Here's the epilogue, a day early for you guys! I hope you like it.

Epilogue: Growing

Gus sniffled and wiped her face, wanting to keep herself from crying. It was hard because of all the emotion bubbling up inside of her, wanting to pour itself out in some manner. She took a deep breath and hoped that it would keep the tears at bay for a little while longer. She supposed if she did weep, she could blame it on allergies and the fact that they were outside in a grassy area.

A gentle hand on the businesswoman's shoulder got her attention and she turned to smile at the owner of the hand. Jayce smiled back and then they turned their focus back to the stage where graduates were walking to receive their diplomas. Gus found her emotions settling down somewhat thanks to the comfortable hand still on her shoulder.

"I can't believe my baby sister has an MBA now," Gus whispered, sniffling a little because she still felt like crying. Her pride just wanted to let it out because it was so amazing. She could not believe that her sister made it to this point in her life. Her eyes followed Jannie as she strolled across the stage as if the whole world belonged to her as she received her degree.

"With honors too," Jayce added in, which did not help Gus' watering eyes.

"She's such a good student! She works hard. She had a better GPA than I did," the taller woman admitted, pride and joy in her voice. She pounded her chest just a little, feeling good about herself because she knew that she helped get her sister to this point. "I wish my parents lived to see this day. I bet they wouldn't believe it! Jannie was not the best student when she was younger."

"You raised her well. I know your parents would be proud of both of you. Now, you have to get another one through this," Jayce remarked, bouncing Princess in her arms.

Gus laughed a bit. "I look forward to that, but I hope it doesn't happen as fast as it did with my sister. I want to savor my little bit being little for a while. I'm going to try to spoil this one a little less, though," she commented, rubbing Princess on the top of her hand, getting a grin out of the baby. She then smiled at her girlfriend. "I will spoil her mommy as much as I please, though," she added in, putting her arm around Jayce's shoulders and pressing the smaller woman to her.

"I don't know if her mommy is going to let you spoil her too much," Jayce said with a half-smile. She did not mind the occasionally romantic gesture, of course, but she did not want Gus to burn herself out, trying to take care of someone that did not need attention every minute of the day.

"You can argue all you want, but I'm going to continue to spoil you. I'm going to make sure you want for nothing. Jannie can try to spoil herself from now on. This graduation gift is going to be the last one I give her for a while," Gus proclaimed.

Jayce did not say anything to that, but she thought that her girlfriend's heart was way too big to just cut Jannie off and let her grow up. She loved that about Gus, though, and would not hold it against her. It was that big heart that let her and Princess in and gave them all a new life together.

"I'm going to go talk to her, okay?" Gus said once the graduation ceremony was over.

"Sure. I'll take Princess to the car. I'm sure she'll enjoy the AC," Jayce commented, her face glistening from the unusually hot May afternoon. Princess was sound asleep now, not thinking about the heat at all.

Gus smiled a bit. "Is it her or you that might enjoy the AC?" she teased, leaning down to kiss the baby.

Jayce's eyes twinkled in a way that showed that she had been caught. The tender expression earned her a light, but passionate kiss from Gus. After pulling away, they stared at each other for a moment.

"Good luck," Jayce whispered.

"I hope I don't need luck, but thanks for the support," Gus replied.

"No problem. I really hope Jannie is grown up enough to put everything behind her. I don't want to cost you your sister."

"You won't," Gus assured her, tenderly caressing her cheek as if that helped drive her point home. "Everything that happens is between me and Jannie. It has nothing to do with you."

Jayce did not bother to argue that because she had already argued against it many times. Right now, she just wanted to give Gus the space and opportunity to reach out to her younger sister. They parted ways with Jayce going back to Gus' car while the businesswoman moved through the crowd to find Jannie. She was not surprised to find the little diva in the middle of taking pictures with her friends. Gus had no problem with waiting, especially since she did not have to wait long. As soon as Jannie noticed her sister, she moved over to Gus.

"You made it!" Jannie grinned, her excitement radiating off of her as she threw her arms around Gus and engulfed her in a huge, loving hug.

"Of course I made. I haven't missed a graduation yet," Gus replied, returning the embrace with as much zeal. She patted Jannie on the back a couple of times before pulling away. She had to wipe tears from her eyes that time; nothing was going to keep them from falling after such a warm greeting.

"I know you haven't, but…" Jannie trailed off, glancing down at the grass, moving a few blades with the toe of her high-heel shoe. Things had been pretty awful between them, she thought, and she figured that Gus would punish her for what happened by missing her big day. That thought had haunted her to the whole day and had her trembling up until the point where the diploma was presented to her.

"Walk with me, Jannie," Gus requested and gently pulled the younger woman away with her, so they could speak in private. "I wouldn't miss your graduation, a giant accomplishment for you, just because the last couple of times we saw each other didn't work out as well as I'd like," she informed the young graduate.

Jannie continued looking down. "I would have…" she admitted. She would have completely bailed if the situation were reversed. She would have looked at it as teaching Gus a lesson.

"Well, you're not me, Jannie. I'm not like that. Just because we're arguing doesn't mean I'm going to forsake everything going on in your life, especially a major step in your life. You're still my sister, no matter what," Gus explained in a calm, tender tone.

"I guess I didn't think of it that way…" Jannie replied. She did not think of it that way. All she thought was that she would want to punish Gus for being a jerk, possibly for Gus not recognizing her own worth for going after her little sister's ex-girlfriend, and lastly for going against her. "You seemed to think Jayce was more important, though…" she pouted as she spoke.

"No, you jumped to conclusions and said some very hurtful words after doing that. Not just to Jayce, but also to me, which I didn't want to put up with. I didn't have to put up with it either, so I didn't. You needed some time to clear your head, whether you know it or not. No matter what, you're always going to be my sister. Yes, we might fight, but at the end of the day, you're still my family," Gus proclaimed, wrapping an arm around her younger sister's shoulder for a moment and rubbing her back. She did not want to prolong the contact, just in case the younger woman was still in a pissy mood.

Jannie nodded. "You really feel like that?" she asked, emotion shining in her eyes. Inside, she felt almost light to know that nothing would ever drive Gus away from her. They were always family, always sisters.

"Of course, which is why I got us reservations at your favorite restaurant to celebrate today. Everything is set up for a nice dinner at six tonight. Now, the question is, do you want to go or are you going to carry on with your usual behavior?" Gus asked.

The shorter woman frowned. "Is Jayce going to be there?"

"Yes, Jay will be there. And to answer your next question, yes, she and I are a couple."

"How can you date her, Gus? She went out with me for a year!" Jannie reminded her sister, as if Gus could ever forget.

"She's gone out with plenty of girls. Yes, I know none of them were you, but that's just life. She fits with me and I fit with her. She didn't do anything wrong to you, Jannie, and she didn't break your heart. You broke up with her," Gus countered. Underneath it all, she was a little thankful for all of the other madness that had been going on in Jayce's life when Jannie broke up with her. There were enough distractions to keep Jayce from dwelling on being dumped and she did not have to go through mourning period like Gus had. With everything clear now, Jayce seemed completely confident in their relationship, only talking about Jannie in terms of her being Gus' sister and rarely as being her ex.

"Still! It makes you seem so…desperate! And you're not that way! You're a great catch!" the younger woman argued, motioning to Gus with her hand as if presenting the businesswoman to the world.

"Jay would agree with you. She's a great catch too. Are you upset just because she's your ex-girlfriend? Is that really what's bothering you? Do you still have feelings for Jayce?" Gus inquired earnestly. She was not sure what she was going to do about that, but it was something that they would have to work on if it was confirmed.

Jannie was quiet for a long moment, eyes searching the ground and then the sky. "I don't…I don't think I ever really had feelings for Jayce beyond being my friend…" she confessed. Most people had suspected that about her after watching her with Jayce for a few months. "…But, she showered me with so much attention, I didn't notice…" Jayce was what she wanted in a girlfriend, so she always figured that she must have feelings for Jayce. Unfortunately, when Jayce left, she knew that she had felt nothing for the accountant because she never missed her. She had easily moved on with her life and wiped Jayce from her mind, until the day that she saw her ex-girlfriend at her sister's house anyway.

"Then what's the problem, Jannie? Do you think Jayce is beneath me?" Gus asked curiously. She thought it was weird that Jannie would judge Jayce fine for herself, fine enough to string along for a year, but consider Jayce a waste of Gus' time.

Jannie avoided that question with one of her own. "Does she still have that baby?"

"We're raising Princess together, yes."

"Raising? How long have you two even been together? Since she moved out with me?" the younger sister pressed.

"We've been officially going out for a month. The feelings between us have been growing since she moved in. Jannie, I understand if it creeps you out that I'm dating her, but I can't help it. We fit together. We want the same things and we compliment each other well. I think we have the potential to be together for a long time. I like having Princess around too. We all get along and enjoy each other. I'm going to stay with her," Gus declared soundly.

Jannie blinked in shock and frowned in anger for a moment. Never before had Gus stated that she was going to stay with someone that Jannie did not want around. She supposed that meant that Jayce really did mean something to Gus. For a moment, she dared to consider whining about why the relationship would never work and how Gus really needed to just cut her losses now before she ended up hurt like with Amanda, but glancing at Gus, she knew that would never work. Besides, Jayce was definitely no Amanda and it would not be fair for her to even let something like that leave her mouth.

"You like her a lot, huh?" Jannie inquired curiously. Something inside of her told her that she needed to get used to this relationship if she wanted to keep her sister close. Besides, Jayce was not that bad. Maybe they would make better friends than they had lovers, she considered. But, she did not want to give in that easily. She wanted things to go her way, like they always did.

"I'm sure that I can love her if I give these feelings enough time. I'm not going to let that go," the taller woman stated.

"Do you think she feels the same way? I mean, she could be—" Jannie was cut off.

"No, she's not after my money. She's got money and she's employed again. She's not after my house. She moved out of a pretty decent apartment at my request to stay with me again when she could have just used me that first time and never left. I trust her and she trusts me. We're going to build on that and gather things together in life now. Let me worry about my relationship with Jay."

Jannie was quiet again. "…Is she going to come to dinner with us?"

"Indeed she is."

"Bringing the baby with her?"

"No, we have a babysitter lined up for tonight," Gus said.

"A babysitter? You mean she's not super-paranoid anymore about her mother stealing Princess?" Jannie inquired, rolling her eyes and snorting a bit.

Gus frowned, but took a deep breath to keep herself calm. The last thing she needed was to get upset because Jannie would get upset and they would end up right back where they started. Neither of them wanted that.

"If you must know, Jayce is now Princess' legal guardian. If her mother touches Princess without her permission, it would be kidnapping. Besides, my friend is babysitting and I trust her with Princess. Is this going to be a problem, Jannie?" Gus inquired.

The younger woman thought on it for a moment. She knew what would happen if she decided it was a problem. She would end up pushing away the only family that she had left. That voice inside of her told her again that she needed to accept and get used to the idea of Gus being with Jayce.

"Are you really happy with Jayce?" Jannie asked seriously.

"Extremely," Gus answered with total honestly. Her emotions shined through her eyes so clearly that Jannie was sure that she would have recognized it even if she were a blind woman.

Jannie nodded, knowing what she had to say now. "That's good. You really deserve happiness, sis. I guess if it's with Jayce, I'll just have to get used to it. It's bit weird, though. I mean, you're dating my ex-girlfriend. You don't think it's weird?"

"Honestly? I don't think of her as your ex. I think of her as my now and my future. Do you have any problem with this?"

"I think I can get over it. I'll try to get over it anyway. Jayce isn't that bad, after all. I mean, if you really like her, I have to try to get over it anyway. If she's going to be in your life and I'm definitely going to be in your life, then I'll try my best to get through this," Jannie proclaimed confidently. She had been missing her sister in these past couple of months, so she knew that to avoid that feeling, she was going to have to try.

"Do you mean it?" Gus asked in shock. Considering the way Jannie had been acting for the past few months, especially toward Jayce, the businesswoman was stunned that her sister would agree so easily.

"Yes, I mean it, you big goof. You're my sister and I've missed you. It hurt when you kicked me out last time we saw each other too. I don't want to feel like that again. Um…it didn't mean you were picking Jayce over me, right?" Jannie asked, voice quiet and scared now.

"Never! Jannie, you're always going to be my sister. I told you that. I'm trying to build a life with Jay, but you're already in my life. I want to keep you there too. I'm not going anywhere, so if you're not going anywhere, then we're going to stay sisters," Gus assured her little sister, putting her arm around Jannie's robe-covered shoulders.

Jannie smiled and nodded. "That's good. Um…do you think there's something wrong with me since I couldn't make things work with Jayce?"

Gus laughed. "That doesn't mean anything! You both wanted different things. You were also in different places in life. You admitted that you never even had feelings for Jayce that would have made you want to really make it work. You'll meet someone that fits well with you and makes you feel better than you thought possible. You're going to put your all into staying with her, just like she'll put her all into staying with you and you'll both grow old together. I'm sure of it," she declared with confidence.

Jannie smiled again. She felt like if Gus said it, then it would be so. She knew also that Gus was right about her and Jayce wanting different things in life. They probably never would have worked, she mentally conceded.

"So, can I bring my girlfriend with us to dinner?" Jannie requested with a slight smile.

Gus chuckled a bit again. "Yeah, you can bring her. I did make the reservations for four, just in case. I'll be happy to meet whoever's in your life now," she answered. She thought that would make things easier for Jannie seeing her with Jayce too. Hopefully, it would lessen the blow and ease Jannie into the idea of Gus and Jayce being together.

She hoped that Jannie was trying to be as mature as she was finally acting because she did not care about whatever tantrums the younger woman was going to throw. She was going to stay with Jayce and try to make things work. Jayce and Princess were now her family, just as much as Jannie was. Time would tell how Jannie took it all and time would also tell how well she and Jayce worked out. She prayed that things would be as good as they seemed right now.

Jannie left Gus after that, looking to return to her friends, but the farewell was as warm as the greeting had been. They would meet up later for dinner. Gus walked to her car as if she was ten feet tall. Jayce smiled at her as she entered.

"It looks like things went well," Jayce commented because of the air surrounding Gus. She could practically feel the happiness coming off of her girlfriend.

Gus nodded. "She has grown up some. There's hope for that kid yet, which is great. I feel good about my focus shifting to the little bit and you," she replied, leaning over to kiss Jayce on the lightly on the lips.

"That sounds promising," Jayce smiled as they pulled away. Neither retreated very far.

"It is a promise. I want this to work, Jay. I want to be with you forever. I want to raise Princess with you and one day see her walk across that stage, just like Jannie. I want us to be lovers and a family," Gus stated.

"That's what I want too, so I don't see why we shouldn't be able to have that."

To show that she agreed, Gus leaned in for another kiss, much more passionate than the first. This kiss held the promise that they just made each other and the desire to work for forever together. The tender show of affection held the emotions that were forming between them and the single life that they could build together. The kiss held everything that they were and would be.

Interrupting the fervent embrace, Princess suddenly cheered. Gus and Jayce jumped apart from each other, surprised by the nose and they turned around to look in the back of the car. They started laughing as they saw Princess' smiling face. The hopeful family then drove off together to return to their home, still smiling at each other.

-8-8-8-8-

The end.

Thanks for reading my story. I hoped you enjoyed it. I also hope you show up for my next story. Thanks for the support. Hasta…