Part 14: The Hearing

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As they shook hands, Caleb spoke, "I'm sorry about this morning. Tackling you wasn't cool. I just heard her name and I was on the stage going for you before I stopped to think."

"Don't worry about it. Kimber told me about you this afternoon and if I had been in your shoes, I would have done the same thing. No harm, no foul."

Caleb nodded, "I appreciate that. I'll take good care of her tonight, I promise."

Evan excused himself a few moments later and the four of us headed out. "So, any ideas about where to eat?" Sid asked.

"How about Nero's? It's a nice steakhouse over in Caesar's Palace," Caleb suggested. It really sucked sometimes how well he knew me. Steaks had always been one of our favorite meals.

"Damn it," I stamped my foot, "I really wanted lobster tails and scallops. Can't we go somewhere else?"

Caleb whipped around to look at me with an expression of shock. I worked so hard to keep to keep the slightly pissy, irritated expression on my face when he asked, "Since when do you eat seafood?"

"Psych!" I started giggling as I poked him in the ribs. With a mock growl, he threw an arm around my neck and pulled me down for a noogie on the top of my head.

"Hey, watch the hair!" I tried a fake pout and couldn't hold that either. I was having too much fun with Caleb.

"Lobster tails and scallops, my ass." He slung his arm around my shoulders and we all headed outside. Caesar's was about halfway up the strip, not too long a walk. Since the weather was fabulous, we all decided it would be nice to stretch our legs.

By unspoken agreement, the conversation remained light and fun as we all got to know each other. Caleb and Sid discovered a mutual love for college basketball that had Noelle and I rolling our eyes. Fortunately, Caleb had called ahead so our table was waiting. The food was wonderful, but it didn't compare to having Caleb sitting next to me. Several times while we ate, he leaned over and kissed my temple. I reached for his hand under the table and held it when he wasn't using it. I was so damn happy. I knew with Caleb back in my life, there wouldn't be a single problem with starting over.

After dinner, Noelle pulled us all into the Forum Shops. I couldn't believe the FAO Schwarz with the huge Trojan horse was gone, but Noelle didn't let me mourn the loss. Store after store with amazing clothes, jewelry, and bags. I moaned quietly as I stroked a fabulous alligator tote in Jimmy Choo. After gulping at the price tag, I set it back on the shelf. No way would I ever spend that much on a bag.

Noelle didn't have the same reservations. She had no less then four pairs of shoes stacked next to her on a bench while she tried on a fifth. Caleb was standing there offering opinions, but I suspected he was looking more at her legs than her shoes. Sid looked bored so I dragged him with me down to the Apple store. I knew I shouldn't go in, it would just make me want what I couldn't have. But a girl could dream, right?

Caleb and Noelle found us in there. I didn't buy anything, even though I wanted to so bad it hurt. "I knew we'd find you in here. Some things never change," Caleb laughed.

I sighed, "Yeah, but I can't buy anything for a while. Maybe in a few months." I grabbed his arm and walked out of the store before I screwed up and bought the shiny new iPad that was screaming my name. We waited on a bench while Sid and Noelle continued to browse. Caleb put his arm around me and I rested my head on his shoulder, just happy to be sitting with him.

"So, tell me. Was it bad?" He asked quietly.

I nodded my head against his shoulder, "Yeah, about as bad as it gets. I still have nightmares about it." I took a deep shuddering breath and told him about it, without saying any words that would alarm a casual eavesdropper. I was proud of myself for getting through it without crying.

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