Sarah drew a deep breath, collected herself. The midterm had been twice as bad as she’d expected, and the stress of it was weighing heavy on her shoulders, but she couldn’t bring that inside with her. Reluctantly, she pushed open the door and stepped inside.
A brightly-colored blur burst from around the corner and sprang into her arms.
“Hey, Monkey,” she said. She squeezed her daughter tight, feeling a layer of worry instantly fall away. “Missed you.”
Next, Kira would ask how class went, a shine in her eyes like it was the most exciting thing in the world. It was a familiar and wonderful routine they’d fallen into, and Sarah wouldn’t change it for anything.
“Rachel’s here!” Kira said instead.
Sarah peered around the corner, and sure enough, there was Rachel on the couch, a teacup in her hand.
“Hello, Sarah,” she said, offering a soft smile. There was something in the way she held the cup that looked a little strained.
“Hey,” Sarah said. “What are you doin’ here?”
It would have been imperceptible to anyone but Sarah, but she saw Rachel’s face tense.
“Sorry,” Sarah offered. “I didn’t mean… I’m just surprised. Thought we were meetin’ at your place.”
“Yes, well. I knew that today’s exam would be on your mind.”
Rachel paused, casting her eyes down to the tea in her cup.
“I also know that you wouldn’t have accepted me cancelling our plans, especially if it were for your sake.”
Sarah turned to Kira, the two of them exchanging knowing smiles, before walking over and taking a seat beside Rachel. Rachel glanced up for only a second before lowering her eyes again.
“You can very stubborn in that way,” she said.
“Right,” she said. “You’re the most stubborn person I’ve ever met.”
Rachel smiled slightly, picking up the fondness in Sarah’s voice.
“I thought you might prefer to be with your family tonight.”
“Idiot,” Sarah said, shaking her head. Rachel looked up at her, stunned. “You’re part of my family now. What’s it gonna take for you to get that? Do I gotta make it official or what?”
Rachel’s eyes widened. Oops.
“Just what are you suggesting, Sarah?”
Sarah shrugged awkwardly. She looked over to Kira who was still staring back at them with an innocent smile on her face.
“Just… thanks,” she said, instead of anything stupid neither of them were quite ready for. Not just yet.
She leaned in close and placed a kiss on Rachel’s temple, felt her soften against it. They stayed like that for a moment, Sarah’s past stress falling further and further away as she rested against Rachel. Her family. The love of her life.
“Time to set the table, love!” came Siobhan’s voice from the kitchen, breaking the two of them out of their reverie. They separated and glanced over to Kira who was now looking at Rachel expectantly.
“I did promise to help,” Rachel admitted.
“Go on then,” Sarah chuckled, lightly shoving her shoulder.
Rachel stood, and Sarah couldn’t help but reach out and take her hand. Rachel’s eyes fell to it, a warm smile settling on her face. She gave Sarah’s fingers a light squeeze before following Kira to the kitchen.