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Ariana fell more in love with her daughter with each passing day. She looked for every opportunity to cuddle or play with her. Adrienne was a calm baby who rarely ever cried unless she was hungry or dirty. And when she cried it was the loudest sound from a baby Ariana had ever heard making her believe Adrienne would grow up to be a big mouth. It seemed as though Adrienne would choose to cry whenever Ariana was working.

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She didn’t mind because as much as she loved painting Adrienne always came first. “There, there good girl. Mummy’s here.” She said while she rocked and fed her. Her daughter had the same brown eyes as hers and she would stare up at her with such awe. She was perfect. Ariana had never felt love like this before.

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Now that she had a baby she couldn’t afford to hang out with work friends for drinks at happy hour. Dating didn’t exist either – and not because she didn’t get offers. Adrienne became her world and when she wasn’t caring for her and spending quality time with her she was painting.

She was adamant about working hard to ensure Adrienne never had to want for anything. She sent Don a text letting him know he had a daughter the day after Adrienne’s birth. He never responded and she didn’t expect him to. At least she tried everything she could think of to encourage him to be a part of their daughter’s life. If he didn’t want to then the fault was not hers.

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Ray visited her every day since Adrienne was born usually bringing toys for her to play with. Poor Ray didn’t even realise that she was still too young to play with the dolls and stuffed animals he bought for her.

Ariana realised he seemed to enjoy playing with the toys a little too much. Ray was very childlike but he was still a good friend and his being her shoulder to lean on over the last few weeks made her start to see him in a different light.

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She could talk to him so freely about anything because he was such a good listener and he always gave her good advice. Sometimes their conversations lasted for hours. It was nice spending time with him. Aside from being able to have adult conversation after spending the entire day caring for an infant, she also enjoyed the way he made her feel just by simply being in the room. She started to look forward to his nightly visits so much that when he didn’t come for two nights straight it seriously bothered her. He did come by the third night.

“Hey I was worried you got bored with me,” she tried to say it confidently and with humour but it came out with all the nervousness and insecurity she was feeling.

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“Why would you say that?” he responded, “The deadline for the work project my team was working on was due this afternoon. I haven’t slept in 48 hours!”

“So why are you here? You should be at home sleeping.”

“Why? Making up for lost time with you and Adrienne is much better than sleep.”

Ariana felt good hearing him say that to her. It meant so much to her that he made them a priority in his life even though he didn’t have to.

They both went inside. Ray would usually rush to pick up Adrienne but she was already fast asleep. They sat on her bed together and Ray told Ariana about his presentation but Ariana wasn’t listening to everything he was saying. Instead, she just stared at him feeling butterflies building in her stomach with every word that came out of his mouth.

“Are you even listening to me?” he finally asked when he realised she was staring at him.

“Yes I am.”

“No you’re not.”

“I am.”

“Nuh-uh!”

“Oh stop!” she cried as she began playfully tickling him.

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He laughed but not too loud as he was aware of Adrienne sleeping soundly not too far away. He knew all too well how difficult it was to put her back to sleep once she was awakened. “You’re amazing Ariana.”

“You aren’t so bad yourself.” She said, putting her arm around his shoulders.

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Suddenly he got up, “It’s getting late. I should go.”

“Wait!” Ariana stopped him. This had gone on for too long. Every time they got close, Ray would always make some excuse to leave or she would make some excuse for him to leave. She couldn’t resist it anymore, nor did she want to. So she kissed him gently on the lips.

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He pulled her in closer deepening the kiss to show that his feelings for her were just as strong as hers for him. When it was over he stared at her with a smile.

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“What took you so long to make a move? I didn’t want to push because I didn’t know if you were ready for a relationship.”

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“I’m ready now,” she purred flirtatiously.

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Not another word was said. Their hands, lips and bodies did the talking for the rest of the night.

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