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Everyone's a Winner with a Heart That Small

Thirty One


Gigi didn't realize just how awkward things would be until she shoved her duffel bag into the back of the white van parked out front and climbed inside, settling into the back row by the window as John and Pat climbed in behind her. Tim, Jared, and a blonde girl she'd never seen before were on the row directly in front of her while Eric, Cora, and Ezra were sitting in the first row and Kennedy sat in the driver's seat, another girl she didn't know in the passenger seat next to him.

The silence was deafening inside the vehicle as they pulled out onto the road and began the unbelievably long four and a half hour drive to Lake Powell. She knew that they were all wondering what exactly had happened because they'd all heard about it by now, some of them probably witnessing it for themselves. Kennedy turning up the radio did nothing to quell the tension. Eventually, it got to be too much for Gigi so she curled her legs under her body and leaned her head against the side of the window, closing her eyes in attempt to fall asleep so that the time would pass more quickly.

She did end up nodding off, but it wasn't for nearly as long as she would have liked. She didn't open her eyes right away because she was sure she had heard someone just say her name. She could tell that instead of leaning against the window, she was now leaning against the warm, lanky body next to her. John's shoulder was now her pillow and his left hand rested against her bare thigh, his long fingers tangled with her own. She wondered if he had initiated it or if she had in her sleep, but regardless, it felt nice. She hoped that meant he forgave her.

As she listened more closely, Gigi could hear the murmuring in the seats in front of her and the she was sure they were talking about her when she heard Eric speak. "So she just jumped in? Like, on purpose?"

She heard Ezra groan in annoyance. "It wasn't on purpose, Halvo. Well, I guess it technically was, but she was drunk; it wasn't like she was fucking suicidal or something."

"She's divorcing this asshole, right?" another voice chimed in. She thought it was Jared, but she couldn't be certain.

"Hell yes," Erza replied. "Should be final in October."

"So technically, at this point, Johno's fucking a married woman." If she hadn't been pretending to be asleep, she would have leaned up and smacked Tim right in the back of the head, but apparently John and Ezra both shared her sentiment. She felt John's body shift under her and two loud smacks sounded through the van, followed by Tim's grumbling protests. "Well it's the truth!"

"I don't want to hear this shit," Ezra snapped from the front row.

Gigi's face felt hot with embarrassment and she just hoped that she wasn't blushing bright pink like she usually did. She wasn't surprised that John had told his friends about them, but them talking about it in front of her still made her uncomfortable. Plus those things really didn't need to be said in front of her cousin, who was more like a protective older brother.

Things grew quiet again and John give her a hand a gentle squeeze as he lightly ran his thumb back and forth over hers. She could feel his eyes studying her carefully and she tried to keep her breathing slow and steady as if she were still asleep. He pressed a kiss into her hair before resting his cheek against the top of her head.

"So you two worked things out then?" a voice asked quietly from right in front of them. It must have been the pretty blonde seated next to Jared. Her voice was soft and sweet and she sounded genuinely hopeful. Gigi felt John gently nod his head on top of hers.

"I was really pissed until I talked to her this morning. Nobody can really understand how rough it all must have been on her. Maybe Ezra could, but definitely not me. And I love her too much to hold that against her."

It felt as if her heart had jumped up into her throat and her stomach clenched in knots when she heard the words he'd said in almost a whisper to the girl in front of them. It took everything Gigi had to stay still and not make it known that she was awake and had heard him, but Pat obviously had forgotten that they were all trying to be quiet. "Yes! I fucking knew it!"

John quickly gave him a shove and a threatening glare before glancing back down at her to make sure her eyes were still closed. When she didn't move, he let out a sigh of relief and looked back to Pat, punching him in the arm. None of the others in the van had heard his confession to Tessa and it was Pat's random outburst that caused them all to turn around. Eric chuckled and shook his head as he turned back to face the front, pulling his sunglasses down over his eyes. "Man, she could sleep through a fucking tornado."

By the time they finally arrived, she had fallen asleep again so John carefully untangled his fingers from hers and reached up to stroke her cheek. She squeezed her eyes shut tighter as she sucked in a deep breath through her nose and slowly sat up, looking around at her surroundings outside the window. The rest of the van was empty. "Are we here?"

"Almost. We stopped to eat lunch."

"What time is it?"

"Ten after two."

"God, I slept forever," she mumbled, rubbing her hands over her eyes.

He chuckled, kissing her cheek before he started moving toward the sliding door. "Come on. The others are already inside."

Gigi climbed out of the van behind him and he slid the van door shut before grabbing her hand in his and pulling her toward the glass doors of the restaurant. The rest of the group had already put a bunch of tables together in the middle of the room and were sitting down, the waitress taking drink orders from the head of the table.

"Heeeey, Sleeping Beauty has finally risen!" Tim called, making everyone else at their table and the other tables in the restaurant look at her. She just kept her head down as she followed John over to the group. He took the empty seat in the middle of the tables next to Tim and Gigi slid into the last empty chair between him and Pat.

She could feel Pat looking at her every few seconds and she knew that he was just itching to talk to her so once the waitress set down her glass of mountain dew in front of her, she took a sip to help quench her thirst before she finally turned toward him. He smiled when her eyes met his. "You okay?"

Gigi exhaled loudly and nodded her head, returning the smile. "Yeah. I'm good."

"So married, huh?"

"I was stupid when I was eighteen."

"Weren't we all?"

She chuckled. "Yeah, I guess you're right. Though arguably not as stupid as me."

"We're gonna have fun this weekend," he insisted. "It's gorgeous up here. And don't worry, there's plenty of life vests on the boat."

"Hey, fuck you!"

Pat just laughed and turned to Kennedy, who was on his left, to ask him something. Gigi glanced around the table and her eyes found the eyes of the boy on the other side of the table who slightly resembled his older brother. Ross had been riding in the SUV with a guy she was pretty sure she had heard John call 'Moose' and some other people she didn't know. He was watching her and John carefully, probably making sure things were as okay as John had said they were. That's when the thought dawned on her.

If Ross was friends with the same people that John was friends with, then he would have definitely heard what happened. It would explain why he was keeping a close eye on his brother and her. It wasn't the fact that he knew that made her so nervous; it was the fact that he might have told his parents about it. Gigi was pretty sure that she'd made a good impression with John's mother, but if Ross happened to tell her what had happened at the party, then that impression could quickly go down the drain.

It wasn't until John's hand wrapped around hers under the table that she was snapped out of her thoughts. She turned her head to look at him, finding him staring at her with a concerned look on his face. "What's wrong?" he asked, the wrinkle in his forehead becoming more pronounced.

"Nothing's wrong," she replied quickly. Too quickly.

He frowned, turning his body toward her and he wrapped one arm around the back of her chair, taking her hand with his free hand. "Gigi-" he started but she cut him off.

"John, I'm fine," she affirmed. "I promise."

He continued to stare at her, his brilliant green eyes focused solely on her blue ones, as if searching for some sign that she was lying and that she really wasn't. Finally, she smiled and leaned in to press her lips to his.

Gigi quickly pulled away when Tim whistled loudly, capturing the attention of everyone else around them and her cheeks turned bright pink with embarrassment while John just chuckled as he slid his arm around her shoulders and pulled her into his side.
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Gigi's outfit for the chapter.

Sorry about the wait, you guys! Thanks to all who commented last time :))