When my mom came back from her business trip, I took her out to eat with Luther and Caleb. I had already told her over the phone that Caleb and I were in a relationship. She was of two minds and I knew this dinner would be he deciding factor but I let Caleb do his thing.

We sat down at the same Tex Mex restaurant where I had thrown my drink on Caleb. He helped my mom sit down then did the same for me. I sat down and we talked about my mom's trip.

"I'm so done with Tupperware," she groaned and I looked at her in shock. "God; the new people they have are complete assholes!"

Caleb snorted into his drink. "Sorry. You just don't seem like the kind of person to swear."

"I normally don't," she said, shaking her head wearily as she ate her refried beans. "But this was miserable. My manager wants me to continue but I don't know what I'm going to do. I guess we'll see." She sighed. "So, what have you been up to while I was gone?"

"Well, you'll have to wait until we get back home to see," I said.

I hadn't told her about the photoshoot they did for me. I wanted her to see it in person. It was beautiful and I wouldn't be able to do it justice. We made small talk until we drove back to my house. Before I had picked my mom up at the airport, I had set up the pictures on our large dining room table.

She gasped as I walked her though from the first outfit to the last. When we got to the Romanian ritual pictures, she broke down into sobs. I went to hug her but she ran into Caleb's arms. He chuckled a little and hugged her back. I smiled as she then hugged Luther.

"I'd like to do one of those with you, Mrs. Garrett," Luther said. "If you're willing."

"Oh, I don't have the money for all of this," she said.

"Now I know where Mirela gets it," Caleb said, rolling his eyes. "It's a gift, Mrs. Garrett."

"Call me Irene, you two," she said and finished wiping her tears away. "Is this to get on your girlfriend's mom's good side?"

Caleb laughed. "Yes and no. So? What do you say?"

She sighed, looking at my Romanian ritual pictures. I put my arm around her shoulders.

"Do it, Mom," I whispered. "It helped me a lot."

She looked surprised. "You really think it'll help?"

"I know it will," I said.

"Okay," she said and smiled at the two of them. "Thank you."


That weekend, Caleb and Luther were going to the rehab center for the photoshoot of the grounds so my mom and I stayed in, watching movies and eating ice cream. While we waited on the next movie, she cleared her throat.

"So, what are your feelings toward Mr. Parrish?" she asked.

I stirred my melting ice cream. "I don't know, Ma. I like him a lot. And I mean a lot. He's changed a lot since we met. He's not... as much of a dick." She laughed. "But I'm also afraid."


"Because he's used to having sex whenever he wants it," I reminded her. "I've already told him I don't do that. He said it doesn't bother him but...."

"You're worried he'll get bored," she said and I nodded. "What if he does?"

I shifted on the couch. "I've thought about that. I mean, if he were to come to me and say he needed it.... I remember when Marcus would say that. He said it was causing him physical pain."

"Sometimes it does," she said.

"How do I know if he's telling the truth?" I muttered.

"You'll see it in his face," she said. "Marcus was lying."

I bit my lower lip. "But... what if he wants to have casual sex and, since I won't, he'll ask for someone else?"

She stared. "Like an open relationship?" she asked and I nodded. "Are you comfortable with the idea?"

"No," I said. "Not at all." I shuddered at the thought. "It makes me feel inadequate."

"That is the last thing you are," she said. "Personally, I don't think he'll do that. There may come a day, though, where you might change your mind."

"About what?" I asked, frowning at her.

She smiled. "About whether or not you want to hold back until you're engaged or married," she said quietly.

I sighed. "He's not used to this, Ma. What do I do if he fucks up?"

"Forgive him," she said. "If he deserves forgiveness, that is. If he cheats...."

"I learned my lesson," I assured her.

She nodded. "But let the future worry about itself, okay? If you dwell on that it'll only ruin your relationship in the present."

I smiled. "Thanks."

"Of course. Now let's have a Harry Potter marathon. What do you think?"

"I think that is a perfect idea."


My phone rang late in the night. My mom had fallen asleep on the couch halfway through the Prisoner of Azkaban and I was on my laptop, looking at the pictures of Caleb and Joey. They were so freaking adorable.

Speaking of Caleb....

"Hey," I said. "How did it go?"

"It went okay," he sighed. He sounded exhausted. I looked at the clock; it was nearly midnight. "We just now got back to the apartment. That facility is huge. We were going to break it up into two days but she has this big thing going on for the residents so we had to squeeze it into one day. It'll be at least a week before I can get these pictures to you."

"Don't worry," I said. "I'm not in a rush and I'm sure she isn't either."


"Did you get to see Tom?" I whispered.

He sighed again and cleared his throat. "Yeah I did." He sobbed a little and I gripped my phone, closing my eyes. "He's doing so well, Mirela!"

"Do you want me to come over?" I asked, closing my laptop.

"No, it's okay," he said. "I just need someone to talk to. Luther's passed out and my dad...."

"I'm here," I said. "Tell me whatever you need to."

"He's got several friends," he said, sniffling, and my heart dropped a little. I didn't like hearing him cry. "They're not allowed to have relationships but there's a girl he likes. They're pursuing a platonic relationship, though." He laughed a little. "They got caught kissing so they have to do therapy together now. She's a good girl."

"Is he sick?"

"He was for the first week. It terrified him. He had horrible tremors and he told me that was the moment when he realized how bad he had become. God, I hope he was sincere."

"Well, he's there for two years," I reminded him. "That should be enough time for him to get clean and then decide if that's what he wants. How's your relationship with him now?"

"Very god. He's missed me. He made me this painting of a camera. It's actually really good considering he's never painted anything before. He also apologized to Luther which I never thought he'd do. It just shows how much he's improving. But...."

"You're afraid it won't stick and waiting for something to go wrong," I whispered.

"How'd you know?"

"My dad would promise to get clean and then something would happen. He never had the opportunity that Tom's getting, though. I think, if he had, then things might have come out differently."

"Tomorrow is Sunday; do you want to bring your mom then and we'll do her photoshoot?"

"If you're up to it," I said. "You've had a pretty rough day, Caleb."

"Photography is my life. Besides, I missed you."

I grinned at his words. "Then we'll see you tomorrow. I'll bring you guys coffee."

"You're an angel," he yawned. "Good night, dear."

"Good night, Caleb," I whispered and sighed when we hung up.

"Is he okay?" my mom asked, rubbing her eyes.

"I didn't wake you up, did I?" I asked and she shook her head. "He's okay. He saw his brother today at the rehab center. It was an emotional day and he needed someone to talk to. He wants us to go over tomorrow morning for your shoot, though."

She looked nervous. "I don't know, Mirela. I'm not nearly as beautiful as you are and-"

"Oh shut up," I said. I put my head in her lap. "Where do you think I got that beauty from?"

She laughed. "I love you very much, Mirela."

I snugged closer. "I love you more."

The End

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