Chapter Eighteen

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It was truly beginning to feel like summer. The humidex was through the roof and no amount of fans was going to make me stop sweating like a pig. That didn't stop me from trying though. Three fans were strategically placed around my room and all I was wearing was a tank top and a skimpy pair of shorts. One in front of me, one to my left and the other to my right. Focusing on my studies was almost impossible with the heat and wind blowing my papers.

Noah spun around in my desk chair, turning to face me. "You're not studying."

"You got me," I sighed and hopped off the bed, planting myself directly in front of the fan in a last-ditch effort to stay cool. "It's too hot to study."

His hands slipped around my waist and he stood with his feet apart, bending down so we were face to face. "We haven't really talked about how meeting your birth mother went. Do you want to talk about it? I know it was hard for you but . . . "

"I don't know what I thought would happen, it just wasn't what I imagined. I felt a connection with her when we hugged goodbye, but she doesn't feel like my mom. She still acts like a teenager, just never grew up," I said running my hands over the hem of his shirt.

"She might be your birth mother but she's not your mom; she didn't raise you. It's okay not to feel close to her. You just met." Noah tugged me closer, and I could feel my body temperature rising from the contact mixed with the incessant sticky weather. "You're okay though, right? That panic attack kinda scared me. I didn't know what was going on."

"You handled it pretty well," I put my fist against his stomach, nudging him lightly. "I'm okay, promise. Sorry I scared you."

"It's okay," he muttered and pressed his lips to my forehead. "Do you get them often?"

I shook my head, my hair brushing against his chest. "Not anymore, what she said just threw me." His eyes searched mine. He was waiting for me to continue, open up to him about what was on my mind. I sighed, hoping I could find the right words. "I knew we'd have things in common and that we'd look alike. Sure. Like having the same eyes and same color hair. I just thought that my experiences were mine, not predetermined by genetics. It was naive of me. Of course I get it from somewhere."

"Stop that." He shook his head. "Your experiences are yours. Yeah, maybe we all start off with a template but our decisions make us who we are, not genetics. There's something my mom always says: it's not about what you have, it's what you make of what you have. I like to think she's right and that we make our own destiny."

A smile pulled at my lips. "Your mom is a smart woman."

"So are you."

I sighed. His comment was sweet and genuine but I didn't feel very smart, not with everything that was going on. It didn't take a genius to figure out I wasn't great at coping with things. Now I had school to worry about too. "It just feels real now. Before she didn't feel like a real person, just a name and a face in a picture. It's like the pieces are finally stringing together in my head. I'm adopted Noah," my voice quivered along with my bottom lip and tears pooled in my eyes. "And I don't think I like it."

He pulled me into a tight embrace and kissed the top of my head. I felt myself relax and the tears slowly dry as his hand trailed up and down my back.

I jumped out of his grasp as the door opened. Cameron strolled in and threw himself down on my head, fanning over my papers. With his eyes closed, he groaned loudly. "Can we please get out of here and go to the lake? I'm baking." I wiped my cheeks, sniffling quietly. Going to the cottage was a perfect solution to the heat and a little fun was just what I needed. Cameron peered out one eye, lifting his head slightly. "Sorry, was I interrupting something?"

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