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STRIKE (Gentry Generations #1)
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A summer job.
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My sister knew that the lure of bacon was the best way to jolt me out of a sound sleep so she stuck two greasy slices right under my nose.
“Up and at ‘em, Cams,” she cheerfully commanded.
I grumbled a half coherent curse and snatched at the bacon with my eyes still closed.
Cassie responded by jerking the prize out of my reach.
By the time I pried my eyes open she was sitting cross-legged on her bed and pointedly biting into a crispy piece.
“Sadist,” I complained, pushing my hair out of my eyes so I could glare at her properly.
My grinning, golden twin sister held out the remaining bacon slice.
“Peace offering,” she said sweetly, dangling it until I lunged.
I wound up falling out of bed amid a tangle of sheets and the hand sewn quilt my Aunt Truly had given me as a sixteenth birthday present. With a mighty thud my left hip connected with the floor and I winced, figuring I’d probably just earned a sizeable bruise.
And I still didn’t have any fucking bacon.
Cassie leaned over and peered at me with a pitying look before finally deciding to share her snack.
“You’re going to be late for your first day,” she observed as I chewed on a bite of pork perfection.
I swallowed and wiped the grease from my lips with the back of my hand. “Maybe.”
Three loud knuckle raps thumped on the bedroom door.
“What’s going on in there?” boomed my father’s suspicious voice, as if we were still a rebellious pair of teens who might be doing questionable things behind closed doors.
“Nothing, Daddy,” Cassie and I sang out together.
There was a pause but I knew he was still there.
“You can come in,” I said.
The door cracked open and my father eased into the room, blinking as he gazed around like a wanderer in a strange land. His eyes landed on me and he frowned. “What are you doing on the floor, Camille?”
“Exercising,” I said, springing to my feet. “It’s a beautiful morning.” I knew my parents were ecstatic that I was spending the summer at home so I was trying to be cheerful and avoid bellyaching too much about my lost internship opportunity in New York.
My dad scratched his head and broke into a smile. When I was growing up I was endlessly annoyed at the way my friends would drool and giggle over my father, insisting he didn’t look like a dad at all, more like a tattoo model or a cage fighter.
That was bullshit.
To me, Cord Gentry had always looked exactly like a dad, one who wasn’t too macho to wear a fake tiara or sip invisible tea out of plastic pink cups. A dad who couldn’t stop himself from throwing steely-eyed glares at the young men who showed up at the front door to take his daughters out and didn’t bother to wipe the proud tears out of his eyes the day Cassie and I graduated from high school three years ago.
“Your mom went all out on breakfast this morning,” he told us. “It would be nice if you girls could sit down at the kitchen table for a few minutes before heading off to work.”
The way he looked at us, all earnest and hopeful, made me feel a little guilty that I’d ever been bummed about spending the summer at home in Arizona.
“Will do,” I said. “Let me just jump in the shower first.”
My dad nodded and bowed out of the room, closing the door behind him.
“You’d better hurry,” Cassie warned as I started foraging in the dresser for clothes. “Because I swear I will not feel the slightest guilt over gobbling up the rest of the bacon.”
My sister hopped off her bed and scuttled out the door, leaving me to glare at her back. She wasn’t joking. We didn’t joke about bacon.
Then I smiled because I realized I wouldn’t be having this minor disagreement with my sister if I was in New York. I dearly missed my whole family when I was at school in San Diego but Cassie was my other half. I always felt vaguely incomplete when she wasn’t nearby. Maybe it was a twin thing. Maybe it was because I worried so much that my sister’s sweet vulnerability would end up leaving her at the mercy of the worst people in the world. It had happened before.
I finished grabbing what I needed from the dresser and headed for the bathroom. First thing in the morning I always needed a scalding hot shower to banish the cobwebs from my head. Fifteen minutes later I strolled into the kitchen with my wet hair in a towel and feeling ten times more awake.
“Good morning, Gentry family,” I said brightly, and earned a withering scowl from my younger sister, Cadence, as she tried to escape from the plate of pancakes my mother was chasing her with.