This was it; two weeks had passed since Max had received the email and tomorrow would be the opening of the exhibition at an acclaimed gallery downtown. By the end of week one, Max had managed to capture ten new pictures for her exhibition. Most of them depicted random people in the streets or in shops but one of them was of Chloe and Rachel which she had captured one day when the three of them were out for a walk. Max had gone to get them some iced tea and as she was returning, she had stopped a few meters away from her girlfriends, capturing them the moment Rachel was laughing wholeheartedly at something the punk had said and looking at Chloe with pure adoration in her eyes. Max had asked them if it would be alright to use the picture for the exhibition and both had readily agreed to it.
The beginning of the second week had been more stressful as it consisted of editing and getting in touch with the organisers to send them her finished product and talk about all the details of setting her pictures up, going to the gallery in person and meeting the people in charge. Max may or may not have internally screamed when she learned that an esteemed photographer who happened to be one of her favourites was part of the committee.
Max sat at her small desk at the photography workshop she part-timed, not realizing how quick two weeks had flown by. She was finishing up with some last-minute tasks before she closed shop and headed out to meet Rachel, Chloe and her parents for dinner. Ryan and Vanessa had flown in yesterday to come and support their daughter. Even Joyce and David were coming but would be arriving tonight, so Chloe would have to leave earlier to go pick them up from the airport.
Max’s mind drifted back to the time she had travelled to visit her parents in February, about a week after Rachel, Chloe and her had become a thing. She hadn’t seen them over the Christmas holidays as the three of them had gone to spend those days in Arcadia Bay. It had been fun as friends but now Max couldn’t wait to spend the next Christmas together with them as partners.
During those festive days, Rachel had made an effort to go see her step-mother. She no longer talked to her father but had agreed to meet Rose over coffee after the latter had invited her out upon hearing she would be in town. Chloe and Max had come to pick her that day and it was then that Max had met Rose for the first time. She had seemed like a very calm and caring woman albeit the sorrow in her eyes from what Max now knew came from a broken family. Rose had always been kind to Chloe but she hadn’t seemed thrilled to see that the punk was now dating her daughter, whether it was actually true or not, she never said anything and kept it to herself.
The photographer also recalled how nervous she had been about telling her parents about her new relationship. It had been a stressful day to say the least.
Max had landed in Seattle surprisingly without any delay. As she got off the plane and made her way inside to pick up her luggage, she phoned Rachel ; having promised to call them the minute she landed to inform them that she arrived safely.
“Max! How was the flight? Oh and you’re on speaker.” Rachel said the moment she answered the phone, relieved at hearing her girlfriend’s voice.
“Hey! The flight was on time, but it was bumpy as heck and there was a baby crying all the time so now I have a headache.” Max rubbed the side of her head in an attempt to try and alleviate some of the tension.
“See? You should have stayed here. I miss you already.” Chloe chimed in.
“Chloe, I’ve only been gone for four hours.” Max smiled nonetheless to herself, feeling giddy at hearing the other say she missed her already. They were officially together for a little over a week now but the photographer still had a hard time believing it.
“Four hours too many!”
“I’ll be back in three days.”
“Don’t worry Max I’ll keep her good company.” Rachel said in a playful tone and Max was grateful that they were talking on the phone and not video calling so she didn’t need to hide her blush. “But tell me, how are you feeling? Are you ready?” Max knew that Rachel was referring to the talk she was bound to have with her parents. To tell them about their three-way relationship. It wasn’t something she was looking forward to at all.
“I don’t think I’ll ever be. Chloe? How did you tell Joyce?” The photographer asked, hoping that the punk might have some useful advice to give.
“Well I called and asked her “Mom, what’s better than one girlfriend? Two girlfriends!”” Max could hear a muffled laugh from the other end of the line that was probably Rachel’s. “She was surprised at first, but she got over it quickly. After so many years of dealing with me as a daughter I don’t think a lot of things shake her up anymore. Plus, you know her Max. Joyce adores you, so she was happy.”
“Chlo, I’m serious. I’m trying really hard not to freak out.” Max was worried as she restlessly played with one of the drawstrings of her hoodie.
“Dude, it’ll be alright. Your parents are hella cool. I’m sure it will be fine.” Chloe tried to reassure her.
“Love, I know I have only met your parents a few times but from what you and Chloe have told me they sound like caring and understanding people. You’ll see, it will work out.” Rachel added in a comforting voice.
“I hope so. I have to go, I just picked up my luggage. Talk later!”
“Catch you later babe! Say hi to them for me.” Chloe answered.
“Enjoy your stay Max.” Rachel added before ending the call.
Max breathed in deeply while putting her phone away. She was excited to see her parents again and pass by her favourite spots in the city but all that had to wait because she knew that if she didn’t get this off her chest as soon as possible it would sour her mood and she’d be constantly on edge.
“Sweetheart!” Vanessa’s voice brought her back from her musing the moment she walked into the welcoming area.
“Mom!” Max exclaimed when she saw her mother and rushed over to hug her.
“Oh we missed you so much!” Vanessa spoke barely containing her excitement before kissing Max’s head.
“Come give your old man a hug!” Ryan said once Max was free from Vanessa’s embrace.
“Hey dad!” The photographer gave him a broad smile and hugged her father tightly.
“How’s my world-famous photographer doing?” Ryan flashed her a big proud dad grin.
“If by world-famous you mean juggling part-time work and freelance and no exhibitions to showcase, then I’m doing great!”
Ryan let out a big belly laugh while ruffling Max’s hair. “Don’t let it dampen your spirit kid. You’ll get there, I’m certain.”
The crisp air sent a chill down the photographer’s spine once all three exited the airport. The weather up here was nothing like that of L.A and Max had to dig out her thick coat and warm clothes for her trip.
She zipped up her jacket and fished out Chloe’s beanie from her pocket. The scent of the punk’s shampoo still clung to the fabric and Max fought back the urge to bring the fabric to her nose and breathe in. Okay she missed her girlfriends too.
“Max, sweetheart, are you coming?” Vanessa observed her daughter who had stopped mid-stride and was looking at a dark blue beanie while smiling at it like it had just confessed to her.
“Yes, sorry mom, coming!” Max said as she put it on and started walking fast to catch up to her parents.
“New hat?” Vanessa asked when her daughter fell into step next to her.
“Yes-No, I mean it’s Chloe’s.” Max stuttered and averted her gaze, feeling her cheeks burn. Ugh why was she like this?
“Ah I see. Nice of her to give it to you.” Vanessa smiled and Max got the feeling that her mother knew more than she was letting on.
Nostalgia hit her hard when Max entered her family home. The place was warm and firewood was already laying in the fireplace, ready to be used. A pleasant aroma from a recently cooked dinner wafted through the air and reminded Max just how hungry she was.
“That smells delicious.” Max said as she took off her coat and shoes and looked around to see if anything in the decoration had changed since the last time she was here.
“That would be the roast.” Said Ryan as he too stepped inside and put Max’s luggage to the side.
“Man, I’m starving.”
“Good because your father made enough to feed the neighbourhood.” Vanessa walked to the dining table to start setting it up, after she shed her thick jacket as well.
“How about you go and get settled in while we prepare everything?” Ryan called out from the kitchen.
“That would be great. I’ll just go and put my stuff away.” Max said as she took her things and headed upstairs to her old room.
The bed was already made with a pair of fresh towels waiting for the brunette, sitting on top of it. Max smiled and looked around at the empty walls that once were decorated with posters and polaroid pictures. The marks of the tape could still be seen at some parts where the paint had flaked off. It felt like a decade had passed since the last time she was in here. So much had happened since then that had changed her forever. She had gotten freaking time powers, reconnected with her best friend which she had to watch die one too many times, gotten kidnapped by a photographer she once idolised, changed timeline to save Chloe and Rachel who she was now dating. So yeah, one could say that Max had had some eventful years.
Before joining her parents, the brunette took out her phone to text Chloe and Rachel on their group chat that she was at home and preparing to eat dinner and that she would talk to them later.
Max was starting to get anxious as the time neared to tell her parents about her new relationship status. She had practiced countless of hours the speech she would give, each time altering it until she had given up. She would swing it.
The discussion over dinner flew by pleasantly as the three properly caught up. At some point, the brunette told them about her work and the free-lance jobs she did on the side and also showed them some pictures on her phone of their apartment.
However, as time passed, Max got all the more nervous and realised she couldn’t postpone this any longer.
“Mom, Dad… I-I have something I want to tell you.” Max began. She swallowed hard, feeling her stomach turn into a knot. She glanced at her parents who were looking at her carefully.
“What is it honey?” Vanessa asked. She had seen her daughter be more distracted than usual the whole day but hadn’t pushed her to say anything, wanting to give her time so Max herself could speak up if she wanted to.
Oh boy, here goes. Max thought as she took a deep breath.
“You know that Chloe and I have known each other for years and she’s always been one of my best friends.” Vanessa and Ryan nodded, not saying anything and allowing their daughter to continue.
“What I’m trying to say is that we’re not just friends any more…” Max let the rest of the sentence speak for itself, hoping that her parents would understand what she was implying.
“Oh my God! I knew it!” Vanessa exclaimed, eyes widening and mouth hanging open. “I knew there was something about that grin when you stared at the beanie or whenever you looked at your phone. But wait.” Vanessa’s expression turned to one of confusion. “Isn’t Chloe with Rachel? Did they break up?!”
“Yeah about that… No, they didn’t.” Max said, looking uncomfortable under the intense and shocked faces of her parents.
“Please explain then, because I don’t like what you’re insinuating.” Ryan spoke in a stern voice.
It took a moment for her father’s words to click in Max’s head.
“Oh no! God no. There’s no cheating involved!” She rushed to say and mentally kicked herself for not just saying everything at once and letting her parents believe such a thing.
“One day we sat and talked and we um… decided that all three of us would be together. I know that it might be hard to understand or that it’s not what’s normally accepted. But Mom, Dad I- I love them both…” The photographer felt her entire body become stiff under the scrutinising gaze of her parents.
Vanessa and Ryan sat speechless for what felt like eternity. This was not what they were expecting to discuss over family dinner after months of not seeing their daughter. They didn’t mind that their daughter was dating another girl but two? That was a harder pill to swallow.
“Max.” Ryan began but was interrupted.
“Please just hear me out first.” Max intervened wanting to have a chance to explain and tell them how she felt before they jumped to conclusions. She didn’t really enjoy being so open about her personal life because she felt awkward discussing it with her parents, but it had to be done.
“Like I said, we all three talked. In fact, I had no intention of ever revealing my feelings because I didn’t want to get in their way but one day Rachel sat Chloe and me down and cleared the air. Turns out all three of us had feelings for each other. So instead of suppressing them and pretending they don’t exist we did something about it.” Max paused looking at her parents. She wasn’t going to lie, it felt good to finally come clean.
“I can’t begin to tell you how they make me feel. They are both such incredible people. I know it will be difficult at first but please let me see this through. I made this decision and I intend to stick by it.” A wave of courage pulsed inside her as she gave her last explanation.
“Well, um I don’t know what to say Max.” Ryan said, still trying to process all of this.
“Max all we ever wanted was for you to be happy. And I don’t know if this will bring you more joy or pain.” Vanessa spoke in a tender voice as she took in the stressed expression of her daughter.
“Mom believe me when I say this, I don’t remember the last time I was this happy. You know Chloe and I am sure you will love Rachel once you get to know her better. All I’m asking is for you to give them a chance and be a bit open-minded.”
Both her parents then gave her The Look.
“Okay you already are, even more open-minded?” Max offered with a side smile.
An uncomfortable silence settled over them once more and Max felt like time had stopped again. She poked the half-eaten veggies on her plate with the fork, not knowing what else to do with her idle hands while she waited for her parents to say something, anything.
“Look, honey. We’re your parents. It is our job worry.” Ryan said in a lighter voice. “We just want you to make the right choices, but we can’t force you. You’re an adult now and you’ll have to make a lot of decisions about your life and learn to deal with the consequences of those outcomes. I just want you to know that we will always be here to support you and help you in any way we can, even if sometimes we might not completely agree.” Ryan finished his small speech and glanced over at Vanessa.
“I couldn’t have said it better.” Vanessa nodded. “That doesn’t mean we still don’t have our reservations about this, but it’s already done so we can only try our best to understand and support you.”
“You guys!” Max couldn’t believe her ears, immediately getting up to go and hug her parents as a wave of relief and joy washed over her. She really did have the best parents. “Thank you. I love you both so much.”
“We love you too sweetie.” Vanessa hugged back. “Now, how about dessert and you tell us how you…three got together?”
“Yes for the dessert but can we skip the other part?” Max asked, not keen on having another uncomfortable conversation.
“Absolutely not. You can’t expect us to stay out of the loop after dropping a bomb like that.”
Max looked at her dad with pleading eyes, asking silently for help.
“Don’t look at me kid, you know that once she sets her mind on something, there’s no backing down.”
Max sighed in resignation while Vanessa came back from the kitchen with a freshly baked malt cake and a litre of vanilla ice cream which she carried under her arm.
“Oh man that looks good. I’ll be leaving here with an extra 10 pounds.” Max said as she greedily eyed the cake and ice cream.
“You have no reason to worry about that unlike me.” Ryan joked, tapping his belly that had begun to round a bit.
“Don’t listen to your father honey, he is perfectly fine.” Vanessa said and placed a small kiss on Ryan’s cheek.
“You guys are disgustingly cute.” Max poked fun at them but was happy to see how in love her parents were still in.
“I’ll remember that Max, next time we come visit and see how you are around Chloe and Rachel.” Ryan retorted.
Well shit. She had dug her own grave.
“So, how did you girls get together?” Vanessa asked after having served the dessert.
Max thought for a minute while she took a big bite of her cake with some ice cream enjoying the contrast between the two temperatures and without realising she was smiling like an idiot upon recalling the memory. Ryan and Vanessa cast a knowing look at each other.
“Well, I kind of had feelings for Chloe for a long time…” Max said in a low voice, putting her spoon aside to massage the back of her neck.
“I thought as much.” Vanessa nodded and looked at Ryan as if saying I told you so.
“Really?!” Max sounded surprised.
“I had my suspicions.”
“Apparently I am not good at hiding it…” Max said remembering how Rachel had read her like an open book. “Anyway…towards the end of my year at Blackwell I developed a crush for Rachel but never really thought anything of it until we all moved in together and by then that crush had blown out of proportions into something more.” The photographer felt a bit weird relaying all this to her parents but continued, nonetheless. “About a week ago Rachel kinda called out mine and Chloe’s bulls-“ Ryan gave her a look. “I mean bluff. And sat us down. We talked and talked. And decided to try it out.” The photographer wrapped it up as quickly and as painlessly as possible. There was no way in hell that she would go into further details in this or any other reality that might exist out there.
“You mentioned you loved them. I assume you haven’t told them yet, right?” Vanessa guessed. She had hit the nail on the head.
Max shook her head. She desperately wanted to but didn’t know how to bring it up.
“Don’t worry. It will come naturally.” Vanessa reassured Max, giving her a warm smile.
The photographer felt extremely grateful to be getting such support. It eased the turmoil inside her chest and allowed her to relax and enjoy the rest of the evening with her parents. Showing them pictures of Chloe, Rachel and herself while telling them about what each of her girlfriends were up to.
When it was time to call it a night because the trip was taking its toll, Max said her goodnights and went to take a warm bath before crashing on her bed. She did, however, call Rachel and Chloe to tell them how the talk had gone as both had been worried and anticipated Max’s call that night.
The next few days passed in a blink of an eye. Max had visited all her favourite spots while in the city and caught up with friends and before she knew it she was once more at the airport with her parents.
“We will miss you so much sweetheart.” Vanessa hugged her daughter tightly, not wanting to let go.
“I will miss you too mom. You too dad.” She said as she went to hug her father as well.
“Take care honey. Hopefully, next time we will be able to come visit and say hello to your girlfriends.” Vanessa winked at Max who felt an overwhelming sense of joy at how accepting her parents were.
“Say hello to them for us and take care of each other. Otherwise we will have to put on our strict parent faces.” Ryan joked although Max felt that there was some truth to his words and wasn’t planning on finding out.
The loud sound of a car honking woke Max from her reverie and made her jump in her seat. She realised that after finishing her work she had zoned out and not paid attention to her phone. Max quickly switched off her computer, grabbed her things and headed out of the office.
Waiting outside the office building was Rachel and Chloe, sitting inside the old truck which the punk had kept running. They had come to pick up the photographer so all three could go meet Max’s parents for dinner.
“You could have texted.” Max said to Chloe as she opened the passenger’s door, only now calming down from the fright she got earlier. Rachel scooted over, closer to the punk to make space for the brunette.
“Where’s the fun in that?” Chloe gave Max her world-famous shit-eating grin. “But dude, check your phone.” She added once Max was inside.
The photographer looked at her phone only to see a text from Chloe saying that there would be there in five minutes and two missed calls from Rachel.
“Oh. Sorry?” Max raised her shoulder and tried to look innocent while Chloe drove off.
“Which planet were you visiting this time baby?” Rachel asked before placing a kiss on the other’s cheek.
“Parent Planet. I remembered the time I had gone home and told them about us and how anxious I was.”
“You and us as well.” Chloe said without turning to face Max, keeping her eyes on the road.
“You were?!” Max inquired a bit surprised.
“Of course! We wanted everything to work out. Chloe and I both know how close you are to your parents.” Rachel explained as she placed her hand over Max’s, gently caressing the soft skin. “To be honest I am a bit stressed for tonight as well.” The blonde confessed, looking down at hers and Max’s hands.
“Why?” The photographer was taken aback from that confession. Even Chloe cast a quizzical look towards Rachel.
“Chloe has known them for years and I’ve met them before, but I’ve never sat and talked to them for more than ten minutes.”
“I can assure you they won’t start scrutinising every aspect of your life, if that’s what you’re worried about.” Max tried to reassure her girlfriend. She intertwined their fingers and gave a gentle squeeze.
“It’s not that. And I’m not afraid of admitting past mistakes, it’s just…” The model paused for a minute, trying to find the right words. “Max, I love you and I guess I’m scared that your parents will not like or approve of me.” Rachel finished, feeling the anxiety of meeting the parents grow the closer they got to the restaurant.
“Sweetie, there is no need to worry. Just be yourself and my parents will love you. I’m sure that you will be exchanging embarrassing stories in no time.” Max leaned in and pecked the blonde on the lips.
Rachel rested her head against Max’s and breathed in deeply. When she was younger during her years in Blackwell she tried to be in everyone’s good books. The popular and lovable façade had helped a lot in getting what she wanted and hiding her more rebellious side. She wasn’t afraid to use a bit of manipulation to get out of trouble or get what she wanted. She was not exactly proud of some actions back then but she owned up to them. Rachel, unlike Chloe, did care what people thought, not to the point of changing her personality to get someone’s approval but she still cared, and this time was no different. Especially tonight with Max’s parents. She hoped that upon getting to know her better they would be able to see how much Rachel loved their daughter.
“Max’s right babe. The Caulfields are hella cool so you don’t need to worry.” Chloe flashed both of them a quick smile.
“Yeah, we totally are!” Max said with an approving nod not once letting go of Rachel’s hand for the remainder of the ride.
The place they had picked to eat was a small traditional Japanese restaurant that was owned by a cute couple that had moved to L.A a couple years ago. Chloe had fallen on it one day when she was driving by the area and had stopped to eat a quick lunch before going back to work.
The girls entered the restaurant once they arrived and saw that Max’s parents weren’t there yet. The table they were seated at was round and big which was perfect as there would be no need to split into two groups and make this whole situation an awkward-fest. The brunette sat between her two girlfriends and looked at her phone to see if her mother had called. Just as she was about to ring them and see where they were, Vanessa and Ryan walked in with flushed faces.
“We’re so sorry. We took a wrong turn and had to make a circle and then walk the rest of the way here.” Vanessa said a bit out of breath before Max had even time to greet her.
“It’s alright mom, we just got here as well.” Max said as she hugged her mother before turning to greet her dad. “Hey dad.”
“Hello sweetheart. This place is really nice.” Ryan looked around after letting go of his daughter.
“Isn’t it? Chloe found it when-” Max was cut off by Vanessa’s excited voice.
“Chloe!” Vanessa exclaimed before taking the punk into a big embrace and nearly squeezing all the air out of her. “It’s been so long! Oh I will never get over that blue hair, you look stunning.”
“T-Thank you, it’s good to see you too.” Chloe said a bit taken aback and trying to conceal a light blush but in vain.
“Let the girl breathe honey.” Ryan joked as he walked up to the punk with a big smile. “How are you Chloe?”
“Alive and kicking!” Chloe flashed him a wide grin before going back to her seat.
“Mom, dad you remember Rachel.”
“Hello again Mrs. and Mr. Caulfield.” Rachel got up, pushing a few strands of golden hair behind her ear. With a polite smile she stretched out her arm to greet them.
“Oh please, no such formalities needed!” Ryan shook her hand.
“Max couldn’t stop talking about you when she came to visit this February. I can certainly see why.” Vanessa gave her a small smile before casting her knowing look towards Max.
“Oh my God, Mom!” Max blushed profusely as she stood beside them, hiding her face in her hands.
“Were you now?” Rachel spoke in an amusing voice, eyebrow raised up high as her lips tugged to form a small smirk.
“I have a bad feeling about this.” Max mumbled to herself as everyone took their seat around the table and began going through the menu. Why had she thought that going out with these two devils, which were her girlfriends and her parents was a good idea?
“So Rachel, Max tells us you model and act?” Ryan offered to start the conversation before the deafening silence that had settled over them became too unbearable.
“Yes. I work at a small theatre company and do modelling on the side.” Rachel said, feeling her heart beat faster than normal although no one would have guessed how stressed she was from her calm outer demeanour.
“A few months ago, she had her first big performance. She was amazing.” Chloe said with a proud smile on her face as she looked from Rachel to Max’s parents.
“We will definitely try to come to your next performance then!” Vanessa responded after placing her order to the waiter that had come to serve their table.
“I will book you two seats. Front balcony, secluded and with a great view.” Rachel offered with one of her brightest smiles.
“Hey! Even we didn’t get such exclusive seats!” Chloe protested light-heartedly.
“Hear that Ryan? We’re getting a VIP treatment. I like this girl.” Vanessa gave a gleeful smile to her daughter and Rachel.
As it turned out, Chloe had been right and the Caulfields were really easy-going people which helped subside Rachel’s restlessness and soon the model was chatting away with Max’s parents like they had known each other for years.
“I’m sure you have plenty of embarrassing stories of Max as a kid. I’d love to hear some if you wouldn’t mind.” Rachel said in a friendly voice once everyone had eaten.
“When I said that in the car, I wasn’t actually being serious!” Max gave the blonde a betrayed look. Chloe snickered when the brunette scowled at her too, clearly not happy with the turn of the conversation.
“You didn’t expect me to miss out on such an opportunity, did you now love?” Rachel spoke in that soft yet assuring voice of hers, hazel eyes taking in Max’s startled face as the photographer tried to come up with something to say in hopes to persuade her parents not to indulge her girlfriend.
“You’re cute.” Rachel chuckled and without putting much thought into it, leaned in and placed a small kiss on the brunette’s cheek. It was only after she pulled away that realization hit her, that she was sitting across Max’s parents. The tender moment obviously didn’t go unnoticed from Ryan and Vanessa who simply smiled fondly at them without saying anything. The same couldn’t be said for Chloe.
“Want us to give you two lovebirds a moment?” The punk teased and not being phased one bit by the pair of exasperated looks she received from her girlfriends.
“And this is what we have to put up with daily.” Max quipped to her parents while pointing at the punk who smiled widely as if she were being complimented.
“The sarcastic spirit is strong with this one.” Ryan came to Chloe’s defence who instantly brought her hand down to the table and laughed. “See? Appreciation!” Chloe said and raised her glass to Ryan who mirrored the move before they both took a big sip of their drink.
“Now about those stories…” Rachel prompted, eager to hear them.
“Oh no.” Max groaned. She had hoped that the small distraction would have made everyone forget what they were talking about but that surely wasn’t the case.
“We have so many. Don’t look at her now that she’s calmed down a bit, when she was small this one was a little devil.” Ryan spoke in his deep voice, smiling to himself at the images of a small Max running around the house with a towel wrapped around her neck acting as a cape.
“And we also have quite a few with you Chloe so you’re not getting out of this unscathed.” Vanessa added which caused Chloe to stop poking some leftovers with her chopsticks and sit up straight. Her face resembling a deer caught in the headlights.
“That wasn’t the agreement!” She complained.
“Oh this will be fun.” Rachel said, smirking and glancing at her two girlfriends. It was crazy with what ease she had already gotten Ryan and Vanessa to share embarrassing childhood stories instead of sitting awkwardly over a family dinner with the parents of her girlfriend.
“Hhmm let me think.” Ryan’s brows narrowed as he tried to pick out a good story. “Ah yes! Gather around for it’s time.” He said while leaning in over the table.
“Dad, no.” Max tried one last time although she knew that her pleas would fall on deaf ears.
“I’m sorry kid, but the people have spoken!” He raised his hands as if he couldn’t do anything about it. “So, this took place when I first bought a polaroid. Max was around seven or eight I believe?” He looked at his wife who nodded in agreement. “She had been intrigued and didn’t know what it was exactly so I gave it to her and told her if she pressed the round button, a picture would instantly appear. You should have seen the look on her face, it was like I had told her unicorns were real.” Ryan chuckled as Max was getting redder by the minute. Rachel placed her hand over Max’s as she was imaging the whole scenario in her head while Ryan was narrating. The model’s eyes fell on pink freckled cheeks and she could have melted on the spot.
“I asked her then to take a picture of me. However, I had forgotten to tell her about the flash and noise it made, especially the older models and so when she pressed the button-“ Ryan paused for a dramatic effect. “Max got so scared she jumped and nearly dropped the camera on the floor.” Everyone then started laughing except for one frowning photographer.
“Ha Ha very funny. You could have warned me.”
“Oh but dude if he had we wouldn’t have this golden story.” Chloe said between fits of laughter.
“But the damage was done and from then on she wouldn’t part from it.” Ryan finished the story and smiled at his daughter. A sense of pride filling him as to how far she had come.
“How about those stories with Chloe now?” Max said wanting to get back at the other and not be the only one they were sharing old, embarrassing stories of.
“Hey no, we’re talking about you here!” Chloe protested.
“Oh this one here was a troublemaker of another level.” Vanessa teased.
“I’m not surprised.” Rachel interjected, eyeing the punk who had folded her arms and slouched on the chair.
“One day we had dropped off Max at Joyce’s home so she could sleep over after these two wouldn’t stop nagging us.” Vanessa cast a meaningful glance at Chloe and Max who averted their gaze as if pretending not to know what she was talking about.
“Max must have been around ten, she secretly loved to brag that she had an older friend. One-year difference back then seemed so far apart.”
Chloe didn’t conceal her smile this time because she had secretly loved having a best friend that was younger. It had made her feel cool and all-knowing even if the age difference was so small.
“When we parked in front of your home Chloe, you burst out the door the moment we stepped out and ran towards Max but-“
“Oh no.” Chloe said now understanding what Vanessa was about to say and hiding her face in her hand.
“Oh yes. You tripped and fell face first on the ground and lost your loose baby tooth. I remember that didn’t dampen your spirits though. You didn’t even cry, you just got back up, looked at the tooth in your hand and yelled “Finally! Now we can try and send it off to space!” then you grabbed Max by the hand, and you were both off.”
“Hey I remember that! We actually did tie the tooth to a small firework rocket and launched it in your backyard.” Max recalled the events of that day and how now it felt like it was a lifetime away. “That night we got into trouble because we wouldn’t go to sleep. Remember Chlo? We’d take a flashlight, go under the covers and read from that pirate book.” Max said in an excited voice, facing the punk.
Chloe looked at Max tenderly. It was sometimes hard to wrap her head around the fact that she was sitting here with Max after everything that had happened, completely enamoured of her and reliving such old memories. Chloe realised how badly she wanted to kiss Max and that nothing was holding her back from doing so. The punk tilted her head to the side and planted her lips on Max’s before pulling away quickly.
“W-what was that for?” The photographer asked, dazed and for lack of anything better to say.
“Cause Rachel’s right. You’re cute.”
“I-I’m not!” Wow what a comeback Max thought as she could feel her cheeks burning under the watchful eyes of her girlfriends and parents. She decided to quickly stir the focus off of her before the chef from the restaurant used her face as the new kitchen stove from how hot it felt.
“You know what? Rachel, you tell us a story! You’re not getting away with this so easily.” The photographer turned to face the blonde.
“I think I’ll pass.”
“You have no choice. It’s only fair.”
“She does have a point.” Ryan interjected.
Rachel pursed her lips together as she looked around the table, everyone patiently waiting for her to say something. Crap, there was no way out of it.
“This is peer pressure you know?” The blonde eyed her girlfriends who smirked at her.
“If you don’t want to share a childhood story I could tell them about that one time we went on that day trip to Cleveland National Forest and you got-“
“Hey no, shut up! Alright, fine.” The model interrupted before the punk continued and cast a murderous look at Chloe who was sporting an evil grin. That was certainly not a family dinner friendly story.
“You’ll tell me later?” Max whispered into Chloe’s ear who nodded enthusiastically. “You’re gonna love it. It involves a raccoon running with a conspicuous object…” The punk responded in a low voice while Max snickered at the images that popped in her head, desperately wanting to hear the story.
Rachel sighed in resignation while she thought about her options.
“Well then, if you thought that these two were devils at a young age that would make me Lucifer.” Rachel began to speak. Eyes focused on Ryan and Vanessa as she tilted her head to the side pointing towards her girlfriends. “It was close to my 13th birthday and I desperately wanted to get my first lipstick but my parents had said a very rare no to me. I know how that sounds but I was very spoiled back then.” Rachel said, feeling a bit self-consious. “I remember I was so frustrated that I snuck into my parent’s room and… borrowed my mom’s most expensive lipstick. On my birthday I came out wearing it to my mother’s surprise as she had been looking everywhere for it. Needless to say, I got grounded the next day but I’ve grown out of those habits.” Rachel said the last part more for herself than anyone else.
“We sure hope so.” Vanessa said in a firm voice.
“Mom.” Max tried to intervene, feeling a wave of unrest bubble in her chest at the turn of the tone of the conversation.
“I’m sorry but the Parent Law demands we have a talk.” Ryan cut her short. “Look, we know that Rachel and Chloe had some…issues in the past and frankly we still weren’t entirely convinced of how this three-way relationship would work.” He said in a serious voice. The mood around the table had definitely shifted and all three girls sat quiet and fully aware that this could go either way.
“We know that it’s all in the past and we can see the efforts you two are putting for a better life.” Vanessa picked up where her husband left off, addressing Chloe and Rachel. “All we ever wanted is for Max to be happy and be with people she loves and love her. We had our doubts but after tonight…you proved us wrong. Just the way you girls look at one another speaks volumes. We really are happy for you.”
Max felt overwhelmed by the whole situation. She was about to open her mouth and speak when Chloe beat her to it.
“Trust us when we say, we owe Max more than you could possibly imagine. But that’s not why we are together, because of some debt. We truly do love and care for her.” The punk spoke in a determined voice, wanting to make sure Max’s parents didn’t doubt her.
“She’s an amazing woman and we are extremely lucky to be with her.” Rachel added while placing her hand over Max’s and giving the brunette a warm smile.
The photographer felt like she was about to burst with all the emotions swirling inside her. She had never been one to deal well with praise of any sorts so to now have the most important people in her life speak about her in such a manner and also get along was a lot to handle.
“Well, we see now that she is definitely in good hands.” Ryan smiled at the three women in front of him. “We’re really proud of all of you and how far you’ve come.”
“You guys stop before I take out the tissues.” Max said in all honesty.
“Too late.” Chloe said, wiping a few tears that had managed to escape her because deep inside she always wanted to be accepted in a big family and now she had it.
Both Rachel and Max looked in astonishment at the punk.
“Oh sweetie come here!” Vanessa said as she got up to go hug Chloe.
“I just got something in my eye. No big deal.” The punk said once Vanessa went back to her seat. Chloe then absentmindedly checked the time on her phone before jolting up from her chair. She had to leave right now or risk being late to pick up her mother and David from the airport.
“Oh shit! I need to leave! I’m sorry but I have to go and get my mom and David!”
“They are visiting L.A too?!” Ryan asked, surprised at the timing of it all.
“Yeah, they flew in for Max’s exhibition and combined it with some time off.” Chloe explained as she grabbed her things and put on her jacket.
“That’s incredibly nice of them. I can’t wait to see them tomorrow!” Vanessa said.
“I’m sorry to bail on you all like this but I gotta run.”
“No problem Chloe. We will see you again at the exhibition.” Ryan said and he and Vanessa got up to say goodbye.
Chloe smiled at Max’s parents before leaning down in between the brunette and Rachel. “I’ll see you at home.” She gave each a quick kiss on the lips before heading for the door while waving at the four one last time.
“Drive safe babe!” Rachel called out to her before turning her attention back to everyone else.
The four of them stayed for dessert and enjoyed the rest of the evening while chatting about the exhibition and Rachel’s play until it was time to leave. Max’s parents offered to drop the two girls off at their apartment since they had rented a car to get around for the few days they’d be here. Max and Rachel said their goodbyes and thanked Ryan and Vanessa for the meal before heading inside.
“That went well, right?” Max sat on Rachel’s lap on the couch, feeling happy yet tired. The anxiety and anticipation from tonight’s dinner had worn her down. The same was true for Rachel as well who felt a big wave of relief wash over her.
“Exceptionally well, I’d say.”
“See? Told you they’d love you.” Max looked down at the blonde and rested her forehead against the other before kissing her.
“Mmm” Rachel hummed in agreement, enjoying the feel of warm lips against hers. “Are you ready for your big day tomorrow?” The model asked once they broke apart.
“No. I feel like I might empty my dinner.” Max chewed on her bottom lip, her stomach churning from the stress. “I don’t think I’ll be able to sleep a wink even if I feel drained.”
“We’ll be right there with you babe. Trust in your work. It’s beautiful.” Rachel passed her hand through brown strands of hair while her fingertips gently pressed down on Max’s scalp, massaging it lightly.
“That feels good.” Max purred in satisfaction, she closed her eyes and lolled her head to the side, giving Rachel more access.
“Come on, let’s have a bath while we wait for Chloe. It will help you relax.”
“Will there be bubbles?” Max peered at her girlfriend through a half-open eye.
“Love, it’s me we’re talking about. The bathtub will be filled with them.”
Max’s face then split in a wide smile as she wrapped her arms around the model and nuzzled up against her neck, pressing a small kiss there. “You’re the best. I love you.” The photographer mumbled.
Rachel felt her heart swoop in her chest and do small somersaults. How could someone be this adorable? She hugged Max tightly and kissed the side of her head before motioning her to sit on the side so she could get up.
“Sit and relax while I go and prepare it.”
“Thanks, I’ll just wait here and wallow in my self-doubt.” Max joked as she lay on the couch and brought her knees to her chest.
“Have you considered a career in dramatic theatre?”
“Oh hi there Chloe!” Max retorted to the sarcastic comment. “I’ll leave that to you though, I can barely stand the idea of engaging with so many people tomorrow.”
“You got this Max. Trust me on this.” Rachel spoke in a sweet voice before pecking the brunette on the lips and leaving to prepare the bath.
Not fifteen minutes later both women were sitting in the bathtub, facing each other although with a bit of difficulty. Rachel hadn’t been joking about the amount of bubbles in this bubble bath. There were so many that they had to push them aside to be able to see one another. Unfortunately, some of them had spilled over, turning the floor into a slippery death trap.
It wasn’t long before they heard the keys to the front entrance announcing Chloe’s return.
“Max? Rachel?” Chloe called out when she didn’t see any of her girlfriends in the living room area.
“In here!” Came Rachel’s voice from the bathroom. “Careful when you enter!” The blonde warned, not wanting Chloe to slip and break anything from all the soap that was covering the floor.
“The fuck…?” The punk opened the door slowly to find Max and Rachel enjoying a warm bath with a ridiculous amount of bubbles floating on top of the water and scattered across the bathroom tiles. “Did you rob Lush and empty all their stock in our bathtub?” Chloe asked with an incredulous look on her face.
“Max wanted bubbles. I delivered.” Rachel answered nonchalantly while taking some in her palm and blowing them towards the punk. “How is Joyce and David?”
“Happy to be away for the weekend. They both say hi and wish you good luck Max.” Chloe said as she closed the door behind her and slid down against it to sit on the only place in the bathroom that didn’t have bubbles.
“That’s sweet. I will thank them tomorrow.” Max spoke in a low voice and lazily glanced at Chloe. The bath had done wonders for her tense muscles and she felt relaxed for the first time today. “Chlo, you can take my spot if you want. I’m going to go to bed now that I’m actually relaxed and before my brain decides to play out all the worst-case scenarios it has conjured for tomorrow.” Max said as she got up and out of the bathtub causing more water to spill over.
Chloe sat there for a minute staring not so discreetly at a very naked Max and feeling her throat go dry.
“You okay there love?” Max shot her a playful look as she dried up and put on her pyjamas that were resting on top of the laundry basket.
“Yeah, just admiring the view.” Chloe said while she stood up.
“Flatterer.” Max chuckled but before she could leave, Chloe took her by the arm and pulled her in for a deep kiss. The scent of fresh soap and flowers invading her senses as she kissed the brunette.
“Now you can go. Take my bed if you want, we’ll join later.” The punk offered as she undressed and stepped into the bathtub.
“Okay. Goodnight. I love you both.” Max smiled at them one last time and left to go to sleep before her mind completely woke up from the haze it was in.
“Love you too.” Rachel called out behind her.
A comfortable silence filled the room once more. Chloe sat with her back against Rachel’s chest and tilted her head back to rest it on the blonde’s shoulder. Rachel then started to run her hands over Chloe’s arms and stomach who murmured her approval.
“Tonight was actually fun. Although, I must admit, I did get a bit worried when they gave us The Talk.” Rachel spoke in a soft and low voice as she continued to caress Chloe, lifting her arm out of the water and allowing the drops from her fingers to fall on the punk’s exposed skin and trickle down. Rachel followed the drops of water with her eyes as they travelled over Chloe’s exposed chest and returned to the water just before they reached the other’s breasts.
“Yeah I was a bit on edge too but I’m glad it all worked out.”
“Mmm.” Rachel mumbled as she moved to be able to put her arms around Chloe’s body and hold her close while placing light kisses on the punk’s outstretched neck. “I missed this. Taking a bath and having you all to myself. God, I feel awful saying that. Is it bad?” Rachel shook her head and looked up at Chloe who tilted her head to face the blonde.
“No Rach, it’s okay. There’s nothing wrong with needing a quiet moment with just one of us.” Chloe reassured her by bringing her hand up to cup Rachel’s cheek and kiss her tenderly.
“You always know the right thing to say, don’t you?”
“Nope. I just know you. Plus, I’m hella awesome like that.”
“Heh, you are. I love you Chloe.” Rachel kissed back and felt the punk smile into the kiss, revelling in the pleasant warm feeling that flowed through her.
“I know, I’m very lovable.” Chloe grinned but her smugness didn’t last long as the model splashed her face with water.
“I think it’s time I got out before I start resembling a Shar-Pei.” Rachel said as she made a move to get up carefully.
“A what now?” Chloe gave her a quizzical look before shuffling forward to give her girlfriend more space.
“You know those wrinkly dogs?”
“Yeah of course those!” The punk said sarcastically as she too got out of the bathtub.
“Wait. I’ll show you.” Rachel said as she dried herself with a clean towel and kneeled to the floor to search Chloe’s jeans for her phone. When she found it, the blonde entered the digit code to unlock the screen, unfazed by the offended look Chloe gave her.
“Don’t give me that look, when it comes to passwords babe you’re so predictable.”
“I’ll pretend I didn’t hear that.” Chloe huffed and grabbed a towel as well.
“Here.” Rachel passed the phone back to the punk once she had googled an image of a Shar-Pei.
“That’s…um yeah. Kinda cute is you squint?”
“Don’t be mean! They’re cute.”
“Sure….” Chloe trailed off. It was then that she realised she had a golden opportunity.
Rachel was about to start dressing when the whole room was painted in a bright flash that made her eyes hurt from having adjusted to dim lighting.
The model cursed under her breath, being caught totally off guard.
“Perfect.” Chloe bit her lip before snapping one more photo of Rachel. “These will be a great addition to my collection.” The punk smirked, looking at the pictures of a naked Rachel on her phone.
“You know…” Rachel walked up to her girlfriend and leaned in to whisper, making sure her breath brushed over Chloe’s ear. “You could have just asked and I’d even pose for you.” She spoke with a low rumble in her voice knowing all too well what it did to Chloe.
“Fuck.” The punk breathed out heavily, her blue eyes darting to Rachel’s with a silent plea.
“No. That’s what you get for not asking.” She was so close to Chloe’s face that the punk could practically taste her lips. Before Chloe could make a move and kiss her, Rachel pulled back, leaving the punk feeling cold from the loss of the warm body that was flush against hers.
“And I’m the mean one here?” Chloe arched her eyebrow as she dried down and wrapped the towel around her.
Rachel simply shrugged off the punk’s comment and opened the door to go and fetch a mop while Chloe stayed so she could drain the bathtub. Once everything was back to normal and the floor didn’t resemble an ice-skating ring the two women quietly made their way to Chloe’s room.
Max was already in bed and seemed to be out cold. She was lying on the side of the bed that was pressed against the wall, leaving room for the other two to climb in. It wasn’t as big as Rachel’s bed so the three would have little room to move but no one cared, and neither Rachel nor Chloe wanted to leave Max alone before her big day.
The punk dropped the towel on the floor and took her pyjamas from the corner of the bed where she had thrown them this morning.
Rachel motioned for Chloe to go first and lie next to Max. The punk moved as slowly as possible so as to not wake the other. The moment she hit the bed, the mattress creaked and Chloe’s head snapped towards the photographer to see if the noise had woken her up. Thankfully, that wasn’t the case so the punk shuffled closer to the brunette to allow Rachel to cuddle up beside her.
Max was still asleep when the other two settled but the moment Chloe relaxed and stopped stirring, she felt a hand come up and rest on her stomach. Max had turned to her side and thrown her left arm and leg over Chloe, hand clutching the fabric of the punk’s shirt.
A pair of pale blue eyes looked down to see that the photographer was practically resting half her body on her. Chloe didn’t mind, in fact she welcomed it, sensing the tiniest feeling of a flutter in her stomach as she dragged her eyes away from the brunette to see Rachel smiling at both of them.
The blonde didn’t speak, she just placed a small kiss on Chloe’s cheek before resting her arm on Max’s and allowing herself to freefall into a deep sleep.