Connor pulled out his cell and called Claire, "WHAT?!" she said when he'd explained, "Oh my God she walked all the way to your house?! What was she thinking!" They spoke for another few minutes and Claire agreed that she would call the Sekemoto's to make sure Sam got home okay. "Wait a minute, where's Jared?! I'll just leave work and come get her now" Claire said worriedly, "He's not here" Connor replied quickly. "He's at the gym and I'm sure he's going straight to work after, I'll watch her until you get off, don't worry we'll be fine, I'm sure there are some burgers or something in the freezer, i'll give her something to eat, we'll be okay" Connor reassured her. He heard Claire breathe a sigh of relief and she said she'd pick Kaci up when she finished work. As Connor hung up, Kaci shouted for him to come and play with her. "Coming!" he called back, trying to ignore the nervous energy whirling around his stomach. "It'll be fine" he told himself, but he wasn't quite sure he believed it.
"... and that's when they found... THE CLAW!" Connor screamed as though he was scared and Kaci fell about laughing. After dinner she'd dragged him back outside and proceeded to tell him a scary story. Connor jumped up applauding when she finished, while Kaci took a bow, then he ushered her inside, it was getting late and he didn't know when Jared would be back. He wondered where Claire was. "Come on kiddo" he said as they walked inside, "First one up can play on the Playstation!" Kaci gasped and took off running, shouting over her shoulder that she was going to win. Connors phone rang, "Connor its me, I got held up at work but I'll be there soon," Claire said hurriedly "NO!" Connor said, panicked, "I mean, ah, go home, just call me when you get there I'll bring her over". He didn't mind Kaci being there, but he didn't think it was a good idea for her to be here when Jared got home and he thought it would be even worse if Claire was there too. He breathed a sigh of relief and jogged up the stairs to the sound of Kaci shouting at the television screen.
He sat down next to her and began to talk. "You know you can come here anytime, ignore what your daddy said, you're my niece, this is my house and I say your welcome". Kaci nodded thoughtfully, "But you can't just come without telling an adult first and definitely not without your moms permission, do you understand Kace?" "Yes Uncle Connor" Kaci sighed. "Great!" he grinned and gave her a squeeze. His phone rang, it was Claire. "C'mon then my little trouble maker, your moms home". Kaci jumped up from the sofa and ran down the stairs, "Come on slow coach!" she yelled over her shoulder. Connor switched off the television and hurried to catch up with his hyperactive niece "Kaci! Wait!"
Claire thanked Connor again and closed the door behind him. She squeezed her eyes shut, straightened up, and then turned to face Kaci.
"Kaci Monroe Ursine you know better! Don't you ever run off like that again-" "But mom I-" Kaci interrupted "No Kaci! That was dangerous, anything could have happened to you, what if you never got to Uncle Connors, I wouldn't have known until hours later that you were missing" Claire's voice caught in her throat, the tears in her eyes threatened to overflow. Kaci looked at the floor and shuffled from foot to foot, "I'm sorry mom" she whispered. Claire pulled her into hug, "Its okay sweetie, just promise me you won't do this again okay?" Claire asked, "Okay mom, I promise".
"Uh, mom? Can you let go now?", "Just a little longer sweetie" Claire murmured, taking in the scent of Kaci's shampoo. She knew there would be a day when these hugs would be a rarity and she wanted to cherish this moment. She finally let go, "Okay, missy, go get in the bath and then bed, okay". Kaci nodded and ran up the stairs. Claire smiled as she watched her go, her little girl was growing up too fast.
Claire sat down and the computer and began to check her emails, a chat window popped up, the screen name said C.Sword, but there was no picture, Claire wondered who it was as she read the message,
"Hi, you probably don't remember me, we met at the pool the other night? remember, I'm Cyran, but everyone calls me Cyclone, and you said, I'm Claire and everyone calls me Claire? I left my number on your car but you never called and I know your probably wondering how I got your email address, well, never mind that, I was just wondering if you want to meet up for that drink?"
Claire sat dumbfounded. She was a little surprised that he'd found her email address but she was more surprised that he'd actually made the effort to find it. She thought for a minute, then she typed a reply.
She typed her number into the screen and added "Call me when you want to meet up". Then logged off before he could reply, sitting there, surprised at herself. She didn't know what she was letting herself in for, she just hoped it was worth it.