Awake Ch. 36-40

Chapter Thirty-Six

John and Marlena were waiting for them in the meeting room. Kayla, trying to not worry about what Steve was thinking, ran to hug both John and Marlena upon seeing them. “I’m so glad you’re back safe and sound, Marlena!”

“Well, how do you like who else we brought back?” Marlena asked with a smile.

Despite being nervous about Steve’s disappointment that she hadn’t brought Stephanie with her, Kayla returned the smile. Steve was back alive and appeared to be fine, at least physically. She started to reply to Marlena’s question but Adrienne answered, “We can still hardly believe it!”

Bo knew his sister and friend needed time alone. Clearing his throat, he said, “Why don’t we head out and get something to eat while Kayla and Steve talk?” Everyone nodded eagerly, picking up the hint.

Steve waited until everyone left the room. He felt so torn; part of him wanted to pick up with what he and Kayla were doing just a few minutes ago, but the other part was devastated Stephanie wasn’t there.

“She didn’t come,” Steve said.

“She wanted to,” Kayla said, wanting to relieve any doubts he might have about Stephanie wanting to see him. “I made the decision not to let her.”

“You made it,” Steve repeated.

“Steve,” Kayla said, walking closer to him, “I didn’t do it to hurt you. Kimberly and I had such little information on you, we didn’t know… I didn’t know…”

Steve became impatient and started pacing the room, unaware of the effect he had on Kayla. The Steve before her hadn’t changed a bit and it thrilled her seeing him just like she remembered. Steve ranted, “No one knows anything it seems. Bo and John didn’t trust me either and had some sort of DEA test run on me…”

“DNA,” Kayla corrected.

“Whatever,” Steve said, “I eventually let it go because I wanted to see you as soon as possible. Now you don’t trust me either.”

Kayla’s heart broke. “Steve, it wasn’t meant to hurt you. It’s…”

“Well, what did you think it would do?” Steve was outright crying now, letting the hurt of missing Stephanie overtake him.

“Protect her, Steve,” Kayla said gently. “Words cannot express how happy, no overjoyed, I am to have you back alive… but Stephanie has been my priority, always has, all these years. I had to protect her… she’s all I had this whole time…”

Kayla had to turn away as the emotions overtook her now. She cursed herself; this was not how she meant this moment to be. She hadn’t wanted to get in a fight with him. She just wanted to make sure he was the Steve that Stephanie had heard about all these years.
Steve, getting a hold of himself, saw his Sweetness in front of him crying and he followed his instinct. Rushing over to her, he cradled her, quietly shushing away her sobs. His hand reached up and wiped away her tears.

Turning to face him, Kayla hugged Steve so tightly, hoping he would never let go. She had missed this, feeling so safe in his arms. It was like he had never left.

Eventually pulling back, Kayla looked up at him and said, “I’m sorry it hurt you, but I had to make sure… I can deal with the hurt in case things weren’t what they seemed. I just… I have to protect Stephanie.”

Not really understanding still, Steve decided to let it go. He kissed Kayla on the lips softly and they both smiled. Her smile made him believe everything was going to be alright. She smiled and he felt his breath get taken away at her beauty yet again. He was just about to ask her if maybe they could call Stephanie when a knock on the door turned their head. It was Benjy.

Kayla turned to the younger man, about to ask who he was but after Benjy signed to say he was sorry he interrupted, Kayla cried at the sight of him. Without missing a beat, she ran over to him and hugged him tightly. “Oh, Benjy!”

—————————

Stephanie sat at the airport and checked her cell phone time. Pretty soon she would have to turn her phone off to board the plane. She smiled at how easily she had deceived her Aunt Kimberly into believing she needed time alone to think about all that had happened. As soon as she got the chance, she logged onto the computer, and booked herself a first class ticket to Salem using the credit card her mom had given her.
Part of her felt guilty, given the card was only supposed to be used for emergencies, but the young girl couldn’t imagine a better emergency than having your Dad come back from the dead.

Chapter Thirty-Seven

Steve stood back while Kayla and Benjy spoke briefly. Though he still felt upset about Stephanie not coming, he could hardly take his eyes off her. One would think it was he who had lived all this time without her instead of the other way around. She looked so beautiful to him, it was hypnotizing.

As Steve’s eye roamed over her body, Kayla’s attention began to shift away from Benjy towards him. Their eyes locked and Kayla realized she wasn’t paying attention to poor Benjy. Blushing, she asked him to repeat himself.

If Benjy noticed Kayla being distracted, he didn’t show it and gladly repeated, “I’m just so glad you and Steve are back together now!”

Kayla nodded, tears in her eyes. She hugged Benjy again. Hearing his story of what he’d been through these past few years filled her with guilt, as if Stefano’s actions had been her fault. She couldn’t believe that Stefano was such a monster he would do this to his own son just to force him to be near him. What was worse, once Benjy proved not to have the same dark nature as his father, Stefano had grown tired of Benjy and all but ignored him now.

“Um, Sweetness?” Steve started, wanting to bring up calling Stephanie. He was anxious to hear his daughter’s voice. However, Kayla’s startled look in response to his words scared him. “What? What’s wrong?” When she said nothing, he added, “Why are you looking at me like that?”

“It’s just…” Kayla said slowly, “you called me Sweetness.”

He was about to ask her why the familiar endearment surprised her, until he remembered how long it had been since she’d heard him use it. He closed the distance between them and touched her face. “Whether I’m around or not, you’ll always be Sweetness.”

At that, Kayla simply melted into Steve’s arms while Benjy signed he would be going to find the others to eat with them. They barely noticed his departure.

After Kayla regained her composure, she asked, “So…you were probably ready to ask me something there.”

“Oh,” Steve said, “Yes, I was. Do you think we could just call Stephanie? Maybe?”

Kayla smiled a large smile which he returned. “I think that would be wonderful.”

She got out her cellphone and handed it to him. He took it, staring at the small device, then back up at her. “Um, you know, these things weren’t in use much when I was around. They were the size of bricks back then with an antenna you could scratch your back with.”
“I guess I probably should call her first anyway and say you’d like to talk to her.” She took the phone back and began dialing. Holding the phone up to her ear, she frowned when it went straight to voicemail. “I was afraid of this. Kimberly gets terrible cell service; we usually have to call her straight at home. Do you want to do that now?”

Disappointed, Steve shook his head, “No, let’s just wait until we are gone from the airport. I want to get out of here.”

Smiling, Kayla agreed, “Well, let’s go.”

———————

John and Marlena wound up dropping everyone else off in front of the Brady Pub. As the five of them stood outside looking in, Kayla was trying to recap quickly how her parents now owned a full fledged restaurant and no longer had the fish market.

“So my parent’s built this after the fish market burned down.” Kayla said.

“It’s hard to believe that’s gone,” he replied. “The market was such a big part of their lives.”

Kayla nodded while Steve stared at the outside of the building. The pub appeared more upscale than the market and he wasn’t sure he liked the change. He’d always appreciated their blue-collar roots. It was like everything Steve thought was sacred and untouchable was gone forever, thanks to the Dimeras.

“Maybe I should go in and tell them first?” Bo said.
Steve laughed.

“What’s so funny?” Kayla asked.

“I just thought what Bo means is your parents need to be prepared I’m back in your life. They might be upset that you’re stuck with me again.” Steve joked, then immediately regretted it as he saw tears well up in Kayla’s eyes. “Oh, I’m sorry, Sweetness, that was just a joke.”

Shaking her head, Kayla said, “No, it’s my fault. It’s just, it’s hard to accept this.” Now it was her turn to laugh. “You’d think that given how many of our family has come back from the dead, I’d know how to handle my emotions better.”

Bo watched as Steve gave Kayla a kiss which quickly deepened to something more. He glanced at Benjy who stood uncomfortably as well. Adrienne watched with a big smile but remained uncharacteristically quiet.

“Let’s just go in.” Kayla said, knowing the late hour guaranteed most of the usual customers would be gone already, saving Steve from becoming overwhelmed. They started to walk in when Kayla noticed Benjy was hanging back. Leaving Steve’s side, she took Benjy’s arm and said, “Come on, you’re family too.”
Benjy followed with tears in his eyes.

Chapter Thirty-Eight

Steve walked into the pub feeling like everything going on was a dream. It was similar to the experience he’d had entering Salem airport, and though he knew they landed in Salem, it certainly didn’t feel like it. But laying eyes on Kayla had lifted that emotion from him; for a while he felt he was really back home. However upon arriving at the pub the former anxieties had returned. Standing in an establishment that couldn’t look more different than the original Brady Fish Market where he himself used to work, his spirit drifted back to a sense that nothing was real and this whole experience was just one giant cosmic joke. The place had very few customers in it as it was near closing time, but Bo had gone to get Caroline and Shawn, presumably to get prepare them to see Steve.

“I hope he does a better job with your return than Roman’s,” Kayla worried.

Realizing he had yet to meet the real Roman, Steve gave Kayla a look.

Off that, Kayla smiled and said, “He basically came in with all of us in the living room and said ‘I have a surprise, prepare yourself’ and in walked the Roman we remembered from long ago.”

Steve’s eye got wide, “That’s how he told you?”

“Yeah, it was shocking to say the least.”

Suddenly feeling nervous, Steve said, “Maybe you ought to go in there and make sure…”

Before he could finish his sentence, out came Caroline and Shawn, much older than he remembered them. The looks on their faces said they knew exactly what to expect walking out, but they stood in silence at the sight of him next to their younger daughter. Steve felt unprepared. “Hi!” he said quickly as if he just got back from going to the grocery store.

Caroline was the first to walk up. “Is it really you? It’s been, my Lord, it’s been sixteen years! We buried you!”

That reminded Steve something he’d wanted to ask, “Yeah, you all keep saying. Who was in the coffin anyway?”

No one paid much attention to his statement. The Dimeras were perfectly capable of removing people out of coffins even after being buried. And morticians had been paid off before not to do the embalming process before, if any of the stories he’d heard over the last few days were true. But Steve still questioned the realism of such behavior. As soon as things settled down, he planned on investigating what really happened.

Shawn walked up first to get a good look into Steve’s face. “It is really you, isn’t it?”

Steve smirked, “I’ve got papers to prove it.” Bo rolled his eyes towards Kayla at the statement.

Suddenly Caroline and Shawn grabbed him in a group hug, their eyes welling up with tears. Their son-in-law had come home! “We’re so glad!” “It’s a relief, Kayla never forgot you!” “Stephanie has a father now!”

Hearing Stephanie’s name, Steve stiffened up and Kayla noticed. Adrienne, still on a post-“return from the dead” high, grabbed Steve’s arm and joined in, saying how glad they had seen him back. Steve glanced down at the big, beaming smile his sister gave him and melted a bit. It amazed him that as much as she had changed on the outside, she was still the Adrienne he knew on the inside.

————-

The pub was closed to celebrate Steve’s return. Over dinner, his in-laws asked what he wanted to do first now that he was back. The look he gave Kayla made her blush and everyone else laugh. Covering, Steve grinned and said, “Actually I want to see, or maybe I should say, meet Stephanie.”

The room grew quiet and Kayla said, “Well, tomorrow we can book a flight for her to come here and see you.”

Steve looked confused, “She’d come here? Wouldn’t we go there?”

“You want to leave Salem?” Kayla asked surprised.

“LA is where Stephanie is.”

“Well, she could come here. I’d thought you would want to stay here where it’s familiar at least for a little while.” Kayla said.

It’s not familiar.

“Plus you have other people here who want to see you again,” Shawn said.

“Like Jack,” Adrienne said. “He’s just returned from the dead himself you know.”

Steve looked at Adrienne with mixed feelings. Bo had filled him in some on Jack’s history because, really, it’s what most of the town talked about. But Steve didn’t know how to feel about his baby brother. He had always wanted a close relationship with Billy but they’d only just started to put their differences aside and try to be real brothers when Steve had been taken and presumed dead.

“I do want to see him,” Steve said truthfully.

“And Hope. She would want to see you too.”

Everyone laid their eyes on Bo but he was only looking at Steve. As if a silent message passed between the two men, Steve nodded and said, “I really would love to see Sweet Thing again.”

It wasn’t long before they realized Steve could barely stay awake. It had been a long day and Caroline insisted they take one of the rooms upstairs. Kayla gulped because this was a moment she was most nervous about. Her body desired Steve more than ever but it wasn’t the same body he knew. She had changed a lot since his death and his future reaction to the changes scared her to death.

As everyone made their goodnights, Kayla felt Steve’s gaze on her as they went to their room. Mentally thanking for the dark lighting in the hallway, Kayla unlocked their room door. Nervously, she smiled at him, “Looks like we’re finally here.”

“Sure does, Sweetness.” he grinned back.

Chapter Thirty-Nine

Both walked into the room that Caroline had given them, Kayla’s suitcase already brought up along with what little Steve had. Steve walked over to Kayla, taking her hand and kissed it. Kayla’s heart began beating wildly but before anything could happen, Steve stopped with a sheepish look on his face. “Sweetness, I think I really could use a shower.”

Kayla nodded quickly and he disappeared into the bathroom.

When the water began running, she took out her jammies and quickly changed. For a few moments, Kayla stared what was left in the suitcase, wondering if she should unpack everything now. The rooms at the Pub were too small for two people to stay for an extended time, especially with Stephanie coming soon. She’d probably have to get a suite at the Salem Inn.

The image of Steve in the shower was driving her crazy. She wanted to make love to him more than anything but at the same time, she wasn’t sure that’s what they should do. Everything was happening so fast. Having Steve back was a miracle and she was so happy. It’s what she’d been praying for. So why was she nervous? Steve had made it clear he wanted her. Why was she hesitant? Glancing at herself in the mirror, Kayla turned away.

Hearing the water cut off, Kayla stood up and raced around the room trying to look busy. Realizing unpacking was her only choice, she immediately began pulling out clothes to put into the dresser. Steve emerged from the bathroom, dressed in only a towel. Kayla’s eyes took him in and immediately focused on the dagger tattoo. Memories of kissing it before bed, while making love and when he was sleeping filled her head and she turned away quickly, her emotions running high.

“Sweetness? What’s wrong?” Steve asked. He quickly walked over to her, touching her arms.

“I’m sorry, Steve,” she began, upset with herself at crying yet again. “I just still can’t get used to you being back.”

Guilt touched Steve, thinking his family had to live all these years believing he was dead. He couldn’t imagine what he would do if Kayla had been taken from him like that. He doubted he could have coped as well as she had. Now she was apologizing to him!

Turning her around, Steve said, “Kayla, I knowwell, I don’t know but I can imagine how it must be for me to have come back like this. But I am back, and you are going to get used to it… that is if you still want a one-eyed… an old one-eyed bum like me?”

Kayla surprised him by laughing. “Oh, Steve, you have no idea how much I still want you. And you look… you look really good.” Her voice got husky and her hand moved to touch the dagger. Heat exploded through his body at her touch.

Swallowing, leaning in for a kiss, Steve answered, “So do you…”

After a quick glance in the mirror at herself, Kayla retreated from his advance. She folded her arms around her body as if she was cold and said quickly, “You probably want out of that towel, Bo brought you some clothes for you to wear as well as some jammies.”

“He really shouldn’t have,” Steve said, glancing down. Why was she acting like this? Maybe she really didn’t want him anymore. Picking them up, he said, “I guess I should just get changed then.”

Kayla flinched as he went into the bathroom, wondering if he took what she said wrong. Again, tears began to flicker in her eyes but this time it wasn’t from sadness or shock, but from fear. There was so much for them to talk about and not that much time. Shane had been her only lover since he died, but that didn’t mean she had quit dating. She knew where he had been in this time… well where they think he’d been in this time, he deserved to know what she’d been doing too, before they made love again.

She hadn’t made love in so long.

The door opened, startling Kayla. Steve had changed into some flannel pants but left the shirt off and the effect was making Kayla forget the reluctance she had just moments earlier.

“They are a little big,” Steve said, showing the pants were loose around his waist. That waist.

“They look great,” Kayla said, her voice very low which made Steve jerk his head up quickly and Kayla blushed. An awkward silence filled the room.

Steve was the first to break it. “Kayla, I know… it’s okay. I think it would be best if we waited too. I’m back now and frankly, very tired, I want our first time to be…”

“I agree, Steve. We should wait, especially tonight. I’m tired too,” Kayla agreed, a little too quickly for Steve who again wondered if she wanted him back at all. Nodding, he watched as she got into the bed on her side. She was dressed in… whatever could be called a nightgown. It covered up ever part of her body, making it difficult for him to find the curves he knew were there. The curves he felt earlier when kissing her.

“Are you coming?” Kayla asked, looking at him and he nodded. Turning off the lights, he slid into bed next to her and hoped he dreamed only of counting sheep.

————–

Kayla felt her pillow moving. Opening her eyes, she heard heavy breathing and she smiled realizing Steve was right where he should be: cuddling her to his chest. A minute later, Kayla remembered the day and jerked her head up a bit, realizing that her unconscious body had maneuvered itself to be practically on top of him.

Her eyes adjusting to the darkness around her, Kayla began to make out his face. Leaning closer in, she could see his patch, well, it wasn’t his old patch, that she had back in LA stored away some where with his things. She supposed Benjy had gotten him this one. Lowering her eyes, she traced his cheekbone down to his jaw. He certainly could wear a beard. Glancing at his lips she realized how close she was to them and pulled slightly back. The movement made him adjust a bit, and she remained still, not wanting to wake him.

She realized her head had been resting on his chest, directly above the dagger she had been drawn to earlier. Without hesitation, she immediately kissed him. The touch stirred Steve again and this time his hand worked it’s way up her spine where it began massaging her back. Moaning at the motion, Steve stirred some more and pulled her closer where Kayla could feel his body beneath her. All of his body.

She jerked herself up quickly then heard Steve say, “Careful, Sweetness. I’m really just a pussycat.”

Looking into his face, she saw his eye was open but he still seemed half asleep. Knowing she needed to wake him up, she began, “Steve, you’re dreaming…” but she never finished. He brought her face down and kissed her.

Their tongues met and Kayla felt desire ripple through her body all the way down to her toes. Her body taking over her thoughts, she moved over him so he could have more access to her and gasped when his other hand cupped her breast. She tilted her head so he could begin kissing down to her neck and she slid on her back as he followed her. Her hands went to his head and caressed his hair. It felt so good, better than she remembered, her mind was blank and she could only moan.

His mouth returned to hers and she pulled his body down harder upon hers. Her legs wrapped themselves around his and squeezed, making him growl. She whimpered as his mouth left hers as he worked his way down her body. She groaned more as he stopped at the nape of her neck.

“Steve…” was all she could get out. His hands roamed over her body. She needed him so much, she wanted him. “Please…” she tried to get out but something was stopping her. A ringing sound buzzed in her ear. She jerked a bit at the sound.

The phone was ringing. Her cell phone! Waking her from the fantasy she was really experiencing, she had to push Steve off her. No one would call at this time of night unless it was important. “Steve!” she yelled waking him from his dream like state.

He pulled up, shaking his head and realized he wasn’t dreaming about making love to Kayla but was actually doing it! Scared he had upset her, he turned on the light but was surprised she had grabbed her cell phone. Was that what he was hearing? He shook his head at how he couldn’t get used to the new technology that everyone else was taking for granted.

“What Kimberly? What is it?” Kayla asked. Her expression very worried. Steve glanced at nightstand clock, worried himself now at the late hour. “She did WHAT?”

His gaze jerked back to Kayla. She sounded upset. Was that with the phone call alone or was it because he was basically mauling her in the bed after he said he wouldn’t? Kayla got up from the bed, clearly angry and said, “No, Kim, thanks. It’s not your fault. I should have known Stephanie was going along with everything too easily…”

At his daughter’s name, Steve jumped out of the bed too. Before Kayla hung up, Steve was already asking, “What’s going on? Is Stephanie okay? What’s happening?”

Kayla glared at Steve, too angry to care what almost happened a few minutes earlier. “Get dressed. We’ve got to go to the airport.”

Steve frowned, not following. “The airport? Why?”

Kayla started digging in her suitcase for clothes. “Your daughter’s plane should be landing any minute.”

Chapter Forty

Steve and Kayla arrived at the airport in record time, Kayla fuming all the way there while Steve remained quiet. His mind was on what could happen to his baby on a plane coming all the way across country. Kayla constantly kept calling Stephanie’s cell phone, which remained switched off, and left message after message for her. The messages were short and to the point. “Call me as soon as you get off that plane!”

“I can’t believe she did this! And using my credit card. A ticket at the last minute is the highest I have ever seen for an airplane flight!”

Steve couldn’t think about money right then. He just wanted to know she was okay. All the things that could have happened to her on her way there kept going through his mind, over and over. “I can’t believe she did this either. Doesn’t she know how dangerous it is for her to travel across country alone?”

“Oh, she’ll be in danger,” Kayla said, “as soon as she gets off that plane!”

Steve glanced at Kayla. “Aren’t you worried for her safety at all?”

Kayla stopped and looked at Steve. Sighing, she said, “She’s traveled enough on planes. I would hope she has common sense on not to take chances like that, Steve. But to go off on her own like this without telling anyone is reckless…”

“She’s just a girl! I can’t believe the airline let her board without an adult!”

Kayla realized Steve was still thinking of Stephanie as a little girl. “Steve, Stephanie is sixteen years old; she can fly by herself.”

Steve shook his head, “Sixteen isn’t old enough to go off on your own…”

Kayla knew this wasn’t a good time right now to get into an argument. Maybe it wasn’t right for him to be here. What Stephanie did was wrong and Steve’s frame of mind was she was risking her life to come see him…

“Mom!” she heard a cry.

Turning her head she saw her daughter coming down the escalator and breathed a sigh of relief. The look of surprise on her daughter’s face just annoyed Kayla more at her latest stunt.

“Stephanie!” Kayla marched up to her. “Just what the hell do you think you are doing here? I thought I told you…”

“To stay behind while you got to see Dad? C’mon Mom! That wasn’t fair!” Stephanie ranted, steeling herself against the icy look her mother was giving her. “I have every right to see Dad! Abby got to see her father right away whenever he shows up alive, I don’t see why…”

Stephanie stopped as her gaze settled on her father for the first time. She’d come two thousand miles to see her Dad but nothing prepared her for the jolt that went through her body at seeing him in the flesh. It was like he’d walked out of those pictures they had, except he was wearing better clothes. Stephanie felt a lump in her throat and for once she was rendered speechless.

Steve couldn’t speak either. When she emerged and called out for her mother, Steve was so awestruck at seeing his flesh and blood he couldn’t go the last ten feet to her. He stood transfixed, watching the two of them argue in the middle of the airport, witnessing a bond that had developed over years. Years that he’d never had with her. Steve had heard the term bittersweet before but never had it applied so well to what he felt at that moment. The joy he experienced at seeing his young daughter, so beautiful and full of spitfire, thrived right next to the heavy ache deep in his heart at how much he’d missed of her life growing up.

Watching her husband and her daughter staring at each other for the first time since Stephanie was a tiny baby, Kayla felt equally moved, her anger vanishing. She’d forgotten momentarily that this would be the first time Steve would be seeing Stephanie and vice versa. It was something she had hoped to have more time to prepare for. Not just for Steve and Stephanie but for herself as well. Seeing them together at last was a wish she had prayed for since he died.

It felt like an eternity before anyone moved. Kayla was the first to regain her composure. She walked towards Stephanie since she was closer. Putting her arm around the girl, she said, “Stephanie, I’d like to introduce your father, Steven Earl Johnson.” She knew she sounded formal. It was the only way she could do it without bursting into tears.

As if drawing strength from her mom, Stephanie swallowed and spoke, very slowly, “Hi…D-” She couldn’t get the rest out. It felt odd. She walked towards him.

Steve wanted to hug her so badly but was scared to. It was hard to believe the last time he had seen her was holding her at the hospital right after the explosion on Bo’s boat. She’d practically sat on his chest! Smiling big, he said, “Hi, Little Sweetness.”

Stephanie’s smile widened. She had hoped he would call her that. Her mom had said it was his nickname for her. She extended her hand and he shook it. The whole thing struck her funny all of a sudden and she giggled. This made Steve glance at Kayla who was sporting tears in her eyes, “You laugh like your mom.”

“So they tell me,” She nodded. “I’ve got your eyes though.”

At this, Steve’s eyebrows rose and he glanced at Kayla. Looking back at her he said, “Well good thing you got two then.”

She laughed at that and suddenly she went for it, throwing herself at him and crushing him in a fierce hug. He was taken aback but wrapped his arms around her, tucking her close. He had been so worried Kayla had sugar coated the reason why Stephanie hadn’t come out here earlier, afraid his little girl hadn’t wanted to see him after all. Now he knew his worries were unfounded.

Stephanie pulled back and looked at her smiling mom. Not one to ignore a chance to get out of trouble, Stephanie said, “So this means I’m forgiven, right?”

Kayla frowned, remembering how Stephanie got there in the first place. “Oh no you aren’t, young lady. First, you can’t just hop a plane whenever you feel like it, especially not without telling anyone…”

“I left a note!” Stephanie said.

“You know that isn’t enough!” Kayla said, back to seething now. “And furthermore, I called the credit card company. I can’t believe you spent that much money, which you are going to pay back!”

Stephanie shrugged, “Mom! You said I could always use that credit card on emergencies and I can’t imagine this not falling into an emergency…”
“Don’t you try that with me! You know very well…”

“She only did it to come see me,” Steve interrupted. Both women turned to him, surprised. “I think now that she is here safe and sound, this can just be water under the bridge.”

Stephanie, relieved to see her father felt the same way she did, threw her arms around him for another large hug. Steve, pleased his first parental test was passed, hugged her back and winked at Kayla.
Kayla stood their, her mouth open and not sure how to handle this. What Stephanie did was wrong and her daughter knew it, but Steve looked so happy. Deciding his happiness right now was more important, Kayla vowed to talk to Stephanie about this privately.

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