The Girl and the Warehouse
Chapter Fifty-Four: A Thousand Years
Kayla awoke before anyone else on the icy cold morning of November the 27th. It was a Thursday and Kayla felt happier than she had in a long time. It was their anniversary. No, not of their wedding or even their first date. That day was something altogether different. It was something much more special. It was on that very day, one full year earlier, that Kayla had been running down a dank Detroit alley and collided headlong with the same beautiful redhead that now slept peacefully beside her.
In a way, it seemed like so much longer than just one year. So many things had happened, so many things had changed. A year ago she had been alone, a criminal on the run. Now, she was married and starting a family. It was strange. It certainly wasn't the place she had ever seen herself. If someone had asked her a year earlier where she would be on that day a year later, married to Ariana and living in a warehouse was the absolute last answer she would have given. Now? Well, she wouldn't have wanted to be any place else.
Ariana stirred beside her and her blue eyes fluttered open. She blinked a few times and finally her gaze focused on Kayla's face. She smiled brightly and leaned in to kiss her.
"Morning," the redhead said sleepily.
"Morning, Ari," said Kayla. "Do you know what today is?"
"Of course," said Ariana excitedly. "It's Thursday!"
"That's not what I meant," said Kayla, shaking her head.
"I know what you meant," said Ariana with a grin. "Today is the day we first met. You were running from some cops and I rescued you."
"Yes, you did," said Kayla. "In more ways than one."
"I guess we've kind of gone back and forth on the whole 'saving each other' thing since then, huh?" said Ariana thoughtfully. "By the way, it's your turn next time."
"I'll remember that during the next crisis," said Kayla dryly. Ariana laughed.
"There aren't going to be any more crises, Kay-Kay," the redhead said firmly. "We're done with those."
"From your mouth to God's ears, darling," said Kayla. "I hope you're right."
"I am right," said Ariana firmly. "We're gonna be happy now, Kayla. I know it."
"When you say it, Ari, I actually believe it," Kayla confessed. The brunette pulled her close and they kissed. Things were only just beginning to heat up when they heard the patter of tiny feet on the carpet and moments later Snow and Sophia, who had spent the night with them, clambered up onto the bed.
"Morning, my darlings," said Ariana sweetly as Kayla rolled off of her, looking grumpy.
"Good morning," said Snow brightly, crawling up between Kayla and Ariana. "We're hungry."
"Is that so?" Ariana asked and both of the girls nodded.
"We want pancakes," said Sophia. "You make the best pancakes."
"She makes the best everything," Kayla informed her adoptive niece. "You really should open a restaurant, Ari. We could be rich! Oh, wait a minute…"
"Do you know we almost made it a full year without you making a joke about how much money we have?" the redhead asked her. Kayla smirked.
"Well, I'm making up for lost time," said Kayla. "Now, I do believe there's something happening with pancakes, right?"
"And bacon," said Snow pointedly. Ariana sighed, but she was smiling.
"Okay, okay, pancakes and bacon it is," she said. "C'mon, let's get to the kitchen." She climbed out of bed and pulled her pink bathrobe around herself. She then followed the girls out into the apartment and into the kitchen. Kayla fell back against the pillows, smiling to herself.
What else, she wondered, could she ask for? Her life was pretty much perfect. She had everything she could ever want and she wasn't embarrassed to tell anyone who asked that she did. She swore, then and there, that she would never ever let anyone take away what she and Ariana had together. She would fight until her dying breath to protect her family. That was her job, after all. She protected Ariana. She always protected her.
Soon enough Ariana had breakfast ready. Kayla ambled out of the bedroom and into the kitchen. She paused at the couch to scratch Fluffers behind his ears. He purred happily as she did so, nuzzling her hand with his head.
"He still loves you," Ariana called as she placed a plate filled with a stack of warm pancakes on the table. Kayla laughed.
"I know," she replied. "I still can't believe this little fur ball grew on me so much."
"He grew all right," said Ariana. "I think he's gained some weight." Fluffers meowed rather loudly at that and all four of the girls burst into laughter.
Ariana made them all plates and she even drew smiley faces with whipped cream on their pancakes. Kayla couldn't help but think back to all the memorable meals she and Ariana had shared together. The redhead sure knew how to cook, that was certain.
After breakfast, Kayla settled down on the couch while Snow and Sophia went down to play in the library. Ariana busied herself straightening up the apartment while Kayla got back to work on her book.
"Are you still writing that?" Ariana asked, stopping behind the couch to read Kayla's work over the brunette's shoulder.
"I am," said Kayla. "It's turning out to be a little longer than I expected, but it's coming along nicely. Oh, by the way, I changed the title." She held the page up for Ariana to read.
"'The Girl and the Warehouse'," she said thoughtfully. Her eyes narrowed. "I like it, but… since girl is singular now instead of plural like before… which one of us is the titular character?"
"Well, first of all I'd like to say that whoever came up with the word titular should really have given it a bit more thought," said Kayla. "And… well… I do have more POV moments than you do. I mean, you're in a coma for… what? Like ten chapters at least."
"That's not fair," said Ariana. "It's not my fault I was shot! Besides, before we met the warehouse was mine alone. You said it yourself, the warehouse and I fit together. If you're the main POV character then I should at least be the titular character."
"Okay, stop saying titular," said Kayla loudly. "I mean, seriously. And… alright, fine! You can be the titular... damn it!"
"See, you even said it," Ariana retorted.
"Well, you've gone and said it so much that now it's on my mind," said Kayla dryly.
"Oh, I know what's on your mind," said Ariana with a smirk. "You are a bad girl, Kayla. Very, very bad."
"You can bet your cute butt on it, sweetie," said Kayla, reaching behind the couch and swatting Ariana on her rear end as she went to answer a knock at the fire escape door. She pulled it open and Penny, Bryon, and Alana all stood on the threshold.
"Hey, come on in," said Ariana pleasantly, stepping aside to let them pass.
"Sorry to just barge in," said Bryon apologetically, but since your sister was coming to pick up Sophia, well… we just thought we'd tell you all together.
"Bryon and I going back to San Diego," said Penny. "He'll be moving back into the house. We… we're not getting married or anything like that. We're just… giving us another shot."
"That's great," said Ariana happily. "Love conquers all and time heals all wounds, right?"
"Something like that," said Kayla. "But we'll miss having you guys around. It's been nice, having you both so close."
"I know, but Detroit's not really my kind of city," said Penny. "I miss being warm."
"Me too," said Kayla and Alana together. Ariana shrugged.
"The cold's never bothered me," she said indifferently. "But we will miss you being here."
"I guess everyone's leaving me," said Alana. "You're going back to San Diego, Kayla and Ariana are moving to Mistbrook Falls…"
"Well, actually, Ari and I were talking about that last night," said Kayla quickly. "We've decided that since Ariana bought Detroit Books, it would be better for now at least to stay here in Detroit. So, don't worry Alana. We're not going anywhere yet."
"Except for Paris," said Ariana brightly. "We're going for Christmas… and my birthday."
"And all of you are welcome to come," Kayla offered. "It'll be fun."
"It sounds like it would be," Bryon agreed. He looked to Penny. "What do you think? Christmas in Paris with our girls?" Penny nodded.
"It sounds wonderful," she agreed.
The seven of them spent the afternoon at the warehouse. They talked and played games, shared stories and laughed a lot. Late that evening, just as the sun set behind thick white clouds that promised to bring the very first snowfall of the winter, Penny, Bryon, Alana, and Sophia all said their goodbye and left the warehouse. Alana and Sophia would return to their apartment above West Coast Weddings while Penny and Bryon drove off to the airport.
Kayla watched them go from the fire escape, watching as Alana's taillights disappeared around the corner at the end of the driveway. She leaned against the railing, looking down at the pavement below her. From her vantage point, she could just see the gap in the warehouse where Ariana had once hidden her from her police pursuers.
One year. Still, she could scarcely believe it. Such a long time and yet, not really all that long at all. She still had an entire lifetime ahead of her with Ariana and Snow. She was happy. They were all happy. She had never expected to be, but she was. It was a good feeling… hell, it was a great feeling.
"You look pretty deep in thought," said Ariana, stepping out on to the fire escape with her. "You okay?"
"I, Missy Ariana, am positively wonderful," the brunette said warmly. "In fact, I'd be hard pressed to be any better. I was just thinking about this last year… and how different things are now."
"It's better now, isn't it?" the redhead asked. "I mean, except for Coop…"
"Yeah, it is," said Kayla. "A year ago both of our lives pretty much sucked. Now, though? They're just about perfect."
"Just about perfect?" Ariana asked, joining her at the railing. "What could I do to help make it absolutely perfect?" Kayla smiled and pulled her close. Ariana draped her arms around Kayla's neck, that smile of hers never leaving her face.
"I can think of a few things," said Kayla. They shared a deeply passionate kiss out there on the warehouse fire escape, not caring a bit in the world who was watching them. Ariana, however, pulled away suddenly and gasped.
"Kayla, look!" she exclaimed. "Oh, it's beautiful!" Snow was falling all around them, sticking quickly to the ground, the fire escape, and even the girls' hair. Kayla had to admit, it was pretty beautiful.
"I love snow," said Ariana blissfully, watching the gentle cascade of snowflakes falling from the inky black sky and covering Detroit in a field of white.
"I know," said Kayla quietly. "It was the first thing you saw on the first day of your life."
"Yeah," said Ariana. "But… that's not why I love it anymore. Now, it reminds me of our daughter… and of you. If possible, I love the snow now more than I ever did before."
"Wow…" Snow's soft voice said from behind them. They turned in time to see the three year old joining them on the fire escape. She hurried over and stood between them, watching the snowfall.
"That's what you're named after," said Ariana gently. "I always thought it was the most beautiful thing in the world." Kayla couldn't help but smile and she slipped her arm around Ariana's waist.
"I love you," she whispered.
"For a thousand years," said Ariana with a grin. Kayla, however, shook her head. She reached down and held up the necklace she had given the redhead on her birthday. The girl still wore it every day.
"For us, Ari, a thousand years isn't nearly long enough," she said lovingly. "Forever." Ariana smiled and they kissed over Snow's head.
"Forever," Ariana agreed.
They stood out there for a long time, watching the first snowfall of that winter settling on Detroit. It was very cold, but not one of them cared. It was too perfect a moment to ruin. For Kayla, she realized as she stood there with her new family that she really didn't know what came next. This life, it was new to her but it was also wondrous and exciting.
She was still learning how to be a mother and a wife and she hoped that she would manage to do a good job. She could only hope because she didn't know what the future held and she knew that she really didn't want to. She liked not knowing. It kept things interesting. Whatever happened, Kayla knew very well that it was sure to be a long ride… with this little redheaded girl and her warehouse.
Hey, guys! I'd like to take a moment here to say a very heartfelt thank you to anyone who ever took the time to read even a single chapter of this. I really appreciate it. An even larger thanks goes out to anyone who stuck with me through to the end. I do hope you enjoyed it! Thanks to those that pointed out flaws and errors and guided me back on track whenever I veered off course. And of course, a very special thank you to Claire, my best friend in the world. For all the nights we spent up on the roof doing improv when I was stuck on a scene and needed help, thanks! Love you, girl :)
And now that the mushy stuff is out of the way, I'd like to say that the sequel titled 'Snowfall' should be available soon for anyone that would like to peruse its contents. So... I guess that's it. Thanks again! From New York, my friends. Good night and good luck.