Stars Worth Searching For

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Chapter Sixteen

ou wanna watch a movie?” Leo asks, after we got home from the bake sale. His parents are out of town for the weekend.

“Sure.” I pick a DVD from the wooden TV stand.

“So, how much did we raise at the bake sale?” Leo puts his arm around me.

“Two-hundred dollars.”

“That’s good.” Leo kisses me. “I’m so proud of you.”

“Thank you.” I nuzzle against his neck. “That means a lot.”

Leo puts his head on top of mine, and wraps his arms around me. “I love you.”

I lean up and kiss him. “I love you too.”

“Want popcorn?” He asks, as the movie starts.

“Sure, but I don’t want to move.” My legs are sprawled out across Leo’s lap.

“I can fix that.” Leo says, tickling my ribs.

“Stop!” I squeal. “Fine.” I laugh, moving to another spot on the couch.

“What do you want to drink, love?”

“Root beer.”

“Okay, cool.”

Leo comes back in two minutes with the popcorn and sodas, but I can’t focus on the movie.

Leo notices, and runs his hand along my cheek. “What’s wrong?”

Tears stream down my cheeks.

“I just wish I could have my life back.”

Leo rubs my back. “Is this about Rebecca?”

“I don’t know.” Pretty soon I’m bawling.

“Like, I’m so grateful for what I have, and what I’ve accomplished, and I love my job so much,”

I sigh. “But I used to be a cheerleader. And had goals. And dreams. And I would take my little sisters everywhere they wanted to go.”

Leo takes my hand, interlocks it with his, and kisses it.

“And yeah I’m happy for her. But at the same time, I wish my dreams weren’t taken away from me. I lost all my friends. I used to be popular.”

Leo runs his fingers through my hair.

“And now my little sister has to drive me around. I feel like a loser!”

Now I’m ugly crying, mascara running down my face.

“Alex.” Leo says, quietly.

He cups my hace in his hands, and kisses me. Not caring about the mascara running down my cheeks.

“You are the most amazing, selfless person I’ve ever met. You’re so beautiful. And what you do at that clinic with those kids is such an amazing job. It takes a lot to work with children. It takes so much patience, and compassion and empathy. You pride yourself in working with children. Your heart and the amount of compassion you have for those children are so amazing. Your sisters have someone like you to look up to. Just because you can’t take them places, doesn’t mean you aren’t enough for them.” He kisses my forehead. “Don’t ever forget that, please. You’re an inspiration to me, and to the children that you work with. And they all love and admire you so much.”

I bury my head in his chest.

“I love you so much.” I whisper.

Leo takes a minute to answer, so I don’t think he heard me too.

“I love you too.” He says quietly before kissing me.

I pull Leo towards me, wrapping my arms around him.

We spend the rest of the night like that, and I fall asleep on his chest.

………………………………………………………………………………………….

“Alex.” Leo kisses my cheek. “Do you want to go upstairs, it’s two-thirty.”

Leo murmurs, tiredly.

“How long have we been asleep?” I rub my eyes.

“Since nine.”

Leo kisses my cheek. “Do you feel better?” He still remembers what I was upset about?

“Yeah.” I smile. “Sorry for being so emo.”

“You’re not emo.” Leo takes my hand. “You’re allowed to have feelings.”

“I love you.” I smile, wrapping him into a hug.

“I love you too.” He hugs me, before we head upstairs.

I grab some sweats and a tee out of Leo’s pajama drawer. “Can I wear these?”

“Is it optional?”

“No.”

Leo laughs. “Of course you can wear them.”

“Can I take a shower?”

“It’s really late.”

“I know, but I wanna take one. Will you come with me?”

“Yeah I’ve been wearing these all day.”

………………………………………………………………………………………

Leo and I finish showering, and climb into bed.

“Did you let your mom know you were staying here?”

“I told her I was going here after the bake sale. She can figure out the rest.” I yawn, putting my head on Leo’s chest. I fall asleep listening to his heartbeat.

………………………………………………………………………………………………

I wake up before Leo and put a bra on before going downstairs to make breakfast. I love cooking for him. I love having the house to ourselves. Not that I don’t love his parents, but it’s different when it’s just us. It’s never like that at my house.

“What smells so good?” Leo comes down ten minutes later.

“I’m just making some breakfast.”

Leo comes over to me, and gives me a kiss. “We could’ve gone out.”

“Are you saying I’m not a good cook?” I smirk.

“No.” Leo laughs. “What are you making?”

“Scrambled eggs bacon, hash browns, and chocolate chip muffins.”

“Mmmm.” Leo pulls me in for a kiss. “Thank you, my love. It smells so good.”

I finish cooking, and Leo helps me carry the dishes to the table.

“Are you excited to start school tomorrow?” Leo pours us some chocolate milk.

“Yeah, the classes are gonna be harder, though.”

“It’s a different major.”

“Yeah.” I take a forkful of egg. “Do you work today?”

He takes a swig of milk. “Yeah. Do you?”

“Yeah, I’m covering for someone at the hospital, actually.”

“They called you in the Child Life department?” Leo asks.

“Yeah, I called a few weeks ago, they said I could still fill in.”

“I don’t know how you do it all.” Leo raises his cup.

“I love keeping busy, you know that.”

“Yeah.” Leo puts his plates in the dishwasher. “That’s what I admire about you.”

I try to hide the dopey smile that shows up on my face when he says that, but I know he sees it.

“Alright, I have to get ready.” Leo has a drawer at his house with a couple pairs of my scrubs and undergarments in it, in case I decide to stay the night there. That means a lot to me too.

………………………………………………………………………………………………

“Is your mom picking you up?” Leo pulls into the hospital.

“Yes, thank you love.”

Leo kisses my cheek. “Good luck, today I’m sure they’ve missed you.”

“I hope so.” I toss my purse strap over my head, and breeze through the automatic doors.

“Alex!” Courtney, an admitting rep hugs me.

“How are you?” She puts her hand on my forearm.

“I’m good.” I smile and clock in.

“You look so beautiful!” She follows me on Facebook, so she’s seen my journey over the last couple of months.

“Thanks! Where am I working today?”

“The big playroom, on the third floor/ There are some kids that need some cheering up.”

“I’m on it.” I love cheering children up.

“Thanks girl.” Brittany smiles. “It’s good to have you in here today.” I can see her eyes tearing. “You look so beautiful it isn’t even funny.”

“Thank you.” I fight back tears, and head over to the playroom

“Hi.” A little girl attached to an IV cart, slowly makes her way over to me.

“Hi.” I smile, and grab a chair for her.

“What’s your name?”

“I’m Alex.” I offer a small smile. “What’s yours?”

“I’m Melody.” She smiles. “Do you like my pigtails?”

I notice her beautiful brown hair tied into two pigtail braids. “Yeah, I love it. It’s so cute!”

“Thank you.” She takes some paper and crayons off of the table in front of us. “Are you a nurse?”

“No, I’m a Child Life Specialist. I help kids like you make their stay in the hospital a little more fun.”

“That’s good, it can get pretty boring here.”

“Yeah.” I nod. “It can.”

“Do you like drawing?” She asks.

“Yeah, I draw with the kids at the clinic all the time.”

“You work at a clinic?” She smiles.

“Yeah, I work with children who have vision problems.”

“Oh wow, that’s cool. Do you want to be a doctor?”

“Close. I want to be a medical researcher.”

“That’s cool.” She draws flowers on the paper. “I wanna be a doctor when I grow up. I love school.”

“Really? How old are you?”

“Ten.” She smiles. “I know, I look a lot younger than that. It’s the chemo.”

“You have Cancer?”

“Yeah. Thankfully I didn’t lose my braids.”

“I’m glad, because your braids are beautiful.”

“Thanks.” She smiles. “I wish I could hug you, but I’m attached to an IV cart.”

“I’ll compromise.” I bend down to her level, wrapping my arms around her waist.

“Can you stay here?” Melody asks.

“For a little.” I sit next to her, and draw some flowers identical to hers..

“Will you come back and visit?” She asks.

“Yeah.” I run my fingers through her hair. “Of course I’ll come back.”

“You promise?” She asks.

“Yeah.”

She wraps her arms around me again. “I can’t wait for you to come back, and draw with me again.”

“I’ll be back, I promise.” I smile and head over to clock out. I’ve missed working here.

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