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I’ve been making it a priority to devote some of my spare time to hanging out with Gabriel. Since Dad died he’s been leaning on me a lot for companionship and I would be one horrible big sister if I ignored his requests for attention. I mean, he’s not depressed or anything nor is he even the slightest bit needy but I can see the way his face lights up when I ask him to watch a movie with me or play a game. We’ve been playing chess a lot these days and he’s getting pretty good at it, although I suspect the little booger has been cheating. There’s no way a kid his age could be that good.

1816

Then again, he’s no normal child either.

He’s doing a lot better with the kids in school since our last talk. I spoke to his teacher who says he’s been socialising a lot more with the other kids compared to when he just started. I was relieved to hear that and I know Dad would be too if he were still around. All he ever wanted was for Gabriel to have a normal upbringing and now that I’m his unofficial guardian I’m doing my best to take this job seriously.

I have to since there’s no one else. Isabel has been travelling a lot because she’s been getting a lot of out of town gigs and Johanna lives next door now with her husband and is busy living that socialite wife dream of hers. Technically, Addie should be Gabriel’s guardian since she was married to Dad and is his step-mom but she’s been having a hard time dealing with her grief over losing Dad.

1817

I don’t think she was mentally prepared for it. Maybe she hoped his days would last much longer than it did or maybe she was in denial and didn’t consider it could happen at any moment. Either way, she was moping around the house and barely taking care of herself far less for Gabe. I was the one making sure he had breakfast and helping him with his homework and talking to him about school while she cried and binged on cookies.

1818

I can understand why she wouldn’t make much of an effort to help out with Gabe though. I’m sure she loves him but technically he isn’t her kid. She didn’t even adopt him after she and Dad married so in a way, she really doesn’t have any obligation to him.

Jo thinks it BS. She feels like Addie is just being selfish but if we put ourselves in Addie’s shoes, how would we feel if the man we loved died so suddenly? I think Jo more so than the rest of us would lose her mind if anything happened to Terrance.

That’s why when Addie told me she was going to move out I listened and tried to be supportive.

1819

“Are you sure this is what you want?”

“Yes. I think it’s best that I move back home.”

“You know, this is your home too. I wish you would see it that way. Dad doesn’t have to be around for you to be part of this family.”

“I know. You girls have made me feel welcomed here and aside from our rocky start, I love that I’ve always had a good relationship with you all. Gabriel too. He’s become like a son to me.”

1820

“Then why are you leaving?”

“Because…because it’s hard living here when I have so many memories of him. Everywhere and everything in this house reminds me of him and I fall apart when I think of it. I need a change in scenery. I think the only way I can move on and deal with my grief is if I live somewhere else for a while.”

1821

“Well…okay then…I understand. Just know that you are always welcomed here and you can always move back in whenever you want. You are a part of this family Addie and we love you.”

“Thank you Ivy. Do me a favour and take care of Gabe for me. Let him know that I’m not leaving him behind because I want to.”

“I’ll make sure he understands and don’t worry, I’ll look after him.”

1822

She moved out the next day. It was so weird going from having a full house of people to just me, Izzy and Gabe.

When the time came for Gabe’s birthday, it was just the three of us there to celebrate along with Cyrus. Jo and Terrance said they would stop by but cancelled at the last minute. It didn’t matter to Gabe as he was excited to become a teenager.

1822a

1822b

The next morning Izzy and I were curious to find out how Gabriel would look in his natural form.

He was very handsome. I wish that he didn’t have to wear a human disguise all the time. He’s so much more comfortable in his natural state.

1822c

Not too long after his birthday, Gabe started going out more to hang out with his new high school friends. I guess his edgy hairstyle scored him popularity points. Izzy also landed a lot of out of town gigs so she was hardly ever home. It would be lonely sometimes coming home to an empty house. Even Cyrus couldn’t come over after work often because he lived in Willow Creek which was an hour away from Oasis Springs. Still, we made sure to take advantage of the time we spent together at the lab, chit chatting in between our assigned experiments.

“My Mom wants to meet you.” He said in response to me asking him about his day so far.

1823

“She does?”

“Yes, she wants to finally meet the girl I’ve been going on and on about for years now.”

“That’s great. Maybe I can come over this weekend.” I was wondering when he was going to introduce me to his mother and sister. I’ve heard so much about them and even though he’s already met every single member of my family I was yet to meet his. I was beginning to wonder if he was hiding me from them.

“How about tonight?”

“Tonight? I can’t do tonight. It’s too last minute.”

“I already confirmed tonight. She’s already preparing dinner as we speak.”

“But…how can you confirm without asking me first?!” I was irritated. I mean how could he give me so little notice? This is his mother we’re talking about. It’s a big deal!

1824

“We already had plans for tonight anyway so I knew you weren’t going to be busy with something else. This will just be like a change in venue along with the company of two others.”

“But…what if they…”

“Relax Ivy, they’ll love you just like I do.”

I wish I knew that for sure. What if his mother and sister didn’t like me? He was so close to them. His mother had a big influence in his life. There was an enormous amount of pressure on me because I felt like if I didn’t impress them that it would spell trouble for our relationship.

As soon as I arrived in front of his house his sister greeted me outside with a hug which caught me by surprise.

“You must be Ivy. I’m Blair. So glad to meet you, I was beginning to think Cyrus was making you up.” She joked.

1825

“Nice to meet you too, Blair.”

She looked at me for a moment and then raised an eyebrow. “Are you okay?”

“I’m great.” She must have noticed my nervousness.

“Relax, it’s no big deal. We’re not gonna bite you. As long as Cyrus keeps coming home with that big goofy grin on his face then you’ll be our new best friend.”

1826

I relaxed a little when she said that. She was so nice and funny just like her brother plus she made me feel so comfortable around her. I could tell that we would become the good friends one day.

She and Cyrus led me inside to the living room where his mother was. I don’t know why I was so freaked out in the first place because she was so warm and friendly.

“It’s nice to meet you, Mrs. Escamilla.”

“You can call me Abbie and I am so happy to finally meet you dear. I was beginning to think you were Cyrus’ imaginary friend.”

1827

“Mom….!” Cyrus groaned.

I laughed as it was the same thing his sister said.

We chatted for a few minutes and she asked me about work and my family. It was nice talking to her. My mother could barely get two sentences in before she started insulting me but Abbie was the complete opposite. I felt like I could talk to her for hours. It was no wonder why Cyrus was so close to her. If I had a mother like her I would be too.

1828

“Let me go check on dinner in the kitchen before Cyrus decides to find something else to snack on and ruin his appetite.” She shook her head at the bowl of chips in his hands.

“I’m still a growing boy, ma.”

“You’re a grown man.” She chuckled. “Ivy, make sure he doesn’t have any more snacks for me.”

“Will do, Abbie.”

1829

After she left, I turned to my munching BF. “I really like your family.”

“They like you too. I told you that you were nervous for no reason.”

“I like the way she dotes on you and your sister. My mother was never like that with us.”

“I didn’t always like it. She was always that way but I think after my Dad was killed, she became a little overprotective. I rebelled against her in my teens but after a while I realised that Blair and I are all she has left and I should stop pulling away from her.”

1830

“Wait, your Dad was killed? I thought he died in a fire, like an accident or something.”

“Nah, he was murdered. My Dad was a federal agent and he was protecting a witness when the safe house they were in caught on fire and trapped them both inside. It was ruled as arson, no accident. That’s why my Mom insists on a curfew even though Blair and I are grown and it’s why she was dead set against either one of us joining a law enforcement career even though Blair really wanted to follow in Dad’s footsteps.”

“Wow. That’s horrible. I’m sorry.”

“Thanks but it was a long time ago. Blair and I were kids then. We still miss him but we’ve also moved on.”

1831

Hearing what happened to his father made me understand his mother a little better. Sometimes I would be frustrated because Cyrus could never spend the night or stay out too late with me because of his curfew. Even when we would be out on a date, he would have to call her when he got to the location and when he was about to leave. It was annoying and I thought it was weird but after meeting her and seeing how nice she was to me and hearing about her loss, I get it. She’s just a mother who loves her kids and wanted to make sure that they were always safe.

I was a little envious of Cyrus. He had what I always wanted.

1832

After dinner, Cyrus took me upstairs so I could see his bedroom. The room looked like it hadn’t changed at all since he was a child. When I asked why he never redecorated he said it was because he liked the look. I can’t exactly judge him for it because my bedroom looks like it was fit for a teenager – at least that’s what Jo always tells me.

We sat on his bed and without thinking I moved in and kissed him.

1833

We made out for a while before he pulled away. “If Mom catches us kissing in my bedroom we’ll be dead.”

“I’m sure I’m not the first girl to be in your bedroom.”

“Uh yeah, you are. You’re the first girl I ever brought home to meet them.”

The first girl to meet his family and the first girl to be in his bedroom… I felt kinda special!

1834

“Well it’s nice to know that I’m the only one you brought up here. Now I can be the first one you…you know…up here.” I was too shy to even say the word but it’s what I wanted. I loved him and I thought it was time to take that next step.

“Um…as much as I really want to with you, I can’t.”

“Why not? Oh! You’re afraid of getting caught. I get it. Maybe tomorrow then, you can come over to my house after work and…”

“No, I mean, our family doesn’t believe in sleeping together before marriage.”

“So you’ve never…?” He shook his head in dissent. “But you had other girlfriends…”

“I never slept with any of them.”

“You’re joking with me!” I began to tickle him as punishment for pulling my leg.

1835

“Stop!” He cried in between laughs. “I’m not joking, I’m serious!”

I stopped. “Okay so…that means we can’t do it until, if, we’re married?”

“Don’t say if. I already made up my mind about you girl. Do you mind waiting with me?”

“Not at all.” I said quickly. I probably should have thought about it some more before saying yes because afterwards, I realised that in spite of him saying he’d like to marry me, I knew that day was gonna be a long time from now.

But then again, I’ve been waiting my whole life already so it shouldn’t be so bad to wait a little longer. Especially if it’s for the man I love.

1836

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