Chapter 20

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AN: Last chapter. This jumps over the holiday season, which could always be fun to revisit. Next is the epilogue!


Camila stood square in front of the shop door, smiling up at the sign. It was a brand new bright blue "Jupiter Surf," not yet faded and sun-bleached like its twin in Florida. A temporary sign in the window announced that the shop would be opening tomorrow, the first day of spring, a sunny Saturday when southern California would be flocking to the beach.

Lauren kept complaining that the water would be too cold for most people, fretting that nobody would show up, waking Camila in the dead of night to double-check the things she'd forgotten during the day. Camila had taken to writing lists in permanent marker on her girlfriend's arms because she was legitimately driving her to the brink of something – crime, insanity, nirvana.

"City hall, giant grapes, & tampons," from a week ago, was still faintly visible on Lauren's left forearm.

Camila pushed open the door and strode into the fully-stocked shop. It was airy and bright, roomier than the original Jupiter Surf, all squeaky wood floors and brickwork and handpicked posters – far from a "fucking Ron Jon's."

"Can I help you?"

Camila grinned and turned. Lauren was up in the loft, surrounded by surfboards, leaning against the rail and staring down at her with a polite smile.

"I'm sure you can."

Lauren pushed off the rail and headed for the stairs. "I'm sorry, but we don't open until tomorrow."

She took the last three steps as one giant bound, sending her free plastic sunglasses skittering across the floor while Camila snorted. After retrieving them, Lauren stood expectantly in front of Camila with her bare feet and sunburnt cheeks, her sunny mess of hair curling around her shoulders.

"Are we really playing this game?"

Lauren frowned, confused. "I don't know what you're talking about."

"Okay," Camila nodded wisely, "Well, I'm looking for a lifeguard."

Lauren scanned Camila's legs thoroughly, her arms, her face, her pink-painted toes. She found no injury and shrugged. "You won't find one here."

Camila eyed Lauren's red shorts. "Are you sure?"

"Why do you need a lifeguard?" Lauren stepped closer, eyebrow lifted. "Did something sting you? Bite you? Tie you up and take you away?"

Camila rolled her eyes, smiling. "Somebody's going to tie you up and take you away."

"Is that a promise, Camila Cabello?" Lauren smiled widely, reaching for her girlfriend.

Camila gasped and swatted at her hands. "You know who I am?"

Lauren wrangled her closer, squeezed her tightly and kissed the side of her head before Camila could escape. When she was released, Camila caught one of Lauren's hands – the one that said "BARBEQUE SAUCE" in solid black letters over her wrist – and offered up the canvas bag she'd brought.

Lauren's eyes lit up further. "Presents?"

"Presents," Camila hummed, pulling out the contents of the bag. She held up the new red lifeguard shorts and watched her girlfriend's face.

"They're the same as those," Camila said, nodding at the shorts Lauren was wearing, "except the elastic works and they're not indecently threadbare."

Lauren took in the shorts wordlessly. Her mouth dropped slightly open.

"And they never belonged to a boy," Camila added, letting Lauren take them from her. "They don't have all the...the memories, I guess, but these say Redondo and they're authentic, like Niall's."

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