Many, many, many very much heart-felt apologies for not posting for so long. My Muse thinks she can vacation for months at a time and get away with it. I thank-you all for sticking with this story and waiting for me to post. I appreciate it.
I have another chapter after this in the works, but since it's been so long since I posted I decided to post now.
"Cameron Alexander so help me if you don't pick-up your phone. Everyone is at the hospital and this is the only time I can do this so you need to pick up your phone. Cameron!" Erica sighed as she juggled Grace on her hip, the diaper bag, her purse, and her cell as she tried to get Cameron to pick up the phone. This was the fifth time she was calling her and the blonde was still not answering. She was supposed to babysit so that Erica could go out and finish getting things ready for her and Callie's anniversary tonight, and then when they were off from work Addison and Mark were taking Grace for the night. But she couldn't drop Grace off if the blonde wouldn't let her in the building. She didn't have enough hands to dig the emergency key Cameron had given her out of her purse. Erica sighed in relief as Cameron's voice finally came over the phone. "Cameron" She pursued her lips as she realized it was just the voicemail picking up. Again. "Why do I fall for that every time?"
Getting the phone off of her shoulder proved to be more difficult of a task than she originally thought ending with the silver object landing on the pavement. "Great." Erica laughed to herself. "This just keeps getting better and better."
"Here let me help you."
Erica looked over her shoulder and saw a gorgeous redhead brush off her phone and hold it out to her. "Thank-you." She smiled at the woman. Erica judged that the woman was a few years younger than her, possibly early 30s. She was wearing a backpack and was carrying what looked to be a big case for a very expensive camera.
The woman smiled back and held the door to the apartment building open and reached a hand out to touch Gracie's little hand. "She's adorable."
"My girlfriend's niece looks exactly like her."
Erica smiled. "They're a handful."
The redhead nodded. "Tell me about it."
"You have kids?" Erica asked. She would love nothing more than to find another lesbian couple with kids who lived around them. Or just another lesbian couple period. The only same-sexed couples she and Callie ever saw were the friends they had made from their birthing class, but they didn't live close by so they rarely got to see them.
"No." The woman admitted as she tucked a lock of her deep red hair behind her ear. She gave Grace a final smile and let go of her little hand. "Someday."
Erica nodded and stepped through the door. She turned back around. "I'm Erica, by the way. And this is Grace." She added with a tilt of her head toward the curly raven haired child.
Something flashed across the other woman's face so fast Erica was barely able to catch it. Recognition?
"Amelia! Amelia wait you left your…" Erica turned around to see Cameron bolting out of the elevator. She immediately stopped when she saw Erica. "…phone." She finished.
"So . . ." Erica trailed off sitting down on the couch in Cameron's apartment as the other blonde came back from putting Grace to sleep in the port-a-crib she kept in her room for her niece's visits. "Amelia huh?" Cameron blushed and plopped herself down next to Erica on the coffee-colored couch. Erica smiled and nudged her cousin, eliciting a small laugh from the younger woman. "Who is she?"
It was no secret to Erica of Cameron's affection for the farer sex. She had confessed to Erica that she knew she was a lesbian shortly before Erica's own realization of her attraction to her same-sex co-worker. It was Cameron's own confidence about who she was that gave Erica the confidence to tell her parents. She told Cameron mere minutes after she told her parents, once they had left the house and she was packing up all the things she could carry to leave the house forever. The last words she said to Cameron were, 'Don't tell anyone. Never tell anyone unless you already know what their reaction will be. . . It's not worth it'
"Erica what is going on?" Sixteen-year-old Cameron pleaded as she watched Erica place a duffel bag on her bed and start emptying the contents of her bureau and closet into it. She had just gotten back from her dance class and hadn't even had time to yet change out of her black leotard and pink tights, as was the standard uniform for the company she danced with, or to take her hair out of the ridiculously tight bun it was currently in. "Talk to me."
Erica ignored the pleas from the girl she had grown up with as a sister and tied her curly blonde hair into a loose ponytail as she continued to throw things onto her bed. Cameron walked over to the other side of the room and sat down on her own bed watching as Erica packed up the contents of her life into two backpacks and a small duffle bag. She grabbed the cream colored bear off her pillow and held it to her chest. She was wearing her own little tutu and tiara. It had been a gift from Erica earlier in the year when Cameron had been accepted into the company at her dance studio; the youngest dancer accepted into the adult ballet at only barely sixteen-years-old.
Running to the bathroom quickly to grab her toothbrush Erica stuffed it into some random pocket and looked over at Cameron. She slowly crossed the distance and kneeled down before the young girl, wiping her tears away. "Don't tell anyone. Never tell anyone unless you already know what their reaction will be. . . It's not worth it."
She gave Cameron a hug, grabbed her things and left. Cameron waited until she heard the roar of Erica's car engine as she pulled out of the driveway before she reached over and grabbed the picture sitting on her nightstand. It was of her and Erica when they were still living in Maine with their grandparents. They were nine and eleven, respectively, wearing jean overalls and matching dirty faces as they stood in the middle of their brand-new garden, very proud of their work, with their arms around each other smiling at the camera without a care in the world. It was held in a bright pink frame that said 'Sisters' across the top and 'Best Friends' across the bottom. With the picture in one hand and her teddy bear in the other she crawled into Erica's bed and cried until there was nothing more she could do to keep her bloodshot eyes open.
Cameron stood back up and crossed to one of the bookshelves on the far wall and grabbed a framed picture. "Her name is Amelia Blake. She's a photographer. We met when she was taking the pictures for a profile on the last ballet I choreographed in New York." She explained, handing the photograph over to Erica and making her way into the kitchen.
Erica looked at the picture. It was taken in the fall judging by all the brilliantly colored leaves in the background. Cameron and Allison were both wearing matching beige hats and smiling big toothy-grins at the camera that was being held out by one of the women, it was hard to tell which. Amelia was beautiful. She had long straight red hair and cloudy blue eyes. "She's pretty." Erica said.
Cameron agreed as she brought two glasses of red wine over to the couch. She handed one to Erica before setting her own down on the coffee table.
"No getting drunk while you're responsible for my daughter."
"It's one glass." She defended as she took the picture from Erica and set it back on the bookshelf. She set it neatly between the picture of her and Erica in their dirty overalls and bright pink frame and the latest picture of Grace in a more than adorable denim overall dress and red shirt underneath, her dark curly hair pulled over to the side by a little red bow. She turned away and dropped her smile when she turned to find Erica staring back at her. "What?"
Erica only raised an eyebrow.
"We've been together for a year." She began, answering her cousin's unspoken questions as she sat down beside her. "I took some time off after a ballet I was choreographing in New York and that's when we realized we really had something. But she lived here in Seattle and was only in New York for a couple of months for some big project on aging prima ballerinas or something." She laughed. "I was able to stay in New York a few months longer after my job there was done, but I eventually had to go back to Boston and she had to go back to Seattle. Our lives, our homes and our friends were on two opposite sides of the country. We tried the whole long-distance thing for a few months after that, but it just wasn't working for either of us. She's really close to her family and I had none, in Boston, and I knew you lived somewhere in this city so the decision really wasn't all that hard. I was moving and it was purely by coincidence that I returned to my apartment that day for . . . I don't know, a favorite shirt I forgot or something and saw the birth announcement sitting on my counter."
"And here I thought you moved here to be near me and your niece." She said with a look of mock hurt.
Cameron smiled. "That was just a perk."
"So you had this place here the whole time and still camped out on my couch for a week?"
"It wasn't your couch." She defended. "And I missed you." Her face fell as she looked down at her hands. "I hadn't seen you in twenty years E. We grew up as sisters. Do you know how much it hurts to have your sister and best friend all of a sudden be essentially erased from your life at sixteen? You never told me why you left."
Erica sighed and took Cameron's hands into her own to stop the other blonde from playing with her fingernails – A bad habit she had had ever since Erica could remember. "I'm so sorry." She looked into Cameron's teary eyes and took the younger woman into her arms. "I never stopped thinking about you for a day." Erica continued to hold her 'little sister' until her sobs quieted down. Cameron pulled away and Erica brushed her tears away. "Better now?"
Cameron laughed. "Yeah. Thanks."
"Look Cam . . . I don't know what to say. I never really did think of how hard my leaving would affect you. I'm sorry I just let you out of my life so easily."
"It's okay. You're here now."
"I'm a shitty big sister." Erica admitted with a laugh, wrapping her arms back around her little sister in a sisterly hug
Cameron sighed. "Yeah." That earned her a nice smack to the side of her head. She pulled away and smiled. "I deserved that."
Erica laughed and brushed Cameron's hair down and tucked it behind her ears. "I'll do better."
"I'd hope so."
"Oh yeah?" Erica teased. "Why?"
Cameron raised an eyebrow. "Because I have your daughter."
Erica looked away. "Good point." She had missed this. She and Cameron had been best friends since before either blonde could remember. They were both a little withdrawn from school so all they really had was each other. Erica went off to immerse herself in college life and left Cameron with no one. She wasn't exactly off making tons of friends, she hadn't actually made any she cared about enough to still keep in contact with, but the fact was that she had left her little sister going through the hardest years of her young life with no one to turn to. She was damn well going to make up for that now. And that began with making sure this Amelia woman was good enough for her little sister. "You and Amelia should come to dinner with me and Callie sometime this weekend. I need to approve of this woman my little sister is dating." She winked. "Kick her ass if need be."
"And I promise I will tell you why I left and explain everything beforehand. Deal?"
Cameron looked at Erica and clinked her glass with Erica's. "Deal."
"You know how many times I've been here and never even noticed that picture?" She looked around the room, noticing a few more pictures of Cameron and this red-haired woman. "Or those?"
"Every time but this one?" Cameron smirked.
Erica chuckled. "I forgot how funny you think you are." Cameron brought her hand to her chest in mock hurt. "But really, you've been here for over three months and living with this woman. Why haven't you said anything?"
Cameron shrugged her shoulders. "Don't tell anyone. Never tell anyone unless you already know what their reaction will be." She said, repeating Erica's twenty-year-old words.
Erica slowly nodded. Perhaps that wasn't the best piece of advice she have ever given. "I'm living with a woman, I'm engaged to a woman, I have a child with a woman . . . and you didn't think I would react well to knowing?"
Cameron sighed. "Just because you are involved with a woman doesn't mean you want the same thing for your little sister."
"Are you happy?" Erica asked.
Cameron took a few seconds then looked up at Erica. "Yes."
Erica smiled. "That is what I want for my little sister." And just like that the moment was broken by a loud piercing wail that sailed its way down the hallway and reached the two women's ears.
Erica downed her wine and grabbed her purse. "Gotta go."
Erica was running late, literally. Nothing had been working out as it should since she left Cameron's apartment, well Cameron and Amelia's apartment. She had left the apartment only to find out her car was basically empty on gas and the closest gas station was packed and it took her a good 45 minutes before she was actually able to fuel up. Then there had been ridiculous traffic that took about two hours longer than any normal occasion to get to the hospital. She just needed to run in quick to grab her bag, which she had left in her briefcase, but of course someone had parked in her parking space and thus she had to park a fifteen minute walk away. On top of that, she was pulled into not one, not two, but three back-to-back emergency surgeries. And now she was running out of the hospital. Literally running. But of course, to add to her day, the Chief of Surgery was calling her name.
She stopped and turned around. "Richard. What can I do for you?"
"I need to speak to you in my office."
Erica inwardly groaned. "I would love to Richard, but I am running extremely late."
"It will only take a minute."
Erica sighed, but followed the older man into his office anyway. Half an hour later . . .
Erica groaned and hung her head. This was turning out to be a disaster. "What can I do for you Addison?"
"What are you still doing here?" Addison asked, walking around Erica so that she was standing in front of her. Erica looked up when she felt her blonde curls being tugged at and smiled when she saw her baby's happy face. Grace reached out to her mother and Erica took her from Addison. "Callie left to meet you at the restaurant an hour and a half ago."
Erica gave Gracie a kiss on the cheek and brought her little hand to her lips to give it a kiss as well. "I had everything planned so perfectly." She began, still looking at Gracie. "But then I got here, and-"
"And it sucked you in." Addison finished. Erica finally looked at Addison, total defeat in her eyes. Addison reached over and took Grace back, planting the child on her hip. "It's not too late. It's still your anniversary for the next . . ." Balancing a baby and a diaper bag was not easy as she discovered while trying to check her watch for the time. "Two and a half hours."
"Callie's probably left the restaurant by now."
Addison nodded. "Probably."
Erica dug her cell phone out of her pocket and pressed one for the first speed dial, willing the tears not to come. She hung up after the umpteenth ring. "She's not answering."
Addison put a comforting hand on Erica's back and gently urged her forward. "I am going to call Callie right now and explain what happened."
Erica shook her head. "She won't care."
Addison stopped and turned Erica around to look at her. "Of course she will care. She wants this night to be as perfect as you do. Now," She began again, again pushing Erica forward, but on a different path. "You are going to go to the bathroom and erase that defeat and exhaustion from your face. Gracie and I will go get you a coffee and be here when you're done. Then you're out of here and I'll call Callie and smooth things over. Deal?"
Addison pushed Erica into the bathroom, not even giving the blonde the chance to respond.
Erica checked her make-up one last time in the mirror before taking a deep breath and finally getting out of her car. The lights were off in the house, but she pushed forward. The front door was unlocked, a good sign. She had her keys, but it was a sign that Callie at least wanted her there. She locked it behind herself and hung her coat up in the closet. "Cal?" She called into the darkness.
There was a few seconds of silence. "Kitchen."
Erica cringed. That was not a happy voice. She grabbed the flowers she has driven out of her way to buy because they were from Callie's favorite florist. Good thing the owners lived in the apartment above the shop and Erica and Callie were good friends with them, otherwise there was no way she would have gotten any sort of flowers at this time of night. She walked into the kitchen. Callie was sitting at the island with a glass of red wine.
"Hey." She greeted softly.
"Hey." Callie responded, not looking up from her glass.
Erica brought the flowers out from behind her back and held them out. "These are for you."
Callie smiled and took the bouquet, bringing the fresh flowers to her nose. "They're beautiful. When did you get them? Addison said the hospital basically kidnapped you."
"I picked them up on the way home. It's a good thing Jamie likes us."
"You got her to open up shop at ten o'clock at night?"
Erica smiled. "I have many skills." She reached over and took the lily and yellow rose concoction from Callie and set them on the counter. "Callie, I am so sorry." Callie stood up and wrapped her arms around Erica. "Three emergency surgeries and the on-call surgeon was there, but there was a massive accident and his pair of hands just wasn't enough."
Callie pulled away and gently placed a kiss on Erica's lips. "It's okay. I understand."
Erica sighed and pulled Callie back in. "I had this whole amazing evening planned. I am so sorry."
Callie sighed into Erica's embrace. "I know. It was a little embarrassing waiting there by myself, but my ego will heal."
"I am so-"
"Sorry, I know." Callie laughed.
"I had an amazing evening planned for tonight, but . . . I can make up for it."
"Really?" Callie asked, sitting back down on the stool. "Do tell."
Erica's face lit up. "Okay, well for tomorrow I managed to get us both the day off. Addison and Mark are bringing Grace here before their shifts since we're just a few streets over and Cameron and her girlfriend Amelia – I'll explain later, are going to pick Gracie up here and take her for the day. I made us a reservation for your favorite restaurant by the place we had birthing class for seven. And before that I thought we could have a picnic brunch at the park by the river where you proposed, which means we need to get up kind of early since it's a little bit of a drive. And I looked up that bridal shop you were talking about, and they have a place not too far from there, so-"
"How'd you manage all that?" Callie interrupted quizzically.
"I made a lot of phone calls on the way here."
Callie smiled and reached out to take Erica's hands. "I love you."
Erica smiled back. "I love you too."
"You thought of everything, didn't you?"
"I tried to." The cardiologist shrugged. "I really messed up tonight, but tomorrow we are turning our cell phones off and leaving them here and if, by some act of God, they manage to follow us I swear to God I am going to smash them both with rocks before chucking them into the river."
Callie melted. Erica was such an amazing woman. Tonight hadn't been her fault, but she had gone above and beyond. She stood up and brought Erica in for a searing kiss, full of a passion neither had felt in some time.
Erica was the first to pull away. She blinked a few times to get her brain to function again. "What was that for?"
"How did I get so lucky?" She asked.
"How did I?"
Callie smirked, a serious hint of mischief in her dark eyes. "Well, I am all dressed up, so I should probably get out of these clothes."
"Right." Erica dropped her hands from Callie's waist and moved aside so the brunette could pass. "I'm just going to take a shower and then I'll-"
"Oh no you're not."
Erica's head whipped around to look at Callie. "No? I was just in three back-to-back surgeries Cal. I don't want to smell me right now."
Callie chuckled and seductively walked back over to Erica. "You're going to put those flowers into some water and then you're going to come up to the bedroom because I want to see this dress handing from your teeth." Erica swallowed, hard. "And Erica?" Callie asked, moving in dangerously close.
"Yeah?" The cardio God squeaked out.
"Don't make me wait."