"Are you okay?" I asked her as soon as we'd hit the road.
"Yeah, I will be. Just a lot has happened and its a lot to take in, 'yknow?"
"Yeah... How was America?" I grinned, changing the subject.
"Yeah, it was good. Very different from here! Met some nice people over there."
"Yeah you said. How's Megan?"
"She's okay. She's working with the police which is what she wanted to do, so she's happy."
"Dare is ask how you both are? As a couple?" I asked hesitantly, seeing how distant she had become at the mention of Megan's name. Something had happened.
"Erm," Anna hesitated, scuffing her feet as she walked. She glanced at me and cleared her throat. "We're not...."
"Really? Wow... I thought you two were... Wow. Are you alright with that?'"
"It's for the best. I mean we are thousands of miles apart, she's got work and I have to look after mum. We can't expect each other to stay in a relationship when we will never see each other or spend time together. It's not fair." She looked a little dejected, but determined.
"Couldn't you have tried? I don't want to push you but... Couldn't you have tried long distance for a while?"
"It wasn't that simple," she murmured.
'Oh... Okay then." I decided to drop it; she clearly wasn't comfortable with the conversation.
"How's everything with you?"
"Good, things are good."
"She's fine." Now I knew how Anna had felt. These questions were... weighty, given her interference.
"Are you both back together?"
I sighed and pushed the door of the shop open, letting Anna step in first.
"It's complicated. Yes, but we're taking it slow." I thought back to earlier, when I'd been wrapped around her, and smirked. Trying to.
"Good to hear! At least there is a bit of good news here!" She enthused as she picked up a packet of doughnuts. I picked up a second, just in case.
"Well don't get too over excited about it. There's still a good way to go yet."
"I promise I am not going to interfere,if that's what you were thinking. I learned that lesson the hard way." She looked a little nervous, and guilty.
"Mmm." I murmured. It had occurred to me to worry about the possibility that she might begin meddling again. But then she'd be so busy with her mum...
"And with everything going on...I have a feeling I'll be single for a while."
"That might be good for you, you know?" We paid the guy at the counter and stepped out of the shop.
"Yeah, definitely. I'll get my head on straight." I stopped, in the street to stare at her. "Cara? What...?" She was stopped by the laughter that burst from my lips.
"Straight! Hahaha, please tell me you meant to do that. I'm disappointed if you didn't."
"Shut up," she chuckled. "I've missed you Cara."
"Missed you too, oddball."
"I need to go Christmas shopping tomorrow," I announced when we returned.
"I keep forgetting it's so close." Anna murmured, passing Ali a pack of doughnuts, which she ripped open eagerly.
"Do you need a hand getting things sorted?" I asked.
"No. I'll do most of it online. What are you doing for Christmas?" She asked, watching Ali in fascination as she devoured the doughnuts with inhuman speed.
"Um... Sam has invited us all to take food to hers. She would have invited you too but she knows about your family Christmas traditions and... yeah." I trailed off.
"That sounds nice. But yeah, definitely spending this Christmas curled up with mum."
"Well," Liam announced, "we'd best be getting back."
"Yeah I have work again tonight." I admitted.
"Alright," Anna stood up. "Thank you for coming. I'm so glad I could see you. I'll try and pop in to the city before Christmas to give you presents."
"We can come to you if it's easier. And we've got a show Christmas Eve... I know the trains won't be running but if you can come you're welcome to."
"Thanks guys." She hugged us all goodbye, and we headed out the door.
"Tell your mum and dad bye from us." We chorused as we loaded in to the van.
"Will do!" She called from the doorway.
The next day I headed out, earlier than I would have liked given my late shift the night before, and went Christmas shopping. All the decorations were up now, and I was really starting to get in to the spirit. I'd got my eye on what to get for Liam, Jak, Ali, Callum and Anna... it was Sam that was causing me to stress. What to get for the woman who had everything? What to get for the woman who had already bought me a present? Damn her; she was making this difficult.
It was only when I was picking up a dress for Anna, entirely made out of sequins, that I spotted it in the window across the street.
Grinning from ear to ear, I headed back to the house, arms full of bags. My account might have taken a hit but I was sorted now.
"I'm dreaming of a white Christmas..." I sung under my breath, enjoying myself, and smiling at the thought of Sam opening her present.