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Powerless: Chapter 35


Summer: I think we need to do a boozy brunch.

Willa: I’m. Pregnant.

Summer: It’s not always about you, Willa.

Willa: Who else would it be about?

Summer: Winter just showed up and asked if we could get coffee. I really want to talk to her. But . . . I don’t know what to talk to her about. I need people to run interference.

Willa: You can talk about what a piece of shit her husband is? How cute Theo is?

Summer: Not touching any of that with a ten-foot pole. Also, Sloane might be dead. She’s just lying on the floor of my gym staring at the ceiling.

Willa: Sloane. Pick up your phone. Death isn’t an option. You’re too young and hot. And I still haven’t found out how big Jasper’s dick is.

Sloane: Why don’t you just ask him?

Summer: Lmao. Yeah, Wils. Just drop him a casual line.

Willa: You’ re alive! He’s so tall! His hands are so BIG. Please confirm the size.

Sloane: His feet are big too.

The neon lights above me flicker, and I watch one long bulb burn out entirely. Little spots crop up in front of my eyes from staring at them for so long.

I was hot when I finished dancing, but now the sweat on my skin has cooled and discomfort seeps into my pores. I still don’t move.

Discomfort is my new default.

I’ve been in this studio for hours now, dancing until I can’t think anymore. I don’t want to think. I laid in bed awake all night thinking.

I even thought about responding to Jasper’s text message this morning. And then I didn’t because I don’t know what to say.

Good morning.

Actually, no. It’s not a good morning. It’s a shit morning. And I love him so much I could easily slip into hating him. I could say something cruel. I could make him feel bad.

It might make me feel better for a minute to lash out. To make him hurt as intensely as I am.

But deep down I know he already is. I know him. I know he’s panicking. He’s locked up. Frozen solid like on the steep runaway lane.

I know he’s suffering and that fucking kills me.

What’s worse is I pushed him away. I thought it might be better for him this way. Now I’m not so sure that’s true. I’m not sure of anything—myself included.

For years I wanted to get into Jasper’s head. Until now. Now, I think it’s best to not know what’s going on inside his head.

It hurts less that way.

“Okay, you’ve been lying here far too long. My sister is a doctor, so she’s going to come check on you.”

My head rolls across the floor to peer at Summer in the doorway to the back studio of the gym. She’s leaning against the frame while her equally adorable blonde sister stands beside her, looking notably uncomfortable in her scrubs and puffy down jacket.

She gives me an awkward wave and a tight smile, not nearly as homicidal as the night I first saw her.

I lift a hand back in their direction. “I’m perfectly fine. No cause for alarm. But you do need to replace a light bulb in here.” I gesture up to the ceiling. “Actually, if we’re offering doctor advice . . . is staring at light bulbs bad for my eyes?”

Winter shrugs. “Probably isn’t ideal.”

“Okay.” I sigh. “I’ll close them. Doctor’s orders.”

Winter lets out a dry chuckle, but Summer doesn’t. Her footsteps approach, and when she nudges my foot with the toe of her sneaker, I peek up at her.

“Let’s go,” she says. “I know what you need.”

I nod, letting my eyes drift shut. “Yeah. A time machine.”

“No. A boozy brunch.”

“Summer, it’s a Monday!” Winter sounds alarmed and it makes me laugh.

“So? You just finished a long shift, and I’m done with my clients for the day. Willa is bored and blowing up my phone about penis sizes. And Sloane looks half dead. We all got somewhere to be? Important things to do? You eager to head back to the city?”

Winter’s lips purse tightly as she shakes her head.

I point at her, already feeling a little tipsy. Lack of sleep will do that to a girl. “Girl, same. Let’s just hole up in Chestnut Springs with a hot country boy and never go back to the city. The city fucking sucks, and so does everyone who lives there.”

A small smile plays across Winter’s impassive face, and she shrugs, crossed arms rising and falling as she does. “I suppose I could drink to that.”

“Heck yeah!” Summer whoops. “I’ll give Wils a call, and we can meet her at Le Pamplemousse.”

“Here, have another one.” Willa pushes a mimosa across the table toward me in the charming, sunlit, Parisian-style cafe, drawing my attention off of Rosewood Street, the main thoroughfare in Chestnut Springs.

“I already have one.” I tip my champagne flute at her.

She points to my opposite hand. “Yeah, but that hand is empty. And I’m not going to drink it. I’m pregnant.” She rolls her eyes like I’m dumb and places the glass so it brushes up against the tips of my fingers.

“Why did you order it then?” I don’t fight it. I curl my fingers around the stem of the glass and bring it closer.

Willa shrugs with a light laugh. “I dunno, wanted to be part of the boozy brunch.”

Winter arches a brow from beside her. “You’re literally here. At boozy brunch. What more do you need?”

Willa stares longingly at my double-fisted mimosas. “Booze. Obviously.”

“What about some orange juice in a champagne flute?” Summer offers sweetly.

Willa makes a groaning noise. “That’s just offensive.”

My eyes bounce between the three women, and I realize I’m already feeling more human. Smiling isn’t the Herculean effort it felt like earlier.

Winter takes a deep swig. “This drink tastes fantastic. I should do this more often.”

Willa’s elbow nudges her side. “Fuck yeah, you should.”

Summer nods before shyly adding, “I like having you out here, Winter.”

I lift my glass across the table. “I’ll cheers to that. I could use a little Winter inspiration. I watched you dress Theo down the other night, and I need to channel that with the men in my life.”

She clinks her glass against mine, but her head tilts. “I’m not sure I’m someone to aspire to in the man department.” I quirk a brow, eyes dropping to the ring on her finger. She notices and just says, “Yeah. That.”

“When is that ending?” Willa asks it so casually, like ending a marriage is cut and dry. I don’t know all the dirty details of Winter’s marriage, but I know it’s complicated as hell. I also know that she and Summer are on fragile footing and spending time together like this is new for them.

They all came out for me, but it’s clear that having Willa and me here gives some extra padding between the sisters.

Winter takes another deep slug, draining the flute. “Who fucking knows? I think dragging it out makes him hard or something.” Summer coughs like her mimosa went down the wrong tube. Winter doesn’t seem to notice though. The alcohol must have her feeling loose already. She tips her head tips in my direction. “Sloane’s idea of hiding out in Chestnut Springs is sounding really, really appealing. Where do I sign up for this?”

I push my spare mimosa across the table to her, and she takes it without saying a single word. The closer I look at Winter, the more I think she might need the drinks more than I do.

I feel wrung out, but she seems profoundly tired, like my one sleepless night is her norm.

“Wanna rent a house here?” I ask. “I’m in the process of updating a few across the road from Summer’s gym.”

That lights Winter’s face up. “Yeah?”

“Yeah. I can show you after this boozy brunch.”

“Jasper’s houses, huh?” Summer asks curiously.

“Yeah, why don’t you tell us more about that,” Willa urges.

I tuck a stray piece of hair behind my ear and drop my eyes. “Well, he actually owns the entire block. I’ve been painting and—”

Willa waves a hand. “No, no, no. Tell us about Jasper.”

“Yeah!” Winter holds up her glass. “Tell us why you were lying on the floor for like an hour.”

Summer reaches under the table and gives my knee a squeeze, always so sweet.

“I don’t even know where to start.”

“Can you at least tell us if Jasper has a huge dick?” Willa leans across the table.

I nod.

Winter snorts.

Summer gasps.

“I knew it!”

Summer gives Willa a chiding look, widening her eyes at her best friend. “Why don’t you start at the beginning, Sloane?”

I flop back in my chair and stare at the three women sitting with me. “Well, I’d have to go back to the very first time I laid eyes on him when I was ten years old.”

A communal whoosh of air leaves everyone’s lungs. I lift my glass. “Yeah. Cheers to that, right? A decades long unrequited crush. Except I recently found out it wasn’t so unrequited.”

Willa’s hand rolls in the air. “Hence the whole runaway-bride-shacking-up-with-her-friend thing, yeah?”

My head tips back and forth. “I mean, yeah. It’s a little more complicated than that.”

“What’s the issue?” Willa seems confused.

“Yeah, what’d he do?” Bitterness bleeds into Winter’s voice.

“He didn’t do anything. That’s the problem. He just froze. He had this perfect moment to tell me everything. And he just froze. He’s so broken. Locked up so damn tight. And I know the reasons why. I don’t even really blame him. I just . . . I wanted to be enough for him to push past it.”

I blink rapidly, taking a huge swig. “Everything he does for me says he cares. But I need”—I click my tongue and give my head a sharp bob—“I don’t fucking know. I guess after years of believing he doesn’t want me, I need more than just him falling into a happy, simple little rhythm with me. I want to feel like he can’t live without me. Like he’d do anything to have me. If he can’t find the words to tell me, I want actions. Just . . . something.”

Heads nod, and I feel spurred on by the reassurance, the lack of sleep, and the champagne on an empty stomach.

“At the risk of sounding petty, I want him to be just as lovesick as I am. I’ve wanted him for so damn long. I’m almost angry he never noticed. I want him to prove he notices now.”

“So are you guys . . . broken up?” Summer asks, her voice small and tentative.

“No. I don’t know.” A dark laugh bubbles up in me as I shrug. “I think we’re both just traumatized by our upbringings. Adulting is hard when your parents fuck you up, ya know?”

Summer and Winter give each other a loaded look before Winter says, “Yeah. I think we can relate.”

“Deep down I know Jasper will never leave me. Not even at my worst. That’s the thing about us. We can both be on our shittiest behavior and we’ll never hold it against each other for long.”

“Ugh. I love that.” Willa sniffs.

“I want him to make me feel secure. But I haven’t told him anything to make him feel secure either, and I know he needs that. Basically, I have no plan because . . . I really don’t know what to do with myself.” I sigh, looking up at the lights above me, feeling a little responsible for pushing him away. “I need to face my dad so that I can properly move on. Start fresh. I need to find my own security first. I just hope I’m not too late. But then the thought of him losing hockey? His career? His passion? All for me? I’m worried I can’t stack up against that.”

“Have you not seen the way that man looks at you?” Winter is grinning at me even though it’s an odd time to be grinning.

“I guess not.

“I only just met you two at dinner the other night, but he hangs on every word. Traces every movement. I’m not sure he even knew what else was going on in that room. It made me . . . it made me, well, it made me feel bitter if I’m being honest. It almost hurt to watch. But, ha, that’s a me thing.” She glances out the window. “At any rate, I’m giving him and his big dick my vote of confidence. Trust me. You stack up. I think he’ll come around.”

“But what if he doesn’t?”

Winter shrugs, and the other two continue to stare at me all wide-eyed. I doubt they know what to say. Jasper is a mystery wrapped up in an enigma to most people.

“Then you move on.”

Move on.

I take a deep swallow of my mimosa. It sounds so simple. So easy. So . . . obvious.

And yet, so impossible.

If moving on from Jasper Gervais was an option, I’d have done it by now.


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