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Sealed With a Kiss

Chapter 24

I yawned and tried my best not to fall asleep. For homework, I needed to finish reading a few scenes in Act One of Julius Caesar. If there was one thing I hated about English class each year, it was how every single teacher felt the need to push Shakespeare down our throats. I understood that he was one of the greats of all time, but some of his work consisted of royally messed up characters and viewpoints. It was hard to get into his plays - they always made me wonder about his sanity. I smirked as I remembered how much Jodie loved to call him a nutter. With a shake of my head, I tried to refocus on the scene.

Then I heard it. My head shot up as a familiar sound echoed off the window. Another clack followed soon after the first. As I glanced at the clock and saw it was still a reasonable hour at night, a small smile crept up my lips. "Bree."

Throwing Julius Caesar to the side, I hopped off my bed and hurried over to the window. Peeking out the curtain, I saw Bree standing below with a hand full of pebbles. Her hair cascaded around her face as the wind blew through it and a large smile spread across her face as her eyes caught mine. I motioned with my head in the direction of the front door, closed the curtain and hurried out of my room and down the stairs.

As I entered the living room, one glance at the couch revealed that my mom was asleep with the faint glow of the TV on her face. I felt a sigh of relief escape my chest - the last thing I needed was another awkward encounter between Bree and my mom. I gingerly walked over to the front door and opened it slowly. As Bree's smiling face came into view and her mouth began to open, I quickly pressed my index finger to my lips and nodded back at my mom as she entered. Bree nodded her understanding and followed me upstairs as quietly as possible.

Once we were safely inside my room, I closed the door behind us. I turned to find Bree standing directly behind me and smiled at her - I was truly happy to see her unexpectedly tonight. "What are you doing here?"

Bree wrapped her arms around my waist and pulled me in close to her. "I have a proposition for you."

I narrowed my eyes suspiciously as I wrapped my arms around her back. "I'm not sure if I like the sound of that."

A laugh escaped Bree's throat. "You always sound so suspicious. Just be glad that I'm telling you and not making it a surprise."

"Okay, so you have a point." I grinned, impressed that she remembered how much I disliked surprises.

She leaned in and gave me a quick peck on my cheek. "That's more like it." She took a deep breath and leaned back a bit to look into my eyes. "So, my proposition has to do with my parents. They… want to meet you."

Both of my eyebrows arched up in surprise. I felt a huge lump forming in the back of my throat and anxiety welling in my chest. Parents? What the fuck… her parents already know about me? When did that happen? "Your parents?"

Bree nodded slightly and I felt the knuckles of her right hand drumming against the back of my waist as if she were doing so because of a nervous tick. "Well, my parents have known about me being gay since I dated Josephine. She was a close friend and then suddenly she was more. When I told them, they freaked out… as I think any parent does to a certain extent… but they've come around for the most part." She smiled hesitantly. "I suppose time actually does heal some wounds."

I smiled a little bit at her and sucked in a deep breath as I tried to process the request. "They want to meet me?"

A sheepish smile crossed Bree's face as she looked down. "I may not have been able to hold back my happiness about us being a couple."

God, she's so cute. Even if she does subject me to the whole "meeting the parents" phenomenon so soon into our relationship. I sighed and shook my head. "What am I walking into? World War III? Apocalypse? Or… world peace?" I waved my hand in front of my face like I was trying not to cry in my best Miss Congeniality impression.

Bree laughed and released me before heading over to my bed. She sat down on the edge and patted the spot next to her. "None of the above? I think they'll be cool. Maybe a little awkwardness but mostly they just want to know who I'm dating just like any parents would."

I shook my head and slowly walked over to my bed. Instead of sitting beside her, I stopped in front of her and looked down into her eyes. "You're really lucky I like you so much."

"Is that a yes?" Bree gave me her most charming smile.

I laughed and sat down on the bed beside her, patting her thigh as I did so. "Could I possibly say no to you?"

A big smile flashed across her face as she leaned in to plant a kiss on my lips. "Thank you, darlin. I promise it won't be too bad."

"Aren't you supposed to reassure me in the positive and not the negative?" I cringed.

"I'm so sorry, yes. It's going to be GREAT!" she exclaimed with exaggerated enthusiasm.

I narrowed my eyes. "You're such an ass."

She reached over to grab my hand and pull it back around her waist to rest at the top of her ass. She squeezed my hand against it and wiggled her eyebrows at me. "If you're going to make such accusations, you should really have an in-depth knowledge of such things."

I felt my cheeks flush as Bree continued to hold my hand against her ass. All I could think about was how nice it felt in my hand and how I wanted to squeeze it myself without any encouragement from her. I bit my lower lip as I tried to hold myself back from doing so. "Um, yes, such things."

I watched as a sultry smile rose up Bree's lips. A husky, low voice followed. "I told you how much I love those blushes."

Just as I was about to stutter again, she quickly leaned in and captured my lips with hers. She pressed against mine and brought her hand behind my neck as her tongue requested entry into my mouth. I allowed her in and reveled in the feel of her mouth and tongue. As the kiss became more urgent, I found that my hand had a mind of its own and slid beneath her jeans to squeeze the top of her ass cheek. I heard a soft moan at the back of her throat as we continued kissing.

Bree slowly pushed me back onto the bed and I felt her body settle down on top of mine. Her hand slid up my side, lingering beside my breast but not moving any further. She lightly caressed the side of my breast as she moved her lips to kiss along my jawline and capture my earlobe in her mouth. As she sucked gently, I felt a gasp escape my throat. Just as quickly as it escaped, Bree was back with her mouth on mine. At this point, her hand gently cupped the side of my breast in her hand and squeezed.

As I felt the need for her continue to flood my body, I once again found some kind of self-control. I kissed her once more as deeply as I could to express how I was feeling and then pulled back to gasp for air. I reached up to run my fingers along her jawline and smiled. "Can we pause for a bit?"

Bree took in a deep breath and then smiled back at me. "Absolutely. Slow and steady wins the race."

"Something like that." I grinned.

She leaned in to give me a gentle kiss on the lips and then suddenly launched herself off the bed.

"Wait - where are you going?" I asked, bewildered.

Bree held up her index finger and smiled. "Just a second." She picked up the purse she'd dropped onto the floor and pulled out her cell phone. I watched as she took a moment swiping and looking for something on her phone. Finally, it appeared she found what she was looking for as music came out of her speakerphone. I quickly recognized Ed Sheeran's "Perfect" and watched as she set the phone down on the nightstand and then extended her arm, wiggling her fingers at me. "Come here."

I narrowed my eyes suspiciously. "What are you doing?"

"Come. Here." Bree once again wiggled her fingers and raised an eyebrow, waiting for me to get up.

I slid myself off the bed and rested my hand into Bree's. With one quick movement, she twirled me around once and then pulled me into her arms, bringing my hand around to rest on her waist. She let go and placed her right hand on my shoulder and took my other hand into her left, holding our hands close to our chests. As she began to sway, a soft smile rose up her lips and she said quietly, "I told you I wanted a dance with you."

I couldn't help it when the stupid, huge-ass grin spread across my face and I giggled a little. "Yes, you did."

"And you feel as good as I thought you would," she whispered, leaning in even closer to rest her chin on my shoulder.

I sighed softly and pressed my head against hers. As we continued to sway in each other's arms, I inhaled the sweet scent of her hair - a mixture of vanilla and lavender - and knew that I would associate it with her from this point forward. A silence settled over us as we listened to the lyrics of the song and got wrapped up in the feel of being so close to one another. During the last chorus, I felt my breath catch as I heard Bree quietly singing the lyrics in my ear. I could tell she was singing them directly to me.

Baby, I'm dancing in the dark, with you between my arms

Barefoot on the grass, listening to our favorite song

I have faith in what I see

Now I know I have met an angel in person

And she looks perfect

I don't deserve this

You look perfect tonight

As the song came to a close, Bree pulled back enough to press her lips against mine. Unlike our kiss from earlier, this one felt different - almost as if she was cherishing the feel of my lips and my body in her arms. I felt my eyes growing teary as I kissed her back. I knew that Bree played this song for a reason and that she truly felt this way about me. Maybe I didn't feel perfect but something about the way that Bree saw me made me want to try to be. As we pulled back from the kiss, she gently rubbed her nose against mine and rested her forehead against my forehead. Even though the music had stopped, we continued to sway together like that, caught up in each other's arms.

My head jolted up when I heard an audible gasp. I turned my head in the direction of the sound and felt a level of horror coarse through my veins as I saw my mother standing in the doorway. Her jaw was dropped and tears were in her eyes as she stared at Bree and I in shock. "Mom…" Did I whisper that? Did it actually come out?

Horrified, I watched as my mom quickly turned and slammed the door behind her. I could hear her hurrying down the stairs, loud footsteps left behind in her fury. A part of me knew that I should follow her, run after her, but I was frozen in place - my arms were still around Bree and my eyes were fastened on the closed door.

"Kendra," Bree uttered under her breath. She somehow worked her way out of my arms and grabbed my face with both of her hands to make me look at her. "Kendra," she said more firmly. "You need to go talk to her. You can't just leave it like this."

I nodded slightly and then shook my head in a daze. "I need to go to bed. It's almost bedtime." I pulled myself away from Bree and headed back over to the bed, pulling the sheet back and fluffing my pillow.

I felt Bree's hands on my waist, turning me back around. Her eyes were focused and urgent. "Kendra. Your mom needs you. You need to talk to her about this right now. You need to tell her why she saw what she saw. I know this is hard for you, but this is an important moment. Neither of you can act like it didn't happen."

Was that true? Denial seemed to be a strong force in the Lachen household over the last year - I was fairly certain that we could fall back into old rhythms if we allowed ourselves. I looked off toward the door as the reality of what just happened started to settle into my brain. I blinked a few times. "She saw us. She knows we're…" My voice faded as I continued to stare at the door. I slowly turned back to look at Bree, a confused expression on my face.

Bree nodded and placed her cool hand against my warm cheek. "Yes, she saw us. She knows you're not straight. It's time to have that talk."

The urgency in her voice did not go unnoticed as reality crept in even further. I took in a deep breath and closed my eyes, trying to let everything settle further into me before I confronted it. When I opened my eyes, I looked into Bree's concerned ones and nodded. "I need to talk to her."

I started to head toward the door and as my hand rested on the doorknob, I turned to look at Bree. "I… you can't stay. I need to do this alone." I bit my lower lip, feeling the fear rise up in my chest. "I'll see you tomorrow?"

Bree crossed the distance between us and took my hand into hers. "Are you sure you don't want me to stay?"

I nodded and tried to give her a reassuring smile, even though I felt anything but reassured in that moment. "Yes, I'm sure. Can I walk you out?"

Bree squeezed my hand and nodded. "Please."

I could tell that she wanted to kiss me goodbye, but quite frankly, I wasn't sure that I could handle that. It was taking everything inside of me to gather the strength to have this conversation with my mom. Conversations in general with my mom were difficult as it was, even with all the strides she'd made recently… but this conversation was somehow going to be harder than all of those combined.

I opened my door and kept hold of Bree's hand as I led her down the stairs. As we reached the landing, I could see my mom sitting on the living room couch, eyes glued to the TV. With a sigh, I opened the front door for Bree and watched as she exited. She turned to look back at me and appeared to be at a loss of words. I just smiled at her and nodded before closing the door behind her.

When I turned back around, my eyes landed on my mom. Her attention was still glued to the TV, however I noticed that she had a magazine in her hands. She was absentmindedly ripping pieces of the magazine paper and letting them drop to the ground, one after the other. I frowned. That can't be good.

I took in a deep breath to try to calm the heart that was about ready to jump out of my chest. I walked over to the couch and sat down next to my mom, turning off the TV in the process. I watched as she blinked when the TV screen went dark. It took a moment but she eventually turned her eyes back to me. "Mom…" I whispered.

My mom's eyes started to register that I was in front of her and as they did so, I saw new tears well up in her eyes. "Kendra…"

I gulped. "What you saw upstairs… that was real. You saw… Bree and I dancing together."

My mom's eyes looked off into the distance as her brow furrowed. "I knew something wasn't quite right about the two of you… It wasn't quite right."

I bit the inside of my cheek as I felt my anxiety reaching a peak. "I wasn't ready to tell you before. I'm not sure that I'm ready even now… but you deserve to know." I took in a shaky breath. "The reason I broke up with Tyler a couple months ago was because I met Bree. I started falling for her. Those feelings scared the hell out of me for awhile but I've accepted them and now, I couldn't be happier."

My mom's eyes settled back onto my face, confusion etched across hers. "You like girls now?"

I shrugged uncomfortably. "I don't know? I know I like Bree. And I guess I never really liked Tyler or anyone else in the same way. So maybe?" I frowned and looked off a bit, uncomfortable with the direction of the conversation. "I don't know if I'd call myself a lesbian… but I also wouldn't say I'm straight… or bi. Fuck. I don't know. I don't know what I am. I just know how I feel." I looked back towards her and a level of desperation entered my voice. "Do we really have to put a label on it?"

"People use labels to make it easier for others to understand and accept the truth," she replied in a moment of lucidness.

I blinked at her a few times, amazed at the words that had just come out of her mouth. Isn't that true though? Don't we put labels on ourselves for the sole purpose of helping others understand what we're going through or how we feel? Is it true that it's easier for my mom or Joe Schmoe to understand how I feel about Bree if I say I'm a lesbian versus I'm just me? I let out a sigh as I tried to swallow the lump in my throat. "If I have to put a label on it, then yes… I like a girl. I guess that makes me… gay."

"Gay," she repeated. She nodded slowly and repeated it again, as if to make it more real to herself. "Gay."

I felt my skin crackling with electricity as I listened to her repeat it a couple more times. Each time she did it, the more real and the more antsy I felt. It was almost as if her saying the word over and over gave it more power. I finally placed my hand on my mom's to interrupt her and steer the conversation back to what I was comfortable talking about. "Yes. Bree is my girlfriend, Mom. I… I love her."

My mom continued to study my face and I watched as another tear escaped her eyes. She finally said quietly, "This changes everything."

My eyes narrowed as I studied her face as well. "What do you mean?"

Her eyes blinked a few times as more tears welled up inside of them. Her voice came out choked. "You're not going to get married. You're not going to have kids." She took in a deep breath. "All the dreams I had for you… are gone."

I shook my head quickly and tried to smile at her. "No, Mom! Those things don't change. I can still get married. I can still have kids. It would just look a little differently. But I can still have all of those things. Those dreams are still alive - they can still happen."

I watched in desperation as more tears slid down my mom's cheeks. She shook her head slightly and then squeezed my hand. "Honey, I need some time. This is… quite a shock. Can you please give me some time?"

God, the last thing I wanted to do was to wait around for a reaction potentially worse than this one. But I knew I didn't have a choice. If there was one thing I had learned about revealing this part of myself to my loved ones, it was that nobody handled it the same way and some needed more time than others to process it. I just had to hope that my mom wouldn't need more time than everyone else and that someday, she would be okay with it and love me no matter what. I nodded slowly. "Sure, take some time." As I stood up and headed back upstairs to my bedroom, I tried my best to stifle the cry inside of my chest and the urge to add, "But please don't make it too long…"