Chapter 8

I'm thinking about smashing the computer against the wall and giving up. My fingers are aching and my eyes feel as heavy as bricks. "I hate this book", I mutter as I throw myself back on my bed and my laptop lid smashes closed and puts my computer on hibernate.

"Helen!" I scream loudly. She replies almost immediately, popping her head into the door with a smile.

"Aggravated already?" She already knows the answer so I ignore the stupid obvious question and reach for her. She walks over to me, her big yellow dress burning my eyes and hugs me tight. "You can do it Juliana, I know you can."

I shake my head no. This book is unreasonable. I cant seem to think of anything that isn't completely dumb or completely washed out. If things didn't start looking up I wasn't going to have anything for Stephanie when she came to collect the first draft of the book.

"I don't think I can Helen, I really don't." I saw as I burry my head into her chest.

"You can", Helen says, before she begins to cough uncontrollably. Her coughs rack her body and I pull away from her to see her eyes watering and her hand reaching to cover her mouth. Her frail arm wipes the blood from her lips and when her eyes finally open they're tired and scared.

I try not to panic as I think about losing Helen, but she's the only person I have in this world. Without her I'd be completely alone and that thought scares me. I can feel my breath coming out in tiny gasps but I cant control myself.

I cant lose her. I cant.

"Juliana baby", she says as she gains control of her lungs once again. "Calm down, everything is fine."

"You're sick", I mutter as tears stream down my face. "I cant loose you."

"I'm not going anywhere", she says with a smile. But when I look up at her smile isn't touching her lips, nor does her eyes tell me everything will be okay.

"Is there something wrong with you?" I ask as I wipe away my tears.

"No, I'm just getting old."

"Okay", I say as the doorbell rings. My heart does a tiny flutter when I think about who it can be, rather who I know it will be. Helen laughs as I slide off of my bed and rush to the bathroom to wash my tears streaked face and pull my messy dark hair into a decent ponytail. I fidget with the brush for a moment, trying to make sure my hair isn't falling around my face in random strands and after five minutes of being unsuccessful I give up.

I open the bathroom door and slip on my house shoes before opening my room door and going down the stairs. "Who was at the door Helen?"

"Me", Leo says, appearing out of thin air and nearly making me fall down the stairs. The only thing keeping me from tripping is the fact I grabbed the rail right before I slipped. I hold my pounding chest, a look of accusation on my face.

"You nearly made me fall", I say to him with mock anger.

"I would have caught you." He replies with a smile. I nearly melt under his gaze as he looks me up and down with a smile. "Wow, you look nice."

I look down at my plain red shorts and white tank top. "Thanks I guess", I reply with a shrug. I walk the rest of the way down the stairs and before I know what hits me, he grabs my hand and pulls me close to him. My body flushes against his but I don't pull away. I feel like I should be embarrassed, and to a certain extent I am. But most of me is just extremely ecstatic.

"You really do look nice" he says again. He leans down and runs his lips across my forehead, making me nearly faint. He looks at me with smoldering brown eyes that seems to peer into my very soul. If I could keep a moment forever snapshot in my mind it would be that one.

When he finally pulls away I let out a shaky hollow breath. He lets out a tiny laugh before pulling me to the kitchen.

"Oh my gosh". I say to myself as I look around.

My entire kitchen is covered in flowers of all colors and sizes. Ryan the puppy runs around yelping with joy at the new objects decorating the house.

"What is all of this?" I ask Leo.

He shrugs as he throws a tanned arm over my shoulder and pulls me close to him for the second time in about five minutes. "I just wanted to do something nice for you." He says with a smile.

"You do too much", I reply as I imprint the smell of his skin into my mind. It feels too perfect to be with him right now, so I'm going try my hardest to remember everything I'm feeling right now. So that when he leaves, the feelings will always exist.

"Only for you", he says softly, almost so soft I don't hear him. I don't reply though as I enjoy the way his arm is wrapped safely around me.

The moment is ruined when Ryan begins to nip at my ankles and whine. Leo pulls away from me with a smile as I pick Ryan and kiss his tiny pink nose. He wiggles in my arms as I walk over to his food bowl and dump his lunch in it. The moment he hears the food hitting the plastic he jumps from my arms and down to the floor.

"I can see you two have taken quiet a liking to each other." Leo says as I straighten up and fix my shirt.

"Yeah, well we're the only ones each other see most of the time." I say as I reach up over the cabinet and grab the peanut butter. I quickly make myself two sandwiches and walk out of the kitchen with Leo following behind me. We walk into the study and I take a seat down on the sofa and tuck both of my feet under me.

"Thanks for making a sandwich" Leo says with a smile as he reaches for one. I yank the napkin away from him.

"No, these are both mine." I say as I take one bite from both of them. "Go make your own."

"I'm saddened." He says as he brings his hand to his chest. "I brought you flowers. a lot of flowers at that." He says with a puppy dog frown. Rolling my eyes I hand him one of the sandwiches and smile as he happily takes a bite.

"You're such a baby", I say as I munch on my sandwich.

"I can be." He replies with a shrug, finishing off the rest of the sandwich with two bites. "Hey, I have a question for you."

"Go ahead", I reply as I wipe my mouth on the napkin and ball it up to throw in the trash.

"If you could travel the world, would you?"

"Um", I look over at Leo and he's looking back expectantly over at me. A giant smile is on his face and I can tell he's excited, though I don't want to ask why. "I think I might have at one time, but the answer as of right now is no."

Leo's smile drops a little, but not much. "Oh well, okay."

"Why'd you ask?"

"Well", Leo says as he reaches over and strokes my bare leg. I shiver against the couch as goose bumps begin to decorate my legs. He doesn't seem to notice though. "I'm moving to Europe!"

I nearly sputter and choke. I look over at him with raised brows, but he looks completely excited. His thick pink lips are stretched in one of the hugest grins I've ever seen him sport and his eyes are the size of saucers.

"Congratulations", I manage to croak out with crying. I want to say I feel like an idiot, but really I kind of already expected this. I knew it was going to happen, just not so soon. I want to run away from him and never talk to him again, but I don't want to loose him either.

"Thanks, this really means a lot to me." He says as he hugs me. I lie my head on his shoulder and let out a shaky breath as I close my eyes to hold back the tears I know will come out right after he leaves.

"When are you going?" I ask, even though my insides are telling me not to. My brain is chanting it doesn't want to know, but I feel like I should anyway.

"In three weeks exactly. I just found out this morning." He says, still hugging me close.

Three weeks. . . . . . .

"Well, I'm happy for you." I say even though my heart is breaking.

"Don't worry though", Leo says as he looks at my heartbroken face. "I'll still paint you before I leave and I'll write to you all the time."

"Okay", I retort with a weak smile. I stand up on shaky legs and walk from the room. Leo doesn't follow me, probably assuming I'm coming right back. I go upstairs to my room and lock the door behind me before I throw myself on my bed and let out all the tears bottled up inside of me. It feels like my insides have been ripped out. I hug my arms tightly around myself to hold my shaking body together before it completely falls apart like how it feels my insides are.

Helen knocks on my door a while later but I don't reply as tears stream down my face. I let out a choked sob into my pillow as she asks me what's wrong. I don't reply or unlock the door as she begs until I hear her walk away and go back down the stairs.

After I feel like my legs wont let me hit the ground I get up and walk to my conjoined bathroom and turn on the shower water. I push my clothes that feel like they weight hundreds of pounds from my body and free my hair from the water band and let it fall around my shoulders like a curtain.

The water is hot against my cold skin. I sit down on the marble floor and let the water beat against my head like a punching bag. I lean against the wall and let the shower water wash away the tears from my eyes until I feel like everything will be okay and like my heart wont explode. I still feel like crying, but at least for a while I can be okay.

I turn off the water and just sit against the tub with a numb heart. My mind feels completely empty as I step from the bathroom and pull my robe firmly against my shaking body. I slip on my favorite pink slippers and open my door. I walk slowly to Helens room and knock on the door. When she doesn't answer I push open the door.

I walk into her room as I hear her wrenching into the toilet in her own bathroom. I run quickly to her side and pull her stringy hair from her face. Helen tries to say something, but has to lean back over the toilet and empty her stomach once again. When she's finally done she turns around and pulls me into a hug.

Even though she smells strongly like vomit I hug her back just as tightly until it doesn't feel like the ground is shaking and my world is splitting apart.