*Dear haters, I couldn't help but notice that 'awesome' ends with 'me' and 'ugly' starts with 'u'.
Once I got far enough away that I couldn't see him anymore, I walked the rest of the way to daycare to compose myself because if Irabella saw me like this, with red-rimmed eyes and a puffy face, she'd start asking questions and worrying about me and she doesn't need to be. She may be three but, she percieves more than she should for a girl her age.
When I reach the daycare, I swipe both of my cheeks, careful not to press too hard on my bruised cheek so I don't take any concealer off. Then I enter the building. I go to the front desk to pay the lady and sign her out.
I keep the money that I need to pay for Irabella's daycare in a wallet in my backpack so that dad doesn't find it. The rest of the money is in a back account I opened when I was sixteen and dad found my savings in a box and took it all. Then when I got home from school, he beat me for not giving it to him even though he gets his own money from his job.
My dad repairs computers and TVs and basically all things electrical. He mostly works from home so he doesn't have to go out much but sometimes goes out to people's houses and fixes their TVs or set up wifi for them and gets a lot of money for it.
I finished signing Irabella out and looked up to see her running towards me with a wide smile on her face. She threw her arms around me when she reached me and said, "Do we get ice cream now?"
"Yeah, come on. Let's walk to the Cafe and I'll get you some ice cream while you color, okay?"
She nodded excitedly and ran for the door, pulling it open for me. I thanked her and we walked to the Cafe talking about what she did today. She colored a picture of a unicorn out of a coloring book, played tag with the other kids when they went out for recess after their nap, and she got to feed the fish in the giant fish tank they have on display in the playroom.
"What did you do today, Mama?" She asked.
My mind went back to Spencer and how he'd probably come back to torment me more at school tomorrow.
"I went to school, did my homework, and came to get you," I said instead.
"When will I get to go to school?" She asked, skipping and holding my hand.
"When you're four or five you'll get to go to pre-scholl, and when you pass that you'll go to kindergarten and then first grade," I answer.
"Yayyy!" She exclaims.
"Nooo," I fake whine. "You're supposed to stay my little girl forever."
I pretended to be sad and she immediately said, "Okay, I'll always be your little girl."
I smiled and chirped, "Okay."
We reached the diner and my friend and co-worker Tori said, "Hey, girl." When we walked in.
"Hey, princess," She said to Irabella.
Belle ran around the front counter and gave her a hug then grabbed the coloring book and crayons I kept back there for her and pulled herself up onto the chairs at the front of the counter.
Tori is twenty-three years old and started working here when I was sixteen. Irabella and I both instantly liked her. She has such a nice personality I don't even think I've ever heard her yell at anybody before. She has straight blonde hair and greenish, blue eyes.
"Watch her, please," I tell Tori so I can go change into my uniform.
The uniform dress-code is a skin-tight white tank top and black shorts, and I wear fishnets under my shorts to make the outfit look even better and to show less leg. I've had a number of guys try to feel me up on mulitple occasions even though this is a Cafe and not a bar, so I bought a couple of pairs and put them here in my locker.
When I finish changing, I grab my small order book and put it into my pocket. I probably won't have time to eat ice cream with Belle because we're really packed right now so I'll just get her strawberry ice cream in a bowl so she doesn't make a mess everywhere, then start waiting tables.
It's a little after four-thirty when the people start to clear out, only a few people who were already sevred remain. I make sure Tori is able to watch Belle for me so I can go to the bathroom.
After I finish doing my business and washing my hands, I walk back out and Tori comes walking up to me when she spots me.
"There's a guy at table eight asking for you."
"Who is it?"
"I don't know, but he said he only wanted you."
I walked out from behind the counter ad over to table eight and was shocked to find Julian sitting there with his hands clasped idly on the table, looking around the diner. When his eyes landed on me, he smiled.
I stalk over to his table with a scowl on my face.
"How the hell did you know I worked here?"
"Straight down to business," He said, still smiling. "Okay. Well, after you ran out in front of my car, I saw that you were crying and I wanted to make sure you were okay."
"So you followed me?"
"I drove slowly from a distance to see where you were going and decided to wait a little while until it was less packed in here to come in," He replied.
"So you followed me," I stated.
"Yes, technically I did. But I just wanted to make sure that you were okay," He explains softly. "Are you?"
I stood there shocked. Why does he care? Why doesn't he call me a freak, take my things and call me ugly like everyone else?
"Why do you care so much?" I voice my thoughts, words just above a whisper.
"Because you look like you need someone to care for you," He replied soflty. "Everyone at school treats you quite terribly from what I've seen of them tripping you in class, and throwing shit at you during lunch."
"So, are you okay?" He repeats.
Emotion clogs my throat and I try to swallow the lump and say, "I'm fine." But my voice breaks a little.
No one has ever bothered to care besides Julie and Tori, but they're not in school. And Belle's father is no different from the kids at school.
He sighs. "I'm always here if you want to talk, love."
The nickname brings a weird feeling to my stomach, but I try to push my feelings away.
"But... Why? You don't even know me," I stutter over my words.
"As I said, I care about you. You intrigue me. I want to be your mate, and maybe one day you'll trust me enough to let me be your mate and introduce me to that adorable little girl coloring at the counter," He explained sincerely.
I'm guessing my 'mate' he means 'friend'. It's confusing how British people talk.
I look over to Belle who was talking to Tori and coloring in her book, then back to Julian.
"How do you know she's with me?" I asked quizically.
"I watched you go into Rainbow Children's daycare and leave with her," He answered.
"Oh, right," I said.
"Do you mind me asking why you were crying?" He asked.
"You can ask, but I'm not going to answer," I replied reaching across the table to grab a menu from the holder and hand it to him. "You're going to have to order something or leave, it's policy."
"Okay," He said, thankfully not pushing the subject further. He may want to be friends or he could be bullshitting me and go back to school tomorrow telling everyone what a crybaby I am and adding that to the list of things they can insult me with. "I'll take the strawberry milkshake with two slices of cheesecake."
"Okay, coming right up."
I got back behind the counter and told Javier his order. Tori leans on the counter and asks who he was.
"Who was who?" Irabella asked, looking up from her coloring book.
"No one baby. Keep coloring, it looks so good." She smiles and returns to her book, raptly focused on not coloring outside the lines.
"Just a guy from school. I kind of ran in front of his car crossing the street and he wanted to see if I was okay."
"Geez girl, are you?"
"Yeah, I'm fine. I wasn't watching where I was going."
"So," She said, drawing out the 'O'.
"Is there anythings there?" She asked bluntly.
"What? No. He just wanted to see if I was okay," I replied, but even after saying it, I don't know if I believe it. "Besides, I don't need a boyfriend. He said he wants to be my friend." I keep my voice down so Belle doesn't hear.
"Then be friends."
"Or maybe he's just bullshitting me and wants to make me the laughingstock of the school. 'Look the poor freak, so lonely she believes it when a guy says he cares about me'. It wouldn't be the first time. Maybe they planned for me to almsot get hit by his car."
"Oh, come on. Don't be like that. Take a chance."
"I don't know."
"Just think about it. You need someone else to talk to besides me. But just... Don't forget about me," She said jokingly.
"Never," I replied smiling.
Javier sets Julian's order on the divider between the kitchen and the counter. I thank him, then grab the food and walk it to his table.
"One strawberry smoothie, and two slices of cheesecake," I said reiterating his order like I'm supposed to, setting it down in front of him.
"Thank you," He said smiling at me. "Sit and eat with me."
"What?" I huff a laugh.
"Come one, I can't eat these both myself. These are some pretty big slices."
Oh, I see what he did.
"I have to work."
"Everyone else is already eating, you don't have to serve anyone else," He said smiling smugly, knowing he's got me.
"Fine, only for a few minutes. My shift is over in ten minutes anyway."
"Was that an invitation?"
"No!" I said quickly." "I was just stating a fact."
He slides the plate in the middle of the table and lets me have the fork on the plate and takes his spoon out of his milkshake. I take a seat across from his and take small bites of the delicious cake.
"So tell me something about you," He suddenly said.
"To get to know each other better," He answered. "How are we supposed to be mates if we don't know anything about each other?"
"Who said I want to be friends with you?"
"Ouch. You wound me," He said putting his hands on his chest, but his eyes sparkled with laughter.
"Okay, fine. Let's play twenty questions and then I have to go," I told him smiling.
"Brilliant, but I go first," He said." Hmm, what's your favorite color?"
"Purple," I answered. "Okay, my turn."
"What's your favorite color?"
"Mmm... Blue. Like your eyes," He said staring at me intently.
I blush and look down. Our game continues with simple questions like what's your favorite food, book, Tv show, movie. His favorite food is pinapple pizza, his favorite book is To Kill A Mockingbird, his two favorite Tv shows are Game of Thrones and Shameless, and his favorite movies are the marvel movies. It's fun until we get onto more trivial questions.
"What makes you angrier than it should?" I ask him, reading the question off the website of questions to ask someone.
"Watching those pricks pick on you in school, and seing you not do a thing about it." We've finished our cakes by now and he's halfway through his milkshake.
"I can handle them," I tell him. "It's fine."
"That's rubbish because it doesn't seem like you're "handling" them, it seems like you're just ignoring them and hoping they'll go away," He said harshly.
"Well, I didn't ask your opinion," I said just as harshly. "I think I'm going o go, my shift is probably over by now."
I go to stand and he grabs my wrist. I flinch and jerk my arm back to my chest before quickly dropping it before he gets suspicious.
"No, I'm sorry," He sighs. "I just meant I don't like to see you get pushed around by those twats. Let's finish our game and then you can go."
I took my phone out of my pocket and checked the time. It was three minutes past five and I told Belle I'd take her to the park. I try to wear her out as much as I can so she goes to bed easily.
"You have ten minutes no matter if we finish the game or not because I have somewhere to be."
After a little while, we had five questions left each and it was now his turn.
"What's that adorable little girl's name?" He asked.
I turn my head to look at her. "Irabella."
"That's a beautiful name," He said fondly.
I turn back to look at him and see him staring at me with a softness in his eyes. I cleared my throat and looked down.
"Where did you live before you moved here?" I asked him, attempting to hide my blush.
"I lived in London in a city called Manchester," He answered. "It's a second city so you might not have heard of it before."
"My turn," He says. "Is Irabella your daughter?"
"What makes you think that? She could be my sister?"
"The way you look at her and how much she resembles you, way more than a sister resemblance, and I do believe that was another question, now you've got two left. I also figured that your parents would pick her up instead of making you take her to work with you." He explained.
"Got me there." He must have noticed the change in my ton because he moved on to simpler questions.
"How old is Irabella?"
This is it. This is when he leaves and tells me how stupid I am for having a baby at fourteen. "She's three," I answered. "I know what you're thinking 'who has a baby at fourteen?'" I said bitterly.
"I'm thinking that you're very brave for raising a baby and providing for her since you were fourteen. For not just giving up." He retorts warmly.
I look at him in shock. "Thank you," I tell him sincerely.
"Alright, my next question, what do you actually do in your free time, because I'm pretty sure you don't smoke weed."
He laughs and says, "No, I don't. I just wanted to get a rise out of her. I like to read and hang out with my family."
"Do you have any sibling?" I asked forgetting that I only had one question left.
"Yes, I have a thirteen year old sister called Marie, and an eight year brother called Jax."
"Oh, that's nice that you like to hang out with them."
"Yeah, they can be little buggers sometimes but they're still my siblings and I love them."
I laughed a little at the term 'bugger' enjoying his accent. It's sexy and masculine and I couldn't imagine him without it.
I must've had a look of longing on my face because he asked, "What about you? Do you have any siblings? Do your parents help with Irabella? I know that's three questions but I'm curious."
"No, it's fine, and no, I don't have any siblings. My mom left when I was five and my Dad doesn't give a shit about me." I smile at him sadly. "But that's just my life I guess. Sucks all around. Except for Belle, she's my light."
"I'm sorry you have to deal with that, but as you said, you've got Belle." I smile when he used her nickname. "That counts for something," He continued.
"She counts for everything."
"Can I ask one more question?"
"When is your shift over? Not to sound intrusive or anything."
"No, you're fine. It actually ended a few minutes ago. I have to take Belle to the park across the street and let her play for a little before we go back to the house." I answered idly.
"Another question?" He asked.
"Okay fine, but no more after this. I want Belle to have some time at the park."
"Can I come with you guys?" He asked.
"I don't know," I immediately answer warily.
"That's okay. It was just a suggestion," He said, sensing the wariness in my voice.
"I just... I'm not ready for Irabella to be attached to anyone else, she gets attached easily," I explain. "The second she met Tori, she wanted to see her every day, and I don't want her getting attached to you just to have you disappear when something goes wrong with out... friendship. She doesn't need to think people are just leaving her."
"What could go wrong with us being mates?" He asked incredulously.
"Well, for started, you could just be bullshitting me, and tomorrow I'm going to go to school and be called a slut for having a baby at fourteen. I don't even know why I told you anything, I don't even know you."
"Hey," He said, looking offended. "Now you've lost the plot. I would never do that to you. My parents raised me to be better than that. Now it's obvious you've got trust issues but I can't exactly blame you because of all the wankers at school, and the way you describes your home life. But I'm not like them, you can trust me, and you are not a slut."
I must've looked like I still didn't believe him because he sighed and said, "I'll make you believe. You just wait. You'll trust me soon."
As he got up to leave I said, "I'm sorry, I just..." I sigh. "Besides Tori, I don't have any friends and everyone at school is so horrible to me."
I sat back in the seat, feeling like I just messed up any chance at being 'normal' and having an actual friend because let's be real. I only see Tori a few hours every day.
"Don't even apologize for the way people act towards you," He said.
He dug in his back pocket and dropped some money on the table. "I'll see you at school tomorrow, yeah?"
"So you're not mad?"
"No. Life made you think people are untrustworthy," He explained softly. "And I'm going to help you see that some people are worthy of your trust."
After he had left, I picked up the money off the table to take back to the register and was shocked to find an eighty dollar tip.