The Wells Legacy

Without you, today's emotions would be the scurf of yesterday's ~Hipolito


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Gen.10-Alma. Chapter Twenty Three

Screenshot-425.jpgMy race around campus was leaving me out of breath, but it finally brought me to our dorm. The first floor was relatively vacant with the exceptions of a few students walking around in search of an afternoon snack.

“So you call me over and then nothing?” I mumbled before I felt my body nearly topple over at the force of someone jumping on me.

“Surprise!!”

I never spun around so quickly as I did then. Luckily, it wasn’t some assailant trying to end me, but rather my best friend who was chilling/studying on the other side of the country—Gia!

“Oh my god!” I shrieked and immediately wrapped my arms around her. “Are you seriously here?”

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The moment I hugged her, I only hoped she didn’t catch a whiff of sweat. Mine of Sabin’s. God, I needed a shower.

“Yes, girl! It’s really me! In the flesh!” Gia posed before looking me up and down. “You look a bit all over the place, no offense. What’s going on?”

“Are you the reason that Dani was blowing up my phone?” I grinned, finally putting two and two together.

“Oh shit. She did that, huh?”

“Gia, I ran.”

“Fuck. Yeah, let’s get you all settled. Dani knows how to make someone panic, huh?”

I rolled my eyes as we walked up the stairs. “You have idea.”

There was no doubt that Dani was already in our room. Clearly she was getting a kick out of it, but it definitely didn’t compare to what she was going to hit me with. As expected, Dani was hanging out on the couch with a wild grin plastered on her face.

“You made me panic, jerk!” I said, tossing my backpack at her.

“Well, you left me no choice, honestly. “

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While I expected Dani to analyze my appearance and my lack of response, she played it cool while we caught up with Gia. We talked about school and how time was flying quicker than either of us anticipated. I mean, before we knew it, we were on the brink of graduating. Last we knew, we were shopping for school supplies and now we were all hanging out just like old times. I loved them. I truly loved them. But of course the catching up would always ended and we ended back in the present moment.

“Okay, so are we going to talk about Alma’s sex hair?” Gia smirked.

I rolled my eyes and shrugged. “Yeah, okay. Sabin and I had sex.”

Dani’s face lit up as she flung herself at me. “I have been waiting for you to say that! Girl! YES! Alma Fucking Wells got some!”

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“Oh hush!”

“Can’t. Can’t. Was it good? No regrets? How’s that body though?”

Gia sat down and motioned for me to continue.

Was I like that when I found out Dani slept with her boyfriend (at the time)? Ah, the natural bestie curiosity, but I understood. So, naturally, I told them how it went down from point A to point B. The memory was still so fresh in my mind. The way his body moved, the way that I felt when he touched me, and god—the way his lips curled when he heard me moan. I loved every bit of it and I couldn’t stop thinking about it. The entire time Dani snickered and Gia responded by nudging her to the side so I could keep talking.

“It was honestly great. Um, my cooch is definitely a bit well…”

“Sore?” Dani sighed.

“Amen, girl.” Gia agreed. “What stinks is that you feel similar discomfort when you don’t sleep with someone in a while either.”

I didn’t even want to think about that. Frankly, I was done talking about myself and ready to move on to the guest of honor.

“Gia, so what’s going on with you? I think I missed your message about you coming for a visit. Greatest surprise might I add, but is something going on?”

Gia shrugged and leaned back on the couch. “I needed my girls. I think it’s time for a girls night. I am ready to dance-“

“TAKE SHOTS!”

I rolled my eyes at Dani.

“Yes, Dani is right. You don’t have any plans with Sabin, do you?”

I shook my head. “Not that I’m aware of.” Which was true. “I think he’s just wondering what’s going on since I ran out of his room with my pants barely buttoned up right after we had sex. Think that sent a good message?”

Dani smirked and spun her phone around like a sheriff in a cheesy western. “All in a day’s work.”

If I rolled my eyes any harder, they would have landed in the back of my head. “But no, I don’t think we have any plans. I’m all yours.”

So, it was decided that we would go out, and it would be the full package. We would get all dolled up and hit the local bars where Dani and Gia were bound to let loose. I wasn’t much of a dancer like they were, but after a few drinks, I always loosed up. Then, and only then was I a good dancer.

I waited till almost the last second to get dressed. I watched Gia and Dani pick out their clothes instead, and well, checked my phone.

Just checking you’re OK

            -Sabin

I quickly responded to him, letting him know what happened and what we had planned. I had to offer some explanation since it looked like it was something much more serious when I ran out. Had to give him some piece of mind that everything was fine. Once I was able to get that across, I quickly rushed to my dresser to pull out what I deemed as appropriate “clubbing” clothes before running to take a quick shower.

I showered as quickly as I possibly could, but Gia still came in to keep me company.

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“I’ll do your hair, okay?”

“So, how are things at school?” I asked while Gia brushed my hair.

“Ah, you know,” she sighed. “It’s a lot of hard work, but I love it. I’m excited to be finished because frankly, I couldn’t imagine living out there all alone. My family is all here and so are you guys. What about you? Do you have plans to spread your wings and float on away?” she smirked with one arm around my shoulder.

I honestly didn’t know. I hadn’t thought out my future quite that far ahead. All that I was focused on was keeping my plants alive, Sabin in touch with me, and my grades up.

So, I shrugged. “I don’t know.”

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Gia soon applied the final touches to my hair before coming around to look at me. “So, this Sabin guy—he’s the real deal, huh?”

Flushed, I asked her what she meant.

“You love him?”

“Yeah, I really do.”

Once those words left my lips, Gia stepped away from me and grinned. “You know, I’m really happy for you. You’ve really changed quite a lot since high school.”

“Really?” I tilted my head to the side and looked in the mirror. “Maybe my hair?”

She smirked and nudged me. “You know what I mean. “

Maybe I did.

“You’ve opened up. Of course your passions are still very much part of who you are, but you’re just glowing now. The couple of boyfriends you’ve had since middle school, none of them even match the look you have now.”

I couldn’t help but smile at that observation. She had a point. Sabin was definitely the first man I loved and one I actually considered as a special part of my life. Heck, he’s the only guy I introduced to my family. That had to mean something, right?

Trying to steer the attention to Gia, I leaned against the counter and clicked my tongue. “So, come on, is there someone special in your life? You’ve made your observations about me already.”

Gia adjusted her top, making sure her “girls” weren’t popping out, before responding.

“I don’t really know how to answer that question, so for now I’ll say maybe.”

When there was talk of feelings, Dani was never far behind. She walked into the bathroom and exhaled. “I think someone needs to spill the beans!”

Gia wagged her finger in Dani’s face and stuck her tongue out. “Not until I’m three shots deep!”

“Three?” I asked.

“I’d be talking silly after five, so this is a nice balance.”

“Well, shit! Let’s go!” Dani proclaimed before rushing out the door.

Our campus wasn’t so much about the clubbing scene, which I was secretly thankful for, but we did have some cool bars. The DJ’s weren’t too shabby, which mean hangouts like this were quite fun. We dressed up for the occasion and we were definitely ready to get the evening going. As promised, three shots in, and Gia was already letting loose. Dani was close behind while scoring us free drinks with her shameless flirting. If only our parents could see us now. Knowing Mom, she’d just join in. I guess I didn’t have the guts to do something like that.

“So, you promised,” Dani said while sipping on a vodka cranberry. “Who is on Gia’s radar?”

She rolled her eyes and shrugged. “Some guy from my history class, but eh…”

“Why?” I asked.

“I don’t want to live there forever. Once I graduate, I’m coming back.”

“Doesn’t hurt to take him for a spin, Gia,” Dani commented after throwing back the last drop of her drink. “Test the waters with some good ‘ol casual dating.”

“That’s on my agenda, but we’ll see how that goes.”

“Who knows,” I uttered, “maybe he’ll like you so much, he’ll follow you back to St. Claire!”

“Oh stop!” She grinned. “And drink some more!”

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With everything that happened, it sent my mind into a frenzy—goint out with Dani and Gia was perfect. My mind was still reeling from that afternoon with Sabin, but this allowed me to just really enjoy the moment. Maybe it was all the endorphins making me feel so damn good, or the alcohol, or the music, or maybe a combination of all of those, but I spread my arms out and spun with my friends.

Gia made a good point. We were almost finished with school and we would soon have to think about what our next steps were. Was my step going to include going back home, or moving somewhere else? Was Sabin going to stay with me? I was feeling more confident about Sabin than anything else, which meant that once all the dancing was done I would have to devote some time to thinking about the future.

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But for the moment, we had the music, the drinks, and the company I could never tire of.

Like all evenings that involved alcohol and a ridiculous amount of dancing, we all ended up back at our dorm to snack on all the things that comforted us.

Cheetos, pizza–just about anything greasy that we could pick-up or heat up in the microwave.

We had finally arrived at the moment in the evening/early morning where it was Dani’s turn to get grilled.

“What about you, Dani?” Gia asked.

“What about me?” she responded after stuffing a Cheeto puff in her mouth.

“What’s going on in your life? Alma tells me you’re dating again?”

We listened as Dani skipped around from story to story that involved Otto. Already we could tell that she was speaking about him with sincere emotion. We didn’t hear that with the other guy. That’s for sure. It made sense, really. Otto was genuinely kind and Dani deserved to be treated with respect. It was amazing to see her beaming with joy. I could even see Gia smiling from the corner of my eye. How could you not feel great when you saw your best friend happy?

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“You look awfully smitten, Dani. It’s kind of gross,” I laughed, rubbing my forehead.

“Well, you can’t be having all the fun now, eh?” She sighed happily. “I really like him, but of course we’re not really dating, so it’s not like I can just sit around and hope it’ll be something, right?”

Gia shifted her position to her knees before tapping Dani’s leg. “You can ask him. Last thing you’d want is to be completely invested and the guy just keeps you around as a bedroom pet, ya know?”

Dani nodded, but before she even had a chance to think of her response over, we were interrupted by the sound of someone knocking on our door. It was nearly 2 AM. I knew that Sabin wasn’t going to be stopping by.

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Dani, being closest to the door, got up and went to go see who was causing a commotion so late in the evening. We were pretty quiet, so it couldn’t have been a complaint! Regardless, Dani kept us in the dark even after she opened the door. She disappeared almost immediately and shut the door behind her. So much for being kept in the loop.

“You think it’s someone looking for booze?” Gia asked. “I think we’re out now…”

“Luckily, I don’t think people go door to door looking for booze. At least as far as I know,” I laughed. “But listen,” I motioned to the door again. “Dani isn’t yelling at anyone, so I think we’re fine.”

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Gia nodded and climbed onto the desk chair Dani was sitting on before. “Who knows maybe it’s someone just wandering. You know how people get on the weekend. Or even better,” she sighed while leaning forward to rest her head on my shoulder. “Maybe it’s that pizza I thought about ordering…”

No one really knew at that moment, but it couldn’t have been bad if Dani didn’t slam the door. Who knew, maybe it was a message for her?

Danika Lace, one of my dearest friends, deserved nothing but the very best. Somewhere, I felt that things would really start turning around for her.

Until then, we would simply have to wait until she walked back inside.

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Gen.10-Alma. Chapter Twenty One

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“Did you buy out the grocery store?” Dani asked when I came back to the dorm. My arms were overflowing with bag of chips and candy.

When I set our goodies down on my bed, I saw that Dani had changed. She was put together and looking like her regular self. Damn. If only I could pull that off after pulling all-nighters while tending to my plants.

I shrugged and wandered over to the fridge for a beer. “I don’t mess around when it comes to snacks. You’ve known me forever. The Wells—we’re taught to go over the top.”

She laughed and reached for a pack of sour skittles. “I know, I know. Plus you know I’ll end up eating half this shit.”

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“And you won’t even gain an ounce, you jerk!” I joked, although it was true. I’ve never seen anyone eat so many sweets and not gain weight, or even break out from all the sugar! If I even breathed in the sweet aroma of bacon, I could feel myself gain weight. A joke, of course.

As we were getting closer to the boys’ arrival, I worked on getting our movie-watching area comfy. I threw down pillows and moved seats around for a prime viewing experience. But while I worked, I noticed out of the corner of my eye that Dani was pacing until she decided to sit down.

“Are you breaking in a new pair of shoes?” I asked jokingly. “Really, though, are you okay?”

Dani scratched her head and groaned. “Um, please don’t tell me you’re doing this out of pity…”

I shook my head.

“You sure you didn’t tell Sabin about what happened and you felt sorry for me?”

“Pretty sure I just want my best friend to watch some movies with me. Also, you won’t be a third wheel, or anything like that.”

That caught her interest for sure. Rather than asking me to explain, she stared at me with her hands flat in her lap.

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“Sabin’s friend, Otto, didn’t have any plans for today, so I offered to have him join us as well. Thought it would be nice to have more people. Nothing better than poking fun at ridiculous movies, right?”

“Again,” Dani started, “this isn’t because you feel bad?”

I nodded. “Exactly.”

Dani couldn’t get another word in when I heard a knock on the door. Perfect timing, so I didn’t waste any time letting the boys in. They were equipped with the movies and their smiling faces. Otto was standing behind Sabin, but since he was taller than him, he couldn’t exactly hide.

“Nice to see you again, Otto!” I grinned. “So glad you could make it.”

“Well, when Sabin mentioned you were going to watch Mars Attacks, I had to be there. Tim Burton aliens—yeah, truly a classic.”

Once the guys walked in and managed to make themselves comfortable, I motioned to Otto for him to come meet Dani. He walked right up and held out his hand for her to shake. I didn’t even have a chance to say anything before he spoke.

“I’m Otto, by the way. I might have seen you a few times, but never got a chance to say hi.”

“Danika, but you can call me Dani.”

“Nice to meet you, Dani. You ready to crash this movie night? I’ll warm all of you know that I am notorious for incorrectly narrating character lines.”

Dani snorted. “Oh god. Like those classical art memes?”

He nodded and pointed to Sabin. “He loves going to museums with me.”

Sabin rolled his eyes and gave us thumbs up. “The shit that comes out of his mouth is outstanding.”

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The energy in the room was definitely a lot more relaxed. Everyone was chatting and having a good time. I had no doubt that Dani was heartbroken, but at least she was in good company. Sometimes we all needed a distraction to help get through sad times. That didn’t change the fact that I wanted to kick Saul’s ass.

Eventually we ended up actually getting to the movies. We were all seated in front of the TV and took turns commenting on the ridiculous dialogue, or sometimes even making up some of our own narrations. They were often so good that I had a hard time enjoying our snacks.

Otto leaned forward and did his best falsetto. “Well, I do admit that the dog’s body suits her personality. Frankly, I like her more like that!”

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“My god!” I exclaimed before Sabin pat me on the back. “Ugh! Thank you. Otto, I swear I’ll choke if you don’t stop!”

He shrugged and messed with my hair. “That’s okay. Sabin is certified to save you. But if I’m really so funny, I’ll just share with Dani so Sabin doesn’t have to worry about you choking.”

Dani furrowed her brow and sat up. “You know, all this talk of choking makes me want to say something dirty, but ya know…”

I quickly threw my pillow at Dani before the color of my face caught up. “Filthy!”

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Sabin had to join in laughing. Yeah-yeah, it was funny and we basically walked right into that one. Amazing. But that what was what I really liked—I loved how freely we could laugh and enjoy the moment. I only hoped that Dani was having a great time as well. I watched her laugh and talk with Otto. They were certainly on a roll with making fun of the movies we watched. I lost track of how many times Sabin had to smack me on the back to make sure I didn’t choke on a pretzel.

Time flew by and before we knew it, it was midnight.

“Wow, we definitely got through a few movies,” Otto commented looking at the stack of DVDs on the floor.

Sabin nodded and shifted his position to look back at Dani and Otto. “You ladies want to call it a night? Get some rest before classes start back up again?”

I shrugged and glanced at Dani. “We can certainly hang out tomorrow, but sleep sure does sound nice.”

Once we agreed to finish up with our movie night, the boys helped us clean up before heading back to their apartment. Every little bit helped because once the sleepies kicked it, it was difficult to do anything!

“Alma,” Dani started while I started throwing pillows off my bed.

“What’s up?”

When she didn’t answer, I looked up to find her right beside me, ready to wrap her arms around me.

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“Thank you for tonight. Just—thank you.”

My arms wrapped tightly around her as I sighed happily. “I’m so glad you had a good time. That’s the fun you should be having, not dealing with some little shit.”

She snorted before giggling. “Oh man, you’re right about that. But in all seriousness, you’re not going to go sneak into Sabin’s bed right now? Lord, the way he looks at you even when you’re choking on snacks. It’s incredible!”

I shoved her playfully and rolled my eyes. “Oh hush!”


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Gen.10-Alma. Chapter Nineteen

Life is created as well as extinguished in a blink of an eye. That’s something I knew to never take for granted. In my young life, I’ve seen many lives form and grow, but unfortunately, I’ve seen and felt the pain of loss. I think that’s what really struck me when Sabin finally met my family.

I could see in the scene before me that I couldn’t see myself with anyone but him. He fit in perfectly within the craziness of the Wells. By no means were any of us perfect, especially me. We had our flaws, but we still came together.

The moment Sabin entered my family’s home , he was welcomed in with open arms. I barely had a moment with him! My family was excited and loud, like always. There was no discomfort, not even from my Dad. Mom was already doing her best to fatten him up with appetizers that she made. I wouldn’t fight back either because her cooking was out of this world!

But the best part had to be watching Sabin interact with my younger siblings. There was something so special about watching them, because it helped me see just how well we all fit together.

“Are you going to join us, or just watch us?” Oren laughed while Sabin was already spinning Jax around.

I had to join in, of course, because how could I pass up on all the fun that they were having.

Meeting my parents was just as smooth as meeting the rest of the family. Unbelievable, because I had this huge elaborate speech planned to explain to them why I loved him so much.

My parents were so kind, although I honestly wasn’t too surprised at that.

My dad even asked if Sabin wanted a drink, and that was from his special stash. Man, even I wasn’t offered that whiskey. Dad said it would be saved for a special occasion, like my wedding, or something like that.

So, it was a good sign for Sabin.

While Sabin was being socialized, I walked around the house to greet family as they arrived. Christmas was a little light this year at the Wells house since Grandma and Grandpa bought a house in France. Guess their hearts would always bring them back there. But Aunt Arecia and Shuyin were there, which was really nice.

Speaking of which—

“You did not mention what a looker he is!” Aunt Arecia giggled, yanking me to the side. “So you think it’s serious?”

My face was undeniably hot. Like, eight shades darker than my natural skin tone hot. Yikes.

“I mean, we’ve been dating for a while now. I wouldn’t call it just a fling, if that answers your question.” I hoped that would satisfy her inquiry because I couldn’t handle any more seriousness until I actually talked to Sabin about everything.

The day was full of the usual festivities: playing, drinking, and of course eating a sinful amount of food. When Mom cooked, it was to be expected that we would have leftovers for a good week, if not longer. As usual, everyone was basically in a food coma after eating a holiday meal at our house. That’s usually when everyone went his or her separate ways before doing anything else. Sabin ended up joining me in my room. It was actually the first time he ever saw my room.

“So this is where hung out before college, huh?” He chuckled, wrapping his arm around my shoulder, lazily.

I shrugged, leaning into him. “I supposed you could say that. This was my escape when I wasn’t at Dani’s house, or her parents’ restaurant. When my siblings got older, it was pretty tough to hide in my room. Oren and Jax would hide in my room trying to avoid whatever they were supposed to do.”

Sabin laughed and wandered over to the center of my room. “Sounds like brothers.”

“You have only sisters, right?”

He nodded. “I was the big bad wolf when they started dating.”

“You? A big bad wolf?” I couldn’t help but laugh. I followed him and circled around to face him. “No way.”

He rolled his eyes and stepped closer to me, so our height difference cast a shadow on my face. “Oh, you have no idea.”

I knew he was trying to be somewhat serious, but I couldn’t help but laugh out loud. When he joined in it was that much more difficult to stop laughing, especially when his manly cackle faded into a few light “he-he’s”. I loved that about him. I loved how he made me laugh and I love how he would let loose with me.

“I,” I laughed freely,” I love you!”

It wasn’t until I was gasping for air that I had realized what I said.

Sabin cleared his throat and quickly straightened out. “What was that?

Well, I wasn’t going to take it back. Not then and honestly, not ever.

“I love you,” I repeated. “I fucking love you, Sabin.”

Those plump lips of his parted to show me the smile I never got tired of seeing. The wider it grew, the more I wanted to say it.

I love you.

I love you.

I’m ridiculously in love with you.

“You’re a spontaneous woman, aren’t you?” He laughed before grabbing hold of my wrist. His grip was firm, but his skin was on fire. While I cooled down, I felt him pull me in closer to him till our faces were only centimeters apart. I was never that close to him without kissing him. Even when I tried, he gently pulled me back, but kept me close.

“I love you too, sunshine. You’ve brought back a feeling I didn’t think could return.”

While my heart pounded against my chest, I launched myself forward to finally kiss him. How could I not love him and do everything I could to make his day brighter? He was honestly my light, my partner in crime, and everything I could have hoped for in a partner. He was my special someone—that someone that we hope to meet when we’re younger.

By the time we were finished telling each other how much we loved each other it was time for presents. It was always fun watching my siblings open up their gifts to see their faces light up at the sight of something they had asked for. They were genuinely thankful and very excited to play. But while gifts were fun, I couldn’t help but hold onto Sabin’s hand. That holiday was something more precious to me than any gift. Cheesy as it sounded, having Sabin with us that year was the best present I could have asked for.

Knowing my family liked Sabin was all I could ask for.

Telling Sabin I loved him and hearing it in return…there was no greater joy.

“Next year,” Sabin whispered against my neck when he leaned in, “I’d like for you to come to my family’s holiday dinner.”

Next year? My heart would never stop fluttering with them.

He saw more years with me!

“I couldn’t ask for a better holiday,” I smirked in response.

[Author Note: I was hoping to have pictures this time, but Sims 3 knows how to break all the time, haha. I’m working on a fix every now and then…when I find some time. But at least this chapter is done. I’ve reworked Alma’s story a little bit, so hopefully this will move forward with little delay. Thank you, again, for staying with me. Please bear with me while I try to figure out this weird issue with my game 😀 I hope you enjoyed this short chapter! Can’t wait to post again! ❤ ]

 

 


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Gen.10-Alma. Chapter Eighteen: Part Two

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We ended up at a small café not far from home. Sabin would be coming early the next day, so I didn’t have much time left for preparations. By that I meant: getting my family ready to meet him without asking unnecessary questions that could make Sabin’s stay unpleasant.

You know, nothing too crazy.

My younger siblings were becoming old enough to know when to suppress some questions that wouldn’t be appropriate, so they weren’t the ones I had to worry about. My main issues were with trying to figure out how my Dad would react. Mom let me spread my wings, but my Dad was something else. Not that he kept me from doing what I wanted, but he was looking out for me, or so he said. Especially when it came to people I was interested in.

Dad looked at me from across the table. We had gotten through the entire meal without actually having mentioned anything about Sabin. While he waited, I took my time to make sure that the food I consumed would stay down.

“You’re awfully quiet,” he mentioned.

“I know…”

“Know what? That you want to tell me something about your boyfriend?”

I stopped and leaned back in my seat. “Well, yeah, I guess. How’d you know? Did Mom tell you?”

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He shook his head. “It’s his first time coming here, so I figured you’d be giving me some information so I don’t blow a fuse.”

Funny how right he was.

“I already talked to Mom, because I really needed her to listen. You, though,” I paused, “Sabin isn’t like you or grandpa, or anyone else, really.”

Dad chuckled, “I’d say that’s pretty good news to me.”

I managed a weak smile. “Sure, I guess I could say that as well.”

There was no other way of doing it than to really jump into the fact that Sabin had PTSD, and he was much older than me. My favorite anecdotes of my boyfriend came flooding out of my mouth to help underline that fact that he was still someone I loved very much despite what he has gone through. I spoke so quickly and excitedly that it didn’t give Dad much of a chance to even react to the initial news. Sabin was someone I cared deeply about, but I didn’t want anyone in my family to shun him. We’ve all gone through great ordeals in our time, and we all got through it.

I just needed Sabin to be treated the same way. He wasn’t broken.

He simply lived.

Finally, I stopped to catch my breath and waited.

“Dad?”

He was quiet and that was what made me nervous. He was quiet for too long. If I knew my father, then he would have been making a scene about two minutes ago.

Still, nothing.

He finally exhaled sharply. It was painful to hear, but I prepared myself for whatever backlash I would get. Funny—backlash for loving someone.

“I see why you wanted to tell me in public,” he began. His hands were balled up into fists to the point I could see his knuckles turn white. “Wow,” he breathed again, “this is a lot for anyone to stomach. This man is how much older than you?”

“Almost 11 years.”

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“That doesn’t bother you?”

“No, it doesn’t.”

Dad leaned back in his seat and looked at me. His eyes moved slowly, studying each line of my face, as if trying to find a trace of uncertainty somehow hidden in my expression. Unfortunately, he wouldn’t find any of that. All that he would find was his daughter asking to give her relationship a chance.

“You and Mom are a few years apart, and look what that brought you!” My exclamations somehow struck a chord with him.

“Yes, we are, but neither of us have PTSD,” he sighed. “Look, I’m not saying that he’s an awful person, because I can’t say that. I don’t know the guy. I’m simply a father trying to protect his daughter from the world. It’s what parents do.”

I bowed my head because he was right. There was no reason to be upset over that, because he was a good parent looking out for his child. Out of the corner of my eye, I looked over to see if anyone was staring. Even if we weren’t yelling, anyone could hear what we were talking to. Would they also think I was crazy for fighting for my relationship with Sabin? I hoped not, because I needed someone on my side. I needed someone to understand.

“Are you listening?” Dad asked.

“Yes.”

“I don’t mean to sound like I’m scolding you, Alma. I just hope you understand what this is you’re getting yourself into. The man has his own battles to face, and regardless if he’s trying to or not—you will end up mixing into it all. That’s a lot to handle. Getting involved with someone from a broken home is one thing, but doing the same thing with someone who is suffering mentally after a traumatic experience?” He shook his head. “Have you thought this through?”

Even as he warned me I could still feel the warmth of my father. My heart was already heavy from worrying like a nut over all this, so I simply nodded. Yes, I had thought it through. Yes, I made numerous lists. Yes, I considered not seeing him anymore, but in those times that he was gone and not speaking to me, I felt like something was missing from me. It felt silly to say or even think, but I missed him terribly. Whatever he had going on in his life—I wanted to be a part of it. We were partners and I wasn’t going to step away from a chance of being a part of his life.

“Then that’s that,” Dad sighed. “We can only do so much, Alma. You know we’re only looking out for you though, right?”

“Yeah,” I responded. “So, you’ll be okay when he’ll be here for Christmas?”

Dad shrugged.

“Oh, come on!”

“Sweetpea, I will be as normal as possible, considering your mother is making mixed drinks. Her ratio of booze to mixer is killer.”

I rolled my eyes and reached out to grab his hand. “Thank you for this. I’m sure you’ll grow to really like him.”

He chuckled and squeezed my hand. “I’m sure I will.”

 


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Gen.10-Alma. Chapter Thirteen

Life at home was rather crazy, and even now that I was back at school I could feel the lingering presence of sadness. Before coming back we had Grandpa Grey’s funeral. It was a long week that I had to watch Dad struggle with the hope that there was a way out of a coma. In reality, that coma was what was keeping Grandpa Grey still with us. It was truly upsetting, and I felt horrible that I couldn’t be the most comforting person in the family. Mom was good at being there for Dad and for everyone who came to say their goodbyes. She asked me many times if I was okay, because I hadn’t cried. My expression faded and lost all trace of happiness, anger, and even sadness. I felt incredibly numb, but I–I just didn’t know what to do in such a situation. I never had to face such a situation where I almost lost someone. Well, not at an age where I actually understood what was happening.

But as expected, life keeps moving forward. There is no way to pause anything. Dani had heard about what happened over my holiday, so she kept her questions to a minimum the moment she saw my body tense up. She was like my sister. She could read me like a book.

“Did you want to hang out tonight?” Dani asked, flinging her backpack onto the foot of her bed. “I’m done with classes for the day!”

I was happy that she offered, but the reality was that I had to actually study for my horticulture classes. With a foggy mind, I knew I couldn’t pass any of my classes without putting in extra hours with my books, and well, with my plants as well. “Maybe another day? Maybe you can spend some time with Saul? I’m sure he missed you over break.”

She opened her mouth quickly before shutting it again. She changed her mind. Dani bobbed her head. “But next time, please let’s hang out. I feel like I’m not getting nearly enough one on one time with you. And you know I’m here if you want to talk, right?”

“Yeah, Dani. I know,” I smiled, picking up my bag to head out. “Thank you,again.”

The day was coming to an end, but that didn’t really affect me. That was mainly because sleep wasn’t treating me all that well, so I made the best of it by loading up with my favorite tea late and spent most of my time at the college cafe. I actually got a lot of my homework done that way.

You could say that I was a bit of an insomniac at school. My productivity was at its highest outside of my dorm and between the hours of midnight and 4 in the morning. I was lucky that semester, because the majority of my classes weren’t until 1 in the afternoon, which gave me some time to actually get a good nights sleep after powering through my studies.

 

***

“Alma, thought you wouldn’t make it tonight,” the barista said. “Green tea late?’

I took the warm cup from the barista and dragged my feet to the back of the café. Tonight there was a small group of people studying, but no other special events. The ethereal sound of Soren Juul occupied the air.

Days passed like that.

I lost track of what was happening outside of my school work. Getting ahead on my homework and taking on extra projects mainly to help myself became almost cathartic.

Thinking of my grandfather and of my father became easier with each month, but I still stayed at the café each night.

I loved the solitude that I found in a busy space.

Before I knew it, months had passed, and like clockwork I’d make my way to the café. By that point I only had to slip the barista money and my order would be waiting for me.

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It was the middle of April when I heard the chair behind me screech like a fork against a porcelain plate. Even if it was annoying, I did my best not to turn around. I was sure the person who caused it didn’t want any additional attention drawn to them.

Then it squeaked again, so I had to turn around except that the person was no longer in their seat, but standing in front of me. Being seated didn’t help, because the guy was tall. Like, very all. I craned my neck up to look at him.

He was lean with facial features that could help distinguish him from others. His cheek had a discolored line that trailed down his cheek and his cheeks were decorated lightly with freckles of different shades of brown. I looked at him as if I had seen him before. The hair was different, but the blue tint was like a blurred memory.

“What’s up?” I finally said. As those words left my lips, I remembered. I remembered the hair, but it wasn’t until his lips parted lightly to show half his teeth that I knew exactly who he was. All that was missing from his hands was a plastic bottle of water. Instead he had a steaming drink in each hand. “Ah….hello there.”

His face appeared to be tense, knotted with some form of anxiety. I only knew because I saw that look in the mirror every morning when I rushed to get ready for my classes.

“Don’t know if you remember me…,” he said.

“Oh,” I chuckled, “I remember.”

His name was Sabin.

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Sabin and I talked till six in the morning that night, which normally wasn’t easy for me with people outside of my family, unless it was Dani. We didn’t seem to run out of things to talk about, but I admit that the majority of our conversation ended up with him bringing up the party where we first “unofficially” met.

Sabin continued to laugh heartily until he covered his mouth to cough. “You know,” he said breathlessly, “I’ve been meaning to talk to you for months.”

“What?” I asked suddenly stopping mid-bite of my stale croissant.

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“I saw you here a few months ago. You seemed really down, but I didn’t want to be some random guy walking up to you ask if you were okay…”

I didn’t know which night in particular, but I knew it had to have been not long after the funeral. My life was all sorts of crazy then. The café served as one of the few places I could escape to.

“Well, you’re certainly not a random guy anymore,” I smiled. “Now I’ll actually remember your name instead of a partially blurry face.”

He chuckled.

I was so drawn into the conversation that I barely noticed that the baristas changed. The morning girl was there, Aimee.

“Oh my god! What time is it?”

Sabin stopped and glanced at his cell phone. “Oh wow…”

I quickly stuffed my notebooks and laptop back into my bag while Sabin sat without flinching. He simply watched me. I had to stop for a moment to glance over at the barista then back at him. “Why don’t we make a little routine out of this?”

“Routine?” He said with a smile.

“Yeah. I’m here every night. And if you’re around, then let’s talk…,” I bowed my head. “I could use more talks like this.”

Sabin bobbed his head and got up as I did. “Yeah…I’d like that, too.”


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Gen.10-Alma. Chapter Twelve

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So much of life passes us by in a single blink of an eye.

You don’t think much of it until you’re struggling to grasp each second as it begins to slip past your fingers, like sand…

We arrived at the house not long after we originally promised. Oren and Jax were still young enough to have the excuse of their bladders not being strong enough to withstand a few hour drive. Our slight tardiness, however, did not mean that we weren’t welcomed with open arms.

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“You’re here!” Aunt Arecia exclaimed. She practically busted down the door and ran to us just to be the first one to wrap her arms around all of us. “I sure hope you found this place alright. I know we’re a little secluded.”

Mom assured her that everything was fine and that our tardiness was not the fault of our GPS failing. In fact, at some point during our trip we were actually able to outsmart it!

When we walked inside the house, I finally saw the holiday decorations. Lights and festive garlands decorated the already rustic atmosphere of the house. To be honest, this house was perfect for the holidays and everyone seemed to agree. If someone was lacking the holiday spirit, then all they would have to do is step inside Aunt Arecia’s home to immediately be embraced with the fuzzy feeling of Christmas.

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“Is that my baby, I hear?” It was Grandma who came from the kitchen once we were all filing inside. Mom was right! Our grandparents were here, and I couldn’t wait to tell her about my time away at school. Grandma looked amazing for her age. In fact, she was one of the few people, aside from Grandpa Grey, who rocked a cane. I mean, she had quite a swagger to her walk!

I wanted to just right into my conversation with her, but I was going to hold myself back until after dinner, or at least right before it. We were only getting warmed up, and some of us weren’t even in the house yet. Kaden was running back and forth with Dad, bringing in all the presents we had for everyone. I was really beginning to feel the holiday spirit when all I could see were the smiling faces of my family. I mean, even at this point in my life, and even Mom’s–people who we used to see every day, or at least once a week, were only seen a few times a year. It was a no-brainer that life got pretty crazy. I suppose this was a good example of importance of “stopping to smell the roses”. The older I got, the more harder I tried to appreciate that thought.

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“U-um,” Madelyn yelped. No one seemed to notice it at first, until I gave my Mom a tap on the arm. My younger cousin looked both horrified and confused.

“What’s going on, sweetie?” Mom asked, suddenly raising her hand, to pause the conversation she was part of.

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The poor girl was speechless as she continuously pointed back to the kitchen and in no time everyone was rushing to see what was happening. We all made it there quickly only to find Grandpa Crescendo on the ground with  Grandpa Grey, laying on the wood floor. Everyone gathered around them–my cousins, my uncles, my friends–they all stared in disbelief as our grandfather was working on keeping  Grandpa Grey’s head from hitting the hard ground. Past me came my dad, and his reaction was one that sent the entire moment into a slow motion montage. I loved my dad more than words could ever possibly express, and there was never truly a time that I saw him look more scared than he did at that very moment.

Mom was right beside him within moments as she quickly instructed me to dial for an ambulance. I did that without thinking twice.

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“911 what is your emergency?” The operator asked.

“My grandfather collapsed; he’s unresponsive…”

 

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The flickering red and blue lights blurred the holidays lights. Despite the beautiful decorations in my Aunt’s house, the feel of solemness couldn’t be taken away. My dad was shaken. Mom was doing her best to console him, but even then it was difficult to watch, because all my life I saw my Dad as the true pillar of strength in our family. When Mom was stressed, he helped her fight back and regain her strength. Now, it was her that was working on being there for him. I loved him, but seeing him like that–I was afraid to step closer. That was how I was stuck with babysitting duty along with my brother.

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“When will we go home?” Jax moaned.

“Is Grandpa G going to come back for story time?” Oren pouted, squeezing my arm tightly.

I didn’t know what to say.

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Oren and Jax were huddled under my arms. Their spirit was dimmed, and it had occurred to me that this was the first time they were in the hospital for something like this.  This wasn’t the Christmas they were picturing in their mind. Normally around this time we would be seated around the holiday table and often everyone would be moving onto second helpings of delicious holiday food. I made eye contact with Mom from time to time while she remained with her arm on or around Dad’s shoulder. Then when I wasn’t around to get Mom another cup of water for Dad, or snacks for the kids, Grandma Attie and Grandpa ‘Scend were cruising around the waiting room asking to provide the same thing.

“How are things at school?”

I looked at my grandmother and I couldn’t think of what she was saying. I saw her lips moving, but nothing was registering. “W-what?” Did she seriously ask that?

“I-I’m sorry,” she quickly apologized before taking a seat beside me. “I was never good at hospitals. I’ve been in so many in my life, and rarely was it a good time.” She exhaled softly and rubbed her head. “I don’t know what to say, truly–gosh, I was just hoping to maybe change the subject. You’ve been sitting here so quietly–are you alright..?”

I couldn’t answer Grandma’s questions when even I didn’t know the answer to that. How was I to know how to respond. I saw my father cry for the first time yet there I was without a single hint of moisture in my eye.

Grandpa walked to us and placed his hand on Grandma’s shoulder. “Have you heard anything?”

I shook my head. Grandma did too.

It was Christmas Eve in a hospital. As happy as the holiday was generally assumed to be, there were high spikes in attendance during the holidays too. As upsetting as it was, it was the unfortunate truth. I didn’t know what to say to my grandparents, but talking about school was just something that I couldn’t do. It didn’t seem right, you know? We were all huddled on the uncomfortable seats in the waiting room long enough that Grandpa ‘Scend offered to take the younger kids back to Aunt Arecia’s place. Mom agreed that it was a much better idea for them to be there while we waited for any news on Grandpa Grey. I was asked if I wanted to go back as well, but I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t leave my parents.

As the waiting room slowly vacated, a middle aged man with his blond hair slicked to the side walked out the door with a clipboard in his hand.

“Cateo Saunders?” He asked like a professor taking attendance.

Dad quickly got up from his seat and walked to the doctor. It was then that I saw how heavy his eyes looked. “C-C-Cateo Saunders. Y-yeah. I’m uh, that’s me. My last name changed, but yeah, I’m Grey’s son. How’s he doing, Doctor?”

You know those moments in movies when someone receives bad news and all of a sudden all dialogue fades and all you see if the gestures while emotional  music plays? Well, this was nothing like it. This was nothing like that at all. The waiting room wasn’t quiet at all. Coughing patients occasionally walked by and nurses pushed wheelchairs, but even then I could see my father’s face lose all expression that even held a smidge of hope.

“I’m sorry, Doctor,” Mom said, stepping to Dad with her arm immediately around him. “What’s going on?”

“Mr. Saunders has suffered a severe stroke.” He quickly looked over his notes on his clipboard and rubbed his head. “It is to no surprise, I am sure, that Mr. Saunders is very old.”

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“But I’ve known people who’ve had strokes and they’re fine! I’ve even seen them with some facial paralysis, but they were still alive and well as they could be for many years!” Dad suddenly exclaimed before being pulled back by Mom. He was clutching his head; I couldn’t even think of how horrible he must have felt. I never really knew what it felt like to lose someone, and seeing the way Dad was reacting had me wishing to never feel it. If I were in his shoes at that moment, I wouldn’t be able to take it. Grandpa Grey was Dad’s father. He was all he had left since his mom passed away when he was much younger. This wasn’t fair. Grandpa Grey still had so much life left. This couldn’t have been it for him.

The doctor bowed his head and ushered for Mom and Dad to follow him down a hallway where I felt they were keeping Grandpa. I quickly shot up from my seat only for my uncle, Mattieu, to help settle me down.

“There’s nothing we can do right now, but just wait.”

Waiting was the worst part, because we couldn’t do anything. We didn’t know what was happening, and we definitely had no medical knowledge to know how to help him, to help anyone in our situation right now.

How does one help others deal with grief when they don’t know how to grieve themselves?

I felt so useless in a time when I knew my family needed each other the most.

~

Grandpa Grey was brought home to us for the finals days that he had left. Being that he was so up in age, Grandpa was kept in a coma, which was essentially the best way that doctors could alleviate the pressure on Grandpa’s brain. The doctor mentioned doing everything to help make things easier, however any additional operations wouldn’t have  aided him. Despite there not being many days left, Dad didn’t want Grandpa to be stuck in a hospital that lacked the feel of true comfort. It was a sterile environment without a single hint of home. So after renting out all the medical equipment required to sustain Grandpa, he was brought home for his final days, which would be spent with family.

Our holiday was cut short due to the obvious circumstances, but Mom never failed to try bringing some brightness to our days, even to Dad who very rarely left Grandpa Grey’s side. Even though he was comatose, Dad believed that his dad sensed his presence, and didn’t want him to think that his only son was celebrating during a time of great struggle for the family. As hard as Mom tried, it was the simple reality that our holiday wasn’t going to magically turn into an amazing celebration. To me it made sense and I understood completely, but Mom definitely had to spend some more time with my younger siblings, the twins specifically, to explain to them why we weren’t going sledding, or allowed to play with their new toys around Grandpa Grey.

Grandpa Grey was taken care of very well in his final days, but even so, his time had come in the early morning with no pain or discomfort. It was as we were told: he simply drifted deeper into a sleep that freed him of any pain.

~

“Is Dad going to be okay?” I asked, keeping my head bowed in some poor attempt to muffle my voice enough for Dad not to hear me. He was sitting outside the church just beside the cemetery where Grandpa’s funeral was. Everything happened so quickly, like dominos collapsing into a pile of active dynamite. There was no slowing it down, no stopping to smell the roses. A life had ended and the aftershock was finally hitting those around us. Friends and family were sending their condolences and yet there I still was–unsure of how to respond.

Mom sighed, the fatigue she felt was underlined clearly by the bags under her eyes. “I don’t think so, sweetie,” she responded.

That was a stupid question, really. How could anyone who lost their parent be okay?

“So you’re heading back to school soon?” Mom asked, doing her best to stray from other topics, mainly ones that were unfolding behind us. “Is Dani going to be back yet?”

I shrugged. “No, but I figured I’d go get my stuff setup again. I have some stuff to review before my classes start up again.” Every word that left me felt like complete and utter bullshit. I felt pathetic, and frankly pretty shitty because I didn’t know what to do anymore.  “Will you let me know if you need anything? I’m only a short flight away,” I mentioned. I wasn’t good at coming up with the right thing to say in that situation, but I needed them to know that if they needed anything, I’d be there in the blink of an eye. Even if it meant having to take time off from school to help–I needed them to know I’d do that.

Taking a quick look at Dad, Mom smiled as heartily as she could. “I think we’ll be okay. In time it will get easier. I think we just–your father especially–need some time to process and grieve properly. I’ll be staying with him and working out any legal things that are left on Grandpa’s will.”

I stepped back, but before I could walk away to catch the taxi I had called to take me home and then to the airport, I forced myself to walk to Dad. The closer I got the more clearly I could see his discomfort. Dad was lost and he needed us. There wasn’t anything that I could think to say, except for that I was sorry. He had nothing to say in return, but he pulled me into a hug. His arms were trembling, but he was still so strong.

We knew we would make it through. Maybe not in the next few hours, or even the next few weeks, but in time we would.

And I would be there every step of the way.

~

[Author’s Note: Hey, guys! Thank you for reading!! And thanks for being so patient. This was supposed to be out last night, however, my game is just a pain in the butt right now. This explains why the post isn’t FULL of pictures from start to finish. When a game takes about 10 min. to start up and crashes constantly…well, it’s a little annoying. I really don’t have the time for that to be happening every time I play, especially since I have a full school schedule AND work. So I think I should say that posts won’t be too frequent while I work on figuring out what to do with this. This doesn’t mean I’m done posting–I just ned to redo some stuff in my game to hopefully make it run better.

Thanks for your understanding!

xOlga]

 


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Gen.10-Alma. Chapter Eleven

Winter break for college students meant that finals were finally over and it was time to sit back, relax, and go back home to spend the month with family. I was eager to go back home since I hadn’t seen my family much since the beginning of the school year. I knew I missed a lot, because each time I would call or Skype with my mom, she would fill me in on all the different happenings in St. Claire. Now I had an opportunity to be part of these moments rather than just hearing about them through the grapevine.

My semester concluded with average grades. Well, three B’s and one A’, which to me wasn’t as well as I knew I could do. There was always next semester to really kick butt. Dani was in the same boat as I was, however her sorrow did not come from having average grades but rather knowing that she would be leaving Saul for a good month. Unless they would find a time to meet up over break, which as romantic as it sounded was close to impossible being that Saul’s family lived in Washington and we were all the way on the other side of the country.

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“I’m going to miss that big goof,” Dani sniffled in the taxi that was bringing us home from the airport.

“Aren’t you going to Skype and stuff?” I asked.

“Well,yeah, but you know that it’s not the same.”

I was going to say something about it being a good way to stay in touch over long distances and periods of time, but I knew that it wasn’t the communication that she was talking about, but rather the physical aspect of her relationship with him.

“Ah well,” I cleared my throat and gave her a pat on the back. “The Holidays will be over before ya know it. Then you’ll be able to get back to him.”

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While Dani’s mind was elsewhere, I looked out the window as the suburban area of St. Claire finally came into view. One by one, we drove by all the decorated houses. I always loved the holiday lights. All the bright colors illuminated the front lawns and even if the town was behind on getting an adequate amount of snowfall for that time of year, the feel of the holidays was apparent.

I said goodbye to Dani once we made it to my house and as the taxi drove down the street with my friend, I stopped to gaze upon my home. Bright lights were hung up along the roof and festive decorations were set out on the lawn. It had been quite some time since I saw that lawn, and it felt like it was ages since I saw those decorations. Not wasting another moment, I threw my bag over my shoulder and pulled my suitcase behind me until I got to the door.

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The door swung open and I was nearly tackled to the ground by my twin brothers. Holy smokes! Those little rascals were not so little anymore and their excitement to see me was truly appreciated.

I ruffled their hair with the palm of my hand and laughed only to end up coughing due to the cold. “I take it you missed me?”

“Yes! So much! Caius sleeps in your room all the time now! Old kitty!” Oren exclaimed while Jax huffed and puffed—trying his best to climb on top of us.

I smiled at the thought of Mom’s cat sleeping in my room. Caius had been with us for such a long time now, and even though I knew that he probably wouldn’t be around forever, it was nice that he was able to be around for everyone through all the years. We didn’t know how that cat was still going so strong, but who knew, maybe we had a super strong cat.

Unfortunately I knew the same couldn’t be said for poor Angelo, who had “run away to join his bandit brothers”. At least that’s what Mom wanted the twins to think. Normally she would tell us the truth, but over the years it had appeared that she had softened up a lot more. Well, for the sake of the holidays and the happiness of my brothers, I didn’t say a word about poor Angelo.

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“Thought I heard someone over here,” Dad said, walking through the doorway and straight towards me so he could embrace me. “Aw, pumpkin, good to see you. Was your flight alright?”

“Yeah. It was just fine!”

Before long everyone had come downstairs to greet me. I swore we were catching up more much before I even unpacked! My brother was maturing before my eyes and I admit I now had to take back any mocking comment I ever made about his facial hair looking like peach fuzz! Then there was Mom. She looked just as beautiful as ever. I was praying to take after her when I got older, then again I wouldn’t mind if I was more like Dad. I was pretty blessed with two parents who were aging like fine wine! Dang!

As much as I wanted to stay up with all of them and catch up, I knew that I wouldn’t last. The flight from school tired me out and the not so smooth ride in the taxi didn’t help either. I was ready to hit the hay in my own bed, in my own room. Tomorrow would be a day for catching up and reminiscing—a true Wells holiday tradition.

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“Good morning, sleeping beauty.”

After a quick rub, my vision was finally clearing up to see that Mom was moving my curtains away from the windows. “W-what time is it?”

“Sorry to break it to you, but it’s almost nine. I figured I’d wake you so you can come eat some breakfast.”

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I yawned as I sat up. “Who’s going to be here this year?”

It was rather funny. There was once a time when we spent the holidays together. All of us. That meant including all of my aunt’s and uncle’s, but now that everyone was starting families and moving away for jobs and overall better opportunities, such large family gatherings were becoming rare. Grandma and Grandpa were still there, so that was such a special treat for everyone. I couldn’t want to tell my grandparents about school. They were always such a great support when I talked to them about what it was I wanted to do with my life. On more than one occasion, Granny Attie helped talked me out of reconsidering my goals.

“Your grandparents, of course. They’re excited to see you,” Mom admitted as she moved to sit at the edge of my bed. “Aunt Arecia and her sons, and of course your Grandpa Greyson.”

“Really? It’s a for sure thing for Grandpa G?!” I exclaimed. Grandpa Grey was getting up in age, so his visits weren’t quite as frequent. He lived in a retirement home in Hidden Springs, so traveling was a bit much for him often times, but when he was able to visit us it was definitely a great time!

“You bet,” Mom smiled, “know what’s even more exciting?” She added and didn’t bother waiting for my reply. “We’re not hosting this year. Aunt Arecia really wanted full reign of Christmas Eve. Shuyin says he’s pretty excited. They’ve been cooking and baking for a while.”

“Auntie Arecia? Really?” I couldn’t help smiling. “She sure sounds like she’s full of energy.”

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Mom nodded. “Yeah…she’s in remission, sweet girl. Her treatment went according to plan and she’s been fighting so hard. You know, Alma,” she said, getting up from the bed, “you come from a line of really strong women. Maybe I’m not up there with the rest of them, or at least as high, but when I look at you and your siblings, I know that I did something right in my life. So if you’re every feeling down know that it’s in your blood to overcome even the shittiest of situations.”

“Thanks for the motivational pep talk,” I smirked.

“Hey—it’s all part of the job description, okay?”

Oh, it definitely was. If I had any intention of being like my Mom, I had to start memorizing her format for these lectures. No child of mine would  ever go without knowing they come from a line of fierce women!

I got out of bed not long after my chat with Mom. As much as I wanted to sleep the day away, it was Christmas Eve and I was not going to pass up a once a year opportunity to feast on Mom’s gingerbread waffles. It would be sinful! Downstairs, utensils were clanking against plates and my brothers were in the middle of a debate about a new show that they were obsessed with. It wouldn’t be long, I thought. Oren and Jax often wasted little time in dragging me into their little fandoms.

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“Alma! Alma! Good, you’re up! You can help settle a debate!” Jax shouted with half a bite of waffle in his mouth.

“Don’t listen to him!” Oren pouted. “Captain America will survive! He can’t die!”

Once again Jax finished chewing his food and raised his fork up in the air. “Yeah, right! I don’t think so! He’s going up against Iron Man for creating the Ultron program! I’d be angry!”

“They’re a team!” Oren shot back.

“Not anymore!” Jax hollered.

“Nuh-uh!”

“Yuh-huh!”

The back and forth banter of my siblings had me look past them to the end of the table where Kaden shrugged. “They got a hold of my Civil War comic.”

That. Explained. Everything.

Mom turned away from the counter with another plate of waffles. “Alrighty, settle down everyone. Captain America and all his buddies will be just fine. Let’s enjoy our breakfast before we have to really scramble and get ready. Aunt Arecia would like us at her house at five. And knowing us, we’ll have to leave extra early, okay? It’s going to be a long drive.”

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Dad came in sipping his coffee before he joined us at the table. “Which is why we’re all starting early with our coffee, right, kitten?” He paused for a moment, long enough to see Mom bob her head before speaking again. “This is nice,” he said. “It’s been a while since everyone was present around the table.”

That I could definitely agree with. For many months the closest that I got to have a family dinner was sitting across from Dani in the dorm’s dining room, while scarfing down a bowl of ramen noodles. So, being home was nice. Eating food that wasn’t full of chemicals and whatever else it had, was even better….

“Are you happy to be back home?” Dad asked, finally sampling Mom’s breakfast. “Sure hasn’t been the same without you around,” he chuckled.

“Yeah, it’s definitely nice to be able to sleep in my own bed. Super comfy. Finally.” I answered.

“Have you met anyone new?” Mom asked, only I knew in her cheeky tone that she wasn’t asking about friends, but boys.

“Hey! HEY!” Dad hollered, pointing his fork with a waffled skewered onto it at Mom. “S-she’s in school to learn, ya know! She doesn’t need some boy right now! Right, baby girl?”

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I laughed at his sudden protective response, but I shrugged. I thought back to the first party we attended, and then some of the others, but all that time no one really caught my attention. I really found no reason to go out and look when I had Dani to fill me in on all her romantic happenings. After hearing all of that, I just went about my own business. So, to calm down my Dad, and sadly disappoint my mother, I shrugged.

“Nah, I haven’t. I’ve been keeping to myself for now…”

And even as I said those words, I came to wonder if my entire college career would be just that…”keeping to myself”. I tried not to think about it too much, because there were better things to think about at that moment, like if I could manage fitting another gingerbread waffle into my stomach. Which I did, actually. With a few pauses.

“OKAY! Wells family, let’s get these dishes cleaned up,” Mom exclaimed after we finished eating, and giving Dad a playful smack on the arm. “Time to shower, get dressed, and head out! Our Holiday is just about to begin!”