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Chapter Eighteen

I’m on the phone with Leo on Friday, planning out our plans for the weekend. “So, how was the exam?”

“It was good, somehow I managed to get an eighty on it.”

“Wow, that’s really good. Let’s celebrate tomorrow.”

“What did you have in mind?”

“Maybe we could just have a day to relax. Just watch movies, get dinner, maybe take a walk on the beach?”

“Yeah, I’d love that. It’s been a pretty busy week, I just want to be able to relax.”

“Same. I work tomorrow morning, so do you want me to pick you up at about twelve-thirty?” He asks.

“Yeah, that works.”

“Okay, love you.”

“Love you.”

I grab my comfy pajamas and hop into the shower, excited to spend the day with Leo tomorrow.

………………………………………………………………………………………..

Leo calls me the next morning. “Hello?” I rub my eyes.

“Hey.”.

“Hey, what’s up?”

“I was wondering if you wanted to go to a party tonight.”

“Where?”

“One of my old friends invited us. Her friend invited her and she doesn’t really know anyone there, so she invited us. Wanna go?”

Okay, this sounds a bit weird.

“What friend?”

“Her name is Brittany. She’s a CLS. I met her a while ago.”

“Are we still going to lunch?”

“Yeah love, I’ll pick you up after work, just bring a change of clothes if you want.”

“Okay, cool.”

I go in my closet, looking for something to wear.

I pick out a pink ruffle top and denim skinny jeans with black knee high boots.

“Ashlynn!” I call my little sister into my room.

“What’s up?”

“Is this cool to wear to a party?”

“Since when do you go to a party?”

“Leo’s friend invited us.”

“He has friends that are girls?” She asks.

“I guess.” I shrug. I don’t want to make a big deal out of it.

“Okay.” Ashlynn shrugs. “You can always call me if you want a ride home?”

“Why would I need a ride home?” I ask, getting defensive.

“I’m just looking out for you.”

“I’ll be okay, thanks.”

I head downstairs for breakfast.

“Want pancakes?” Hannah asks.

“Yeah, thanks.”

“Dad’s working today, so I thought I’d make them for us.” Hannah takes some strawberries and blueberries out of the fridge,

“Oh, thanks.” I pour myself some orange juice, and sit at the bar counter.

“So, what are you doing today?” Hannah asks, sitting across from me.“I’m going to do some homework this morning, then going to lunch with Leo after work, then I’m going to a party that Leo’s old friend from work invited us to.”

“Oh, okay.” Hannah shrugs.

“You don’t think it’s weird that another girl invited him to a party?” Ashlynn chimes in.

“No, because she invited them.”

“Yeah, I see your point.” Ashlynn hands Hannah her plate, and Hannah flips pancakes off of the griddle, and onto her plate.

“Just call me if you need me.”

“Thanks, I will.” I spray some whipped cream onto my pancakes and finish breakfast and I help Hannah clean the kitchen.

……………………………………………………………………………………………..

I finish my homework, and Leo texts that he’s on his way.

“What time is the party?” Ashlynn asks.

“It’s at seven.”

“Okay, let me know if you need anything.”

“I will, thanks.” I go outside to wait for Leo.

“So who’s Bittany?” I ask, after getting into the car.

“She’s a friend. We met at the hospital.”

“Oh cool, why did she invite us to a party?”

“We just reconnected, we were good friends back in the day.”

“Oh, cool.”

Leo senses the anxiety in my voice. “She’s really nice. I think you’ll have a lot of fun.”

I give him a fake smile. “Okay, I’ll go.”

“We don’t have to go. We can just chill at my house.” Leo takes my hand, and rubs circles into my palm with his thumb.

“No, it sounds fun, I haven’t been to a party in ages.”

Leo leans over and kisses my cheek. “It’ll be fun.”

Yeah. I used to love parties. Maybe it will

……………………………………………………………………………………………..

“How do I look?” I come into Leo’s room after showering, and putting makeup on.

“You look great.” Leo kisses my forehead.

Leo’s wearing a yellow flannel over a white T shirt, and denim jeans with sneakers.

“Thanks, so do you.”

I slip my cardigan over my shoulders and slip my boots on, and Leo and I head over to the party.

“Leo!” A girl in a romper and sandals comes to greet us.

I’m already getting bad vibes from her.

She wraps her arms around his neck.

“Hi.” She offers a small smile. “I’m Brittany.”

“Alex.” I say, quietly.

“Oh, you’re Leo’s girlfriend?” She asks.

“Yeah.” Leo puts his arm around me. “We’ve been together for four years.”

“Oh that’s nice.” She smiles. “You have good taste.”

I’m already getting pissed off.

“Thanks.” I smile, and Leo and I walk into the house of the party.

It’s a huge house with people talking in the kitchen, playing Halo, and some people are outside in the pool.

“How do you know her?” I whisper.

Brittany heads into the kitchen. “Leo and I go way back.” She dangles her car keys in her hand.

“So, you had your eye removed?” She asks, catching me off guard.

What? He told her?

“He told me a while ago. The day you were in surgery. I’m so sorry to hear that.”

Brittany puts her hand on my forearm. “You’re so strong.”

“Thanks.” I say, quietly.

Leo puts his arm around me, “Sorry. I was upset, and she asked me what was wrong.”

Don’t cry. Do not cry.

I smile and pick my head up. “It’s okay.”

He can’t see the bad in people.

“You want a snack or something, love?” Leo asks.

“Yeah, I think I’m gonna go sit outside.”

“Okay, I’ll get you some food.”

I can tell Leo feels really bad.

I grab a spot next to a table where a group is playing beer pong. Thankfully, there’s no sign of Brittany here.

Leo comes and sits next to me.

“I’m sorry I told her. I was honestly genuinely worried about you.”

“Well how come I’ve never heard of her?” I take a forkful of ziti.

“She works in pre-op. She usually wasn’t there when you were working.”

I take a sip of soda. “Okay.”

I’ll brush it off. She’s just his friend.

“Hey.” Brittany comes over, and sits next to Leo leaving him in the middle of us.

“Hey.” Leo smiles.

Brittany smiles at me. “Do you drive?”

Why is she asking me this?

Leo puts his hand on my forearm.

“No.” I smile. “Leo and my family drive me everywhere. They’re pretty supportive.”

Leo leans over, and kisses my cheek. “Yeah.”

“Wow, that must take a toll on both of you.” Brittany takes a sip of her soda.

“Not really.” Leo runs his fingers through my hair. “I don’t mind doing it.”

“Doesn’t it get old, though?” She asks.

Leo decides to ignore her. He takes my hand, and leads me inside.

We go over on the couch and watch some TV for a while, until a majority of the crowd comes into the living room.

“You guys wanna play Never Have I Ever?” A girl next to Brittany asks.

Leo puts his arm around me. “You wanna play?”

“Sure.” I snuggle in close to him. “I’d love to.”

Red solo cups are passed around, and Leo refuses one.

“Must suck to always be the DD.” Brittany interjects.

I feel my cheeks get hot, and I’m on the verge of crying.

“Let’s start the game.” Leo says starting the game.

“Never have I ever gone commando.” Leo puts his arm around me.

Everyone bursts out laughing, and I knew he said that to cheer me up.

I snuggle in closer, as the game proceeds.Ten minutes into the game, we were all laughing, and I forgot about the snarky remarks Brittany was making until she’s up to bat.

She catches me off guard again, when she smirks before giving her answer. “Never have I ever had my eye removed.”

The room goes quiet, and Leo glares at her.

“You’re a bitch.” He declares.

No one says anything to Leo about talking to a girl like that.

“Excuse me?” Brittany looks shocked. “You’re the one who’s dating a charity case.”

“I’m going home.” I grab my purse and cardigan out of the pile of jackets on the couch, and quietly walk out the door.

Maybe I am a charity case to Leo. He does have to do a lot for me. I don’t do anything for him in return. I can’t bring him food. I can’t surprise him at work.

Tears stream down my cheeks, as I call Ashlynn.

“Hello?”

“Hey. Can you pick me up?” I sob.

“Are you okay?” She asks, sympathetically.

“I don’t want to talk. I’ll just send you my location.”

“Okay.” She says, quietly.

I text Ashlynn my location, and wait for her at the end of the driveway.

“Alex.” Leo comes out next to me. “What happened?”

“Really? You don’t know? It isn’t obvious?!”

Leo tries to put his arm around me.

“Don’t touch me.” I walk away from him.

“Can we just talk about this?”

I fold my arms across my chest. “About what? How you’re only dating me, because you feel sorry for me? And apparently you need to go to another girl with how you feel about the situation I am in?” I ask, bitterly.

“It wasn’t like that.” Leo says, quietly.

“Then what was it like? Why did you even have to tell anyone about it anyway?! She likes you Leo. You can’t tell that?!” Tears stream down my cheeks. I’m so embarrassed.

“I don’t want her.” Leo says, quietly.

“Why not? She drives, she can bring you food, You can get drunk at parties, without having to worry about being the designated driver. You don’t have to drive her everywhere. You don’t have to take her to her doctor appointments.”

Leo puts his hand on my forearm. “I want to do those things for you.”

“Well, I’m sure it bothers you. Doesn’t it?”

“Why are you being like this?”

“Is it hard for you?” I ask, louder this time.

“Sometimes, but-------------”

“That’s all I needed to hear.”

“What do you mean?” Leo asks, anxiety in his voice.

“I don’t want to be with someone who feels sorry for me. I don’t want you to have to keep giving up your time to drive me around. My family is one thing, but you don’t have to do anything for me.”

“But I love you.” Leo says.

“Maybe you should have thought about that, before telling some bitch that obviously likes you, and that I didn’t even know, about my disability. Not even just that, but that I had my eye removed?! Do you know how embarrassing that is?!”

“Alex. I’m so sorry.” Leo looks like he’s about to cry.

Ashlynn pulls up onto the street in front of the house.

“My ride’s here.” I hop in her car, and she takes off down the street.

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