Home > Goodbye Never

Goodbye Never
Author: Prescott Lane

 

PROLOGUE

 


PRESENT DAY

LENNON

Some loves last a lifetime, but they all end the same way—with a goodbye.

Life is a series of goodbyes. Some are short. Some are long. Some hurt more than others. But there’s no way around it. Life is one long goodbye.

It doesn’t matter how long you live or how much you love. It doesn’t matter if you’re a good person or a terrible asshole. In the end, we all must say goodbye to everyone and everything we love.

Which is what I’m trying to do now—say goodbye to you.

Looking down at your headstone, I never dreamed I’d have to write an epitaph in my twenties. I also never dreamed that I’d be the reason you are buried in that ground.

I wipe my cheek. The weight of your death rests squarely on my shoulders, and my heart starts to ache.

No two heartbeats are exactly the same. It’s true. Everyone’s heart beats differently depending on its size and shape. All any of us can do is try to find the heart that beats in time with ours. But what do you do when that heart stops beating?

A cool Virginia breeze blows through the cemetery, and I bend down, placing fresh sunflowers on the ground in front of your grave. But getting back to my feet isn’t as easy as it used to be, my six-month baby bump getting in the way.

This is wrong. A pregnant woman should not be standing at the foot of her baby’s father’s grave. It’s not the natural order of things. It’s not how things are supposed to be.

Rubbing my belly, I’m sad that our little bundle of joy will never know you. You will only ever be a ghost to her. You will only be a goodbye.

 

 

CHAPTER ONE

 


ELEVEN YEARS AGO

LENNON

High school is hell.

That goes double when you’re the new kid, the scholarship kid, the girl whose mom is an ex-convict.

“Jail baby.” Some guy laughs as he walks by.

Taking a deep breath, I stare into my locker—binders, notebooks, textbooks. Maybe if I look hard enough, the tears in my eyes will dry up. I should be used to this. It’s October of my sophomore year. My mom insisted I stop homeschooling and go to a “real” school. When I got accepted into the local private college prep school, there was no getting out of it. I started in August and quickly became known as “jail baby.”

Yep, my mom gave birth to me in jail. Yes, an actual jail. Normally, they might transfer an expectant mom to a local hospital or even the jail’s infirmary, but I came quick. There was no time. I was born on the floor of my mom’s jail cell. Hence the nickname.

“Aw, is jail baby gonna cry?” another guy leans in and whispers in my ear.

The entire hallway erupts into laughter. Grabbing a book, I hug it to my chest. These kids all come from money. Their parents pay a huge tuition every semester, so I have to keep my mouth shut. If I got into a beef with one of them, it would be me who took the blame. I know that. And I’m not going to let these assholes blow my shot at the best education in Virginia.

Suddenly, the laughter stops. “Hey, Lennon,” Duke says, leaning up against the lockers. “Everything all right?”

I don’t have any siblings, but if I did, Charles Duke III would be my Irish twin. We aren’t related by blood, but we were born on the same day of the same month exactly one year apart. Throw in the fact that our mothers are the best of friends, and we were pretty much destined to be together, or at least that’s what I secretly tell myself.

Duke never liked his first name. His grandfather was Charles. His dad is Charlie, so from the moment he could talk about himself in the third person, he referred to himself as Duke. It stuck.

His mom gave my mom her first job when she got out of jail. Gardening. And somehow, they just clicked, and Duke and I became each other’s first friends. It’s rumored that my first steps as a baby were toward him. I guess I’ve always wanted him.

To understand our relationship, you first must understand our mothers. Our bond is generational. We were literally born to be friends. Our mothers wouldn’t have it any other way. Since they were always together, so were Duke and I. When we were little, it seemed like every weekend, either I stayed the night at his house or he stayed at mine. We were always together, and once we were too old for sleepovers, we were still always together, listening to music or watching movies. My memories are his memories, and his memories are mine.

“I’m good,” I lie.

His steel-gray eyes scan the hallway, and everyone scatters like ants. No one messes with Duke. The most popular boy in school since he started freshman year, he plays baseball and football, gets good grades, and is single-handedly the cutest boy I’ve ever laid eyes on—those eyes, dark-blond hair, and muscles for days. Add in the fact that he’s also a complete sweetheart, and my heart didn’t stand a chance.

His family consists of some of Montclair’s finest citizens. My mom and I might share a zip code with them, but nothing we have is “fine.” Still, Duke’s family is good to my mom and me. We love them. They love us. And I know we wouldn’t have half the things we do without them—including my admission and scholarship into the area’s best private school.

I don’t want to tell Duke what the other kids are saying. One day pretty early on this year, some boy teased me about a skirt I had on. My mom had made it for me. She makes most of my clothes, including the pink sweater I’m wearing today. She can make just about anything, and she uses the leftover material to make ribbons to tie up my long brown hair. And the clothes we can afford to buy come from discount stores. Name brands are not in the budget, but I don’t really mind. I don’t like to stand out, and wearing the latest fashion trends makes a statement.

My statement is more—leave me in peace.

Anyway, this boy flipped my skirt up in the middle of the hallway. I’m sure anyone within eyeshot saw my panties. When Duke found out, he gave the shithead a bloody nose. Duke got suspended for three days because violence is not tolerated. The shithead was at school the next day. I guess sexual harassment is tolerated.

I can’t have Duke getting in trouble for me again. Besides, what’s he going to do? Beat up the whole school?

“Here,” Duke says, and I look up at that boyish grin on his handsome face. He whips off his letterman jacket, holding it open for me. “Put this on.”

“But your mom said you can’t give your letterman jacket or class ring to a girl, ever!”

“Trust me, she won’t care that I gave it to you,” he says.

“But . . .”

“Lennon,” he says, causing my skin to heat, “no one will bother you if you’re wearing this.”

“So wearing your jacket is saying what, that I belong to you?” I say in my lame attempt at flirting with him.

He laughs. “That you’re under my protection.” He raises an eyebrow at me, motioning for me to slip on the jacket.

Placing my book down, I turn around, moving my long brown hair tied in a simple white ribbon to the side. As my arms slide in, the fabric is still warm from his body. I pull it tight to me, lifting it to my nose. He reaches around, helping to pull my hair out from the jacket. God, he’s cute.

He grins at me as the bell rings. “Want me to walk you to class?”

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