"You cluck like a hen."

Pam came into the rather worn living room of her rented house carrying two mugs in her hands. From one came whisps of steam. The other had been cooled down by a touch or three of rum. She made her way over to the orange and brown vintage couch and sat down next to her daughter's lover. Pam handed the steamy mug of Chai Tea over to Carly and sat back deeper into the cushions of the coach as she regarded the look of confusion and indignation on Carly's face.

"I don't cluck… I'm not a…" Carly tumbled over her words, slightly flustered by Pam's statement, so absolutely delivered. Trying to recover and assert herself, she finally said: "What do you mean by that?"

Pam gave a small smile and chuckled inside. So easily ruffled, she wondered how this little brunette had survived against her daughter's verbal sparring. But, then again, maybe Carly was the one exclusively saved from such vocal jabs.

"I mean, don't nag Sam. If you want to keep her in your life, you have to let her be the free spirit she is. She'll do whatever you ask her and if you give her an ultimatum she will always choose you. But, she will grow to resent the chains you place on her.

Carly looked down into her tea as if the dark ginger scented liquid would provide to her the wisdom of the ages. "I worry," was all she could say.

"Too much," Pam gave back with a slight chuckle and snort.

Carly shot the older woman a sidelong glance. "Like you don't?"

Pam shrugged and poured half her rum coffee down her throat, feeling the sting and burn as it passed through the long channel to her belly. "I stopped worrying about my daughter when she met you years ago."

That made the young brunette turn her head to face Pam with wide eyes. "Me? Why? We were just friends…"

"You were never just friends," Pam said quietly. "You changed her. From the moment you first met, you changed Sam. She was lost until you came into her life. You gave her balance."

"Balance?" Carly echoed, unsure if she understood. Or maybe she understood too well.

"What are you? A parrot?"

Carly frowned: "Parrot?"

Pam got up from the couch and headed back to the kitchen. "Here, let me get you a cracker… Polly…"