Finding Her Way in a Storm Ch. 11-12

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Kaia had shown up at the Grace home at precisely one o’clock on Sunday afternoon, a bouquet of wildflowers for Skyler’s mom in hand. She wore a dress, not exactly a rarity for Kaia during her adult life, but it would be the first one that Skyler had ever seen her in.

Kaia wore her hair down and had used a straightener on it, though she’d made sure to leave some of the body, giving it a wavy look. The overall effect combined with her makeup was to soften her appearance. Kaia knew her lean body and athletic frame came across as a bit butch to some people, and that wasn’t her. She was as feminine as the next girl in her way, and she wanted Skyler’s father to see that.

She’d barely knocked at the door when Kaia heard heavy footsteps approaching it from the other side.

“Kaia!” Skyler’s father said with a smile as he stepped back to wave her inside. “Come on inside. Your timing is perfect. I think Bree Ann was just getting ready to set the food on the table.”

“Is that Kaia?” came a voice from the kitchen, quickly followed by its owner’s appearance as Skyler’s mother’s smiling face made her way down the hall towards Kaia. “Look at you. You look gorgeous!”

Kaia fought the urge to blush but found it a challenge as Bree Ann’s arms went around her in a sudden rush. She hugged the more mature version of Skyler back as she watched the woman’s husband retreat back into their front room. When Bree Ann broke their hug, she reached up and cupped Kaia’s cheeks.

“Don’t be nervous, Kaia. He’s ready to learn his daughter’s news, and he’s going to be just fine with it. Pretty soon, he’ll love you every bit as much as I do because he’ll be able to see how happy you make Skyler,” Bree Ann said in a low voice.

Kaia smiled back at the older woman, thankful for her reassurances. She still felt nervous, but the jangles in her nerves were more for Skyler than for herself. Regardless of how today went, the couple would no longer have to hide their relationship, and Kaia was eager for that, come what may.

“These are for you,” Kaia said, holding out the flowers. “Kind of my way of thanking you for the invitation and just being so great and all.”

That got a little squeal from the older woman as she excitedly reached for the bouquet, taking the flowers and then raising on her tiptoes to kiss Kaia’s cheek.

“You’re so sweet!

“It’s all an act, Mom. She’s quite bossy and is mean when you aren’t around,” came Skyler’s voice from the top of the stairs.

Kaia looked up at the top of the landing and felt her heart begin to ache at the very sight she took in.

Skyler was wearing a pale green summer dress that accented her skin tone, hair, and eyes with perfection. And while it wasn’t form-fitting, she looked absolutely stunning in it. The top was almost like a chemise or a shift. It hung loosely off one shoulder, looking almost bohemian, and with her hair pulled back, it exposed her neck, highlighting the large silver hoops she wore in her ears.

“Now you’d better be nice, Skyler. You know that isn’t true.” Bree Ann Grace said, playfully chastising her daughter as she and Kaia watched Skyler descend the stairs. Kaia kept having to remind herself not to take the vision in a pale green into her arms once she reached the bottom of the steps, no matter how bad she wanted to.

“Hey, you,” Skyler said as she reached the bottom, her eyes giving Kaia a complete once over as her mother watched with an amused gaze. “I didn’t even know that you owned a dress.”

“Skyler!” her mother said with a sound of exasperation that drew a laugh from Kaia.

“Relax, Mom. She knows that I’m teasing her,” Skyler said, looking at her mother. She then turned her attention back towards her girlfriend. “You look so amazing, but then again, you always do.”

“Thanks,” Kaia replied, a fluttering in her stomach now that she was so close to Skyler. It hit her at that moment how much in love she was with the young auburn-haired beauty. She needed to tell her, and soon. “And you look stunning. I think this might be my most favorite thing I’ve ever seen you in.”

“You know, if you two would like to steal a kiss, now would be the time. Your father is utterly distracted by the baseball game,” Bree Ann said, her voice low and conspiratorial. The spectacle of her suggesting such subterfuge drawing a giggle from the lovers.

“Well, go on then. Get it over with and then we can go eat.”

The two women quickly looked at each other, and then Skyler took a peek in at her dad. Seeing the back of his head, she turned back to Kaia and wiggled her eyebrows before leaning in and giving her the kiss they both craved so badly. It was hardly a chaste kiss, but neither did it satisfy the yearnings bubbling inside either of them.

“There now, you two go and find your way to the table while I corral your father.”

The meal went well. It had been a long time since Kaia had eaten some genuine southern home cooking, and Bree Ann’s was on par with the best she’d ever been served. Jonathan Grace didn’t say a lot Casibom during the meal, mainly listening and observing how the three women interacted. Kaia could feel whenever his eyes landed on her, though she only snuck a few surreptitious looks his way during the meal. She couldn’t shake the feeling that the Pastor had already worked out exactly what her relationship was to his daughter. The only question left inside Kaia’s mind was exactly how he felt about it.

The four of them were enjoying their dessert, a scrumptious peach cobbler, when Skyler’s father decided to make his first significant contribution to the conversation.

“I got an exciting call the night before last, Skyler. I think you will find this very interesting,” Jonathan said, his eyes focused solely on his daughter.

“Oh yeah?” Skyler said, her eyes furrowing at the way her father made his statement. He didn’t often make such pronouncements to her, and typically when he did, she didn’t enjoy what followed.

“Yes, indeed,” he replied. “I heard from Frances Dailey, Becka’s mother. She said that she and Becka’s dad had divorced last year.”

“Well, that’s not good,” Skyler replied, perplexed as to how her father had chosen to frame his opening gambit to the topic. While it was news, for sure, what was so exciting about Becka’s parents splitting up?

“No, I guess that part of it wasn’t so good, but it does get better, though there was other bad news as well.”

Kaia watched the exchange between father and daughter, feeling a bit bemused. She had no clue exactly where Skyler’s father was trying to go with this.

“What other bad news. Is Becka okay?”

Jonathan Grace reached over and patted Skyler’s hand and said, “She’s okay, Skyler, though her mother did say she’d gone down a rather bad path after her father abandoned them for another woman.”

“Bad path?” Skyler said, thinking of her friend, who had always been so shy and reserved. What could sweet and beautiful Becka have possibly gotten up to that could be considered so wrong?

Jonathan Grace waved a hand and said, “Frances didn’t go too far into detail, but she did mention some drug usage and the fact that she strongly suspected Becka was having sex.”

Skyler rolled her eyes, stealing a glance across at Kaia before turning her attention back to her father.

“Dad, Becka is older than I am. So it doesn’t surprise me that she’s had sex. It’s not a rare occurrence among eighteen-year-olds in this town, much less in big cities like Los Angeles.”

Kaia watched as Skyler blushed, the implication of her words hanging over the dinner table like a pall of acrid smoke that threatened to poison the atmosphere in the room. Her concern grew when she watched as her girlfriend’s back stiffened, her eyes taking on a defiant look.

“Of course, it’s not, sweetie. It wasn’t that uncommon when I was eighteen. I’m not sure that your father is doing an outstanding job of relaying Frances’s concern. However, I can’t be sure considering this is the first I’ve heard of this topic,” Skyler’s mother said to her daughter, her voice softly disarming at first before hardening at the end as her eyes cut towards her husband. Kaia had met drill instructors in the Corp who, though they were far less subtle, would have intimidated her less than a determined Bree Ann Grace.

Kaia watched as Jonathan Grace’s eyes fluttered between his wife and daughter. It was as if his emotional barometer was suddenly throwing up warnings of an impending storm that held destructive potential. Kaia could almost see him mentally trying to calculate a safe path to backtrack through the potential minefield he suddenly found himself trapped inside. As comical as the sight was, Kaia found herself pitying the man.

“Well, um…I guess maybe not. But I was generalizing because I didn’t want to relay too much of what Frances shared. After all, I’m not entirely sure of what she meant for me to hold in confidence.”

His words did little to soften the mood in the room. Skyler stared back at her father, her arms crossed in a petulant and challenging manner. The pastor’s wife was sitting back in her chair, her glass of tea in hand as she raised a single eyebrow at her husband. It was a look that seemed to ask how he planned to get out of this one.

“Um…you mentioned some good news, Mr. Grace? What was it?” Kaia said, trying to throw the drowning man an emotional lifeline.

“Huh?” Jonathan Grace replied, his gaze suddenly finding Kaia as if he’d forgotten she was even in the room. His eyes focused on her in concentration, his mouth in a thin line. But as her question sunk in, his lips softened into a thankful smile as the sudden awareness of what she’d done seemed to hit him.

Looking back to his daughter, he said, “Oh, yes, Frances wanted me to give her cell number to some of the listing agents in our congregation. She wants to leave California and move back here to get Becka away from the crowd she’s currently hanging around with out there. So your best friend is coming home.”

The Casibom Giriş pressure in the room suddenly seemed to deflate, though not entirely. Kaia took note that although the stiffness in her girlfriend’s body lessened, it didn’t entirely go away.

“Well, that is good news, isn’t it,” Skyler’s mother said, reaching over to pat her daughter’s shoulder. It was clear to Kaia that Bree Ann had also noted that her daughter’s body still held a defensive posture.

Skyler reached up and grabbed her mother’s hand, giving it a little squeeze, but her eyes never left her father’s. “It is, Mom, and I really look forward to seeing Becka, but I’d hardly consider her my best friend anymore. That would be Kaia.”

Kaia watched as Jonathan’s eyes shifted between the three women before finally settling on her. He gave her a friendly smile and said, “Of course she is. I didn’t mean to imply otherwise.” Looking back towards his daughter, he added, “I just remember how torn up you were when her father uprooted their family and moved her away from you.” His eyes going back to Kaia, Jonathan said, “Skyler was despondent for a long time after Becka left. She was so hopelessly depressed that her mother and I had to arrange for her to meet with a grief counselor.”

His words were simply meant as an explanation. That was clear to Kaia, but Skyler took them as the perfect opportunity to segue into the prime topic that the meal had been scheduled for in the first place.

“I was depressed because I was in love with her, Dad. It was just puppy love, but it still felt real enough at the time.”

The room went quiet. Kaia studied Jonathan Grace’s face to see his reaction. Other than his eyes going wide, though, there was little to see. Whatever the man was feeling at hearing his daughter’s revelation, he kept it well hidden.

Her voice softening significantly, Skyler pressed on.

“I was too young at the time to be able to handle what I was feeling for Becka emotionally, and I had way too much guilt to do anything other than repress the implications of it.”

Kaia saw her girlfriend’s eyes mist over with a sheen of tears. But her countenance also carried a purposefully determined look. One that said she wouldn’t allow her fears or emotions to deter her from the course she’d chosen.

“I’m not the little girl anymore, though. I’ve grown up a lot since then and come to terms with all those emotions and what they mean, Dad.”

Kaia held her breath. Here they were, having reached the summit of their long climb. She knew that Skyler’s next words would either be accepted and a reason for celebration, or things would quickly go crashing down the other side. And if that happened, there was no telling how bloody everyone would be when they reached the bottom.

“I’m glad Becka is coming home, Dad. It will be nice to have her here because I’ve missed her. But even better, it will give me a chance to introduce her to my girlfriend.”

For the first time in a while, Skyler’s eyes found Kaia’s for more than just a glance. Her emerald green orbs burned with an intensity that told Kaia how she felt, even if the words had yet to be spoken. It was a big step to say something like that for the first time, and Kaia was okay waiting to hear it.

Kaia wondered how Skyler’s father was taking his daughter’s news, but found herself unable to tear her eyes away. Wanting to reassure and support her girlfriend, Kaia reached across the table to offer Skyler her hand. The auburn-haired beauty’s fingers found hers, their digits intertwining. Kaia smiled at her, giving Skyler a wink.

Kaia wasn’t sure how long they sat there staring at each other, no one saying a word. It wasn’t until she heard Bree Ann speak that she could tear her eyes away from the smoldering gaze that Skyler had them trapped inside.

“Do you understand what your daughter is telling you, Jonathan?”

All eyes went to the man sitting at the head of the table. Kaia couldn’t help but think of how he looked like raw-recruit his first day at boot camp on Parris Island as he’s being screamed at by his drill instructor. He seemed so afraid of saying the wrong thing, Kaia wasn’t sure he would say anything at all.

Finally, Jonathan Grace looked at his daughter and said, “Are you sure of this, Skyler? I don’t mean to question how you feel, but this is a big step, and there’s no walking it back once this news is out there. People will have their reactions, and it likely won’t all be positive.”

Kaia studied Skyler’s father. His question seemed sincere, and his voice was full of concern for his daughter. She turned to look at her girlfriend and found Skyler’s eyes on her, a smile on her face that spoke volumes.

“I’ve never been more sure of anything, Daddy. And I know there are likely going to be people that will judge me for it, but I’m okay with that as long as I have Kaia by my side and you and Mom at my back,” Skyler said gently to her father, though her eyes never left Kaia.

Jonathan Grace pushed his chair back, Casibom Güncel Giriş standing up as he studied the scene in front of him. He looked first at Skyler before allowing his eyes to drift over to his wife, finally coming to rest on Kaia.

Turning back to his daughter, Jonathan said, “Well, if Kaia is what it takes to make you happy, then I guess that I can live with that. It wasn’t exactly how I saw things going while raising you, but I think being a parent is like that quite often. I’ll certainly support you if this is what you really want.”

Then turning his eyes back to Kaia, he said, “But I will expect to see you in church with my daughter for now on, young lady. No exceptions.”

Kaia’s eyes went big, but she immediately agreed. The fact that he had no intention of having Skyler hide her feelings was remarkable, but the reality that he didn’t mind her openly expressing them in the church was more than Kaia could have hoped for in her mind.

Jonathan Grace then quietly excused himself to return to his ballgame in the front room, leaving the three women sitting there in shocked silence until he was gone.

They waited until they heard the television cut on, the sound of the Atlanta Braves announcers coming from the sound system, before Skyler stood, releasing a little squeal as she grabbed her mother in a hug.

Kaia watched the pair share their moment, still in a little bit of awe at all that had transpired since she’d first met Skyler. A plethora of happenstance and tragedy had brought Kaia to this small town at a time when she’d desperately needed to pick up the pieces of her life. Kaia had arrived firmly believing that her chance at true love had passed her by, only to quickly discover that it had been patiently waiting here for her all along. Waiting in the form of an auburn-haired beauty who hadn’t yet come to terms with her sexuality.

She didn’t know what the future held for the two of them, but Kaia was ready to face whatever came head-on. After all, if Skyler could overcome all she had in such a short time, then Kaia owed her nothing less than going all in.

Even if the thought of being hurt again scared her to death.

Kaia had barely had time to register those thoughts when Skyler left her mother’s arms and slid into her lap, her right arm going around Kaia’s neck. She slipped her arms around the younger woman’s narrow waist and smiled at her, leaning her forehead against Skyler’s.

“We don’t have to hide anymore, baby,” Skyler cooed at her softly, an almost giddy look in her eyes.

Knowing Skyler’s mother was watching intently and understanding that Bree Ann wouldn’t mind in the least, Kaia brought her lips to Skyler’s. The kiss the two women shared made their earlier liplock in the front entrance almost seem chaste in comparison. Kaia was only peripherally aware of the older woman quietly excusing herself as their kiss continued. She hoped that they hadn’t made Bree Ann uncomfortable, but found herself unwilling to break the kiss with Skyler.

When their lips finally separated, the two women stared at each other closely. Kaia could feel the passion emanating between them as if it almost had a corporeal presence, something tangible that she could reach out and touch if she chose to. How many times in a lifetime could a person hope to find the kind of love that left you feeling intoxicated? The kind that made you feel as if you might float away without something to anchor you in place. Kaia didn’t know, but she decided that it was damned time she made Skyler understand just how she felt.

“I’m in love with you, Sky,” Kaia said, just as Bree Ann stepped back through the kitchen’s swinging door with a roll of cling wrap in her hands.

Kaia saw Skyler’s mother freeze in place out of the corner of her eye, but it was the way Skyler’s eyes went big at her admission that grabbed her attention.

“Wh…what did you say?”

Steeling her resolve and pulling the auburn-haired beauty closer to her, Kaia repeated herself.

Her words hung between them for what felt to Kaia to be an inordinate amount of time, but it was likely only a matter of just a few seconds in all reality.

“You know, I always hated it when Jacob called me Sky. It used to drive me insane,” Skyler said at last, before allowing a big smile to blossom across her face. “But I love the way it sounds when you say it. And by the way, I’m in love with you, too.”

Both younger women couldn’t help but laugh when they heard a sudden squeal from behind them and suddenly found themselves enveloped in a hug from Skyler’s mother. Kaia accepted a kiss on the cheek from Bree Ann, Skyler, too. The older woman’s eyes were moist with tears as she turned to slip away back into the kitchen without saying a word.

“Think she’s happy?” Kaia asked jokingly.

“Maybe just a little,” Skyler replied, holding her thumb and index finger slightly apart. “I’m pretty happy too.”

“I might be a little happy myself,” Kaia said with a roll of the eyes before pulling Skyler in for another kiss. The couple’s lips came together time and time again as the feeling of excitement built between them. Kaia could feel her panties moisten as their tongues danced together, the sudden need to possess Skyler’s body nearly overwhelmed her.

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