"I can't believe you're leaving already!" I said, hugging my cousin tightly as we stood next to the car at the airport. The airport was noisy, the deafening sounds of planes landing and taking off surrounded the entire area. People whizzed by with bags, some pulling extra pieces of luggage behind them. It was an interesting thing to watch, that was for sure.

"I'll be back in four days! You won't even know I'm gone," Genna squeezed me in return and then gently lowered both her arms, taking a small step back.

"Oh, I'll know alright. Now I'll have to start cooking again," I said with a small grin. Having my cousin here the last two weeks had been so great! For once I didn't have to do everything, I had some help and it was nice. I mean, don't get me wrong, I liked cooking and taking care of my brother the way I usually did. With Genna here though, I got to feel like a kid for awhile. I didn't have to constantly worry about Jayden and if he was doing what he should be doing or what I was going to feed him that evening. I just had to worry about me, being selfish for once felt nice and definitely less stressful.

All good things have to end sometime though right? That was how that saying goes.

Stupid saying.

"Well, make Jayden start helping you." Genna placed the strap of her messenger bag on her shoulder and lifted the handle of her suitcase up so that it clicked into place. I turned my head and looked at my little brother sitting in the backseat, obviously eavesdropping on our conversation.

"Yeah, that would be funny, especially since I'm not too sure he even knows how to turn the stove on. Anyways, call me when you get home, okay?" I turned back to my cousin and hugged her one more time, not as sad as I usually was when she left after a visit. I mean, she really was coming back in four days and even though I wouldn't see her all the time, it would still be more than I had in the past.

Not to mention she was only going to be four blocks away. I didn't even need a car for that kind of distance.

"I will, bye!" Genna smiled and waved before turning around and walking into the airport, disappearing quickly in the crowd. I would've stood there a little longer looking for her a bit, but one of the security guards was already looking at me. I got in my car and started it back up, looking around for an open spot amongst all the passing cars. Thankfully, this wasn't the busiest airport around, so the traffic wasn't that bad.

Jayden had moved to the front seat and was looking at me.

"What?" I asked, finally able to pull out of my spot into the sea of other cars.

"I know how to turn the stove on, Kailey," he said, attitude in his tone. His arms were crossed across his chest and he had one eyebrow slightly raised.

"No way! Since when?" I asked excitedly, obviously mocking him with my fake enthusiasm and sarcastic words.

"I'm sixteen! I know how to use the stove, and the oven!"

"Really, because I've never seen you use anything other than the microwave." My brother had these mini-pizzas he liked to eat for lunch on the weekends or during the summer. I thought he always ate them because they were easy to make in the microwave and because I wouldn't let him order take-out pizza. In all honesty though, I had never seen him use the oven. Maybe the stove, for like Kraft Mac N' Cheese or something though.

"Just goes to show that you don't know everything."

"Yes I do, I'm a girl. Being a girl, a girl who takes care of you no less, means I know everything." It was like how mom's always said they knew everything just because they were mothers. Of course it wasn't true, but it didn't keep them from lording it over us whenever they could.

Well, for children whose mothers were around that is. I wasn't really talking about mine obviously.

"Hey, what's your friend doing on our front porch?" Jayden asked in a surprised tone, pointing towards the front door of our house. I looked over, seeing Alex sitting on the second step of the porch, her elbows propped up on her knees as she stared blankly into space. I pulled into the driveway and parked, getting out of the car quickly.

Alex, having noticed I was home, got up and walked across the lawn, meeting me halfway in between the front door and my car. "Hey, this is a surprise," I said softly, trying not to let my brother overhear any part of our conversation. Seeing her had immediately lifted my mood, a smile reappearing on my face.

"Is it okay that I'm here?" She replied in the same hushed tone, looking into my eyes.

"Yeah, no it's fine. Come on," I walked past her to the front door where Jayden was waiting to be let in. I reached past him with my keys and unlocked the door. My brother entered the house and immediately headed for his room, quickly taking the stairs two at a time. I head his door open and close, silence once again filling the house.

"So, what's up?" I asked, leading Alex into the kitchen. I grabbed two diet sodas from the fridge and sat down at the table, setting one down in front of her where she sat.

"Well you know how I missed school last week?" My girlfriend began, popping the top on her can open and looking around the kitchen nervously.

Girlfriend, I could say that now. She was my girlfriend. Girlfriend, it sounded amazing didn't it? I loved saying it. The fact that it was true amazed me on a whole different level.

"Yeah." I took a sip of my soda, trying not to take my gaze off Alex's. I knew from experience that body language often said infinitely more than anything a person ever said.

"And you know how I told you it was because I had some family drama at home?" She continued, her gaze fixed on the soda she was playing with in her hands, not at all meeting my own.

Hm, she had darty-eye. That wasn't a good sign.

"Uhuh…" Where was she going with this? I hoped she didn't have super awful news, I never knew how to deal with other people's bad news. The only comfort I could usually give were dumb clichés they had probably already heard a million times. The whole thing was just uncomfortable.

"My parents are going through this really nasty divorce right now and things at my house are…not happy a lot of the time. Normally when it gets ugly I just go to the park, but now that I have you, I was wondering if I could just come here." Alex finished her explanation with a touch of hesitation in her voice, obviously scared I was going to reject her.

I had no idea that's why she always seemed so sad all the time. It all made sense now! Why she sometime seemed so distant and why I didn't even have her house number. Her family was falling apart and she didn't have anyone to talk to about it.

God, that had to be the loneliest place in the world.

"Alex, of course. You are welcome here anytime you want." I scooted my chair so that it was closer to hers. "I'm sorry about your parents, I can't imagine how rough that must be for you." I looked into her eyes, it was one of the few times she met my gaze and fully returned it. I felt so completely connected to her at that moment. I set my drink down on the table and got up from my chair completely, moving to sit in her lap. I wrapped my arms around her neck and buried my face in the crook of her neck, her arms coming around to hold my waist.

"It's easier now that I have someone I can talk to," she said quietly. I reached out with one of my hands, slowly running my fingers through her hair. The golden strands were soft, if only a little greasy, not that I could tell from looking at it though. I noticed at the nape of her neck a patch of hair that was platinum blonde, several shades lighter than the rest of her hair. You couldn't see just from looking at her, it was hidden underneath the rest of her hair.

I smiled a little to myself, another part of her that made her unique and special, especially to me.

"You can always tell me anything. I'm here no matter what," I leaned back in her lap so that our faces were directly in front of each other. I ran my thumb across her cheek gently, fingers barely on her jaw line. Alex leaned in, kissing me softly. I savored the taste of her lips on my own, the sweet taste I was sure only she could have.

I knew it was still the honeymoon stage of our relationship, but I hoped it would always be like this.

"Is there anything else you want to share with me?" I asked, wanting to double check she didn't have anything else to get off her chest. I was determined to be attentive and loving, although that wasn't really hard when it came to Alex. I doubted there was much she could say to me that I wouldn't be interested in.

"No, I think I'm good for now." Alex leaned in again, holding me closely, before kissing a spot on the back of my jaw where it met my neck. A small shiver ran down my spine, I leaned back and reconnected my lips with hers, savoring the closeness.

"Do you want to go watch a movie then?" I asked, a large smile on my face as we managed to eventually pull our lips apart from one another.

"Yeah, that'd be nice," Alex said, kissing me again gently. I got off Alex's lap and laced my fingers through her own. We walked into the living room, separating as I went to the movie cabinet to grab a DVD and she sat on the couch. Once I picked out a movie I popped it in the DVD player and settled in on the couch for a nice, relaxed afternoon with my girlfriend.

Saying that really never would get old.

"Please tell me we're almost done," I said, lugging yet another box up the never ending flight of stairs to my cousin's room. Today I was helping her move in. Thankfully, while Genna was here she had become friends with Rain so not only was my best friend here to help, but so was my girlfriend. Which at this point was only significant in the context that it meant less boxes I had to carry.

These days, Alex and I spent little time apart. I still met her at school in the morning, but she came over every day after school and we'd study together. She usually stayed for dinner and then would leave before either of my parents got home. Rain would still come over occasionally, but we didn't hang out as much as we used to.

I felt guilty about that.

I just didn't want Alex to be all alone, especially when things in her life were so bad right now. I cared about her so much and her happiness was extremely important to me. I didn't want her to have to be at home where world war three seemed to have broken out. I liked, no, loved, having her around all the time. We were still getting to know each other and we both realized we were actually kind of opposites of each other.

Not being the same made things exciting though. There was amusement and spontaneity in our relationship which kept me constantly entertained. I always had a good time with her, even if we were just lying on my bed talking. She always had something interesting to say, I loved hearing what she was thinking about, even if it was the most random or minute thing.

Even though I was head over heels, crazy in love with this girl, I was still afraid I would someday get bored or we would start fighting a lot. Alex and I hadn't even had so much as a disagreement yet. Both of us were pretty flexible on things and if someone did insist on something, the other person accommodated that. I would hate to be one of those couples that fought all the time, they always looked so miserable.

I wanted to be happy forever. I already felt like I couldn't be that way without Alex.

I reached my cousins room and dropped the box on the floor, not taking much care to set it down gently since it was marked clothes. I mean, clothes couldn't break and my cousin wasn't here to see me abusing her stuff so it was all good. I barely moved out of the way in time before Alex and Rain both entered the room carrying large boxes that partially obscured their vision.

"I thought her parents were rich or something," Alex said, setting down her box on the plush black carpeting.

"They are," I responded, watching in amusement as both my best friend and girlfriend struggled a little to regain their breath after our latest trip up the stairs. I mean, it wasn't just a flight of stairs, it was also a really long hallway to get to the door of my cousin's suite of rooms.

That's right, my cousin had her own suite. It was probably because she was an only child and had been spoiled rather rotten through her years growing up, therefore accumulating many things. So now she had her own bedroom, a walk-in closet the size of my bathroom at home, a smaller room for her study and then a bathroom attached to her bedroom. I hadn't seen the master suite, but I had a hard time imagining how it could be better than this.

All I had at home was a stinkin' bedroom, bathroom and small closet. Pfft.

Okay, I knew I was a lot luckier than most people. My bedroom was larger than normal, I didn't have to share my bathroom with anyone and my closet was still walk-in, even if it was smaller than my cousins.

"So why aren't there movers for all this stuff?" Rain whined a little, glancing out the door to make sure Genna wouldn't sneak up on us and send us back for more boxes. Although come to think of it, I hadn't seen her in awhile…

"They're busy placing all the larger pieces of furniture in the rooms my aunt tells them to. Believe me, they're earning their money." My aunt was rather picky about things, especially the way her home looked. Everything had to be a certain way and god help us all if someone messed anything up.

"Oh, so are we done yet?" Alex asked, sitting down on the floor, her whole body slumped forward as she relaxed.

"I vote yes," Rain chimed in, also sinking to the floor. I copied them, noticing for the first time how comfortable the carpeting was.

"I guess we can just wait here until she finds us." I was exhausted, and intended on fully exploiting our illicit break time. I hadn't noticed exactly when Genna disappeared, the whole afternoon was blurred into a long line of moving boxes from the truck up to her room.

"How old is Genna again?" Rain asked, leaning back against a large brown box and letting her head fall to the side a little.

"Umm, almost nineteen I think," I said, trying to count the months between us in my head. I was still sixteen, not turning seventeen until May at the end of this year. So I think that meant Genna was still eighteen. It was a two year difference, but I always got a little confused.

"Shouldn't she be in school?" My best friend continued, a confused look now on her face as well.

"I think she's going to enroll at the University, but I'm not sure actually." Come to think of it, what had Genna been doing since she graduated high school last year? I knew she spent some time in Europe over the summer, of which I had been supremely jealous even though my parents had promised a similar trip when I graduated, but after that I didn't know anything.

Hmmm, very suspicious.

"Guys! What are you doing? You should be moving more boxes!" Genna exclaimed, whisking into the room, a large pink coach purse hanging off one arm, her sunglasses perched on the top of her flaming red hair.

All three of us gaped at her in surprise and disbelief. She seriously expected us to still move boxes?!

"NO!" We all shouted at the same time.

"I'm going on strike," I said, crossing my arms and mentally planting myself on the floor even further, no intention of getting up at all.

"Yeah, we're not doing anything else until we speak with a union representative!" Alex chimed in, Rain nodding furiously in agreement.

"Okay, okay. How about some Chinese food as a peace offering?" Genna smiled, moving all the way into the room and revealing a large brown paper bag in her other hand. My cousin came and sat down next to us, opening up the bag and beginning to pull out several boxes of food, setting them down on the carpet. She also grabbed four pairs of chop sticks and handed a set to each of us.

"What are you doing?" My aunt half shrieked, walking into the room quickly and picking up the food.

"Hey…" I said sadly, watching the food go away again. My stomach also grumbled in protest, I was going to eat that!"

"Mom, come on! We're just eating a little Chinese food for lunch," Genna said, reaching out for the box with the fried rice in it.

"You cannot eat on the floor, not after I just had new carpeting put in. Absolutely not! Go downstairs and eat at the bar in the kitchen." My aunt put the boxes back in the bag and handed it to my cousin, walking out of the room and disappearing as quickly as she came. We all got up begrudgingly and walked down the stairs to the kitchen, dodging the movers as they continued to unload the large moving van out front.

Once we got to the kitchen, we managed to find the barstools among everything else that had yet to be unpacked and moved them next to the bar so we could sit down. The first few minutes were quiet as each of us stuffed our mouths with the small feast Genna had brought home.

"Next time you ditch us to get food while we're moving your stuff, take us with you." It would've been nicer to just stay at whatever place she got the food. Unlimited soda and my aunt wouldn't be there looking weirdly at us every time she walked past the kitchen because we were eating out of the boxes instead of using places.

But honestly, there were like fifteen boxes worth of kitchen stuff in here, she really expected us to go through all that just to find a few lousy plates? Yeah, no. We were all way too hungry for that.

"So are you going to school this year?" Rain asked as she tried to grab some noodles with her chopsticks. It was kind of funny to watch since she wasn't very good and the food just kept dropping back into the box.

"Yeah, I'm going to Samson Hill. It's like a twenty minute drive from here or something."

"I've never heard of that school," I said, looking at her strangely.

"It's a small private school, there's only about twelve-hundred people that go there."

"What are you majoring in?" Alex asked. I looked at her and forced myself to suppress a smile. She looked happy, well happier than she had since I met her. The past few days I had started to notice a small light in her eyes, like maybe the person inside her was finally waking up. It had only been about three weeks now, but she was already opening up more, becoming a little less quiet and engaging herself more in conversations.

It made me happy to think that I had a part in that somehow, even if I actually didn't.

"Political Science, I'd like to work for the United Nations one day." My cousin smiled and her green eyes glazed over a little, her brain clearly trailing off thinking about her future. Talking about all this made me anxious, I hadn't given that much thought to what I wanted to do in the next few years. I mean, I knew I was going to college and everything, but I didn't know where or what I wanted to major in or even what I might like to do someday.

I was sixteen, how did it somehow become socially expected that I pick my life's work now?

"How come you're not living on campus?" I asked, wondering why she'd still want to live at home even though she was in college now.

"I don't know, don't really feel the need to I guess. It's not like my parents are always around now, I don't need to move to get away from them. Besides, dorm rooms are small and you have to share. All of you have seen my room, why would I trade that in for some cramped little closet?" Genna raised one eyebrow and scrunched up her face, making even clearer her distaste for dorm life.

"Make's sense I suppose…" I mumbled, looking into my glass. My mind had left the room, suddenly thinking about college and the future. All of a sudden I felt very small, like the world was closing in on me and I was up against a wall with very few choices. Shouldn't it have been the opposite? Like I had the whole world to explore as I reached legal age and adulthood.

Ugh, this was giving me a headache and making me feel severely unaccomplished.

"Have you thought at all about where you want to go to school?" Alex asked me as we sat on the couch in the study at my house, having finally escaped my cousins move-in day madness.

"When I was little I wanted to go to Harvard, because no one in my family has ever gone there so I wanted to be the first one," I saw quietly, smiling to myself as the memory of my five-year old self surfaced in my mind. The first time I ever told my dad I wanted to go to such a prestigious ivy league school, he just laughed and patted me on the head. Then he chased me around the room before catching me in a big hug.

Ah, those were the days.

"What about now?" My girlfriend played with my long brown hair, gently running her fingers through the strands, pushing them away from my face. She was sitting on one end of the couch and I was lying down, my head in her lap and feet dangling over the other end of the piece of furniture.

"I don't know, I know I have to go to college though. I'll probably stay in Washington, I don't think I want to go out of state. Where are you going to go?"

"I don't know anymore either. I haven't really thought about it much since this whole mess with my parents started."

"Yeah, that makes sense. I'm sure everything will work out okay." I looked up and met her gaze, her green eyes sad again. I reached out to touch her cheek, softly feeling the pink skin before slipping my hand around the back of her neck and pulling her down for a kiss.

"I know one thing though," I said once we had parted enough for me to form words, "I don't want to be anywhere you aren't."

"Me neither." Alex looked at me for a couple seconds, before moving in to kiss me again. Any coherent thought I had before disappeared from my brain as thoughts of my girlfriend and making out with her filled my brain.

Mmm, this was definitely something I never wanted to be without.

"Hey Kalie, I was won-"

I pushed myself away from Alex, startled by the voice coming from the door. I looked to see my brother standing in the doorway, a mixed look of shock and horror crossing his young face.

"Um.." I said, not knowing what else to say. I had just been caught. By my brother. My brother had seen me. With Alex. Me and Her, making out. And he had seen.