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Loose Ends

By MaxCale

Romance

Summer's End

Adrian and Ben spent the last two weeks of the summer at each other's houses talking about their baby and working out systems for things that they both could agree on. Talking through their worries and fears with each other helped erase most of them and what worries or fears they couldn't soothe they talked to their parents about. Adrian and Ben both felt much calmer about their impending parenthood now that they had a plan. They found out the sex of their baby at their last ultrasound and decided that their daughter would be named Mercy, have Ben's last name, and they would adopt the same custody arrangement Ricky and Amy had, only theirs wouldn't be legally binding. Their daughter would stay with Adrian during the week while Ben came over after work to spend time with her and then she would stay at Ben's house over the weekend. Leo had offered to pay for a nanny to take care of Mercy during the school day so they didn't have to worry about child care during the week, just during Saturday morning while Ben was at work. Adrian knew she needed a job so she could take care of her daughter and she found a part time job at a used book store. She explained her situation to her boss and the woman who owned the store, having raised kids of her own, agreed to give Adrian strictly Saturday and Sunday shifts. With their plans, jobs and daycare in place Adrian knew she and Ben could really make co-parenting work. They'd become closer as friends but only time would tell if that friendship could blossom into something more.

Grace had spent the last two weeks of the summer continuing to work on herself and her friendships. She started going back to church when she got back from Med Camp. She knew she'd gotten off track somewhere along the way and decided to go back to what she knew: her faith and religious moral compass. Grace rediscovered a sense of peace once she remembered that just because she can't see the bigger picture of life doesn't mean there isn't one. She'd had some ups and downs in life and the game of love but she decided she needed to start looking at life's challenges as lessons to learn and opportunities to become a better person. She continued renewing her faith over the summer and she finally felt like she'd become centered and grounded again, and it helped her and Grant become closer. Grace had made a startling discovery: she learned that intimacy with someone was not synonymous with being sexually active. Her willingness to open her heart to Grant gave him the courage to do the same and they'd become closer than she and Jack ever had been; they even spent time having religious discussions on some of their dates.

Madison had no choice but to stay away from Jack thanks to her dad so she spent a lot of time moping over the summer. However, over the last two weeks she kept crossing paths with a guy who worked at another stand in the food court and they had started to hang out and talk on their breaks. It turned out that this guy, Justin, went to Grant High too but for some reason they had never crossed paths. He asked her out the week before school started and she told him she'd have to get her dad's permission. Her dad insisted he come over and meet with him and Justin did. He spoke with Madison's dad for a while and then he left. He made a good impression and didn't rub her dad the wrong way so he gave Madison permission to date him, so long as she promised not to have sex with him anytime soon, and by soon he meant until after they'd graduated from college.

Lauren hadn't been allowed to see Jesse most of the summer, as punishment for her and Madison's little sleepover, but during the last two weeks they'd been allowed to date again. Since they hadn't been dating long before they were forced to be separated, they spent most of the last two weeks getting reacquainted and, like her two best friends, she was very much in the lovey, dovey, starry-eyed phase of her relationship. Even so, she made sure to still find time to hang out with her best friends for some girl time.

Jack, having no one to date and being busy with football most of every day, spent a lot of time in reflection. He'd spent a lot of time during the summer thinking about his relationship with Grace and how and why he'd screwed it all up. He thought about how and why he started cheating on Grace with Madison as well. He dissected both of those past relationships and examined his feelings for both young women. Jack found that at the end of the day he cared deeply about both of them, he just wasn't sure which one he wanted to be with more, and if he wanted a relationship that didn't include sex. He knew right from wrong and knew that he shouldn't be with either Grace or Madison until he was sure how he felt for each of them and what kind of relationship he actually wanted with them. He cared about them both too much not to be friends with them but he decided to take a break from dating and just focus on his schoolwork and football when school started until he could get his head straight.

Ricky and Amy were confusing the daylights out of people they encountered during the last two weeks of the summer and making their parents giggle at their behavior. At first glance they appeared to be two teenagers solidly in the lovey-dovey, starry-eyed phase of their relationship. The love was written all over their faces and people could see how in love they were from the way they acted around each other and how much they kissed and touched each other. However, if you happened to overhear them having a conversation you'd think they'd been married for years. They'd gotten to know each other so well over the summer that they lovingly teased each other, talked about anything and everything, and were completely open and honest with each other, almost as though they'd been together so long there just weren't any more secrets to hide or facades to keep up. They continued their weekly dinners and Saturday family outings but their parents occasionally watched John so they could go out on a date. One of the new things about Amy that made Ricky constantly smile was the sight of the locket around her neck. Since the night he'd given it to her Amy had worn it every day. What he didn't know was that she only took it off long enough to shower before putting it right back on.

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