Chapter 33

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"Okay, okay, is everyone here?" Dave asked us all as he stood at the head of our poorly formed circle, looking around with a glass of champagne held sturdy in his hand.

"I'm coming!"

Everyone's attention was sent straight towards Jackson as he jogged his was to us, his brown locks of hair bouncing with every step he took until he reached us.

"Sorry for the hold up," he muttered.

"Where were you?" Meg asked as she handed him his own glass of champagne in which he took gratefully as he took his place next to her in the circle.

"Kaleb's hot bartender friend was here again tonight," Jackson said with a smug smirk.

"She's gay, man. Let it go," Kaleb voiced from next to me, his deep voice vibrating through his chest in which I was flush up against as Kaleb held me, his arm secure around my waist.

Jackson once again shrugged, taking a quick swig of his drink. "Things change."

There was a collective eye roll from everyone in the circle.

"Alright, alright," Dave broke through the silence and raised his glass of champagne in the air. "Now that everyone is finally here, I'd like to say a few things. This is the last time you guys will have to listen to me ramble on so listen up!" Dave joked, his lips lifting into a soft, crooked smile as his eyes scanned over all of us standing around him.

"This entire production process has been..." Dave cut himself off, his lips attempting to form the word that his mind scrambled to find.

"Surprising," he finally landed on, earning a bit of a chuckle from the small crowd around him.

"From the beginning, I knew it was going to be a special production. Something about the four of you together as a cast was just captivating from the very beginning. I think we can all agree that you four have raised the bar for all future productions that play at this theater and flawlessly knocked those performances out of the park."

At this, the small crowd gave Meg, Jackson, Kaleb, and I a round of applause, causing a blush to burn onto my cheeks as I nuzzled my face into Kaleb's shoulder to hide my embarrassment.

I felt the hairs on the top of my head move as Kaleb breathed out a laugh at my shyness before placing a firm, loving kiss on the center of my head.

"I've never been requested to extend the run of a show by an extra week and that just shows how deeply your performances were affecting the audiences. They couldn't get enough of you guys and I sincerely hope that you are as proud of yourselves as I am proud to be your director."

Dave took in a deep breath, seemingly steadying himself somewhat. His crystal stare flashed to mine briefly, startling my insides as causing a bout of anxiety to well up in the pit of my stomach with the heavy look embedded deep within Dave's stare.

"I know we've had some major bumps along the way to getting where we are tonight. Bumps that were... never expected and are still difficult to swallow. But we persevered. We fought and we came together as a team. Because when one of our team members is down, we all ban together and we fight for them; we fight with them so that they know they are never alone and they will always have love and friendship and backup within this team."

By this point, I knew and everyone else knew that Dave's words were meant for one person and one person in particular. This only became transparently clear as Dave's moving stare locked onto mine once again just as he spoke.

"And we never let our team members down," he spoke softly, his eyes boring into mine with the most evident display of emotions that I'd ever seen from Dave.

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