"Mom, whats 25 x 7?... never mind I got it!" Claire was glad Kaci had worked it out herself, maths had never been her strong point. Kaci was so smart, excelling at every subject she was taking in school. They were silent for a while until Claire broke the calm, "Kace, I was thinking, its your birthday in a few weeks, do you want to have a party?" she asked. Kaci looked up, her eyes wide, "REALLY?!" she asked, mouth hanging open, "Of course I'm serious" Claire replied, "You're only turn into a teen once" Claire said. "Mom your the best! can I go call my friends?" Kaci jumped up, "Have you finished your homework?", "Yes!" Kaci said excitedly, "Ok-" Kaci turned around and ran up the beach towards their house, "Kaci! Be careful crossing the road!" Claire called after her, watching to make sure she got across safely. Claire turned her attention back to fishing, thinking about what she would need to get for Kaci's party. She was so proud of her daughter, but she was especially proud of the way she'd coped living across the street from her deadbeat excuse for dad. Claire knew it bothered her, she'd caught her staring out of the window by the stairs across the street, but whenever Claire asked, she'd insist she was okay. Claire smiled excitedly as she thought about Kaci's party. It was going to be great.
The doorbell rang, Claire opened the door and in walked Jared followed by Connor. Claire stood dumbfounded. Connor wouldn't meet her eyes. Jared turned to face her, "Before you ask, No, I do not want to be here, but after my big brother over here found out your daughter text me, he wouldn't let me stay at home, so here I am" he said sarcastically, dropping onto the sofa and shooting Connor a dirty look. Claire felt herself getting angry but she didn't rise to it. Besides, she had more important things on her mind. "Wait, he said Kaci invited him" Claire said through clenched teeth, confused, was understatement. Connor shrugged, "I read the text, or he wouldn't be here, and it was from definitely from Kaci's phone". Claire's brain was racing, how had she even gotten his phone number? Then it clicked, when Kaci had called to invite her friends to her party a few weeks earlier, Claire's phone had disappeared and suddenly reappeared when she told Kaci she was going to look for it on the beach. Kaci must have taken it. Claire's face slowly changed into a smile as she shook her head at the thought. Not even officially a teen and already a mischief maker.
"Mom I want to blow my candles out now!" Kaci tugged Claire towards the cake, distracting her from her thoughts.
"Okay everyone!" Claire raised her voice, "Gather round, Kaci's blowing out the candles!"
"One Two Three, YAYYY!"
Everyone clapped and cheered. Everyone except Jared. He just looked bored, like he wished he was somewhere else. Claire half wished he hadn't come but the smile on Kaci's face silenced those thoughts. Her little girl was finally a teenager. Claire felt old but happy. It felt like it was just yesterday Kaci had been born. Claire's train of thought was interrupted by Kaci shouting, "Moom! Cute the cake!"
"Yay, she's a year older, can I go now?" Jared yawned, rolling his eyes and making no attempt to lower his voice. Suddenly the music got louder, Claire had turned it up. Connor saw Kaci stiffen and felt Claire's eyes burning past him into Jared. He was fuming, his brother was an a-grade idiot and he'd had enough. "Yea, you know what, just go, no one wants you here anyway" Connor muttered disgusted and pushed past him towards Kaci. Jared stood still for a second shocked. His brother had always tried to placate him, he thought, maybe he had pushed him too far. He didn't say anything as he stalked out of the house slamming the door behind him. Luckily no one heard it over the pounding of the music.
"Hows the cake?" Bella nudge Kaci. "Good" Kaci answered with a smile that threatened to turn into tears. How could he do that to her, she thought sadly, wishing he never bothered to show. It would have been easier than turning up because his brother had to drag him to his own daughters birthday party. "Hey, come on" Bella whispered, a mischievous glint in her eye as she took Kaci's half eaten cake away from her. "Lets dance" she winked, Kaci giggled as Bella dragged her to the floor.
Kaci went upstairs a little after one, she'd insisted on helping her mom clean up but her eyes were starting to close. Reluctantly she'd eventually trudged up to bed collapsing into a deep sleep as soon as her head it the pillow. Claire decided to take out the trash, her phone rang startling her, who was calling her at this time?
"He- hello..?" she asked, her stomach dropping, fearing that it might be the police saying they'd found her brother, or even worse that he was dead. But the voice that replied sounded as confused as her own. "Hello?" it replied, "Who's this?". "Erm. . . you called me?..." Claire answered, beginning to wonder if this was a joke, "Oh Claire? Hi, its me, Cyran, I didn't realize I was calling you, what time is it? Oh my gosh, I'm so sorry, I was trying to call Marty, I don't know how I got you", he apologized, sounding genuinely confused. "Its okay, I wasn't asleep anyway, Its Kaci's birthday, I threw a party for her" Claire explained. "Oh that's nice, how is she?" Cyran asked, and before Claire knew it, it was 3 in the morning and they we're hanging up. She crawled into bed, exhausted but happy. She'd never found it that easy to talk to anyone. She didn't want the conversation to end but she had work in a few hours, she needed some sleep. Cyran said he would call her in the week and as much she didn't want to admit it, she had a good feeling about him. She tried to deny it but she couldn't stop her heart from feeling like this could be the start of something special.
"So, I'll erm, see you later?" Sam had asked. "Yea sure" Kaci said shuffling from foot to foot. They'd hugged goodbye awkwardly. Kaci watched him until he walked down the steps into her driveway. She went inside to do her homework but couldn't concentrate, things had been awkward between them ever since her birthday party when Kaci had caught him staring at her with a weird look on his face, it was like he'd never seen her before. She didn't get it and when he'd actually stopped day dreaming and realized she was watching him he'd quickly looked away and began talking to Bella.
Her phone began to ring, "Hey Bella" Kaci said, "Oh My GOD! So Stacey, told Becca, who told Taylor, who told Kyle, who told PJ who told the WHOLE of the football team that Sam told Dre who told Darlene who told me that he likes you!!!!" She squealed a high pitched scream making Kaci move the phone away from her ear, "Wait, what, who likes me?" she said completely confused, "SAM likes you, oh my gosh weren't you listening?!"
Kaci didn't know what to do, she got up and began to pace around her room. Sam couldn't like her, he wouldn't like her, he was her best friend, it would ruin everything. Besides, she didn't want him to like her, but heart began to flutter, and in that moment, she knew she did.