24: Not Here For A Long Time, Here For A Good Time

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Almost a week later, Jia's idea of having the next generation Paradise City folks was almost ready to happen, and she wanted to make them feel welcome. Although she and Brett were pretty good friends, for some people, more people meant more fun. I was not one of those people.

"Okay, people. We have twenty-four hours until our guests arrive, and I want to make sure that they don't hate this, and they have some idea of what to expect," Jia said.

"Are you going to clean the bathrooms or not?" Brett asked.

"I promised, and I am a woman of my word. I compiled a list of things that they might want to do. Shit, do you think they'll keep themselves entertained? Maybe Reagan should buy some coloring books in town or something," Jia replied.

The plan was that Robbie, Nastasya, and I would all impress them first with my whale project, but that wasn't exactly going to work. The three of us had already decided to have an official mourning of the drone, and I already had my all-black outfit ready for the next day. Before we got everyone on the boat, I also had to buy whatever supplies we needed while everyone else made the house look presentable last-minute. And adding on the responsibility of creating a good first impression, I had quite a bit on my plate.

But with even more on his plate, Brett had to cook for twice the normal amount of people, which he didn't mind, but rather enjoyed. He also gave me a long list of weird ingredients, and I wasn't quite sure about it. Miso paste, butternut squash, chocolate, and avocado. No matter how I put the ingredients together, it didn't sound normal, but who was I to judge? He knew more about food, and I knew more about marine life.

"They're not three years old with the attention span of a gnat like some people here, I'm sure, so they can handle themselves," Darrell said.

Jia glanced at her phone, then looked up at me. "Actually, I'll get the coloring books. We'll get more done if we have two of us."

"Okay, but you have to wear black," I said.


"We're paying our respects to Nastasya's fallen ten thousand dollar drone."

Jia laughed. "Now I feel like I'm intruding on your weird whale-watching cult."

"That's because you are. Robbie's strange, Nastasya's even stranger, and Rea? Damn, she's in a league of her own," Logan said as he walked into the room.

I frowned. "Thanks."

"Honestly, that was the weirdest day of my life, being stuck on a boat with you for several hours. It was like trying to talk to a five-year-old with slightly above average intelligence," he continued.

We must have remembered it being weird for different reasons, but I coughed and whispered through a forced smile, "You're overdoing it."

"But yeah, she's okay personality-wise," Logan said, then sat down on the couch.

I blinked at him a couple times. If he blew our cover, I didn't even know what I'd do. Darrell clearly had his opinions about me, and I didn't want to lower my worth and competence in his mind any more than I already had. I had to prove that I belonged. Logan didn't.

"Uh, okay. Do you know when we're going to leave tomorrow morning?" Jia asked me.

"Usually I'm on the boat by six, but since we have some shopping to do, we can leave a little later. It takes about an hour and a half to get to Bar Harbor from here, so is seven okay?"

"Perfect." She went back to her phone.

I looked over to Logan, and he held his hands up in surrender and apology.

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