Last Goodbye by Laurel Ostiguy…Book Spotlight & Excerpt

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In his final moments before succumbing to brain cancer, Jonathan Higgins confides in his best friend about a beautiful girl who should have been his one true love.

Hundreds of miles away, on the same spring evening, Abigail Price suddenly suffers from a seizure that leaves her with an overwhelming sense of love and loss that she cannot explain.

Starting college the following fall, Abigail meets two men who will forever change her life. Both love and care for her, but one harbors a secret that will split her world into two. Relationships will be tested while Abigail tries to understand what is and what might have been.

It’s better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all, but can you love and lose someone you’ve never met?


March 1, 1995
“I thought maybe we could just spend a few minutes together,” James said, almost sounding desperate.
I wrinkled my face and as I did, he turned toward me and said softly, “Come on, Abigail. I’m not that bad.”
I quickly snapped out of whatever thought I had apparently been having.
“James, I didn’t…” I trailed off, knowing I didn’t really need to finish my sentence.
He continued to drive down the long road.
He was handsome. Everyone in school thought so, too. He had gray eyes and shaggy blond hair. He always wore a zip-up jacket and often wore a baseball hat that made his hair stick out on the sides and the back. He was planning to go away to college in the fall, like most of our graduating class. He could carry on intense and well-thought-out conversations with me. I liked that about him.
Unbeknownst to me, he had been trying to ask me out since sophomore year but never did until the prom of our junior year. When he’d finally gotten the courage to ask me, it’d made a lot of the girls in our class jealous, something I could never understand. They all thought I was too brainy for James, whatever that meant. I wasn’t your typical bleached-hair and frosted-pink-lipped girl liked by the majority of the boys our age. According to my best friend Rebecca, it bothered some of the more popular girls because I didn’t seem to have to try, and I still got the guy. I, on the other hand, felt completely differently about it, but no one had actually asked me.
James pulled the car by the back fields at Glens Falls High School. My heart began to pound. He sat up straighter in his seat, which made him appear sure of himself. I was not used to him being so confident. He parked the car and opened his door. Before he could come around, I pushed hard against the car door with my shoulder. It popped open, and I got out.
As he walked toward the football field, I followed him in silence. He slid through the gate and then held it open for me. I eased my body through the chain-link fence, just as he had.
“Feeling nostalgic?” I asked him, half-laughing. “You’re more of a soccer guy, aren’t you?”
“That’s funny, Abigail, considering you’re the one going to Onondaga State, the ultimate football school,” he said, putting his arm around me.
It was an unusually cool evening in March, and this forced me to pull my hands into my sleeves.
“You know me so well avid sports fan that I am, it’s not like I’m going for their top-ranked biology program,” I said with my usual sarcasm.
He smiled down at me. He led me over to the bleachers. I watched him climb up a few tiers and sit down. I followed his lead and took a seat next to him on the cold metal bench.
“What are we doing here? Looking at the full moon?” I asked. It was sort of an inside joke.
He slid closer to me. “It’s nice but no. Like I said, I just wanted to spend some time alone with you,” he said, locking eyes with me.
He always said that my navy eyes showed my intellect and innocent view of the world. I could tell he was searching my face—for what though, I was not sure. I smiled slightly as my heart began to pound. He turned away, gazing out toward the field lit by the spectacular moonlight above. He seemed to be deep in thought. I, too, looked out at the beautiful moon that hovered above us. I could hear his breath begin to deepen. I shuddered with the cold.
“Can I ask you something?” he probed with a husky voice.
Finally, I thought. Let’s get to why we are out here.
“Sure,” I said cautiously.
He was acting so strangely.
“Why…” he asked, hesitating. “Why don’t you like me the way I like you?”
I nearly choked, but I tried to control myself by clearing my throat. I couldn’t believe he’d asked me that, that he’d actually noticed enough to ask me that. There was silence as I wondered how to respond to his question while sitting in the middle of the bleachers on a cold night in March.
“Why would you ask me that?”
“You know exactly why I’m asking you that,” he said, sounding a bit irritated.
I started to get a weird feeling. Something in my gut told me to touch him, so I did. I moved my hand onto his leg. He stiffened a bit, knowing how little we had touched. I knew he had not expected it but that he wanted it badly.
I thought about all the girls at school who were always after him—the cheerleaders, the jocks, even the artsy girl who he said used to stare at him during class—but our friends kept telling me that all he ever talked about was me. When he’d finally asked me to the prom, I guessed I’d answered so halfheartedly that it completely threw him off his game. He’d become timid and shy around me, nothing like he usually was. We had been dating for almost a year, and as far as I knew, he’d remained faithful to me in spite of all the distractions from the girls in our class.
“Aren’t you going to answer my question?”
“Yes. I mean, I do like you. Of course I do. I thought you knew that. I am just not sure why you would ask me that. What have I done?” I asked, putting it back on him.
I felt confused, a bit sad even, because he’d noticed and waited until now to say something. Maybe I did give off an unwelcoming vibe, but I wasn’t trying to. Honestly, I just wasn’t ready. I wasn’t ready to give myself away just yet.
“Are you playing hard to get then?” he asked matter-of-factly.
No, not hard to get. I’m only seventeen, I thought. It never crossed my mind to play any sort of game.
I started to remove my hand from his leg, but he grabbed it before I could.
“Don’t pull away from me,” he said softly.
He moved his leg to one side of the bench, so he was now directly facing me. I swallowed hard.
“I’m not,” I barely whispered.
I felt so overcome all of a sudden. It was like I was getting weaker, and he was getting stronger.
“Look at me then,” he said, inching closer to me. “You know how I feel about you. Don’t you feel the same?”
My heart began to pound. I observed his handsome face and was unsure of what I was doing and feeling.
“I just told you,” I said quietly.
He had this unbelievably sly and somewhat sneaky smile on his face. It was the kind of expression a person might have when gaining a slight victory over his opponent.
“Then, come here,” he said to me with a voice I had not heard before. It was deep, confident, and alluring.
He put one hand on my back and the other around my waist, pulling me toward him. My heart was beating fast now.
He said it again, “Come here.”
He took his hand off my back and drew my face up toward him. He softly kissed me—at first. He held me tighter around the waist. I resisted, but he pressed his lips to mine with a passion I had never felt from him before. He moved his other hand up the side of my body until he was gently caressing my breast. He kept going up until he reached the back of my neck. He tugged on my long sun-kissed hair. My instinct was to move my head back, and as I did, he began kissing my neck. I could feel his intensity, and I, too, became overcome with the same feelings.
I abruptly stood up in front of him. The glimmer in his eyes said, I told you so.
I didn’t care. I wanted him the way he wanted me. I pushed him back on the bleachers and leaned over him. He grabbed my face again and drew it toward his. My body was now on top of his as we kissed again. I could tell he was excited as he moaned and kissed me harder.
“You want me,” he said to me.
I started to move away from him, but he grabbed me again.
“James, can we go somewhere warmer?” I said as my cold body shivered from more than excitement.
I moved back as he stood up. He gave me the sexiest smile I had ever seen from him. I did like James, and in that moment, I was asking myself why I had so often forced my feelings for James out of my mind.
“Of course.” He sighed as he motioned toward the end of the bleachers.
I glanced at my watch. It was seven forty-five. Rebecca and the rest of our friends would be wondering where we were, but for once, I didn’t care about anyone else.
I walked first and jumped off. He followed suit. Much to my delight, he put his hand on my shoulder and turned me toward him. He started to lean down, and with one swift motion, he picked me up. I laughed, and he planted a kiss on my cheek. He carried me to the gate and put me down. He went through first and then held open the gate until I slid through.
We walked back towards his navy 1990 Toyota Corolla. He walked over to my side of the car because that door always got stuck in the cold, so it required a bit of extra muscle to get it open. I stood behind him, as I always did, while he pulled on the handle.
“Let’s see how long it takes you to open the door. It’s seven forty-eight. Go!” I laughed.
With his back to me, I heard him chuckle as he started to pull on the handle.
Suddenly, a wave of anxiety washed over me. I blinked feverishly, yet all I saw were white spots in the pitch-black sky. What was happening? I couldn’t speak. My heart rate increased rapidly. Then, almost as soon as it had, it seemed to slow to a crawl. I could feel each beat, one at a time, pounding deep within my chest.
Thump, thump, thump.
James still had his back to me as he yanked on the door handle. My knees weakened, and I tried to speak as my body became weightless. I stumbled backward and hit the earth.
I heard James finally pop the door open. I stretched out my arm toward him, desperate for help. No sooner did I reach out than my arm started to shake violently, my body writhing on the ground.
Then, he screamed, “Abigail!”
March 1, 1995
I am dying. This much I am sure of. No matter how many times the doctors’ flutter around my bed, attempting to stick another needle in my vein, I know nothing more can be done. I can’t blame them for trying. It’s their job. They care. I genuinely believe they care about me. But the facts are the facts.
If you asked me if I thought life was worth living, I would say, yes, absolutely, without a doubt. I know what is happening to me, and it still doesn’t change my mind. It’s going to happen to all of us at some point. I guess, in some ways, I’m lucky. I get to choose when, and I’m choosing to be here with you, Tank, my best friend, now. I know my family couldn’t be here today, but I knew you would be.
I close my eyes, and I can feel you squeeze my hand. You have the strength of a man even though I know you’re really too young to deal with this. In fact, I know a lot of people, me included, think I’m too young. Abby’s too young to be a part of this, too, but somehow, we have been chosen. I’m not exactly sure why, but I would do it all over again, even knowing what I know now because I met you, my family, and ultimately, Abby. I believe in Abby and what we had, as strange as that might sound.
I would have told the world about us, but instead I told you, my best friend, and now, you’ll have to find her. I want to believe that wherever I’m going next, she’ll be there…eventually. I now believe there are angels on earth. We pass by them every day. They are the ones who make our heads turn, the ones who make us believe there is something better out there, the people who make us feel that, despite it all, this life is worth living. I’d do it all again just to see her, just to be myself and your best friend.
I can feel my body relax. It feels like it is sinking into the bed. I feel comfortable. My mind is still active. I can see her sitting on the bleachers in the moonlight. I can see how beautiful she is under the glow. I know this moment will affect her. I know she will feel this, and I can only hope, someday, she will find the peace I am feeling now.
The room is quiet. There are no more sounds from machines. This is how I want it. My eyes remain closed. I am smiling. I can see a gray illumination, and in the middle, I see the light of her beautiful navy eyes. I feel so peaceful.
I know you’re still next to me, Tank. I know this. I’m not able to feel sad because you are sad. My body won’t let me. It wants me to feel okay about all this. You want me to feel okay about this. I have no regrets, and I’m so very glad you can be here with me. I know you will take the box and keep it safe, and I know you’ll be able to move on. This will scar you, it will scar her, but I believe we will all be better in the end. I believe this because I know that you will find her, just as I once found her.
I can feel my mind and body begin to slow. I know now that I’m on my way to her.
Please know, she will be happy, and one day, you, too, will be happy again.
That is my promise to you, my friend.
I squeeze your hand back, and I take one more breath.
March 6, 1995
Tank—that was what my friends and family had called me since I first took to the football field when I was eight years old. I’d grown out of the name Thomas.
My mom had told me that when she was pregnant, she swore, she was having twins with the way her belly had stretched and expanded. Not surprisingly, when I was born, I’d weighed a whopping eleven pounds and four ounces. The doctor had said it was a hospital record.
Today, I stood about six feet four inches and weighed around two hundred eighty-five pounds. At the age of eighteen, I wished that were the only thing that made me stand out, but I had shocking blond hair, almost white, that touched my shoulders. I also had wide-set silver eyes, and I’d been told they were very striking. People would say they could see me coming from a mile away.
I was always recognized for my size and appearance, but there was really so much more to me. I was actually a pretty soft guy off the field, and I took my family and friends super seriously because they’d supported me as I spent every waking moment working to earn a Division I college football scholarship.
And I did.
I was supposed to be leaving in the late summer on a full ride to my top-choice school, Onondaga State University. Now, I wasn’t sure I was going to go. I changed my mind daily, depending on how I was feeling. I had a good reason to feel the way I did—at least, that was what I kept telling myself every time I wanted to cry.
But again, my size defined me. Everyone just assumed I was some kind of cold, heartless rock. But I was not. I was just a confused, sad, and broken down eighteen-year-old kid. And all I really wanted to do right now was weep. Yes, I wanted to weep like a child because of how much I was badly missing my best friend.
In fact, Jonathan Higgins was the greatest friend I could have ever asked for. I guessed that was why I was the only one Mrs. Higgins could have asked to pick up the hundred or so balloons from the store after his funeral. She’d asked me as a favor, yet it pained me to pick them up. Who in their right mind would want to pick up balloons for their deceased best friend’s memorial? Not me, but I was doing it anyway. After all, there was no way for me to know when I’d become his best friend twelve years ago that I’d be here today.
Everyone from the football team, the school, and pretty much anyone in Fairmont, New York, who had ever come into contact with Jonathan, was waiting for me to arrive. My truck moved sluggishly down the paved road, passing the high school and heading toward the football field, with balloons billowing out of the back. I had this overwhelming sense of gloom wash over me as I saw the crowd gathered up ahead. For the first time in a week, it really dawned on me that I would never see Jonathan again.
I parked in one of the last spots in the lot and killed the engine. I took a deep breath before opening the door. I put on my black suit coat and buttoned it tight. It was sunny today but cold.
Fitting really, I thought to myself as I grabbed the hundred or so strings attached to the balloons.
I hesitated, and then I turned and walked through the parking lot and toward the gate to the football field where Jonathan and I had entered side by side a thousand times before. This was the first time I had been on the field since he passed. The football field was our home. This was where we’d excelled, and this was where we had belonged. There was a lump in my throat as I walked across the field to the crowd gathered on the fifty-yard line.
The gathered mourners parted as I approached. I walked over to Jonathan’s parents and stood next to them. Mrs. Higgins reached up her hand and patted me on the arm.
Principal St. Gibbons had asked the Higgin’s if he and our head coach could say a few words in an attempt to comfort us. Unfortunately, it was quite obvious to those who had been close to Jonathan that words would not be able to fill the void we were left with after he passed. He had been the guy who made you laugh, he had been the one who helped others, he had been the reason I loved football. I owed much of my success on and off the field to him. He’d kept me focused and grounded. He was, in a word, awesome.
After the moment of silence, all eyes turned toward me. I opened my fist and released the blue and white balloons into the air. Our school colors that had once been a symbol of pride were now a symbol of sadness for me. Mrs. Higgins gazed up at the sky only briefly before returning her eyes to the torn grass below her feet. I immediately put my arm around her shoulders as she quietly cried.
I squinted at the sun but kept my eyes on one balloon in particular, wishing that it would somehow be a beacon for Jonathan so that he’d know I was desperately missing him. It went up, up, up until it finally blended into the cobalt sky. It was gone, just like him, forever.
Mr. Higgins stood just outside the circle, clutching Jonathan’s brother’s hand. I could almost read Mr. Higgins’s mind as he glanced at Will.
Jonathan and Will looked so much alike. Will was just a slightly younger version of his brother, right down to the dynamic smile. As he gazed up at his dad, Will tried to muster up a smile, but his eyes filled with tears. He dropped his father’s hand to wipe the tears away with the sleeve of his dress coat.
I hated being a witness to this.
The crowd gradually dispersed, walking toward their cars. Now next to Mrs. Higgins, Mr. Higgins took her hand and ambled slowly toward their SUV, glancing back only once toward Will and me. In their car now, I notice them watching us stand in complete silence. I can tell Will is too afraid to make eye contact with me.
I attempt to bring closer to the day by saying, “Hey, I’ll see you around, okay?”
Will understood that I meant it. After all, we were practically family.
I headed for my truck.
Will spoke up, “You weren’t just Jonathan’s best friend, you know? You were like a brother…to us both.”
I stopped and turned slightly. “I know.” I paused but stayed still, searching for the right thing to say. “I miss him, and I’m…I’m so sorry, Will. But you will always have me, no matter what.”
I hurried to my truck, afraid I might cry. I waved and smiled slightly to the Higgins’s as I fumbled in my pocket for my keys. I had no idea where to go, but I just had to get away. I climbed in and turned the key in the ignition. My trusty dark green Ford F-150 roared to life. As I adjusted the volume on the stereo and accelerated to the main entrance to the high school, I thought of my friend and the last time we had been together.
His words had been playing repeatedly in my mind, causing me excruciatingly painful sleepless nights. I just couldn’t stop thinking of the days leading up to today. There was more to digest than I’d let on to anyone, and I was suffering for it. After all, I was the last one to see Jonathan alive, and no one knew what I knew.
March 25, 1995
I came running in through the door. I could feel my heartbeat in my throat. My eyes widened like saucers when I saw my father sitting at the breakfast bar, nearly in tears.
“Dad, what is it?” I choked out.
“You’re in, son. You made it. God, Mom would be so proud of you!” My dad jumped up and squeezed me tight.
They were so few words, but I knew exactly what he was referring to.
I’d made it. I’d been given a full scholarship to play football at my top-choice school, Onondaga State University.
My dad released the embrace, looked me in the eyes, and smiled. My knees got weak, so I sat down on the stool in the kitchen. I tried to smile back, but I was too scared to let this be real.
It can’t be real, right? I thought.
Then, it all began to connect. I unintentionally let out a deep breath. I thought back on this past year of grueling training and recruiting visits, of academic and physical tests, of my father crunching numbers and talking about loans and scholarships, and of the nights my father had spent leaning over a calculator while on the phone with his brother, Dave, discussing assets and credits. With my dad being a single parent, I imagined it was hard enough, but losing my mom, his wife, so suddenly had made it even harder. It might have given me all the motivation I’d ever needed to make sure my dad wouldn’t have to pay a cent for college.
I took a moment to let it all sink in. A moment was all I needed to realize that if I continued to work as hard as I had my whole life, I would, come August, be the starting quarterback for the Onondaga State University Hawks. I had reached my goal. I would call it a dream, but a dream was something you imagined or wished for. A goal was something you set for yourself and worked hard to accomplish. This had been my goal since the first day I touched a football.
“I’m so proud of you, Nathan. You’ve earned this. Now, keep it up,” he said, grinning from ear to ear.
“I will, Dad. I promise,” I said. It was as though my words were coming at the same pace as my mind was absorbing the information.
“Coach said he would send over some paperwork. He’s going to FedEx it to my office. I’ll get it in the morning. He wants to talk to us tomorrow night before you sign and make sure you don’t have any more questions about your scholarship, okay?”
Just then, the phone rang. My dad reached over and grabbed the receiver.
“Where’s the fire?” I heard Uncle Dave bark.
My dad quickly told my uncle the news about Onondaga State. I could hear the elation and pure joy in my father’s voice. It was something I hadn’t heard often. I knew I had made my father proud.
I stood up, forced a smile, and went down the hall to my bedroom. I closed the door, and I walked across my room. I grabbed the small Nerf football off my nightstand and collapsed on my bed. I needed some time alone to absorb this.
With news such as this, one might think that I would be running down the street, knocking on my neighbors’ doors, telling all the friends I’d known my whole life that I, Nathan Ryan, the skinny kid from Halifax, Pennsylvania, who never wanted to come in from playing football, had done it. All my hard work had finally paid off.
Quickly, I faced this reality that was unfolding before me because it was happening. It was really happening.
I closed my eyes, took a deep breath, and then opened them. I stared at the ceiling. I had no idea how long I’d been lying there, motionless, until I finally heard my father’s footsteps coming down the hall.
My father knocked on the door. “Nathan, you okay?”
“Yeah, Dad.” My voiced cracked. Then, I smiled slightly to myself. “I’m better than okay.”


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About the Author:

Laurel Ostiguy Novel (1)Laurel (Kupillas) Ostiguy was born in Queensbury, New York—a town sandwiched between Lake George and Saratoga Springs—where she still visits with friends and family. She currently lives outside of Boston, Massachusetts. She commutes into Boston for a job she loves at a financial firm.

She attended Plymouth State University and graduated in 1997. She is now married to her college sweetheart, Jeff, and they have two sons. She also received her master’s degree from Northeastern University in 2003. When she is not working in Boston, she loves to spend time with her family and friends as well as skiing, skating, swimming, writing, or just enjoying the beautiful New England seasons.

What’s Next From The Author?

A wealthy girl from the Hamptons, Bree has known nothing but good fortune.

But a horrific encounter on her first night in college has left her broken, confused, and scared.

Gradually, as Bree begins to heal, she finds solace in the arms of a forbidden man on campus. Knowing their infatuation with one another could cost him his job, Bree has a decision to make. Walk away before anyone gets hurt or risk it all?

What will Bree decide?





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