17| Epilogue

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I closed my laptop and looked around. Christmas was in the air. Or should I say, December. Being that Christmas was another week and a half away. The dorms were almost empty. The sole reason for that, was the majority of the students left for break already. Except for the ones still completing their finals. Of course, I counted in that bunch. But, no more. I'd finished my last final today and could finally pack up for winter break. I already knew where I was going.

Home.

It's the only place that'd been on my mind since I left. 

"See you next semester, Jaquelyn. Have a nice break!" I waved goodbye to my roommate, dragging my bags out the door. She probably didn't hear me and that was fine. We were nothing more than acquaintances. People who gave each other a mere hi and bye, every day. 

My Uber was already parked out front, waiting. I smiled and jogged through the snow, hauling my bags into the open trunk. For an hour and a half ride, the cost for the Uber was less than I thought it'd be. But it was nice to know I'd be able to afford to make it home for Christmas. That wasn't the only thing I was excited about though. I had a few presents I bought for Reece and my mom tucked away in the back of one of my bags. The need to give it to them already was rising. I hadn't seen my mom in the last three weeks, when I took a trip to visit her over the weekend. And I hadn't seen Reece since . . . well, since we parted ways. At least, physically. Virtually, I video chatted with him yesterday, before I dozed off.

University was kicking his ass, but baseball made it worth it. That's what he'd told me. Film was the same for me. Passion made it worth it.

* * *

The house remained the same as I left it. Quiet, empty, and nostalgic. Thank goodness, for Aunt May and Uncle Jesse helping me pay rent. They suggested I'd let the house go since mom was no longer here, and I was no longer around often. But I couldn't convince myself too just yet. 

Maybe by next summer, I'd find myself an apartment in the city to stay in. Once I didn't have to be on campus anymore. Carefully, I laid out the Christmas presents beside the couch. I'd sort them later when I was relaxed. It was funny, not seeing a tree for Christmas. It was pretty much my mom's tradition. She'd go all out, decorating every inch of the house. Then, she'd complain when it was time for her to take everything down. I never understood why she chose to go all out every year.

Now I know why.

She wanted to give me the best Christmas a kid could ask for. It was the least she could do with my biological parents gone, and her lies feeding into me. I couldn't help but look back at the gestures now and smile.

Ding

I jumped slightly at the sound of my phone buzzing. It went off again. This time, I pulled it out from my back pocket, checking the screen.

Reece: My mom said she saw you get out of an Uber. Are you home?

I smiled and text back.

Me: Yes. I just got settled in.

Immediately, I received a notification.

Reece: Great. Come to the backyard.

Wait, he's here? I furrowed my eyebrows, walking towards the backdoors. I thought his flight was late. He didn't mention anything about catching an early flight. He said he wouldn't be in until tomorrow morning.

"Reece—EEK!" As soon as I walked into the backyard, a hand yanked on my waist. I covered my mouth, prepared to scream again, until I noticed who it was. He crouched over, his laughter filling the silent night sky. Stars gazed over us as I sent him my best glare.

"I'm going to murder you!"

"Awe, but then I can't do this. . ." He pressed his lips to mine. The smile that broke out on my face was hard to ignore. 

"You're a doofus."

"No, that's you." He stuck his tongue out.

"Point proven." I rolled my eyes.

"Hey."

"What?" I asked.

"I kept my promise, didn't I?"

I smiled proudly, threading my fingers through his. "You did more than keep it. You lived up to it."

The night couldn't have been any more perfect for this. Between the snow, the stars, and the smile on his face. He waited for me in the backyard just like old times. And I couldn't have been happier, even if it didn't last forever. Because we both know how it feels to be apart. We'd done it more than once already. And found our way back to each other.

In some way, shape, or form. 

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