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Inside My Love.

<a href=>I</a> pulled up in front of the large building, adorned with dark LED lights. The parking lot was being swept by a young boy in Jordan's. He couldn't have been much older than me. I tightened the strap on my purse and walked towards the door apprehensively. It had come down to this. I didn't have another option. I knocked softly on the door at first... only for it not to be answered. The boy that was sweeping approached and hit the door loudly with his hand flat. I jumped, startled and looked at him. He tossed me a smirk and went back to sweeping. The door opened and <a href=>he</a> stood there, looking me up and down.

"...Who referred you?" He asked.

I put my hair behind my ear and parted my lips to say something but nothing came out. I shrugged. He studied me once more and looked me dead in the eye.

"Name?" He asked.

"Veronica... I go by Ronnie." I said softly.

He opened the door wider for me to come in, so I did. I hadn't ever been to one of these places, I'd only heard about them... saw them in movies. I looked around wondrously, and heard the giggles of females arriving and leaving, all of them carrying gym bags. I studied their curves and looked down at myself.

"What you here for..." He asked, dismissively. His eyes didn't dance in my direction, as he strolled casually beside me, checking out everything on the floor - making sure nothing was out of place.

He stopped suddenly and I did too.

"...I need a job," I said, searching his face.

He snickered. "So go to the mall and fill out applications, sweetheart. This isn't something for your resume,"

"I understand that," I said, shaking my head. "I wouldn't be here if I didn't need to be. I need a job," I said, pleading with my eyes.

He scratched his face, as he ruminated. He pointed to the bar. "You start there," He said, before he began to walk.

"I was hoping to dance!" I called after him.

He shook his head, "We'll see,"

I exhaled, and dropped my bag on the floor before the DJ put on some music. I looked around and sat down on one of the bar stools. Well... at least I had a job.


I'm just wondering is Chris going to pop up again. I think she needs to open up to Aubrey Run it

Awww I like Aubrey. I've kinda always been #TeamAubrey but this is helping his case. I like that he's taking his time with Ronnie and Cayden. I like that he's trying to be there for her, and not force her to put up her walls around him. He's just so sweet and I can tell he's willing to wait until Ronnie wants more with him. Cayden is so cute..Let's move in. Lol And I like his dog's name October. Especially since I was born in October too. Run it!!!

Is it bad that I didn't know how to spell wednesday until I was like 10? I like Aubrey for Ronnie. They'd be a wonderful couple. I really hope that Aubrey feels the way he says.
Run it

Aubrey is amazing.
Point blank.

I'm loving the idea of them being together, but something is telling me that Aubrey is gonna hurt them :( I really don't want that because they seem so perfect together

I'm so team Aubrey at this point....he cares about Cayden just as much as he does Ronnie...and that's rare...and he's just a good guy...genuine....humble.....that's as close to perfect as one could get.

i'm mad aubrey just pulled me back to his side . he's confusing sometimes .

I want more!!!

Run it!

I expected not to hear from Aubrey when he came back from London so I wasn't surprised when I didn't get a call or text the day he was supposed to come back. I was quizzing Cayden on her vocabulary words and making dinner on Monday.

"Okay, spell tomorrow." I said.

Cayden was quiet for a moment. I walked out into the dining room, wiping my hands and looking over at her.

"T-o-m-...o-r-r-o-w." She asid.

I smiled, "Very good. You can take a break if you want." I said.

She shook her head, "Give me one more!" She said.

"Okay...spell...Wednesday." I said.

"Wed-nes-day. W-e-d-n-e-s-d-a-y!" She said, smiling.

A knock at the door sent me away from the table, "Good job Cay!" I said. "Did your teacher teach you the wed-nes-day thing?" I asked.

She nodded, "It works!" She said.

I opened the door without looking through the peephole and damn near dropped the dish towel when I saw Aubrey.

"Oh..hey." I said, short of breath.

"Oh...hey." He said, smiling and pecking my cheek.

Cayden heard his voice and hopped up from the table, running to the door. I shut the door and swallowed. He was carrying gifts. He smiled at Cayden.

"I bought you something...but you gotta be careful with it. You promise?" He asked.

She nodded her head, eyeing the big gift. He handed it to her and she lied it down delicately on the floor to unwrap. There was a blank canvas with paint and brushes.

"What's this?" She asked curiously.

He kneeled down and pointed to everything, explaining to her. "If it's okay with your mom, you can paint in your room." He said, looking up at me.

I nodded, "I'll lie some sheets down for you Cay." I said softly.

She smiled, "Wow..." She said.

I laughed. Cayden had no idea what a canvas was before today...but she was grateful. So was I. Aubrey helped her take her things to her room before he came back and smiled at me.

"What you working on?" He asked Cayden.

"Come look!" She said, grabbing his hand.

I went into the kitchen to check on the food, and leaned up against the counter, my mind all over the place. Aubrey came to the kitchen and leaned up against the door.

"Everything okay?" He asked.

I nodded and rubbed my arms, "Yeah." I said softly.

"No it's not...what's the matter?" He asked.

I turned slightly and looked at him, "...didn't think I'd hear from you." I said softly.

"I told you that you'd see me when I got back." He said.

"And the gift for Cayden...that was thoughtful." I said nodding, my face full of emotion. "And just showing up here and...being interested in her work You don't have to be here, Aubrey." I said, shaking my head, my eyes watered.

He walked towards me and kissed my forehead.

"I don't know if I'm ready for this," I said softly.

"I'm following your lead, Ronnie." He said. "If you want me to back off, I will."

I shook my head, "No that's not it. I'm glad that you're here...I'm just surprised that you are."

"You shouldn't be. I feel lucky to be here with someone who could love their daughter as much as you do...and be so protective of her heart." He said. "But like I said, I don't wanna hurt either of you." He said.

I nodded and pecked his lips quickly, "Thank you." I said softly.

He smiled and cupped my face with his hands, before he pecked my lips once more. I looked down to see Cayden at the door. She smiled a little and looked at Aubrey. "Come look at my vocabulary quiz!" She said.

He left the kitchen and I ran my fingers through my hair and proceeded to make the three of us plates.

The girls had fallen asleep, and Aubrey and I were up talking.

"Do you see yourself getting married?" He asked.

I shrugged, looking straight ahead of me. "I'm not...sure really. They'd have to be willing to fall in love with both Cayden and I, and I'm sure if there are a lot of guys that are willing to do that."

Aubrey had his arm around me, stroking my arm softly with his finger.

"That's not hard to do, Ronnie." He said softly, before he put his chin on the top of my head.

I looked at my watch, "I should get home," I said.

He wrinkled his brow, "Stay." He responded.

I smiled at him and shook my head, "...not tonight," I said.

"Why not?" He asked. "Cayden's already asleep. She's gonna cry if you wake her up." He said, trying to guilt trip me.

"If I stay, we aren't sharing a bed." I said flatly.

He studied me before his lips curled into a smile, "Okay Veronica." He said. "You can sleep in one of the guest rooms...if you insist."

We'd stayed over with each other once and I was afraid of getting too close to him. After all, he wasn't my boyfriend. He walked toward the steps and I followed. He showed me the guest room and stood at the door while I got settled. I looked over at him and smiled.

"I'm good now." I said.

" there a reason why you wanna sleep in here?" He asked.

I sat down on the bed and looked up at him.

"...I'm not putting up a wall, I promise." I said.

"I'm gonna translate that to "I'm putting up a wall" in Ronnie. I'm beginning to become fluent in your language." He responded.

"Don't think that you know me," I responded softly.

"Oh but I do." He responded, turning off the light. "Good night." He said, before he left the room, shutting the door behind him.

I lied back on the bed and rolled over onto my side, drawing my knees in. The next morning, I woke Cayden up, and we washed our faces and brushed our teeth, before I went downstairs to find Aubrey putting food in a bowl for October. He looked over at us, before Cayden ran towards him. He picked her up and smiled, before he looked over at me.

"Thanks for letting us stay," I said, my hands in my pockets.

He nodded, our eyes locked.

"Come on Cay, let's go home. You've got school in the morning." I said.

We headed toward the door and Cayden put on her shoes. Aubrey held the door open and Cayden walked down the steps, with October at her heels. Aubrey grabbed my hand when I turned to leave.

"...I hope that you feel like you can let your guard down eventually." He said softly.

"...I will." I responded. "When can we see you again?"

"Week after this. I'll be in London." He responded.

"Have a safe trip," I said softly.

He pecked my forehead and I turned to go down the steps.

"Ronnie," He called.

I turned and looked up at him from the bottom of the steps. He smiled.

"I enjoyed you." He responded.

I smirked, "Bye Aubrey."

October ran up the steps when Aubrey called for him and I went and got in the car. Cayden buckled her seatbelt and smiled from the backseat.

"You were nice again." She said.

I smiled, "Sure." I said softly.

Cayden looked out of the window for a little while before she looked at me, "Is Aubrey your boyfriend?" She asked.

"None of your business! But no." I responded.

"Can he be?" She asked, a mischievous grin on her face.

"I can't just be alone with you?" I asked.

"Yes...but I like it there." She said. "We should move in."

"Cayden you're delusional." I mumbled.

Aubrey had to babysit his goddaughters one weekend, so he invited Cayden and I over. I knocked on the door and <a href=>he</a> opened the door and smiled, with the girls hanging off of him. The older one, smiled at Cayden and waved. Aubrey opened the door wider for us to come in and the smallest one looked up at me. I kneeled down and stuck out my hand.

"I'm Ronnie," I said.

She pointed to herself, "Kelsey."

I looked at the older one, who was already holding Cayden's hand. "I'm Krissy!" She shrieked. "Can we go play?"

I nodded and smiled at Cayden. Aubrey looked at me and put his hands in his pockets. Kelsey ran off behind them and he shut the door behind me and smiled, biting his lip shyly.

"Thanks for coming by and bringing Cayden. I needed to find a way to entertain them...I couldn't handle another tea party." He said.

I smiled and nodded, taking off my shoes. "It's no problem...really." I responded, cooly, hanging up my jacket and walking off into the house comfortably.

Aubrey sat down on the couch and I did too, pulling my knees close to me.

"How's your mom?" He asked.

"She's okay. Hasn't changed much," I said, laughing a little and shaking my head.

"One day she'll realize that she has a great daughter," He said, nodding his head.

I felt reassured...if even for a moment.

"I've been working on something new," He said, running his finger along the thread in my jeans.

"Music? What's it like?" I asked, lying my head against the back of the couch.

He stood up and pressed play on his sound system, and kept his back turned as I listened. He was singing... The main lyric, "You saved me." When the song finished, I clapped.

"I like it." I said.

"Thank you," He said, looking at me finally. "I doubt it makes the album though."

"Why?" I asked.

"The label wants to... toughen up my image. They think I'm relating more to women and losing my demographic." He said, walking back to the couch.

"Do you think that your music is...feminine?" I asked.

"No. It's just real." He said, shrugging. "I can't rap about killing, I can't rap about growing up and having it rough. I rap about what I go through..."

"Make music that means something to you, Aubrey. Don't just make music to appease people. That's how it loses its intrinsic value. That's setting yourself up to fall out of love with it," I said.

He shrugged, "I'm not too far from there..." He said, looking over at me. "It's a lot of pressure. I feel like I'm depicted as this guy that I'm not, you know? Beef with Chris being jealous over Rihanna? Like I can't put a song out without people thinking I'm taking shots or I'm pining over RIhanna. I'm over it all. That's why I stay ducked off."

"What's the alternative to music?" I asked.

"I go back to acting." He said, looking over at me. "Or get into something else, settle down or some s***."

I smiled, "You don't seem like the marriage type."

"Really?" He asked, looking over at me. "I'm actually getting to that age where I'm ready for real. I said I'd be married by 30...once I was done bulls***ting. What gives you that impression though?"

I shrugged, "I'm still tryna figure you out... I wonder if you're a relationship person."

"Absolutely." He said, his arm around one of the pillows. "Just waiting on the right...ingredients."

"Ingredients?" I asked.

He nodded, "Time...and the right person." He said softly, before he glanced at me.

I nodded, "Let me check on the girls." I said softly, before I stood up.

I'll be adding soon

still mad at aubrey .

Thanks everyone.

Ronnies mom can be a little to judgemental sometimes. Even with her ailent, Im glad Ronnie doesnt let her comments get to her so easily tho.And that shes trying to build a better relationship with her. Hmm hmmm hmm. Mr.Dixon fine too. He can get it lol. Aubrey dont mess up, Mr. dixon might be eyeing your girl lol. Aubrey better not mess up with them again. That lil MIA stunt he pulled was not cool at all. Then for her to have to see him on the red carpet with Malila after he invited her to come to NYC with him was foul. Then he didnt call for a while after that....
Asking her whats wrong and what he do? Boy... Im all for second chances but Aubrey dont f*** this up. It's more then just Ronnies feelings involved. Caydens little heart couldn't take it either. Loved that the dog missed Cayden tho awww.

They're so cute lol

RUN IT!!!!

Aubrey better not hurt them

I don't like Ronnie with Aubrey. He starting to show his true colors already. I can't with him. As for her mom, I wouldn't be so judgemental in her condition. You should be looking at life through a different perspective at this point. A grateful one. I think that's it! Love the add! Keep them coming!

Oh! P.S. When Chris popping back up? Lol!


i'm not #TeamAubrey anymore after that stunt he pulled . i'm more #TeamMrDixon , he's not famous so he'd be more reliable .


Hmmm....that would have hurt me too!
I understand both of their sides, RUN IT!

really tho ? maliah ? what kinda publicity reason would that be to invite a stripper to awards ? he should've told her , warned her , or just gone alone or with friends . he broke her heart and its sad that cayden is so latched on to him . michael ealy is always a great looking guy to play a teacher . he's so sexy . now i really don't care if chris or mr. dixon go after her . aubrey was wrong . i knew he was too perfect .

Yeah, I'm definitely a fan of can tell he genuinely cares about Ronni and Cayden....

On the other side Mr. Dixon can get it tho

Awww Aubrey is the sweetest!! i'm glad they've finally talked and put it all out there. I like where their friendship is heading and I 'm glad he's still trying to be there for her. Carter was such a f***ing idiot to run out on his daughter like that. I hope he comes back, with a clear head. Cayden needs him and even though Ronnie is gonna be mad if he does come back, I hope she doesn't stop him. I know it will be hard, because she doesn't want Cayden to keep being hurt by his disappearing acts. Hopefully he gets it right soon. Run it!!

Aubrey insisted that we have dinner and he bugged me for a week before I finally agreed. I sat quietly across from him, looking over my menu. He didn't look at his, he only looked at me. <a href=>I</a> looked over at him.

"Have you decided?" I asked, looking back at my menu.

"What did I do?" He asked finally.

I looked up from the menu, confused. "What?"

"What did I do? You've been...confusing, to put it simply." He responded. "I feel like I left for New York and things made sense, and now I'm not so sure they do."

I shrugged, "I agree."

"So what changed?" He asked.

"My priorities." I said softly.

"What do you mean?" He asked.

"Cayden...asks about you, and, when you're not here and I'm not even sure if you're gonna BE here, what do I say to her? Aubrey she's latched onto you...and as fragile as whatever this is between us is, I can't afford to string her along." I responded.

"So you've put a wall save Cayden." He said.

"Don't psychoanalyze me, Aubrey." I responded.

He chuckled, "I'm not! That's what you more words."

"It's not about walls...I've just been hurt before and so has Cayden. I don't wanna drive down the same road, expecting to reach a different destination Aubrey, so I'm stopping it here." I said softly.

"Well, first, I don't plan to hurt you. Second, I understand what you're saying about Cayden...but I don't plan to hurt her either and while I might not be the most consistent person, I thought I was doing a pretty good job, until you stopped responding. Cayden doesn't have to miss me...and neither do you. And don't say you don't, I know you do 'cause I miss you too." He rambled.

"And October misses Cayden. I can never find him anymore, 'cause he's in the guest room waiting on her. And we've got so much to talk about still, really. I never told you about New York or my life in Canada. You never met my mom, or my aunt. And I'm sorry about Maliah.. I know that hurt you to see that. It wasn't my choice really, it was for publicity purposes. I'm talking a lot and probably not making a whole lot of sense but bottom line is... Ronnie you're my friend and I care a lot about you and Cayden, and I wanna see y'all."

He'd literally spewed that all out in under 60 seconds. I smiled a little and picked up my menu.

"Have you decided?" I asked.

"Tell me that you missed me, Veronica." He responded softly.

I hid my face behind the menu and he smiled and took the menu down. I turned red and shrugged.

"...I missed you." I whispered.

I was afraid of letting the words leave my lips, and when they did, they kind of hung there until Aubrey caught them and smiled.

"I want steak." I responded.

Deann hooked me up with a paid internship at a consulting firm for days when I didn't have class. I'd go in after I dropped Cayden off at school and leave right before I had to pick her up. It was hectic, but it kept me busy...and kept my mind on things that mattered. I decided to take Cayden to the history museum one Saturday afternoon. She held my hand and we walked throughout the exhibits. I stopped and explained what I knew, but we read everything together. We sat in front of one of the dinosaur fossils and enjoyed our lunch. She looked over at me as she took a sip of her pop.

" Aubrey still our friend?" She asked.

I looked over at her, "Of course." I responded.

"Why don't we ever see him anymore?" She asked.

I was afraid of this - afraid that I'd bring someone into Cayden's life, only for them not to be there anymore. I was tired of doing this to her.

"We'll see him soon. No worries. He's been busy." I said.

She nodded and stuffed a fry in her mouth. I watched her eat before we stood up and threw our trash away. We went through another exhibit and left. As we were walking to our car, there was commotion and cameras. I picked up Cayden and held her on my hip. She looked around.

"Is somebody famous here!" She shrieked.

I could see Aubrey walking with a little girl away from the Children's museum. Cayden's mouth dropped.

"Aubrey!" She yelled over the commotion. I turned to walk away, figuring that he hadn't heard her.

"Cayden!" He called back.

I stopped walking, my back still turned. Cayden wiggled out of my arms and stood next to me, looking at him. He said something to his security and <a href=>walked</a> toward us. His eyes were on me. I stood behind Cayden and put my hands on her shoulders. Aubrey picked up his god daughter and pecked her lips.

"Say hi to Cayden," He said, looking at her.

She smiled at her before she buried her face in Aubrey's neck. I smiled and looked at Cayden, who was admiring Aubrey.

"Where y'all headed?" He asked, looking me in the face, but my eyes were focused elsewhere.

"We just left the museum!" Cayden said. "We're going home now. When can I see October?"

"Whenever your mom brings you over," He said.

I cut my eyes at him and he smirked.

"Can we go soon?" Cayden said, turning and looking up at me.

"We'll see," I said, stroking her head.

I glanced at Aubrey and he mouthed, "We need to talk." I grabbed Cayden's hand and pinched his god daughter's cheek playfully.

"Y'all have a good day," I said softly before I turned and walked with Cayden back to the car.

"Bye Aubrey!" Cayden said.

"Bye Cayden," He responded.

I put Cayden in the car and got in the driver's seat.

"You were mean to Aubrey." Cayden said, putting on her seat belt.

"I wasn't being mean." I responded.

"Well you weren't like you used to be." Cayden said, clarifying.

"Toys R Us?" I asked.

"YESSSSS!!!" She shrieked.

After class, I went back home, made myself some lunch and pulled out my book to get ahead on some work. It was going on 2, and I was almost done with the second chapter when my phone rang from my purse across the room. I stood up and went to grab the phone, putting it to my ear.

"Hello," I answered.

"Where've you been?" Aubrey's voice came through the phone.

"Class. Where have you been? Haven't heard from you in a few weeks." I said, exhaling and sitting down on the couch.

"Well there was NY, and then I got back and I've just been in the studio. Where's Cay?" He asked.

"School. Today was her first day." I responded.

I could hear someone asking him questions in the background, he pulled the phone away from his mouth and responded to the person.

"Hello?" He came back.

"Is that Maliah?" I asked, jokingly.

" was Courtney...why you ask that?" He responded.

I could tell from the tone in his voice that he was getting defensive.

"It was a me at least." I responded softly. "Um, I've gotta finish my ch-"

"Call me when you're not busy." He responded, cutting me off.

I hung up the phone without saying goodbye and sat it down on the table...wondering what just happened. I exhaled, sat still for a moment and let the thought disappear before I returned to my reading. I didn't have time for anything really...other than Cayden and these books. At least that's what I told myself.

I didn't hear from Aubrey when he got back from New York. I figured he was busy, so I didn't bother him. He'd call me when he wanted to. It was Cayden's first day of 1st grade and she was in the living room, spinning in her dress, waiting on me to bring her shoes out. I bent down and she slipped her feet in.

"...Daddy bought me these," She said softly.

I looked up at her, "Yep so he's with you today." I said, puckering my lips.

She pecked my lips and smiled, "Mommy can I put on your lip gloss?" She asked.

"No. Ask in the 9th grade." I responded.

She smacked her lips, "That's 8 years!" She said.

"Look at that math." I responded, slipping into my flip flops and grabbing my book bag. I had class today, too.

I opened the door to our apartment and we left in a hurry so that she wouldn't be late. I pulled up in front of the school and got out. Cayden was ready to hop out as soon as I opened the back door. I held her hand and headed towards the building.

"You can go now, I can find my class." Cayden said.

"You're 6. Not 16. What is up with you this morning?" I responded.

We walked into the school and were greeted by all of the teachers. I smiled and shook a few of their hands, introducing myself. Cayden pulled me along, wanting to meet her teacher. We got to her classroom finally and she pointed to her name, which was written on a star and taped to the bulletin board outside of her classroom. I entered the class and smiled at her teacher. She looked about my age, and her smile looked genuine. I shook her hand.

"I'm Veronica Monroe, Cayden's mother." I said.

"Nice to meet you, I'm Ms. Frasier. Hi Cayden!" She said.

Cayden smiled up at her and I fixed her bow and looked down at her.
I kneeled down and put my hands on her shoulders.

"Have a good day today, okay? Make some friends...and I packed a surprise in your lunch box. I'm proud of you already.." I said, smiling.

She smiled and hugged me, and I kissed her cheek.

"Love you, see you at 3:30." I said.

"Bye love you too," She said, before she scurried off to find her seat.

She was sitting next to a white girl and I could see them exchanging words already. They were comparing pencils when I turned and saw Katie walking in with her mom. I hugged her mom and smiled down at Katie.

"Is Cayden in this class?" She asked.

I nodded and her eyes got big. She let go of her mom's hand and ran to find Cayden. I smiled, said my goodbyes and took one last look at Cayden before I turned to go out into the hall, running into <a href=>him</a>.

"Oh I'm sorry," I said, blushing and walking past him.

"Excuse me," He called.

I stopped and turned around.

"I'm Mr. Dixon... the new principal." He said.

"Oh! I'm Veronica Monroe, my daughter Cayden's in first grade this year." I said, shaking his hand.

"I saw you leaving Ms. Frasier's room. She's gonna do a great job with them this year." He said.

"I hope so," I said, smiling. "I'm putting my daughter's future in her hands."

"I'll keep an eye out for her. It was nice meeting you, Mrs. Monroe." He said.

"It's just Ms. And you too." I said, turning and leaving.

I looked at my phone and darted out of the building. I had to get to class.

After my mom left, Deann came over to watch the VMAs with me and Cayden. I made popcorn for the three of us to share and D and I had wine. We gave Cayden apple juice in a wine glass and she stood close to the table, holding the glass with both hands to drink.

"I feel fancy," She said, giggling.

"Don't feel too fancy, watch that glass, Cayden." I warned her.

Deann smiled from the floor and looked up, her eyes widened. I looked at the TV to see Aubrey on the red carpet...with Maliah.

"Oh," I said.

Cayden looked at the TV. "Mommy who is that?" She asked.

"One of Aubrey's friends," I said, cutting my eyes at Deann, who was looking back at me.

"I thought he asked you to go with him," She said.

"No...he asked Cayden and I to go with him to New York but...he never invited me to the show. I didn't think he had a date," I said, looking back at the TV to see that they had moved on to the next person.

Cayden finished her apple juice and lied on the floor, on her back, with her legs up in the air, reading a book loudly.

"Cayden go get ready for bed," I said.

"You said I could watch until 9:30!" She shrieked. "I wanna see Aubrey perform."

"Spell perform." I responded.

She sat up confidently, "P-U-R-F" She stopped and looked down at her fingers.

D and I started to laugh silently and Cayden looked at me with watery eyes.

"That's not fair!" She said.

I laughed and reached out my arms, "Come here."

Cayden walked towards me and collapsed on top of me. I rubbed her back and she looked up at me.

"Can I stay up now?" She whispered.

"Yes goofy," I responded.

She hopped off of me and ran to D, sitting on her lap.

"Girl you're getting too big for this," D said, beginning to braid her hair.

I smiled at the two of them and looked back at the TV before I pulled out my phone to text Aubrey.

<em>Good luck tonight.</em>

I decided not to go to New York. Being aware of my mother's condition, I didn't want to be too far from her. Aubrey said that he understood. I sat on the floor of the living room, ordering my books for the semester as Cayden and my mom chose something to read from her room. They came back into the living room and my mom sat down delicately on the couch and reached out her arms for Cayden. Cayden looked at me and then at my mom.

"I won't hurt you, will I?" She asked softly.

My mom smiled and shook her head, patting her lap, "Come on, sweetie."

Cayden sat on my mom's lap and I looked up, searching my mother's face for any hint of pain. She seemed to do okay with Cayden sitting there, but I know that it was harder than she let on. She and Cayden went back and forth reading pages together before they finished the book. Cayden got off of her lap and sat next to her on the couch, lying her head in her lap. My mom stroked her face softly and looked over at me.

"...So what do you do in your spare time?" She asked softly.

It was like I was getting to know her all over again. It had been a while.

"Just study really. Or work with Cayden. I'm thinking about getting her tested to bump her up to the next grade," I said, looking over at her.

My mother parted her lips to object but she stopped herself and smiled a little, "Interesting." She said.

Even with an ailment, she was still silently judgmental and I wasn't always so sure that I was making her proud. To make up for it, I brought up my academic success.

"I'll be graduating with honors in December, if this semester goes well," I said optimistically.

"What are you gonna do with your degree?" She asked.

"I'm thinking about entering a counseling program after, and then trying to work in an elementary school." I said.

"School counselor? Never saw that for you." She said.

"I think I'd be good at it," I said.

She raised an eyebrow but didn't say anything. I exhaled and buried my face in the laptop. It was uncomfortable having her here, but I wouldn't want her to be alone at home.