“I got you a job!” I said, smiling big at him. He just stared at me, gobsmacked.
“A-a job?” he asked, still not believing what I had said. I nodded happily. “What job?”
“A cleaner’s job. I know it’s not the best but-” He cut me off.
“It’s perfect. Thank you.” Then he hugged me, and I saw Lucy’s smiling face over his shoulder. “Who am I working for?” he asked when he pulled back.
“This is the best part. You’re working for my stepmom and you get ten dollars per hour,” I said.
“Ten...dollars?” Asa asked. I nodded.
“Is that a lot?” I asked.
“I usually get a fraction of that for the other jobs I do,” Asa said.
“Well, then, I guess you’ll be living rich!” I said, laughing. He laughed with me, but then he said,
“What am I going to do about the girls?”
“I’ll watch them,” said. “You’re going to need to clean Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays every week. I’ll watch the girls while you’re cleaning.”
“No but’s. I’m watching the girls, you’re cleaning that’s final. My stepmom will probably make a list of things you need to do, which means you’ll get at least twenty dollars each day you clean,” I said. He looked at me disbelievingly.
“Twenty dollars? That more than I’ve ever earned in one day, let alone one month, since...forever,” Asa said.
“Well, this is a pretty good-paying job,” I said teasingly, nudging his shoulder with mine.
“I know of another place that you can work,” Jordan piped up. “The store that I work at is looking for more part-time help. You can work there on Tuesdays and Thursdays.”
“What am I going to do with the girls?” Asa asked.
“Don’t worry about them, I’ll take care of them,” I said.
“Thank you,” Asa said, looking at me. Then to Jordan, “Thank you.” We both nodded. “Now living at the school won’t seem so bad if we have some money,” Asa said.
“I’m still trying to work out your living situation, but I’ll make that better, too,” I said.
“No, no, you’ve already done too much,” Asa protested.
“Nonsense. I already told you that I’m going to help you until I find you somewhere to live; I’m not done yet,” I said.
“Hey, Morg?” Lucy cut in.
“Yeah, Luce?” I asked.
“You should ask him what his song is,” she stage whispered to me.
“He already asked me,” I stage whispered back. She looked surprised.
“And?” she prompted.
“It matches,” I said proudly. She squealed and hugged me. Asa and Jordan looked at each other, seeming to communicate with their eyes.
“We should go to the mall to celebrate!” Lucy said. Asa began to shake his head but before he could protest, I agreed, shooting a pointed glance in his direction. We piled into Lucy’s car (It was a three-row SUV so it fit all of us) and we headed to the mall. When we got there, there weren’t too many cars in the parking lot, and I was grateful for that because I knew Asa didn’t like large crowds. We entered the store, going straight for the food court.
“Smoothies on me!” Lucy said, and we ordered, with minimal protesting from Asa. After that, we headed to Lucy’s and my favorite store, where Jordan said his friends were working today because they needed more money.
“Let’s get you that job,” Jordan said, leading Asa to the back to fill out the application. After they left, Ellie tugged on my hand.
“Morgan?” she asked.
“Yes?” I said, bending down next to her.
“Can we get more new clothes?” she asked shyly.
“Of course, sweetheart, that’s part of the reason that we’re here,” I said. She smiled at me and pulled me over to a rack of dresses that she saw.
“We’ve got to be fast before Asa finds out we did this,” I said to Lucy, who was holding on to Lizzie. She nodded and followed to where Ellie was, helping them pick out a new dress.
“What are you doing?” A voice behind me, right by my ear made me jump. I looked back and saw Asa standing right behind me.
“We’re getting them some new clothes,” I said, turning around to face him. We were standing very close, and it made me nervous. I didn’t back away though.
“Morgan, seriously, you’ve done so much for us, you don’t need to do any more,” Asa said.
“But I want to, Asa. My family has more money than we need and what better use for it than helping people?”
“But I don’t want to be some charity case, Morgan,” Asa said quietly.
“You’re not some charity case. I’m doing this because I care about you guys,” I said. “And look how happy the girls are.” I gestured to the girls, who were laughing with Lucy and Jordan.
“They have been happier than usual lately,” Asa agreed.
“They have. I have a deal for you. How about, until you’re back on your feet, you let me take care of you. When you have more money - and a home - you can spoil me,” I suggested.
“Deal,” Asa said, sticking out his hand for me to shake. I took it, and looked into his eyes, getting lost in them. We didn’t let go of each other’s hands until someone cleared their throat behind us. We jumped and turned to face the person, who was Charlie. I dropped Asa’s hand and stood next to him, our shoulders almost touching. I knew Asa didn’t like being around strangers, so I took his hand to comfort him. I felt tingles go up my arm and I blushed when I saw Charlie studying us.
“Hello Morgan,” he said icily.
“Hello, Charlie,” I said back, with just as much ice as he had in his words.
“So, are you sure your song didn’t have the same melody as Lucy’s?” Charlie asked.
“Positive. I’m pretty sure I know my own song, Charlie,” I said.
“So, did you find your soulmate?” Charlie asked.
“Yes. Him,” I said, gesturing to Asa with the hand that wasn’t holding his.
“Who is this?” Charlie asked, looking like he hadn’t noticed Asa until I introduced him.
“Asa,” I said.
“Asa…” Charlie asked.
“Gallagher,” Asa said.
“And who are they?” Charlie asked, pointing to the girls.
“His sisters,” I said. Charlie nodded.
“Just one more question,” Charlie said. I nodded, albeit warily. “Sing your song?” I sighed.
“Charlie, I heard you sing yours. They don’t match,” I said.
“Fine, fine. I get it you don’t like me,” Charlie said.
“Maybe you should actually find your soulmate?” I asked tentatively.
“Yeah. Sure,” Charlie said, running a hand down his face. “See you around, Morgan.” I raised my hand in a wave before turning to Asa.
“Please tell me your shifts aren’t the same,” I asked Asa. he shook his head and I relaxed visibly.
“I only share mine with Jordan,” Asa said.
“Good, he’s nice,” I said. Asa nodded.
“And, you get weekends off,” I said. “You’ll earn enough money that you won’t have to work on weekends.” Asa nodded. “ I know you want to, but I won’t let you,” I warned. Asa laughed.
“I should have known.”
“Asa!” the twins called him. He hurried over to them, pulling me with him. “Look what we got!” they said, showing him the two new outfits they had each picked out.
“Cool,” He said.
“You should get some, Asa,” Lizzie said.
“I don’t need anything, Liz,” Asa said. I frowned but let him leave the store without anything new. We drove back to my house, and when we got there it was already early evening. I started making dinner and insisted that everyone stay. Asa started to protest but I silenced him with a look. Soon we were eating spaghetti that I had made at our large dining room table. Lizzie and Ellie were slurping the noodles through their mouths, Asa’s scolding falling to deaf ears. The rest of us laughed at the girls, reminiscing on the days when we were their age. Soon we were done with dinner, and Asa gathered the girls and started walking towards the front door.
“Where are you going?” I asked him.
“To the school,” he said, as if it was painfully obvious.
“Um, no. You’re staying here tonight.” I didn’t let him protest as I led him and the girls upstairs after Lucy and Jordan had left. I settled Ellie and Lizzie on the queen bed in the guest room before taking Asa to mine to talk to him.
“How are you doing?” I asked him once we were sitting on my bed.
“I’m incredibly happy,” Asa said. “These past few days have been the best I’ve had since my parents died.”
“Good, I’m glad I can help you with that. And I know you don’t like people doing things for you, but I want you to know that I’m here for you,” I said. He nodded.
“Thank you, Morgan. And I will repay you when I can,” Asa said.
“I will hold you to that.”