. "I'm pissed at you."

She blinked once before nodding her head solemnly. "You should be. You asked me not to leave and I did it anyway. I left behind my own guests at my birthday party to go and talk to the guy who completely destroyed me."

"Why'd you go with him?"

"I had so many questions," she replied, shaking her head. "I wanted to know everything. Where he went. What his parents said. Why he even left in the first place. Why he was here. Why he waited five years to show his face again."

"Did you get your answers?" John asked quietly.

"Yeah. Didn't change anything." She stretched out her legs and nervously raked a hand through the wild waves in her hair that had been caused by a combination of chlorine and lying on it before it was dry. "Except maybe now I know what an idiot I am."

He sighed, finally looking up at her again. "Don't say that."

"Why not? It's true. You've been so good to me, John, and I've done nothing to deserve it. In fact, I've pretty much done the opposite. I keep letting him get in the way. I hate that I let him affect me for so long that I became this ridiculously cautious girl who's too scared of getting hurt again to let herself feel anything."

"I told you, I'm not him."

"I know. Believe me, I know."

When he didn't reply, silence fell between them and Gigi wasn't sure if that was a good thing or a bad thing. She watched him carefully for any bad signs but he just sat there, leaning forward with his elbows propped on his knees.

"Come on," he finally said, patting her leg. "We're leaving soon."

"Leaving to go where? And who's we?"

"Lake Powell. Me, you, Ezra, Cora, Tim, Pat, Garrett, Ross, Jared, Tessa, Moose, Dirk, Kenny, Gabi, Austin, Halvo, and probably some others."

She was sure she didn't know half the people he'd listed but she shook her head, her attention focused on the more important issue. "Um, lake?"

"Yeah, we usually go up for the weekend. Stay at the cabin, go swimming, wake boarding, take a boat out-" He cut himself off, the realization of why she seemed concerned hitting him. "Oh. Uh, I guess we can get you a life jacket if you're worried?" The corners of his mouth turned upwards into a small smile that he tried, but failed, to hide.

She rolled her eyes playfully and returned the grin as she stood up from her bed to go over to her closet but he grabbed her hand as she walked by him, stopping her in her tracks. He rose to his feet, pulling her into his arms and holding her tightly to his chest as he rested his cheek against the top of her head. "Please don't ever scare me like that again," he mumbled softly.
♠ ♠ ♠
Gigi's outfit for this chapter.

Thirty chapters! Holy shit, I can't believe this story has thirty chapters now. AND THERE ARE 304 OF YOU SUBSCRIBERS HOLY SHIT HOW DID THAT HAPPEN??

Thanks to Lucille Ball., lullabies on sunday, WetheCATHLYN, frankieraepain, and addiiieeee for commenting last time! :)