Finally, last chapter! Enjoy =3

...

One Year Later

"Done!" I sigh and push my chair away from the table. I raise my arms above my head and lean back, stretching triumphantly. My class schedule for the fall term, glowing on my computer screen, greets me when I straighten.

"Lemme see," Apone says, coming up behind me. He places my hand on my left shoulder and leans down to peer at my laptop. I turn and look at him instead, taking in his dark skin, bright eyes, thick lips. He still takes my breath away as if I were looking at him that first time all over again.

"This costs how much?" he yelps.

"I'm going full-time next semester," I remind him.

"Well, I'm just glad you're payin' and not me," he mutters.

I grin and ask, "Would you come if I paid for you, too?"

"Tempting, Dirt, but I've had enough of school for a lifetime. Besides, who'll run my shop?" He rubs my shoulder and looks at me affectionately, "I'm happy for ya, though." He pecks my cheek before returning to the counter to finish making our lunch.

My laptop closes with a light click and I gather it up and take it upstairs. My pocket vibrates just as I'm placing it on the desk. I pick up my phone, "Hey, Tio!"

What he tells me rocks me to the core. I collapse onto my bed and demand, "What did you just say?"

Five minutes later, I'm shakily descending the stairs. Apone looks up from setting the sandwiches on the table. "What's up, Dirt?"

"It – it's my mother," I say, dazed, "Tio says she's clean. She's been clean for three months and she just started working again. She's been asking Tio about me."

Apone's face breaks into a grin. "That's great! Let's go visit 'em, then!"

"'Let's'? As in, you and me?"

"Who else?"

"But who'll watch your shop?" I tease.

"Oh, the guys'll be able to handle it," he counters flippantly, "For a few days, at least. Besides, I'd like to meet your mom."

It's my turn to grin now. I throw myself at him and hug him tight. "Thank you, Apone. Let's go this weekend!"

"Sure, Andrea." His voice is soft as he squeezes me back.

I unbury my face from his chest and smile up at him, raising myself on my toes to kiss his lips. Turning out of his arms, I race back up the stairs to decide what I'm packing. I'm finally going home, to the family I've yearned for all these years.

I watch Andrea run up the stairs and into her room. Prob'ly to start packin' already. I smile and reach into my pocket, feelin' the little black box there. I've been carryin' it around for a couple weeks, waitin' for the right time to give it to her. A weekend with her family – whole at last – seems a perfect time as any.

...

=3 Thank you everyone, for your patience with me while I figured this story out XD I know a year and a half is a rediculously long time and I didn't deserve that patience at all. I'm sorry, and I promise it won't happen again. Thank you for reading! 'Til next time.