THERE STOOD NICK with a huge I'm Sorry banner hung above his head and another one that read You've Got A Donor beside it. There were different coloured balloons that were hung on the tree branches.
"Surprise!" James and Asher whispered in my ear as they went over and joined everyone else.
I couldn't believe my eyes. Was I dreaming? Because it sure felt like it and the worst thing was that I didn't want to ever wake up if it turned out to be a dream.
Everyone was gathered there: my parents, Dr. Dave, Sara, Lisa, Hailee, Leah, Riley, Kai and Jake. I couldn't really believe that they all went out of their way to tell me I had found a donor.
"Alexis!" Nick muttered as he walked up to me and stood a considerable amount away. "I'm sorry I didn't return any of your calls or texts but this," he said as he gestured to everything around, "was what James and I were busy planning for you and I know it's not an excuse but we got Asher, Kai and Jake to be there for you when we couldn't."
I looked over to James who had his hand wrapped around Lisa's waist and a sheepish smile appeared on his face.
"That day after you told me you didn't plan to get treatment, I was angry, upset and heartbroken because I didn't want to lose you too," he spoke softly and deliberately. "I told my mum everything and do you know what she said? She told me fight for you and not give up. So I made it my mission to find you a donor if it was the last thing I could do for you."
My body was shaking uncontrollably as I watched him talk.
"I called James and he agreed to help me when I told him my plan of finding you a donor," Nick continued. "I got tested and Jake, Kai, mum and even Leah also volunteered to get tested as well because they didn't want to lose you. Though I can't exactly say Leah willingly agreed," he looked over at his little sister as he spoke and she rolled her eyes.
Tears were rolling down my face like pools of water and I had to remove my glasses just so I could wipe them away. "Who-who is it?"
Dr. Dave stepped forward and my jaw practically hit the floor once more. "Oh no it's not me," he clarified as he saw my shocked expression.
"It's actually me," Leah spoke and walked over to me. "I couldn't see my brother go through so much heartbreak and not do anything," she smiled. "You owe me big time for this."
Nick rolled his eyes but didn't object either.
I pulled her into a tight hug making sure that the IV tube did not interfere. "Thank you Leah, it really means the world to me," I said as I pulled back from the embrace. "I can't believe you all did this for me, I feel like I'm going to faint from all this support."
"Please don't faint on us," Kai smiled, "because then Jake might faint too."
Everyone laughed at his lame joke though I suspected he wasn't completely wrong.
My mum pulled me into a hug and quietly sobbed on my shoulder. "Thank you," she whispered in my ear and quickly wiped her tears away before she joined Dr. Dave and dad.
Sara came over and offered me a huge grin before she left to check on one of her patients who in her own words, "always complained about everything and nothing at the same time."
Hailee walked up to me with a tiny bag in her hand. "I'm so thankful that you've come in our lives," she said, "I've never seen Leah do anything nice for her brother and it's all thanks to you," she smiled.
I smiled gratefully. "You don't have to thank me Hailee, I'm the one who is truly grateful for what your family has and will do for me," I told her sincerely, "I honestly can't imagine how proud you must be to have a daughter like her."
"She's a handful, but she's better than Kayla was," Hailee answered and smiled at the memory of her late daughter, "before I forget, I baked you some brownies because Nick told me you absolutely loved the ones he baked," she said as she handed me the tiny bag.
"This is my cue to leave," she said and nudged me in Nick's direction who was slowly approaching me. "Thank you again."
"Hey there!" Nick said with his hands in his pockets as he rocked back and forth on the heels of his boots.
"Hey!" I replied still dazed at the fact that he planned everything. "Thank you for everything and I know I don't deserve it or your forgiveness."
"You don't have to thank me, James actually helped a great deal," he said, "and you do deserve this. You deserve to live and that's what you've got. Another chance at life."
Seems like today was the day for hugs because before I could comprehend what I was doing, I had already wrapped my arms around his torso and buried my head in his chest. He gently wrapped his hands around me and pulled me even further into him. His intoxicating smell engulfed my senses and I realised just how much I had missed him.
"God I missed you so damn much," he breathed in my hair.
"I missed you too," I whispered back holding onto him even tighter, afraid that if I let go then I wouldn't ever see or hold him ever again.
He pulled back a little and kissed me tenderly on my lips.
"All right you two love birds, break it up," Kai clapped his hands with a grin as he and Jake made their way to us. "There is a child here," he gestured to Leah who was hunched over her phone by the door, "and parents too."
Nick rolled his eyes and whispered huskily in my ear, "I would have done more than just peck your lips," before he let go and slung his hand over my shoulder. "What do you want Easton?"
"I just want to talk with my friends, is that a bad thing?" his grin grew even wider as he pulled me out of Nick's hold and into his.
"Yes! You can't just come strolling here and stealing my girlfriend away from me," Nick spoke as he glared at his friend who now had his hand slung casually over my shoulder.
Kai shrugged as Jake and I quietly watched them banter back and forth between themselves.
"She's still my friend and was my friend before you came into the picture. So tough luck buddy," he answered.
"But she's my girlfriend now and I want to spend time with her, alone," Nick countered.
"Grow up, would you?"
"I am grown up. You're the one acting like an immature child right now."
Jake and I kept looking back and forth between them before we burst out laughing at their idiocracy.
"What's so funny?" Nick asked us.
"You both," Jake replied still laughing.
"You act like an old married couple," I joined as tears began to brim in my tears. "Honestly, it's both sad and adorable at the same time."
Kai's hand dropped from around my shoulder and he and Nick turned to playfully glare at Jake and I.
"No we do not!" they said at the same time and then looked at each other as Jake and I did the same thing. The only difference being that we were laughing at them.
"The irony of this all," Jake muttered.
"Shut up!" Nick said and smacked him upside the head.
"Ouch, that hurt you know," Jake whined as he rubbed the sore spot.
Dr. Dave walked up to us and smiled in my direction. "I think you've been on your feet for long, it's time to get you rested and prepared for the surgery," he said. "Would any of your boys help her back to her room?"
"Wait!" I said before anyone could say anything. "When is the surgery?"
"About two weeks from now," Dr. Dave responded, "but you shouldn't worry yourself over it. For now, just Carpe diem," he said and threw me a charming smile before he left the garden.
"He is a very weird but utterly charming man," Jake said as he looked in the direction he had gone.
"He is isn't he? But I like him just like that," I answered truthfully. "Jake do you mind helping me back to my room?" I asked.
"I was going to offer to help you," Nick said frowning.
"I know but I want Jake."
Jake laughed at the dumbfounded look that washed across Nick's face from my words before he gently led me out of the garden and back to my room.
Hopefully this won't end up being the last room I ever sleep in, I thought as Jake tucked me under the covers.
"Don't worry, the surgery will go well," he spoke answering my thoughts. "You need not worry yourself over it just like the doc said," he said as he sat at the edge of the bed.
"I know, but I still can't help think that something might go wrong and I might not make it out alive," I responded groggily. "I don't want to have fake hope just to have it come crushing down on me."
Jake was quiet as he ran a hand through his hair and stared at the dark television screen. "I don't know what to say to that," he began, "but if I were one of those huge motivational speakers, spiritual gurus or whatever, then I would tell you that life is a great mystery and all we can ever do is live it one day at a time and not worry about what tomorrow has to offer."
My eyes grew heavier by the second as I run his words over and over again in my head. "Thank you for being my friend," I whispered.
"Anytime Alexis. Sleep tight," was the last thing I heard before I fell asleep.