Mending and Myself
Leah’s POV :
I don’t feel like waking up early now that I know I don’t have anything to do other than sit at home and try not to think about things that make me sad. I would call up and ask Tracy, Kevin and Maggie to meet me up at my place but Maggie is bringing Peggy to her weekly appointment and Tracy and Kevin have many things to figure out between themselves.
I’d hang out with Grant but he’s leaving for college today and since neither of my parents went to work due to the unplanned leave I made them take, they have double work to do today. Dad has to shoot a new episode of his show as well as show up at the restaurant and Mom has meetings with countless models and sponsors for her upcoming fashion show.
Conclusion : Everybody has something to do today, everyone but me, Lazy Leah Carmen.
I sigh and roll in my bed. School starts in day after tomorrow and I have already completed all my assignments that are due this month so homework is not an option either. Sucks to be me.
Since I can’t sleep anymore, my thoughts jumbled and all, I decide to get up and face the day, bid Grant goodbye and all. After showering and putting on a fresh set of pajamas, I trail downstairs lazily, suppressing a yawn and find myself in the dining room where everyone is enjoying their breakfast without me. Guess their day started early.
“About time you woke up. I was going to leave without seeing.” Grant mumbled through mouthful of food.
I grimaced. “I wouldn’t have given you the pleasure of seeing my beautiful face if I knew you were still not gone.”
“You love me.” He comments and I roll my eyes without throwing a retort at him.
Dad passes me a plate of eggs and toast and a cup of coffee when I go to sit beside Mom. She looks at me and raises a brow, “You’re not going to the cafe today?” She asks innocently and I grunt, annoyed at her.
“And I thought I was grounded?” I ask.
Grant grins smugly at me. “I convinced her.” He says proudly.
She smiles innocently. “Well, that and yesterday’s outing got you some extra credits so...” She trails off, shrugging.
I squeal excitedly and crush her in a hug. “Thank you, Mom. Thank you, Thank, you, Thank you so much!”
Mom laughs and Grants grunts, annoyed. “I should be getting the thank you seeing I convinced her.”
I grin cheekily at him. “Well, your prize is me : the world’s most amazing sister ever!”
He mutters something under his breath and rolls his eyes but I can see the smile he’s trying to hide. Dad grunts behind me. “I’m not happy with her going back to the place that boy works.” He says referring to Axel.
I roll my eyes and turn to him giving him my best puppy dog eyes. He grunts something under his breath but gives in. “Fine, but don’t disappear into the night with him again and answer your phone when I call.”
I jump and tackle him in a hug. “Thank you, Daddy dearest.” I run off upstairs screaming, “I’m going to get ready!”
When I finally come back downstairs, Grant is hugging Mom who is on the verge of crying and Dad is stuffing his bags in his car. “Come on, buddy. Time to hit the road.” He calls Grant over.
My brother nods and whispers something in Mom’s ears and kisses her cheeks. He looks over at me and smiles. “Come on, Lee Bear. I’ll give you a lift.” I nod and follow him outside. Grant hugs Dad and then, we head off towards the cafe.
The ride is mostly silent with music flowing in the car when he asks me something I wasn’t ready to acknowledge and I tense.
“You and Sean broke up, didn’t you?”
Not exactly, I want to say. He kissed Ronnie, my ex best friend.
But I don’t. I shift uncomfortably in my seat. “I don’t want to talk about it.” I say instead.
Grant sighs. “Leah, I know something’s up between you guys. Remember I saw him with Veronica the day we went Christmas shopping? I already have a -”
“Grant, I said I don’t want to talk about it.” I snap, cutting him off. Immediately, guilt floods in my heart when I see the hurt look on his face.
“I just want to be there for you.” He says softly.
I sigh. “I know, Grant. And I’m sorry. I just - I’m in a good mood these days and I don’t want to think and talk about things that make me sad.”
“I understand. But you can’t keep running away from things like this, Lee Bear. You’ve got to face them”
Nothing more is said and while I’m lost in my thoughts, the drive to the cafe is complete. We both get out and I feel a little emotional when I realize that this is the time for the goodbye. I hug him, wrapping and arms around his waist and he tightens his arms around me. “I’ll miss you.” I mumble in his chest.
He lets out a deep breath. “Me too, Love. Just remember, whenever you need me, just give me a call and I’ll be by your side as soon as I could.”
I pull away and nod, giving him a soft smile. He smiles back and backs away from me. “Go ahead. And get back home in time.” He reminds me before getting into the car and driving away.
I sigh before turning on my heels and making my way towards the cafe doors. There is just another couple in their aside from me but I don’t pay them any attention as I make my way towards the counter. Axel looks up at me and scowls, turning away to make coffee which I guess will be mine.
“I see Mr. Scowls is back.” I say leaning over the counter, my folded arms tucked under me.
He turns back after a moment, passing the cup towards me and opens his mouth to say something but I don’t get to hear his reply as a loud shriek takes away my attention. “Leah!”
I smile when I spot Emilia jumping over the counter and running to me, tackling me in a hug. Thankfully, I wasn’t holding the cup in my hand or we’d be burned by now. I chuckle. “I missed you too.”
She pulls back giving me a bright smile. “I did too! But I told Grams all about you. Did you come here while I was gone?” She asked but then she shook her head. “Wait, why am I asking stupid questions? Axel usually keeps the cafe closed so obviously you weren’t here.”
I turn to look at Axel and he meets my eyes, shaking his head, answering the unvoiced question. I look away and frown. So he didn’t tell anyone about what happened while Emilia and Julie were gone. Was there any specific reason? I couldn’t help the little constriction of my hurt but I masked it with a smile.
“I’m sorry I couldn’t come back yesterday. My brother left for college today so we were having a family day.” I say instead.
Emilia waves me off. “No problem. I can talk to you double today to make up for yesterday.” She grinned.
I chuckled. “I’d like that.”
I took my cup of coffee and walked to my usual booth with Emilia following me. She took a seat across from me and I decided to ask the one question that always had me curious. “Emmy, I’ve noticed that there aren’t many customer coming in here. How do you guys manage?”
Emilia chuckled. “This cafe isn’t our source of income. Mom is a nurse and she gets paid well to manage three people. The cafe was Dad’s dream but he passed away months after we opened this place. Mom wanted to keep it running in his memory so Axel and I work and manage here. Sometimes my cousins come around when we have a crown like on Christmas Eve. Henry was Dad’s friend and they dreamed Holden together. He stayed with us even after his death. Margo works with Mom at the hospital and sometimes drops by to help and Abigail has known Axel for forever. So we have enough people to help out when we need but it’s not our main business.” She explains.
I nod, taking all the information in but only one thing sticks around. “Are Axel and Abigail together?” I ask before I can think twice and mentally curse myself.
Emilia chuckles but the voice that answers is not hers.
“No.” I don’t even have to turn around because Axel is already keeping a plate of fries and pizza in front of me as he takes a seat beside Emilia. He doesn’t continue but munches on my fries.
“Aren’t you afraid of getting cooties?” Emilia asked, letting out an amused chuckle.
“You aren’t funny, Emmy.” He sighs. “I’m bored.”
Emilia raises her eyebrows. “And you thought it would be fun to join us? Since when are you not repellent to Leah?”
He shrugs, locking eyes with me. “We bonded over New Year.”
I meet his eyes with equal intensity and I feel as if he’s trying to tell me something without speaking. I bite my lips and bow my head to hide the smile that is threatening to break. So maybe he didn’t purposefully hide our ‘bonding’ as he put it. Maybe I just didn’t come up in the conversation.
“Wow, any chance you’re going to fulfill Adira’s dream of being a couple anytime soon?” Emmy muses.
“Again, Emmy, ” Axel drawls, “You’re not funny. Anyways, weren’t you dying to tell her what you did at Grams’?” He says pointing at me.
The conversation takes a swift turn to Emilia’s mini vacation and she starts ranting off everything she has ever learned to speak. One topic leads to another and I’m laughing, smiling, enjoying myself with the two people who have come to matter.
If I had any doubt that there absence in my life would affect me, it’s clear now that I’ll be more than missing them if we ever fall apart. And I also realize that I don’t want to think about it.
Sometime during lunch, Emilia excused herself and didn’t come for a long while but what I thought would be an awkward silence with Axel was actually an interesting conversation about our personal views on random things.
By the time I leave the cafe and start my trek back home, I take a deep, freeing breath and take in my surroundings. I can feel things getting better. I know I’ve still got a long way to go but what matters is that I have at least started the journey I didn’t think I was strong enough to make.
I take a moment to mentally thank myself for not letting the weakness hover for too long and to not lose myself when I thought I lost everything that ever mattered.