Greg opened the door.
“Welcome home,” he said softly and stood aside to let me in.
I felt my heart skip a beat and my breath literally catch, leaving me speechless at the sight before me. I was standing in an open plan living room with a small kitchenette to the right, only separated from the rest of the space by a countertop.
The room was fully furnished with a 21-inch flat screen TV, a five-seat sofa set, and even a center table with matching side ones tucked beneath it.
The shelves in the kitchen area had glass panes through which I could see glasses and plates, and as I wordlessly slowly walked on through a door at the end of the room to a self-contained bedroom, I saw that this was fully furnished too.
A Queen sized bed to one side of the room, and a small child’s cot on the other. I slowly lay C.G down on the cot and felt my eyes begin to water as I got choked up with emotion.
Having moved straight from my father’s home to Chris’, I had never had a home of my own until now, and Greg had thought of absolutely everything, down to the new sheets on the beds.
“Greg, this is too much; I’ll never be able to pay you back for all of it,” I whispered as I finally found my voice.
“Nonsense, nothing is too much for you, and as for paying me back, all I want is to know that you are safe, comfortable, and happy. If I can achieve that, then I’ve been paid in full. The only question is, do you like it?”
“Are you kidding me? I love it! I just don’t even know if I’ll be able to maintain it; how much is the rent?” I asked worriedly.
“Three hundred a month, and I have paid for six; so, by the time that is done, you’ll have a job and will be able to pay it easily.”
“I don’t know how I can ever thank you enough,” I repeated as I shook my head in disbelief at just how much he had done.
“Just be good to yourself Stephanie; don’t let anyone put you down and try to break you ever again. Get off those stupid pills as you don’t need them anymore. Be happy, and like I said, that will be more than enough for me.”
“I’ll try,” I promised.
“I think we should toast to that. Come, let’s go back to the living room, I think I have just the thing for the occasion,” he said with a wink, and taking my hand, led me back to the next room, quietly closing the door behind us.
While I sat down on my new couch in the living room, quietly looking around me, my mind still trying to take it all in, Greg went behind the kitchen counter and pulled out a bottle of champagne from the fridge, before picking out two champagne flutes from one of the kitchen cabinets.
“Champagne!” I gasped in disbelief as he brought it through, and set the glasses down before us.
“Yep; this is, after all, a reason to celebrate, isn’t it?” he smiled. “Here’s to new beginnings in your new home.”
He toasted, and then popped the bottle and poured each of us a glass. We clinked glasses and each took a sip.
“Mmm, this is great champagne,” I said appreciatively as I savoured it.
“Well, for such a big occasion, only the best would do,” he answered with a smile.
He was right; this was a big occasion, for here I was sitting in my couch, in my living room, in my home.
At night, I was going to go to sleep in my bed without the dread that had accompanied my bedtimes for so long at Chris’ place.
Sitting there, sipping on champagne, with Greg smiling at me, I felt freer and happier than I had in a long time, like a huge weight had been lifted off my chest.
I could finally breathe again.