Anna's face was contorted in anger and I took a momentary step back. I hadn't seen her look like this since... I put the thought from my mind and went over to her.
"What's she said now?" I asked, leaning against the wall next to her.
"She's a downright homophobe!" Anna replied outraged.
"She started on you?"
"No... she was talking about you and Sam. How it wasn't normal, that Sam's throwing her life away..."
"Sounds vaguely familiar." It still hurt that Sam's mother didn't accept me, or her daughter. Because effectively she was refusing to accept her daughter, because this was such a big part of her life.
"How do you put up with it?"
"We don't really see her." I replied, not particularly wanting to have this conversation. Donna's interference and refusal to talk to me was something I tried not to dwell on. The only reason we'd gotten her here tonight is because Gray had asked her on my behalf. "Kind of like how I haven't see you much lately."
Anna stared at me.
"I didn't realise you needed to see me constantly."
"I don't." I retorted. "It would just be nice to see my best friend a little bit before she fucks off to America for a year."
She looked startled and then a little upset.
"Yeah I know that, but I just needed some time to think things through. I realised that I was relying on you too much to help me and I needed to stand on my own two feet more and you pointed it out to me by siding with Megan and not me that time when we had argued. I ran straight to you didn't I?!"
"Anna... it's not about who I side with... it's that I shouldn't be siding with either of you because your couples arguments... you can't expect people to take sides to beat the other person. Sure you can rant but you shouldn't expect other people to get involved. But anyway, this isn't about that... can we just spend time together before you go? You can do the whole independent thing when you're there, you can do it and still hang out with me..."
Anna pursed her lips and I waited for her response. Finally she nodded.
"Ok. Fair point. We'll hang out more."
I grinned and hugged her.
"Yeah well. I can't say it's been a total picnic without you."
"Oh yeah?" I grinned.
"Yeah. But Megan did take me on a mini vacation and-"
My phone began ringing, vibrating against my breast.
"Sorry..." I pulled it out and saw the hospital number. Crap... Crap, not now... not now...
"It's ok. Grab it. I'm going to go find Meg for a dance anyway. I'll tell you about it later." She smiled.
"Thanks." I replied and smiled as she left. Then I picked up the phone.
"Yes, I'm here."
"Good. I'm not interrupting something am I?"
"Just tell me, please..."
"Perhaps you should come to see me. It's late. I have a free space at-"
"No. Tell me." I'd waited too long. There was a pause at the other end of the line.
"I was called in for duty tonight and found that the papers had been delivered in the afternoon. If I'd have known they'd been delivered I would have called earlier..."
"Tell me." I demanded.
"The tests came back and showed that the failure of your kidneys is progressing faster than we thought. You will need to come in for a consultation to decide which route you would like to take. Dialysis will be needed and we can look in to finding a donor to supply you with a new kidney, but I can't guarantee we'll find one soon. You may be on dialysis for some time... Miss Gramms are you still there?"
I was staring ahead of me, my mouth slightly open. I felt like I'd just been hit by a tsunami, and I was reeling with the shock. The figure in front of me, reflected in the bathroom mirror, seemed to be made of porcelain. I suddenly noticed that I had dark circles under my eyes, although it was disguised my my eye liner and black eye shadow. But I could see it. My skin was pale, and my cheeks had lost the colour they'd had when I was dancing with Sam in the main room.
"I'm still here." I croaked.
"You should find someone, a friend, to talk to. I can see you tomorrow at three."
"Let me have one day. Can I have one day? Do I have... time?"
"I'd prefer if you came in tomorrow."
"Can I come in Monday?"
I heard him sigh.
"Very well. Monday morning. Nine o'clock."
"Ok." I agreed. "Goodbye."
"Are you alright?"
"I guess the point is that I'm not." I replied then hung up. A moment passed; I don't know how long it was or what I did, but when I came back to full consciousness there was someone in the bathroom with me.
"How're you doing?" Kate asked.
"My appointment is Monday."
"Appointment? You've had the call?" She asked, stepping forward.
I nodded, unable to say anything.
"Oh Cara... honey..." She said, reading everything in my face. She went to give me a hug but I held her at arms length.
"Don't. I'll cry." I sucked in a huge breath and let it out through my nose. "Tonight everything is normal. Tonight is happy. Tomorrow... tomorrow I'll have to tell her."
Kate nodded and let me by as I left the bathroom, giving her a smile. Everything felt lost now. But tonight was my last rock, the last thing to cling on to before everything real came crashing down.
"Sam baby..." I murmured in to her ear as I came up behind her. She was speaking to Gray, laughing over something he'd said.
"There you are!" She grinned, slipping her arm around my waist. "Where've you been hiding?"
"Dance with me." I encouraged her and Gray chuckled dryly.
"I think Cara wants you all to herself Sam. I'll go find the old ball and chain for a dance." He winked and disappeared.
"Did I mentioned you look very sexy?" I flirted with Sam as I led her to the space where some people were dancing.
"Well well, Cara Gramms flirting?" She teased. "I remember when we first met you didn't think you could flirt at all."
"I couldn't." I replied, putting my arms around her neck and nestling my head in the crook of her neck. I heard her chuckle breathily and then her hands were sliding across my hips and around my back.
"Did I mention I'm not the only one looking sexy?" She murmured in to my hair. "Your outfit makes me want to-"
"Samantha." We pulled apart abruptly as Donna appeared. "I'd prefer it if you didn't flaunt such behaviour in my face."
I heard Sam sigh but for once I didn't stop her response. In fact, I beat her to it.
"Hi Donna. Nice to see you again." I said sarcastically. "You may not have noticed but Sam and I are enjoying a dance to ourselves and I'd appreciate it if you stuck your nose out for this once."
I felt Sam's body still in shock as her mother gasped in anger.
"You have no right to speak to me like that..." She began.
"I have every right. You've never approved of me, you made me think everything was fine when I first met you, but you were playing games with me. And I don't want to play anymore. Either accept your beautiful, intelligent, funny, LESBIAN daughter for who she is, or just butt the hell out ok?"
A few people were now watching the spectacle, intrigued, and I saw Lexi chuckling and throwing me a few 'get in' gestures.
"Sam are you going to let this girl speak to your mother like that?" Donna grasped at straws, turning to Sam.
"Why should I mother? She doesn't have me stop you when you start on her. I love Cara and I want you to accept that. I want you to accept me. I think Cara's got a point. If you can't accept me because of who I've fallen in love with then..." She didn't finish the sentence.
Donna glared at us both, and then around her, noticing that everyone was staring. The music had even stopped.
"Fine. If that's how you want to be Samantha. But don't come crying when this one puts a video of her fucking you online." She spat.
The collective intake of breath around the room was enough overture to my reaction. While out of the corner of my eyes I saw Sam's face droop, entirely crushed by her mother's words, my right hand flew through the air and slapped Donna soundly across the face.
"Get. Out." I snarled. The woman, reeling from the slap, went to go for me, but Gray appeared from no where and with the help of Liam, manhandled her through the crowd and out of the door. I turned away before the door had even shut on her evil face and looked at Sam. Her chin was trembling, her mouth pulled in to a frown, and her eyes were tearing up.
"Sam sweetie..." Lexi appeared, going to take Sam's arm. She shrugged out of Lexi's grasping hand and pulled me to her instead. I barely had time to wrap my arms around her back before she had her face buried in my neck, wet lashes blinking against my skin.
"Baby... I murmured, freeing one arm to stroke her hair. "Do you want to go? Do you want everyone to go?"
She emerged from my neck and shook her head, her eye liner slightly smudged. Then she kissed me, her fingers in my hair, her nose slightly wet against my cheek.
"Thank you." She said as the music started up again. I saw Liam and Gray trying to distract everyone by playing the fools over her shoulder, and when Mikey joined in it did seem to work. Everyone began to talk again, probably about what had just happened but it didn't matter. It was done now. I smiled at Sam.
"Most people don't thank their girlfriends for smacking their mums."
"Most people don't have someone as incredible as you to smack their... mothers." She said it reluctantly, and I could see that the horrible cutting comment her mother had made had destroyed the little bit of tolerance Sam had for her mothers opinion on her 'lifestyle'.
"I'll fend off anyone you like." I replied, stroking her cheeks to free them of tears. "Just as long as I get to have an uninterrupted dance with the most beautiful woman in the room." I reached up and kissed her gently before she could respond, circling my arms around her neck and swaying so that when our lips parted, our dance had already begun.