Never Say Forever

Kaleah spent a good few hours mourning in front of her father's grave. And, being the amazing friend that Alex was, Alex waited for her the entire time.  When Kaleah had finally felt like she made peace with her father being buried so many feet below, Alex took her back home. They barely spoke a word the entire way and once they got inside Kaleah's home, Alex followed Kaleah down to the living room and took a seat next to her on the couch.

"So, do you feel any better now?" Alex asked, cautiously.

"Surprisingly....yes. I feel much better, actually." Kaleah said through tired eyes. Her eyes were swollen and blood shot from sobbing so hard. "It was easy for me to forget that when I left Ironhorse, I was leaving a whole life behind. It's almost like I thought town would pause until I got back." Kaleah sighed.

"Oh, Leah. You couldn't possibly believe that would be true." Alex said. Kaleah gestured to the room.

"Even if I once did, I don't anymore. Look around! This isn't my home. My dad isn't here. Dawson works for my mother. Olivia has had some secret crush on Dawson and never told me. My mom has gone crazy with her gardening....not a single thing remained the same." Kaleah was debating on whether or not she would burst into tears just then.

"You're wrong, Leah. One thing has stayed exactly the same." Alex perked up. "Me and Olivia are still your best friends. That will never change." Kaleah smiled and rested her head on Alex's shoulder briefly. 

"Thank you...for taking me to my dad. I really needed that." 

"Your welcome." Alex sighed as Kaleah lifted her head from her shoulder. "You know, Liv was all against me taking you there." Kaleah rolled her eyes.

"That doesn't surprise me. You know, sometimes, I swear that Olivia is my mother's daughter and not me." Kaleah giggled. "They both have that same messed up logic on doing the right thing." Alex laughed.

"And they both wear digusting granny panties." Alex added. Kaleah scrunched up her nose and started to laugh harder.

"Ewww!" She hollered. "I do not want to picture my mother in granny panties!"

"But you want to picture Liv in them?" 

"No! Ewwww!" Kaleah and Alex started laughing uncontrollably and for a moment, it really did feel like old times, when the two of them could sit for hours and be entertained merely by the sounds of their own voices. When one laughed, so did the other one. Their laughter was short lived, though, when they heard footsteps heading towards them. From the hallway, Olivia appeared dressed in her usual church-girl, innocent attire. Kaleah and Alex had tried multiple times to change Olivia's wardrobe, but she never listened. Her style both irritated Kaleah and grossed out Alex.

Olivia smiled when she saw her two friends.

"Hey!" She said, giddy as always. "What's so funny?"

"Granny panties." Alex said, with a straight face. Kaleah elbowed Alex in the ribs. 

"We were just laughing at some joke Alex said." Kaleah lied, smiling friendly. Olivia sat down next to Kaleah.

"Ohh can I hear the joke?" She asked Alex, pleadingly.

"Nope." Alex smiled. "You wouldn't approve. It's morally incorrect." Kaleah felt Olivia's arm brush up against hers as she sat down. In any other instance, this wouldn't have even phased Kaleah. But that she knew Olivia had been keeping her secret crush from Kaleah and how devilishly she stared Kaleah down the night before...well, things were just plain awkard. Kaleah didn't even know how to be around her. She wanted to oust Olivia right then and there, but didn't want to cause any drama. 

"Whatever." Olivia said, in response to Alex. "So, what are we doing tonight?"

"What do you mean?" Kaleah asked, cautiously. 

"Well you're back now...and I figured...." Olivia bit her lip, unsure of how to word things. Alex sighed and rolled her eyes.

"She figured that you would want some sense of familiarity." Alex finished for her, annoyed. 

"Before you left, we hung out every single night." Olivia added. Kaleah looked from Olivia to Alex and then back to Olivia.

"Well of course I want to do something tonight!" Kaleah said, feeling surprisingly excited. "But I think we should take things slow. I have really been myself lately...." Kaleah thought about the binge she went on back in Sunset Valley. Between the men she slept with and the night she spent in jail, Kaleah never wanted that to happen to her again.

"There's supposed to be some bonfire down at the beach tonight. We can go to that!" Olivia suggested, all bright eyed.

"Pffft!" Alex said. "It's a no drinking party for kids!" 

"So? There will be tons of people our age there!" Olivia scowled. "Besides, I thought it would be a good place to start."

"Tons of people our age there?" Kaleah groaned. "Ugh, Liv! Do you mean we're volunteering to supervise?" When Olivia didn't respond, Kaleah started to vigorously shake her head. "No way! Remember what happened when you set us up to volunteer at the Children's Festival? We were miserable the entire time and actually got thrown out by security for back talking a dumb clown." 

"Liv, no offense...but Kaleah and I aren't the volunteering type. You should know this by now!" Alex practically screamed.  

"Well how else are we supposed to start slow in the stupid town?" Olivia shouted. "At least I'm coming up with ideas, unlike you A-lex!" 

"Why don't we just go to Uncle Joe's?" Alex suggested, ignoring Olivia's outburst.

"That's a bar, stupid!" Olivia growled. "We're supposed to start off slow, remember?"

"It's a sports bar, moron! A sports bar in a tiny town in the middle of no where. How much slower can it get? It's not like we're going club hopping in LA again." Alex laughed as she recalled the memory. A couple months before Kaleah left, the three of them had driven to LA for a roadtrip and ended up staying there for 4 nights, club hopping every single night they were there. They got into all sorts of trouble and had the time of their lives, despite the chronic hangovers and chastising they got when they returned home. 

"Actually, Liv...I think going to Uncle Joe's is a great idea. I miss that place." Kaleah smiled. Olivia paused for a moment, as if she was in shock, but eventually forced a mirror smile. 

"Whatever you want, Leah." She said sweetly. "If you want to go to Uncle Joe's, then we will go to Uncle Joe's." Olivia looked passed Kaleah and stared pleadingly at Alex.

"What?" Alex asked. "Oh, hell no! I am not calling us in sick to the bonfire! I did that once and trust me...lying is not my strong suit."

"You know that it's against my morals to lie." Olivia said. "And I'm not going to make Kaleah do it. Please?" Despite their bickering, Alex and Olivia were best friends with each other, just as they were best friends with Kaleah. When push comes to shove, they were there for each other.

"Fine." Alex said, pulling out her cell phone.

- - - - - 

After Alex called them in sick, Olivia and Alex left Kaleah and told them they would meet her at the bar later that evening. Smiling, Kaleah walked her friends out. She was beginning to feel more and more like she was home again. She couldn't help but to smile over it. At times, she felt guilty that the fact she saw her father's grave put everything into place for her. But at other times, she knew that this is what her father would've wanted. Kaleah walked into the kitchen, finally realizing that she hadn't eaten in a really long time and her stomach was screaming at her for some food. But, the minute she walked into the kitchen, she came to a stop in front of a note addressed to her taped to one of the cupboards. It was from Dawson.

When Kaleah read the note, her smile grew from ear to ear. She felt the warm, fluttering butterflies fill her was a feeling she hadn't felt in a really long time. She knew the spot he was referring to...she would never forget it. As they were growing up, they spent most of their summers hanging out there. They built forts and had picnics....nobody knew about it except for them. It was where they would escape to. Kaleah and Dawson hadn't been to that spot since the seventh grade and knowing he would be there, waiting for her made her feel giddy. She grabbed the note and slipped it into her pocket, smiling the whole time. 

"I see you saw Dawson's note." Her mother said from behind her. 

There was a sadness in her mother's voice. Not enough to spoil Kaleah's mood, but enough to make her worry what her mother would say next.

"You saw it?" Kaleah asked, not turning around.

"Hate to break it to you, kid, but secret notes don't stay very secret in a house this size." Kaleah's mom sighed. "What's going on? I thought he was mad at you?" When Kaleah didn't respond, her mother walked in front of her, glaring into her eyes. It was the same, scolding look that she used to give Kaleah when she was in trouble. Why her mother was acting this way was mystery to Kaleah. 

"I'm not stupid, Kaleah. I know that something went on with the two of you before you took off for Sunset Valley. My question to you is what are you doing with him?" Belinda's voice lightened up, but Kaleah could still sense that troubled tone.

"I have feelings for him, mom." Kaleah said.

"Have? Or had?" Kaleah didn't know how to respond. Her reaction to Dawson's note told her she still had feelings for him, but when asked the question directly, she honestly didn't know for sure. "Honey, Dawson is a really sweet boy. He deserves the best. I am assuming that his anger towards you the other night meant that you left things on a bad note. When you first left, that poor boy was moping around town as though you had taken his heart with you. He suffered."

"You don't think I know that?" Kaleah snapped. "You don't think I feel terrible for it?"

"Then what are you doing?" She gestured towards Kaleah's pocket, where she had seen Kaleah stuff the note into. Kaleah shook her head.

"I don't know how I feel about him." Kaleah admitted. "But I want to find out...seeing this note made me feel happier than I have felt in a while. I have butterflies, mom! Real butterflies. That has to mean something."

"You can't hurt him again, Kaleah. He can't go through that again."

"I know." Kaleah thought for a moment. "He probably just wants to talk about where we left things. When we do talk, I will know for sure."

"Be straight with him this time. Don't toy with his heart anymore." 

"What about my heart, mom?!?!" Kaleah hollered. "Nobody seems to give a God damn about how I feel!" Belinda went wide eyed at Kaleah's sudden outburst.

"Don't curse in my house." Belinda said, softly. She let out a deep breath and placed her hand on Kaleah's arm. "And for what it's worth, people care about you more than you give them credit for." Kaleah knew without her having to confirm it that Belinda was referring to Sam. Belinda knew everything there was to know about Kaleah's relationship with Sam. Kaleah nodded, pushing the thought of him out of her mind. As much as she needed this time at home, she also needed the time to get over her feelings for Sam and thinking about him wouldn't help. Forcefully, Kaleah smiled up at her mother.

"I need help deciding what to wear." She said, lightheartedly. Belinda returned her smile.

"Come on." She said, guiding her daughter towards the stairs. 

Kaleah and her mother went digging through Kaleah's wardrobe. Kaleah didn't even realize how much she missed the other half of wardrobe until now. She had left behind quite a few cute things and as she sifted through them, she kept asking herself why she hadn't brought these pieces with her to Sunset Valley. 

Kaleah needed to find something that was cute enough to be flirty, but sexy enough to be worn to the bar after. She had no idea how long this meeting with Dawson would take, but she wanted to be prepared. She finally decided upon a cute, layered dress with brown strappy heels and a big belt. After her mother's approval, Kaleah checked herself out in the big mirror outside of her bedroom. 

'I look good,' Kaleah thought to herself, smiling at her reflection. As she stared at herself, she noticed something. She looked happy. Not forcefully happy, but really, genuinely happy. The dark gloom that had over taken her eyes had faded and her cheeks were beaming with joy. Was she finally at peace with her father's death? She knew she couldn't be over Sam already, but she wasn't about to reopen her mind to that. Thinking about him only made it harder for her to be away from him. But she knew she needed this. Whether it was permanent or not, she still didn't know. But right now, all she cared about was letting go of the things that have been making her miserable and having fun. She needed to enjoy her time at home...not think about the drama waiting for her back at Sunset Valley and whether or not she wanted to go back to it. With one final smile at her reflection, Kaleah headed to Dawson. 

The spot that Dawson and Kaleah called their own was on the outskirts of Ironhorse. There was a big a split in the earth and it had rundown, abandoned railway tracks and tons of nooks and crannies for them to hide and play in. When Kaleah got there, her heart thudded as she saw Dawson standing in a spot where their fort from the fifth grade used to be. From a distance, Kaleah studied him. He was attractive...not in a typical way either. In a lot of ways, Dawson reminded Kaleah of Sam. He was all the good in Sam. Sam had a bad temper and would often cause fights and arguments and be irrational. Dawson was kind and gentle and had a pretty even temper. The only time she had ever witnessed him blowing up at anyone was the night she came home. As he stood there, waiting alone with nothing but his thoughts, he seemed restless. Like he was nervous. Maybe he didn't think she would come? Maybe he was scared to say what he had to say? Kaleah took a deep breath and approached him.

"Dawson?" She said, softly. Dawson turned slowly towards Kaleah, all forms of worry completely wiped from his face. He smiled big at her, showing off his perfect teeth. 

"I knew you'd come." He said as a greeting.

"Of course I came." Kaleah looked around at their surroundings. "We haven't been here in years."

Dawson's cheeks turned pink and he looked a little embarrassed. Kaleah smiled.

"What?" She asked, clearly showing that she noticed his change in expression.

"Um..." Dawson shuffled his weight from foot to foot, avoiding eye contact. Whatever he had to say, he was shy to say it.

"What is it?" Kaleah asked, trying not to giggle.

"This is...embarrassing..." Dawson smiled at himself, but finally bucked up enough courage to look back into Kaleah's eyes. "When you left, I spent most of my free time here." Kaleah was speechless. She wasn't sure if that was the sweetest thing or the creepiest thing she had ever heard. "I thought that if I hung out in a place that was filled with so many memories with you, it would hurt less that you left."

"Did it...did it work?" Kaleah managed to ask, quickly deciding that it was the sweetest thing she ever heard. Dawson shook his head, sadness overcoming his eyes.

"Nothing worked." He said softly. "No matter what I did or where I went, that hole in my heart was still there." 


"Hear me out for a second." Dawson took a deep breath before continuing. "I know that before you left, we weren't technically anything in particular. But  I liked you and you liked me...that much was clear. When you left, you have no idea what that did to me."

"I mom told me how much me leaving hurt you." 

"It wasn't just that."

"I felt a whole world of emotions." Dawson continued. "I was hurt that you left, but I was also angry that you didn't tell me."

"Dawson, I'm-"

"I was angry that you didn't tell me..." Dawson interrupted. "But the thing I felt the most was regret."

"Regret?" Dawson nodded. "What? Did you think you drove me out of town?" Kaleah realized how ridiculous that sounded the minute she heard it coming from her mouth. Despite how silly it was, Dawson smiled and shook his head.

"Hardly." He said. "I regretted not telling you how I felt."

"Dawson, it was obvious that you liked me. All those times we hooked up...yeah, I'm pretty sure that I gathered your feelings for me then." Again, Dawson shook his head.

"Kaleah, I'm in love with you." Kaleah's jaw dropped. "I've been in love with you since middle school. I don't know if me telling you that earlier would've made you stay or not, nor do I know if you feel the same way, but I don't care. I want you to know that. I need you to know that."

"Dawson...." Kaleah bit her lip for a moment. How could she say what she had to say without hurting him again? ""

"I don't expect you to love me back." Dawson said quickly. Kaleah looked at him through startled eyes. For a few brief moments, she studied him again. He didn't seem like he said that out of spite or sadness or anger. He seemed very level headed and understanding.

"That doesn't mean I can't, though." Kaleah responded. 

"What are you saying?" Dawson asked, hope fleeting through his entire face. 

Kaleah turned her back, unable to look at Dawson's gorgeous, loving face.

"I don't know what I'm saying." She said, staring at the ground.

"Do you have feelings for me still?" Dawson asked. He didn't try to turn Kaleah around to face him, and she was great ful for that. Anybody else would have forced her to look them in the eyes...especially Sam. 

"I don't know. I....I think so." Kaleah said softly. Dawson put a hand on Kaleah's shoulder. It was warm and gentle. He wasn't trying to force her to face him, but his hand sent an inviting signal. Kaleah slowly turned towards him, and carefully took his hand in hers. She took hold of the other one and there was something about their hands touching that sent an electric shock throughout Kaleah's entire body. 

Kaleah looked up at Dawson and she could tell that he was just as affected by their contact as she was. He hazily took his gaze away from where their hands met and locked eyes with her.

"I have to tell you something." Kaleah said cautiously. Dawson nodded in understanding. "There was this guy back in Sunset roommate. Sam." Dawson tensed up, but Kaleah wouldn't let him take his hands away. She told him the entire story of her relationship with Sam. She was completely honest about everything, which she hasn't been able to do with anyone besides her mother. Dawson's expression stayed neutral throughout the entire story, portraying no particular emotion. Kaleah eerily watched him as she spoke her words carefully, unable to read his reaction. When she finished what she had to say, silence fell between the two. Dawson looked back down at Kaleah's hands and shifted them so that he was the one holding hers. He lightly brushed his thumb over her skin.

"So what does that mean?" He asked, avoiding eye contact.

"I....I want to have feelings for you. I truly do. And for all I know, I might still have those feelings for you that I had so many months ago. It's just...this guy...he hurt me. I have this wall put up and I'm not sure it's going to be easy to tear it down." Dawson looked up quickly, expressing that he had an idea.

"Kiss me." He said, matter-of-factly. 

"Dawson....I don't-"

"I don't care if it ends up making it worse for me. Kiss me and then maybe you can see if you have feelings for me." Kaleah knew that the logic was messed up, but at that moment, she suddenly wanted nothing but the kiss she was inviting him to. He wrapped his arms around Kaleah's waist and that same electric shock flooded through Kaleah.

Kaleah fought with herself on what she should do. Here was a guy who had just declared his love for her. He wanted to be with her and it was as simple as that. The butterflies started up again as she thought about the fact that their mouths were so close and the proximity between their bodies was overwhelmingly close. But yet, she couldn't shake thoughts of Sam. Despite the fact that he had chosen her cousin over her and would never tell her how he really felt, Kaleah felt bad for what she was about to do.

"I wouldn't ever hurt you like that jerk Sam did." Dawson whispered. That settled it for Kaleah, With an intensity that even startled Kaleah herself, she pressed her mouth to Dawson's in a passionate kiss. 

Dawson returned the same intense passion and for a moment, they got lost in each other. Dawson was careful not to move his hands around, but Kaleah could tell that he wanted to. After a few moments, he pulled away. By the look on his face, Kaleah noticed that it was hard for him to stop. His eyes were hazy and his breathing sped up.

"" he managed to say through a raspy voice. Kaleah knew what he was asking, but without a response she quickly began kissing him again. Taking that as a yes, Dawson kissed her back. This time, though, he let his hands wander.  

They stayed together in their sacred spot until the sun went down. Dawson was so incredibly sweet...kissing her forehead and whispering cute comments into her ear.

'How could I not like him?' Kaleah asked herself as he wrapped his arms around her and held for what felt like hours. Once it was dark out, Kaleah knew she had to go.

"I have to go meet Alex and Olivia at Uncle Joe's." She told Dawson. "I don't really want to now, though. I could stay here all night if I could." Dawson smiled and kissed her quickly. 

"See you tomorrow?" He asked gently. Kaleah nodded and he left one last kiss on the tip of her nose. Without another word, the two of them parted ways and Kaleah headed towards the bar. She had a smile plastered across her whole face. What she had just experienced with Dawson made Kaleah beam with joy. Again, she hadn't felt this happy in a while. Home was becoming more and more apparent. Her heart stopped aching and her world was tingling. As she stepped inside the bar, she saw Alex dancing on a table while Olivia was sitting at the bar talking tot he bartender. It reminded Kaleah of the binge she went on back in Sunset Valley, but when Alex did it, it didn't seem as terrible as when Kaleah did it. When Alex danced on the table, it just seemed like something Alex would do. Kaleah smiled at the familiarity. 

"Enjoying yourself?" Kaleah called up to her. When she noticed Kaleah, Alex screamed in delight and jumped off the table, obviously already wasted. 

"Leah!!!!!" She screamed, excitedly.  

 Alex gave Kaleah a big, excitable hug. Normally, Alex hated showing affection, but she was a big flirt when she was drunk and was totally touchy. Alex pulled back from the hug and scanned Kaleah's outfit.

"Look at you!" She whistled. Kaleah took a little spin to show herself off. "You look adorable! What's this for?" Kaleah blushed.

"Nothing." She said shyly. 

"Oh come on! Even before you left, you never wore clothes like this to the bar. Something tells me this is for a bit more than our girls night out." Alex slurred her words and Kaleah couldn't help but to giggle. She wanted to tell Alex all about her little meeting with Dawson, but she wasn't entirely sure what it all meant yet. Not to mention, she was still unsure of how much she wanted Olivia to know and Alex was sure to tell her everything if she was drunk. Kaleah quickly decided she would tell Alex tomorrow, when she was sober.

"There's no time to talk about silly things." Kaleah grabbed Alex's hand and pulled her towards the dance floor. "Come on! Let's dance." Without hesitation, Alex followed.

Kaleah and Alex danced for hours, stopping once in a while to try and convince Olivia to join them. She insisted that she was perfectly content with sipping on fruity drinks and flirting with the bar tender.

"Liv has a weird taste in men." Kaleah noted, studying the chubby bartender. Alex peered over and shrugged.

"It's all part of her abstinence. I think her lack of sex makes her hormones run wild. She flirts with everyone." Alex giggled.

"Yeah  but why choose the nastiest men? Olivia is a cute girl. She can do much better." Kaleah pointed out. 

"Watch it, Leah." Alex said. "You seem to forget her mutual interest in Dawson. He's not that nasty."

"Dawson isn't nasty at all!" Kaleah retorted. Alex noticed her sudden change in emotion and questioned Kaleah's defending of Dawson.

"I think he's a little bit nasty." Alex said. "But to each their own, I guess."

"Hey. Dawson is a really sweet guy. Any girl would be lucky to have him."

"Leah?" Alex stopped dancing. "Why are you so set on defending him?" Kaleah blushed, but kept on dancing to hide her affection for him from her.

"It appears you seem to forget that me and Dawson were sort-of dating before I left." Kaleah said swiftly. Alex shrugged and started dancing again.

"You make it hard to believe you're over him." She said. Without much more conversation, the two of them continued to have fun dancing. When the bartender called Last Call, they went to peel a semi-drunk Olivia away from the bar and walked outside.

"Well I had a lot of fun." Olivia said, putting her arm around Kaleah, as they walked out of the bar. "Definitely worth blowing off our volunteering at the bonfire."

"It was alright." Alex said. "But nothing epic happened! Whatever happened to our epic nights out?" Alex started to get antsy at the thought of it. "We used to get into all sorts of trouble! Dancing for 4 hours straight and getting hammered no longer counts as epic."

"What do you suggest we do then, Alex? It's kind of hard to have an epic night when we're older in this town." Kaleah pointed out. Alex stopped walking and started to look around.

"What are you doing?" Olivia asked. "I thought we were going home!"

"Not yet. We need to do something bad." Alex smirked when she saw a pile of junk. "Aha!" She ran towards it. Kaleah and Olivia exchanged looks before hesitantly running after her.

"Alex, don't!" Olivia cried as she watched Alex study the pile of junk. 

"It's garbage, Alex! What the hell would you want with garbage?" Kaleah aksed.

"One man's garbage is another man's treasure." Alex said as she looked throughout the pile. "A lot of the stuff they throw out isn't garbage. Maybe we can find something to start an epic night afterall." Whenever Alex drank, she didn't make much sense. But nonetheless, Kaleah found it amusing to watch her friend dig through garbage. Olivia got nervous as she kept looking around to see if anyone was watching them.  

"Hm...think we could anything with an old cork screw?" Alex asked, holding it up to the light of the bar. 

"Poke our eyes out with it?" Olivia asked sarcastically. "Alex this is insane. Can we please go? I don't like this one bit." Kaleah twisted her body so she could face Olivia.

"Liv! Just let her do this and get it out of her system!" Kaleah practically hollered, getting annoyed at Olivia's nervousness. Olivia nodded slightly and stared at the ground. Kaleah found a sense of familiarity in all of this. Alex doing something reckless, Olivia complaining about it and trying to be the voice of reason, and Kaleah ready to jump in and help whenever Alex needed it or Olivia needed scolding. Kaleah smiled at this new found sense of home.

"What about a crow bar?" Alex asked, laughing.

"Why the hell is there a crow bar in the garbage of a bar?" Kaleah asked, also laughing. 

"To beat on people like us?" Olivia chimed in. A group of people came stumbling out of the bar and headed towards the street. They were too drunk to notice Kaleah, Olivia and Alex but still, Olivia grew even more anxious. "Okay! Now I really want to go!" Alex sighed and turned towards Olivia.

"Nobody is forcing you to stay, Liv! I'm just looking for something to play with. If you don't like it-" Before Alex could finish, the back door swung open and a big, chubby man in a dirty cook's outfit was standing in it's opening.

"Hey!" He hollered, getting ready to run after them.

"RUN!" Alex screamed as she turned around and started to bolt. Kaleah and Olivia quickly followed behind. 

"GET BACK HERE! I'M CALLING THE POLICE!!!" The man hollered after the girls.

"This was such a bad idea! Damn you Alex for doing this!" Olivia was practically in tears as she was running away. Alex was laughing mischieviously and Kaleah smiled, again basking in the delight of feeling more at home. "What are you smiling for?" Olivia asked Kaleah. "We're going to get in serious trouble!"

"Relax, Liv! He won't call the police. We were just digging in his trash." Alex called, still laughing. Kaleah sighed.

"It's good to be home." She said through another smile. 

When they were sure the police weren't called and they were far away from the bar, the girls exchanged goodbyes and parted ways. When Kaleah got home, she was surprised to see her mother reading a book in the kitchen.

"Mom?" Kaleah asked. "What are you doing up? It's nearly three in the morning." It took a moment for Belinda to peel her eyes from her book, but when she did she smiled up at Kaleah.

"I wanted to be a mom and wait up for you." She said happily. Kaleah noticed the bags forming under her mom's eyes from exhaustion.

"You didn't have to do that. It's really late." Kaleah explained, gesturing towards the clock. Belinda nodded.

"I'm aware." She smiled once more before placing a bookmark in her book and closing it. "But now that you're home, I'm going to bed."

"Okay." Kaleah smiled back.

"Before I do..." Belinda said. " did your meeting with Dawson go?" At the mention of Dawson's name, Kaleah's stomach fluttered. She instantly turned shy.

"Fine." She said quietly, trying to add the smile threatening it's way onto her face. Belinda perked up.

"Now I know it was more than just fine." she said, addressing Kaleah's expression. Kaleah sighed.

"Can we talk about it tomorrow?" She asked. "I'm really tired." Belinda nodded in understanding and with a quick kiss on the forehead, departed for her bed.  

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