NOTE: Thank you to those who've followed the story. I hope you continue to read :)

Chapter 3: Welcome Home

"Abigail?"

Abigail opened her eyes to see her mother sitting next to her on the bed. She sat up and wiped her eyes before feeling a wave of light headedness. She closed her eyes and waited for it to pass.

"Sweetheart, are you alright?" asked Jennifer, brushing hair from her daughter's face. "You're awfully pale. "

"I'm fine," Abigail answered, forcing a smile. Jennifer returned her grin and gave her a hug.

"You didn't tell me you were coming home."

"I wanted to surprise you," said Abigail, continuing to hug her. "I missed you so much."

"Oh, I missed you too," said Jennifer, rubbing Abigail's back. "How long are you back for?"

"For good. Europe has its perks, but it's not home."

"Is everything alright with your classes?"

"Yes, everything's fine. I took care of it," said Abigail, reassuring her.

"I know you were only gone for a few months, but you have no idea how happy I am to have you back," said Jennifer, happily. "My baby girl is home."

Abigail wrapped her arms tighter around her mother when she said 'baby' and closed her eyes, forcing back tears in an effort to keep her composure. Jennifer furrowed her brow, sensing her daughter's change in demeanor and matched her embrace.

"Abigail, are you sure you're alright?"

"Yes, I'm fine," Abigail nodded, pulling back as she wiped a stray tear from her eye. "I...uh...I'm just glad to be home."

Jennifer smiled and grabbed her hand, "Well, what do you say to us having a nice breakfast before I head to work? It'll give us a chance to catch up."

"I'd like that," said Abigail, crossing her arms over her stomach. "I'm really hungry all of the sudden."

"Okay, I'll call in and let everyone know I'll be a little late." Jennifer pulled Abigail in for another hug. "I can't wait to hear what you've been up to."

They pulled away and Jennifer left the room to call work. Abigail waited until she was out of sight before taking a deep breath, "You really don't want to know what I've been up to."

Later at Common Grounds...

"Here you go," said Sonny, placing a plate of muffins in front of Abigail. "Welcome home."

Thanks," said Abigail. She grabbed a muffin and shoved it in her mouth like she hadn't eaten in days, which in her case was true. Jennifer watched in amazement as her daughter barely chewed her food before swallowing.

"Did you not eat while you were gone?" she asked, placing a napkin in her lap. "I don't think I've ever seen you eat so fast."

"Yeah, Abigail. What'd you forget your manners? You're getting crumbs everywhere," said Sonny, wiping the table off with his hand.

"Sorry," said Abigail with her mouth full.

Sonny couldn't help smiling as she looked up at him with puffy cheeks full of food. He slung a rag over his shoulder and heard new customers come in, "We're shorthanded today, so I gotta take care of the customers. But, don't think we aren't catching up later. I know Will can't wait to see you, and I'm sure Arianna would love to see her God Mother. She's getting so big, you won't recognize her."

"I've only been gone a few months, how big could she be?" said Abigail, reaching for her drink. Sonny shook his head in amazement.

"You'd be surprised." He smiled and walked away to tend to the other customers at the bar. Jennifer leaned back in her chair and stared at Abigail.

"Alright, spill," said Jennifer, crossing her arms over her chest. Abigail almost choked on her drink from her mother's tone. Her mother spoke as if she had done something wrong and a whirlwind of thoughts went through her mind.

"Spill *cough* spill what?"

"I want to hear about what you did while you were away."

"Oh," Abigail breathed a sigh of relief. "Nothing interesting, really."

"Come on. It's Europe," said Jennifer, leaning her elbows on the table. "You telling me you didn't meet anyone special?"

"Mom, I really don't feel comfortable talking about that with you."

"Pretend I'm not your mother for five seconds. Now, c'mon, spill."

"There's nothing to spill," said Abigail, growing frustrated. "I didn't meet anyone and I didn't do anything while I was gone. All I did was study, that's it."

"Alright, alright," said Jennifer, putting her hands up. "I don't mean to pry into your personal life. It's just that..."

"What?"

"It's just that you were acting distant before you left, and you hardly ever called while you were gone. Is the occasional text all I'm worth to you?"

Abigail sighed and bowed her head, "I'm sorry I didn't call...I was busy. I had a lot on my plate, more than I could handle and it was really weighing on me. Things got overwhelming and I had to leave. All I want to do now is get back to the way things were before I left."

"I still wish you would've called me, I could've helped."

"No, you couldn't. It was something I had to take care of on my own." said Abigail, reaching out to touch her mother's hand. "But, you're right. I should've called."

Jennifer smiled, "It's alright, just don't be afraid to come to me for help."

"Well, I could use your help finding a job." Abigail raised her brow, hoping her old position was still available at the hospital. Her mother smiled again and nodded her head.

"That I can help you with, I never found someone to take your place after you left. I wanted to leave it open for when you got back. But, things aren't quite the same as they used to be. Someone at the hospital really has it out for me."

"Anne?" asked Abigail.

"The woman is such a bitch," Jennifer said causing Abigail to let out a surprised laugh at the language she used. "I swear, I don't know how much more I can take from her. She's going to wind up getting me fired, which won't leave you in a good position either."

"Then, we're just going to have to watch out for her aren't we?"

Jennifer held her daughter's hand and gently tightened her grip around her fingers, "Did I tell you how happy I am that you're home?"

"Yes, mom," said Abigail, smiling. "You mentioned that."